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.
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.
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.
African Orange-bellied Parrot male has a brown, with varying tinges of brown/orange on cheeks and breast; orange lower breast, abdomen and underwing coverts; pale green thighs and lower flanks to undertail coverts; yellow/green rump and upper tail coverts with blue suffusion. Bill grey/black. Cere and eye ring bare and brown/grey. Eye orange/red. Female-green lower breast to undertail coverts; green rump and upper tail coverts, blue suffusion absent. A juvenile bird is similar to adult female, but in general paler and duller; in male orange wash on underwing coverts and breast. Cere and eye ring bare and paler grey. Eye brown.
This is species is is well distributed in in eastern part of Kenya , commonly seen in places like Samburu and Meru National Park, Tsavo East and West , and if you are lucky enough to Tarangire National Park, then you are absolutely sure of spotting it in the big Baobab trees the park is known for.
Crimson-rumped Waxbill is a typical firefinch type of a bird who most of the time prefer spending its time within the grass top close to wetland habitat.The photo above was taken in Teddy bear Island at Lake Baringo. A Red-rumped waxbill has a slate-grey or black bill. This species is monomophic. Adult bird is warm brown above, with indistinct narrow barring;rumped and upper taile-tailed coverts red;tiled dusky brown, with central feathers tinged crimson, as are the wing-coverts. Broad red streak from bill through the eye. Juvenile bird is similar to an adult bird but lacks red streak through the eye.
Black-necked Weaver appear in two races, P.n. nigricollis and P.n.melanoxanthus. Both species are widespread in moist secondary growth of western Kenya in area around Kakamega, Bunguma, Lake Victoria and Masai Mara Game reserve.While spp menaloxanthus is uncommon in dry bush and woodland of Tsavo west and east, Amboseli,Lake Magadi, and Samburu. Male has deep golden-yellow head with black eyes;throat patch and nape also black with red-brown eyes with a back bill.Female has a prominent yellow supercilliary stripes and not throat patch . Black-necked weaver is very similar to Dark-backed weaver (forest weaver) and Baglafecht Weaver.
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.
Crested Guinea fowl has a wide range in Kenya and northern Tanzania. In Kenya it is found mostly in western tropical rain forest remnant of Kakamega forest and Lake Manyara national park in Northern Tanzania, Body plumage is much like a typhical Guinea Fowl, with whitish spot; most recognizable features is the short, curly “mop” of black feathers on the head, the rest of the head and neck are bare with blue skin, red skin arond the eyes and on the neck;eyes are red;legs dark brown to black.The species is mono morphic.
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.