Nigel Hunter kindly transported Fleur Ng’Weno, Leo Haskinen and myself
on a morning in Nairobi National Park.
We entered the Park through the main gate at 6:45am, and made straight
for the Ivory Burning Site. It was very quiet here, there were no
palearctic migrants, and the only bird of any note was a Brown
Turning the corner along the back road, we were very surprised to see
and hear a Red-faced Cisticola in the roadside scrub. All other
records for the Park have been along the Mbagathi River, and so it was
extraordinary to find one here. In the same place we had our first
Jacobin (Black-and-White) Cuckoo, five Crested Francolins walking
along the road, and a Nairobi Pipit at the old pumphouse station.
At Hyena Dam, there was an adult Fish-Eagle, the first Spur-winged
Goose for a while, and a couple of Village Weavers in the reeds, (and
From here we took the circuit road, there was a very distant Kestrel
species hovering over the grassland, an adult Black-chested
Snake-Eagle, excellent performance by a White-tailed Lark in
song-flight, three Rosy-breasted Longclaws, the first of five
Red-backed and the first of four Lesser Grey Shrikes, and a couple of
Barn Swallows (the only individuals seen that morning). It’s worth
mentioning that Lesser Striped Swallows were in unusually large
numbers in various places. Also here we found three flowering
individuals of the rare lily Cyrtanthus sanguineus.
Cutting back towards Hyena Dam across the run-off area there were a
pair of Saddle-billed Storks, a Wood Sandpiper on a muddy pool, a
Great Egret, a second Jacobin Cuckoo and a brief Parasitic Weaver that
flew far. All three Widowbird species were in their breeding plumages,
with many individuals in the middle of changing.
At Nagalomon Dam there was a Darter, a number of African Black Swifts
with a few coming down to drink. We detoured to check for the Dwarf
Bittern near Langata Gate, and did not see it, though that does not
mean it wasn’t there! A Wood Sandpiper was on the muddy edge, with a
third Jacobin Cuckoo in the scrub, and four Chestnut Weavers in
breeding dress. The strangest bird was a female Red-backed Shrike,
that had a deformed upper mandible that had continued growing for over
a centimetre beyond the lower mandible. At last we had found the
Sickle-billed Shrike! The bird was naturally photographed. Continuing
the circuit to Kingfisher Picnic Site, there was nothing of interest
there, although there were six Bohor Reedbuck together, and an
impressive collection of mixed plains game. On the road towards
Olmanyi Dam there was a nice young male Parasitic Weaver, and on the
plains a female Lesser Kestrel. Olmanyi Dam of course had nothing.
Crossing the Mokoyiet we stopped for a couple of Madagascar
Bee-eaters, and here noticed two falcons feeding high in the sky, one
was a Eurasian Hobby, but the i.d. on the second bird was a doubt, it
looked dark but disappeared over the trees.
Continuing on around to Hyena Dam again, there were two male Kori
Bustards along the road, and we stopped for two more falcons, one
being a male Lesser Kestrel, and the second flew in towards us,
stopped and hovered and was feeding over the plains, and everyone was
delighted to see that it was a male Western Red-footed Falcon, with
all dark underwings. This was presumably the bird seen at the Mokoyiet
Bridge. There are still under ten records for Kenya, but there is an
undated record already for Nairobi National Park, that is given in the
literature as early May but no detail. Another Nairobi record was one
at the Arboretum in 1993. So this was a very exciting discovery.
Passing Hyena Dam, there was now a first-summer Purple Heron
frog-hunting along the reeds, and nearby we had a magnificent Serval
slinking through the grass. We left the Park at 1pm.
What can one say? It was another special day in the most incredible
of our National Parks.