Birding in NNP 28th January

Dear All,
Mike Davidson, Jennifer Oduore, Karen Plumbe and myself met at Nairobi
National Park Main Gate at 6.30am and were soon in the Park. It was an
extremely beautiful morning, although at this time of year the sun
gets up a bit later. There was evidence of recent showers in the north
of the Park, but the south was continuing to dry. In the afternoon it
remained sunny, but out over the Ngong and Kitengela there was a
building haze which culminated in an impressive storm in the evening
with very strong winds and short heavy bursts of rain.

On the way to KWS Mess gardens we had an Emerald Cuckoo, and a few
Yellow-bellied Waxbills and Black-and-White Mannikins, whilst in the
gardens were much the usual few Nightingales, six or so Blackcaps, a
Garden Warbler, the Eurasian Reed Warbler still in the hedge, but
little was moving in the trees. Slipping down to Ivory Burning Site
there was a party of African Firefinches along the road, and at the
site an Olivaceous Warbler and a Garden Warbler. Eurasian Bee-eaters
were calling but remained hidden, later seen over Nagalomon Dam. Here
the Great Reed Warbler was still singing along the edge, and
Three-banded Plovers were mating. A female Darter was sitting in the
trees overhanging the dam, and a Wood Sandpiper was in the shallows.
The Broad-tailed Grassbird was calling from the grassland in this
corner, a regular site. A really nice surprise was an immature
Bateleur, many years since I have seen one in the Park. The usual
adults were met with in the course of the day. On the back road to
Hyena Dam we had Red-collared Widowbirds in non-breeding plumage but
males with long tails, these were to be our only widowbirds today.
There was a Common Buzzard at last, along here, but the real surprise
was a White-bellied Go-Away Bird feeding in the bushes, the first in
the north of the Park, whilst in the southern parts they are resident.
The African Water Rails were in residence at the marsh, and at Hyena
Dam we had twenty-six Wood Sandpipers and a couple of Green, a female
Yellow Wagtail and a Sedge Warbler. The first of seven Whinchats was
here as well. An adult Purple Heron which had been there all the time
suddenly stepped into view. The run-off was not too exciting, but
there was an Isabelline Shrike, and heading out to Eland Hollow we
found a Greenshank and two Rosy-breasted Longclaws, whilst at the dam
another eight Wood Sandpipers, a pair of Red-billed Teal and a pair of
Spotted Thick-knees. There were another three Spotted Thick-knees at
Karen Primary School Dam but nothing else apart from an incubating
Crowned Crane hidden in the sedges and out first of three Northern
Wheatears. Continuing south we found a solitary male Lesser Kestrel.
Above Athi Dam we had singles of Isabelline, and a female Pied
Wheatear, and both Isabelline and Turkestan Shrikes. Also there were
Long-billed Pipits feeding flying young. Athi Dam itself was rewarding
with two adult Pink-backed Pelican, eleven White Stork, a female
Pallid Harrier, a Fish Eagle was calling that we did not actually see,
a young Steppe Eagle, another very large and very black eagle that is
being looked into, a single Black-winged Stilt, no less than
thirty-two Spur-winged Plover that were matched in number by
Blacksmiths, twenty Kittlitz’s and a delightful Little Ringed Plover,
a Park rarity, ten Little Stint and four Greenshank. Two Speckled
Pigeons were along the edge, a Black-and-White Cuckoo was in the
acacias, a solitary lutea Yellow Wagtail along the edge. The fourteen
foot Crocodile has returned to the dam once again but now is fifteen
foot! Along the causeway we had an adult Black-crowned Night-Heron
roosting and single Willow and Olivaceous Warblers. There were good
numbers of Barn Swallows feeding in the Park. From here we left to
return as we for reasons of other commitments we had to be out of the
gate at 4.00pm which we achieved. The only other bird of interest were
ten Greater Blue-eared Starlings at Kingfisher where we had our final
coffee in the Park.
During the day we had only visited KWS Garden, Ivory Burning Site, and
most of the major dams and the grassland in between. We had not birded
the riverine, Cheetah Gate, Hippo Pools or the highland forest, and we
still left the Park with 176 species recorded. Had we have stayed the
entire day, the last two hours being an interesting time in the Park,
we would have sailed well over 200, likely over 220 with all of the
common residents not visited today.

Mammals were not in high numbers except in the Athi Basin. There were
three Suni at KWS garden, four White Rhinos on the way to Eland
Hollow, but nothing unusual otherwise. Hippos were in Nagalomon, Hyena
and Eland Hollow Dams.

It was good to see the Park returning to former glory, and such a good
variety of migrants at long last.

