Weekend at the Lake

It was a great privileged to have guided James and Catherine over the weekend when they came down for a brief birding visit.I had a great birding time with them.

Birding East Africa

January 9-10, 2016

Lake Baringo

It was a spur of the moment decision, we visited Lake Baringo for the weekend. We knew that two things will soon happen at the lake: the northern carmine bee-eaters will migrate north between February and April, and it will become unbearably hot.  A bit of advice…don’t travel to northern Kenya in February or March. We made the standard Nakumatt run for supplies, packed our bags/cooler box, and checked the car’s vitals. The drive was (as usual) quite interesting with the terrain constantly changing. Farmland and fields are soon replaced by escarpments and acacia thickets, which then transition to scrub hillsides, which become lush forested hills, which then morph to dry bush, and finally dusty rock outcroppings with scattered trees. Thankfully, the forecast predicted cloud cover at night, which meant cooler temperatures.

We stayed at Robert’s Camp once again and opted to rent one of their dome tents for 2,000ksh per night. Quite affordable…

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2015 Big Year Ended for Noah Strycker and Big Year 2016 Started with Arjan Dwarshuis

Noah Strycker ended his big year adventure two days ago, with a stunning 6042 species, with Silver-breasted Broadbill being the last bird on that incredible long list.Noah and Raunak 163

British birders Ruth Miller and Alan Davies held the previous Big Year world record with 4,341 bird species seen in 2008, going by those numbers; Noah surpassed the existing record by 1,700 species. Statistically, it means Noah managed to see a new bird everyday in the year 2015. I’m very proud to have been directly involved in the big year expedition in Kenya and it was a humbling experience to bird with this ever excited, energetic and patience record breaking birder.

Birding with Noah in Kenya

Photo by Joseph Aengwo

With the exit of Noah Strycker from the scene……entered Arjan Dwarshuis, a young Dutch birder. Like, Noah rightfully puts it, records are made to be surpassed in any case, and that will be an assignment for the next birder to come along. The new big year bird watching expedition to break the new record which was set two days ago started yesterday in the Dutch delta in Holland. Arjan is attempting to break the world record set by Noah. I’m again privileged that I will be Arjan Dwarshuis guide in Kenya, together with my colleague Stratton Hatfield and Zarek Cockar. I wish him well in his endeavor in setting a new world record.
From Kenya Birding and Silent Fliers Safaris team, we look forward to birding Kenya with you this year. And to everyone else, best wishes for a wonderful, birdy, peaceful, joyful and healthy Happy New Year!

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Kenya Birding Route’s

The possibilities of birding in Kenya are endless, and coming up with a simple birding itinerary will probably cost you less of your time. However, to come up with an excellent birding plan, you need to consider the general security situation, accessibility of the birding spot , bird species sort after by the birder, physical fitness of the participant and the traveling time. Some route will be incredibly rewarding with Kenya endemic and near endemic species. For instance, you can easily see four (William’s Lark, Sharpe’s Longclaw,Aberdare Cisticola and Hinde’s Babbler) out of six endemics of Kenya by visiting Mt. Kenya Forest, Samburu national reserve, Aberdare national Park and Kinangop grassland. The route can also pocket you nine of the Kenya near endemic. friedmann's-lark_500

Friedmann’s Lark (Mirafra pulpa)

Some directions gives you greater species diversity than other. A birder can easily pocket over 450 species in 14 days by trying the Eastern-Coastal Route which will ideally take you to the world’s only wildlife capital (Nairobi National Park), Lake Magadi, Amboseli National Park, Tsavo West, Lake Jipe, Kitobo Forest, Tsavo East National Park, Arabuko Sokoke forest, Mida Creek and Sabaki estuary. Some of the species unique to this route includes; Clarke’s Weaver, Fischer’s Turaco , Sokoke Scops Owl , Mombasa Woodpecker , Friedmann’s Lark , Malindi Pipit, Sokoke Pipit , Pangani Longclaw , East Coast Akalat , Little Yellow Flycatcher , Amani Sunbird, Red-naped Bush-Shrike , Taveta Golden Weaver and Southern Grosbeak-Canary just to name but a few. After all this business of chasing this things with wing, you can spare yourself few days to just to relax at one of those exclusive white sand beach resorts in Watamu and Malindi and perhaps try out snorkeling by visiting either Malindi or Watamu Marine park. crab_plover

Crab-plover (Dromas ardeola)
If you decide to go down the Rift Valley, you will be treated with some of the spectacular panorama views of your life, 30 km from Nairobi, you will be descending the Rift, at its base is Lakes Naivasha, Elementaita,Nakuru, Bogoria and Baringo. All the Lakes are important bird areas and therefore birdwatching is very productive there. You will then exit the Rift Valley through the Elgeyo escarpment having literally driven a cross Kerio Valley which with luck can produces good species like White-crested and Ross’s Turaco, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow Weaver, Green-backed Eremomela and Boran Cisticola.

