New antelope sp.recorded and cheetah too….

red-duiker

This report from Brian Finch on 13th September

Less than a few hundred metres from the entrance gate, a stocky
antelope walked out of the forest and walked slowly across the road
seemingly oblivious of me. I immediately recognised the animal as a
Red Duiker, all reddish, unmarked, a huge rounded backside and small
neckless head. The rump was a richer reddish-chestnut than the body. I
have certainly never encountered the species in the Park, and I have
never heard of a sighting in the Park. At home I checked up in
Williams, National Parks book, and there was no record listed in there
for Nairobi National Park. Has anyone even seen or heard of a record
from here? It would seem unlikely that KWS would have included this
species in their introductions scheme.

Meanwhile, yesterday (September 22nd) Paula Kahumbu spotted a lone cheetah, which she judged to be a female, near Masai Gate……but what happened to her cub?

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Dams are Drying Up…..

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Scavengers feast on a dead cow, of which there are plenty in the park as the drought continues to bite: we’ve still got an estimated month to endure.

Historically Nairobi National Park was always a dry season refuge for the creatures of the Athi – Kapiti ecosystem. Why? WATER -permanent dams, rivers & springs, whatever the weather……

As you can see, this year is no exception, with  deadly drought affecting most of the country. The question is, will our water points hold out?

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Cattle in the park. KWS continue to be unable or unwilling to keep cattle out of the park, which is littered with stray herds, especially calves, untended & with the bodies of those which die…..

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The Athi Dam. This area of the park has been seriously neglected by KWS & is seriously overgrazed, covered in wind blown litter & full of livestock.

A precedent has been set & the local people freely graze their livestock in the park.

KWS do nothing. Doing this article there were calves in the parking lot at the Hippo Pools. I don’t think visitors payong 40$ wull think they are getting their money’s worth….

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The drought has brought in the thousand or so gnu we have into he park. How they manage to survive (they look very healthy!) in the moonscape above the Athi Basin shows they well adapted to short grass plains they are….even in the dry season!

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A thin & thirsty waterbuck sucks up some of the last water in a pool still miraculously to be found on the top plains, which are covered in thousands of grazing kongoni, gnu & zebra.

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Luai (which is the Maa word for Acacia drepanalobium -whistling thorn) -or Empakasi – Dam, getting very low, but with lots of thirsty zebra lurking in the thorn thickets nearby.

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One of the double dams (Karen Primary Dam) on the way to East Gate, with marabous fishing for catfish in the rapidly diminishing water….

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The water in Middle Dam -its not marked on my map of the park -is nearly gone.

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Despite the cattle invasions, we have at least 2  groups of new ostrich hatchlings -I think this small clutch had been attacked, because one of the young birds had lost a wing & in addition, ostrich clutches are usually more numerous than what we see here…

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Wildebeest & other grazers using the wetlands along the stream below Hyena Dam, which flows into the Mokoyeti, which is still flowing (just.)

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Hyena Dam, overgrown with water weeds owing to nitrate enrichment from outside the park……..do hippoes eat this stuff?

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Nangolomon Dam below the Langata Forest. Even if all water sources were to dry up, the park would still have this large body of fresh water,the source of the Mokoyeti River.

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Olomanyi Dam is nearly dry -the water you see is just inches deep…..

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A Bohor reedbuck at Olomanyi.Because the park is so opened up by grazing (mainly cattle) these skulkers are much easier to spot. Many of them were translocated into the park from Western Kenya.

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Kingfisher Dam still has some water in it.

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Warthogs have made a spectacular comeback to the park. Here a couple enjoy the last pool in one of the 3 dams in the glades of the Langata forest in the west of the park, all of which are about to dry up…..

 

Birding with Brian Finch -September

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After not visiting Nairobi National Park since 28th August, when for
the only time this year, I described the visit as the doldrums period,
today 13th September I spent the day in the Park and found that the
doldrums were very much over.

I was through the Main Gate just after 6-30am, the initial cloud cover
soon burnt off and the day was bright, sunny and warm more like the
weather that we would expect in September. Although there was a
negligible evening shower two days before, there was absolutely no
sign that this had happened and the roads were very dusty.

Less than a few hundred metres from the entrance gate, a stocky
antelope walked out of the forest and walked slowly across the road
seemingly oblivious of me. I immediately recognised the animal as a
Red Duiker, all reddish, unmarked, a huge rounded backside and small
neckless head. The rump was a richer reddish-chestnut than the body. I
have certainly never encountered the species in the Park, and I have
never heard of a sighting in the Park. At home I checked up in
Williams, National Parks book, and there was no record listed in there
for Nairobi National Park. Has anyone even seen or heard of a record
from here? It would seem unlikely that KWS would have included this
species in their introductions scheme.

