We are a dedicated tour company based in Kenya, leading top Birding and Nature Tours across East Africa. Our tours have become a top choice for many first time visitors and even returning clients to this magical destination. We also offer a wide variety of tailor-made tours, where the clients help to select the destinations and species they would love to see in East Africa.
We have a wide variety of destinations and well-researched itineraries to suit every birder and nature enthusiast planning to visit this region. All our tours provide special photographic opportunities to help you capture those wonderful memories of Africa. Our tour leaders will assist you set up the perfect photos as they share their years of experience photographing African species and landscapes. Our tour leaders are drawn directly from East Africa and have vast experience in the field to help you enjoy each minute spent with us. Kindly take a look at our Tours tab to see a selection of our famous tours. If you do not find a tour that suits you, we are here to help you tailor-make a tour of your preference. Our safari team will work with you until you get the perfect itinerary for yourself or your group.
Kindly contact us today to plan your next adventure in East Africa.
Kenya is one of the richest and most famous birding destinations within the African continent; and probably in the entire World. The country boasts a bird checklist of 1,155 species. 12 of these are endemic to the country, 3 have been introduced over the last couple of years and 45 are listed as globally threatened. Some of them are Palearctic migrants (170), while another 60 species are either Afrotropical or migrate from Madagascar. Kenya’s is one of the top birding destinations in the entire world. As many as 100 birds can be recorded in a single destination while about 500 species ticked off in your checklist during a regular birding safari. Birding Tours and Safaris in Kenya offer some of the best birdwatching experience in the entire Africa.
This abundance and diversity in species has been brought about by the country’s broad spectrum of habitats. The country has highland and lowland forests, various wetlands and savannah grasslands. The coast of Kenya, with its creeks, reefs and beaches serves as a major flyway for migratory water birds that congregate in their hundreds. Four Endemic Bird Areas as well as six major East African biomes which shelter unique birds are also known to occur in Kenya. Many birders who come to do bird watching safaris in Kenya are usually on a quest to see some of the birds that these areas shelter.
Kenya’s birding hotspots are divided into eight tourism circuits all of which shelter unique bird species. A good selection of these sites makes for great Birding Tours and Safaris in Kenya. A tour to these sites yields exciting varieties of birds. At Kenya’s capital city, a seven kilometer drive from the edge of the city centre leads you to Nairobi National Park. The park`s main habitat is open grassland scattered with Acacia trees. Key species that birders look for are Pangani Longclaw, the African-endemic Secretary Bird and the newly discovered Nairobi Pipit. A key feature that visitors enjoy while in the park is an opportunity to take wildlife photos with Nairobi city providing a perfect backdrop.
The central highlands of Kenya form one of the most productive sites for your to enjoy Birding Tours and Safaris in Kenya. It is here that Mt. Kenya, Africa`s second-highest mountain, rises into the clouds. The highland forests are good places to scout for the threatened and little known Abbott`s Starling. The much sought-after Kenya endemics of Jackson’s Francolin and Kikuyu White-eye are also found in these forests. Other great sightings in this region are the Olive Ibis, Scarlet-tufted Malachite Sunbird, Abyssinian Ground Thrush and Hunter’s Cisticola. To the west of Mt. Kenya lies the Aberdare National Park. It is home to some of the oldest mountain ranges in the African continent. The moorland zone, characterized by tussock grasses shelters the endemic Aberdare Cisticola. Around the Aberdares lives a rare owl species i.e. the Mackinder’s Eagle-Owl. On the edges of these mountains lie the highland grasslands of the Kinangop plateau. Look out for yet another Kenya-endemic here, the Sharpe`s Longclaw. This species got its name from a famous naturalist and ornithologist Richard Bowdler Sharpe. An 8ha nature park exists within the highlands of Central Kenya. The park holds a small population of the endemic Hinde’s Babbler. It is classified as a “Vulnerable” species.
The Rift Valley tourism circuit is one of natural Africa`s grand epics, with astonishing rock formations and expansive lakes. This region is a birdwatcher`s dream. Top on the list is Lake Nakuru National Park. This is a renowned bird sanctuary which also doubles up as a Ramsar site. The lake supports a huge number of Lesser Flamingos which feed on the blue-green algae present in the lake. Other key species that birders seek out are Malagasy Pond Heron, Grey-crested Helmet-shrike and the Gull-billed Tern. A drive further north, about two and a half hours, Lake Baringo and its environs also shelters some unique species. Allen’s Galinule, White-backed Night Heron and Water Thick-knees have been recorded here within the lake. On the shore of the lake, look out for the Northern Masked Weaver, a species only found here in Kenya. Along the lava cliffs to the west of the lake, a number of owl species, ranging from Verreaux and Spotted Eagle Owls as well as African and Northern White-faced Scops Owls are frequently encountered. The beauty of our Birding Tours and Safaris in Kenya; is the ability to find rare nocturnal species.
