Bar-tailed Trogon at the Lower Slopes of Mt.Kenya.

Bar-tailed Trogon
Photo by Raymond Galea

On any bird watching excursion disappointment and  surprises happen all the time, so when my clients and I arrived at one of the forest blog a long the lower slopes of Mt.Kenya, seeing a Bar-tailed Trogon was not really on our mind, I guess we had learned to manage our expectation.

On the main trail in the forest other things come by easily without much effort, Mountain Yellow and Brown Woodland Warbler, African Hill Babbler, Black-fronted Bush-Shrike, Yellow-crowned Canary, Abyssinian Crimsonwing, Hartlaub’s Turaco, African Crowned Eagle, Mountain Buzzard, Eastern Mountain and Slender-bill Greenbul, White-starred Robin, Ruppelle’s Robin-chat, Golden-winged and Tacazze Sunbird  and  among others were some of our priced collection.

Then the big moment come and voila we had some fantastic views of Bar-tailed Trogon. It begun by it calling from a nearby forest thciket and its continues calling betrayed its exact location and we had excellent photographic opportunities.

On such kind of trips, sometimes you lose and sometimes you win, but this time round we won in a big way.

Grey-breasted Spurfowl (Pternistis rufopictus)

Grey-breasted Spurfowl

Grey-breasted Spurpfowl is an endemic of Northern Tanzania where it is common within its tiny range. The photo appearing above was taken in central Serengeti in the month of September 2017.This species is declining owing to habitat loss and human encroachment. It also hybridises with F.leucoscepus.

violet-backed starling (Cinnyricinclus leucogaster)

Violet-backed Starling.Maanzoni.
Photo@Jan F. Van Duinen

The Violet-backed Starling  belongs to the family of birds classified as Sturnidae. This species, also known as the Plum-coloured Starling or Amethyst Starling, is the smallest of Kenya starlings, reaching only about 18cm in length. It is a successful breeder, and is fortunately not listed as a threatened species.

The sexes are strongly sexually dimorphic, meaning that there is a distinct difference in the appearance of the male and female. The breeding male is brilliantly coloured, with feathers an iridescent shining plum violet colour along the length of is back, wings, face and throat, contrasting with bright white on the rest of the body. Females (and juveniles) are a streaky brown and buff colour, and can easily be mistaken for a thrush.

Less noisy than other starlings, this bird is a monogamous species, and will remain so unless its mate dies. Under those circumstances it will seek a new mate in replacement. These starlings are normally seen in small flocks in summer, just before the breeding season when they will break off into pairs to nest.

Violet-backed starlings will nest in cavities such as tree holes high off the ground, holes in river banks, even in old hollow fence posts, lining the nests with dung, leaves and other plant material. They have been known to reuse nests in successive breeding seasons

In Kenya, they are found a long riverine vegetation in big dead tree trunks in Machakos, the low areas of Tugen hills, Lake Nakuru and Nairobi national park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Doherty’s Bush-shrike (Telophorus dohertyi)

C88Q2226_20160122_082002_57586
Photo@Juhani Vilpo
C88Q2532_20160122_083604_57603
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.

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!