Fishing Fest


Owing to the drought (which shows no sign of ending any day soon) water sources are rapidly drying up in the Nairobi National Park. Several dams have dried up & water is at a premium for the thousands of thirsty herbivores in the park.


These pictures were taken at the Olomanyi Dam.

Marabous, spoonbills, yellow billed stork & even a pair of pelicans jostle to catch fish, probably Barbus sp. Brian Finch tells me that these fish (if any escape the hungry bills) encyst in the mud, to emerge later in the Rains to reproduce & replenish the population.


Fishing fest: a feathery free-for-all…..


The aristos – a pair of saddlebill storks- look on in disdain…..


A marabou:full up!

Below a saddlebill in the fast receding water. Notice the stranded catfish (Clarias sp.) next to it.


Antelopes of Nairobi National Park


Today’s offering (after hours downloading images…..) is about the many species of antelope to be found within the various habitats of the park. These range from species represented by hundreds of individuals, to those such as these Mountain Reedbuck, of which there can only be about 20, all found in one locality in the park:in the Sosian valley.

How does a group such as this manage to survive, genetically?


Here’s a Mountain Reedbuck doe. Difficult to photograph, these small species of buck…Notice the gland below the ear. Antelope live in a secret world of scent difficult for us to comprehend & have glands near their eyes, & between their hooves & leave subtle messages in their lavatories telling others of their kind who what why & where they are….


The once dominant species of the Athi Kapiti Ecosystem, now represented by just a few hundred animals when in years past there were thousands! At least we’ve got at least 20 more this year.Wildebeest have calved in the safety of the park owing to the on-going drought.


The King of Antelopes, a bull eland. Mostly confined to the park these days owing to habitat loss in the dispersal area, this species is doing very well.


A Coke’s hartebeest or kongoni, in typical stance. This species is doing so well in the park that it must be getting close to it’s maximum sustainable population. This is excellent news as elsewhere this species is in decline.


A Bohor (where does this name originate?) reedbuck ram. Although there must have been Bohor reedbuck in the wetlands at the Eastern edge of the park historically, many have been translocated in from Western Kenya. These animals are very difficult to see & (like most small antelope) hide motionless in the vegetation as a defensive measure.


A Mountain Reedbuck ram testing a female in oestrous.


The best shot I have been able to get of the elusive steenbok, which live in pairs. Having no horns I assume this is a juvenile.


The elegant bushbuck is one of the most widespread antelopes in Africa, able to live close to humans (like in my garden) if not hunted. Solitary animals, they are numerous in all the habitats of the park apart from on the plains.


Impala are also a very adaptable & successful species, though they are water dependent.

Well over 600 in & around the park show that this species is flourishing in the park.


A doe oribi with young. This species has been translocated into the park.Hopefully it will not compete with the duiker sp. which occur in the park (grey & bush?)

I could not get pictures of suni (which occur in the Langata forest) or dikdik, (which I have never seen in the park but which can be found along the Embakasi Gorge & in the Silole Sanctuary.) Does anybody have images of these three species? Or klipspringer?

Below is a waterbuck, which occurs both in the Langata Forest & in the Athi Basin.


Birding With Brian Finch

On 2nd March 2009, I spent the day in Nairobi National Park. There
were a couple of surprises, but basically the birds that have been
with us for most of this year, are still with us, and the population
was stagnant, there being no evidence of any northward passage. Birds
on the dams continue to fall in numbers in line with the drop in water
level, although the variety is still good.

