MASIA MARA NATIONAL RESERVE & LIST

KENYA

region (near), (Compass)

Lat:00o00´S/00o00´W 151,000ha, 1,000-2,200m, flat savanna, acacia woodlands

 
Protected/registered status

 
July-October (time visited), entry $30 each per day, less for kids, a little extra for vehicles.

Birding Site Guide

This is by no means the biggest protected area in e Africa or even Kenya, but for mammal watching it is difficult to beat. Some birds can be found here but the mammals are the main attraction. The reserve is located in the s, on the border with Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, and is the n most extension of the Serengeti plains.

 
To get to the reserve requires private transport or a guided tour company; public transport is not an option. Money, food and enough petrol will have to be brought from the nearest town providing these, which from the popular eastern Sekenenani Gate is Narok (95km). There are around 15 luxury lodges and tented camps (permanent large luxury tents with full facilities and meals) at which to stay, but for the budget traveller DIY camping is the only option. Campsites are located at all main gates. There are campsites in the reserve but they may not be safe from thieves and roaming animals. For a change from camp food though, there is the option of food and drinks at one of the lodges.

 
If doing self-drive then 4 wheel-drive is advised, even though many tracks in the reserve do not require it. This is because to reach it on the Kenyan roads does require 4 wheel-drive, and it is essential on any un-surfaced road after rain. The park is well funded and tracks are generally well maintained due to tourist money, but corruption in politics has ensured that the millions of dollars donated by the west never found its way into public road construction and maintenance. But there is as well a more pragmatic reason; if the roads leading to the park are in bad repair, tourists are more likely to hire a park vehicle (and guide) rather than risk theirs, and this brings more money to the reserve. We unfortunately did not know this, or the way to the reserve, and asking locals is no use much of the time, since they often delight in sending you the wrong way down the roughest road, as happened to us (many times in Kenya). We ended up driving down what can only be described as a dry river bed in our 2 wheel-drive saloon hire car, for which we had to pay a lot of damage costs. After being guided out and getting the puncture repaired it was not far to the park and we could see the nice last stretch of road we should have come along to the entrance gate. 

Once inside the reserve the mammal viewing was easy even without a guide. We looked for herds of stationary Land Rovers and headed that way, easily getting Lion, Cheetah and Elephant. Walking is not permitted, make sure you go to the toilet beforehand and in an emergency toilet next to the vehicle when park staff are not around.

 
The e side of the reserve, where we visited, is the most accessible from Nairobi, through the (w to e) Talek, Sekenenani and Oloolaimutiek Gates, and the reserve’s higher drier flatter ground here makes driving easy. In the w towards the Oloololo Gate and escarpment boundary, is more rugged, low lying boggier ground, but this side also holds the highest concentrations of mammals. Having said that, the more popular e side is best for short visits and there will still be plenty to see.


July on is the best time to visit since this is when the Wildebeest move n following the rains to new grass. They return s in October, the exact time depending on rain patterns.

 
Birds particular to the Seregenti Plains (EBA108) are [Grey-breasted Francolin], [Fischer’s Lovebird], Usambiro Barbet (from D’Arnaud’s, not recognised by Clements), Grey-crested Helmetshrike, [Karamoja Apalis] and [Rufous-tailed Weaver], those that do not occur in the Kenyan portion (Masia Mara) are in square brackets.

 

 
Species seen. For full bird and mammal species list with scientific names go to KENYA FULL TRIP LIST 

