My Friday Morning Bird Watching Species Spotted

My routine morning bird walk started at 6.30am. The weather was very conducive with no sign of early rain. My first bird species was White browed Robin chat, the bird was feeding on the ground and not so far from it was a pair of Olive thrus looking for what to feed on along the fence. The thrush are very common and can always be spotted as early as 6am. I then moved towards the cattles and the Red_billed oxpecker were already enjoying their delicacy. The cows were calm and this shows the importance these birds play to remove ticks and other unwanted parasite from the cows. It was time for my Twitcher birding binocular to be put into use a very essential bird watching equipment for birders to get the best view of the birds. Then common drongo were flying up the sky to catch the favourite insects. With my bird watching binocular I was able to view the bird in action. Then came the barn swallow petching on the electrical wireline. I have realized that these birds loves perching on the wires just after the sunrise and from a distance they seems to be enjoying the sun rays. It was such a short lovely morning bird watching time, I hope for those who had their morning bird watching event enjoyed every moment of it.

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
Exif_JPEG_420

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.