Head on into the Western Kenya tourism circuit, the dense Guineo-Congolian forests of Kakamega are filled with melodious songs and buzzing insect. Scouring through the leaf litter, look out for Blue-shouldered and Snowy-headed Robin-Chats. Two globally threatened species are also found here, notably, the Turner’s Eremomela and the Chapin’s Flycatcher. These frequent the forest canopy as does the Southern Hyliota – a top target species on all Birding Tours and Safaris in Kenya.
The Southeastern part of Kenya is one of the great wildlife watching destinations in Africa. Here, classic Kenyan parks that are home to the Big Five and so much more exist. The region is also the scene for most of Kenya’s dry-country birds set against the backdrop of Africa’s highest mountain, Mt. Kilimanjaro. At Amboseli National Park, the seasonal lake is a good site to scan for Malagasy Pond-Heron and the Rufous-bellied Heron. The lush grasslands of the park are also good foraging grounds for numerous White and Saddle-billed Storks. To the south of Amboseli lies Lake Jipe. This is a fresh water lake straddling the Kenya-Tanzania border. It is one of the best sites in Kenya to spot the Taveta Golden Weaver and the Fire-fronted Bishop. The Taita Hills have moist forest fragments that are known to shelter three Kenyan-endemics. In the low levels of the forest vegetation, you may be lucky to encounter the Taita Apalis. At the forest edge, the Taita Thrush may show up and in the tree canopy, look out for Taita White-eye. Birding Tours and Safaris in Kenya often visit the magical Taita Hills for her endemics.
Journeying on further south leads you to the coast – a top destination on many Birding Tours and Safaris in Kenya. Apart from its shimmering white beaches, the Kenyan coast is a rich birdwatching tours’ hotspot owing to its many bird habitats. The Arabuko Sokoke Forest is home to the endangered Sokoke Scops-owl and the beautiful Amani Sunbird. Along the cultivated areas near the edges of the forest, Malindi Pipits can be seen foraging for insects. In the Brachystegia woodlands of Dakatcha, the endemic Clarke’s Weavers can be heard calling together. Further inland the endemic Tana River Cisticola has been recorded. Inadequate data exists regarding the study of this species and further research will reveal more about it.
These are some of the unique species that birders from all over the world seek to spot and check off in their bird checklists. The country’s good road networks and accessibility further increases the chances of getting to them. By the end of your safari, we hope you will leave with a new awareness of the vast number and variety of interesting and, in some cases, unique birds that occur in this vast country.
Endemic Birding Tours and Safaris in Tanzania are a top tour choice for many global birders. Located in the warm tropical climate of East Africa, Tanzania ranks as a top birding destination in East Africa. With a record of 1,162 bird species, the country is second to none in terms of species abundance. Tanzania’s varied bird habitats shelter some 33 endemics birds species. The following birding sites shelter some of the endemic birds that are known to only occur in Tanzania.
Mbulu Mountains/ Highlands
Located near the Ngorongoro Highlands, the Mbulu Mountains/ Highlands host a rather unique Robin-Chat. This species has made headlines during our Endemic Birding Tours and Safaris in Tanzania – as it is yet to be fully described to Science (for now it remains as a sub-species in most books). This bird has for long been considered a sub-species of the Olive-flanked Robin-Chat/ Ground Robin. Due to its unique appearance, it has been suggested that this could be a species in its own right i.e. Mbulu Robin-Chat/ Ground Robin.
Udzungwa National Park, Mikumi National Park and Iringa Highlands
The Park is located along the Iringa-Morogoro District border. The eastern part of the park is predominantly covered in forests while the western part features highland grassland. The Udzungwa Forest Partridge is an endemic of the forests of the Udzungwa Mountains near Mount Luhombero. Other members of the endemic bird community in Udzungwa include the Yellow- throated Mountain Greenbul, Iringa Akalat, Rufous-winged Sunbird and Banded Green Sunbird. Other sunbirds special to Tanzania include the Moreau’s Sunbird and the Hofmann’s Sunbird.
