Our internet has been down for two days, and now is coming on and off sporadically...this is NOT helping with my intention to catch up on a whole range of stories. For the same reason, I apologise for not responding to all the comments you have been leaving...thank you for them all - as soon as our internet becomes stable again, I'll be responding...in the meantime, here's an update or two (if I have time before the internet goes down again (keep your fingers crossed!):
You may remember that we’ve been seeing the Spot-flanked Barbets around and about the place for a while now, usually in the commiphora thicket behind the house, but they’ve always been quite shy. So you can imagine our delight when one of these Barbets turned up on the bird table! They always seem to come when the Bulbuls are there too – it’s as if they feel safe with them around – or perhaps it’s just because they are both fruit-eaters that they end up foraging together…although if I were a Barbet I’d try to get in there before the Bulbuls who are so voracious (below)!
The birds are not the only ones in competition for the fruit – even the bees (or are they big flies?) have taken a liking to mango. Whether the lizards are here for the fruit or merely for the ants which have been attracted to the fruit is hard to tell, but they aren’t shy of the birds.
The Spot-flanked Barbets (above) are also showing a particular penchant for the sanseviera robusta fruit, which are ripe and orange now. I often see them in the sanseviera stand below the kitchen window, plucking off the plump round fruit and swallowing them whole.
There seem to be a lot of White-capped Shrikes around at the moment (above), making their presence felt with their noisy chatter.
A gaggle of Superb Starlings has been in the area too – strangely they have yet to visit the bird table (normally they are among the first to come to bird tables in Kenya, but perhaps they have been put off by the larger and equally boisterous Glossy Starlings, below).
As you can see by the photos above and below, the weather has been grey and cold. When the Helmeted Guineafowl passed by right below the house, it was just my luck that the light was dull, but I’m sure you can see nonetheless that they are quite spectacular, cheerful looking birds.
The Go-Away Birds (below) really seem to have grown accustomed to the house and all its accompanying activity – we see them daily from our balcony. The Black-faced Sandgrouse continue to fly in at 8.30am each morning, come blue skies or grey, to gulp a few quick mouthfuls of water before racing back to the dry hinterland again, completely unconcerned by our presence. The Blue-naped Mousebirds with their appropriately long tails and (believe it or not) blue napes have also been feeding and drinking along the river’s edge recently.
The Hadada Ibis, as it forages along the river’s shore, is followed by a Spur-winged Plover and a couple of opportunistic Pied Wagtails (below), hoping to catch an insect or two disturbed by the larger bird…it’s interesting to see the Plover subdued (for once) and not trying to bully and intimidate the Ibis, as it does with so many other much larger passers-by.
This Grey-headed Kingfisher made me laugh as it watched an eagle fly overhead…obviously it wasn’t too pleased but I’m not quite sure what it hoped to achieve by hunkering down like a stalking cat! In these photos, you can easily see the chestnut belly of the Grey-headed Kingfisher, which distinguishes it from the otherwise similar Brown-hooded Kingfisher, which we also see from time to time here on the property.
The Spotted Morning Warbler (below) is an extraordinary bird, not only for the incredible mud nest (like a little cup, perched atop a branch) which it builds, but for the way it mimics other bird calls. Its repertoire is quite amazing.
Those Fish Eagles are not doing much better with their fishing…As the river level drops, fish are getting trapped in pockets of water, like sitting ducks. The Pied Kingfishers hover and dive all day, picking off the hapless fish. The Fish Eagles however, seem to be eternally unsuccessful…no wonder the young Fish Eagle (middle photo, below), sitting in a tree opposite the house and whining, is making his displeasure heard! As for us, we have been having a great time eagle-watching…I have taken endless photos of these majestic looking creatures diving and swooping for their prey…if you’d like to see them, there’s a wider selection of photos here.
View more bird images from: May 2008 and June 2008...