Unbelievable Birding Opportunities in Kenya
With an unbelievable variation in habitat and no less than eleven nature reserves, Kenya is a very worthwhile part of the world for birding enthusiasts to visit. The varied habitats ensure that each day of bird-watching is a rewarding adventure, while the hospitable Kenyans ensure that birders have all they need for a memorable trip. Bird watchers can expect to see around 350 species in the space of two weeks, with some specialized birding tours reporting sightings of between 500 and 600 species within a two week period. Clearly there are plenty of birds in Kenya.
Primarily due to its abundant wildlife, Kenya is a popular tourist destination, and there are many different types of organized tours available, with the classic wildlife safari being the most sought after. The main objective of going on a classic wildlife safari is to spot the “Big Five” – lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard and rhino – and while this in itself is exciting, the focus is on the animals and not the birdlife, which can be frustrating for the keen birder.
Appreciating the fact that many people visiting Kenya want to focus on bird watching, a number of tour companies offer specialized birding tours and the trick is to find the tour that is right for you. Do you want to stop and watch the birds in a relaxed manner, seeing how they interact with one another in their natural habitat? Or do you want to spot as many species as possible in the shortest period of time possible? While given the number of species resident in Kenya, the latter may be tempting, the first option is considered by many birding enthusiasts to be the most rewarding. Whichever choice you make, make sure that the tour you pick will suit you.
From a birding point of view, one of the most popular of the eleven reserve areas in Kenya is Lake Baringo, which is situated about 290 kilometers north of Nairobi. It is not uncommon to spot around 300 different species of birds in the Lake Baringo area in a single day. Birding enthusiasts can expect to see Vereaux’s Eagle, Heuglin’s Courser, Three-banded Courser, Lichtenstein’s Sand-grouse, Spotted Thick-knee, Paradise Flycatcher, African Fish Eagle, Marabou Stork, Hemprich’s Hornbill, African Skimmer and much more.
Tsavo is Kenya’s largest game reserve and one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in the world. In addition to the fascinating wildlife that are resident in Tsavo, birders can look out for Golden-breasted Starlings, Evergreen Forest Warbler, Kenyan Ostrich, Common Ostrich, Somali Ostrich, Hartlaub’s Bustard, Sooty Falcon and Eleonora’s Falcon.
Many of the lodges in Kenya have a resident guide who is knowledgeable with regard to local birds and can give guests an informative tour of the lodge area. The best time for birding is between October and April each year when over 120 Northern hemisphere migrant species arrive for the summer. Between April and October migrants from the southern hemisphere and Madagascar flock to Kenya, many of which are in breeding plumage at that time.
Kenya certainly has plenty to offer birding enthusiasts, and many birders return year after year to explore a new area each time – and are never disappointed.