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.

Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii)

Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii

Photo@Joe.Aengwo

Although it has a relatively dull appearance for most of the year, the Greater Sand Plover’s plumage changes during the breeding season. At this time, the crown changes from greyish-brown to a dull brick red, as does the white breast, and the small feathers that cover the ear region change colour from a dusky grey to black. The chin and throat remain white throughout the year, while the nape and forehead are a greyish-brown colour all year round.
The greater sand plover is a carnivorous species that varies its diet seasonally; during the breeding season it feeds mainly on terrestrial insects and their larvae, especially preying on midges, ants, beetles and termites, but also occasionally hunting larger animals such as lizards. During the non-breeding season, the greater sand plover mainly eats marine invertebrates, such as snails, worms, crabs and shrimp. Usually feeding at low tide on wet ground, just away from the water’s edge, the greater sand plover detects and catches prey with the help of good eyesight and the ability to sprint over short distances. A sociable species, the greater sand plover often feeds and roosts in flocks. It typically feeds in flocks of between two and fifty individuals but sometimes congregates in groups as large as one thousand whilst roosting, which is mainly done on sand bars at high tide.
The bird above was photographed at Mida-Creek, when the tide was low and the bird was in mixture of species like Crab Plover, Lesser Sand Plover, Eurasian Curlew, Whimbrel and White-fronted Plover. All my records on this species were in Mida-creek, Watamu.

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.

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.

African Orange-bellied Parrot (Poicephalus rufiventris )

African Orange-bellied Parrot (Poicephalus rufiventris )

photo@Piero

African Orange-bellied Parrot  male has a brown, with varying tinges of brown/orange on cheeks and breast; orange lower breast, abdomen and underwing coverts; pale green thighs and lower flanks to undertail coverts; yellow/green rump and upper tail coverts with blue suffusion. Bill grey/black. Cere and eye ring bare and brown/grey. Eye orange/red. Female-green lower breast to undertail coverts; green rump and upper tail coverts, blue suffusion absent. A juvenile bird is similar to adult female, but in general paler and duller; in male orange wash on underwing coverts and breast. Cere and eye ring bare and paler grey. Eye brown.

This is species is  is well distributed in  in eastern part of Kenya , commonly seen in places like Samburu and Meru National Park, Tsavo East and West , and if you are lucky enough to Tarangire National Park, then you are absolutely sure of spotting it in the big Baobab trees the park is known for.

Bar-Tialed Trogon (Apaloderma vittatum)

Bar-Tialed Trogon (Apaloderma vittatum)
Stratton Hatfield

 

The Bar-Tailed Trogon is a stunning secretive long tailed forest bird that sits motionless for long periods often high in the canopy.It is similar to the more widespread Narina Trogon  found both in Forest and bushlands, but with blue breast band and barred tail.

The Bar-Tailed Trogon has the following features that aid identification.The adult bird has dark green and red plumage with a blue band across the breast.From behind the Bar-Tailed Trogon has a narrow tail with black and white edges while underneath the tail is entirely barred.That’s where it gets its name from.The adult female has dull brown head and breast while the immature ones have pale-tipped wing coverts. Due to its secretive nature, the bird is rarely seen in location like Kakamega forest, Kieni Forest, Mt.Kenya and Aberadare National Park.