Always Up For A Spot Of Breakfast: Superb Starling


A surreal image – over-exposed so you can see the colours of this Superb Starling, one of Kenya’s commonest birds. But surreal in other ways too. Did we really eat breakfast on the shores of Lake Elmenteita and share it with such birds. (See previous post). On fine days the tables were set out under the fever trees. The soundtrack: incessant chatter of Speke’s weavers from their thorn tree colony by the camp kitchen, fluting call of the black headed oriel, squabbling of babblers, warbling of robin chats, distant grunting of flamingos out on the lake.


Under the fever trees. Can you spot the superb starlings?



Delamere Camp reception and dining room



The ‘Sleeping Warrior’ an exploded volcanic cone on the western lake shore, Eburru hills beyond.


Kenya is of course a serious bird watcher’s paradise. The capital Nairobi boasts a species list of 600 plus. And if I were there now, even if equipped with only the digital zoom of a modest ‘point and shoot’, this blog would be bursting with wonderful bird photos. An irritating thought. For most of the time we lived in Kenya I had only a little Olympus-trip – which was great on landscapes and immobile subjects, but otherwise limited when it came to wildlife photography. Here are my better efforts from Elmenteita: a black headed oriel, glossy starling,  grey heron with egrets, Speke’s weaver, Abdim’s stork and greater flamingos.

Square Up #4

41 thoughts on “Always Up For A Spot Of Breakfast: Superb Starling

  1. Aaah … the old Olympus Trip. I have a few photo albums from when I first arrived in Africa full of photos shot with the Trip!
    Sadly it got nicked.

    I eventually upgraded to an OM10 (with a Tokina 300mm lens ) and now we are all digital!
    600 bird species! Wow! I’d go dilly.

    1. re old Olympus trip – Every now and then it would take a very astonishing photo with unexpected depth of field. The negs mostly haven’t scanned very well. And then the back kept opening mid-shot…

      1. I have a couple of shots that are pretty good. One, a framed shot of a vase of roses that hangs on one wall in my office I took 25 years ago. Even today, I can award it a nod of approval!
        The only problem I have with ‘backs’ is my own!

      2. Probably. Maybe all those years bending forward while hairdressing?
        It tends to go out more than I do these days.
        My daughter is regularly on my case about my posture. She thinks I should walk around with a book on my head or attend a finishing school.
        She might be on to something.

      3. Hm. Occupation wear and tear, that figures. It’s amazing how our generally bad posture can actually have a hand in all manner of dysfunction and ill health. We probably haven’t finished evolving. (This might be said to more true of some than others).

  2. I only had a small Fuji film camera when I did my Africa trip which was useless for the smaller animals and birds. You really need a good zoom lens. But your starling is lovely. I could have used a Superb Fairywren except I am using photos from or of Cornwall this time.

  3. Wow just “superb” it challenges the brightness of our parrots. What adventures you had Tish. Great to have the photos to reminisce over in our locked down state.

  4. As you say, superb starlings are just run-of-the-mill in East Africa. All the same, I loved seeing them during my stay in Tanzania. I think our own starlings are rather unappreciated too. Can recall asking a friend who was an expert in evolutionary biology why it is that starlings are such skilled mimics. Just what evolutionary advantage does it confer to be able to imitate odd sounds, for instance, the sound of a ring tone? I think he misunderstood (or perhaps he was being deliberately obtuse) but his response has always stuck with me: he said, “starlings, yes… I suppose they’re more lookers!”

      1. Hi Tish. I’m very well thanks and mostly withstanding the lunacy, although these days I find it harder and harder to engage with – which accounts both for the dirth of new content on my own site as well as the infrequency of visits to yours. Annoyingly, and compounding the problem, WordPress no longer directs me via the readers page and so I often forget to check up on what people are posting. When finally I do see what you’ve been up to, I’m always greatly impressed. So thanks for asking and hope you are well too and bearing up despite the maddening circumstances.

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