There were numerous Blackcaps on the way to Ivory Burning Site, and a
few Willow Warblers were calling near the entrance. At least six
Nightingales were at the picnic area, the male Irania still present
and active in its usual territory, but shows no interest in singing
now. Only one Upcher’s Warbler was present in the Acacias. The morning
was bright and sunny, Scaly and Crested Francolins were calling from
the scrub and simultaneously Shelley’s Francolin was calling from the
grassland lower down.
The back road was quiet, apart from two more Nightingales the only
other migrant being the first of nine Red-tailed Shrikes (only one
isabellinus) recorded today. In scrubby growth to the right, opposite
the “pumphouse” there was a Broad-tailed Warbler calling, and my
personal second only Beautiful Sunbird in the Park, a stunning adult
male, was in the same locality (the acacia gerardii that forms a
canopy over the road) as my first, late last year. There was nothing
of any interest at the back of Hyena Dam, and little at the dam itself
apart from an African Water Rail in the marshy opening, but the
resident Eurasian Marsh Harrier female was in residence, and also a
single overflying Yellow Wagtail, Taking the track from the dam along
the run-off there was a male Pallid Harrier and ten Athi Short-toed
Larks, plus the first of only three Lesser Kestrels seen. There were
single Northern Wheatear and Whinchat on the way to Karen Primary
School Dam where there were single Green and Wood Sandipers and a
Greenshank. On the way to the bone dry Eland Hollow Dam were single
Northern and Isabelline Wheatears and a Rosy-breasted Longclaw in full
breeding dress. Zitting, Desert and Pectoral-patch Cisticolas were all
singing in this area. At the burnt area beyond the “Beacon” were
Montagu’s and Pallid Harriers, a pair of Temminck’s Coursers, a
Black-winged Plover, two Northern and an Isabelline Wheatear. At the
Ruai Dam junction was a Kori Bustard and the usual resident
Lilac-breasted Roller. Descending from the ridge into Athi Basin there
were fifteen Athi-short-toed Larks (and another ten south of the dam),
a White-tailed Lark and another breeding plumage Rosy-breasted
Longclaw as was a male Pangani Longclaw. Athi Dam level is still
falling, there are less waterbirds now although it is still
interesting. Three Pink-backed Pelicans, single Great Cormorant and
Red-knobbed Coot, only two White Stork, no interesting ducks, Ruff
down to 45, 20 Little Stint, 8 Marsh and 4 Common Sandpipers, one
Greenshank completed the palearctic waders, whilst African residents
were fifteen Black-winged Stilts, five Spur-winged and merely a single
Kittlitz’s Plover. The white-wing Marsh Harrier rested in the shade
all the time I was there. Towards the Cement Factory, I heard an Olive
Tree Warbler singing, and managed to get a photo and video by sitting
in the vehicle and waiting for it to reveal itself. This is a very
rare migrant to the Park, and I was most surprised to find a second
bird only a hundred metres further down the road. Whilst it is
possible that these represent passage migrants from the south, in view
of the unusual dry country migrants that have wintered this year,
maybe these two have been staying in the area. Towards Cheetah Gate I
found eight Crimson-rumped Waxbills and a Vitelline Masked Weaver in
full breeding plumage, on Rhino Circuit was nothing other than an
Olivaceous Warbler (all three grey Hippolais species being recorded
today). Nothing more was recorded until the Mbagathi bridge below
Leopard Cliffs, where there was a single Mountain Wagtail, an adult
Steppe Eagle flying over from Kitengela and Kingfisher Picnic Site had
but a single Northern Wheatear in the area. On the forest edge towards
Langata Gate were single female Eurasian Marsh Harrier, a dark Common
Buzzard and a pair of Nairobi Pipit, whilst the Crowned Cranes are
still incubating on the small dam sharing it with a young Little
Grebe. Quailfinch were scarce with not many in evidence from areas
where they had been recently numerous, Barn Swallows were also in very
small numbers, but Cinnamon-chested Buntings were still in good
Mammals were so impressive, there even seems to be more than on the
recent better days. There was a lioness stalking Zebra, actually on
the main road near “Lone Tree” using the fringe of taller grass to
conceal it. Domestic mammal count numbered two groups of fifteen
cattle near the Cement Factory, and a collection of sheep near Rhino
Circuit, areas not much visited now with the closure of Cheetah Gate.
Also forty cattle near Leopard Cliffs, so there is an attempt at
reinvasion but nothing like before. I reported all of these
whereabouts to roving Rangers, and will let the Chief Warden know.
Some interesting migrants must be fated to pass through the Park soon,
it’s just a matter of being here when they pay their visit.

Getting Drier……..


With no sign of rain on the horizon, things in the Nairobi National Park are getting ever drier. Most of the smaller dams are drying up & water is becoming an issue for the thousands of head of herbivores in the park.Eland Hollow has been dry for a year now & the 2 dams at the East Gate junction are about to dry up. Even the huge Athi Basin dam is as low as I have ever seen it & as a reservoir for the thousands of cattle which have grazed the Athi Basin into short grass plain, will it empty?

Above is Karen Primary School Dam. Notice last year’s yearling wildebeest drinking & the vultures drinking & bathing…


Kongoni (Coke’s Hartebeest) are in sharp decline throughout their range. According to new research, they are adapted to living on coarse (unburnt) grassland. Will they adapt to the new regime of short grass over much of the park?

With so many kongoni in the park, there is plenty of argy-bargy amongst the bulls, defending their territories (see pic below.)


Here’s a fine portrait of a vulture -white backed or Ruppell’s -could a reader enlighten me? Like all creatures in the park, incredibly approachable & therefore easy to photograph..


A flying kongoni, a bull chasing a rival….


A snoozing saddlebill stork -male or female anyone? -patiently waiting for the rains & the reinvigoration of the park’s wetlands which are this species’ habitat.

Below a pair of Plains Zebra, with the Ngong Hills in the background.

The GOOD NEWS is that the long dry spell (3 seasons long so far) should soon be over as the ITCZ moves north over Kenya  & gives us vital RAIN…..