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.

Blue-cheeked Bee-Eater (Merops p. persicus)

Blue-cheeked Bee-Eater (Merops p. persicus)

photo@Yan Van Duinne

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater is a long tailed, bright green bee-eater with black mask, mostly white forehead,green crown and pale blue or whitish superciliary and cheek stripes conspicuously brighter than surrounding green plumage; yellow chin merges with russet throat. Underside of the wings coppery rufous. First winter birds are duller, more olive than adult, and sometimes retaining pale-edged juvenile feathers ;forehead green, narrowly yellowish bill; chin pale yellowish buff grading into rufous-buff throat patch.
Regular palearctic migrant of late October-early April at lake Victoria and Baringo which is the best place to see them in huge number

Vitelline Masked Weaver ( Ploceus vitellinus)

Vitelline Masked Weaver ( Ploceus vitellinus)

Photo@Tony Crocetta

Vitelline Masked Weaver is a common wevar that is at home in and around habitat in the dry acacia belt. It is a species that is similar to large Black-headed Weaver, but can be easily separated given a good view. Although both species have red-eyes and warm-chestnut border to their black faced-mask, the black on the male Vitelline’s head does not extend onto the crown or down onto the breast, and it’s back does not have strong black “tramline” as in Black-headed Weaver.
The female Vitalline shows a pale narrow bill compared to the dark, heavy bill of the female Black-headed weaver, and the breast and flanks are generally a warm buff contrasting with a white belly.
In Kenya huge concentration of this species can be recorded in dry areas a round Lake Bogoria and Baringo, Kerio Valley, Samburu National reserve, Meru National Park and Tsavo West and East Parks.

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.

Bar-Tialed Trogon (Apaloderma vittatum)

Bar-Tialed Trogon (Apaloderma vittatum)
Stratton Hatfield

 

The Bar-Tailed Trogon is a stunning secretive long tailed forest bird that sits motionless for long periods often high in the canopy.It is similar to the more widespread Narina Trogon  found both in Forest and bushlands, but with blue breast band and barred tail.

The Bar-Tailed Trogon has the following features that aid identification.The adult bird has dark green and red plumage with a blue band across the breast.From behind the Bar-Tailed Trogon has a narrow tail with black and white edges while underneath the tail is entirely barred.That’s where it gets its name from.The adult female has dull brown head and breast while the immature ones have pale-tipped wing coverts. Due to its secretive nature, the bird is rarely seen in location like Kakamega forest, Kieni Forest, Mt.Kenya and Aberadare National Park.

 

 

 

 

White-browed Scrub Robin (Erythropygia leucophrys)

White-browed Scrub Robin (Erythropygia leucophrys)@Michael Sammut

For the last two weeks, a pair of White-browed Scrub Robin have been nesting very close to my house! I have been observing them carefully and indeed I am impressed by the intelligence!!The timing of the breeding period is incredible, in the middle of a big rainy  season  and there was plenty of insect, which meant the young one will not go hungry  and I supplied them with a bath bowel in form of a modified stone which they like it a lot.The good news is two days ago, the eggs were hatched and  two chicks with a bright cream- white gape.This morning when I visited them in the nest, the chicks were developing fast and their tiny bodies were covered by feather.I wish them well as they continue with their parental responsibilities which up to now, they seem to be doing it perfectly.

Red-backed Scrub Robin, as this species is sometimes refered Lives mainly in the woodlands and savannah with thickets and tall grass. Fairly common resident in much of arid and semi-arid areas of East Africa. This small bird is light brown with darker streaks above. The rump is bright brown to orange; the tail is blackish tipped with white. Below it is white streaked with black. The eyes are reddish brown, the bill blackish brown and the legs and feet are pinkish brown it nests from September to January in building a bulky cup of course material near the ground in a grass tuft, shrub or thick clump of vegetation. The cup is lined with finer material. It usually lays three eggs, which are coloured white spotted with light brown and grey. Will foraging for its prey on the ground and takes insects in flight. The food consists of insects and spiders as well as berries and nectar.

Common in Lake Baringo and Bogoria, Tsavo West and East, Amboseli, Meru National park and Samburu National Reserve.Mostly call on top on trees parched.

Black-necked Weaver (Ploceus nigricollis)

@Michael Sammut

Black-necked Weaver appear in two races, P.n. nigricollis and P.n.melanoxanthus. Both species are widespread in moist secondary growth of western Kenya in area around Kakamega, Bunguma,  Lake Victoria and Masai Mara Game reserve.While spp menaloxanthus is uncommon in dry bush and woodland of Tsavo west and east, Amboseli,Lake Magadi, and Samburu. Male has deep golden-yellow head with black eyes;throat patch and nape also black with red-brown eyes with a back bill.Female has a prominent yellow supercilliary  stripes and not throat patch . Black-necked weaver is very similar to Dark-backed weaver (forest weaver) and Baglafecht Weaver.