Birding with Brian Finch 10th October

On 10th October, Mike Davidson, Fleur Ng’Weno, Karen Plumbe and myself spent the day in Nairobi National Park. We were through the gate at 6.30am, and because of the experience yesterday decided to spend all of our time in the northern portions of the Park. We set off for Ivory Burning Site, and found an small Aquila Eagle perched in the crown of a small tree. Though much hidden, it was possible to see quite profuse spotting and whitish tipping to the primaries. Unfortunately as we got closer the bird flew off and disappeared into the croton forest. We tried to locate it, as it was a Spotted Eagle sp (although most likely a juvenile Lesser Spotted), by driving on the roads surrounding the forest alongside the Army Barracks. We failed to relocate the bird, but did find no less than five Suni along this road! Continuing on to Ivory Burning Site, there were quite a number of birds present, that included a dozen Violet-backed Starlings, but no migrants. The only bird of any remote interest along the back road to Hyena Dam were a pair of Greater Blue-eared Starlings, and eight Wood Sadpipers on a marsh area, with one Green Sandpiper. The Dam was very quiet, but the weather was cold and miserable, and the clouds decidedly threatening. On the other side of the causeway were one each of Great and Yellow-billed Egret, six more Wood and three more Green Sandpipers and a couple of Sand Martins with Plain Martins and Barn Swallows. We continued on the road around the run-off finding a White-tailed Lark on the road, the same Spotted Flycatcher in the same solitary tree as yesterday, and ten Orange-breasted Waxbills. We drove into the run-off basin and the rain started. There was a remarkable association of three male Whinchats on the edge of the typha. Returning to Hyena Dam after the rain had ceased we found along the edge a pair of Swamphens busily feeding a chick, (a good breeding record for the Park), and in the same place an African Water Rail, African Jacana and Yellow-billed Duck, also a Yellow Wagtail flew over without stopping. Whilst a little further were four male Jackson’s Widowbirds in full breeding plumage, with one female. From here we made a circuit to the east, circling back around to Hyena Dam then across to Nagalomon Dam where we found nothing of interest. We went down the west side of the Mokoyiet, across the river and down towards Karen Primary School Dam on the inside road. In this portion we were seeing plenty of birds, but nothing of note. There were a few Eurasian Bee-eaters along the river, whilst the inside road produced little but a Rosy-breasted Longclaw. Rather than turning down to Karen PS Dam, we continued to Eland Hollow. This had water, and was attractive to waders, there were fifteen Wood, Six Green Sandpipers and five Little Stints, but more importantly there were a pair of Black-winged Stilts building a nest, and smoothing the scrape with their bodies whilst adding small items of vegetation. This will be a new breeding species for Nairobi, and we hope to see chicks soon. Also there was a Lilac-breasted Roller in the surrounding Whistling Thorn, and a single Sand Martin with the Barn Swallows present. Karen Dam had nothing, even yesterdays Little Grebe had departed. From here we took the road across towards Maasai Gate, and just before the junction 18B, had a singing Zanzibar Greenbul, which was a new site for the species which appears to continue its spread in the Nairobi area. There was nothing of note until arriving at the Kingfisher Picnic Site area, where we had three Northern and two Isabelline Wheatears, and yesterdays female Whinchat and twenty-three Grey-headed Silverbills. Before entering Kisembe Forest an attractive Booted Eagle passed over, and whilst waiting for the Madagascar Pond Heron to appear (which it didn’t) on the dam near Langata Gate, in the pouring rain an amazing sight of over five-hundred Violet-backed Starlings irrupted from the trees and flew off. Along the Kisembe River we found the seasons first Black Stork, a rather wet immature sitting in a tree, and in the same place a damp Bateleur on the branch where they used to nest. We continued to the Main Entrance, and departed at 3.30pm having had a very good day, and in spite of the showers for most of the day, there were breaks of clear weather, and our spirits were never dampened.

Every time you see a lot of mammals, the thought is this is the most I have ever seen in a day. Well today was that, the numbers of plains game towards Karen PS Dam are very impressive, and the numbers near Kingfisher also remarkable. There was a ginger and black maned Lion on the road south from the Hyena Dam run-off towards Karen PC Dam, and two females eyeing a large assemblage of animals near “Lone Tree.” Not far from the Lion was a very large Black Rhino, whilst there were five White Rhino on the road to junction 18B.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted November 3, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Very few people can talk about Nairobi National park as you did there. There are lots of wildlife and birds despite the proximity of the park to a city.

  2. Mike Potter
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    Hi Brian,

    Reading your blog reminded me of the time many years ago you, Neil Davidson and I went to the Nairobi National Park and saw 214 species in a day. One of the most memorable birding days of my life! I tell the story often! I hope you are well. I am greatly enjoying birding back here in Australia but There will never be anything quite like Kenya.

    Mike

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