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.

Greater Painted-snipe (Rostratula benghalensis)

Greater Painted-snipe (Rostratula benghalensis)

Photo@Morton Kelemen

A medium-sized, attractive water bird, the greater painted-snipe (Rostratula benghalensis) is unusual amongst birds because the female is larger and more brightly coloured than the male. The female greater painted-snipe has distinct white patches around the eyes, which contrasts the dark red-brown head and neck. The upperparts are dark bronze-green with fine black barring and the wings are dark grey, white and gold. The male greater painted-snipe has a conspicuous golden eye patch that sits in stark contrast with the grey-brown head, ash-grey neck, and white streaked throat.
In Kenya it is widespread from sea level to over 2000m, but uncommon, highly erratic and seasonal. Frequent marshy and lakes like Lake Baringo, Lake Nakuru and central Kenya swamps.

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.

Yellow-throated Longclaw (Macronyx croceus)

Yellow-throated Longclaw (Macronyx croceus)
Photo@Tony Crocetta

Yellow-throated Longclaw is a stocky grassland bird, that has a tendency of up and down when flushed out, exposing the conspicuous white edged tail.When perched the bird has a V-shaped black band white a bright yellow throat.The head and the upper part of the bird is all brown with little white on the upper neck.Young birds appear more buff yellow with band of indistict short streak on the breast.In Kenya it is widely distributed in areas like Aberdare park, Solio Ranch, Nairobi National park and Masai Mara national reserve.

Greater Crested Tern (Thalasseus bergii)

Greater Crested Tern (Thalasseus bergii)
Michael Sammut

Greater Crested Tern is a prominently crested coastal bird, which appears slightly smaller than Caspian Tern.At rest it appears elongated, with long wings  and large pale yellow billed which drops at the tip.On flight the tail appear very forked. A breeding adult has a black cap separated from the bill by a narrow white band. In Kenya it commonly seen a long the coast especially in areas around Sabaki delta,  Mida-Creek and Diani Beach.