Yellow Throated Sandgrouse

By Will Knocker:

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Yellow-throated sand-grouse watering at the Athi Dam…

 

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This is the largest species of sangrouse in Kenya & found on the High Plains of the Mara & Athi-Kapiti, unlike other sp. found in lowland semi-desert….

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They have a distinctive gutteral call when flighting in to drink: ” TIRI KOKO”….their name in Maa….

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Two male birds….

 

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The difference between male & female birds…

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C’est tres magnifique !!

A Quarter of Nairobi Park Blocked Off!

NAIROBI NATIONAL PARK 26th AUGUST 2013

It was a grey and characteristically gloomy day, and quite cold. The
man at the gate was saying that the system was refusing to accept his
log-in and we would have to leave our Smart Cards with him, and he
scribbled a note in case we were stopped.

Let’s start with the negative issues. KWS has blocked off an entire
area in the eastern part of the Park, by ploughing a trench across all
the access roads. This means that from Hyena Dam Run-Off all the way
to Athi Basin, there is no eastern access. So no more Eland Hollow, no
more Karen Primary School Dam, no more tracks through the grassy
plains.

This is without any doubt a most  selfish &
inane move by KWS.

The message given is that they care more about
revenue than wildlife viewing. A major resource being the commuters
who speed through the Park in a hurry to get to work, most exiting at
East Gate. Up to now it has been possible to avoid this by taking
alternative routes. Now game viewers are forced to watch game solely
from this main road, and get covered by dust, and of course anything
timid scurrying for cover. Can you believe it, what idiot has not
considered the consequences?

So Nairobi National Park is now a most unpleasant place to visit until
the routes are all re-opened, and the reputation that KWS is going to
derive from expectant visiting tourists is going to be very deservedly
uncomplimentary.

With the shutting off of such a large portion of the Park, which has a
considerable number of Rhinos, Lions and all the plains game, with no
visitors entering these areas, the section is an invitation for
wholesale poaching.

The message KWS has sent out is that there is something going on and
they don’t want the public to see what it is. Maybe there is no
sinister motive involved and it is just amateurish governance of the
Park by people who cannot see the long and short term effects that
their actions have caused.

No-one, including Fonnap (Friends of Nairobi National Park) was
advised of this intention, and in spite of approaches to the Warden,
no explanation has been forthcoming. They are going to lobby the
Warden, personally I think we should all be writing to the Director of
Wildlife.

Sooooo, we visited KWS Mess Gardens, there were a couple of Suni on
the way and another there. There was a good variety of birds present,
although a slow start, including the sad Black-collared Apalis. Then
continued around to Ivory Burning Site, where there was not anything
of note.

At the Mokoyeti Bridge on the Nagolomon Dam Causeway the same Green
Sandpiper has clocked up its sixth successive week in the same spot.
The Dam itself was not quite as active as we have been used to. Nine
Long-tailed Cormorants sat in the roosting tree together with an
immature Darter and two Black-crowned Night-Herons. There were seven
Orange-breasted Waxbills feeding in the grassy verge.

Along the back road to Hyena Dam there was also not much to report,
and the dam had a single Little Grebe, the Water Rails were calling,
but the good news was that the sole surviving young Swamphen was still
with its parent. A few Wattled Starlings fed amongst a group of
Kongoni nearby. On the run-off, a Yellow-billed Egret was all we could
muster, but just as we exited to join the commuter rally on the main
road we had a frustrating series of poor views of a Buttonquail.

From here we crossed the Mokoyeti where Red-faced Cisticolas were
calling on both sides of the road, and passing the Martial Eagles
nest, where the adult was completely covering the chick, maybe it was
cold… we continued towards Maasai Gate and the southern road. We were
not seeing very much here either, the first of three Secretarybirds, a
pair of Lappet-faced Vultures on a Balanites and a White-bellied
Bustard. Heading towards Athi Dam, there was the only Wood Sandpiper
of the day on a roadside swampy area and two distant flying
Yellow-throated Sandgrouse. At Athi Dam were five Yellow-billed
Storks, the same Glossy Ibis as last week, an adult Fish Eagle, three
pairs of Spur-winged Plovers and two different birds incubating, 25
Kittlitz’s Plovers, two Little Stint, three Ruff, a Greenshank and a
Common Sandpiper. Three Black-crowned Night-Herons were roosting along
the causeway.

Towards Cheetah Gate there was a female Yellow-throated Sandgrouse,
and a d’Arnaud’s Barbet calling, plus a sprightly Wahlberg’s Honeybird
in the acacias. On the short cut at Athi Basin a pair of Spotted
Thick-knees were along the edge of the track, and at Mbuni Picnic Site
the Tawny Eagle was present with its fast changing chick.

Obviously because of KWS actions we were not able to visit Karen
Primary School Dam or Eland Hollow Dam, so who knows what was there.
We will never know if the Spur-winged Goose is going to successfully
raise the seven young unless they visit another water-body. It was
extremely boring driving all the way back to the main gate, but we
managed to do it before the commuters started scrambling madly to get
home.

Plenty of Black-shouldered Kites were seen, but no Lesser Striped
Swallow or Quailfinch.

The plains game was largely centred along the Mbagathi, especially
Zebra, we encountered seven White and a Black Rhino, but of the
smaller fry just a Side-striped Ground-Squirrel near Baboon Cliffs.

I cannot say that the day was a success and we thoroughly enjoyed it,
it finished off miserable and tedious avoiding the traffic that had no
interest in the wildlife or consideration for the people that were
there for that reason.

Crowned Eagle on Kill….

Story & images by STEVE GARVIE:

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Our driver guide Ben Gitari suggested we take the forest trail and it was his sharp eyes that first picked out the bird. He later said that he had always thought this to be a likely area in which to find Crowned Eagles and indeed though within NNP the immediate area was more like riparian forest

 

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I think she had already butchered and consumed part of the carcase (presumably at the capture site) before she flew up into the tree with what was left. When we first found her she had the head, neck and upper chest with at least one leg still attached. The leg appeared to be dark but this may have been blood-staining. The leg and rib cage were quickly discarded as she set about opening up the cranium and consuming its contents (all pretty gross to watch -my teen daughter was none too impressed!).

 

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I’m still not certain as to exactly what “Bambi” is but the dark chestnut fur and black on the snout and onto the forehead are not typical features of Suni. Harvey’s (Red) Duiker are larger and heavier than Suni as they are larger in the body (but not much different in head size).
I get the impression that Suni would be much more common in NNP than Harvey’s Duiker but as Crowned Eagles will kill antelope up to the size of young Bushbuck both of these small forest antelope will be on the menu.
I have a poor image of Suni here: http://www.pbase.com/rainbirder/image/93378637 and there is an image of Harvey’s Duiker here: http://www.tanzaniamammals.org/uploads/photos/std/DK2_Harvey’s%20duiker3.jpg

 

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Regardless of whether the prey was a Duiker or a Suni this was one impressive eagle !