J.F.L Van Duinen

J.F.L Van Duinen

Hemprich’s Hornbill (Tockus hemprichii)

While travelling through Uasin Gishu Plateau, you guys have two option, which in any way, you can decided to take both. Start by visiting Burney’s House in Sirikwa which is normally basic base for exploring Cherangany Hills, Kongolai Escarpment and Saiwa swamp national park, the smallest park in Kenya barely measuring more than 2.9 sq.km . This small park provides a great home for Sitatunga, a swamp dwelling antelope and De Brazza’s Monkey. You will definitely find this route worth your while with species like Lammergeier, Lesser Blue-eared, Bronze-tailed and Splendid Starling, Yellow-billed Shrike,Heuglin’s Masked Weaver, Black-billed Barbet, Gambaga Flycatcher and Yellow-billed Hyliota coming your way.
Kakamega forest, Busia Grassland and Lake Victoria gives you a taste of western Kenya birding in a nutshell with high possibility of recording species like Turner’s Eremomela, Southern Hyliota, African Broad Bill, Great Blue and Black-billed Turaco, Yellow-billed, Hairy-breasted, Grey-throated and Yellow-spotted Barbet, Blue-shouldered, Snowy-headed and Grey-winged Robin Chat inside Kakamega forest, which is the only remnant tropical rain forest in Kenya. Busia region will reward you with Red-fronted Lovebird, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Fawn-breasted and Zebra Waxbill,Bar-breasted and Black-bellied Firefinch, Compact Weaver and Rock Pratincole.
Lake Victoria richness in Papyrus vegetation is therefore ideal habitat to look for birds like Papyrus Gonolek, Greater Swamp, Papyrus Yellow and White-winged Warbler, Swamp Flycatcher, Slender-billed, Yellow-backed and Northern Brown-throated Weaver among others. Eastern Plantain Eater and other aquatic species are plenty here.

Photo@Moses Kandie

Photo@Moses Kandie

Papyrus Gonolek (Laniarius mufumbiri)
After Lake Victoria you head south-east to Masai Mara Game Reserve. The Mara is the northern extension of the famous Serengeti plains. Here you will find a wide assortment of bird life as well as some of the most spectacular mammals on the continent. Complementing the wildlife is the dramatic scenery of endless grasslands, lush river valleys and steep rock-strewn escarpments. Birds you can expect in this area of the Mara are Rufous-bellied Heron, Saddle-billed Stork, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Coqui and Red-necked Francolins, Grey Crowned-crane, Temminck’s Courser, Wattled Lapwing, Ross’s and Schalow’s Turacos, Malachite and Woodland Kingfishers, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Rufous-chested Swallow, White-tailed Lark, Familiar Chat, Silverbird, Red-faced, Trilling and Tabora Cisticolas, Green-capped Eremomela, Black-crowned Tchagra, Hildebrandt’s and Violet-backed Starlings, Yellow-fronted Canary and Cinnamon-breasted Bunting.Ray Wattled Plover

African Wattled Lapwing (Vanellus senegallus)

This is the best area in the Mara to see big game up close and some of the many mammals to be seen here include Black-backed Jackal, Bat-eared Fox, Banded Mongoose, Spotted Hyena, Serval Cat, African Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Bush Hyrax, African Elephant, Common Zebra, Hippopotamus, Common Warthog, Masai Giraffe, African Buffalo, Eland, Steinbuck, Bohor Reedbuck, Thomson’s and Grant’s Gazelles, Impala, Topi, Coke’s Hartebeest and thousands of Wildebeest. You will also see many massive Nile Crocodiles, some over 15ft in length, basking in the sun along the banks of the Mara River. From Masai Mara Game Reserve, you only need 4 hours to drive to Nairobi.
This is the best area in the Mara to see big game up close and some of the many mammals to be seen here include Black-backed Jackal, Bat-eared Fox, Banded Mongoose, Spotted Hyena, Serval Cat, African Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Bush Hyrax, African Elephant, Common Zebra, Hippopotamus, Common Warthog, Masai Giraffe, African Buffalo, Eland, Steinbuck, Bohor Reedbuck, Thomson’s and Grant’s Gazelles, Impala, Topi, Coke’s Hartebeest and thousands of Wildebeest. You will also see many massive Nile Crocodiles, some over 15ft in length, basking in the sun along the banks of the Mara River. From Masai Mara Game Reserve, you only need 4 hours to drive to Nairobi.

