Ross’s Turaco (Musophaga rossae)

Photo@Jan F.L Van Duinen
Photo@Jan F.L Van Duinen

Ross’s or Lady Ross as it sometime called is a medium-sized bird, with a long tail and broad, round wings. They have three toes on each foot that point forward, while the fourth toe can be rotated forward or backwards. Males and females differ in that females may have a greenish beak. This Beautiful Turaco is seen in mostly on the western side of Kenya Great Rift Valley mostly in areas around Tugen Hills and El geyo escarpment. Ross’s Turaco is a very social bird, seen mostly moving is a small noisy flock of 2 to 7 birds. They spent most of their time among trees in search for fruits until evening when they nest solitary on a plat form of twigs.It is an easy bird to Identify because nothing else in our region is like it.

African Darter (Anhinga rufa)

African Darter (Anhinga rufa)

Photo@Tony Crocetta

In Kenya, African Darter is the most commonly seen aquatic bird in Kenya wetland after Long-tailed Cormorant. It frequents fresh and brackish waters, fringed with vegetation, especially near fresh water lakes in Kenya Rift Valley lakes. This species is often seen perched on bare branches or stumps above the water. If alarmed, it drops vertically into the water. It needs to dry its plumage after fishing with wings outstretched.
African Darter dives for long periods, to search for aquatic preys. It swims with the body under water, allowing ambushing prey items. It propels itself with its webbed feet. It spears the fish in flank, and brings it to the surface, where it tosses it into the air, catches it with the bill and swallows it head first.
Anhinga Darter nests and roosts with other species, such as Egrets, Herons and Cormorants.
African Darter male has crown and back of the neck black and chestnut. Rest of the neck is chestnut, with conspicuous white stripe from the sides of the face to mid-neck. Its plumage is glossy black, streaked with white and silver on wings and mantle, and prominently on elongated black scapulars’ feathers. It has long black tail, held fanned when resting. Legs and webbed feet are brown. Female and immature are paler than male, mostly buffy-brown. Female has brown crown and upper neck. She has less distinct white stripe on the neck sides. Chicks are covered with white down. Darters are sometimes referred to as “snake bird”, because it swims very low, with only head and neck above the water.
In Kenya it is commonly seen in Lake Baringo.

Blue-cheeked Bee-Eater (Merops p. persicus)

Blue-cheeked Bee-Eater (Merops p. persicus)

photo@Yan Van Duinne

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater is a long tailed, bright green bee-eater with black mask, mostly white forehead,green crown and pale blue or whitish superciliary and cheek stripes conspicuously brighter than surrounding green plumage; yellow chin merges with russet throat. Underside of the wings coppery rufous. First winter birds are duller, more olive than adult, and sometimes retaining pale-edged juvenile feathers ;forehead green, narrowly yellowish bill; chin pale yellowish buff grading into rufous-buff throat patch.
Regular palearctic migrant of late October-early April at lake Victoria and Baringo which is the best place to see them in huge number

Fan-tailed Widowbird (Euplectes axillaris)

Fan-tailed Widowbird (Euplectes axillaris)

Photo@Tony Crocetta

This is an adult male fan-tailed widowbird, Euplectes axillaris, a member of the avian family Ploceidae, the weaver birds. One of its cousins is the red-billed quelea, Quelea quelea, the most abundant bird in the world.This species has an extremely large range, so incidence of you spotting it while birding in Kenya is very high. They exhibit sexual dimorphism and female appears brown, with the distinctive red-shoulders which clear when the bird air-bone.
In Kenya this species is mostly seen in Masai Mara, mostly a long the northern part of the reserve around the Musiara Swamp.

Hammerkop (Scopus umbretta)

The Hammerkop (Scopus umbretta), about the size of a small egret, is entirely brown, with a robust crest which gives its head a hammer-like appearance. This pronounced head crest makes it unmistakable. The bill is long, laterally compressed, blade-like and tipped with a sharp hook. Its legs are strong and endowed with narrowly webbed toes.

This bird is related to the storks but is different enough to be placed in a separate family (Family Scopidae) of which it is the only member species.Perhaps what the hammerkop is knowned for is massive nest built mostly on a tall V-shaped branched acacia tree.Hammerkops feed mostly on frogs,fish and tadpoles, and they also take small crustaceans, grasshoppers, and aquatic insects. They often rest during the day and become active at twilight, when they are most often encountered, often alone. They range throughout Kenya.

Black-necked Weaver (Ploceus nigricollis)

@Michael Sammut

Black-necked Weaver appear in two races, P.n. nigricollis and P.n.melanoxanthus. Both species are widespread in moist secondary growth of western Kenya in area around Kakamega, Bunguma,  Lake Victoria and Masai Mara Game reserve.While spp menaloxanthus is uncommon in dry bush and woodland of Tsavo west and east, Amboseli,Lake Magadi, and Samburu. Male has deep golden-yellow head with black eyes;throat patch and nape also black with red-brown eyes with a back bill.Female has a prominent yellow supercilliary  stripes and not throat patch . Black-necked weaver is very similar to Dark-backed weaver (forest weaver) and Baglafecht Weaver.