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.

3 March, 2012:Rosy-Patched Bush Shrike (Rhodophoneus cruentus)

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Photo@Joseph Aengwo

Rosy-patched Bush Shrike is a beautiful bird!it is locally  common in bushed grassland, bushland and scrub in arid and semi-arid plateau country up to altitude of about 1600 meter.Two races occur, apparently without intergrades: hilgerti in northern and eastern Kenya from Turkana, Ileret, Marsabit and Moyale to Baragoi, Isiolo and Athi .While the race Cathemagmena is in south Kenya in areas around Tsavo west and East National park.

While birding in those areas mentioned, this bird should be hard to see as they always like singing on top scrub bushes.They are never shy as such.

December 6, 2011: Eastern Paradise Whydah

The Eastern Paradise Whydah is a small, widely occurring bird of eastern Africa. It gathers in flocks but separates into pairs during the mating season.Easten Paradise Whydah is a species specific brood parasite with its target being the Green-winged pytilia.

This bird is both dichromatic and dimorphic during the breeding season. When in “breeding mode”, the male has black plumage along its back and tail, with a yellow nape and chestnut colored lower breast and belly. It also grows new long- tail feathers. During the non-breeding season, it loses its striking black and yellow coloration, becoming brownish in color with black streaks on its head. The female has grayish, black-streaked upper-parts with a brown-colored head. Its breast is pale gray and its belly is white.

Eastern Paradise Whydah

The Eastern Paradise Whydah feeds on grass seeds such as millet and wild oats, but will occasionally take termites and grubs.

It inhabits dry thorn scrub and open or woodland savannahs throughout eastern Africa. Fairly common after heavy rains both as a resident and a wonderer , appearing usually near watering areas. Well distributed in the  area of  Samburu, Meru, Lokichokio, Turkana, Tsavo and Amboseli National park.

Kenya’s Important Bird Areas

A few important resources about Kenya’s Important Bird Areas.

Kenya's Important Bird AreasA fantastic map of Kenya’s Important Bird Areas from Nature Kenya.

Also, from KenyaBirds, a listing table of the Important Bird Areas, Locations, Habitats, and threatened species.

Coming up soon, a Bird of the Week with a song I recorded while birding recently.

Joe

Lake Baringo Birding

Lake Baringo is a fantastic location for bird watching in Kenya. I grew up in Lake Baringo, where I developed my interest in birding and I never get tired of going out to observe all the species in my backyard. Yesterday, with my friend Wilson Tiren, down by the shore of the lake and at the rocky cliff we spotted some impressive species! There are approximately 500  bird species in and around the lake. We spent a full day birding and managed to come up with this list of species for those keen birders who are wondering what can be seen in this area of the Great Rift Valley.

  1. Cattle egret
  2. Intermediate Egret
  3. Hammerkop
  4. Green-backed heron

    Green backed Heron
  5. Hadada ibis
  6. Glossy ibis
  7. Sacred ibis
  8. Grey heron
  9. Egyptian goose
  10. Black-shouldered kite
  11. Imperial eagle
  12. Fish eagle

    African Fish Eagle
  13. Black-chested snake eagle
  14. Eurasian mash harrier
  15. Dark chanting goshawk
  16. Gabar gashawk
  17. Shikra
  18. African harrier-hawk
  19. Verreaux’s eagle
  20. Common kestrel
  21. Pygmy falcon
  22. Lanner falcon
  23. Crested francolin
  24. Black crake
  25. Purple swamphen
  26. African jacana
  27. Spotted thick-knee
  28. Heuglin’s courser
  29. Common sandpiper
  30. Emerald-spotted wood dove
  31. Namaqua dove
  32. Laughing dove
  33. African mourning dove
  34. Brown parrot
  35. White-bellied go-away-bird
  36. Black and white cuckoo
  37. Diedrik’s cuckoo
  38. White-browed coucal
  39. Pearl-spotted owlet
  40. Little swift
  41. Blue-naped mousebird
  42. Pied kingfisher
  43. Striped kingfisher
  44. Grey-headed kingfisher
  45. Woodland kingfisher
  46. Malachite kingfisher
  47. Little bee-eater
  48. Northern carmine bee-eater
  49. Lilac-breasted roller
  50. Rufous-crowned roller
  51. Green wood-hoopoe
  52. African hoopoe
  53. Eurasian hoopoe
  54. Jackson’s hornbill
  55. Red-billed hornbill
  56. Hemprich’s hornbill
  57. D’arnaud’s barbet
  58. Red and yellow barbet
  59. Black-throated barbet
  60.  Lesser honeyguide
  61. Greater honeyguide
  62. Scaly-throated honeyguide
  63. Nubian woodpecker
  64. Grey woodpecker
  65. Rock martin
  66. Red-rumped swallow
  67. Barn swallow
  68. Common bulbul
  69. Northern brownbul
  70. Cliff chat
  71. Isabelline wheatear
  72. White-browed scrub robin
  73. Spotted morning thrush
  74. Olivaceous warbler
  75. Northern crombec
  76. Yellow-bellied eromomela
  77. Red-fronted warbler
  78. Pale prinia
  79. Grey-wren warbler
  80. Yellow-breasted aplis
  81. African-grey flycatcher
  82. Pygmy batis
  83. African paradise flycatcher
  84. Brown-babbler
  85. Northern grey-tit
  86. Beautiful sunbird
  87. Hunter’s sunbird
  88. Eastern violet-backed sunbird
  89. Brubru
  90. Slate-coloured boubou
  91. Sulphur-breasted bush-shrike
  92. Grey-headed bush-shrike
  93. Northern white-crowned shrike
  94. Drongo
  95. Black-headed oriole
  96. Red-billed oxpecker
  97. Greater-blue-eared starling
  98. Superb starling
  99. Yellow-spotted petronia
  100. Grey-headed sparrow
  101. White-browed sparrow weaver
  102. White-headed buffalo weaver
  103. White-billed buffalo weaver
  104. Black-headed weaver
  105. Lesser-masked weaver
  106. Vitalline masked weaver
  107. Northern masked weaver
  108. Jackson’s golden-backed weaver

November 21, 2011: Flamingo

Flamingo
Phoenicopterus, the latin name for flamingo, means “Crimson wing”, the flamingo is said to be the inspiration for the crimson-winged phoenix, the ancient symbol of transformation and re-birth. Flamingoes are characteristic species of soda lakes in the Rift Valley in Kenya and Tanzania, especially Nakuru, Bogoria, Elementaita and Turkana. Their breeding ground is Lake Natron, in northern Tanzania.
Two species occur in Africa: Greater flamingo  Phoenicopterus ruber and Lesser flamingo Phoeniconaias minor. They are long legged wading birds adopted to a unique method of filter feeding. The two species avoid direct competition by feeding on different food items at different depths, with major diet being spirulina and diatoms.
Flamingo Lake Bogoria Kenya
A flamingo landing on Lake Bogoria, Kenya.Photo@Jurg Hosang