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Great Blue Turaco (Corythaeola cristata)

Jan Van Duinen

Jan Van Duinen

Great Blue Turaco is the largest species of the Turaco family. The adult has turquoise-blue upperparts, including wings and tail. The tail is long and wide, and shows a broad, black subterminal band. Most birds have narrow blue tips. The outer rectrices are partially edged yellow. The wings lack the crimson primaries of other turacos.On the underparts, neck and upper breast are turquoise-blue. Lower breast and belly are greenish-yellow, as the undertail feathers. The tail has black subterminal band. Lower belly, undertail-coverts and tibial feathers are chestnut.
On the turquoise-blue head, there is a conspicuous blue-black raised crest on forecrown and crown. Chin, throat, cheeks and outer eye-ring are greyish. The large convex bill is bright yellow with red tip. The eyes are reddish-brown, surrounded by bare dark turquoise-blue eye-ring. Legs and feet are blackish. Sexes are similar.
Great Blue Turaco have territories which are maintained throughout the year. Like many of the turacos, Great blues are rather shy and seldom descend to the ground except for drinking and bathing. They are quite agile when climbing throughout the branches. Seldom alone, they may be in pairs, family or social groups of up to seven individuals, with several groups often gathering at a single large fruit tree. These turacos are not good fliers, flying short distances and soaring to lower levels of the forest. Courtship involves calling, chasing, feeding each other, raising the crest and the long tail. They call early in the morning and late in the afternoon. They best seen only in Kakamega forest in western Kenya and all the forest in Uganda.

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Noah Strycker, the Record Breaking Birder from Oregon went Birding in Kenya with Joseph Aengwo!

Noah Strycker is a keen birdwatcher who is out to set world record for bird species seen in one calendar year. Noah who lives in Eugene, Oregon, U.S.A. He was in Kenya from 6th – 16th August 2015 where I was privileged to host him. Growing up with a fascination of birds, Noah considered embarking on a yearlong trip to break the world record for most bird species seen in one calender year

photo by Joseph Aengwo

photo by Joseph Aengwo

The current world record is was set by British couple Ruth Miller and Alan Davies in 2008, of 4,341 species. There are an estimated 10,000 bird species worldwide.

Photo by Joseph Aengwo

Photo by Joseph Aengwo

Noah birding itinerary took him to Taita Hills, Tsavo East, Arabuko Sokoke forest along the coast, Mida Creek, Mt. Kenya, Lake Baringo and Kinangop grassland. He flew in to Kenya from Madagascar with a list of 3831 species and he left Kenya for Tanzania with 3996 species, which means he had 165 new species in his list and a country list of 393 in 11 days.  It was nice being part of this record breaking team and I wish him well in his quest to set a new world record.

Photo by Joseph Aengwo

Photo by Joseph Aengwo

Photo by Joseph Aengwo

Photo by Joseph Aengwo

Photo by Joseph Aengwo

Photo by Joseph Aengwo

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Birdwatching in Uganda

Birding Uganda, 22.07.2015 – 29.07.2015

 Joseph and I had been planning this for a while – it was time to get into the West Uganda forests of Budongo and Semliki to see some of the Guinea-Congo rainforest specials. Semliki is the only such forest in Uganda – and DRC is too dangerous (in spite of its enticing visa-free entry policy) – which made this trip even more special!
Places visited over the trip:

1. Budongo Forest (The “Royal Mile”)
2. Murchison Falls National Park
3. Semliki National Park
4. Kibale Forest
5. Bigodi Wetlands
6. Mabamba Swamp

Joseph and I both bagged many lifers – especially the Ugandan specials such as the bizarre Shoebill, Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle, Lemon-Bellied Crombec, Piping Hornbill, Gabon Woodpecker, Blue-Billed Malimbe, Red-Rumped Tinkerbird and the very rare Ituri Batis. It was also our first time to cross the Nile by ferry – which we both found quite fascinating with the amazing view of the Ugandan grasslands along the river. Uganda is truly a special country! We spotted 272 species overall, with notably great views of the Great Blue Turaco and the Red-Headed Malimbe.

Birds spotted over the entire trip:

Abyssinian Ground Hornbill

1. Reed Cormorant – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
2. African Darter – 1 at Murchison Falls NP
3. Pink-Backed Pelican – 1 at Mabamba Swamp
4. Cattle Egret – Many near cattle and buffalo
5. Great Egret – 3 at Murchison Falls NP
6. Purple Heron – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
7. Grey Heron – Several near all types of water bodies
8. Black-Headed Heron – 2 at Bigodi Wetlands
9. Goliath Heron – 1 flying along the Nile at Murchison Falls NP
10. Hamerkop – 3 at Mabamba Swamp
11. African Openbill – 2 at Lake Victoria
12. Woolly-Necked Stork – 2 flying over Lake Victoria
13. Saddle-Billed Stork – 2 flying around Murchison Falls NP
14. Marabou Stork – Common and unmistakeable in all urban areas
15. Shoebill – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
16. Glossy Ibis – 1 at Murchison Falls NP

