A Morning in Lake Nakuru National Park

Flotilla of great white pelicans

December 2015

I had a morning where I could sneak away to the lake for a few hours. I hoped to find more flamingos than in June. Unfortunately, very few numbers were present. However we circled around to the western shore and found a small mixed flock of greater and lesser varieties. Most of the birds present were juveniles: white with grayish black features. A vibrant couple adults were showing-off much to my delight. Perhaps some of the younger members were not strong enough to make it to Lake Bogoria were the largest Kenyan population resides since the flooding of Nakuru.

Greater Flamingo

Greater Flamingo

 

Lesser Flamingo

Lesser Flamingo

 

White fronted bee-eater

White fronted bee-eater

 

Long crested eagle

Long crested eagle

 

Broad billed roller in yellow acacia

Broad billed roller in yellow acacia

 

Black Bellied Bustard

Black Bellied Bustard

 

Augur Buzzard

Augur Buzzard

 

African spoonbill with Egyptian geese

African spoonbill with Egyptian geese

 

Here’s the list: Common ostrich, great white pelican, pink-backed pelican, great cormorant, long-tailed cormorant, African darter, cattle egret, great egret, black headed heron, grey heron, yellow-billed stork, hammerkop, saddle-billed stork, marabou stork, hadada ibis, African spoonbill, greater flamingo, lesser flamingo, Egyptian goose, augur buzzard, long crested eagle, African harrier-hawk, helmeted guineafowl, grey crowned crane, black bellied bustard, greater painted snipe, blacksmith lapwing, spur-winged lapwing, crowned lapwing, common sandpiper, wood sandpiper, fisher’s lovebird, little bee-eater, cinnamon chested bee-eater, white fronted bee-eater, broad billed roller, lilac breasted roller, green wood hoopoe, red throated wryneck, Nubian woodpecker, grey woodpecker, rufous naped lark, red-capped lark, grassland pipit, long billed pipit, northern anteater chat, common rock-thrush, pied wagtail, red billed oxpecker, yellow billed oxpecker, red winged starling, greater blue eared starling, Ruppells long tailed starling, superb starling, cordon bleu, common waxbill, red billed firefinch, various cisticolas, swifts, weavers, drongos, doves, sparrows, fiscals, and shrikes.

 

After Work in Nakuru

October 9, 2015 

Nakuru County

Work took me to Nakuru for a day of meetings and contract negotiations. I know, it sounds like a load of fun, but it was a very productive day and by about 4:30, I was finished. Being that Nakuru sits in the Rift Valley, the biodiversity boasts different species than western Kenya. There is, however, significant overlap. I knew that a small riverine patch of acacia woodland is situated just outside of downtown (about 500 meters from major manufacturing facilities).

This stretch of relatively undisturbed ecosystem sits on a large institution’s farm land which has provided it protection from encroaching development. There are a few skinny trails and one primary path that run through it for people who need to walk from one side to the other (from one paved road to another). Anyway, enough about the lay of the land. This is a birding blog.

Trekking

I came out here to show my wife the white-fronted bee-eater colony I found here a few months back. She’d not seen this particular species up close. We left the car at the Westside Mall underground car park and hailed a motorbike taxi. After a quick dash through town, we dismounted and crossed through the recently harvested wheat field. Thankfully, the month-long teachers’ strike was now finished, so kids were busy with homework and thus we were not spotted and id’d as the all too common “mzungu”. The good news was that I had the camera. The bad news, I only brought the 300mm lens so landscape/location shots were impossible on the good camera and camera phone shots will have to do…sorry.

Before reaching the riverine swatch, we knew the bee-eaters were around as we heard their barking, whining calls. We also saw some small flocks of queleas, a few sparrows, and a large mixture of swifts, swallows, and saw-wings. The light was not great due to cloud cover, and with the sun falling in the west, it made our location challenging for photos. We decided to wrap around the other side but trekked a bit to see what else we could find.

The ever present menagerie of doves were around and the hideously ugly marabou storks were collected on the acacia tops. We’d hoped to find some helmeted guinea fowls as the tall grasses were perfect for them, but alas, no success. I love to startle these funny birds as they freak out and run away, hopping and bounding awkwardly. Call me a horrible naturalist, but I find this behavior hilarious. The highlight for this section was a flock of eight Fisher’s lovebirds squabbling and fluttering around. These miniature parrots added a nice splash of color to an otherwise mundane first 20 minutes. One flew right at us and perched only a few feet away, looked around, and seconds later, took off.

Fishers Lovebird

Fishers Lovebird

We’d gone long enough without seeing the bee-eaters and made our way over to their colony. A male and female olive sunbird pair were feeding, and a territorial yellow-bishop was not very appreciative of their activities and chased them off. After we arrived at the gully’s edge, we situated ourselves and spent the next 30 minutes enjoying the bee-eaters as they hunted, preened, and went about their business. This colony is a very different experience than our other bee-eater viewings where hours are spent chasing them down only for them to fly off as soon as I reach for the camera. So long as we did not make sudden movements, the white-fronteds adjusted to us and allowed us to observe them without hindrance. A nice treat was seeing a red throated wryneck walking along the shaded and overhung bottom of the ravine searching out insects. This is an area specialty and not all that common. Unfortunately, it disappeared before my wife was able to see it well.

Four White Fronted Bee-Eaters

Four White Fronted Bee-Eaters

White Fronted Bee-Eater

White Fronted Bee-Eater

Satisfied and recognizing the fading light compounded by the impending three-and-a-half-hour drive that lay ahead of us, we headed back to the road to catch another motorbike back to the mall. The final surprise was an early and unexpected black and white cuckoo. This bird, as a migrant to Kenya, usually arrives in relatively small numbers starting November and departs by February. An early October sighting was a nice way to end the day.

Bronze Sunbird

Bronze Sunbird

 

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Notable Bird List

Marabou Stork
Fisher’s Lovebird
Emerald Spotted Wood-Dove
Tambourine Dove
Namaqua Dove
Black-and-White Cuckoo
Nyanza Swift
White Fronted Bee-Eater
Red Throated Wryneck
Lesser Striped Swallow
Black Headed Saw-Wing
African Thrush
Bronze Sunbird
Superb Starling

Nakuru County