Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Black-headed Gonalek

A few weeks ago I posted about a walk outside camp while trying to photograph an elusive but very beautiful bird: a Gonalek. I said I would persevere until I had a photo. Well, this weekend, while out birding on the mine, I finally managed to photograph my a Gonalek!

The first time we saw this beautiful bush-shrike it was hopping about and "hiding" in thickets below the dam wall. On Sunday we heard it calling again and crept around in the same thorn scrub under the same dam wall trying to get a glimpse of it. No success.

Eventually it was time to head back to camp and we made our way - slowly, birders never rush when out in the field - up the road past the mine offices. In a dense thorn bush on the side of the road, I saw a flash of red. Grant noticed it as well and stopped the car. There, perched on a thick branch in full view, was a Black-headed Gonalek!

The Black-headed Gonalek is a bush-shrike with a black back and head and striking crimson underparts. It has yellow eyes and a buffy vent. The male has a strident whistle, "wheeoo" which the females answers with a harsh, grating "quurr".

The Black-headed Gonalek  
A closer image of the Black-headed Gonalek
The bird whistled here:"wheeoo"

An anwering "quurr" and the female landed on the branch beside him


  1. Wow, the female has the same bright red colour? How wonderful, Jo. Beautiful photos.
    — K

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

  2. This is a beautiful bird. I hope you are beginning to recover from malaria. Hugs. xx

  3. You're going to have to publish a book on Kenyan birds. You must have thousands of photos & hundreds of species!

  4. Perseverance works. Such a handsome bird.

  5. What a magnificent bird! He certainly stands out with that vividly scarlet colouring. Hope you are feeling very much better by now, Jo! Big hug. XOXO

  6. I have never seen such a vibrant color. Gorgeous and thanks for sharing your pictures. :O)

  7. What a strikingly colorful bird! Great capture, Jo. You are so knowledgeable about the birds in your area.

  8. Oh me gosh! You even got two for the price of one! What a treat, he is as colourful as our parrots and seems full of character.

    How are you coping with your malaria attack? I think of you a lot.

  9. It was well worth the wait! These are wonderful images! I think he must have been enjoying this as much as you.

  10. Stunning photo, Jo. I enjoy seeing and reading your posts about birding. You and Betsy from here in Tennessee seem to get the greatest shots!

    BTW - thanks for the nice comment of my blog. YOur's is always great reading. I do plan to eventually get around to some of my Kenya trips. ☻

  11. What a spectacular bird! Photographing him is something to celebrate.


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