Saturday, April 23, 2011

Black-and-white-and-grey beauties

As mentioned before in my posts, my sister-in-law, Shelley regularly helps me to identify birds. She's been doing this for many years but recently has really had to work hard at helping me since I've been in Kenya. Why, because for the first time ever, Grant and I have spotted a great number of "lifers".

This week, Sue and I visited the school to check on building renovations and also to liaise with the head teacher (Headmistress) about the recent scouts' week in El Doret. Afterwards we meanderd around the school yard taking photos.

I checked in Sue's Birds of East Africa for the birds below. The first two were lifers for me and the cranes, which I've seen at a distance in a dam near the Drakensberg, South Africa, were close enough for me to photograph quite reasonably.

While out birding in the schoolyard earlier this week, I had ample opportunity to photograph a very common, but to me, striking and neat shrike: the Grey-backed Fiscal. I love the clean lines of this bird with its grey mantle from its head down its back and the black eyemask which makes it look a little roguish

The Grey-backed Fiscal

After having my fill of photographing the Grey-backed Fiscal, I spotted a bird climbing around the branches of the tree above me. It moves very fast and photographing it is not easy. (No bird photography is easy!) I managed to find one photo of this striking black-and-white bird with bright red eyes: the Northern Puffback

Moving towards the sports field next to the school, I panned in on a pair of  Grey Crowned Cranes. Sue tells me this pair hangs around the club on the opposite side to the field. I couldn't do anything about the wire although the cranes actually walk free and later disappeared, possibly into the bush leading to the river. As I said above, an amateur photographing birds, does not do justice to the birds and animals, but I'm determined to keep a record of the wildlife we're seeing in Kenya.
The Grey Crowned Crane is a distinctive bird with a conspicous golden-yellow tuft on the crown, bold white patch on the cheeks, a black forehead and red wattles. The upperparts are slate grey, the underparts are paler and the wing is blackish with a distinctive white-tinged chestnut patch

The birds are usually found in pairs, but occasionally in large flocks outside of breeding season, around swamps, lakes and grasslands. I surmise these are a pair and that they may be breeding


  1. Lots of birds in Kenya to add to your collection of photos and also I see, many lifers.

  2. I'm liking your birding in Kenya. Those Cranes are wild.

  3. Oh My, Jo... They are all wonderful, but that crane is AMAZING... Wow--how awesome. Thanks for sharing.

    Happy Easter.

  4. Hi Jo=Anne,

    Lovely photos, you really see a lot of birds. Here on the farm I often see blue cranes.

  5. Happy Easter dear friend!
    Love these! Especially the gray crane!! Gorgeous!

  6. They're all beautiful, Jo, especially the cranes, and I love the elegant Grey-backed Fiscal, but my favorite is the Northern Puffback. He seems to be more brown and cream than black and white in this photo, though.
    I hope you are enjoying a very special Easter weekend.
    Love, K

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

  7. I see you discovered a lot of birds during my stay in France !
    I just scrolled a little through your posts and saw your pictures, I came back from France yesterday afternoon and am still a little "homesick" not because of the French Riviera (I thought I was in Italy) but because of the stay with Clauie and her family, such warmhearted and cheerful people !

  8. It feels good to know that they aren't extinct yet. Hope they won't be.

  9. Jo, you are seeing great birds in kenya. Cool sighting of the shrike and I love the eyes on the Northenr Puffback. And the cranes are really cool. Great photos and thanks for sharing your birds of Kenya. I am really enjoying these post.

  10. It's amazing all the different birds you are finding, Jo. The Grey Crowned Crane is stunning--it seems to be wearing a tall golden crown. It is so interesting to see all the wildlife you find in that area of Kenya.

  11. A lovely collection of bird shots you're building, Jo, and I can empathize with how difficult it is to get good pictures! Like you, I was determined to document all the wildlife I saw in East Africa, and did manage to squeeze a lot into my scant two weeks...LOL!

    It's been great fun building my alphabet could do the same with your birds...:)


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