By Brian Finch:
Mike Davidosn, Jennifer O’Duore and myself met at the Main Entrance to
Nairobi National Park at 6.20am, and were through the gate at 6.30am.
There had not been much rain the two previous nights, but over an inch
had fallen three days before, compounding the accessibility problems
in the Park with many areas away from the main roads very sticky and a
Water levels had subsided, but in the aftermath the Hippo Pools along
the Mbagathi has been destroyed, all the vegetation on the banks
scoured bare and parts of the track fallen into the river, and a new
small island created! Further up the Mbagathi at Leopard Cliffs, all
the riverine vegetation has suffered the same fate.
We set off for KWS Mess Gardens, on the way there were an Emerald
Cuckoo near the Entrance, and a party of Cabanis (Placid) Greenbuls
on the short road towards the garden. Whilst they are a common species
in the Kisembe Forest, this was the first time I had encountered them
anywhere east of Nagalomon Dam.
The gardens were quiet, although both Green-backed and Wahlberg’s
Honeybirds were vocal, and for the first time in some six months we
did not hear the lone Black-collared Apalis.
Ivory Burning Site did not produce for us, but Nagalomon was
entertaining with the nesting Black-crowned Night Herons busying
themselves, and many sitting tight on their nests. We counted some
sixty birds, but there might have been more. Interestingly quite a few
immature birds are in the colony, although nothing to do with the
current nesting activity. There were three adult African Darters of
which one was a stunning male.
Taking the back road to Hyena Dam, there were a pair of tame Scaly
Francolins on the track, the African Water Rails were in the swamp,
and a pair of Brown Parrots in the fig tree, which seems to be a
favourite place for them. There was not a lot of activity at Hyena
Dam, but an adult male Little Bittern of the African race payesii was
a nice surprise.
The Run-Off from Hyena Dam was quite an active area. Large numbers of
Jackson’s and Red-collared Widowbirds are in large numbers through
much of the grasslands of the Park. The Jackson’s were bouncing and
singing here. Contrastingly, White-winged are only present in numbers
around the Hippo Pool although we had three at Hyena Dam. There were
three Yellow-crowned Bishops displaying in the typha, but on an early
date there were already fifteen Cardinal Queleas, the males in full
Along the road to cross the Mokoyeti River we found a Common
Whitethroat which was the only palearctic recorded today apart from
three Barn Swallows.
We took the road to Kingfisher Picnic Site, then the southern road
towards Hippo Pools. Along the way we found a Broad-tailed Grassbird
displaying immediately on the eastern side of the Kisembe Bridge,
there was a Bateleur here also. Closer to Leopard Cliffs there were a
pair of Yellow-billed Oxpeckers at what is probably a nest hole in an
Acacia seyal. Also here was an attractive Pangani Longclaw.
Climbing up towards the Hippo Pools Road, a Waterbuck walking towards
us flushed a Dusky Nightjar out of the grass, but at the walk itself
we only had a Grey-headed Kingfisher and the depressing scene of the
On the return we had a nice Shelley’s Francolin on the road, several
Long-billed Pipits which are particularly dark at this time of year
and a Long-crested Eagle back near Nagalomon Dam.
Exiting at 6.15pm we found no one at the gate to exit our cards which
is a royal pain in the backside. The Customer Care people shutting up
shop at 6.00pm is far too early with nearly another hour of daylight
left in the day. Hardly a sincere Customer Care at all!
Mammals were few and far between, the best being a Steinbok near the
Kisembe River Bridge. We did not visit the Athi Basin area however,
and quite likely there are still some in that area.
Another great day in the Park, in spite of restrictions necessitated
by the recent weather activities.