Early on Sunday morning Grant and I went to the dam for a spot of birding. We came across a Paradise Flycatcher (in white phase) who was displaying beautifully to a female Paradise Flycatcher who responded by displaying as well. However, while I was trying to get photos of these birds who kept flitting from tree to bush quite close to the car, a few people walked past and the birds flew further into the bush.
We drove onto the area before the dam where we normally spot quite a few waterbirds, but as the area has dried up considerably (we're desperate for the big rains to arrive in Kenya), there were absolutely no takers! We doubled back and a few meters down the road, Grant suddenly pointed up at a bird. It was one we've been hearing recently (since waiting for the rains!), one that I had a bad view of at Island Camp two weeks ago and one I've been dying to see properly. The White-browed Coucal!
The White-browed Coucal is a large, clumsy-looking bird with a black cap, chestnut wings and a long black tail. . The white eye-stripe, pale streaks on the nape and red eyes are distinctive. The underparts are buffy-white and the flanks are finely streaked The bird is found in coastal scrub and in rank grass and bush. It's well-known bubbly call - likened to water being poured from a bottle and accounting for the popular name of "Water Bottle Bird" - is regularly heard when rains are due. It's a skulking bird and we were thrilled see it so clearly
After the excitement of seeing the coucal, I was happy to call it a day. However, Grant stopped the vehicle suddenly and pointed through my open window at the bush beyond. Another lifer for us: d'Arnaud's Barbet! Our Birds of East Africa guide says this bird occurs in dry bush country and wooded grasslands where it is fairly widespread. Well, this is the first time in more than three months' of birding in the valley that we've spotted this striking bird
I managed to get about three dozen photos - just in case! When I took these photos, we were possibly less than a meter and a half away from the bird. However, I 'm not sure how Grant spotted this bird which seems to blend with its background, but we're both glad he did!
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