Category Archives: eagles

New Fence at Main Gate

By Paula Kahumbu:

I was horrified today to see that KWS have started fencing off a huge piece of the Nairobi National Park for the major expansion of the Nairobi Orphanage. The fence follows the main road from the entrance all the way to the club house – which is almost to the ivory burn site.

I am writing to request that you help me to demand an immediate halt these plans. I have identified the following arguments; you may have others

1. Expanding the orphanage violates the very original purpose of the orphanage – to home orphans and act as a half way house before they are released. The orphanage was never intended as a zoo which is what it seems KWS wants to create. The Safari Walk on the other hand was created as a zoo – there is no need for two zoos in the same place in Nairobi. Moreover, wilderness in the National Park should not be sacrificed for the creation of or expansion of a zoo, instead a wholesome education experience through visitation to the park should be promoted as it is far more valuable.

2. The area for expansion will require the destruction of a sizeable piece of Nairobi Park. We are not aware of any EIA having been conducted, nor are we aware of any stakeholder consultation having taken place. As you know, FoNNaP which is 19 years old, has always defended the park and although our board meets regularly with the warden, there has been no consultation of these plans, and we have not been informed of these or any other plans for developments in the park.

3. We believe that these developments are in violation of the management plan of the park which is already out of date having expired a few years ago. It is also therefore a violation of the new Act which requires parks to have management plans that are developed through a stakeholder consultative process.

4. The area of land that is being fenced off will result in the destruction of highly endangered tropical highland forest including habitats for endangered add endangered species, as well as species of concern including lions, jackals, leopard, Crowned eagle (one of the only 2 nesting pairs in Nairobi nests in these trees), Suni, duiker, black rhino and bush pig all live in this part of the forest. I am sure there are also plants, birds and other animals that will also be threatened. By degrading this habitat and alienating it from the park the KWS will be violating the EMCA, and failure to consult the stakeholders is in violation of the constitution.

I have written to the Director KWS, NEMA Director and the CS to respectfully request the immediate halt to the ongoing fencing of the park, as it is not too late to restore any damage already caused.

I have also asked for an investigation to be initiated into how this proposal was developed and passed without any stakeholder consultation or EIA.

Please help by sending your own letter to the Cabinet Secretary, KWS Director (Director@kws.org) and NEMA DG on this issue so that they can see how serious this is.

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 !

Eagles in NNP

By Will Knocker:

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Nairobi National Park is a terrific place for raptors…..I came across the remains of a Kori bustard, though it was not clear to me what had killed it…..

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A Tawny eagle (Aquila rapex) enjoys a meal….

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A different eagle: is this also a Tawny?

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A full crop helps to sustain this enormous bird…..

