10 qualifies to consider when buying boots for birding

It’s time to select men’s or women’s boots for bird watching as part of your essential birding gears, as a birder you require better travelling boots that makes observation of birds enjoyable in any weather condition. There are numerous foot wears for bird watching to choose from but below are some of the features and issues to consider while making a purchase.
bird watching boots
1. Durability, a durable birding boots save you cost of recurring purchase every now and then, and how will know that a certain boot pleasing to the eyes is durable. When buying these birding boots check on the specification stated on the product catalogues. A reputable retailer will sell customers products of high quality and what product catalogues describe on the item is likely to be true unless proper care isn’t taken on the boots. A durable product is not a replica and always ensure that what you’re about to but isn’t imitation of a genuine footwear boots.

2. Weight, bird watching requires movement from one section of a forest, garden, wetland to the other. Buying heavy birding boots will make your movement very difficult limiting the number of birds to watch. What if you’d paid a guide to assist you in a new location but you’re unable to move due to your wears, it will be unfortunate to miss opportunities of capturing new species and most probably a lifer. When buying a boot for bird watching occasion consider lighter boots. With lighter birding boots you’re able to move without any baggage dragging and distracting your outdoor activities. What happens when birding in the swamp wearing a heavy boots, chances are you’re not going to move a inch or opt to conduct your birding on the out skirts of the swamp.

3. Height, this depend on your own height, a shorter height doesn’t require tall boots, when buying birding boots for kids you need a shorter height as opposed to tall ones. Adult will require something covering their knees and this call for tall boots. Purchase a boot that will give you a good balance during movements in any weather condition. Some people prefer a height of 16-17 inches and are very comfortable with them

4. Comfort, they should be easy to put, when in birding assignment where time is limited to capture particular bird but you have boots giving you difficulty to put on, the end result will see you missing on the bird species. Comfortable are secured when walking in muddy, sandy, forest location. These boots should be easy to use when lying down taking photos, writing or when seated

5. Cost, when purchasing an item the selling price sometimes overrides other factors mentioned above and becomes the determining thing when selecting a wear. A birding boot may be cheap but very durable and effective In the field, while others may be costly but not effective when conducting bird watching there are others that are expensive but very effective. Your pocket may determine the type of boots to go for, regardless of price ensure that whatever wear you select will be worth it in the field. But sometimes a cheap boot may be unhealthy as you may end up with sore feet.

6. Availability, the foot wear should be available when needed, availability of a product not only make it pocket friendly but help save time when conducting an emergency bird counts and conservation activities. When you make an order for a boot wear from a retailer that isn’t easily available you are likely to waste time and money.

7. Color, a brighter wear will scare birds in the field, therefore ensure color friendly boots if possible a black in color. It has been observed that birds respond faster to sight than sound or smell. A dull color will not attract a bird’s attention from far as oppose to bright colors.

8. Before buying check on various customers’ review on the selected birding footwear, reviews are very helpful as you’ll will get to know experience from other birders, the bad the good and the alternative. You’ll also get proposal of best alternative to buy probably at a pocket friendly price.

9. Birding season will determine the kind of shoes to wear; heavy or light wears depend on the prevailing climatic condition. Consider the terrain for outing, the likely vegetation to encounter; thorny vegetation will necessitate a tall birding boots. In wetlands tall waterproof boots will be needed to go through the mud. You may also like our article on dangers faced by migrating birds and the reason why birds migrate

Consider birding boots with the right weight, easy to put on with excellent steadiness. Bird watching footwear shouldn’t disturb birds in the field.
Men’s footwear for birding

Why do birds migrate?