Rubeho Mountains and Ukaguru Mountains
These mountains lie within the Dodoma-Morogoro boundary in Tanzania. They contain woodland and disturbed forest in the north and indigenous forest to the south. The Rubeho Forest Partridge is found in the evergreen forest patches of the Rubeho highlands. It is classified as a “Vulnerable” species in the IUCN list owing to its restricted range. The Rubeho Warbler and Rubeho Akalat are also endemic here. Another special species here is the Syke’s Sunbird; part of the Montane Double-collared Sunbird group. Pending scientific confirmation, a rare sunbird here was recently introduced to the birding world; nick-named a Gallardy’s Sunbird. As we have continuously learnt on our Endemic Birding Tours and Safaris in Tanzania; many undiscovered regions still remain in this area.
Kilombero Swamp Valley
The valley lies within Morogoro District in central Tanzania. The main Kilombero River flows through a permanent swamp and a small patch of gallery forest. The valley hosts three endemics, i.e. the White-tailed Cisticola, Kilombero Cisticola and the Kilombero Weaver which favor the flooded reed beds and riverside marshes along the river near Ifakara town. The species here are quite easy to find during Endemic Birding Tours and Safaris in Tanzania.
South Pare Mountains
The site lies in the Kilimanjaro District, north-east of Tanzania. A number of highland forest reserves dominate the mountains with most birds occurring in the Chome Forest Reserve. The South Pare White-eye prefers the forest edges and open clearings. This white-eye has greyer under parts and a broader eye ring compared to other white-eyes. It is classified as a “Vulnerable” species.
The Uluguru mountains are situated within the Morogoro District in eastern Tanzania. The mountains are dotted with distinct forest belts. The Uluguru Bush-shrike and Uluguru Mountain Greenbul occur at the forest canopies of these forests while the Loveridge’s Sunbird inhabits the forest edges.
Usambara Mountains (East Usambaras and West Usambaras)
These are part of the Eastern Arc Mountains that stretches from the Taita Hills in Kenya down to the Southern Highlands in Tanzania. The mountains harbor forests that are rich in endemic species, i.e. the Usambara Eagle-Owl, Usambara Weaver, Usambara Thrush, Usambara Akalat, Long-billed Tailorbird/ Forest-Warbler (when Mozambique birds are split to a different species – Njesi Tailorbird) and Usambara Hyliota. To enjoy Endemic Birding Tours and Safaris in Tanzania, Usambara Mountains are a very important site.
Engikaret and Lariboro Lark Plains
The site is situated about 45kms North of Arusha. It is characterized by a large tract of open short-grass plains habitat. The area has resident populations of the Beesley’sLark. This lark is considered as a recent split in the taxonomy of the Spike-heeled Lark.
The island is situated about 55kms off the main coast of Tanzania; and is one of the top destinations for Endemic Birding Tours and Safaris in Tanzania. The northern regions of the island are characterized by mature forest, the central and western areas have beautiful rolling hills while mangrove forests feature along the coastline. The island’s four endemic species include the Pemba Scops-Owl, Pemba White-eye, Pemba Sunbird and the Pemba Green Pigeon.
South of Mbeya region, on the eastern side of the Rift Valley, lies the Kipengere Range. This huge area of moorland and forest plays host to the endemic Kipengere Seedeater.
Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Ndutu Plains, Lake Manyara National Park and Tarangire National Park
This part of Northern tanznaia hosts many endemic species, although some of these can be found farther South into the country. It is a very easy place to enjoy Endemic Birding Tours and Safaris in Tanzania, because the tourism infrastructure is great.
They include The Grey-breasted Spurfowl,Ashy Starling,Yellow-collared Lovebird and Fischer’s Lovebird.
More endemic birds species of Tanzania
Other endemic species found within Tanzania include: Winifred’s Warbler, Tanzanian Masked Weaver (sometimes said to be found just outside Tanzania), Dark Batis (sometimes said to be found just outside Tanzania) and the Reichenow’s Batis.
Representing the endemic greenbuls of Tanzania are the Black-browed Greenbuls (sometimes said to be found just outside Tanzania) and Montane Tiny Greenbuls respectively. The Tanzanian Red-billed Hornbill (whose scientific name Tockus ruahae originates from Ruaha National Park) occurs in Central Tanzania from where it was first discovered.
Endemic Birding Tours and Safaris in Tanzania present a wonderful opportunity to connect with all these amazing and globally unique species.
Cisticola Tours Guide, Washington Wachira, exceeds 1,000 species in one East African Birding Big Year (2022)
Birding is a great passion and a career base for all Tour Guides at Cisticola Tours LTD (https://www.cisticolatours.com/). We have, for many years, successfully shown world birders most of the birds of East Africa, through our different tours and safaris. “It always gives us much joy when we take birding guests to spots where rare birds occur; but the greater joy is achieved when we finally find these rare species and show them to the guests”, commented Washington Wachira.
