Shenton Safaris

Discovering the forest birds of the Maasai Mara

Violet-backed starling in Maasai Mara in Kenya

Violet-backed starling © Alisa Bowen

At Governors’ Camp Collection we take pride in knowing that our pioneering safari properties are located in some of the best wildlife areas in the world. Our four Maasai Mara tented camps are nestled in between ancient evergreen trees along the banks of the Mara River. We therefore enjoy cool afternoons under shaded leaf canopies, whilst the temperature out on the grassy plains that surround us soars high into the thirties on some days. These trees act as a refuge for a variety of mammals who move amongst the towering trunks, keeping cool as they wait for the temperatures to drop out on the open plains.

We often have families of elephants wandering past our lunch tables en route to drink from the river below us, or habituated warthog piglets trotting under the tables searching for fresh grass, while troops of both banded and dwarf mongooses busy themselves looking for beetles and grubs in the detritus layer on the forest floor.

Ross's turaco in Maasai Mara in Kenya

Ross’s turaco © Alisa Bowen

But we also have a diverse number of forest dwelling bird species that call the trees surrounding us their home. Some of these species are incredibly rare to see in other parts of the Maasai Mara, and even in other parts of Africa. As with all forest species they tend to be very shy and one must really be patient if you hope to catch a glimpse of them, and even more patient if you would like to photograph them.

Such was the case when I wanted to photograph the two turaco species that are usually seen hopping high above in the tree tops in search of ripening berries.

Schalow's turaco in Maasai Mara in Kenya

Schalow’s turaco © Alisa Bowen

Ordinarily this would be a somewhat doomed-to-fail mission, as both species are incredibly wary of human onlookers. But luckily for guests at Governors’ Camp we have a secluded bird bath with a drip tap that acts like a magnet for thirsty birds, especially in the dry season.

It was a few metres from this bird bath that I positioned myself and watched quietly as the birds gradually came down through the tangled vines to sip from the cool pool of water. First common bulbuls, then various species of weavers and a few mouse birds gained the confidence to drink in my presence.

African paradise flycatcher in Maasai Mara in Kenya

African paradise flycatcher © Alisa Bowen

I watched the turacos up high through my binoculars and could see that they were panting and knew that they too would eventually come down. And sure enough they did after quite some time. They didn’t waste a second drinking the water before quickly hopping back up to their sanctuary of the tree canopy.

African olive pigeon in Maasai Mara in Kenya

African olive pigeon © Alisa Bowen

Other forest birds that can be seen flitting through the camps include violet-backed starlings that come to feast on ripening figs and other berries. Both African paradise flycatchers and African blue-flycatchers are beautiful residents in camp, often seen in the mornings above the guests’ breakfast tables.

African blue flycatcher in Maasai Mara in Kenya

African blue flycatcher © Alisa Bowen

Another real gem to spot are the extremely secretive Narina trogons which blend invisibly into the foliage once they’ve turned their emerald green back to you.

If you are an avid twitcher, you should consider coming to stay one of our Maasai Mara camps where a whole host of rare birdlife awaits you!

Narina trogon in Maasai Mara in Kenya

Narina trogon © Alisa Bowen



Governors' Camp

The Governors’ Camp Collection comprises of 7 award winning luxury safari camps and lodges. We are in the heart of the best wildlife viewing areas of Kenya and Rwanda, set in some of East Africa’s most spectacular scenery. Our clients benefit from the incredible location and style of our properties, our commitment to service excellence, the exceptional training of our guides and the strong bonds we have created with our community neighbors over the 40 years we have been in operation.

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