Migration is the seasonal movement of bird’s population from one place to another. Birds are able to detect early signs of climatic change. Human can learn from the migration of birds for better environmental planning by just observing unique species. Migration period offers the best opportunity to undertake a bird ringing exercise; you might be surprised to get a ringed bird from another continent or a country. There are regions in the world such as Arctic that support numerous birds in summer, and during this the time birds experience high productivity but in winter condition are unfavorable for birds forcing them to move to other places, or become dormant and sometimes leads to death. Below are some of the reasons why it’s important for birds to migrate annually either short or long distance migration. Birds are bio indicators and know when to migrate to south or north. The period of migration of birds depend on the type of migration, a short distances may take a few hours or days to reach their new habitat while Intra-Africa may take days or weeks while Malagasy and Palaearctic takes weeks or months to reach their destinations.
Reasons for birds migration

Bird migrates due to
1. Change in climate;
When weather changes that doesn’t suit a particular bird species, they’ll move to a suitable location, change of weather either result into destruction of habitat in one area and improvement of habitats in some areas. Unsuitable conditions includes but not limited to burning of vegetation, cutting down trees, draining available little water etc. in Kenya Lake Nakuru was a darling for the Flamingoes birds but as the water quality became unfavorable for the birds they moved on to favorable waters

2. Search for food
Birds migrate to areas with plenty of food such as insect, worms, and grains to raise their young ones. Without food many birds aren’t able to survive. Food availability changes with the weather of a particular environment and birds are able to detect the food situation in advance and move to other places to feed.

3. Search for water
Migration of birds happens due to scarcity of water, this happens mostly to water birds because it’s the only place called home to them. When fresh water Lakes changes to alkaline expect a number of fresh water birds to migrate to other lakes

4. Birds migrate to breed
During breeding season birds search for areas where young one can be raised, selecting environment with plenty of food, water and nesting habitats

5. Search for protective cover
When we have bird’s predators, the small birds being predated on will move to safe areas with adequate cover

6. Search for nesting site
Movement of birds can be observed when birds are about to construct their nests. They will consider areas with adequate food, water and protective cover

7. To raise young ones
When looking for safe places to raise their young ones, such places are free from predators, availability of food among other necessities required by the birds.

8. Human activities
Certain human activities such as wetland farming may drive for migration of birds to other friendly wetlands. Recently a section Yala Swamp was being burnt everywhere making it inhabitable for a few months for endemic species such as Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus yellow warbler among others

Bird watching during migration period offers birders opportunity to watch as many bird species as possible within a short time. You can also check our detail guide on how to conduct a successful World Birds Migratory Day. For effective birding have the necessary equipment for bird watching including but not limited to binoculars both for kids and adults, guide books, a note book, a pen, let your visitors be dressed appropriately and if birding with small children consider carrying kids binoculars to assist them during excursion.

What dangers do birds face on their migration?

During bird’s migration, there are hurdles that some types of birds undergo resulting into either injuries or eventually death. There are numerous problems and threat during the movement across the globe. This period provide the opportune time for bird watchers and twiitcher record as many new bird species arriving from other destination into their neighborhoods. But before you finally set your birding camera on a particular bird remember that these birds undergo many challenges. Below is a list of dangers experienced by migrating birds.

1. Hostile weather condition – during movements birds are faced with extreme or strong winds. When this happens birds are forced to reduce flying speed and also makes migrants to drift from their known pathway. With adverse weather birds are forced to use extra energy. When strong storm occurs over water bodies such as seas and oceans palaearctic migrants birds are forced into water resulting into drowning. When weather is unfavorable birds takes long to reach their destination sometimes having difficulty in feed.

2. Predators – vulnerability to predators is very high and many small birds are mostly affected. Eleonera’s Falcon have field day during migration of birds when this happens many birds drift from their route due to fear or when being chased by predators. With predators very few migrating birds eventually reach their destination. Birds are predated on when feeding, on flight or when drinking water. Predators prey on the birds, the young ones and the eggs which make it very difficult for birds to care for young ones. Predators are not only birds of prey but wild animals, humans among others.

