Birding in NNP 28th January

Dear All,
Mike Davidson, Jennifer Oduore, Karen Plumbe and myself met at Nairobi
National Park Main Gate at 6.30am and were soon in the Park. It was an
extremely beautiful morning, although at this time of year the sun
gets up a bit later. There was evidence of recent showers in the north
of the Park, but the south was continuing to dry. In the afternoon it
remained sunny, but out over the Ngong and Kitengela there was a
building haze which culminated in an impressive storm in the evening
with very strong winds and short heavy bursts of rain.

On the way to KWS Mess gardens we had an Emerald Cuckoo, and a few
Yellow-bellied Waxbills and Black-and-White Mannikins, whilst in the
gardens were much the usual few Nightingales, six or so Blackcaps, a
Garden Warbler, the Eurasian Reed Warbler still in the hedge, but
little was moving in the trees. Slipping down to Ivory Burning Site
there was a party of African Firefinches along the road, and at the
site an Olivaceous Warbler and a Garden Warbler. Eurasian Bee-eaters
were calling but remained hidden, later seen over Nagalomon Dam. Here
the Great Reed Warbler was still singing along the edge, and
Three-banded Plovers were mating. A female Darter was sitting in the
trees overhanging the dam, and a Wood Sandpiper was in the shallows.
The Broad-tailed Grassbird was calling from the grassland in this
corner, a regular site. A really nice surprise was an immature
Bateleur, many years since I have seen one in the Park. The usual
adults were met with in the course of the day. On the back road to
Hyena Dam we had Red-collared Widowbirds in non-breeding plumage but
males with long tails, these were to be our only widowbirds today.
There was a Common Buzzard at last, along here, but the real surprise
was a White-bellied Go-Away Bird feeding in the bushes, the first in
the north of the Park, whilst in the southern parts they are resident.
The African Water Rails were in residence at the marsh, and at Hyena
Dam we had twenty-six Wood Sandpipers and a couple of Green, a female
Yellow Wagtail and a Sedge Warbler. The first of seven Whinchats was
here as well. An adult Purple Heron which had been there all the time
suddenly stepped into view. The run-off was not too exciting, but
there was an Isabelline Shrike, and heading out to Eland Hollow we
found a Greenshank and two Rosy-breasted Longclaws, whilst at the dam
another eight Wood Sandpipers, a pair of Red-billed Teal and a pair of
Spotted Thick-knees. There were another three Spotted Thick-knees at
Karen Primary School Dam but nothing else apart from an incubating
Crowned Crane hidden in the sedges and out first of three Northern
Wheatears. Continuing south we found a solitary male Lesser Kestrel.
Above Athi Dam we had singles of Isabelline, and a female Pied
Wheatear, and both Isabelline and Turkestan Shrikes. Also there were
Long-billed Pipits feeding flying young. Athi Dam itself was rewarding
with two adult Pink-backed Pelican, eleven White Stork, a female
Pallid Harrier, a Fish Eagle was calling that we did not actually see,
a young Steppe Eagle, another very large and very black eagle that is
being looked into, a single Black-winged Stilt, no less than
thirty-two Spur-winged Plover that were matched in number by
Blacksmiths, twenty Kittlitz’s and a delightful Little Ringed Plover,
a Park rarity, ten Little Stint and four Greenshank. Two Speckled
Pigeons were along the edge, a Black-and-White Cuckoo was in the
acacias, a solitary lutea Yellow Wagtail along the edge. The fourteen
foot Crocodile has returned to the dam once again but now is fifteen
foot! Along the causeway we had an adult Black-crowned Night-Heron
roosting and single Willow and Olivaceous Warblers. There were good
numbers of Barn Swallows feeding in the Park. From here we left to
return as we for reasons of other commitments we had to be out of the
gate at 4.00pm which we achieved. The only other bird of interest were
ten Greater Blue-eared Starlings at Kingfisher where we had our final
coffee in the Park.
During the day we had only visited KWS Garden, Ivory Burning Site, and
most of the major dams and the grassland in between. We had not birded
the riverine, Cheetah Gate, Hippo Pools or the highland forest, and we
still left the Park with 176 species recorded. Had we have stayed the
entire day, the last two hours being an interesting time in the Park,
we would have sailed well over 200, likely over 220 with all of the
common residents not visited today.

Mammals were not in high numbers except in the Athi Basin. There were
three Suni at KWS garden, four White Rhinos on the way to Eland
Hollow, but nothing unusual otherwise. Hippos were in Nagalomon, Hyena
and Eland Hollow Dams.

It was good to see the Park returning to former glory, and such a good
variety of migrants at long last.

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