Red-throated Bee-eater (Merops bulocki)

SX50 39112 Red-throated Bee-eater

Red-throated Bee-eater is an incredibly beautiful Bee-eater to watch…in any birding trip to Uganda, with your best bet being in Murchison falls national park in northern Uganda. As soon as you approach the river Nile, their presence there cannot be ignored, where they are frequently seen going in and out of their nest holes.

The above photo was taken during my recent bird trip to Uganda, where we were visited Murchison Falls National Park, Budongo forest reserve where we extensively birded the famous Royal Miles Trail, we easily picked up our much sort after kingfishers( African Pygmy, Blue-breasted and and Chocolate-backed Kingfisher).

Kibale forest reserve, Bigodi swamp and  Samliki  were part of the other areas we visited. Kibale and Bigodi swamp were incredibly productive for us, but the same cannot be said of Samliki forest.  I think our timing was not the best as it had rain heavily the previous night, so we literally had to  walked on the flooded Kirumia trail. We dearly missed our gumboots which we had ignored to bring, next time we will be more clever. Keep birding.


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Olive Ibis (Bostrychia olivacea)


Photo by Chin Tong Tan

African Green Ibis as it is mostly known is one of the most infrequent sighted among other species of Ibises we have in Kenya. Sacred, Hadada and Glossy Ibis are easy target to pocket. In Kenya, African Green Ibis is mostly restricted in Montane habitat of Mt.Kenya and Aberdare ranges. All my sighting of this species was in southern section of Mt.Kenya Forest Reserve mostly referred as Castle Forest, where Castle forest lodge is located.

They are mostly heard calling early in the morning and late in the afternoon where with luck you might be able to have some views of this incredible species. The bird photograph appearing above was taken at Castle Forest in June this year.

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Abyssinian scimitarbill ( Rhinopomastus minor)

IMG_7347 - CopyAbyssinian Scimitarbill in our region occurs in two races , R.m. minor is found in north eastern part of Kenya, while the race R.m. cabanisi is found in southern Kenya. This species can easily be mistaken for Woodhoopoe, although woodhoope are gregarious while Scimitarbill is solitary in its movement behavior. Its bill is more curved down almost giving the Sunbirds bill impression, and on flight the bright red curved billed contrast with uniformly dark-blue plumage. They inhabit light woodlands, dry Acacia bush and thorn-scrub especially along dry river bed. Generally, it a widespread species.

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Karamoja Apalis (Apalis karamojae)

Karamoja Apalis

The Karamoja apalis is a globally threatened warbler, which is very poorly known. It was first discovered in 1919 in the Karamoja District of north east Uganda, hence its English name. This bird has greyish upperparts, whitish underparts and a black bill. The wings and tail are dark grey, and the tail has white outermost feathers. The inner secondary feathers of the wing are white, forming a narrow stripe. There are two subspecies or races; Apalis karamojae karamojae is found in Uganda, while Apalis karamojae stronachi is found in Northern Tanzania and Southern Kenya, mostly in the Vachellia drepanolobium habitat found in northern part of Masai Mara game reserve. This photo showing in this page was taken by Arjan Dwarshuis who is currently doing the Big year challenge at Naboisho conservancy .

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Kenya Big Year Birding with Arjan Dwarshuis

Arjan and Ethan 049

After Noah Strycker Big year in Kenya July Last year, Arjan Dwarshuis came for his Big Year in April 16-29 2016.His visit coincided with April rains and therefore,  everything was green and all the Whydahs,Bishops, Widowbirds and Weavers were all on their full breeding plumage. We were even lucky with some migrants on their way north. The trip was put together by African Birding Safaris and my friends Zarek Cocker and Stratton Hatfield were kind enough to have invited me to provided some guiding services to this experiences birder. joining Arjan in this trip  was Ethan Kistler from Birding Africa in South Africa, an exceptional birder who has done extensive birding in Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda,Tanzania Ethiopia, South Africa and and Malawi. He was blessed with musical ears and for that reason we put him in judge of bird calls confirmation, a duty he diligently performed.

Our choice of destination included; Mt.Kenya, Shaba and Samburu game reserve, Aberdare National park, North Kinangop grassland, Lake Nakuru National park, Lake Baringo, Kerio Valley, Kakamega forest, Lake Victoria, Masai Mara national reserve, Tsavo West and East National park, Taita Hills and Arabuko sokoke forest, Mida Creek and Sabaki estuary

  In 16 days, we recorded 634 species, using our clement list, and some the highlights of the trip included; William’s Lark, Aberdare Cisticola, Sharpes Longclaw, Gray-crested Helmet Shrike, Boran Cisticola, White-crested and Black-billed Turaco, Blued-headed Bee-eater, African Broadbill, Yellow-crested Woodpecker, Amur Falcon, Karamoja Apalis, Bronze-winged Courser, Red-naped Bush-shrike, Sokoke Pipit and Sokoke Scops Owl. He is now in Uganda keeping up with the chase, and I wish him well, as you may know, Noah isn’t a pushover.


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Doherty’s Bush-shrike (Telophorus dohertyi)


Photo@Juhani Vilpo


Photo@Juhani Vilpo

Doherty’s Bsuh-shrike is a relatively small-billed bush-shrike. Male of crimson morph has forehead and forecrown, lower cheek, chin and throat bright crimson rump.This bird is very secretive and keeps to the small bushes of around 2300 above sea level especially in Mt.Kenya and Aberdare national park. They are very responsive to calls and quickly pops up to protects its territory from the “purported” intruder.This photo was taken in January this year in Mt.Kenya forest reserve.

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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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