Karamoja Apalis (Apalis karamojae)

Karamoja Apalis

The Karamoja apalis is a globally threatened warbler, which is very poorly known. It was first discovered in 1919 in the Karamoja District of north east Uganda, hence its English name. This bird has greyish upperparts, whitish underparts and a black bill. The wings and tail are dark grey, and the tail has white outermost feathers. The inner secondary feathers of the wing are white, forming a narrow stripe. There are two subspecies or races; Apalis karamojae karamojae is found in Uganda, while Apalis karamojae stronachi is found in Northern Tanzania and Southern Kenya, mostly in the Vachellia drepanolobium habitat found in northern part of Masai Mara game reserve. This photo showing in this page was taken by Arjan Dwarshuis who is currently doing the Big year challenge at Naboisho conservancy .

2015 Big Year Ended for Noah Strycker and Big Year 2016 Started with Arjan Dwarshuis

Noah Strycker ended his big year adventure two days ago, with a stunning 6042 species, with Silver-breasted Broadbill being the last bird on that incredible long list.Noah and Raunak 163

British birders Ruth Miller and Alan Davies held the previous Big Year world record with 4,341 bird species seen in 2008, going by those numbers; Noah surpassed the existing record by 1,700 species. Statistically, it means Noah managed to see a new bird everyday in the year 2015. I’m very proud to have been directly involved in the big year expedition in Kenya and it was a humbling experience to bird with this ever excited, energetic and patience record breaking birder.

Birding with Noah in Kenya
Photo by Joseph Aengwo

With the exit of Noah Strycker from the scene……entered Arjan Dwarshuis, a young Dutch birder. Like, Noah rightfully puts it, records are made to be surpassed in any case, and that will be an assignment for the next birder to come along. The new big year bird watching expedition to break the new record which was set two days ago started yesterday in the Dutch delta in Holland. Arjan is attempting to break the world record set by Noah. I’m again privileged that I will be Arjan Dwarshuis guide in Kenya, together with my colleague Stratton Hatfield and Zarek Cockar. I wish him well in his endeavor in setting a new world record.
From Kenya Birding and Silent Fliers Safaris team, we look forward to birding Kenya with you this year. And to everyone else, best wishes for a wonderful, birdy, peaceful, joyful and healthy Happy New Year!

Kenya Birding Route’s

The possibilities of birding in Kenya are endless, and coming up with a simple birding itinerary will probably cost you less of your time. However, to come up with an excellent birding plan, you need to consider the general security situation, accessibility of the birding spot , bird species sort after by the birder, physical fitness of the participant and the traveling time. Some route will be incredibly rewarding with Kenya endemic and near endemic species. For instance, you can easily see four (William’s Lark, Sharpe’s Longclaw,Aberdare Cisticola and Hinde’s Babbler) out of six endemics of Kenya by visiting Mt. Kenya Forest, Samburu national reserve, Aberdare national Park and Kinangop grassland. The route can also pocket you nine of the Kenya near endemic. friedmann's-lark_500

Friedmann’s Lark (Mirafra pulpa)

Some directions gives you greater species diversity than other. A birder can easily pocket over 450 species in 14 days by trying the Eastern-Coastal Route which will ideally take you to the world’s only wildlife capital (Nairobi National Park), Lake Magadi, Amboseli National Park, Tsavo West, Lake Jipe, Kitobo Forest, Tsavo East National Park, Arabuko Sokoke forest, Mida Creek and Sabaki estuary. Some of the species unique to this route includes; Clarke’s Weaver, Fischer’s Turaco , Sokoke Scops Owl , Mombasa Woodpecker , Friedmann’s Lark , Malindi Pipit, Sokoke Pipit , Pangani Longclaw , East Coast Akalat , Little Yellow Flycatcher , Amani Sunbird, Red-naped Bush-Shrike , Taveta Golden Weaver and Southern Grosbeak-Canary just to name but a few. After all this business of chasing this things with wing, you can spare yourself few days to just to relax at one of those exclusive white sand beach resorts in Watamu and Malindi and perhaps try out snorkeling by visiting either Malindi or Watamu Marine park. crab_plover

Crab-plover (Dromas ardeola)
If you decide to go down the Rift Valley, you will be treated with some of the spectacular panorama views of your life, 30 km from Nairobi, you will be descending the Rift, at its base is Lakes Naivasha, Elementaita,Nakuru, Bogoria and Baringo. All the Lakes are important bird areas and therefore birdwatching is very productive there. You will then exit the Rift Valley through the Elgeyo escarpment having literally driven a cross Kerio Valley which with luck can produces good species like White-crested and Ross’s Turaco, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow Weaver, Green-backed Eremomela and Boran Cisticola.