3. Collision with objects, flying birds faces numerous hurdles in busy airspaces colliding with airplanes leading to death. Tall building collisions happen where large migrant concentration is very high and this has been observed in Israel. Other obstacle to flight includes window panes, power lines, and geothermal turbines which has been a concern in Kenya to the future existence of vultures. Construction of tall buildings and structures done by the government and private sectors or business entities are the most contributors on the collision factor

4. Habitat destruction, with human activity clearing vegetation for farming and other activities causing migrant birds to find new habitats, this dislocate the birds from their known habitat. The major activities leading to loss of habitats and food includes large scale farming in wetlands forests and grasslands, desertification, deforestation among others. Climate change is a concern too many conservationists as this alter habitat situation of a particular breeding locality. Turning of grassland into farm will affect birds such as Sharp long claw that depends entirely on grass to survive. Bush fire in government forest is rising causing damages to migrant birds.

5. Human activities, migrating birds are persecuted by man. In some places birds offers delicates increasing hunting and trappings activities, large migrating water birds such as African open-billed stork is hunted and sold in the markets. The most affected region is the Busia grassland in Kenya known to host the open-billed stork during the rainy seasons in the month of April. Here locals use various chemicals to poison the birds in the Bunyala rice irrigation scheme. Waders are persecuted in Egypt, while Honey Buzzard faces the same fate in Liberia.

6. Water pollution is one of the challenges forcing birds to change their destination to other unknown areas. In Kenya Lake Nakuru known to host Flamingoes were greatly affected causing flamingoes to move to safe water bodies. The number one contributors to water pollution are the industrial companies discharging waste products into the Lake or water bodies. These not only affect birds but human contract water borne disease resulting to death

The above mentioned causes are a few, to help protect the migrating birds you can take part in bird watching and conservation in your area. Be part of the bird ringing team to known new arrival in the locality and help conserve their habitats. Check also our article on why birds migrate? And a list of birds that migrates, also check on how to conduct a success World bird migratory day to create awareness of moving birds around you. By holding this event your are helping the community understand the importance of birds conservation

Best Time of Day for Bird Watching

In summary Birding time the best time of the day for bird watching includes but not limited to the following
• Depend on the type of habitat being visited
• Waterfowl and waders are best watch late afternoon
• Dawn and dusks offers the best time to hear bird singing
• Go birding when air is till cool
• Go bird watching when birds come to roost , late evening
• Water birds activities are sometimes controlled by the tides such as waders.
• Nocturnal birds such as owls, frogmouths, nighthawks etc can be watched at night
• When birds come roosting isn’t the best time of bird photography
• Most birds feeds in the morning, give opportunity to watch.

African open-billed stork
African open-billed stork

“Is it possible to do birding at any time of the day?”, I was once asked by a school going child interested in bird watching activities, I then asked the child the best time of the day he thinks birds can be found but the response was that you can watch birds at anytime even at night. The young child mentioned night then I was like is this a joke or the child has stopped thinking but when asked why birding at night the response was that birds are sleeping and you’re able to use night vision binoculars to see and photograph sleeping birds. Yes the child was right but watching birds during night hours without aiding equipments such as night vision binoculars isn’t possible with bare naked eyes and a birder has to prepare adequately during the day for the twitching exercise to be effective at night. You can’t go out at night looking for birds in the wilderness but you can only manage to observe birds roosting at a particular spot meaning you must have a prior knowledge of the whereabouts of the particular bird you’re following

best time of the day for birding
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Yes birds can be watched at anytime of the day, but there are some best times of the day for watching birds if you want to observe as many birds as possible. The best time to go out birding is during morning hours, during morning sessions birds are very active and have energy to move from one shrub to another or from one watery spot to the next. In the morning insects are also active and can be spotted easily by birds, it’s a food chain of activity as insects move around to look for food buts are also doing the same. The weather is just perfect and birds spend less energy moving around, morning hours may start as early before sunrise to around 10a.m or mid day. You will have all the energy required to do walk, take bird’s photographs and notes without too much light disturbances. When the sun start getting hotter your birding activity is affected in many ways as you can’t move long distance following any particular bird, spotting birds isn’t easy and taking clear photos is very difficult. You might spend a lot of energy past morning hours with little results instead birders need to take breaks at this moment waiting for better times. Early morning you can spot birds species such as robin chat, sunbirds, thrush among others and this the time you’ll hear so many bird calling and expect to hear robin chat, common drogo if these species are within your birding habitat.
black crake in yala swamp

