Thursday, June 9, 2011

Birding in Kenya III

Before I continue to share more photos of the birds Grant and I saw over the past two weekends, I would like to thank everyone who commented on the Pet Travel article I wrote last week for a South African travel magazine.  When I posted about it on my blog a very dear blogger friend offered to edit the piece for me. Which she kindly did once I'd completed the article. You know who you are, dearest friend, thank you again. You are a very special person.

Once Grant and I left the hot side of the dam for the bush on the other side, we came across many birds in the greenery. Mousebirds, starlings, woodhoopoes, sunbirds were all flitting in and out of the thorn scrub. We could also hear (but not see) no less than three cuckoos calling in the distance.

We travelled down our favourite leafy lane where we, once again, were rewarded with a number of bird sightings.

I can still remember the excitement when I first spotted the White-bellied Go-away-bird shortly after arriving in Keirio valley.

The White-bellied Go-away-bird

The White-bellied Go-away-bird is a distinctive slim-looking grey turaco with a white belly, prominent crest and a long tail. It occurs in small flocks in hot, dry thornbush country where the bird's well-known, drawn-out "wah wah wah" which sounds like "go-waay" announces its presence.

While I craned my neck trying to get a clear photo of the White-bellied Go-away-bird, Grant (whom I call Hawkeye!) pointed to a dark shape in a tree about forty meters down the lane. I crept down the lane while he waited in the parked car. I managed to get quite close to the bird and took a number of photos. It was a raptor which is a challenge to identify. I later sent the photo to my kind sister-in-law, Shelley for identification. She forwarded the photo to the two expert birders who have helped us regularly. The reply came last night. (Thanks Shelley, Dave and Don) We'd seen Wahlberg's Eagle (dark morph)  which was another lifer for me and Grant.

Wahlberg's Eagle, (dark morph)

Hornbills are Grant's favourite birds along with barbets, woodpeckers, kingfishers and crocodiles (lol!) When we first saw a hornbill with a black bill, we couldn't identify it. Once we'd googled it, we discovered that we were seeing Jackson's hornbill , the female version! Jackson's hornbill is endemic to East Africa, with white-spotted wing coverts and the male has a slightly two-tone (red and yellow) bill. It favours open savannah, bush and thorn scrub.  

A female Jackson's hornbill

When Grant and I finally emerged from the lane, we  came across the local school children planting trees near the mine offices (I posted about this on Monday) We also saw Nico who asked if we'd seen a special bird which was present in the valley again. We hadn't so he explained where we'd find them. And as all birders do, we drove down the road to the spot! And we found the "special" birds!

Yellow-collared Lovebirds nesting in a telephone pole beside the road

Aren't they colourful?

The Yellow-collared Lovebird is a mainly green bird with a dark brown head, a red bill and a white eye-ring. This is a noisy species usually occuring in grasslands and open woodlands. (The area behind these poles is grassland with scattered trees) The bird occurs naturally in Tanzania but was introduced into Kenya where it now hybridises with Fischer's Lovebird (not pictured as we've not yet spotted them) These Yellow-collared Lovebirds were another first sighting for me and Grant. Another lifer!

Believe it or not, but I've not finished posting about our recent birding outings. See you again later with the next (and possibly last) episode! For now anyway!


  1. Oh, I love the lovebirds, Jo. What wonderful colours they have!
    You are keeping very busy with your birding, now that the cats are settled. When does Shadow get to walk off-leash? I'm sure Ginger will keep him safe.
    Luv — K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  2. You have captured so many fantastic bird photos, Jo! I love the colors in the Yellow-Collared Lovebirds.

  3. I love the love birds! I would have called them parrots - or budgies - because I'm not good at identifying the birds. We did go to a place in Kakamega which was a special spot for birders. I still don't know what birds we saw - but it was an exciting time.


Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo