Hartlaub’s Turaco (Tauraco hartlaubi)

DSCN0894Hartlaub's TuracoHartlaub's Turaco photo

Hartlaub’s Turaco is a beautiful bird to watch!!! it will surely take your breath away if at all you are seeing it for first time. Hartlaub’s  Turaco dominates the montane forest of Kenya with its range slightly extending to Northern Tanzania and Western Uganda in East Africa.

Hartlaub’s turaco is a spectacularly patterned, medium-sized bird with a strong, curved bill, short, rounded wings and a rather long tail. The vivid plumage of Hartlaub’s turaco, is a product of two unique copper pigments, unknown in any other bird family, or indeed in any other animal group. The adult has a bushy, blue-black crest and a conspicuous red eye-ring, with a distinctive white patch immediately in front of the eye and a white line beneath the eye. Much of the upper body, including the neck, mantle, throat and breast is silky green, while the lower back, folded wings, and tail are an iridescent violet-blue, Visible only in flight, the flight feathers are a striking crimson. Like all Turacos, the feet of Hartlaub’s turaco have a special joint that allows the outer toe to move either forward or backward, an attribute that enables these birds to move acutely through vegetation.

Best location to look for this species in Kenya includes, Mt. Kenya forest reserve, Aberdare National Park, Nairobi National Park, Taita and Tugen Hills. In Kenya , other than the Hartlaub’s  Turaco, we have have Great Blue and Black-billed Turaco restricted to Kakamega tropical rain forest. Others are Ross’s, Purple-crested, Schalow’s, and Fisher’s Turaco.

 

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

Spotted Eagle-Owl (Bubo africanus)

Spotted Eagle-Owl (Bubo africanus)

Photo@Michael Sammut

Spotted Eagle-Owl is medium to large owl with prominent ear tufts. Upper-parts dusky brown with pale spots, under-parts whitish and finely barred. Facial disk whitish to pale ochre. A more rufous morph exists in more arid areas.It very similar to Greyish Eagle-Owl, only that has bright-yellow eyes, and in Kenya is mostly found in the southern part of the equator. It prefers Savannah, rocky outcrops, scrub, open and semi-open woodland, semi-deserts.

Birding hotspot where this species can be recorded include;Amboseli, Tsavo West and East National Park, Meru, Kitui, Maasai Mara and the greater area of Lake Victoria.

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.

November 30, 2011: Northern Carmine Bee-eater

Nothern Carmine Bee-eater

November 30, 2012  bird is Northern Carmine Bee-eater  Merops nubicus                       (photo@ tony crocetta)

Carmine Bee-eaters are carmine in color, except for its greenish blue head and throat, and the bold black mask-like stripe across their eyes. Their eyes are red and they have a black pointed de-curved beak. Their central tail feathers are elongated. Their legs and feet are blackish brown. The sexes are similar in appearance. It is one of the largest species of Merops at 35cm  long. Young birds lack the elongated central tail feathers and are pinkish brown on the mantle, chest to belly, and flanks.

In Kenya they are passage migrant in the area and its distribution is found in the north western part of Kenya, extending  all the way to coast, in areas around Watamu, Tsavo east, Meru national park, Turkana, Nasolot, Kerio Valley and Lake Baringo.

Northern Carmine bee-eaters hunt mainly by keeping watch for flying insects from a perch. The insect is snapped up in the bill, then the bird returns to the perch, where it beats the prey against the perch until it is inactive. A stinging insect is held near the tip of its tail and rubbed on the perch to be relieved of the venom and sting before being swallowed whole. Besides branches, Carmine Bee-eaters use the backs of game or cattle and even large birds, such as Jacksons Bustard or Storks as animate perches, waiting to catch any insects that they disturb. Carmine Bee-eaters also fly freely to bush fires to prey upon fleeing insects.

For the last 10 years of my birding life, I have never came across any species of bee-eater which fails impress!!! Have a great birding week.

Joe