After not visiting Nairobi National Park since 28th August, when for
the only time this year, I described the visit as the doldrums period,
today 13th September I spent the day in the Park and found that the
doldrums were very much over.
I was through the Main Gate just after 6-30am, the initial cloud cover
soon burnt off and the day was bright, sunny and warm more like the
weather that we would expect in September. Although there was a
negligible evening shower two days before, there was absolutely no
sign that this had happened and the roads were very dusty.
Less than a few hundred metres from the entrance gate, a stocky
antelope walked out of the forest and walked slowly across the road
seemingly oblivious of me. I immediately recognised the animal as a
Red Duiker, all reddish, unmarked, a huge rounded backside and small
neckless head. The rump was a richer reddish-chestnut than the body. I
have certainly never encountered the species in the Park, and I have
never heard of a sighting in the Park. At home I checked up in
Williams, National Parks book, and there was no record listed in there
for Nairobi National Park. Has anyone even seen or heard of a record
from here? It would seem unlikely that KWS would have included this
species in their introductions scheme.
I stayed at the Ivory Burning Site for a while, there were quite a few
mammals including a Black Rhino. There was a single female
Violet-backed Starling, and speeding over the top of the short grass
was an African Hobby which disappeared gaining height towards Nairobi.
An African Hoopoe was the first in the Park for some time. There were
a pair of Giant Kingfishers displaying over Nagalomon Dam, and a noisy
Zanzibar Sombre Greenbul singing from the other side of the lake.
Along the road towards Splash there were a pair of Scaly Francolins
feeding on the road, and African Firefinch was singing from the scrub.
Along the creek feeding Hyena Dam were an African Water Rail, a couple
each of Green and Wood Sandpipers, and an extremely early flava-type
adult female Yellow Wagtail, certainly the earliest I have ever seen
the species in Kenya. There were about three more African Water Rails
calling on Hyena Dam, but apart from that only the small Great Egret
was of any interest, apart from a White Rhino.
The run-off was much quieter than recently, a black Gabar Goshawk
agitated the, over two-hundred Wattled Starlings that were in a dense
flock crowning the canopies of acacias, a single Namaqua Dove, a
couple of White-tailed Larks and the only Barn Swallow of the day.
Taking the inside road to Karen Primary School Dam, the juvenileTawny
Eagle was trying out its wings by flapping on the nest, there were
twenty of so Athi Short-toed Larks, and at the dam small numbers of
White-winged Widowbirds and Red-billed Queleas, but no sign of
Yellow-crowned Bishop all day, they all seem to have left.
Just past the Beacon there were more Athi Short-toed Larks and five
African Silverbills. There was a Steinbok above the Athi basin. Athi
Dam was most disappointing, there was an impressive thousand or so
Marabou Storks, but not much else. A single Yellow-throated
Sandgrouse, three Black-crowned Night-Herons, eight Black-winged
Stilts, two Spur-winged and four Kittlitz’s Plovers, palearctic waders
just three Little Stints and four Common Sandpipers. On the exit road
south of the dam there were some seventy Athi Short-toed Larks is full
song, and another Black Rhino. On the Mbagathi bridge below Baboon
Cliffs there were a pair of Pygmy Kingfishers, a pair of Violet
Woodhopoes were the first time I have seen them west of Hippo Pools,
and a Side-striped Ground-Squirrel. Near the turn-off to Maasai Gate I
stopped for three Golden-breasted Buntings in an isolated acacia in a
dry area, and on doing so heard the full song of Blue-capped
Cordon-bleu. I waited to see if the bird would show itself, but it
stayed in cover. I “spished” and the bird came straight out and posed
on a branch getting itself digitised in the process. This was the
first ever record of Blue-capped Cordon-bleu for Nairobi Park, and a
stunning adult male. Nearby was a single Black-headed Oriole, a
species that is inexplicably scarce in the Park even though a common
enough resident in local gardens. Towards Kingfisher Picnic Site at
(29), there were five more African Silverbills with ten Zebra
Waxbills. Olmanyi Dam had a single Greenshank but nothing much else
apart from a couple of passing Mottled Swifts. Retracing the Hyena Dam
run-off there was a male Saddle-billed Stork, but the Whinchat seems
to have left its small territory. Nagalomon Dam had a smart trio of
Darters on the roosting tree, and both Kisembe Forest Edge Dam and
Langata Dams had Green Sandpipers. The last named had a young juvenile
Bateleur hopefully the progeny of the only pair in the Park.
Vultures were still in good numbers, still unable to keep up with the
dead cattle in the area. There were seven widely distributed
Lilac-breasted Rollers seen today, Quailfinch have plummeted from
being the commonest bird in the Park to a mere handful, in fact today
there were more Zebra Waxbill seen.
Wild animals were plentiful, apart from the highlight species, good
numbers of Zebra and especially Wildebeest, Bohor Reedbuck in three
locations and several Bushbuck. Many new mammal excavations in
roadside banks today. Cattle still in numbers in the south of the
Park, but far more calves than cows and over fifty dead seen.
The Park is now entering an interesting time of year with the imminent
arrival of northern migrants, the mammals are so spectacular and the
place in spite of being so dry, gives a very good day out.