Yala Swamp is known as a birders paradise with arrays of varieties of bird species, and its one of the best bird watching destination site in Kenya. It’s one site with unique ecological characteristics inhabiting several plant and aquatic animal species. The Swamp is found both in Siaya and Busia county surrounded with many satellite and an Ox-bow lake called Lake Kanyaboli and covers over 200 square-kilometer along Lake Victoria. Its one of the Important Bird Area, as designated by BirdLife International with it being an Important Bird Area many would love to see what the swamp offers for bird watchers and travelers.
When planning a visit to the swamp, one has to consider the available accommodation facilities within the region, we have some excellent hotels both in Bondo and Kisumu this to help have an adequate time in the swamp as a one day tour might not provide a better opportunity to watch as many birds as possible. When organizing for a trip to Yala Swamp for birding one is encouraged to carry with them the necessary birding tools such as bird watching binoculars and guides. With the binoculars you’ll be able to observe birds from areas submerged in water and with dense Papyrus habitation. Also carry with your lighter clothes as it might get hotter as the day progress. Before heading for bird watching in the swamp, birders are encouraged to carry packed lunch as walking back and forth in the dense papyrus may prove just difficult
It host water bird species some of which are migratory birds traveling as far as North America, with migratory of birds to the swamp its offer an opportunity for bird ringing and observing already ringed ones. As a bird be prepared to watch the bee eater and notably the most common being the blue breasted, the most endemic birds are also found and a walk around the swamp will give you a chance to watch the papyrus gonolek, papyrus yellow wabler. Papyrus yellow wabler is one of the rare birds and in most cases isn’t easy to observe but in the vast Yala Swamp you’ll be able to watch them. The swamp flycatcher a bird not scared by the presence of people and will freely move from one papyrus stem to the other in search of flies as the name suggest. The papyrus canary has got a home within the swamp and is found where other the swamp places other unique birds found includes the baillor’s crane, white winged warbler, great snapper among others and provide a place for students study ornithology.
If you want to carryout the bird count on water birds then you’ll have a number of bird to record in your birding list, its also a conducive environment for the waterfall bird counts that happens annually. The wetland International in the recent years decided to celebrate the 50th International Water Bird Census on March 21 that brought participants from various countries in Africa in recognition on the importance of the swamp as a home for birds
About Hells Gate
Hell’s Gate is one of the National Park found in Kenya situated around Lake Naivasha with an area cover of 68.25 square km with an outstanding sceneries characterized by the towering cliffs and the water gouges. The venue is suited for bird lovers, rock climbers, mountain biking, picnics, horse riding, game drives, nature walk and team building activities. The park is accessible by a well maintained tarmac road 90km from Nairobi and also from the naivasha air strip
The park’s topography is a combination of a rugged terrain and breathtaking scenery.it is mainly made up of grasslands and shrublands composed of acacia and euphorbia trees. The park has two entrances: the main Elsa gate and the olkaria gate. There are two towers in the park; Fischer tower and the central tower which are good for rock climbing. The park has a beautiful collection of wildlife i.e. the Thompson gazelle and a total of 103 species of birds i.e. the rare lammergeyer vulture.
The national park has got unique features such as the FISCHER TOWER which is a 75ft consisting of rocky tower formed due melting of rocks, its best for rock climbers, bird watchers among other scenic views
Birds at Hells Gate
There are a number of bird species found at hell’s gate from eagles and buzzard, if a birder wants to have a glimpse at some of the rare birds’ species such as Verreaux’s eagle and the Lammergeyer, the Ruppel’s griffon and hooded vultures. The caves and gorges provide one of the safest site for roosting and nesting keeping predators at bay. To have a better sighting birders advice to carry with the birding binoculars and book guide, and the best time to sight the birds includes the morning and evening hours.
At Hells Gate you’ll have a spectacular time watching the Ruppel’s griffon and hooded vultures feeding on the carcasses and one thing to observed among the vultures is the pecking order, the older well build vulture are given priority and when they arrive all the others have to stay aside and way. In some cases the older vultures have stronger beaks to penetrate through the hard skin of the dead animals all these time the other birds have to wait patiently for the arrival of the older bird. Birds of prey are plenty to watch over the cliffs and gorges with a very spectacular view. Then the moment comes when the vulture returns for roosting it’s a memorable time and for bird twitcher to have a view you must wait till evening for the arrival of these vultures
Sometimes weather can be unpredictable and one have to be prepared for the hot sun and it’s advisable to carry with you drinking water to quench your thirst when the need arises. With the many wildlife grazing in the park as a birder you’ll have a glimpse at the ox-pecker, the cattle egrets among other beautiful birds but not forget the swallows flying over the cliffs. Carry with you a note, a camera and a sharp binoculars and if a companied by your child never forget the kid’s binocular to help them have a wonderful birding time. When at the park be cautious of the noisy hyenas which moving from one end of the park to the other chasing away the vulture.
It’s a vulture’s paradise due to the ability to provide them with plenty of food, roosting safe sites and the favorable weather condition and other than the vultures hells gate hosts Augur buzzard, common fiscal, Northern anteater chat, secretary bird and other bird species