A Day in the Park 17th Jan

By Will Knocker:


I was woken up by this Variable Sunbird (male of course) fighting with himself in my bedroom window…..


And at Main Gate, my guest Jess & I got caught up in the early morning circus: 2 male lions rubbing themselves in a buffalo pat!


The 2 males: looking thin: c’mon guys, you are supposed to be Super Predators & the Park is full of Prey!


A Blacksmith plover….


Kanga……Guinea-fowl have done well this year, with many grown chicks evident….


Chandler’s Mountain reedbuck in the Sosian valley….


A Yellowneck spurfowl with a runny beak….


And 2 African spoonbills………spoooning…….


Athi Dam megacroc getting some dirty looks…..


Lone bushbuck……(called Abu Naba in Arabic…any Arabic speakers out there?)


As Jess said “wall-to-wall” zebras in the Athi Basin, where wildlike is concentrated at present….


Upupa epops, the African hoopoe…what a lovely bird!


And to end a splendid day in the incomparable NNP: a monitor lizard at Nangolomon Dam (it should be Narok Omom): “Black Head” in Maa, referring to the Langata forest…..


Birding with Brian Finch January 2013


Dear All, On 7th January after some rearranging, Mike Davidson, Jennifer Oduore, Karen Plumbe and myself were kindly transported around the Park by Mrs Watt, who was relatively new to birding but highly hooked and had over sixty new species bringing her to over three hundred for her Kenyan list. We were through the Main Gate a little before 7.00am, there had been some recent light rain with heavier falls three days before but none of the roads had become impassable although the inside road to Karen PS Dam had become sticky. We commenced at the KWS Mess Garden, where there were a few birds showing activity in the sunlight. Amongst these were a Nightingale sitting on a post next to the rubbish tip, a Spotted Flycatcher on the fence, a couple of Garden Warblers, six or so Blackcaps, and the Black-collared Apalis in the hedge still present. From here we went to Ivory Burning Site where another Nightingale called from cover, but there was nothing else to reward us. A detour to Nagalomon Dam did reward us however,  with a Swamphen coaxed from cover and a Great Reed Warbler in song in the typha. Along the back of Hyena Dam, African Water Rails rushed out to wish us a happy 2013, a couple of Wahlberg’s Honeybirds were chasing each other around the bushes and a male Syke’s Yellow Wagtail fed on the mud, finally a couple of Village Indigobirds were on the fence (not usually seen in the north of the Park for some unknown reason).  At Hyena Dam there were twenty Wood and a few Green Sandpipers, and a few Yellow-crowned Bishops flew over. One of our few Barn Swallows for the day was here. On the Hyena Dam run-off there was a female  Saddle-billed Stork, a few Rosy-breasted Longclaws in colour, the first of five Whinchat, first of three Isabelline Shrikes, all three widowbirds in breeding dress and five Yellow-crowned Bishops also with males in nuptial plumage. Eland Hollow failed to produce, and Karen PC Dam gave up a handsome adult Black Stork and ten more Yellow-crowned Bishops. Near the Beacon was a male Kori Bustard, another dozen Yellow-crowned Bishops and our only three Quailfinch of the day. Athi Basin could only come up with two Northern and one Isabelline Wheatears, a Long-billed Pipit, and a couple of Pangani Longclaws, whilst Athi Dam attracted a few birds such as four each Pink-backed Pelicans and White Stork, only two Yellow-billed Storks, a Little Egret (always inexplicably rare in NNP), just one Black-winged Stilt, but some thirty Kittlitz’s and a dozen Spur-winged Plovers. Just three Little Stints and four Greenshank were all the representatives of palearctic waders. Along the causeway there was a roosting adult Black-crowned Night-Heron and a sub-adult Fish Eagle. At Cheetah Gate there were a few species associated with drier ground like d’Arnaud’s Barbet, Crimson-rumped and Black-faced Waxbills and several parties of Speckle-fronted Weavers. Along Rhino Circuit was an interesting mixed group of Ostrich chicks of every size imaginaeable, about twenty in number with a pair of adults, single Lesser Spotted Eagle (horrifyingly the only migrant raptor of the day), and a different sub-adult Fish Eagle. In the bush were a glowing Pygmy Kingfisher and another couple of Spotted Flycatchers We returned via Kingfisher and round to Main Gate, but found nothing else of interest, and were through the Main Gate just before 5.00pm. Ornithologically no surprises, and still the feeling that the migrants are not representing themselves well.
Really large numbers of plains game in the southern parts and Kingfisher, Zebra and Eland are coming back, and apart from a few singles there was a group of twenty Wildebeest at Athi Dam. There were seven White Rhinos near Kingfisher, but nothing really of note in the mammal department.