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Three sisters of dinosaurs

Hello – we have had a couple of interesting visitors at TBI last night and this morning.

Just as I was heading to bed, the students came to get me saying there was a snake in the mess hall. I went over and found this beautiful snake clinging to one of the table legs. This is a Large Eyed Snake (Telescopus). It is not venomous, and was probably interested in some of the geckos who are also out hunting insects near the lights…

Large-Eyed Snake

I gently guided the snake into my butterfly net and carried it off into the bush where I released into a Toothbrush Tree. It happily wriggled up the branches disappearing among the leaves.

Close-up view of the Large-Eyed Snake - amazing eyes!

This morning as I was out walking I glimpsed a large, dark shadowy form moving in the distance. I stopped and waited for it to re-appear from behind some bushes and was thrilled to see that it was an Abyssinian Ground Hornbill! These are among the largest of the hornbills and rather rare these days. This is a wonderful record for TBI and shows that bird diversity and wildlife is making a come-back within the area. These Ground Hornbills are typical of the dry regions around the Sahel. They feed on rodents, lizards, snakes and insects. They are really striking and their appearance really shows that birds evolved from dinosaurs!

Abyssinian Ground Hornbill

Then I as I headed back to camp, I startled a flock of Sandgrouse that were beautifully camouflaged on the ground among some Indigofera. I waited for them to land again and this time walked slowly towards them so that I could get a picture… These Sandgrouse are a bird of the open semi-desert plains, and one of the most amazing things they do is soak the feathers on their breast with water and carry this out into the desert to feed to their thirsty chicks!

Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse

 

Dr. Dino Martins

Dr. Dino Martins

Hello! I'm Dino Martins, an entomologist interested in how insects keep the planet running. I study ants, bees and termites and how they interact with other species. I teach for the Turkana Basin Field School and currently hold a post-doctoral fellowship with Stony Brook - Turkana Basin Institute.