Other than sunrise hours, the best time of the day to watch birds is in the evening when birds are active searching for foods. Weather is also favorable as the sun settle down and with this you can watch as many bird species as possible with better photographs of the birds too. It’s at these hours that birds are preparing to roost creating opportunities to capture birds in their roosting site. To have a wonderful evening birding, consider carrying with you a night vision binocular and a camera. Don’t extend your evening birding into darkness without aiding equipments, if you try this you are likely going to disturb birds with flash light cameras and remember birds don’t see at night creating room for the predators to prey on the disturb birds. Other than predators birds may run into electric wires or other objects causing injuries or ultimately dying and as a birder the least is to see a bird getting injured or dying. During birding times you may come across injured birds, how to handle injured birds to avoid further injuries is necessarily.

Avoid watching birds when it’s raining as your chances of see but is almost equal to zero, when raining birds are taking cover in nest and shrubs but if you have insect flying you might be lucky to spot species such as fly catchers, swallows among other insect feeding birds. With rains you’re likely to have more trouble and exposing yourself to a lot of disturbances, unless you have a water proof binocular, a waterproof camera and a notebook. Without those specialized birding equipment you’re mostly likely to damage your birding gears and guides. Avoid venturing into hot sun watching birds, actually this the worst time to expect birds in the open or feeding.
So the best time to watch birds in the day are either in the morning or evening hours and always equip yourself with birding binoculars and bird guides such as books, bird checklist, photographing camera, notebooks among other aiding birding equipments. Habitats will also dictate your birding schedule, watching birds in a thick forest isn’t possible in the early morning as snow and foggy weather will interferes with your visibility, to have a good birding day in such habitats you can go out during late morning to mid days when the sun is reaching the places.

Over 100 bird species observed during bird watching in Yala Swamp

bird watching in yala swamp

It started with a call from one of the bird guides living around Yala swamp informing me of the intended bird watching and excursion for a period of four days. Ibrahim the bird guide wanted to know if I can get time to be part of the local guide to tour the vast Yala Swamp and its environs, and after looking at my Itinerary and engagement for the said days and date I gladly agreed.

Our guests were no just ordinary visitors doing birding but comprised of a team from the National Museum of Kenya and China Zoo. The two governments currently undertaking a joint project mapping out birds through bird count and bird ringing and the project covered both mammals and butterflies but I will stick to our experience during birding.

The arrival of our visitors were delay due to heavy rains in the earlier project site, but made it though late and on arrival it was time for the birders to set up their camping tents at the Yala Swamp view camp. a place cool enough for visitors to reside as if you’re putting up outside your home. At the Camp you have the full view of Lake Kanyaboli while seated on the rocks.
The team divided into two comprising of a three persons, doing different transects. The birding transects were designated by Nature Kenya and help in bird monitoring and counting. The bird transect are used by local birders during their monthly bird watching activity.

It was time for us to assemble our birding equipments; I brought with me a birding book titled “Birds of Kenya & Northern Tanzania” by Dale A. Zimmerman, Donald A. Turner and David J. Pearson. This guide book is very informative and useful for bird watchers whether veteran or young ornithologist getting started in the world of watching birds. The book is organized in a pictorial section known as plate showing particular bird in picture and its locality. I also had my binoculars and Smartphone for photo taking.

bird watching in yala swamp
Birding and bird ringing in Yala Swamp

Our day one started at 6.00am Kenya’s time with the teams diving into two with each team having a bird guide showing the routes and possible places to find the birds. The teams were equipped with both recording data sheets and GPS taking coordinates of every sighting point. The weather was very favorable and it was the best time of the day to do bird watching and bird counts. With the sun rays hovering over the water of Lake Kanyaboli and water birds slowly were coming out to feed. And within no minutes the Pied kingfisher was already dancing up the sky and below it was the Hamerkop Scopus u. umbretta. A good start for the team as 10 birds were recorded at the starting point, at every point we watch birds and recorded species for a period of 10 minutes before moving to the next point. We had a total of 100 bird’s species spotted for team one in just three hours of birding and these species included the following. The birds potted are some of the most common in the area and some migrants due to short rains the region is experiencing so far.

