A Memorable Birding in Machakos County Over 200 Birds Species Recorded In 5 Days

A dedicated team of birders gathered for a national Site Support Group (SSG) workshop organized by Nature Kenya to review group’s activities progress. With the SGG or Nature Kenya meetings, it’s a norm to carryout morning bird watching within the locality of the workshop. Participants were divided into three groups with a team leader knowledgeable in birds’ identification and a note taker to record bird species and timing.

Birding binoculars and guides were distributed to the teams to assist in bird identification and viewing. Some bird twitchers had both their pair of different binocular models and Birds of KENYA & Northern Tanzania guide books. The Birds of KENYA & Northern Tanzania birding book is an essential reference book for both novice and experience birders having bird watching in Kenya and Northern Tanzania, divided into two sections, one having bird plates with the species photographs/plates and the other section describing the distribution and features of the bird species.

Day one morning bird watching was characterized by poor turnout due fatigue experienced by participants as a result of travelling long journey to the venue. The teams gathered separately at 6.00am Kenya time for a short briefing by the team leaders which lasted for 10 minutes. On this day, the three teams recorded a total of 25 species within a distance of 1km in less than an hour. Even birder’s present were not able to do much birding and saved their energy for the following morning nature walk and bird watching. Sacred ibis Threskiornis a. aethiopicus was all over the dumping site of the facility in what looks like a residential bird of the centre. Another observable feature was the nesting pair of Hadada ibis Bostrychia hagedash brevirostris waking up everybody at the facility with their loud calling tune and not to forget the pied crow competing for food with the sacred ibis at the dumping site. It was such a memorable moment as they kept on chasing each other from the dumping site with the pied crow doing the run escaping the ibis.

Our birding expedition continues in day two covering the lower part of the pastoral centre, and on this day we had some interesting sighting such as African Citril Serinus citrinelloides the Black headed oriole Oriolus larvatus rolleti among other species. It was in day two that a group of 7 bird twitchers decided to have both morning and evening bird in Machakos to record and observe as many birds as possible during their staying in Eastern Kenya. Our morning and evening bird watching continues for the next three days enabling the team to record over 100 birds’ species which has been recorded to the Kenyan Bird Map project to assist in mapping out birds’ distribution in Kenya. One of the evening birding took us to the town sewerage plant; at the plant we spotted common sand piper Actitis hypoleucos, d’Arnaud’s barbet Trachyphonus darnaudii and on this evening we had a record 53 bird species in just 30 minutes of birding.

Our last day of birding took place at the Iveti Forest; we arrived at the forest for bird watching at around noon which was quite odd for effective birding exercise. At the forest the group divided into two teams heading to different directions. Our team enjoyed the forest temperature, sceneries and the plants though most of the habitat plantation is the exotic species of Eucalyptus species. At the Forest our team recorded 10 bird species namely yellow-Whiskered Greenbul Andropadus l. latrirostris, a shy forest bird hiding most of the time but calling from the thickets, Eurasian bee-eaters Merops apiaster these bee-eaters are Palearctic migrants in autumn and March – April and were spotted flying over the forest, it was a good time to record the migrant species in a forested area. We also had the Grey-backed Camaroptera Camaroptera brachyura, African paradise flycatcher Terpsiphone viridis a Tropical Boubou was calling from a distance.


Well that’s how we spend 5 days our staying in Machakos County attending a workshop on annual SSG meeting organized by Nature Kenya. Birding is fun and Machakos County offers some of the amazing bird species restricted to its weather pattern and climatic condition. Birding in teams with a knowledge bird guide or birder adds value to the whole exercise of bird identification, recording and learning.
Our team also had a tripod stand for telescope mounting, this help in identifications of birds out of reach for our binoculars, even though we had some of the best binoculars the telescope was very handy and thanks to Mr. Kafulo for providing one.

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.