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Feb 23, 2009 | by Adrian Binns

As I contemplate returning to East Africa for the first time this year I know that I will be in for many exciting experiences while on safari in Kenya and Tanzania. Where does one start? The combination of mammals and birds is simply stupendous. Of course the cats are at the top of anyone’s list, but……maybe it is a Black-backed Jackal successfully stalking a flamingo only to have a Marabou Stork steal a good sized piece as an African Fish Eagle looks on in despair (top photo), or a mixed flock of Red-billed and Yellow-billed Oxpeckers looking for parasites on a herd of zebras, or a Spotted Morning Thrush feeding a much larger and begging Red-chested Cuckoo. Or how about a displaying Kori Bustard, the long white undertail coverts flipped up onto its back alerting a distant female to his presence. Life and death struggles are a daily occurrence on the savanna, and what better place than the great parks of East Africa, the Tsavos, the Mara, Serengeti or the Ngorongoro Crater to witness all this, and more.

Yes there is more, plenty more. At the end of a trip we will revel in the marvelous birds that we will have seen. Which one is best? Maybe one of the rarer ones, a target species or a common one that we just happen to spend a great deal of time with over the course of the trip? The chances are it’ll be one of the latter, something common yet stunning, a bird that may be different but one that will bring back extraordinary memories. Will it be a small one, a big one, a colorful one, one that you encountered by chance….the setting, the timing, the personal encounter. It all adds up. With so many to choose from there is a good chance everyone will have their own favorite.

The Beautiful Sunbird and Superb Starling (right) are two aptly named species which are simply breathtaking. But in East Africa there many such stunning birds that we come across while on safari. The savanna landscape is open, making it relatively easy to view dazzling denizens such as Lilac-breasted Rollers and Red-and-yellow Barbets at close range .

I hope that there will be times where I will have access to the internet to be able to blog, though it may be very sporadic at best. Meanwhile, please visit and go into the Articles link to see which one, if any, of these birds made it into my “East Africa’s Dazzling Dozen”.

all photos © adrian and jane binns

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