1. Hamerkop Scopus u. umbretta
2. Pied kingfisher Ceryle r. rudis
3. White browed coucal Centropus s. superciliosus
4. Winding cisticola Cisticola galactotes
5. Grey-backed fiscal Lanius e. excubitoroides
6. Common bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus
7. Ban swallow Hirundo r. rustica
8. Lesser striped swallow Hirundo abyssinica unitatis
9. Nubian woodpecker Campethera nubica
10. African mourning dove Streptopelia d. perspicillata
11. Speckled mouse birds Colius striatus kikuyuensis
12. Blue-naped mousebird Urocolius macrourus pulcher
13. Hadada Ibis Bostrychia hagedash brevirostris
14. Little egret Egretta g. garzetta
15. Cattle egret Bubulcus i. ibis
16. Black-headed heron Ardea melanocephala
17. Purple heron Ardea p. purpurea
18. Grey heron Ardea goliath
19. Red-eyed dove Streptopelia semitorquata
20. Blue-spotted wood dove Turtur afer
21. African green pigeon Treron calva gibberifrons
22. Laughing dove S. s. senegalensis
23. Beautiful sunbird Nectarinia pulchella
24. Red-chested sunbird Nectarinia erythrocerca
25. Marico sunbird Nectarinia suahelica
26. Scarlet-chested sunbird Nectarinia Senegalensis lamperti
27. Green-headed sunbird Nectarinia verticalis viridisplendens
28. White-browed robin-chat Cossypha h. heuglini
29. White-browed scrub robin Cercotrichas leucophrys
30. Olive thrush Turdus olivaceus tephronotus
31. Black headed gonolek Laniarius erythrogaster
32. Papyrus gonolek Laniarius mufumbiri
33. Malachite kingfisher Ispidina p. picta
34. Grey-headed kingfisher Halcyon c. senegalensis
35. Woodland Kingfisher Halcyon s. senegalensis
36. Giant Kingfisher Megaceryle m. maxima
37. Pied kingfisher Ceryle r. rudis
38. Ruppell’s starling Lamprotornis purpuropterus
39. Common drongo Dicrurus a. adsimilis
40. Bronze manikin Lonchura cucullata scutata
41. Brown twinspot Clytospiza monteiri
42. Yellow -fronted canary S. mozambicus
43. Double-toothed barbet Lybius bidentatus aequatorialis
44. African paradise flycatcher Terpsiphone viridis
45. Swamp flycatcher Muscicapa aquatic infulata
46. Arrow-marked babbler T. jardineii emini
47. Black-lored babbler T. sharpie
48. Brown babbler T. plebejus cinereus
49. Plain martin or African sand martin Riparia paludicola ducis
50. Lizard buzzard Kaupifalco . monogrammicus
51. White-browed sparrow-weaver Plocepasser mahali melanorthynchus
52. Red-cheeked cordon-blue Uraeginthus b. bengalus
53. African firefinch Lagonosticta r. rara
54. Long-tailed cormorant Phalacrocorax a. africanus
55. Yellow crowned canary S. canicollis flavivertex
56. Double toothed barbet Lybius bidentatus aequatorialis
57. Slender-billed weaver Ploceus pelzeini
58. Village weaver P. cucullatus
59. Common waxbill Estrilda astrild
60. Black shoulder kite
61. Chasnet weaver
62. Spur wing plover
63. Purple grenadier
64. Red-billed fire finch
65. Long crested eagle
66. Banded snake eagle
67. Plain-backed pipit
68. Southern fly catcher
69. Grey headed sparrow

The morning birding ended at around 12pm with each team covering a distance of one kilometer, it was time for the team to meet at the starting point to take notes of the exercise and then left for the camp site for lunch. After lunch the team left to survey a possible bird ringing site along Lake Kanyaboli, it was at this site that we managed to spot two Giant Kingfisher Megaceryle m. maxima. It was a surprise sighting as the Giant Kingfisher in Kanyaboli as it’s known to be in Lake Naivasha. After carefully identified possible net trapping sites the team retread to have some tasty watermelon at the shore of the lake.

