Abyssinian Scimitarbill in our region occurs in two races , R.m. minor is found in north eastern part of Kenya, while the race R.m. cabanisi is found in southern Kenya. This species can easily be mistaken for Woodhoopoe, although woodhoope are gregarious while Scimitarbill is solitary in its movement behavior. Its bill is more curved down almost giving the Sunbirds bill impression, and on flight the bright red curved billed contrast with uniformly dark-blue plumage. They inhabit light woodlands, dry Acacia bush and thorn-scrub especially along dry river bed. Generally, it a widespread species.
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.
The squacco heron is a migrant, wintering in Kenya. This is a stocky species with a short neck, short thick bill and buff-brown back. In summer, adults have long neck feathers. Its appearance is transformed in flight, when it looks very white due to the colour of the wings. The squacco heron’s breeding plumage is recognized by sky blue bill as clearly seen in the photo above with a black tip. It prefers marshy wetlands as a breeding site. The birds nest in small colonies, often with other wading birds, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs. This species being a terrestrial bird, is mostly seen in lakes, river valleys, swamps and other permanent or temporary freshwater wetlands in Kenya Rift Valley, Lake Victoria rice fields, Central highland ponds and on both north east and south cost of Kenya.
Although it has a relatively dull appearance for most of the year, the Greater Sand Plover’s plumage changes during the breeding season. At this time, the crown changes from greyish-brown to a dull brick red, as does the white breast, and the small feathers that cover the ear region change colour from a dusky grey to black. The chin and throat remain white throughout the year, while the nape and forehead are a greyish-brown colour all year round.
The greater sand plover is a carnivorous species that varies its diet seasonally; during the breeding season it feeds mainly on terrestrial insects and their larvae, especially preying on midges, ants, beetles and termites, but also occasionally hunting larger animals such as lizards. During the non-breeding season, the greater sand plover mainly eats marine invertebrates, such as snails, worms, crabs and shrimp. Usually feeding at low tide on wet ground, just away from the water’s edge, the greater sand plover detects and catches prey with the help of good eyesight and the ability to sprint over short distances. A sociable species, the greater sand plover often feeds and roosts in flocks. It typically feeds in flocks of between two and fifty individuals but sometimes congregates in groups as large as one thousand whilst roosting, which is mainly done on sand bars at high tide.
The bird above was photographed at Mida-Creek, when the tide was low and the bird was in mixture of species like Crab Plover, Lesser Sand Plover, Eurasian Curlew, Whimbrel and White-fronted Plover. All my records on this species were in Mida-creek, Watamu.
Photo@Yan Van Duine
African Pygmy Kingfisher is a small insectivorous kingfisher found mostly in woodland habitats and not necessarily restricted to wetland.In Kenya, its range widespread in bushland of Lake Baringo, Kerio Vallye,Samburu,Meru and Nakuru National and southern parks of Amboseli, Tsavo East and West. Its habitat range from woodland habitats, savannas and riverine forests, but also scrublands, grasslands, open rivers and streams, coastal bushes, plantations and gardens.The dark blue crown of the adult separates it from the African Dwarf Kingfisher. The smaller size and violet wash on the ear coverts distinguish it from the similar Malachite Kingfisher.
Hilderbrandt’s Starling is a red-eyed, and generally darker-toned than Superb Starling without a white breast band or vent. This species is confined to open woodland and open thorn bushes found in Arid and Semi-arid areas of the Great Rift Valley and the lower eastern Kenya.
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.
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.
Greater Crested Tern is a prominently crested coastal bird, which appears slightly smaller than Caspian Tern.At rest it appears elongated, with long wings and large pale yellow billed which drops at the tip.On flight the tail appear very forked. A breeding adult has a black cap separated from the bill by a narrow white band. In Kenya it commonly seen a long the coast especially in areas around Sabaki delta, Mida-Creek and Diani Beach.
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.