White-Starred Robin (Pogonocichla stellata)

White-starred Robin

During our brief two days stay at a pristine montane forest located in the southern part of Mt. Kenya, we came across this eye-catching forest robin. Observing it from the back might appear a little bit dull, but wait until it turns its back to you, and you will be amazed by its bright-yellow breast, its views will surely take your breath away .

On our way up there, we had early on passed through Wajee Nature Park located Mukurweini valley, which is arguably the best site in Kenya to see the endemic Hinde’s Babbler, we managed to steal few excellent views of this iconic species, but missed the African Wood Owl which our guide James as earlier on said it roots at the reserve.

Other than the White-starred Robin, we also managed to record species like; Rameron and Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon, Red-fronted Parrot, Olive Ibis, Hartlaub’s Turaco, Ruppell’s Robin-chat, Hunter’s Cisticola, Black-throated, Chestnut-throated and Grey Apalis, Abbott’s and Waller’s Starling, Black-fronted Bush-shrike, Abyssinian Crimsonwing, Oriole Finch and several species of Sunbird.

Once again, birding Mt.Kenya forest reserve is always exciting and rewarding, I will never get enough of this forest .

 

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.

Taveta Golden Weaver (Ploceus castaneiceps)

Taveta Golden Weaver,Ploceus castaneicepsZiwani-swamp.
Photo@Jan F. Van Duinen

Over the Weekend we went birding to the western side of Tsavo West national park. it is an huge national park covering over 9000 sq.km. The park was made famous by mane less man-eaters  Lions of the Tsavo and the lions there as documented in history books had develop a test for human flesh. This is not the case anymore, so during our entire birding game drives inside the park, we had nothing to worry about at all, other than the worry of missing on our target species.

From the sight of fifty million gallons of crystal clear water gushing out of from the under parched lava rock that is the Mzima Springs  to the Shetani  lava flows, Tsavo West is a beautiful, rugged wilderness.

The savannah ecosystem comprises of open grasslands, scrublands, and Acacia woodlands, belts of riverine vegetation and rocky ridges including the Poacher’s Lookout where visitors can see the teeming herds in the plains below.

Tsavo West offers some of the most magnificent game viewing in the world and attractions include elephant, rhino, Hippos, lions, cheetah, leopards, Buffalos, diverse plant and bird species including the threatened corncrake and near threatened Basra Reed Warbler.

Our specific target species were Taveta Golden Weaver, which we easily picked from the swamp in front of our lodge, Ziwani Voyage Camp and Quail Plover which we missed despite the huge effort that we put in searching for this species.

The Taveta Golden Weaver, or Taveta Weaver, is found in Kenya and Tanzania. The sexes are dimorphic . The male is a mostly a bright golden yellow, the head has a reddish ring of various width around it, the bill is black and the feet and legs are pinkish. Females are more of an olive color with pale streaks.

Taveta Golden Weavers live in large colonies and the male builds an oval nest over water. The nests are woven from stems of reeds and grasses. Their diet includes seeds, some corn and grasses.

The male Taveta Golden Weaver uses his beak to weave intricate ovoid nests, usually over water. Females pick a mate based on the male’s skill at weaving. Have fun and keep birding!!

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.

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.

 

Pel’s Fishing-Owl (Scotopelia peli)

Pel's Fishing-Owl (Scotopelia peli)

Photo@Yan Van Dainne

Fish owls differ from other owls in that they have no feathers on their feet. Additionally, they lack the noiseless flight typical of owls, perhaps because their submerged prey is less able to hear their approach.  Three species of fish owl occurs in Africa . Pel’s Fishing Owl snatch their prey while skimming the water surface. In Kenya it is found in Maasai Mara and Samburu national reserve along the the Mara rive and Ewaso Ngiro rivers.