white-headed Mousebird (Colius leucocephalus)

Photo@Jacqui Harrington

Mousebirds, sometimes called colies, are an ancient group of small arboreal birds in Africa. They are so unique in morphological peculiarities that they were proposed as a separate Order of birds as long ago as 1872, and this placement has been confirmed by molecular evidence (Sibley & Ahlquist 1990, Hackett et al. 2008). They are the only Order restricted to sub-Saharan Africa.

In Kenya three species occurs,  White-headed, Blue-naped and Speckled Mousebird.There are only two genera among the mousebirds, and four of the six species are placed in Colius, including White-headed Mouse Bird  of east Africa (left). White-headed Mousebird, like most of this genus, is a bird of arid thornscrub. Its range is limited to a band of such thornscrub from s. Somalia to n.e. Tanzania. The most widespread species, Speckled Mousebird C. striatus, occurs more broadly in a variety of woodlands.

The three  species of Colius mousebirds are essentially allopatric in distribution, without any significant overlap, and where there is a little range overlap, they separate out by habitat.In Kenya it is found  in Samburu, Meru, Tsavo west and Tsavo East National Park.

Taita Apalis (Apalis fuscigularis)

photo@Michael Sammut

Taita Apalis (Apalis fuscigularis), a Critically Endangered bird endemic to patches of natural forest in the Taita Hills of Southern Kenya. The entire world range of the Taita Apalis is less than 500 ha (5 km²).

The Taita Hills of South Eastern Kenya are the northernmost reach of the Eastern Arc, one of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots (Mittermeier et al. 2004). Human impact is strong in the Taita, where deforestation hits 95% or more (Rogo & Oguge, 2000). The Taita are one of the key sites for biodiversity conservation in Kenya, with numerous endemic plants, vertebrates and invertebrates.

Black-headed Lapwing (Vanellus tectus)

Photo@Michael Sammut

The Black-headed Plover or Black-headed Lapwing (Vanellus tectus) is a species of wading bird of the family Charadriidae. It is found across sub-Saharan Africa.In Kenya specifically, it is found in areas like Tsavo West and East,Lake Baringo, Lake Bogoria,Samburu and Meru National Park. Although not migratory, there is some seasonal movement. Its habitat is wet lowlands close to water. It often feeds in drier habitats, such grassy scrubland.

This bird is readily noticeable and unmistakable. It is medium-large with a mainly black head and white forehead. The lower face and bands across the rear head and nape are also white. The crest is a weak black. The bill and legs are red. The tail is white and tipped black. In flight, the upperwings have black flight feathers and brown coverts separated by a white bar. The underwings are white with black flight feathers.

The diet of the Black-headed Plover consists of insects and other invertebrates that is picked from the ground. The call is a metallic tink-tink.

 

 

Hottentot Teal (Anas hottentota)

c@kelemen marton

The Hottentot Teal is a species of dabbling duck of the genus Anas. It is migratory resident in eastern Africa.The Hottentot teal is known for its black-capped head and distinctive blue bill. The duck’s body is speckled brown and black, with black wings.

Monogamous, territorial solitary nester. Interestingly, the pair bond barely lasts beyond incubation, with the male having almost no role in incubation and care of chicks.The female builds the nest, which is a deep bowl in the ground, filled with grass and leaves, often lined with down. It is usually placed in emergent vegetation near water.Laying dates vary with different regions, but usually in February-May.It lays 5-12 eggs, in successive days.Incubation is done solely by the female, for 25-27 days. She will sometimes leave the nest, to join the male in feeding and preening.The chicks are kept hidden in thick reedbeds, which makes them difficult to see. They fledge when they are about 60-65 days old.

Widespread all over Kenya in Swamps like Manguo, Lake Nakuru, Lake Baringo,Lake Bogoria and Lake Naivasha.

Long-crested Eagle (Lophaetus occipitalis)

Long-crested Eagle (Lophaetus occipitalis)

Photo@Raymond Galea

The adult Long-crested Eagle is overall very dark brown or black, except for white patches at the joint of the wing both above and below, white under-wing coverts spotted with black, a white base to the tail and greyish brown tarsi. The eyes golden to reddish brown, the cere and feet yellow.
Immatures can be distinguished from the adult by the whiter tips of the neck feathers, the less prominent crest, and a generally more mottled appearance. The eyes are dark olive-brown, the feet and cere pale ochre-yellow.

Long-crested Eagle can easily be seen in Kenya thought out Nairobi, Maasai Mara, Lake Nakuru National Park,Amboseli, Tsavo East and West National Park.