In Summary
  • We stop by a gorgeous green wooded grassland.
  • In the midst of the homes and fences in and around the wetlands, a pair of endangered Grey-crowned cranes stalk to feed on the frogs and other small creatures that breed in them.

When Elspeth Huxley penned the Flame Trees of Thika, the road out of Nairobi in 1913 was very much different from the Thika super highway we are driving on to reach Juja, 40 kilometres away.

Her description from the novel is of her as a six-year old with her mother, on an ox wagon, travelling out of Nairobi to meet her father who has just acquired virgin land that’s deemed to be great for coffee farming.

Beyond Ainsworth Bridge it was open country with wild game like lions on it. Giraffes on the grass plains and antelopes watched the little party inch its way to reach Thika in two days.

Just over 100 years later, it’s urban living all along the fast highway.

Our route diverges a few kilometres before Thika and on to a country lane. We’re heading to Juja for a day of hiking and birding with Nature Kenya. The country lane is red murram straddled by coffee farms patched with grass plains dotted with acacias in flower.

“The land between Nairobi and Thika, now fast becoming built up, is particularly rich in biodiversity,” says Fleur Ng’weno, who started the bird walks from the car park at Nairobi Museum in 1972.

“There are a number of plant species that are only found in the Nairobi-Thika area,” she continues. “That’s why it’s so important to conserve green spaces as the city builds up.”

We stop by a gorgeous green wooded grassland. In the midst of the homes and fences in and around the wetlands, a pair of endangered Grey-crowned cranes stalk to feed on the frogs and other small creatures that breed in them.

LARGE, HANDSOME RAPTOR

Suddenly someone spots an osprey on the top of a tall tree and all binoculars are excitedly trained to it. The osprey is a large, handsome raptor and a visitor from the northern hemisphere.

Perched on the tree above the wetlands is a great vantage point for it to scan the natural pools for food like frogs.

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