The concept of a Big Year has been in the birding arena for many decades and to some people it is a life goal to conquer an existing record. Basically, a Big Year involves spending one calendar year birding a specific geographical region; and looking to find as many birds as possible. This can be a single state/ county, country, continent or even the globe. The American Birding Association (ABA) Big Year record is 840 species and this was set by John Weigel (in the year 2019). The Big Year World record stands at 6,852 species; which was set in the year 2016 by Arjan Dwarshuis. The earliest recorded continent-wide birding Big Year record was set by Guy Emerson in 1939 (497 species). He was a businessman who timed his business trips to coincide with the best birding seasons across different areas in North America.
We at Cisticola Tours LTD have been running birding tours and safaris across East Africa; covering the countries of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda. This is the region, with the addition of Burundi, which is covered by the region’s renowned field guide – Birds of East Africa by Stevenson and Fanshawe. We decided to target this region and track one of our guides to see how many species we could record in one calendar year (2022). Every Big Year has a set of rules that guide the process. This includes the specific species checklist to use for the year, the region and how species qualify to be added to the final list. With the global style of Birding Big Years, the ABA rules often take precedence.
We therefore tried to work with these rules and match them as much as was logistically possible. On the same front, we decided to only use the eBird Checklist and App for all records across the entire year. All species that were to be included needed to also be from an actual birding group session, so that meant if the species was only seen during a private activity, that list would not count. Therefore, we included only birds seen on a tour, a group bird walk or a session involving a team of birders.
The record as at midnight 31st December 2022 stood at an impressive 1,002 Species.
The locations birded and the missed sites
In the year, several great locations were visited. The expeditions visited all national parks in Rwanda. In Kenya, most sites visited were in Central, Southern, Western and Eastern (mainly around the Coast and Tsavo) regions. For Tanzania, the trips were mainly in the Central and Northern parts of the country. In Uganda, regions visited included sites surrounding the Lake Victoria basin, Southern and Western Uganda (with Pian Upe Game Reserve, Budongo Forest and Murchison Falls National Park added in Northern Uganda).
However, many key birding locations were never visited because during the year, there were no tours to those sites. These included:-
Northern Uganda, all regions North of Gulu, including the entire Kei-Kidepo region
Semuliki/ Semliki and Rwenzori/ Ruwenzori regions of Western Uganda
The Echuya-Mgahinga Region of Uganda
The entire Western and South-Western regions of Tanzania
Tanzania – localities West of Lake Victoria
Southern Tanzania – all regions South of Ifakara
Usambara Mountains and the entire North-Eastern Tanzania
Deserts of Northern and North-Eastern Kenya
Kenya’s Southern Coast
The entire country of Burundi
All islands in the Indian Ocean
All islands in Lake Victoria
The species in summary
Across the year, many wonderful species were recorded, of varying rarity contexts. Some species were not what birders would consider a rare bird, but the moment was special for other reasons. This also included finding the first records of a species in a given geographical area. Some of the memorable ones included:-
Seeing a Bearded Vulture (sometimes called Lammergeyer or Lammergeir) at 3,655 metres while hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Being within metres of the rare Kipengere/ Tanzania Seedeater in the Udzungwa Mountains, Tanzania
Finding the stunning Olive-flanked Robin-Chat or Ground Robin (“Mbulu” type), Tanzania
Finding the first Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle for the Aberdare Mountains, Central Kenya
Finding a displaying party of Somali Short-toed Larks (race megaensis) in Samburu, Kenya
Enjoying the rare Kungwe Apalis right over our heads while our group walked in Nyungwe Forest, Rwanda
Watching parents feeding their young, a case of the Grauer’s/ African Green Broadbills in Bwindi Forest, Uganda
Watching the display flight of the Green-breasted Pitta in Kibale Forest, Uganda
Watching the nesting behavior of the endemic Fox’s Weaver in Pian Upe, Uganda
The first ten species seen in the year 2022 were (in exact sequence):
Kenya Rufous Sparrow
Northern Double-collared Sunbird
These first ten species were all seen in Ngong Road Forest, Nairobi, Kenya. The Big Year started on 24th January, 2022.
The final ten species seen in the year 2022 were (in exact sequence):
Rufous-necked/ Red-throated Wryneck
Somali Short-toed Lark
All the final ten species were seen in Tanzania and Kenya across different locations.
