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.

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.

Hemprich’s Hornbill (Tockus hemprichii)

J.F.L Van Duinen
J.F.L Van Duinen

Hemprich’s Hornbill is huge dark brown bird, with a massive dark red bill. The breast is dark, with a white-belly and the outer tailed rectrices is white. In Kenya, this bird is sparsely distributed in rocky hillsides and cliffs in arid and semi-arid country with records from Lake Nakuru around Menegai crater, Lake Baringo, West Lake Turkana, Ortum and Kongolei escarpment.

Northern Red Bishop (Euplectes franciscanus)

Northern Red Bishop (Euplectes franciscanus)

photo@Tony Crocetta

Northern Red Bishop is an African finch that are best known for the males’ habit of weaving complex dome nests, as well as their entertaining displays to attract potential females. Bishop species in Kenya are widespread and are better viewed during breeding season when the males are in their bright red and black breeding plumage, which normally happen in Kenya around May to October, mostly after long rains. As he is building the nests, he also performs display flights and fluffs his feathers to attract females to his nests. Once he sees a preference for one or more of the nests, he will concentrate on those and abandon the others. The females will settle down in her chosen nest and personalize it by lining it with soft grasses, plant material and feathers.
The best birding site to watch this is specie in Lake Baringo, where the above photographed was taken. However, other species of Bishops can be seen in other wetland across Kenya including ; Amboseli National Park, Lake Victoria, Mwea rice plantation, Lake Jipe, and Sabaki Delta in Malindi.

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.

African Pygmy Kingfisher (Ispidina picta)

African Pygmy Kingfisher (Ispidina picta)

Photo@Yan Van Duine

African Pygmy Kingfisher is a small insectivorous kingfisher found mostly in woodland habitats and not necessarily restricted to wetland.In Kenya, its range widespread in bushland of Lake Baringo, Kerio Vallye,Samburu,Meru and Nakuru National and southern parks of Amboseli, Tsavo East and West. Its habitat range from woodland habitats, savannas and riverine forests, but also scrublands, grasslands, open rivers and streams, coastal bushes, plantations and gardens.The dark blue crown of the adult separates it from the African Dwarf Kingfisher. The smaller size and violet wash on the ear coverts distinguish it from the similar Malachite Kingfisher.

Scarlet-Tufted Malachite Sunbird (Nectarinia johnstoni)

Scarlet-Tufted Malachite Sunbird (Nectarinia johnstoni)

Photo@Stratton Hatfield

Scarlet-tufted Malachite Sunbird are endemic to the alphine zones of East Africa mountains. In Kenya, they are exclusively restricted to the moorlands of Mt.Kenya and Aberdare National Parks.They feed exclusively on the nectar of Lobelia telekii flowers.Males are resident on their territories all year and defend Lobelia telekii inflorescenes from conspecifics.Males are bright iridescent green, with scarlet pectral tufts which are displayed prominently during aggressive interactions with other males.