African Dwarf Kingfisher

17. Hadada Ibis – Everywhere including the airport!
18. Egyptian Goose – 2 at Lake Victoria
19. Yellow-Billed Duck – 3 at Mabamba Swamp
20. Osprey – 1 at Murchison Falls NP
21. African Cuckoo-Hawk – 1 at a forest on the way from Budongo to Semliki
22. Black-Shouldered Kite – 1 on the way near Semliki
23. Black Kite – 4 near Entebbe
24. Palm-Nut Vulture – 3 at Semliki
25. Black-Chested Snake-Eagle – 1 at Kibale Forest
26. Short-Toed Snake Eagle – 1 at Semliki
27. Brown Snake-Eagle – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
28. Western Banded Snake-Eagle – 1 at Semliki
29. Bateleur – 3 at Murchison Falls NP
30. African Harrier-Hawk – 1 at Budongo Forest
31. Eastern Chanting Goshawk – 1 at Murchison Falls NP
32. African Goshawk (melanistic) – 1 at Murchison Falls NP

African Green Pigeon

33. Black Sparrowhawk (Great Sparrowhawk) – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
34. Lizard Buzzard – Several sitting on wires on the way from Budongo to Semliki
35. Tawny Eagle – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
36. Wahlberg’s Eagle – 1 in Budongo Forest
37. Long-Crested Eagle – Several all over Uganda
38. Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle – 2 in Budongo Forest
39. Martial Eagle – 1 flying in Murchison Falls NP
40. Grey Kestrel – 2 near Mabamba Swamp
41. Peregrine Falcon – 1 at Murchison Falls NP
42. Crested Guineafowl – Flock of 6 in Budongo Forest
43. Helmeted Guineafowl – Flocks in Budongo Forest and Murchison Falls NP
44. Crested Francolin – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
45. Heuglin’s Francolin – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
46. Black Crake – 3 in Mabamba Swamp
47. Grey Crowned Crane – 2 at Murchison Falls NP

African Openbill

48. Black-Bellied Bustard – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
49. African Jacana – 3 in Mabamba Swamp
50. Water Thick-knee – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
51. African Wattled Lapwing – 1 at Murchison Falls NP
52. Black-Headed Lapwing – 12 at Murchison Falls NP
53. Spur-Winged Lapwing – Many at Murchison Falls NP
54. Long-Toed Lapwing – 1 in Mabamba Swamp
55. Wood Sandpiper – 1 in Mabamba Swamp
56. African Green Pigeon – 3 in Bigodi Wetlands
57. Tambourine Dove – Many in Budongo and Semliki
58. Blue-Spotted Wood Dove – 1 in Bigodi Wetlands
59. Emerald-Spotted Wood Dove – 1 in Mabamba Swamp
60. Namaqua Dove – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
61. White-Naped Pigeon – 2 in Semliki
62. Rock Dove – Many in urban areas

African Shrike-Flycatcher

63. Red-Eyed Dove – 2 in Bigodi Wetlands and several in Budongo
64. African Mourning Dove – Several all over Uganda
65. Ring-Necked Dove – Many at Murchison Falls NP
66. Grey Parrot – 2 in Kibale Forest
67. Meyer’s Parrot (Brown Parrot) – 2 on the way from Semliki to Entebbe
68. Great Blue Turaco – Several at a forest on the way from Budongo to Semliki
69. Black-Billed Turaco – 1 in Semliki
70. Ross’s Turaco – 2 in Kibale Forest
71. White-Crested Turaco – 1 in Budongo
72. Bare-Faced Go-away Bird – 1 on the way from Semliki to Entebbe
73. Eastern Grey Plantain-Eater – Common throughout Uganda
74. Jacobin Cuckoo – 1 in Budongo
75. Levaillant’s Cuckoo – 1 in Semliki
76. Red-Chested Cuckoo – 2 in Budongo and 1 in Kibale Forest
77. Dusky Long-Tailed Cuckoo – 1 in Budongo
78. African Emerald Cuckoo – 1 in Kibale Forest

African Wattled Lapwing

79. Yellowbill – 1 in Budongo, 1 in Semliki and 2 in Kibale Forest
80. White-Browed Coucal – 1 on the way from Budongo to Semliki
81. Spotted Eagle-Owl – 6 at Murchison Falls NP
82. Greyish Eagle-Owl – 3 at Murchison Falls NP
83. Pearl-Spotted Owlet – 1 in Budongo
84. African Wood Owl – 1 at Murchison Falls NP
85. Marsh Owl – 1 at Murchison Falls NP
86. Freckled Nightjar – 1 at Murchison Falls NP
87. Mottled Spinetail – 1 at Murchison Falls NP
88. African Palm Swift – Many at Murchison Falls NP
89. Alpine Swift – 2 in Kibale Forest
90. Blue-Naped Mousebird – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
91. Speckled Mousebird – Many in all forests
92. Narina Trogon – 1 in Budongo
93. Chocolate-Backed Kingfisher – 1 in Budongo

