We are lucky enough to have an update from a current volutneer out in the field. Read on for her first hand account of life out in Shimoni...!
Its 8:13am and the sun strikes my back as if its midday. Our feet hit the red earth of the road out to Kibuyuni, a village to Shimoni’s west. There are a couple of groups of colobus along this road, and we walk in search of their little black and white faces peering down at us.
It was my first day on the forest project. I had my four litres of water, my sunglasses, my silly sunhat, my binoculars. And my new found appreciation for birds. Up until this point birds were just, well, birds. Pretty, feathery animals that took to the sky without fear of heights. But as we walked with the sun hitting our faces we spotted a particular bird of prey.Majestically it sat atop a dead tree, unobscured by leaves, open for all to see. The hooked beak and searing eyes at the front of its head gave an air of “don’t mess with me.” While the others scrambled to get the bird book out to identify it, I took photo after photo, creeping closer and closer, till I stood mere metres from the base of the tree. From there it eyed me lazily before continuing to survey the horizon.
As my camera clicked away an overloaded motorcycle rode past, causing it to take flight. Luckily I had my finger on the button and I was ready. It turns out this photo was the defining image in determining what kind of bird this was.
Turns out we had spotted a Southern-Banded Snake Eagle, one of two threatened birds in this area. The IUCN list it as “Near Threatened” which I liken to saying “its screwed but not as screwed as polar bears.”
And so my introduction to the forest went, a lovely introduction indeed, and since then, my love and appreciation (and dare I say obsession) with birds has only continued to grow.
Tina Thornburn- Volunteer