Birding with Brian Finch 8th April

After a wet night that had turned Langata Road into a flowing river, Mike Davidson, Fleur Ng’Weno, Jennifer Oduore, Karen Plumbe and myself met at the Main Entrance to Nairobi National Park at 6.30am. The overnight rain confined us to the north, as the roads were too muddy and treacherous to venture to the southern portion of the Park. In fact we confined ourself to KWS Mess Gardens, Ivory Burning Site, Hyena Dam from the front road as the back road impassable, Nagalomon Dam, Karen Primary School Dam and Eland Hollow which is a small proportion of the Park. We were out through the Main Entrance at 3.30pm, having recorded nearly 150 species. On the descent road there was a Common Buzzard drying out in the beautiful sunny morning light. Our first call was Nagalomon Dam, this was the first time that I have ever seen it, the drift just before the Causeway was a flowing river but not too deep to negotiate, Nagalomon Dam has lost its reed-bed, there only being a metre wide fringe along the shoreline, and the water level was very high turning the Mokoyeti River into a raging torrent. There were over forty Black-crowned Night-Herons incorporating just slightly fewer immatures sitting in the trees along the bank where they were accompanied by a Great Egret and male and female Darters. In the far corner were a pair of Spotted Thick-knees which had probably been washed out from a normal day roost, and were at the edge of the water. Along the causeway was a Pygmy Kingfisher, which may or may not have been related to a pair at Ivory Burning Site later, and the dam also had a Giant Kingfisher. From here we visited KWS Mess, but it was surprisingly quiet, Scaly Francolins were making a lot of noise, the Black-collared Apalis was also very vocal, there were a couple of Spotted Flycatchers and Garden Warblers but no other palearctics, a pair of Pale Flycatchers were on the front lawn. On exiting through the gate there was a male Crowned Eagle not ten metres from us, and quite indifferent to our presence. It was perched three metres above the ground, and intently scanning the ground below it. We drove past it and away, leaving it still searching the ground. On to Ivory Burning Site, and there was Kilimanjaro with a good blob of snow on the flanks, and crystal clear. An Emerald Cuckoo was singing in the adjacent woodland, Eurasian Bee-eaters were somewhere up there, but could not be seen, a Wahlberg’s Honeybird was in the central Acacia gerardii, which were also attracting warblers. Garden Warblers voices were all through the scrub, large numbers must have been in the Park, but they were the only sylvid recorded, there were quite a few Willow Warblers and more than a couple of Olivaceous Warblers. Also there was a visiting White-browed Sparrow-Weaver and African Firefinches calling from cover. Next we went to Hyena Dam, on the way there were still Whinchats present, and we had four today, another Spotted Flycatcher, the first of twenty-five Red-backed Shrikes, first of ten Lesser Grey Shrikes and all three Widowbirds in full breeding dress. The dam was quiet, with a young Fish Eagle, Yellow-billed Egret and three Wood Sandpipers. The excitement here was when the young Fish Eagle swooped down on a Hadada, and the other Hadadas came in to mob the eagle, but in vain. From here we left for the Main Gate to deposit Fleur, after a pair of Yellow-bellied Waxbills along the road, we then went round to Eland Hollow the long way round. There was a Shelley’s Francolin moving like a chameleon across the road on the way, and a Secretarybird by the road edge, and at the dam was a young male Darter, a pair of Red-billed Teal, a pair of Bateleurs, three Sand Martin with a steady stream of Barn Swallows, and at Karen PS Dam a pair of very still Spotted Thick-knees. Returning to the Main Gate there was an adult Fish Eagle along the Mokoyeti, and amongst a group of Little and Palm Swifts mixed in with Barn, Red-rumped and Lesser Striped Swallows were two birds that resembled Pallid Swifts. It was a very nice day with so much to see and in such crystal clear conditions, and confortable climate. Mammals were obviously further southwards as we did not see too much of interest, the usual Hippos were at Nagalomon and Hyena Dams, and we had a lioness not far from Karen Primary School. On the return we encountered another lioness walking along the road, and followed the animal slowly for about a kilometre not wanting to disturb it by trying to pass it. We were rewarded for this, as in the last half kilometre she starting calling a double grunt, and I thought that there was a likelihood she might be calling cubs. Then two four to five month old cubs emerged from the grass, and just in front of us we witnessed the greeting ceremony, playing, and drinking as a family, out of a road puddle. It was all just so magical, needless to say there was a lot of digitising taking place.

NAIROBI NATIONAL PARK 25th February 2013

By Brian Finch:

Mike Davidson, Fleur Ng’Weno, Jennifer Oduore, Karen Plumbe and myself met at the Main Gate to Nairobi National Park at 6.50am having had some traffic difficulties. We were expediently processed and through the gate on the hour. It has been dry for a while now, and the Park is showing the signs of dehydration. There is still much grass, but all the green has gone and it looks sunburnt. The dams are still in fine condition, but the muddy margins are now appearing. Although cool in the mornings it has been of late warm at night, and quite hot during the day. Today was not hot, but a strong wind. Four of us stayed in the Park, and did not leave until 7.00pm having been checked out on entry. The evening was very spectacular and the traffic was moving well and we were not held up.

Our first call was KWS Mess gardens. Some five Blackcaps were coming in to a fruiting tree we have to identify (Strychnos is suspected), and there were two Nightingales in the hedge. The Black-collared Apalis was still present but recently has been calling from inside the Army Camp. There was a Suni on the lawn. From here we went to Ivory Burning Site which has been quiet this year, and yet used to be so interesting, with a host of good sightings. Today we were not disappointed, a male Pallid Harrier flew through, as strangely did a Secretarybird. We had seven different Secretarybirds today, they are obviously doing very well in the Park. Long may it continue. In the bushes were one Nightingale, and singles of Common Whitethroat, Olivaceous Warbler and Marsh Warbler. There was another Acrocephalus singing a sub-song that was thought to be an Eurasian Reed Warbler. There were a number of Red-collared Widowbirds around, some of which are already sporting red collars. There was another Acro singing softly and intermittently when we visited Nagalomon Dam, this was thought to be a Marsh Warbler but was not seen. There were two very impressive Crocodiles being visited by three Green Sandpipers and a couple of pushy Egyptian Geese, a pair of Orange-breasted Waxbills flew by without stopping and a Fan-tailed Grassbird was singing from a corner near the Mokoyeti River. Instead of circling back to Hyena Dam, we continued into the Kisembe Valley along the beautiful forested stream. On the way there was another Acro singing, thought to be a Marsh, and this was seen and confirmed. The immature Bateleur was circling with the first rising White-backed Vultures, a dark Booted Eagle was soaring over a clearing, a near adult Lesser Spotted Eagle came over us near Langata Gate, some ten Bee-eaters fed over the dam which had a Little Grebe with chick, and Moorhens also had a family. The old drinking pond that should be attractive to many Sylvia warblers and other birds, just had a pair of Little Grebes. There is far too much water around for this to be a magnet this year. We circled round back to the main gate to drop Fleur off, and an immature Fish Eagle had arrived on Nagalomon Dam.