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

Hemprich’s Hornbill (Tockus hemprichii)

While travelling through Uasin Gishu Plateau, you guys have two option, which in any way, you can decided to take both. Start by visiting Burney’s House in Sirikwa which is normally basic base for exploring Cherangany Hills, Kongolai Escarpment and Saiwa swamp national park, the smallest park in Kenya barely measuring more than 2.9 sq.km . This small park provides a great home for Sitatunga, a swamp dwelling antelope and De Brazza’s Monkey. You will definitely find this route worth your while with species like Lammergeier, Lesser Blue-eared, Bronze-tailed and Splendid Starling, Yellow-billed Shrike,Heuglin’s Masked Weaver, Black-billed Barbet, Gambaga Flycatcher and Yellow-billed Hyliota coming your way.
Kakamega forest, Busia Grassland and Lake Victoria gives you a taste of western Kenya birding in a nutshell with high possibility of recording species like Turner’s Eremomela, Southern Hyliota, African Broad Bill, Great Blue and Black-billed Turaco, Yellow-billed, Hairy-breasted, Grey-throated and Yellow-spotted Barbet, Blue-shouldered, Snowy-headed and Grey-winged Robin Chat inside Kakamega forest, which is the only remnant tropical rain forest in Kenya. Busia region will reward you with Red-fronted Lovebird, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Fawn-breasted and Zebra Waxbill,Bar-breasted and Black-bellied Firefinch, Compact Weaver and Rock Pratincole.
Lake Victoria richness in Papyrus vegetation is therefore ideal habitat to look for birds like Papyrus Gonolek, Greater Swamp, Papyrus Yellow and White-winged Warbler, Swamp Flycatcher, Slender-billed, Yellow-backed and Northern Brown-throated Weaver among others. Eastern Plantain Eater and other aquatic species are plenty here.

Photo@Moses Kandie
Photo@Moses Kandie

Papyrus Gonolek (Laniarius mufumbiri)
After Lake Victoria you head south-east to Masai Mara Game Reserve. The Mara is the northern extension of the famous Serengeti plains. Here you will find a wide assortment of bird life as well as some of the most spectacular mammals on the continent. Complementing the wildlife is the dramatic scenery of endless grasslands, lush river valleys and steep rock-strewn escarpments. Birds you can expect in this area of the Mara are Rufous-bellied Heron, Saddle-billed Stork, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Coqui and Red-necked Francolins, Grey Crowned-crane, Temminck’s Courser, Wattled Lapwing, Ross’s and Schalow’s Turacos, Malachite and Woodland Kingfishers, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Rufous-chested Swallow, White-tailed Lark, Familiar Chat, Silverbird, Red-faced, Trilling and Tabora Cisticolas, Green-capped Eremomela, Black-crowned Tchagra, Hildebrandt’s and Violet-backed Starlings, Yellow-fronted Canary and Cinnamon-breasted Bunting.Ray Wattled Plover

African Wattled Lapwing (Vanellus senegallus)

This is the best area in the Mara to see big game up close and some of the many mammals to be seen here include Black-backed Jackal, Bat-eared Fox, Banded Mongoose, Spotted Hyena, Serval Cat, African Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Bush Hyrax, African Elephant, Common Zebra, Hippopotamus, Common Warthog, Masai Giraffe, African Buffalo, Eland, Steinbuck, Bohor Reedbuck, Thomson’s and Grant’s Gazelles, Impala, Topi, Coke’s Hartebeest and thousands of Wildebeest. You will also see many massive Nile Crocodiles, some over 15ft in length, basking in the sun along the banks of the Mara River. From Masai Mara Game Reserve, you only need 4 hours to drive to Nairobi.
This is the best area in the Mara to see big game up close and some of the many mammals to be seen here include Black-backed Jackal, Bat-eared Fox, Banded Mongoose, Spotted Hyena, Serval Cat, African Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Bush Hyrax, African Elephant, Common Zebra, Hippopotamus, Common Warthog, Masai Giraffe, African Buffalo, Eland, Steinbuck, Bohor Reedbuck, Thomson’s and Grant’s Gazelles, Impala, Topi, Coke’s Hartebeest and thousands of Wildebeest. You will also see many massive Nile Crocodiles, some over 15ft in length, basking in the sun along the banks of the Mara River. From Masai Mara Game Reserve, you only need 4 hours to drive to Nairobi.

Noah Strycker, the Record Breaking Birder from Oregon went Birding in Kenya with Joseph Aengwo!

Noah Strycker is a keen birdwatcher who is out to set world record for bird species seen in one calendar year. Noah who lives in Eugene, Oregon, U.S.A. He was in Kenya from 6th – 16th August 2015 where I was privileged to host him. Growing up with a fascination of birds, Noah considered embarking on a yearlong trip to break the world record for most bird species seen in one calender year

photo by Joseph Aengwo
photo by Joseph Aengwo

The current world record is was set by British couple Ruth Miller and Alan Davies in 2008, of 4,341 species. There are an estimated 10,000 bird species worldwide.

Photo by Joseph Aengwo
Photo by Joseph Aengwo

Noah birding itinerary took him to Taita Hills, Tsavo East, Arabuko Sokoke forest along the coast, Mida Creek, Mt. Kenya, Lake Baringo and Kinangop grassland. He flew in to Kenya from Madagascar with a list of 3831 species and he left Kenya for Tanzania with 3996 species, which means he had 165 new species in his list and a country list of 393 in 11 days.  It was nice being part of this record breaking team and I wish him well in his quest to set a new world record.

Photo by Joseph Aengwo
Photo by Joseph Aengwo
Photo by Joseph Aengwo
Photo by Joseph Aengwo
Photo by Joseph Aengwo
Photo by Joseph Aengwo

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.

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.