  • Brown Snake-Eagle Circaetus cinereus MM, S, LN
  • Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca V MM
  • Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni V MM
  • Coqui Francolin Francolinus coqui MM, LN
  • Kori Bustard Ardeotis kori MM, T, A
  • White-bellied Bustard Eupodotis senegalensis MM, A
  • Bare-faced Go-away-bird Corythaixoides personatus MM
  • Rufous-crowned Roller Coracias noevius MM
  • Von der Decken's Hornbill Tockus deckeni MM, LB, T
  • African Gray Hornbill Tockus nasutus MM, K, T,
  • Southern Ground-Hornbill Bucorvus leadbeateri MM, T
  • Usambiro Barbet Trachyphonus usambiro MM
  • Mosque Swallow Cecropis senegalensis MM, Mt, SF
  • Yellow-throated Longclaw Macronyx croceus MM
  • African Gray Flycatcher Bradornis microrhynchus S, MM, T
  • Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe LN, MM
  • Capped Wheatear Oenanthe pileata MM, LNa
  • Sooty Chat Myrmecocichla nigra MM
  • Hildebrandt's Starling Lamprotornis hildebrandti MM, T
  • Chestnut Sparrow Passer eminibey MM
  • Speke's Weaver Ploceus spekei S, LN, MM
  • Reichenow's Seedeater Serinus reichenowi LN, MM
  • Common Kenyan species some of which were seen here and the rest generally
  • Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
  • Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
  • Long-tailed Cormorant Phalacrocorax africanus
  • Gray Heron Ardea cinerea
  • Black-headed Heron Ardea melanocephala
  • Goliath Heron Ardea goliath
  • Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
  • Great Egret Ardea alba
  • Little Egret Egretta garzetta
  • Western Reef-Heron Egretta gularis
  • Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides
  • Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
  • Striated Heron Butorides striata
  • Hamerkop Scopus umbretta
  • Yellow-billed Stork Mycteria ibis
  • Abdim's Stork Ciconia abdimii
  • Saddle-billed Stork Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis
  • Marabou Stork Leptoptilos crumeniferus
  • Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus
  • Hadada Ibis Bostrychia hagedash
  • Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus
  • Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus
  • Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca
  • Yellow-billed Duck Anas undulata
  • Osprey Pandion haliaetus
  • Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus
  • Scissor-tailed Kite Chelictinia riocourii
  • Black Kite Milvus migrans
  • African Fish-Eagle Haliaeetus vocifer
  • White-backed Vulture Gyps africanus
  • Black-breasted Snake-Eagle Circaetus pectoralis
  • Western Marsh-Harrier Circus aeruginosus
  • African Marsh-Harrier Circus ranivorus
  • Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus
  • African Harrier-Hawk Polyboroides typus
  • Lizard Buzzard Kaupifalco monogrammicus
  • Gabar Goshawk Micronisus gabar
  • Eurasian Buzzard Buteo buteo
  • Augur Buzzard Buteo augur
  • Tawny Eagle Aquila rapax
  • Long-crested Eagle Lophaetus occipitalis
  • Secretary-bird Sagittarius serpentarius
  • Eurasian Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
  • Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus
  • Hildebrandt's Francolin Francolinus hildebrandti
  • Yellow-necked Francolin Francolinus leucoscepus
  • Helmeted Guineafowl Numida meleagris
  • Black Crake Amaurornis flavirostra
  • Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
  • African Jacana Actophilornis africanus
  • Greater Painted-snipe Rostratula benghalensis
  • Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
  • Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta
  • Blacksmith Plover Vanellus armatus
  • Crowned Lapwing Vanellus coronatus
  • Black-bellied Plover Pluvialis squatarola
  • Three-banded Plover Charadrius tricollaris
  • Greater Sandplover Charadrius leschenaultii
  • Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago
  • Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
  • Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata
  • Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
  • Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
  • Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
  • Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis
  • Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
  • Common Redshank Tringa totanus
  • Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
  • Sanderling Calidris alba
  • Little Stint Calidris minuta
  • Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
  • Dunlin Calidris alpina
  • Ruff Philomachus pugnax
  • European Herring Gull Larus argentatus
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus
  • Gray-headed Gull Larus cirrocephalus
  • Saunders' Tern Sternula saundersi
  • Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica
  • Common Tern Sterna hirundo
  • Rock Pigeon Columba livia
  • African Mourning Dove Streptopelia decipiens
  • Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis
  • Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove Turtur chalcospilos
  • Tambourine Dove Turtur tympanistria
  • Hartlaub's Turaco Tauraco hartlaubi
  • Eastern Plantain-eater Crinifer zonurus
  • Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius
  • Klaas' Cuckoo Chrysococcyx klaas
  • Yellowbill Ceuthmochares aereus