After leaving the gate we took the back road to Hyena Dam, the Crowned Cranes were taking good care of their two chicks, and not seeming too worried about the diving Yellow-billed Kites which soon gave up. Out first of six Whichats were here, and a couple of Banded Martin were over the little swamp. Hyena Dam was quiet but we were much later than usual, there were three Wood Sandpipers and African Water Rail which refused to show themselves. There was a reasonable sized Crocodile hauled out on the bank. A Great Egret, which looks small and I believe has been visiting us for many years, was also there. The Run-Off was dry and did not produce anything, and the inside road to Eland Hollow was also very quiet. At this dam there were a pair of Spur-winged Geese, our only Red-billed Teal of the day, a Yellow-billed Egret, four more Wood Sandpipers, a Common Greenshank starting to show some attractive patterning, and the pair of Spotted Thick-knees were on their usual territory. Heading off to Karen Primary School  Dam we had a male Lesser Kestrel on a bush, and at the dam which was spectacular for bathing Zebra, the drinking Barn Swallow had a Sand Martin accompanying them.

Now it was time to head south, the vultures were at the drinking pool above Athi Basin, there were nineteen White-backed and nine Ruppell’s, nearby we had just seen a pair of Lappet-faced Vultures.

There were two Northern and two female Pied Wheatears along the top road and a nice Kori Bustard sheltering under a small acacia barely larger than itself. On the track to Athi Dam we found a full adult male Turkestan Shrike this was our only migrant shrike seen today, and a female-type Pallid Harrier was over the grassland. Whilst there was not a huge variety of birds on Athi Dam, the sight was nothing short of amazing. There were 1500 Marabou Storks, amongst these we individually counted 530 White Storks, which must be the largest number ever recorded together in Nairobi, poor Yellow-billed Storks were a  bit left out with only four! The storks surrounded the resident giant Croc who made even the Marabous look so small. Big croc number two was as usual on the island now joined back to the mainland. There was a single adult Pink-backed Pelican, a Great Egret of normal size, an immature Montagu’s Harrier, fifteen Yellow-throated Sandgrouse came in whilst we were there as did six Speckled Pigeon which is hardly a rare species, but I believe all the other records always involve a maximum of one pair. There was a male lutea Yellow Wagtail who had bright breeding plumage underparts but the head was still saying it was winter! In the wader line, there were four Black-winged Stilts, fifteen Spur-winged Plovers, a compact group of thirty Little Stints, but the only other palearctic waders were single Common Greenshank and Green Sandpiper. We had our traditional Carrot Cake on the Causeway, the Black-crowned Night-Heron adult was in his roosting tree, and a Western Marsh Harrier went over without stopping.

We carried on in the direction of the Cheetah Gate road, there was a stunning spring male Pied Wheatear, but our best bird of the day was a species I had never seen before in the Park. By the track was a female Black-faced Sandgrouse which posed for us. There is a historical record, this means over forty years ago but there are no details. On the road towards the Hippo Pools there was another female Pied Wheatear, an adult Fish Eagle along the river and a noisy Pangani Longclaw. Our last bird of note was a male roadside Hartlaub’s Bustard as we climbed up out of the Mbagathi Valley.

As we passed Karen PS Dam on the way back we stopped to look at a Black-headed Heron who had caught an unfortunate Battersby’s Green Snake, this was swallowed with surprising ease.

There was a sprinkling of Barn Swallows but nothing that looked like any passage, and there was evidence that Quail-finch were returning. We were out of the Park at 7.00pm.

 

It was a great day, nothing in writing can convey the stork spectacle of Athi Dam. This is probably a daily event, and it is necessary to be there at 3.00pm. Presumably the Whites are coming in from the Kitengela.

 

The game has returned in really impressive force as the dry sets in, Zebras in most impressive numbers, but a group of seventy Wildebeest in the Athi basin is a good number nowadays. None of the special mammal species were seen today, they were all in hiding. Hippos were in Nagalomon, Hyena, Eland Hollow and Athi Dams.

 

Awesome Day in the Park!

Story & pics by WILL KNOCKER:

On wednesday this week, Ed & Jeremy Hildebrand & I spent all day in the Park in superb weather & saw the best that the constantly surprising NNP has to offer….. first, these rhinos, note the bull on the right marking his territory with a horizontal blast of pee…

Early morning along the Empakasi was like a Vision of Eden…..

Then we came across this nursey herd of eland (calves suckle from any lactating female they find, an adaption to the nomadic way of life of these antelopes, who are constantly on the move.) NNP contains one of the most significant herds of eland in Kenya & the population is rising…

We definitely had a rhino day: we saw several unusual herds of Black (Browse) rhinos at close quarters….

