Day 2 Morning bird watching at Pastoral Centre, Machakos

garden wild birdMorning birding day two at the Pastoral center in Machakos had a few suprises.The morning bird watching started at 6am with members of the team gathering for a five minutes briefing tips. The birding leader took members through birding checklist. The checklists for new birders here refers to things needed for bird watching, these included bird watching gadgets and equipments such binoculars, guidebooks,notebooks among others. With briefing done, were moving from one spot to the other spending atleast 10 minutes. Our number one suprise was the Spotted Thick-knee, which is locally common in dry bush, the Thick-knees were chasing away the Sacred ibis and this was spectacular scene of different bird species fighting each other. The cause of the fighting we believe was due to the feeding ground, as the Sacred ibis were moving towards the bushes where the Spotted Thick-knees were feeding. we then moved towards the nearby valley and here we recorded over 30 Species including the black kite.

When birding always have your birding essentials and accessories ready. These items help make bird watching lovely and useful and assist in bird identification. Things needed for bird watching are not limited to guidebooks but also a bird guide to direct twitchers save time in areas with a lot of thickets. Bird watching kit is therefore necessary if you want to become a better birder.

Morning birding at St Joseph Pastoral Centre,Machakos

It’s a five day morning birding at the Pastoral center in Machakos county. Our day one Tuesday started by gathering followed by birding tips from the group leader. Giving tips on how told the binocular, how to use the bird guide book.

Birding in Machakos

Also with telescope and a tripod stand the group had all the required essential bird watching equipment. Observing birding rules the group spotted hadadah ibis nesting, what a good start for the new birders in the team, from a distance a common bulbul was calling and looking the sky pied crowd were flying. Covering 200m distance the recorded 25 bird Species. Moving towards the valley there were 6 sacred ibis feeding on dustbin together with two pied crow. As we continue with birding looking for any migrants around since bird migration moment is here with us but the group wasn’t lucky to spot any migrant. It was time to get back and prepare for the day and as we head back the team spotted house Sparrow next to the kitchen. We’re very lucky as bronze sunbird.
During our day 1 bird watching we recorded these species common bulbul, hadadah ibis, pied crow, red cheeked Cordon blue,White browed Sparrow Weaver, cattle egret, sacred ibis, speckled pegions, African gash hawk,red eyed dove,black headed heron,bronze mannikin,bronze sunbird,red billed firefinch among others. The compound offers a very good site for bird viewing

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.

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.

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.