Black Bee-Eater

94. Blue-Breasted Kingfisher – 2 in Budongo
95. Grey-Headed Kingfisher – 1 at Murchison Falls NP
96. Woodland Kingfisher -1 in Budongo
97. Striped Kingfisher – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
98. African Dwarf Kingfisher – 2 in Budongo
99. African Pygmy Kingfisher – 3 in Budongo and 1 in Semliki
100. Malachite Kingfisher – 1 at Murchison Falls NP
101. Shining-blue Kingfisher – 1 at a lake on the way from Budongo to Semliki
102. Giant Kingfisher – 1 at a lake on the way from Budongo to Semliki
103. Pied Kingfisher – 2 in Semliki
104. Blue-Breasted Bee-Eater – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
105. Swallow-Tailed Bee-Eater – 4 at Murchison Falls NP
106. Red-Throated Bee-Eater – 3 at Murchison Falls NP
107. Madagascar Bee-Eater – 3 at Murchison Falls NP
108. Northern Carmine Bee-Eater – 6 at Murchison Falls NP
109. Blue-Throated Roller – 2 in Semliki

Black-and-white Casqued Hornbill

110. Broad-Billed Roller – Many at Murchison Falls NP
111. Abyssinian Ground Hornbill – 2 in Budongo and 4 at Murchison Falls NP
112. Red-Billed Hornbill – 1 on the way from Semliki to Entebbe
113. African Pied Hornbill – 2 in Budongo
114. African Grey Hornbill – 2 in Budongo, 1 in Kibale Forest
115. Piping Hornbill – 1 in Semliki
116. Black-and-white Casqued Hornbill – Several in Budongo, Semliki and Kibale Forest
117. White-Thighed Hornbill – 4 in Budongo
118. Speckled Tinkerbird – 2 in Semliki, 1 in Kibale Forest
119. Red-Rumped Tinkerbird – 1 in Semliki
120. Yellow-Throated Tinkerbird – 1 at Murchison Falls NP
121. Yellow-Rumped Tinkerbird – 2 in Semliki
122. Yellow-Spotted Barbet – 2 in Semliki
123. Hairy-Breasted Barbet – 2 in Kibale Forest
124. White-Headed Barbet – 1 at Murchison Falls NP
125. Black-Billed Barbet – 4 at Murchison Falls NP

Black-Billed Barbet

126. Double-Toothed Barbet – 2 on the way from Semliki to Entebbe
127. Yellow-Billed Barbet – 1 in Budongo and 1 in Kibale Forest
128. Cassin’s Honeybird – 1 in Kibale Forest
129. Scaly-Throated Honeyguide – 1 in Kibale Forest
130. Lesser Honeyguide – 1 at a lake between Budongo and Semliki
131. Pallid Honeyguide – 1 at Murchison Falls NP
132. Nubian Woodpecker – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
133. Brown-Eared Woodpecker – 1 in Kibale Forest
134. Yellow-Crested Woodpecker – 2 in Budongo
135. White-Headed Saw-wing – 2 in Kibale Forest
136. Red-Breasted Swallow – 1 on the way from Semliki to Entebbe
137. Lesser Striped Swallow – Several on wires across Uganda
138. Wire-Tailed Swallow – 3 at Murchison Falls NP
139. Angola Swallow – 4 on the way from Semliki to Entebbe

Black-Headed Lapwing

140. African Pied Wagtail – Common near all water bodies
141. Cape Wagtail – 1 in Mabamba Swamp
142. African Pipit (Grassland Pipit) – 1 in Bigodi Wetlands
143. Petit’s Cuckoo-Shrike – 1 in Kibale Forest
144. Little Greenbul – Many in Budongo, Semliki and Kibale Forest
145. Little Grey Greenbul – 2 in Budongo and 1 in Kibale forest
146. Plain Greenbul (Cameroon Sombre Greenbul) – Many in Budongo and Kibale Forest
147. Slender-Billed Greenbul – Few in Budongo, Semliki and Kibale Forest
148. Yellow-Whiskered Greenbul – 3 in Semliki
149. Honeyguide Greenbul – 3 in Kibale Forest
150. Spotted Greenbul – 4 in Budongo
151. Leaf-love – 2 in Semliki
152. Toro Olive Greenbul – 1 in Budongo
153. White-Throated Greenbul – 2 in Semliki
154. Red-Tailed Bristlebill – 2 in Kibale Forest

Black-Headed Weaver (Village Weaver)