  • White-browed Coucal Centropus superciliosus
  • African Palm-Swift Cypsiurus parvus
  • Common Swift Apus apus
  • Little Swift Apus affinis
  • Speckled Mousebird Colius striatus
  • Narina Trogon Apaloderma narina
  • Malachite Kingfisher Alcedo cristata
  • Gray-headed Kingfisher Halcyon leucocephala
  • Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis
  • Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater Merops oreobates
  • White-throated Bee-eater Merops albicollis
  • Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Merops persicus
  • European Bee-eater Merops apiaster
  • Northern Carmine Bee-eater Merops nubicus
  • Lilac-breasted Roller Coracias caudatus
  • Common Scimitar-bill Rhinopomastus cyanomelas
  • Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird Pogoniulus bilineatus
  • Greater Honeyguide Indicator indicator
  • Cardinal Woodpecker Dendropicos fuscescens
  • Gray Woodpecker Dendropicos goertae
  • Singing Bushlark Mirafra cantillans
  • Rufous-naped Lark Mirafra africana
  • Chestnut-headed Sparrow-Lark Eremopterix signatus
  • Black Sawwing Psalidoprocne pristoptera
  • Plain Martin Riparia paludicola
  • Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
  • Wire-tailed Swallow Hirundo smithii
  • House Martin Delichon urbicum
  • Lesser Striped-Swallow Cecropis abyssinica
  • Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica
  • African Pipit Anthus cinnamomeus
  • Rosy-throated Longclaw Macronyx ameliae
  • African Pied Wagtail Motacilla aguimp
  • Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
  • Purple-throated Cuckoo-shrike Campephaga quiscalina
  • Common Bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus
  • Yellow-whiskered Greenbul Andropadus latirostris
  • Eastern Mountain-Greenbul Andropadus nigriceps
  • Honeyguide Greenbul Baeopogon indicator
  • Rufous-tailed Rock-Thrush Monticola saxatilis
  • African Thrush Turdus pelios
  • Singing Cisticola Cisticola cantans
  • Winding Cisticola Cisticola galactotes
  • Carruthers' Cisticola Cisticola carruthersi
  • Yellow-breasted Apalis Apalis flavida
  • Green-backed Camaroptera Camaroptera brachyura
  • African Bush-Warbler Bradypterus baboecala
  • Red-faced Crombec Sylvietta whytii
  • Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
  • Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
  • Southern Hyliota Hyliota australis
  • Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
  • Pale Flycatcher Bradornis pallidus
  • White-eyed Slaty-Flycatcher Melaenornis fischeri
  • Gray Tit-Flycatcher Myioparus plumbeus
  • Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis
  • Equatorial Akalat Sheppardia aequatorialis
  • Rufous-tailed Scrub-Robin Cercotrichas galactotes
  • African Stonechat Saxicola torquatus
  • Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina
  • Yellow-bellied Wattle-eye Platysteira concreta
  • African Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone viridis
  • Scaly-breasted Illadopsis Illadopsis albipectus
  • Pale-breasted Illadopsis Illadopsis rufipennis
  • Gray Tit Melaniparus afer
  • Green-headed Sunbird Cyanomitra verticalis
  • Green-throated Sunbird Chalcomitra rubescens
  • Amethyst Sunbird Chalcomitra amethystina
  • Hunter's Sunbird Chalcomitra hunteri
  • African Black-headed Oriole Oriolus larvatus
  • Gray-backed Fiscal Lanius excubitoroides
  • Long-tailed Fiscal Lanius cabanisi
  • Common Fiscal Lanius collaris
  • White-crowned Shrike Eurocephalus anguitimens
  • Marsh Tchagra Tchagra minutus
  • Black-crowned Tchagra Tchagra senegalus
  • Brown-crowned Tchagra Tchagra australis
  • Fork-tailed Drongo Dicrurus adsimilis
  • House Crow Corvus splendens intro
  • Pied Crow Corvus albus
  • Wattled Starling Creatophora cinerea
  • Superb Starling Lamprotornis superbus
  • Red-winged Starling Onychognathus morio
  • Stuhlmann's Starling Poeoptera stuhlmanni
  • House Sparrow Passer domesticus
  • Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver Bubalornis niger
  • White-headed Buffalo-Weaver Dinemellia dinemelli
  • White-browed Sparrow-Weaver Plocepasser mahali
  • Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver Plocepasser superciliosus
  • Baglafecht Weaver Ploceus baglafecht
  • Holub's Golden-Weaver Ploceus xanthops
  • Northern Brown-throated Weaver Ploceus castanops
  • Red-billed Quelea Quelea quelea
  • Jackson's Widowbird Euplectes jacksoni NT
  • White-breasted Negrofinch Nigrita fusconotus
  • Green-backed Twinspot Mandingoa nitidula
  • Red-cheeked Cordonbleu Uraeginthus bengalus
  • Bar-breasted Firefinch Lagonosticta rufopicta
  • Pin-tailed Whydah Vidua macroura
  • Streaky Seedeater Serinus striolatus


  • KEY
  • CR = Critical
  • E = Endangered
  • V = Vulnerable
  • NT = Near-threatened
  • e = endemic
  • intro = introduced


  • no sites given for common species or species more readily found in Europe
  • A = Athi Plains
  • L = Liota Plains
  • LB = Lake Baringo
  • LN = Lake Nakuru
  • LNa = Lake Naivasha
  • MM = Masia Mara NP
  • Mt = Mount Kenya NP
  • N = Niarobi NP
  • N to M = Niarobi to Mombasa
  • R = Red Brick Dam, Lake Victoria
  • S = Samburu GR
  • SF = Sokoke Forest & coast
  • SS = Saiwa Swamp
  • T = Tsavo
  • h = heard only


Author: BSG

www.birdingsiteguide.com