The 2022 East African Big Year Record
The record as at midnight 31st December 2022 stood at an impressive 1,002 Species. These are all the species that were accepted by the eBird Checklist. All these species were recorded by one Tour Guide, Washington Wachira, on all his tours and expeditions.
This record was extrapolated onto larger geographical regions:-
Washington Wachira was ranked number 5 across the entire African continent by species, in the year 2022
Washington Wachira was ranked number 34 in the Global Eastern Hemisphere by species, in the year 2022
Washington Wachira was ranked number 504 in the World by species, in the year 2022
Potential species splits
Some species splits are not recognized by eBird; but are acceptable on other checklists such as IOC and the official Kenyan Birds Checklist. During the year, these species were also recorded, but did not count towards the final tally. Some of these species or potential splits include:
Snowy or Brown-and-white Barbet
All the debatable splits on Francolins and Spurfowls
The inconclusive “Lesser Black-backed Gulls” of the inland lakes of the Great Rift Valley
The inconclusive Montane Nightjar (Rwenzori Nightjar or Usambara Nightjar) complex of the Udzungwa Mountains, Tanzania
Athi Short-toed Lark
Potential “Athi” or “Sentinel” Lark
Rwenzori Hill Babbler
African Reed Warbler
Potential “Nanyuki or Mt. Kenya Babbler”
“Southern” Red-headed Weaver
Some species names in this article are given with alternate names from different books or other sources.
Some of the possible splits are proposed, so they may take some time before being fully accepted by all checklists.
Cisticola Tours Guide, Washington Wachira, discovers a lizard species, new to Science (Marsabit Rock Agama Agama wachirai)
While co-leading a birding tour in Northern Kenya, Cisticola Tours Guide, Washington Wachira, noticed some unusual-looking lizard females. He was quite sure they belonged to the Agama genus, but had never seen females with the same pattern before.
He took some photos and shared with his colleague in the field, Brian Finch, but they could not figure out more. After the trip, Washington managed to send the images to reptile experts and immediately got feedback that the form had not yet been described to Science.
They thus agreed to make a dedicated search expedition, where they would return to the same site (near Marsabit, Northern Kenya) for better looks and to be able to assess some live specimens of the lizards. The trip was very successful and they managed to find enough individuals of this form; for better study and further lab analysis. The next stage of the study was done at the National Museums of Kenya, where the species was also compared to related species.
Eventually the species was confirmed as a new species to Science and a paper describing it written. The species name was given in honour of Washington Wachira’s dedication in conservation and especially his role in leading the Kenya Herpetofauna Working Group (a committee of the East Africa Natural History Society – Nature Kenya, which Washington chaired at the time). The new species was thus named: Marsabit Rock Agama (Agama wachirai).
To read more about this wonderful species discovery, kindly visit Zootaxa.
WHERE TO WATCH BIRDS IN UGANDA – UGANDA’S TOP BIRDING HOTSPOTS
Located within the vast wildernesses of East Africa, Uganda is fast becoming a great stopover for birdwatchers with an estimated record of 1,007 bird species. A birding tour in Uganda is always a life-changing experience. Many birders who have taken a Uganda Birding Safari often compare the forests to birding in the Amazon, but this time having done it within the beauty of Africa. The joy of Uganda Birding Tours and Safaris is the diversity of sites and habitats- from savannahs, wetlands, tropical forests, to semi-arid scrublands; Uganda is indeed a great country for birding tours.
Three Endemic Bird Areas and five biomes of Central and Eastern Africa converge in Uganda; making Uganda Birding Tours and Safaris such a rewarding experince. Most birding sites are located a few hours’ drive from each other and there is overall good road network. The country is also home to the largest lake in Africa, Lake Victoria, with the equator passing through it. Also known as the “Pearl of Africa”, Uganda remains relatively unexplored and a lot of birdwatchers are yet to include Uganda in their safari itineraries. As you ponder on your next East African birding safari destination, let’s journey through this magnificent country and get a few insights on the top birding sites.
Rwenzori or Ruwenzori Mountains National Park
The third-highest mountain in Africa is a special place for any visitor. Often more famous among hiking groups who seek the snow-capped peaks of the Mountains of the Moon; Rwenzori Mountains are a special place along the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. There are many Albertine Rift Endemic here such as Rwenzori Batis, Rwenzori Turaco, Ruwenzori Nightjar, Handsome Francolin and Strange Weaver.