We stopped for coffee at the Athi Dam, where zebra were watering & this kongoni posed for us. The kongoni population in NNP is exploding, bucking the trend in the rest of Kenya, where this sp. is in steep decline..

A spiral of large raptors brought us to this dramatic site: a kill…..

Ant the perpetrator, a stuffed lioness….

A pair of jackals tried to drive off the estimated 80 vultures gathered for the feast: an eland….but were ignored…..

But all soon moved off at the ‘owner’ returned to protect her kill….

There was masses of ’plains game’ in the Athi Basin & on the top plains, where we found these zebra twins….

The Rains have not been good so far & so most biomass is in the park owing to overgrazing in the rangelands where they usually go at this time of year. The return of both Gran’ts & Thomson’s gazelles to the Park after many years of a ‘long grass’ regime is heartening. But where are the cheetah?

Ostriches under a big blue sky….

Proved to be a group with an adolescent chick: the last survivor (there is very heavy mortality amongst young ostriches…)

Then clever Ed spotted no less than six Black backed jackals: a pair of adults & four grown up cubs: great news for these little canids, which are not common in NNP…..

A bull Grass (White) rhino…..was this the individual translocated from the Mara after all his companions were killed?

As usual the Park was A1 for birds……this is a Superb starling, though we also saw the aptly named Hildebrandt’s……

And yet another bull rhino……

This was all BEFORE lunch, when we returned to Silole Cottage, where these piggies were enjoying a cooling wallow.

In the afternoon, yet more (Browse) rhinos…..

And in the Langata forest, Jeremy spotted this pair of magnificent Bateleurs, the only pair in the Park!!

And on our way home, in the distance, a new baby rhino…we couldn’t make out which type….

What a day! What a Park!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MORE birds of NNP

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Saddle -billed stork

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Martial eagle looking bellicose….

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Crowned plover

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Hadada ibis

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White-faced whistling ducks

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Superb starling (feeling cold? Or sexy?)

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Egyptian geese

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Harlaub’s bustard

529 sp. Birds & Counting…….

Photos by WILL KNOCKER:

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Brian Finch the NNP afficianado & bird expert has just identified the 529th sp. of bird for NNP.

Above a Crowned eagle with it’s leopard-like talons…..

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Kori bustard, the world’s heaviest flying bird…..

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Marabou stork which breeds in the city centre & feeds at the city rubbish dump…..

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Malachite kingfisher on the Empakasi river….

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The park is a major breeding area for Crowned cranes….

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Great white pelicans pass through from time to time……..

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Hamerkop- a frog-eater, in it’s element……

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There are currently large numbers of Helmeted guineafowl in the park after a successful breeding year: food for Martial eagles (2 pairs at least in the park: see next post………)

Wet Season Wonders

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Rain has been falling in NNP since January & was particularly heavy over Easter…wet weather often means it is unusually clear & for a few minutes last week the mass of Mount Kenya (17,000 foot) was visible over the usual smog of the Industrial Area. On a VERY clear day one can also see Mt Kilimanjaro far to the south……

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A Crowned Eagle in the Langata forest. At least one pair of these magnificent forest eagles nests in the park. Leopards of the air (notice talons in this pic), these birds eat fully grown monkeys & small antelope……

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All over the park, seasonal wetlands brim with water & with life.

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Water lilies in the top Langata dam. Brian Finch reports at least 8 pairs of Crowned Cranes (see previous post) have raised chicks in the park this season & conditions are so fecund most pairs have managed to raise more than one chick!

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Apart from resident large mammal sp : giraffe, buffalo & rhino & the kongoni that have now decided to stay in the park permanently, the most numerous sp., plains zebra, are mostly out of the park now. Out of an estimated population of 4,000, only a few hundred are now in the park. Of the est. 1,000 gnu, which calve in March, we saw just a couple yesterday along with a large nursery herd of eland (see above) in the Athi Basin where most wildlife is now concentrated owing to the short grass & proximity of the fast diminishing ‘dispersal area’.

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The Athi Dam -nearly empty in the drought -is now full up, though no sign of the large crocs that used to be there: have they migrated to the river??

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The park is one enormous ocean of long waving grass right now, full of the sound of buzzing grasshoppers trying to attract mates: all life seems to be displaying, mating & breeding as the ecosystem is transformed by rain into a bountiful natural bread-basket for all life……this hen Kori bustard had a half grown chick with her!

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We saw several large herds of buffalo on the plains & hopefully their increasing numbers will help to keep the long grass grazed, otherwise the gnu & the gazelles will be tempted to stay out on the overgrazed areas outside the park.

Still no cheetah cubs alas…….

Martial Eagle!

Great photographs from Dave McKelvie…..of a martial eagle eating a helmeted guinea-fowl.

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