Category Archives: wet season

Short Rains Indeed….

By Will Knocker:

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The Short Rains have proved to be very short indeed in NNP, although in the last few days the Langata Forest will have greened up with some decent rain to begin December…

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Gazelles are plentiful in the park now, as it is so dry & overgazed in the Sheep & Goat land, on the short grass plains where they like to be…. what happened to these cheetahs , KWS, could you not bring them here now gazelles are so plentiful? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-24953910

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 Owing to the incipient drought, hundreds of cattle are in the park day & night, displacing precious Browse rhinos from their habitat…

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The City on the Plain….

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Many sp. of mammal have given birth, expecting plenty of food from the rainy season…..how will these new youngsters fare in the challenging conditions of drought which will carry on until our next rains in April??

 

 

NNP in the Wet Season….

By Will Knocker:

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Early morning impala…

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White (or Grass) rhinos are doing well in the Park: they were introduced from Nakuru NP

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Native Black (or Browse) rhinos in their element…

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There are 40+ lions in NNP, amongst which are at least 6 adult males, all of them brothers…

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Could this be a Green-winged Pytilia?

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Four Black-backed jackals on the remains of a lion-kill in the Athi Basin…

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Spot the difference between a Tommy & Grantis…..

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There have never been so many bufffaloes in the ParK; helping to naturally manage the grasslands….

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The Park is a veritable ocean of long grass interspersed with wild flowers: absolutely beautiful…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NAIROBI NATIONAL PARK 29th April 2013

By Brian Finch:

Mike Davidosn, Jennifer O’Duore and myself met at the Main Entrance to
Nairobi National Park at 6.20am, and were through the gate at 6.30am.
There had not been much rain the two previous nights, but over an inch
had fallen three days before, compounding the accessibility problems
in the Park with many areas away from the main roads very sticky and a
few treacherous.
Water levels had subsided, but in the aftermath the Hippo Pools along
the Mbagathi has been destroyed, all the vegetation on the banks
scoured bare and parts of the track fallen into the river, and a new
small island created! Further up the Mbagathi at Leopard Cliffs, all
the riverine vegetation has suffered the same fate.

We set off for KWS Mess Gardens, on the way there were an Emerald
Cuckoo near the Entrance, and a party of Cabanis  (Placid) Greenbuls
on the short road towards the garden. Whilst they are a common species
in the Kisembe Forest, this was the first time I had encountered them
anywhere east of Nagalomon Dam.

The gardens were quiet, although both Green-backed and Wahlberg’s
Honeybirds were vocal, and for the first time in some six months we
did not hear the lone Black-collared Apalis.

Ivory Burning Site did not produce for us, but Nagalomon was
entertaining with the nesting Black-crowned Night Herons busying
themselves, and many sitting tight on their nests. We counted some
sixty birds, but there might have been more. Interestingly quite a few
immature birds are in the colony, although nothing to do with the
current nesting activity. There were three adult African Darters of
which one was a stunning male.

Taking the back road to Hyena Dam, there were a pair of tame Scaly
Francolins on the track, the African Water Rails were in the swamp,
and a pair of Brown Parrots in the fig tree, which seems to be a
favourite place for them. There was not a lot of activity at Hyena
Dam, but an adult male Little Bittern of the African race payesii was
a nice surprise.

The Run-Off from Hyena Dam was quite an active area. Large numbers of
Jackson’s and Red-collared Widowbirds are in large numbers through
much of the grasslands of the Park. The Jackson’s were bouncing and
singing here. Contrastingly, White-winged are only present in numbers
around the Hippo Pool although we had three at Hyena Dam. There were
three Yellow-crowned Bishops displaying in the typha, but on an early
date there were already fifteen Cardinal Queleas, the males in full
breeding dress.

Along the road to cross the Mokoyeti River we found a Common
Whitethroat which was the only palearctic recorded today apart from
three Barn Swallows.

We took the road to Kingfisher Picnic Site, then the southern road
towards Hippo Pools. Along the way we found a Broad-tailed Grassbird
displaying immediately on the eastern side of the Kisembe Bridge,
there was a Bateleur here also. Closer to Leopard Cliffs there were a
pair of Yellow-billed Oxpeckers at what is probably a nest hole in an
Acacia seyal. Also here was an attractive Pangani Longclaw.

Climbing up towards the Hippo Pools Road, a Waterbuck walking towards
us flushed a Dusky Nightjar out of the grass, but at the walk itself
we only had a Grey-headed Kingfisher and the depressing scene of the
habitat destruction.

On the return we had a nice Shelley’s Francolin on the road, several
Long-billed Pipits which are particularly dark at this time of year
and a Long-crested Eagle back near Nagalomon Dam.

Exiting at 6.15pm we found no one at the gate to exit our cards which
is a royal pain in the backside. The Customer Care people shutting up
shop at 6.00pm is far too early with nearly another hour of daylight
left in the day. Hardly a sincere Customer Care at all!

Mammals were few and far between, the best being a Steinbok near the
Kisembe River Bridge. We did not visit the Athi Basin area however,
and quite likely there are still some in that area.

Another great day in the Park, in spite of restrictions necessitated
by the recent weather activities.

 

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.

Roaring Rivers

By Will Knocker:

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The Empakasi river in spate…

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Empakasi Gorge…

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The road to Masai Gate: would you cross?

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Perhaps not….

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The Kiserian river just downstream, muddy with grey clay..

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Striped swallow, enjoying?

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The Empakasi below Hippo pools….

 

Wildebeest Calving

By Will Knocker:

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The NNP gnus calve in March & this year is no exception..

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Usually they drop their calves in the Sheep & Goat land, but this year they have calved in the Park proper, perhaps owing to lack of grazing outside as a result of a very hot January/February..

