Blacksmith Lapwing

Blacksmith Lapwing

Blacksmith Lapwing

This sleek and rather chic member of the lapwing/plover family is a personal favorite of mine. You’d think it’s wearing a pair of wingtips to match it’s expensive appearing plumage. Normally black, white, and grey birds don’t really do it for me. However, in this case I’ll make an exception…a big one. This small bird exudes the look of confidence in its styling. I simply love it. Their name comes from the sound of it’s call: a rather metallic series of clinks…rather like the sound of a blacksmith’s hammer striking metal.

In East Africa it’s limited to Tanzania and a swatch of central Kenya. Otherwise, it’s known as a Southern Africa species. It can most often be encountered around higher elevation rivers and lakes where they associate in small groups  and sometimes even flocks. In general, the plover and lapwing species are a highly sought after family for their unique diversity within each species and their generally fearless disposition toward people.

Download the call

Blacksmith Lapwing Distribution

 *Call and map from xeno-canto.org

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Black Headed Gonolek

Black Headed Gonolek

This colorful bird that can be found in all five countries of East Africa is not rare, but is not often seen. Even though the red throat, breast, and belly are dead give-aways, this bush-shrike prefers only to be heard. The males and females are indistinguishable but the juveniles have barred underpants than slowly transition to the bright red. They are often encountered near water but this does not restrict them from semi-arid regions…so long as a perennial river is nearby to provide lush vegetation. The good news is that they almost always occur in pairs which means that if you hear one, there is probably another nearby. With two, you’ve got a decent shot to see one.

The family of bush-shrikes is often a colorful group that includes the papyrus gonolek, the four-colored, many colored, Doherty’s, sulpher breasted, and fiery-breasted varieties. You’re sure to have one skulking nearby wherever you are in the region. Patience and the right callback make all the difference in trying to entice one of these beauties into the light.

Download the call

Black Headed Gonolek Distribution

*Call and map from xeno-canto.org