Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill (Bycanistes subcylindricus)

J.F.L Van Duinen

This species is commonly seen in Kenya especially around Tugen Hills, Kakamega Forest and Cherangani Hills. It is an easy species to identify and birders will have less difficulty spotting this species even in primary forest habitat as its flight betray his presence.These birds are mostly frugivorous, with the fruits of Ficus trees composing more than half of their diet. Overall, they are known to eat the fruits of over 41 plant genera, which they forage by hopping from branch to branch in the rainforest canopy and reaching for fruit with the tip of the bill, which they then swallow whole. They also consume birds, eggs, insects, bats, snails, lizards, molluscs, other small animal prey, mosses, lichens, and fungi. Sexual dimorphism is exhibited by these species, and male tend to be slightly bigger than their female counter parts.

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Birdwatching In Ethiopia

Bird watching in Ethiopia is not easy as I had came to experience, but despite all those, I managed to add over 40 lifers to my life list, considering that I am a seasoned birder in Kenya. I had previously plan to travel from Nairobi to Addis Ababa by road, but charged my mind after the security situation in northern part of become very unpredictable especially the section of Isiolo-Marsabit-Moyale.

My flight from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport took off 23:30 pm and touched down in Bole International Airport at 1:30 a.m. A woke up in addis Ababa and travelled south of Ethiopia through the western escarpment route of Butajira-Hossana where I spend two nights. After I proceeded to Sodo-Shashemene all the way to Dinsho, the HQ of Bale Mountain National Park. Ethiopia 015

Bale Mountains National Park is a national park in Ethiopia with one of the highest incidences of animal endemicity of any terrestrial habitat in the world. It is home to Mountain Nyala and Ethiopian Wolf.Ethiopia 047
I stayed in Bale Mountain for 2 days after which I back tracked to Shashemenne and I drove south to Dilla Town, a nice high altitude town which was full of life. The next day I started early going south to Hagere Maryam then connected to Yabello town, a small town located is arid and semi arid area, but famous for its ornithological richness.

Photo by Joseph Aengwo

Photo by Joseph Aengwo

After a day there, I started my trip back to Hawassa, a beautiful lake side town where I spent three nights there before going back to Addis Ababa for my flight back to Nairobi. While in Ethiopia I enjoyed their avian richness, unique culture and food and I was treated to some of the most sensational landscapes in southern part of that vast country. I will publish my full trip report once I am done in this blog.Ethiopia 077

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Spotted thick-knee (Burhinus capensis)

Spotted Thick-knee is also referred to as Stone Curlew or Cape Thick-knee. Although it has isolated populations in the Arabian Peninsula, the bulk of its population is in sub-Saharan Africa. In Kenya it is common across much of the region, largely excluding , Mt.Kenya, Aberdare, Kakmega forest , Mt Elgon. It generally prefers open habitats, Baringo special 010Baringo special 015Baringo special 022especially savanna and grassland but also woodland fringes, low stony hills and urban habitats, such as parks, playing fields and parks. This bird is largely resident in our region
It mainly eats insects, doing most of its foraging in a plover-like manner, repeatedly running forward, stopping then jabbing prey with its bill. The following food items have been recorded in its diet; Beetles, crickets ,ear bugs, butterflies and termites and ants.
This species is monogamous, usually territorial solitary nester, although it occasionally forms loose colonies. It often rears two or even three broods in a single breeding season.The nest is a shallow scrape in the ground, sometimes unlined but usually with a lining of a few twigs, animal droppings, leaves or stone chips. It is usually located in grassland, either out in the open or partially concealed beneath a bush.

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Papyrus Gonolek (Laniarius mufumbiri)

Photo@Moses Kandie

Photo@Moses Kandie

When we started our journey at the shore of Lake Victoria in such for the seldom Papyrus Gonolek with Titus who was our boat man, we didn’t expect to have such a luck!!we were all surprised after a few minute of calling back its call, the bird made an impressive show off for a cool 1 minute. This is how such a photo was taken. In Kenya, this bird is mostly seen in the extensive shores of Lake Victoria. For this one, we were at hippo point side. But you have an equal chances of seeing it in Sio port too.
The Papyrus Gonolek is similar to the black headed Gonolek but with a bright-yellow cap complementing her crimson breast, and white bar on the black wing.The bird has specialized habitat requirements, being restricted to papyrus swamps.Papyrus Gonolek is not yet a threatened spicies but she has become rare due to habitat loss and pollution.

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Striped kingfisher (Halcyon chelicuti)

photo@Joseph Aengwo

photo@Joseph Aengwo

Striped Kingfisher is one of the most brilliantly coloured bird, even though it the smallest and least colourful of the non-aquatic Kingfishers. It has strident voice and dramatic courtship display. This species has some blue plumage on scapulars, brown head with streaky lining. The breast is white with some little strikes black upper and red lower mandible. This species is adapted to wooded habitat of dry country side.

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Amani sunbird (Anthreptes pallidigaster)

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Photo@Moses Kandie

 

The Amani Sunbird is classified as Endangered (EN), considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild. This elusive bird if found in Coastal subtropical moist lowland forest especially in Arabuko Sokoke in north coast of Kenya and Eastern Usambara mountains in Tanzania.
Adult male has glossy blue-green head, throat and upper breast. Upperparts are iridescent dark purplish blue-green on upper back, scapulars and upperwing coverts. Lower back and rump are blackish. Short tail and uppertail coverts are glossy purplish-blue. Underparts are greyish-white, with orange-red feathers on upper flanks. Underwings are white. The black bill is down-curved. Eyes are dark brown
You have a high chance of watching this species which is confined to a few remnant Brachystegia woodlands. They prefer the high canopy trees and a lot of patience is advised before you enjoy a great view of this beautiful bird.

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Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)

Photo@Jurg Hosang

The squacco heron is a migrant, wintering in Kenya. This is a stocky species with a short neck, short thick bill and buff-brown back. In summer, adults have long neck feathers. Its appearance is transformed in flight, when it looks very white due to the colour of the wings. The squacco heron’s breeding plumage is recognized by sky blue bill as clearly seen in the photo above with a black tip. It prefers marshy wetlands as a breeding site. The birds nest in small colonies, often with other wading birds, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs. This species being a terrestrial bird, is mostly seen in lakes, river valleys, swamps and other permanent or temporary freshwater wetlands in Kenya Rift Valley, Lake Victoria rice fields, Central highland ponds and on both north east and south cost of Kenya.

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