Semliki National Park
Established in 1993, this adventurous park is one of the newest national parks in Uganda. It is situated on the floor of the Semliki Valley on the west side of the Rwenzori Mountains and is dominated by the easternmost extension of the great Ituri forest of the Congo basin. This is one of the least-explored locations on our Uganda Birding Tours and Safaris. Over 70 birds species are only known from Semliki Forest and nowhere else in Uganda. This includes at least 31 birds species of the Guinea–Congo Forests biome; making Semliki a mega birding site on any birding tour in Uganda.
The park is named after River Semliki which flows through it. In addition to the wildlife that abounds here, nature trails and famous hot springs (with the existence of a male and female hot spring!) birding is also a major activity in the park.
While in the pristine forest, look out for species with very limited national ranges, such as the Piping Hornbill, Capuchin Babbler and the magnificent Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher. The nearby Semliki Forest Reserves has a diverse range of vegetation types including swamps, wooded and bushed grassland, woodlands as well as riverine forests. Its rivers drain into Lake Albert. The tall vegetation along the rank marshy shores of the lake is a key spot to look out for the Papyrus Gonolek and the Shoebill which is listed as a vulnerable species in the IUCN Red list.
Murchison Falls National Park
Murchison Falls National Park is the largest park in Uganda. The park gets its striking name from the Murchison Falls- where part of the Nile River cascades through a rock cleft about 7metres wide, forming a waterfall. The site is a great photography spot for visitors. A boat cruise through the river allows you to see the rich bird life in the park- a special highlight during our Uganda Birding Safaris. Much of the park features savanna across the open plains, woodland and patches of forest to the south and east.
Over 450 species of birds have been recorded here with the park increasingly gaining traction as one of the top sites in Africa for the Shoebill. Skimming for fish along the Nile River, you are likely to find lots of African Skimmers; as Rock Pratincoles and Red-throated Bee-eaters aerially hunt for insects above the river. You might also be lucky to spot Uganda`s special species such as the Brown-rumped Bunting, the distinctive Grey-headed Oliveback as well as the Black-bellied Firefinch.
Lake Mburo National Park
This is one of Uganda’s smaller national parks; but a great site for our Uganda Birding Tours and Safaris. From the capital city of Kampala, the drive via the countryside en route to Lake Mburo National Park is a solid contrast; all in a relatively short distance. With savannah grassland as the outstanding habitat in the park a relaxed game drive allows you to see many grassland birds. While in the park, take time and enjoy a boat ride on Lake Mburo and look out for African Finfoots. In addition to 13 other lakes around the area, Lake Mburo forms part of the 50 kilometer-long wetland system linked by a swamp.
The park shelters some birds that have not yet been recorded in other parks in Uganda, notably: Rufous-bellied Heron, Red-faced Barbet, Southern Black Flycatcher,Green-capped Eremomela and Southern Red Bishop.
Mount Elgon National park
The park is named after Mount Elgon, the fourth highest mountain in Africa. It is situated on the Eastern part of Uganda; at the Kenya-Uganda border, about 230 km from Kampala. Ancient caves, impressive waterfalls and the majestic peaks are some of the key attractions here. The highland forests are home to about 300 species of birds. Look out for the Moustached Tinkerbird in the tropical forests; and as you scale up the mountain to the heath and moorland zone, you might be lucky to spot the main target of this area- the Elgon Francolin. Here you may also enjoy sightings of the Moorland Chat. The latter two species are restricted to the Afrotropical Highlands Biome. Another jackpot find is the elgonensis race of the White-starred Robin which is endemic to Mt. Elgon.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
The park lies in the Southwestern region of Uganda in the Western Rift Valley. It derives its name from Queen Elizabeth II. To the South, the park borders the exciting Maramagambo Forest, which often produces Crested Guineafowls and African Pygmy Kingfishers. Near here, the expansive Ishasha sector, made famous by tree-climbing lions, is also a perfect savannah birding habitat. The park is home to Lake George, a great birding wetland. The incomparable Kazinga Channel is a birding haven; thus our Uganda Birding Tours and Safaris spend time here maximizing this hotspot. The Kazinga Channel connects Lake George to Lake Edward.
Major bird habitats converge in Queen Elizabeth National Park, notably:- grasslands, woodland, tropical forest and wetlands all which heightens your species list to over 600 species, an abundance second to no other birding site in Uganda. The park is a good site for Uganda Spotted Woodpecker, Piapiac and Purple Starling.
