Lake Turkana, Northern Kenya

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Lake Turkana, Northern Kenya

Postby Sico » Thu Aug 27, 2015 7:09 pm

I've just got back from my first month near the shore of Lake Turkana in Northern Kenya.
The place is pretty interesting, although being well into the dry season it is VERY dry, and quite hot. There is a variety of wildlife knocking around, but you need to look for it, and everything seems pretty skittish so difficult to get decent pictures of. Hopefully over the course of the next year I will be able to get some decent shots of a variety of things.
Some habitat shots
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These rock piles are everywhere, I'd have expected to find a lot more lizard life around them than I have so far, but I beleive they hold a lot of potential. Some of these piles are tens of metres high, and several hundred metres across, and were deposited millions of years ago.
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Mount Kulal - 2400m
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Mount Nyiru - 2780m
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These two large mountains form a long valley between them, funneling the wind from the Sahara downwards into Kenya. Both of them almost always have their tops in the clouds, and they both are thickly forested with tropical alpine forests, being almost continously wet and about 10-15 degrees cooler than the valley floor.

Some herps
Lygodactylus somalicus - Somali Dwarf Gecko
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Hemidactylus isolepis - Uniform-scaled Gecko
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Trachylepis varia - Variable skink (I think)
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Birds
Plain Nightjar
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White-Headed Buffalo-weaver
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Somali Courser
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Somali Sparrow
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Heuglins Bustard
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Re: Lake Turkana, Northern Kenya

Postby Ruan Stander » Fri Aug 28, 2015 1:12 pm

In the heart of Africa, the place to be. Come spring and summer I'm sure you will have some extraordinary finds to share, I can't wait !
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Re: Lake Turkana, Northern Kenya

Postby Sico » Sun Nov 01, 2015 9:14 am

It has been incredibly dry and hot up here the last 5 weeks. We are supposed to be well into the rain season now, but we have only had one small shower around 3 weeks ago, I'd estimate 3mm in total.
I found my first Echis pyramidum last night in the camp, interesting snakes they are.
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I've also found what at first I thought was a Hemidactylus far outside of its known range, Bill Branch has identified it as a juvenile Hemidactylus barbierii, a new species described from two specimens caught in this area in 2005, and described in 2007. These are likely the only photographs of this species as a juvenile, as previously there have only been one adult of each sex caught.
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I also found a thriving colony of adults not far from where we are based, but in a locality quite different from their original description.
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Female
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Males
They are proving extremely difficult to catch, as they launch themselves into the air as son as you get near them, when you manage to get them onto the sand, I've had them spring over a foot high. Most of the time they are sitting in the boulders shown in the first "habitat" picture in the original post, and they disappear inside there. I've managed to catch one female out of the maybe 40+ individuals I have seen.
The only things that seem to be thriving out here at the moment are various bland small moth species, a large species of Lycosid, and camels.
We were sitting around the fire one evening this week when a decently large solifugid came running over, it went straight for the packet the meat had come in and started chewing on the plastic. As a joke I broke off a piece of lamb chop that had been cooked, and offered it to the creature on a fork, astoundingly, it snatched the chunk off and started devouring it, unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me, and by the time I had returned with it, it had run underneath one of the containers.
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Re: Lake Turkana, Northern Kenya

Postby Mitton » Mon Nov 02, 2015 8:14 am

That is really awesome getting a pic of that juvenile.
Beautiful Echis.
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Re: Lake Turkana, Northern Kenya

Postby Westley Price » Mon Nov 02, 2015 8:34 am

Oh wow never even heard of H. barbierii before, very stunning colouration in the juvenile!

Except for the toes, it doesnt really look like the typical Hemidactylus morphology.

If anyone has the publication for this species, please drop me a PM.
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Re: Lake Turkana, Northern Kenya

Postby Sico » Mon Nov 02, 2015 8:58 am

PM me your email address and I will send you the original paper.
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Re: Lake Turkana, Northern Kenya

Postby Sico » Mon Nov 02, 2015 11:06 am

Image
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Re: Lake Turkana, Northern Kenya

Postby Bushviper » Mon Nov 02, 2015 11:41 am

Looks like you are having fun there. Keep posting pics.
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Re: Lake Turkana, Northern Kenya

Postby Ruan Stander » Mon Nov 02, 2015 12:31 pm

Now those are awesome finds, thanks for the update. I absolutely love Echis.
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Re: Lake Turkana, Northern Kenya

Postby Sico » Sat Nov 14, 2015 1:44 pm

Got asked to move a snake from one of the turbine foundations today, turned out to to be a very nice Bitis arietans, my first Kenyan one, and without a doubt the most placid puff adder I've ever handled
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Plenty of insects coming out now that the rains have set in, it makes it hard to spend any time outdoors at night, as you get bombarded with moths and beetles of every kind, including several unpleasant ones. Now and then you get something interesting like this large mantid
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Heughlin's bustard are plentiful as well
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A Sunset thunderstorm
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Mark
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Re: Lake Turkana, Northern Kenya

Postby Ruan Stander » Mon Nov 16, 2015 3:18 pm

Nice shots. A beautiful puff adder indeed.
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Re: Lake Turkana, Northern Kenya

Postby Sico » Mon Oct 10, 2016 7:58 pm

Picked up two of these Prosymna ruspolii Prince Ruspoli's shovel snouts over the weekend. I only took images of the first one, interesting how much solid black there is over the head and neck, the other had a much shorter band of black ending just a few ventral scales from the neck. Very innofensive little snakes, and only the one made the typical coils and tried to hide its head.
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Re: Lake Turkana, Northern Kenya

Postby Westley Price » Tue Oct 11, 2016 4:10 pm

Very cool. Another species I never knew existed!

Thanx for sharing.
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Re: Lake Turkana, Northern Kenya

Postby Sico » Tue Oct 11, 2016 4:47 pm

Yeah there's been a few interesting snakes popping up around here, it's a very unique biome and the stuff up here isn't found in a lot of other places. Been finding a lot of puff adders (monsters!) and plenty of Echis as well. Hopefully in the next week or two I may have something very interesting to put pics of, If I can get my hands on one... watch this space
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Re: Lake Turkana, Northern Kenya

Postby Westley Price » Tue Oct 11, 2016 4:59 pm

Cant wait!
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