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.

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