Pian Upe Game Reserve, Mount Moroto, Matheniko Game Reserve and Bokora Wildlife Reserve
This is one of the best dry habitat in Uganda and one that is less-explored on most Uganda Birding Tours. Many birds species here are typical to the dry Northern Kenya region. Cisticola Tours runs a specialized Northern Uganda Birding Safari to explore the area. Key birds in this region include the endemic Fox’s Weaver, rare Karamoja Apalis, Red-fronted Warbler, Foxy Lark, Silverbird, Jackson’s Hornbill and Steel-blue Whydah.
Kidepo Valley National Park
The park is located in the less-explored part of Northeastern Uganda and derives its name from the seasonal Kidepo River. It is dominated by rugged Acacia-wooded savannah and about 480 birds have been recorded here. Birding in this park gives you a taste of the African wilderness in Uganda. The park has some of the rarest species seen in Uganda, notably, the East African endemic Karamoja Apalis, the dazzling Golden Pipit, Black-breasted Barbet,Taita Fiscal and the Grey Wren-Warbler. Kidepo Valley National Park is a priced jewel for all our Uganda Birding Tours and Safaris.
In the central region of Uganda in Lake Victoria, men, birds and snakes are said to live harmoniously. This place is often nick-named “the snake island of Africa”.
The islands act as important breeding and roosting site for about 15,000 birds majority being Grey-headed Gulls, Long-tailed Cormorants and Little Egrets.
Located along the beautiful shores of Lake Victoria the bay is famous for birding. It is considered among the wetlands of international significance and has been declared a Ramsar site since 2006. The bay is also a migratory route for birds and it is estimated about 3.5 million birds of over 200 species flock the wetlands from September to March. A nice Pectoral Sandpiper (a rarity for Uganda) was recorded here in the year 2019. The bay is characterized by Papyrus swamps which extend to join some forest patches up in the Northern parts of the bay. Occurring in huge flocks in the bay are Gull-billed and White-winged Terns.
Mabamba Swamp- home of the amazing Shoebill
The Mabamba Swamp is located along the Northern shores of Lake Victoria and features marshy habitat dominated by papyrus reeds. This birding site is one of the most reliable sites to spot the Shoebill from Entebbe or even Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. This highly sought-after bird has been recorded in pairs and also trios in the swamp. The swamps harbor stable populations of African Pygmy and Spur-winged Goose as well as migrant Blue Swallows on the swamp edges. But as much as we score loads of birds here, the Shoebill is the ultimate target for many guests during our Uganda Birding Tours and Safaris.
Arguably one of the most beautiful lakes in Africa, Lake Bunyonyi is famous for holiday tours and walking trips. Visitors enjoy strolling around the lake’s jagged shores as well as taking a restful time at the local resorts.
Lake Bunyonyi is also famous for being Africa’s second-deepest lake. But Lake Bunyonyi is also a birding paradise with many waterbirds here, such as Pied Kingfishers, the rare Victoria (Entebbe) Masked Weaver and Papyrus Yellow Warbler.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Echuya Forest and neighbouring areas
Part of the famous Virunga Mountains Complex, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is indeed a birding hotspot. This park, smallest one in Uganda, has been made famous by the local Mountain Gorillas and Golden Monkeys; that attract many visitors all year. The birds here are amazing as well and the local species include many Albertine Rift Endemics. Key birds here include Ruwenzori Turaco, White-tailed Crested Flycatcher, Handsome Francolin, the rare Shelley’s Crimsonwing, Abyssinian (Kivu) Ground Thrush, Ruwenzori Batis, Lagden’s Bush-Shrike, Blue-headed Sunbird, Regal Sunbird and Ruwenzori (Stuhlmann’s) Double-collared Sunbird. The neighbouring Echuya forest shares many species with Mgahinga and is also a great site for Uganda Birding Tours and Safaris.
Located along the border with neighbouring Tanzania, Minziro Forest is one of the least-explored forests in Uganda. However, this precious place is home to many birds species. Some key birds here include Yellow-crested Woodpecker, Xavier’s Greenbul, Forest Robin, Jameson’s Antpecker, Grey Longbill and Fire-crested Alethe.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
The park lies in the Southwestern region of Uganda bordering the Democratic republic of Congo along the margins of the Albertine Rift Valley. Situated on a mountainous region, the park features rugged terrain and steep hills and valleys. This is indeed the home to Mountain Gorillas; a top mammal target on our Uganda Birding Tours and Safaris.
The park has indigenous and natural forests that shelter some 347 known birds species. A number of species are endemic to the forests of the Albertine Rift. In the tree canopy, scan for the Chapin’s Flycatcher on the upper levels of forest undergrowth; listen for Grauer’s or African Green Broadbill, and foraging on the forest floor, if lucky, you can spot the gem-like Shelley’s Crimsonwing. A permanent swamp, Mubwindi, also plays host to the Grauer’s Rush Warbler which is also endemic to the Albertine Rift Valley.