155. Green-Tailed Bristlebill – 2 in Kibale Forest
156. Red-Tailed Greenbul – 1 in Budongo
157. Common Bulbul – Abundant in open areas
158. Western Nicator – 1 in Budongo and 2 in Semliki
159. Forest RObin – 2 in Semliki
160. Lowland Akalat – 3 in Semliki
161. Cape Robin-Chat – 1 in Kibale Forest
162. Blue-Shouldered Robin-Chat – 1 in Semliki
163. White-Browed Robin-Chat – 3 at Murchison Falls NP
164. Red-Capped Robin-Chat – 1 in Budongo
165. Snowy-Crowned Robin-Chat – 2 in Bigodi Wetlands
166. Sooty Chat – 3 at Murchison Falls NP
167. Fire-Crested Alethe – 1 in Semliki
168. Red-Tailed Ant-Thrush – 3 in Semliki and 1 in Kibale Forest
169. White-Tailed Ant-Thrush – 2 in Kibale Forest
170. Rufous Flycatcher-Thrush – 1 in Budongo, 1 in Semliki and 2 in Kibale Forest
171. African Thrush – 1 at Murchison Falls NP

Blue-Breasted Kingfisher

172. White-Winged Warbler – 1 in Bigodi Wetlands
173. Rufous-Crowned Eremomela – 3 in Budongo
174. Green Crombec – 2 in Semliki
175. Lemon-Bellied Crombec – 2 in Budongo
176. Yellow-Bellied Hyliota – 1 at Murchison Falls NP
177. Green Hylia – 1 in Semliki
178. Red-Faced Cisticola – 1 in Budongo
179. Winding Cisticola – 3 in Mabamba Swamp
180. Tawny-Flanked Prinia – 3 at Murchison Falls NP
181. White-Chinned Prinia – 2 in Budongo and 5 in Kibale Forest
182. Black-Capped Apalis – 1 in Budongo
183. Buff-THroated Apalis – 2 in Budongo and 1 in Kibale Forest
184. Green-Backed Camaroptera – Many in Budongo, Semliki and Kibale Forest
185. Olive-Green Camaroptera – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
186. Grey-Capped Warbler – 1 on the way from Semliki to Entebbe
187. Northern Black Flycatcher – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
188. Pale Flycatcher – 1 at Murchison Falls NP

Blue-Throated Roller

189. Silverbird – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
190. Ashy Flycatcher – 2 in Budongo and 3 in Semliki
191. Swamp Flycatcher – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
192. Grey-Throated Tit-Flycatcher – 2 in Bigodi Wetlands
193. Grey Tit-Flycatcher – 1 in Bigodi Wetlands
194. African Blue Flycatcher – 2 in Bigodi Wetlands
195. African Paradise Flycatcher – 4 in Budongo and 3 at Murchison Falls NP
196. Red-Bellied Paradise Flycatcher – Many in Budongo, Semliki and Kibale Forest
197. African Shrike-Flycatcher – 2 in Budongo
198. Black-and-white Shrike Flycatcher – 2 in Bigodi Wetlands
199. Chestnut Wattle-Eye – 2 in Budongo and 2 in Kibale Forest
200. Brown-Throated Wattle-Eye – 2 in Semliki
201. Chinspot Batis – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
202. Ituri Batis – 2 in Budongo
203. Dusky Tit – 6 in Budongo

Broad-Billed Roller

204. Green Sunbird – 4 in Budongo and 2 in Kibale Forest
205. Little Green Sunbird – 2 in Budongo
206. Blue-Throated Brown Sunbird – 4 in Budongo and 2 in Kibale Forest
207. Blue-Headed Sunbird – 1 in Semliki
208. Western Olive Sunbird – Several in Budongo, Semliki and Kibale Forest
209, Green-Throated Sunbird – 1 in Bigodi Wetlands
210. Scarlet-Chested Sunbird – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
211. Bronzy Sunbird – 1 in Bigodi Wetlands
212. Collared Sunbird – 5 in Kibale Forest
213. Olive-Bellied Sunbird – 1 in Budongo and 2 in Kibale Forest
214. Beautiful Sunbird – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
215. Marico Sunbird – 2 in Budongo
216. Red-Chested Sunbird – 1 on the way from Semliki to Entebbe
217. Purple-Banded Sunbird – 1 in Kibale Forest
218. Variable Sunbird – 1 at a lake between Budongo and Semliki
219. African Yellow White-Eye – 2 in Bigodi Wetlands
220. Common Fiscal – 2 in Kibale Forest

