Birding with Brian Finch 6th January

I had my first bird-outing for 2010, and visited Nairobi National Park
on 6th January arriving at 6-20am. It had been dry for the past few
days, although since I had been there last, there had been good rain.
There was nothing in the car-park and I went straight to Ivory Burning
Site seeing nothing en route.
At this time of year, most migrants encountered should be on their
wintering grounds, and not continuing further south although there
probably is still light passage. There were over half-dozen
Nightingales, the only Spotted Flycatcher of the day, two Garden,
single Upcher’s and Marsh Warblers and that was it. Along the back
road where the acacia forms a canopy, there were three each Blackcaps
and Garden Warblers, singleWhitethroat, Eurasian Reed Warbler and
Willow Warblers, and two more Nightingales. Scaly Francolins called
from the scrub and a few Blue-naped Mousebirds fed amongst the acacia
blossom. On the track into Hyena Dam there were an adult Fish Eagle,
the first of five Whinchats and first of six Red-tailed Shrikes all in
the north of the Park. There was nothing at all at the dam, and on the
run-off a female Eurasian Marsh Harrier, two Steppe Eagles, several
Rosy-breasted Longclaws in both good voice and plumage, six breeding
plumaged male Yellow-crowned Bishops, and a few Jackson’s Widowbirds.
From here to Nagalomon Dam there was a single Parasitic Weaver. At the
dam there were a single adult Great Cormorant, four Green Sandpipers
and a Swamphen calling from the bulrushes. Olmanyi Dam was very full
and a pair of Little Grebes have taken residence, the acacias at the
back of the dam were in heavy leaf and had an abundance of flowers,
White-bellied Go-Away Birds, Black-headed Oriole and Willow Warbler
could be heard calling from inside the dense cover but were never
seen. Circling around towards Kingfisher, a Hartlaub’s Bustard was
giving a terrestrial display, a female Montagu’s Harrier was
quartering the plains, the small swamp now has a male Saddle-billed
Stork (but no sign of the female!), and there was a Red-chested
Flufftail calling from the marsh. Ten Eurasian Bee-eaters were in the
trees. The first of ten Northern Wheatears was seen, these were
distributed over much of the Park, the first of twenty-five Isabelline
Wheatears, all of the remainder only being between Athi Basin and
Hyena Dam apart from a rather out-of-place individual at the Forest
edge dam towards Langata Gate. The first of five Pied Wheatears, all
males but for one. There were a couple each of Quailfinch and
Grey-headed Silverbills. Nothing rewarded a stop at Kingfisher, and
the drive along the south road towards Athi Basin provided an immature
African Hawk-Eagle, the first of only two Lesser Kestrels and a young
Eurasian Roller. Athi Dam had not received a level increase, and
looked even lower than when I saw it just after Christmas. The
widespread inundations elsewhere have obviously proven more attractive
and the variety was disappointing. There was an immature Pink-backed
Pelican, a couple of Red-billed Teal, a Fish Eagle calling somewhere,
a single Spur-winged Plover but 25 Kittlitz’s Plovers including one
with a day-old chick, just two Black-winged Stilts, 35 Little Stints,
five Ruff, four Marsh, three Common and one Wood Sandpipers, two
Greenshank, and three adult Black-crowned Night-Herons were roosting
in their usual place. On driving out towards Cheetah Gate, the plains
were arid and birdless (apart from an unusual abundance of Crowned
Plovers), but there was the first Capped Wheatear I have seen in the
Park for a couple of years. (Strange date). Near the gate were one
each of African and Eurasian Hoopoes, eight Speckle-fronted Weavers
and a female House Sparrow. At the “Orange” mast was the only Eurasian
Rock Thrush of the day. There was little on the return, a male Pallid
Harrier was scattering Red-capped Larks and Grassland Pipits, and the
very extensive and attractive short-grass plains festooned with game,
had two male Kori Bustards ostentatiously parading themselves. Near
the Langata gate both forest edge dams are full, there was the only
Common Buzzard of the day, the latter still dam is still attractive to
a pair of Crowned Cranes, but their island nearly under water. There
were four other pairs of cranes seen today, all on potential nest
Amazingly not a single Barn Swallow was seen!
Mammals were mainly concentrated on the short grass plains beyond the
“Beacon” and extending to Athi Basin. There were scattered groups but
this was the major concentration. The numerous game that has
frequented Hyena Dam has all moved out apart from a couple of Kongoni.
More interesting mammals today were a Steinbok in Athi Basin, six
Mountain Reedbuck including a young animal in their usual place, a
Hippo feeding in the grassland around Nagalomon Dam in the evening,
and five White Rhinos including the new calf. For the first time in
the past seven visits I failed to see any Lions. There were no mammals
recorded that were not native.
A good start to the New Year, though nothing too unexpected

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  1. […] Birding with Brian Finch 6th January | Nairobi National Park – view page – cached I had my first bird-outing for 2010, and visited Nairobi National Park on 6th January arriving at 6-20am. It had been dry for the past few days, although […]

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