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There are only about one hundred & fifty wildebeest in NNP, so let’s hope it is now that figure + +

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Once one of the most numerous herbivores in the ecosystem, wildebeest numbers are much reduced.

Let’s hope that trend  reverses with these new additions to the population..

 

 

Kori Bustard

By Will Knocker:

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The Kori bustard, one of at least 4 sp. of these grassland specialists to be found in NNP, that Haven of Peace for so many forms of Life.

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At 20 kg, the Kori is one of the heaviest flying birds……

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Plumping himself up for The Show…..

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Last minute preparations…

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Strutting His Stuff on the African Plain…..

 

 

A Day in the Park 17th Jan

By Will Knocker:

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I was woken up by this Variable Sunbird (male of course) fighting with himself in my bedroom window…..

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And at Main Gate, my guest Jess & I got caught up in the early morning circus: 2 male lions rubbing themselves in a buffalo pat!

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The 2 males: looking thin: c’mon guys, you are supposed to be Super Predators & the Park is full of Prey!

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A Blacksmith plover….

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Kanga……Guinea-fowl have done well this year, with many grown chicks evident….

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Chandler’s Mountain reedbuck in the Sosian valley….

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A Yellowneck spurfowl with a runny beak….

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And 2 African spoonbills………spoooning…….

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Athi Dam megacroc getting some dirty looks…..

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Lone bushbuck……(called Abu Naba in Arabic…any Arabic speakers out there?)

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As Jess said “wall-to-wall” zebras in the Athi Basin, where wildlike is concentrated at present….

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Upupa epops, the African hoopoe…what a lovely bird!

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And to end a splendid day in the incomparable NNP: a monitor lizard at Nangolomon Dam (it should be Narok Omom): “Black Head” in Maa, referring to the Langata forest…..

 

Cranes of NNP

By Will Knocker:

The Grey Crowned Crane is one of Africa’s iconic birds…

In NNP, we are lucky to have many of these fabulous birds..

Each wetland -& there are may dams, swamps & seasonal pans in the park, is a potential breeding spot for a pair of cranes….

This is a gravel-pit dug by KWS as part of road maintenance in the park, now part of NNP’s many & varied habitats….

In these days when so many fabulous forms of life are endangered because they have NOWHERE TO LIVE, NNP remains an oasis……..

In the wet season, cranes pair up, but in the dry they can be found in quite large flocks on the plains…..

A young bird: this years exceptionally good rains has meant that many pairs of cranes have raised 2 chicks each!!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey_Crowned_Crane

NNP Dispersal Area

Photos & Story by Will Knocker:

The dispersal area for nairobi National Park is being severely overgrazed by livestock, partly due to rangeland loss to developments.

The dispersal area is severely overgrazed by livestock, partly owing to rangeland loss to development.

The Last Wildebeest? The Athi-Kapiti Ecosystem, of which the Park & dispersal area are the northern park, was once one of the world’s richest grassland ecosystems: it is estimated to provide a home for 100,000 wildebeest. We counted 2 bulls out on the plains at Sholingei..

Looking east down the Kitengela river valley; a major ‘mlango’ for wilflife to move to Top Plains at Sholingei; this is a humanised landscape not suitable even for passage by large grazers.

Heliotrope flowers in bloom where grass no longer grows….

Roads gouged out of the good earth by the stone trucks serving the quarries that take up the river valleys in the dispersal area, ceaselessly removing tons of blocks of stone with which to build the city of Nairobi & particularly the fast growing dormitory towns of Ongata Rongai & Kitengela (in picture.)

“Community Land”? This is government land: the old livestock holding ground for Athi River. It is now used for grazing by local herders, but permanent settlements there (of which there are quite a few) are illegal. At least the herders stop the area from being built over by the fast-growing Kitengela township…….& pastoralism is of course very compatible with wildlife as far as land-use is concerned.

When the park lions venture onto the ‘Sheep & Goat Land’ as this essential bit of the dispersal area is called, it is a very different story: if they kill livestock, there is a major conflict of interest & they will be killed in retribution……

New (built last year) temporary (there is no one living there now) homestead designed to hold livestock to illegally graze in the park during dry spells.

Giraffe in the block of the Park across the Empakasi, adjacent to Sheep & Goat Land

The breeding herd of eland across the river: the instincts of this highly migratory species tell them to move out of the Park; but they have nowhere to go…….

If we do not take the Sheep & Goat land seriously, we might lose the last few gnu we have in NNP…..

The amazing Athi Basin, where all “the migrants” go to after rain…..thankfully, sp. such as kongoni now stay in the Park & their population is increasing by leaps & bounds: elsewhere in Africa, all hartebeest are in steep decline wherever there are cattle (with whom they compete) & therefore overgrazed rangelands, which is not hartebeest habitat…

The dispersal area across the river is vital to NNP & ESPECIALLY TO WILDEBEEST: this is where they live & calve…..

Suburban wildebeest: the pressure is on for this species, both in the Park & in the rest of the Athi-Kapiti Ecosystem…..(remember there used to be 100,000…….!!!!)

The Dispersal Area is riddled with quarries & the air filled with the blasting of dynamite…..the plains of the Athi-Kapiti are , below a miniscule layer of earth, are in fact solid rock!

Tuala, a typical frontier town where land speculation is the main activity: the plains of the Dispersal Area is being rapidly parcelled out: townships & suburban areas will completely encircle the Park within, I would estimate, 10 years…..

For reference:http://nairobinationalpark.wildlifedirect.org/2011/04/12/sheep-goat-land/

One idea: if a part of the northern bit of the Park is to be excised to make way for the Southern Bypass, as seems likely, can the authorities not look to formalise the Sheep & Goat Land as an integral part of NNP, forever??