Loldia House

Loldia House ~ March 2019

The weather has been stunning, with dry and cool sunny mornings and warm sunny afternoons. On the afternoon of the 27th March we experienced heavy rainfall of 15mm, and during the night a further 4 mm of rain fell. This rain was hugely welcomed as there has been no meaningful rainfall at Loldia for over six months! It has otherwise been fairly dry around the ranch and we have welcomed many visitors such as Impala to our lawns. 

The stunning lake-view from Loldia House – photo credit Dave Richards

Loldia’s infinity pool – perfect for hot weather – photo credit Dave Richards

The large fig trees, (‘giant-leaved fig’ or Ficus lutea), which are such a prominent feature of Loldia, have been fruiting which has attracted many birds. Mostly Speckled and Blue-naped Mousebirds, Common Bulbul, Black-headed Orioles, Red-winged Starlings, Violet-backed Starlings, large flocks of beautiful Green Pigeons, White-headed Barbets and various warblers and sunbirds are eating both the insects that are attracted to the ripe figs and the juicy figs themselves. Above the fig trees, Barn Swallows, Sand Martins, Black Saw-wing and an occasional House Martin fed on the many insects attracted to the trees. Small herds of Impala have also enjoyed eating any figs that fall to the ground. One day a group of Vervet Monkeys visited one of the fig trees which attracted even more Impala – as the monkeys dropped many figs in their eagerness to eat as many as possible!

Beautiful Green Pigeons found in the fig trees at Loldia House – photo credit Dave Richards

Because the grounds of Loldia House are kept watered, Impala herds have been a regular feature, feeding very close to the house. There are many young Impala in the herds, which almost certainly would not have survived without this grass being available. Unfortunately the local hippos are having a very hard time, as a result of the drought – there is very little for them to eat. Normally hippos will walk many kilometres inland and can eat as much as 40 kg a night.

The green lawns have attracted many Impala herds around the house – photo credit Dave Richards

Night drives at Loldia have been very popular with many exciting sightings. One night over 20 Spotted Hyena were found eating a hippo which had probably died because of lack of food during the ongoing draught. And on another night, a group of Spotted Hyena killed a male Impala. Other interesting sightings have been an Aardvark, several White-tailed Mongoose, a Porcupine, Spotted Eagle Owls and most interesting of all, a Melanistic (black) Genet cat! Our March guests also saw  Spring Hares, Silver-backed Jackals with pups, African Hare, Buffalo, Hippo and Thomson’s Gazelles – all on a night game drive. On a more recent night drive, a pair of Bush Pigs with four small piglets was seen. This was very special as bush pigs are rarely seen. On the same drive a family of six Spring Hares were also seen. All in all, March was a great month for wildlife viewing in general – especially the night drives which we are so well known for.

Photo credit Dave Richards

A white-tailed mongoose spotted on Loldia’s night game drive

Another likely night-time sighting – a Spotted Eagle Owl – photo credit Dave Richards

An early morning boat ride on the lake can be very rewarding and most of our guests do take up the opportunity to do this. The bird like on and around the lake is second to none and provides the most incredible photographic opportunities. Herons and Egrets are all now changing into their breeding dress and one Grey Heron was in complete breeding colour, with bright red legs and bill. Other than Herons and Egrets there were many Pelicans (both Great White and Pink-backed), White winged Terns, Grey-headed Gulls and, of course, numerous Fish Eagles. If you are looking closely along the lake’s shoreline, you can spot a lot of the smaller wildlife- one particularly thrilling sighting was that of a Marsh Mongoose which are normally very shy and quickly disappear once you get close. This one stayed in view for quite a while, allowing itself to be photographed.

Marsh mongoose at the water’s edge – quite a rare sighting – photo credit Dave Richards

Another activity that we are massively excited about and eager to support is a trip to nearby Soysambu Conservancy. Our resident photographer, Will Fortescue, who spent some time at Loldia in March, set off there one day to learn about the very important work they are doing in order to help secure a future for lions in the area. Soysambu has functioned primarily as one of Kenya’s Most successful cattle ranches for the last 100 years, all the while maintaining large areas of wild habitat be protected within its borders. Unfortunately lions pose a huge threat to cattle ranchers and the last of the lions in this area were hunted by the likes of Theodore Roosevelt and the Prince of Wales several decades ago. And then one day, two lions wandered into the area from Lake Nakuru and the population quickly became a total of eight lion. In the past the lions would have continued onto another location or been relocated back to the park. However, given the abundance of easy prey at Soysambu it quickly became clear that these lion were here to stay. Solutions needed to be made fast. Some of the lions are now radio-collared and can be tracked on a 24 hour basis, enabling the conservancy to mitigate potential livestock losses. Here is Will’s account of the day trip:
“Undoubtedly one of the highlights of my trip so far. Eager to get to Soysambu early for the best photography light at Golden Hour (7-8am) we left Loldia House at 6am. Turning off the main road between Nairobi and Nakuru you are transported in to one of Kenya’s typically dramatic landscapes. With Lake Elmenteita on one side and the Great Rift Valley on another, we drove through the conservancy, spotting multiple zebra, gazelle, buffalo and the occasional jackal all on route to one of the areas many watering holes. We were on our way to meet up with Kat Combes, an American woman who is monitoring (amongst many other things) the lion population on Soysambu. She and her three Labradors happily greeted us, packed the lion tracking antenna into our car and we took off for a high point on the conservancy to try and find a signal from the lion collars.
Kat Coombes attempting to pick up a signal on one of Soysambu’s lions – photo credit Will Fortescue
Loldia House guide, Sammy, holding the lion identification sheet – photo credit Will Fortescue
We spent 20 minutes looking for a response from the collars but sadly had no luck and chose instead to look for them the traditional way … out came the binoculars! Kat had with her identification images for all the lions so we knew exactly who we were looking for but sadly had no joy finding them. As it was approaching the heat of the day this was not a surprise as they’d probably found somewhere to shelter from the sun. So instead we were able to watch zebra enjoy a recently refilled watering hole, before moving on to see Rothschild Giraffe (the most endangered of Kenya’s three species) and plenty of gazelle around the edge of the lake.
Soysambu is dominated by grazing animals with zebra and buffalo being the
biggest contributor to the biomass, after the cattle. Photo credit Will Fortescue
We also went in to their bird of prey sanctuary allowing us to get up close and personal to some of the biggest birds on the continent. A great, if somewhat unnerving experience, realising just how big these birds are up close!
Soysambu’s Bird Of Prey Trust – photo credit Will Fortescue
The final highlight was heading to the forest surrounding the edge of the lake – from here we were able to see both Greater and Lesser Flamingo on the water’s edge, as well as the 43 colobus monkeys that Soysambu is home to. All in all, this is an amazingly worthwhile trip and one where you really feel you are involved in the conservation of Africa’s staggeringly beautiful wildlife populations”.
By Dave Richards and Will Fortescue.


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