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.

Crested Guinea Fowl (Guttera pucherani)

Photo@Raymond Galea

Crested Guinea fowl has a wide range in Kenya and northern Tanzania. In Kenya it is found mostly in western tropical rain forest remnant of Kakamega forest and Lake Manyara national park in Northern Tanzania, Body plumage is much like a typhical Guinea Fowl, with whitish spot; most recognizable features is the short, curly “mop” of black feathers on the head, the rest of the head and neck are bare with blue skin, red skin arond the eyes and on the neck;eyes are red;legs dark brown to black.The species is mono morphic.

Golden-winged Sunbird (Nectarinia reichenowi)

Photo@Jacqui Harrington

Golden-winged Sunbird has a bright yellow tail and wings, the shoulders are dark gray, the dark gray extending to the nape and throat, while the head and downturned beak are lighter gray. The tail is long and ends in two long, very narrow parallel feathers.These birds are found in East Africa; Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.Golden-winged sunbirds live in grassland, bamboo thickets, and tropical mountain forest.

In Kenya this species if found in Lake Nakuru and Naivasha,Nyahururu,Mt.Kenya and Aberdare National Park.

Magpie Starling (Speculipastor bicolor)


The magpie starling is a northeast African endemic and an occasional non-breeding visitor to northeastern Tanzania. The male is black and white; the female, brown and white both with bright red eye which aid identification a great deal. The best place to see them in Kenya is Lake Baringo where is frequently spotted feeding in big fig trees along the cliffs.

Black-faced Sandgrouse (Pterocles decoratus)

Image

The sandgrouse are distributed across northern, southern and eastern Kenya, Specifically in desert and semi-arid areas of Samburu, Meru, Marsabit, Turkana,Lake Baringo,Tsavo west and east, and Amboseli

Sandgrouse have compact bodies, but small, pigeon-like heads and necks. The different species range in length from 24 – 40 cm and weigh from 150 – 500 g.

Males and females look alike, Some species are also polymorphic .

They have long pointed wings and short legs that are feathered down to the toes, and members of the genus Syrrhaptes also have feathered toes.

Sandgrouse mostly feed on seed and are often seen in large feeding flocks with up to 100 birds.

Sandgrouse are monogamous (form life-long pair bonds). They make their nest on a slight depression in the ground. The average clutch consists of 2 eggs, occasionally up to 4. The male and female share the incubation duties; with the male incubating during the night and early mornings, and the female taking over during the day.

The young hatch after about 20 – 25 days; and are able soon able to leave the nest.

They are able to feed themselves from the day they hatch, but have to learn foraging skills from their parents for several months.

Urban Birding in Kenya

I bird everywhere! Even in the urban landscapes of Kenya, in locations where one wouldn’t expect to be birding, it is possible to spot species with a keen eye. I spotted this Winding Cisticola on the outskirts of a residential area of Eldoret on an evening walk.

Winding CisticolaWinding Cisticola 2Coming soon your ‘Bird of the Week‘.

Joe