Baringo’s 470 species of birds are one of its biggest draws, and even if you don’t know a superb starling from an ordinary one, the enthusiasm of others tends to be infectious. Former Baringo ornithologist Terry Stevenson holds the world record “bird-watch” for 24 hours – 342 species. Baringo’s bird population rises and falls with the seasons (the dry season is the leanest time for birders), but the lakeshore resounds with birdsong (and frogs) at most times of year. It’s surprisingly easy to get within close range of the birds – some species, such as the starlings and the white-bellied go-away bird, are positively brazen and may even perch on your breakfast table. There are some interesting marshy areas south of the (now closed) Lake Baringo Club, where you should see some unusual species such as the white phase of the paradise flycatcher, grey-headed bush shrike, violet wood hoopoe and various kingfishers. Hippos commonly graze here, too, even in daylight hours. Wherever you’re staying, an early-morning, birding boat trip along the lake’s reedy shore is likely to be on offer, possibly in combination with a visit to the Goliath Heronry and one or two hippo and croc haunts. Afternoons can profitably be used for a trip out near the main road under some striking red cliffs, an utterly different habitat where, apart from hyraxes and baboons, you can see several species of hornbill, sometimes the massive nest of a hammerkop (wonderful-looking birds in flight, resembling miniature pterodactyls with their strange crests) and, with luck, the rare Verreaux’s eagle.
The most dedicated birders should definitely take the opportunity to spot Baringo’s nocturnal birds on a night bird walk from Roberts’ Camp. Your highly trained guide may find you a nightjar, Heuglin’s courser, white-fronted scops owl or the curiously named spotted thick-knee.