Double-Toothed Barbet

221. Grey-Backed Fiscal – 1 at Murchison Falls NP
222. Brown-Crowned Tchagra – 4 at Murchison Falls NP
223. Black-Headed Gonolek – 1 at Murchison Falls NP
224. White-Crested Helmet-Shrike – 4 at Murchison Falls NP
225. Western Black-Headed Oriole – 1 in Budongo and 1 in Kibale Forest
226. Eastern Black-Headed Oriole – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
227. Fork-Tailed Drongo – 2 in Kibale Forest
228. Velvet-Mantled Drongo – 6 at Murchison Falls NP
229. Pied Crow – Common crow in urban areas
230. Piapiac – 15 at Murchison Falls NP
231. Waller’s Starling – 2 in Kibale Forest
232. Purple-Headed Starling – 2 in Budongo
233. Greater Blue-Eared Starling – 2 in Semliki
234. Splendid Starling – 1 in Bigodi Wetlands
235. Ruppell’s Long-Tailed Starling – 4 at Murchison Falls NP

Eastern Chanting Goshawk (immature)

236. Violet-Backed Starling – 2 at Murchison Falls NP and 1 in Kibale Forest
237. Yellow-Billed Oxecker – Many in Murchison Falls NP
238. Red-Billed Oxpecker – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
239. Grey-Headed Sparrow – Many in rural areas
240. Sheley’s Rufous Sparrow (Kenya Rufous Sparrow) – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
241. Chestnut-Crowned Sparrow-Weaver – 1 at Murchison Falls NP
242. Speckle-Fronted Weaver – 4 at Murchison Falls NP
243. Crested Malimbe – 1 in Budongo
244. Red-Headed Malimbe – 2 in Budongo and 1 in Kibale Forest
245. Blue-Billed Malimbe – 1 in Semliki
246. Slender-Billed Weaver – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
247. Black-Necked Weaver – 4 in Bigodi Wetlands
248. Lesser Masked Weaver – 1 in Fort Portal
249. Vieillot’s Black Weaver – Abundant throughout Uganda
250. Village Weaver (Black-Headed Weaver) – Abundant throughout Uganda
251. Yellow-Backed Weaver – 3 in Budongo

Eastern Grey Plantain-Eater

252. Yellow-Mantled Weaver – 2 in Budongo
253. Maxwell’s Black Weaver – 7 in Semliki
254. Grosbeak Weaver – 2 in Budongo and 3 in Bigodi Wetlands
255. Red-Billed Quelea – Large flock at Murchison Falls NP
256. Northern Red Bishop – 6 at Murchison Falls NP
257. Black Bishop – Common in all open areas with reeds or tall grass
258. Yellow-Mantled Widowbird – 3 at Murchison Falls NP
259. Fan-Tailed Widowbird – 2 in Bigodi Wetlands and 1 in Mabamba Swamp
260. Grey-Headed Negrofinch – 1 on the way from Budongo to Semliki
261, White-Breasted Negrofinch – 1 in Budongo
262. Fawn-Breasted Waxbill – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
263. Black-Crowned Waxbill – 6 at Murchison Falls NP
264. Red-Headed Bluebill – 2 in Budongo
265. Red-Cheeked Cordon-bleu – 12 at Murchison Falls NP
266. Black-Bellied Firefinch – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
267. Bronze Mannikin – 2 in Semliki and 3 in Kibale Forest
268. Black-and-white Mannikin – 4 at Murchison Falls NP
269. African Silverbill – 2 at Murchison Falls NP
270. Pin-Tailed Whydah – Several in all open areas and Murhcison Falls NP
271. Yellow-Fronted Canary – 2 at Murchison Falls NP and 1 in Kibale Forest
272. Brimstone Canary – 2 in Budongo

Giant Kingfisher
Great Blue Turaco
Grey Crowned Crane
Grey-Headed Kingfisher
Grey-Headed Sparrow
Hairy-Breasted Barbet
Levaillant’s Cuckoo
Lizard Buzzard
Pale Flycatcher
Palm-Nut Vulture
Piapiac
Pin-Tailed Whydah
Red-Bellied Paradise Flycatcher
Red-Tailed Ant-Thrush
Rufous Flycatcher-Thrush
Shining-Blue Kingfisher
Swallow-Tailed Bee-Eater
Tawny Eagle
Violet-Backed Starling
Water Thick-Knee
Our last day at Mabamba swamp got washed out due to heavy rain, else we were hoping to give 300 species a shot! Joseph and I were quite satisfied with 272 species which included 3 days of forest birding and 2 days of long-distance driving with intermittent birding. We were lucky with many specials on the trip but also missed out on some Semliki specials like White-Crested Hornbill, Red-Billed and Black Dwarf Hornbills, Yellow-Throated Nicator, Fiery-Breasted Bush-Shrike, Brown-Throated Parrot and Red-Bellied Malimbe. It just means we have to visit Uganda again :)

We also discussed implementing some of the tools developed at AviPulse for education and bird conservation in the Baringo region of Kenya, where Joseph is from. I’m really excited to see how this proceeds and to expand the global reach of AviPulse for bird conservation!

