Thursday, July 7, 2011

Birding in Kenya VII

As promised in my earlier post, here is another to continue our birding on Sunday. BTW, in reply to Dedene's question about why the last bird in my previous post is called a Go-away-bird. This comes from their call "wah, wah"  which sounds like "Gway".

Coming down the mountain, Grant stopped at every dove so that I could photograph it.

The first one was a Laughing Dove. A small, pinkish-grey dove with no black hindneck collar. The eyes are black encircled with a thin pink eye-ring.
A rather serious-looking Laughing Dove

Next up was an Emerald-spotted Wood-dove. This small, inconspicious dove normally lives on the ground and I've seen it drinking at the bird bath and  walking around on the lawn in a quiet part of my garden. It has a grey head and neck, a paler belly and a red bill with a black base. (In my photo the bird kept behind a branch and the bill isn't visible) The upperparts are brown with metallic-green wing spots.

Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove

Around the next corner resting on a rock, was a Red-eyed Dove. This dove is the largest of the grey doves; it has a pale forehead and pinkish neck and underparts. The eyes are red surrounded by a red eye-ring.
Red-eyed Dove

Once we left the mountain road we drove to past the dam to look for parrots which Sue had told me about. We found them sitting on the power cables and nesting in a hole in the wooden poles. They were Meyer's parrots, brown with conspicious yellow crown and yellow shoulders. They occur in pairs or small family parties.

Meyer's Parrot at its nest hole
A small herd of cattle grazed in a fied beyond. And where cattle are, you normally find Cattle Egrets. The Cattle Egret is a small, short-legged heron, entirely white except during breeding season when the crown, chest and mantle turn a rich buff colour. It has a short yellow bill, yellow eyes and yellow-green legs. More often than not, these birds are associated with game and cattle. They are sometimes called Tick birds - meaning they pick the ticks off the cattle - which is incorrect. They walk along and eat the insects which are disturbed by the grazing cattle. While watching the egrets amongst these cattle, we noticed that they were gently pecking  the bovines' faces; they were eating the flies which settle in the moist corners of the cows' eyes.

Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret are often found with livestock and game. They eat the insects which are disturbed by the cattle

While watching the egret mingle with the cattle, a Lilac-breated Roller landed on the wire above me. The Lilac-breasted Roller is a common bird in all national parks and reserves and in some places seen along the roads. The lilac throat and breast and elongated outer feathers are diagnostic. The Lilac-breasted Roller is Kenya's national bird
Driving back towards the dam, we passed this little herd of donkeys;  nothing to do with birds but I loved the look of them so I took a photo

On Sunday afternoon we drove down to the dam for a little birding and were not disappointed. There were many Pied Kingfishers, herons, cormorants, weavers and a stork. A crocodile lay on the bank catching the last of the day's sun.
Yellow-billed Stork juvenile

I couldn't get enough photos of a  Great White Egret wading in the shallows of the dam. While I snapped away, Grant pointed out a heron only just visible in the shadows behind the egret. He 'd seen it with the naked eye. I then began to snap the heron, a Juvenile Grey Heron, which turned to wade in the same direction as the egret. Eventually the egret and heron were in sync and I could snap them both together.

Great White Egret
The heron, a ghostly shadow within the shadows
Grey Heron, juvenile

Great White Egret and Grey Heron juvenile picture perfect!

 A Hamerkop fishing

A Nile crocodile catches the last of the sun's rays on the opposit bank

Then it was time to go back to camp. And as usual when we think we couldn't possibly see anything else, we came across a small flock of mousebirds in the bush beside the road. Blue-naped Mousebirds. This was a lifer for Grant. I had seen my first Blue-naped Mousebird at Island Camp in Lake Baringo earlier this year. This is an ash-grey mousebird, with a distinctive turquoise-blue nape and long, slender pointed tail.

Blue-naped Mousebird ...
...its blue nape visible

I hope you enjoyed this week's birding with me. I have one more post on birds presented in a lighter vein. Enjoy!


  1. What a great birding experience. Love the ghostly heron.
    The little donkey herd is so cute.
    The crocodile ... well, not so cute, but fascinating to see.

  2. Was it really me who started you on serious birding?
    You show us so many wonderful bird over a large area of your continent. You photos are getting better and better and the bird you have just blow me away.

    Thank you for linking back to me Jo, you are so kind.

  3. Love that shot of the in sync egret and heron. Your patience paid off. You do see a lot of birds on your outings. Plus the croc.

  4. This post contains most excellent photography! You're good!!

  5. Outstanding post, Jo. So much beauty shared here and a wonderful way of preserving the memories for all time. Whenever we have a day out amidst so much splendor, I never want it to end. I know I would have found it hard moving from one scene to the next, as each one would have imprisoned my heart, making me reluctant to let go.


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