Given the array of color presented by the male’s plumage the name seems appropriate: a pair of yellow bands on either side of a red chest, green on head and back, blue on the lower back and black on the belly and tail. The females are plumaged instead to be inconspicuous and safer from predators: yellowish chest and belly with gray-brown back. Beautiful sunbirds take flower nectar and insects as food. It is a very common species in arid and semi-arid regions of Kenya especially Samburu, Tsavo West,Lake Baringo and Amboseli.
They generally frequent flowering plants and therefore provide necessary conditions for photography.
The tall, pink flamingos are an instantly recognizable group of birds, which have been known from earliest times and often celebrated in popular stories. They belong to one of the bird families, dating back at least 30 millions years, when their range extended to North America and Australia.
All species have a long, slender neck and tall, spindy legs, a fairly small body, and large, specially adopted, drooping bill. Their plumage varies between pale and deep rose-pink, with crimson and black wings.
Flamingos are extremely sociable and usually occur in large flocks. At times, they form the biggest concentration of non-passerine birds: on occasions, more than a million gather at feeding sites. The birds forage by wading knee-deep at the edges of alkaline or saline lakes and lagoons.
They turn their head upside down and sweep the bill through the water, sucking in mouthfuls. As they squeeze out excess water with their tongue, comb like structures called lamellae trap tiny particles of food.
Flamingos breed in large colonies at the edge of lakes or on island. In East Africa, the only reliable breeding site is Lake Natron in Northern Tanzania. The nest is circular mound of mud baked hard by the sun, into which the female lays on white egg. The chicks look like fluffy duck-lings on hatching, and are fed on a milky mash regurgitated by their parents.
After a few days, they join a large group of youngsters within the colony, but continue to be fed by their parents for about 10 weeks longer, until they can fly and become fully independent.
Named for its striking coloration, the golden-breasted starling has metallic blue wings, a yellow breast and belly, a violet throat and a vibrant green head. Found in savanna and dry-thorn bushes.
This is perhaps the most beautiful Starling you can encounter in any of your safari trips in Tsavo East, Tsavo West and Samburu game reserve. Its stunning appearance can attract attention for even non-birders.
The golden-breasted starling lives in family groups of 3-12 individuals in the wild. Females lay their eggs in tree holes abandoned by woodpeckers, lining the nest with straw and leaves. Entire family groups cooperate in raising young by gathering food and nesting materials. Keep birding!
I recently visited Lake Bogoria National Reserve after the heavy rains of November and part of December and the lake appeared to be flooded! which is common occurrence in all the lakes at the moment. Literally, we could see the flamingos from the gate. The concentration of the Lesser Flamingos was amazing! A real sight to behold. However, the bird that made my day on this particular visit was the stylish African Skimmer!an attractive long-winged, short-tailed tern-like bird most noted for its laterally compressed red bill with a pale tip with the lower mandible longer than the upper.
Skimmers fly in lines over calm waters, and dip their lower mandibles in the water to feed. When the mandible touches a fish, the skimmer snaps its mouth shut. They feed mostly at dawn and dusk and have good night vision.
Why the excitement you may ask! the last time I saw this species in my area was in 2007 in Lake Baringo!. So it was kind off a sweet reunion of some sort!
The photo appearing above is an adult male red-headed weaver, Anaplectes rubriceps, also known as the red-headed Anaplectes or the red-winged weaver, photographed at the bases of Tugen Hills, 14 kilometers from Lake Baringo.
The Red-headed Weaver Anaplectes rubriceps, a striking weaver bird with bright red head in the breeding plumage of males. In East Africa the male has a black mask (leuconotus); one race in East Africa has a red plumage (jubaensis). The female is yellowish or brownish. Both sexes have a distinctive thin pinkish orange bill.
In Kenya it is easily seen in Amboseli national park, Tsavo west and East, Samburu national reserve, Lake Baringo and kerio Valley.
In Kenya this species is redistricted to the remaining tropical rain forest patches in western kenya, mostly in Kakamega and South Nandi forests. It is not an easy catch, but with patience, this shy and difficult to observe bird can be seen.
Nightjars are largely nocturnal family. They look like owls, with large heads and eyes and a cryptic plumage. The family name caprimulgidae was given to them after some superstitious belief that because of their wide mouths, the birds suckled goats.
In Kenya we have 13 different species of Nightjars, wide spread in different habitats across the country. The photo appearing above was taken at a rocky countryside of Lake Baringo. Most species are nocturnal or active at dusk, and are solitary and retiring . They concentrate their foraging bouts during twilight hours.
By day, they roots on exposed grounds or rocks, in leaf litter, or on branches. When roosting , they adopt a horizontal posture, in contrast to owls.
Nightjars have very large eyes, adopted to low light condition. They eye have a tapetum, a reflective membrane that increases the amount of light entering the eyeball. Its presence causes reflective “eye-shine” when the eye are illuminated by artificial light.
This warbler prefers undergrowth vegetation of montane habitat and mostly noticed by its loud call. Though easily heard than seen, but on a good day, you might even sneak a photo, although patience is advised for better photographic results.
The above photo was taken by my client from Belgium who had impressive passion for Psittaciformes family. She purposely travel to kenya to see four species of parrot ; Red-fronted (jardine’s ), Meyer’s , Orange-bellied and Brown-headed Parrot. She had similar intention for Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia.
Western Kenya forest fragment is the places you can see this species in Kenya. They are off course very common in the southern part of Uganda. The boldly marked blue-black with extensively spotted and barred with yellow and a shinning scarlet forehead patch best describe the adult male. Singles and small groups are common residents of western forest, being active in the canopy and around fruiting trees, often in mixed species flocks.
Other species of Barbet found in the tropical rain forest of Kenya includes; Hairy-breasted, Yellow-billed and Grey-throated Barbet, appearing below.
On any bird watching excursion disappointment and surprises happen all the time, so when my clients and I arrived at one of the forest block a long the lower slopes of Mt.Kenya, seeing a Bar-tailed Trogon was not really in our mind, I guess we had learned to manage our expectation.
On the main trail in the forest other things come by easily without much effort, Mountain Yellow and Brown Woodland Warbler, African Hill Babbler, Black-fronted Bush-Shrike, Yellow-crowned Canary, Abyssinian Crimsonwing, Hartlaub’s Turaco, African Crowned Eagle, Mountain Buzzard, Eastern Mountain and Slender-bill Greenbul, White-starred Robin, Ruppelle’s Robin-chat, Golden-winged and Tacazze Sunbird among others were some of our priced collection.
Then the big moment come and voila we had some fantastic views of Bar-tailed Trogon. It begun by it calling from a nearby forest thicket and its continuous calling betrayed its exact location and we had excellent photographic opportunities.
On such kind of trips, sometimes you lose and sometimes you win, but this time round we won in a big way.