We have covered most of the East African species with the Kenya and Uganda birding trips. The next plan is to bird Western Africa starting with Gabon. Can’t wait to get back to amazing Africa!
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Making Avian Tourism Count to Communities, Ecosystem and Business in Kenya.

With around 10,000 bird species to look at, it should come as no surprise that birdwatching (or ‘birding’) has become one of the more popular nature-related hobbies.Bird watchers, ornithologists and wildlife photographers spend millions of dollars every year travelling around the globe searching for this incredible swimming, walking and flying beauties. It is however, important to note that bird watching, or birding is the fastest-growing recreational activity in the United States, and that the UK’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds alone boasts one million members. It’s a specialist outdoor activity that enjoys a huge global following.

Piero Aberti

Piero Aberti

Kenya is one of those destination where any self respecting birder must visit at least once in their life time. Well don’t get me wrong, I’m not in any way suggesting that we can compare Kenya important bird areas to Manu national park in Peru or Pantanal in the lowland of Brazil!. First, let’s look at the product; there is no doubt about it: when it comes to Landscape, we’re right up there. We have sweeping savannas that makes the heart sing, picture-perfect beaches that cleanse the mind and soaring mountains that pacify the soul on its upward journey. We have hidden universe of creatures in our deep oceans and most importantly, the second-largest collection of bird species on the planet. Now, that is an exceptional fact that put us forward as significant destination to the ornithological community globally. Ken.vogels.bew. - 419
Which brings me to this question, are birders good for birds? Birding and nature tourism are compatible with environmental preservation. Kenya communities living close to important bird’s habitat must take advantage of natural scenic areas by promoting ecotourism. In Promoting bird watching and those areas natural assets will in turn promote a greater awareness of for species conservation and habitat protection and rehabilitation. However, we need to be careful not to over utilize significant habitat which are home to critically endangered and endangered species. Research shows that, the number of visitors increases when more birds are present, but as the number of visitors increases, the number of birds decreases and their minimum distance from the visitors increases, this clearly demonstrate that we must strike a balance between the two.
Birdwatching and twitching tourism has been particularly significant in opening up more remote places including deserts and wetlands, but particularly offshore islands, where more unusual and rare species are to be found. It has contributed to the economic development and environmental management of rural and remote areas, while also being one of the most ecologically sound and sustainable of versions of wildlife tourism. Birding therefore, creates economic value for conservation, and this has been true for different conservation initiative in various part of Kenya, and of important to note is Kakamega Environmental Education Programme (KEEP), Kijabe Environmental Volunteers, Lake Victoria Sunset Birders, Guides of Arabuko Sokoke forest and Lake Baringo Biodiversity Conservation Group._84Y4922001

There is potential of considerable expansion on benefit from avian tourism in Kenya. For example, incomes earned by local workers working in establishment developed to cater for birdwatching interest group and improved fees paid to local bird guides for their priceless services which most of the time contribute notably to client’s satisfaction. By raising local income and developing skills at the destination site, it adds to sustainable local development and community based conservation. At the same time, involvement of the local communities in the avian-tourism, improve the product (birdlife) and enhances popular support for the industry.
Lastly, this extract from an interesting book LIFE LIST, by Olivia Gentile. This is a story about Phoebe Snetsinger, an outstanding birder of our time. ‘ The group drove a van with a pop-up top all over the country, and everywhere there were birds and mammals in plain view, against a backdrop of green-gold grass and occasional lonely acacia tree. Some of the common birds in Kenya –or the ones you see day after day, and after a while, even when you close your eyes-are among the most spectacular. The common Ostrich is eight feet tall and bathes by rolling around furiously in dry dirt.The African Jacana’s back shines like a newly polished copper. TheLittle Bee-eater wears a different shade of green on each feather,or it seem in the four o’clock sun. The Gray Crowned-Crane stands tall and still, with a “crown” that looks like freshly picked wheat.Lichestein's Sandgouse
In a Nature Notes pieces, Phoebe couldn’t say which birds had been her favorites, because pretty much all of them had left her “ecstatic”. “One really has to include the Lilac-breasted Roller, ubiquitous though it is. And how can you compare an Emerald Cuckoo (unbelievable shades of green and yellow) to a group of Madagascar Bee-eater –or a paradise Flycatcher –or a Hoopoe –or an Orange-bellied Parrot (Unlikely combination of bright orange and green –or a majestic Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl –or that jewel of a Kingfisher, the Malachite ?……..I feel like the man in the children’s story ‘Millions of Cats’ who chose them all because they were all the most beautiful.”
Phoebe Snetsinger died in 23rd November 1999 while on birding tour in Madagascar. By the time of her death, she had seen 8398 species! Amazing. Asked of her favorite birding locale in the world, this is what she said “ Kenya, for its “spectacular” and “easily seen” birds.

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