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.
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.
This is an adult male fan-tailed widowbird, Euplectes axillaris, a member of the avian family Ploceidae, the weaver birds. One of its cousins is the red-billed quelea, Quelea quelea, the most abundant bird in the world.This species has an extremely large range, so incidence of you spotting it while birding in Kenya is very high. They exhibit sexual dimorphism and female appears brown, with the distinctive red-shoulders which clear when the bird air-bone.
In Kenya this species is mostly seen in Masai Mara, mostly a long the northern part of the reserve around the Musiara Swamp.
Dark chestnut brown bird with red beak, black tail, and deep purplish blue rump. Male has purplish-blue feathers around the eyes, and purplish-blue breast, belly, and flanks. Female has less extensive (sometimes absent) blue feathering on the face, and often has white feathers around the eyes; female’s breast and belly is spotted or barred white. Juveniles appear similar to the female but paler, duller, and without white markings. The juvenile tends to be paler. Juveniles have blackish bills and their legs are paler than the adults’. Juveniles go through an early partial molt of the face feathers where males obtain their blue feathering and females their pale mauve feathering around the eyes.
This is a dimorphic species; the male sports blue on his face, breast, and belly. The female has less extensive blue on the face and sports white around the eyes as well as on the breast and belly. Usually form pairs and small parties. Courtship usually takes place on the ground with the male holding a stem or feather in his bill, singing and bowing his head as he bobs up and down, hoping to attract a female. An interested female may fly to the male, twist her head and tail toward him and possibly also show a display. Both male and female share nest construction, often building their round nest low in a bush or shrub. The male may continually line the nest with feathers during incubation, which both parents take turns doing through the day, with the hen incubating at night.
This species is widely distributed in Kenya and it should not be difficult to spot and identify this bird.
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.
The Northern White-Faced Scops Owl is a smallish owl easily recognizable by its very striking white facial disc, with a border of black plumage. It has large, bright orange eyes, which are also surrounded with black. (Juveniles have greyish plumage on their faces, and their eyes are yellow). These owls have prominent ear-tufts. Bigger than the Scops Owl, they are on average 25cms in height, weighing around 200gms. The feathers of their upper parts are mostly pale grey: their under parts are lighter and more streaked. The female of the species is larger than the male.Like so many other species of owl, northern white faced scops owl is a nocturnal. In Kenya they are found in Samburu and Baffalo springs National reserve , Meru National Park, Kerio Valley, Lake Baringo and Bogoria .
This species is found singly or in pairs. The female will lay a clutch of 2 or 3 eggs in the old stick-nests of many other bird species, including small raptors such as goshawks and kites – or even herons, dove or crow’s nests. If these are not available, they will nest in natural tree holes. The 30 day incubation is mainly by the female, although the male may assist. Young chicks will start to fly at roughly 33 days, leaving the nest area two weeks thereafter.
Hartlaub’s Turaco (Tauraco hartlaubi) is a medium sized turaco, an endemic family to sub- Sahara Africa. In Kenya it is a resident breeder in the Montane forests of the central part of the country.
Golden-winged Sunbird has a bright yellow tail and wings, the shoulders are dark gray, the dark gray extending to the nape and throat, while the head and downturned beak are lighter gray. The tail is long and ends in two long, very narrow parallel feathers.These birds are found in East Africa; Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.Golden-winged sunbirds live in grassland, bamboo thickets, and tropical mountain forest.
In Kenya this species if found in Lake Nakuru and Naivasha,Nyahururu,Mt.Kenya and Aberdare National Park.