I stayed at the Ivory Burning Site for a while, there were quite a few
mammals including a Black Rhino. There was a single female
Violet-backed Starling, and speeding over the top of the short grass
was an African Hobby which disappeared gaining height towards Nairobi.
An African Hoopoe was the first in the Park for some time. There were
a pair of Giant Kingfishers displaying over Nagalomon Dam, and a noisy
Zanzibar Sombre Greenbul singing from the other side of the lake.
Along the road towards Splash there were a pair of Scaly Francolins
feeding on the road, and African Firefinch was singing from the scrub.
Along the creek feeding Hyena Dam were an African Water Rail, a couple
each of Green and Wood Sandpipers, and an extremely early flava-type
adult female Yellow Wagtail, certainly the earliest I have ever seen
the species in Kenya. There were about three more African Water Rails
calling on Hyena Dam, but apart from that only the small Great Egret
was of any interest, apart from a White Rhino.
The run-off was much quieter than recently, a black Gabar Goshawk
agitated the, over two-hundred Wattled Starlings that were in a dense
flock crowning the canopies of acacias, a single Namaqua Dove, a
couple of White-tailed Larks and the only Barn Swallow of the day.
Taking the inside road to Karen Primary School Dam, the juvenileTawny
Eagle was trying out its wings by flapping on the nest, there were
twenty of so Athi Short-toed Larks, and at the dam small numbers of
White-winged Widowbirds and Red-billed Queleas, but no sign of
Yellow-crowned Bishop all day, they all seem to have left.
Just past the Beacon there were more Athi Short-toed Larks and five
African Silverbills. There was a Steinbok above the Athi basin. Athi
Dam was most disappointing, there was an impressive thousand or so
Marabou Storks, but not much else. A single Yellow-throated
Sandgrouse, three Black-crowned Night-Herons, eight Black-winged
Stilts, two Spur-winged and four Kittlitz’s Plovers, palearctic waders
just three Little Stints and four Common Sandpipers. On the exit road
south of the dam there were some seventy Athi Short-toed Larks is full
song, and another Black Rhino. On the Mbagathi bridge below Baboon
Cliffs there were a pair of Pygmy Kingfishers, a pair of Violet
Woodhopoes were the first time I have seen them west of Hippo Pools,
and a Side-striped Ground-Squirrel. Near the turn-off to Maasai Gate I
stopped for three Golden-breasted Buntings in an isolated acacia in a
dry area, and on doing so heard the full song of Blue-capped
Cordon-bleu. I waited to see if the bird would show itself, but it
stayed in cover. I “spished” and the bird came straight out and posed
on a branch getting itself digitised in the process. This was the
first ever record of Blue-capped Cordon-bleu for Nairobi Park, and a
stunning adult male. Nearby was a single Black-headed Oriole, a
species that is inexplicably scarce in the Park even though a common
enough resident in local gardens. Towards Kingfisher Picnic Site at
(29), there were five more African Silverbills with ten Zebra
Waxbills. Olmanyi Dam had a single Greenshank but nothing much else
apart from a couple of passing Mottled Swifts. Retracing the Hyena Dam
run-off there was a male Saddle-billed Stork, but the Whinchat seems
to have left its small territory. Nagalomon Dam had a smart trio of
Darters on the roosting tree, and both Kisembe Forest Edge Dam and
Langata Dams had Green Sandpipers. The last named had a young juvenile
Bateleur hopefully the progeny of the only pair in the Park.
Vultures were still in good numbers, still unable to keep up with the
dead cattle in the area. There were seven widely distributed
Lilac-breasted Rollers seen today, Quailfinch have plummeted from
being the commonest bird in the Park to a mere handful, in fact today
there were more Zebra Waxbill seen.

Wild animals were plentiful, apart from the highlight species, good
numbers of Zebra and especially Wildebeest, Bohor Reedbuck in three
locations and several Bushbuck. Many new mammal excavations in
roadside banks today. Cattle still in numbers in the south of the
Park, but far more calves than cows and over fifty dead seen.

The Park is now entering an interesting time of year with the imminent
arrival of northern migrants, the mammals are so spectacular and the
place in spite of being so dry, gives a very good day out.

White Rhinos Come to NNP

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In historical times, white rhinos did not exist in Kenya: they were reduced to two tiny populations -the northern subspecies to Uganda,Sudan & Northern Congo (Garamba) & the southern subspecies to Zululand thanks to the efforts of one man, B.Vaughan Kirby.

As I write this the Northern subspecies is on the virge of extinction unless there is a BVK in Congo….the last few individuals in Garamba are under threat by Sudanese poachers & the LRA.

The Southern type does much better & having been brought in from South Africa some years ago, have been doing well in the various rhino sanctuaries in Kenya:Lewa,Solio & Nakuru National Park.

Now, we are going to have 10 of these fabulous beasts in Nairobi Park.

Five are already here, as these pictures, courtesy of Paolo Torchio, show.

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These are LARGE animals. Here’s one in reverse gear. Wide mouths & muscular rubbery lips are adapted to the grazing of short grass, apparently in short supply in drought affected Nakuru National Park from where these animals were translocated.

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Whilst one would not like to get in the way, white rhinos are fairly placid in comparison to the belligerent black rhinos….

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A cow & calf move off into the rangelands of the park, where territories (marked by bulls) are not yet scent-marked out by dung ‘scuffs’ & urine spraying….hope they do not wander OUT of the park. Scent is of enormous importance to rhinos…..

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A huge cow, battered but unbowed by her journey, free again in the rangelands where white rhinos  roamed for millenia until hunted out by man. Rock paintings by prehistoric men show white rhinos then occurred all over Africa, including in what is now the Sahara Desert….

Two photos above by WK.