Day two birding Excursion
With a successful day one birding exercise, the team was upbeat for a greater bird study exercise. The guides decided to take the bird twitchers to one of the furthest transact fearing being caught up by heavy rains the following day. It was all system go, as we had our guidebooks and binocular ready for task. The site covering part of the Dominion farms and the manmade Lake offered some of the spectacular water birds with first sighting being the black crake Amaurornis flavirostris. In day two the team recorded over 60 bird species. The two teams headed back to the camp site for lunch and later set off to survey the second possible bird ringing site. On our way back the team stumbled on a rotting Python which seem to have been killed by local fishermen. Our second potential site was selected near day one birding transects and with that the team’s day birding activity ended. It rained heavily in the evening making some parts of the swamp inaccessible by small vehicles.

Day three: Bird ringing
Bird ringing exercise started at 5.45am with the team converging together and setting up trapping nets along the identified site. What a successful start of the ringing exercise with sixty birds ringed. The ringing specimen included, the ring number which is a unique serial number for bird identification, bird species were being noted, age of the bird, measurement were taken on the wing, head, Tarsus sizes. Weight of the birds measured and recorded other biometrics such as fat, bp primary and secondary wings, tail and body molt, the time of capture being recorded and initial of bird ringer lastly blood samples were taken too. The nets were left for overnight stay to enable the team have a smooth starting the following day. The evening wasn’t that smooth as mosquitoes started biting the team, Yala swamp being a watery place sometime experience a lot of mosquitoes during the night, any birding activity should be concluded just minutes after the sunset.

Day four: Bird ringing continues
During day one ringing exercise the team managed to ring over 60 birds, an exercise that took almost 8 hours but with surprises. This the day we managed to capture the brown crown Tchagra and the brown twin spot. In the afternoon I received a call that an owl have been spotted in the rocky caves 6 kilometers from the ringing site. It was again time to catch up and identify the owl species. We left for the site and drove for 15 minutes to the site and the surprises continues here was the spotted eagle-owl Bubo africanus in the cave which is common and widespread. The owl has a somehow a dull or brownish on the breast. This time we managed to spot only one but we were informed by the locals that they live in pairs and sometime up to four being spotted.
It was time to join the team and finish bird ringing exercise, it was around 6pm when we started folding the nets, it took us 15 minutes to bring the nets down and call it a day.

bird ringing bronze mannikin
bronze mannikin

Day five: Birding at Lake Kanyaboli peninsular
Lake Kanyaboli offers some great sites to do bird watching and monitoring, rocky places, swampy areas and the shrubs are just among sites to choose from. The peninsular is enclosed by water, shrubs and the papyrus. The team then divided themselves into two heading in different direction. Some of the species observed were the water thick-knee Burhinus senegalensis inornatus, Common sandpiper, Catitis hypoleucos, and the Black-crowned night heron, Nycticorax n. nycticorax. To have a successful birding event always remember to carry your twitcher binoculars, a pen, a guidebook and a notebook and if in a position have a camera for photo graphing the birds. When birding with young ones don’t forget to carry children’s binoculars to assisting them in bird watching as it makes birding more exciting for the children and helping become better birders in the future. It was time to say bye to the visiting team as they head to Kakamega rainforest to capture forest birds and sceneries. When visiting Yala Swamp for bird watching and other related activities consider carrying birding boots to help when it rains, carry with you a water proof notebook as birding trip may require you boarding a boat. A bird guide as explained helps make birding easier and help in identification of birds faster saving time. Bright clothes scares birds, consider putting on dull or green colored clothes. Always have a local bird guide to assist traversing the area, the swamp is too big and without local knowledge you might get into deep water points, these section are known by the local bird guides.