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.
Grey-breasted Spurpfowl is an endemic of Northern Tanzania where it is common within its tiny range. The photo appearing above was taken in central Serengeti in the month of September 2017.This species is declining owing to habitat loss and human encroachment. It also hybridises with F.leucoscepus.
The Violet-backed Starling belongs to the family of birds classified as Sturnidae. This species, also known as the Plum-coloured Starling or Amethyst Starling, is the smallest of Kenya starlings, reaching only about 18cm in length. It is a successful breeder, and is fortunately not listed as a threatened species.
The sexes are strongly sexually dimorphic, meaning that there is a distinct difference in the appearance of the male and female. The breeding male is brilliantly coloured, with feathers an iridescent shining plum violet colour along the length of is back, wings, face and throat, contrasting with bright white on the rest of the body. Females (and juveniles) are a streaky brown and buff colour, and can easily be mistaken for a thrush.
Less noisy than other starlings, this bird is a monogamous species, and will remain so unless its mate dies. Under those circumstances it will seek a new mate in replacement. These starlings are normally seen in small flocks in summer, just before the breeding season when they will break off into pairs to nest.
Violet-backed starlings will nest in cavities such as tree holes high off the ground, holes in river banks, even in old hollow fence posts, lining the nests with dung, leaves and other plant material. They have been known to reuse nests in successive breeding seasons
In Kenya, they are found a long riverine vegetation in big dead tree trunks in Machakos, the low areas of Tugen hills, Lake Nakuru and Nairobi national park.
Red-throated Bee-eater is an incredibly beautiful Bee-eater to watch…in any birding trip to Uganda, with your best bet being in Murchison falls national park in northern Uganda. As soon as you approach the river Nile, their presence there cannot be ignored, where they are frequently seen going in and out of their nest holes.
The above photo was taken during my recent bird trip to Uganda, where we were visited Murchison Falls National Park, Budongo forest reserve where we extensively birded the famous Royal Miles Trail, we easily picked up our much sort after kingfishers( African Pygmy, Blue-breasted and and Chocolate-backed Kingfisher).
Kibale forest reserve, Bigodi swamp and Samliki were part of the other areas we visited. Kibale and Bigodi swamp were incredibly productive for us, but the same cannot be said of Samliki forest. I think our timing was not the best as it had rain heavily the previous night, so we literally had to walked on the flooded Kirumia trail. We dearly missed our gumboots which we had ignored to bring, next time we will be more clever. Keep birding.
Doherty’s Bsuh-shrike is a relatively small-billed bush-shrike. Male of crimson morph has forehead and forecrown, lower cheek, chin and throat bright crimson rump.This bird is very secretive and keeps to the small bushes of around 2300 above sea level especially in Mt.Kenya and Aberdare national park. They are very responsive to calls and quickly pops up to protects its territory from the “purported” intruder.This photo was taken in January this year in Mt.Kenya forest reserve.
It was a great privileged to have guided James and Catherine over the weekend when they came down for a brief birding visit.I had a great birding time with them.
January 9-10, 2016
It was a spur of the moment decision, we visited Lake Baringo for the weekend. We knew that two things will soon happen at the lake: the northern carmine bee-eaters will migrate north between February and April, and it will become unbearably hot. A bit of advice…don’t travel to northern Kenya in February or March. We made the standard Nakumatt run for supplies, packed our bags/cooler box, and checked the car’s vitals. The drive was (as usual) quite interesting with the terrain constantly changing. Farmland and fields are soon replaced by escarpments and acacia thickets, which then transition to scrub hillsides, which become lush forested hills, which then morph to dry bush, and finally dusty rock outcroppings with scattered trees. Thankfully, the forecast predicted cloud cover at night, which meant cooler temperatures.
We stayed at Robert’s Camp once again and opted to rent one of their dome tents for 2,000ksh per night. Quite affordable…
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