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.

7 Seven Bird Twitcher Recorded 53 Bird SPecies in 30 Minutes During Evening Birding at Pastoral Centre, Machakos

Wow, what a lovely birding evening, a team of 7 bird twitchers led by Johnson Kafulo of GEDE, MALINDI and JOHN GITIRI, KINANGOP PLATEAU had an objective to find as many bird as possible.  After touring Iveti Forest in Machakos, we set out as usual to the shrubs and open fields around Pastoral Centre.

We were equiped with essential birding equipments including binoculars, notebooks, telescope. It was amazing evening bird watching time with 53 species recorded. As we get out to the shrubs, our first species was Spotted-thick knees, this bird is facing great threat, the environment is being destroyed and soon it will nolonger be at Pastoral Centre, moving in pairs, it keep on moving around not going more 10 meters due to open field being created.

As we move towards the sewerage plant, the Eurasian bee-eaters we’re flying over head in large numbers, this confirmed that migration is on high peak, another migrant spotted was the yellow-billed kite/black kite.

We arrived at the sewerage plant when the sun was almost going down, we set up the the telescope to have a clear view of the species feeding there.

It was time to differentiate the teal swimming in the pool, with our able guide’s, the team were taken through the different features of the teal, and as Gitiri explained the Red-billed teal has a cape like feature as oppose to cape teal, the cape teal also lacked the black color on the head. Reed commorant were also flying over heading to their roosting site. To contribute to the conservation initiative in Kenya the species have been recorded in Kenya Bird Map. These were the bird species recorded.

1. African paradise Flycatcher, pied crow, speckled mousebird, little bee eater, singing cisticola, white headed barbet, Red-headed weaver, Black couco shrike, yellow rumped seed eater, three streaked Tchagra, Willow wabler among others. You can check on the Kenya bird on the other species observed.

 

African open-billed stork
African open-billed stork

Thanks to the team of 7 bird twitchers.

Johnson Kafulo – Gedee, malindi

Jonathan Mukaija – Kakamega

Benson Furaha –

Alex Mwangi – mount kenya

Kibwana -meda creek

John Gitiri- Kinangop Plateau

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