Kibale Forest National Park
This is one of the best intact Equatorial forests existing in Uganda. Huge tracts of tropical rainforests, grasslands and swamps are what compose this natural wildlife park. The southwestern corner of the park includes a section of Lake George, another Ramsar Site in Uganda. Kibale is known as one of the best places to track Eastern Chimpanzees; our closest-living relatives. This is often a great part of our Uganda Birding Tours; and the chimpanzee treks are often quite birdy as well.
About 330 birds have been recorded here. A scan at the forest tops may yield the conspicuous White-naped Pigeon, while the undergrowth may produce some family groups of Collared Apalises and the special bird of Kibale- the Green-breasted Pitta. The nearby Bigodi Swamp Wetland is a great place for Purple-headed Starlings and Great Blue Turacos (a phenomenal bird that is often recorded on our Uganda Birding Tours).
One of the small forests in Uganda, Mpanga is a great birding spot for a short trip. For those who love butterflies, Mpanga is also a great spot for butterfly walks. It is an easy forest to access from Kampala City, the capital of Uganda. Local birds include Compact Weaver, White-Breasted Nigrita, African Grey Parrot, African Pied Hornbill, Weyns’s Weaver and African Green Pigeon.
Entebbe Botanical Gardens
The botanical gardens are situated along the Northern shores of Lake Victoria and house a number of tropical plants and trees that are of aesthetic quality. Most of our Uganda Birding Tours and Safaris start here. As a first birding stop before exploring beautiful Uganda, you can walk along the Entebbe Botanical Gardens. Here you enjoy watching the diverse and abundant species of birds which are attracted by the huge collection of flowering plants and trees. The gardens offer a taste of what awaits you in the Pearl of Africa. You can expect to find several sunbird species actively looking for nectar, Orange-tufted and Red-chested Sunbirds, as well as a number of weavers such as Vieillot’s Black, Weyns’s and Orange Weavers, to name but a few.
The forest, situated in the Northwestern part of Uganda, covers over 42,000ha and has a record of having the most numerous Mahogany trees in Uganda. Some patches of savanna and woodland also exist within the reserve. This place is best known for the road often nick-named “the Royal Mile”; a perfect birding location. Budongo Forest and the Royal Mile are usually one of the main locations on our Uganda Birding Safari, and every year we spot some amazing birds here. Another area we often bird here is the Busingiro sector; which is also an excellent birding site. A number of Guinea-Congo Forest Biome species are known to occur here, notably: White-thighed Hornbill, Rufous-sided Broadbill, Spotted Greenbul, African Dwarf Kingfisher, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Cassin’s Spinetail and Ituri Batis. Budongo Forest and the nearby Kaniyo Pabidi Forest are also famous for sheltering two species that occur nowhere else in East Africa. These are the Yellow-footed Flycatcher and Puvel’s Illadopsis.
Mabira Forest Reserve
Located about 50kms from Kampala, this is the largest block of Rain forest in Central Uganda. Many of our Uganda Birding Tours explore this exciting forest. Mabira is a confluence of four of Uganda’s five biomes, i.e. the Guinea-Congo Forest Biome, Lake Victoria Basin, Sudan-Guinea Savanna and the Afrotropical Highlands Biomes. The reserve also features numerous flat-topped hills and wide valleys that support wetlands of Papyrus swamps. About 300 bird species have been recorded here. Unique sightings of birds here include: Nahan’s Francolin, Black-shouldered Nightjar, Carruthers’s Cisticola, Red-chested Sunbird, Joyful Greenbul and Black-billed Weaver.
Uganda’s Endemic Bird Species
For many birders, it is always nice to know the number of country endemics located in any destination. Well, Uganda has one endemic bird; the Fox’s Weaver – although for a long time birders thought this bird was extinct. It had not been seen or photographed in the wild for quite some time. With the great effort of Ugandan birders and dedicated teams, the species was rediscovered in North-Eastern Uganda in the year 2018; and now we have a chance to see the gorgeous Fox’s Weaver.
Well, well…. it is time to plan your Uganda Birding Tours and Safaris
Uganda remains as the home of a true African bird watching safari. Lots of birding hotspots beckon you to explore, discover and enjoy the captivating birds of Africa. Whether it be in the setting of forests, or on the backdrop of expansive savannahs or cruising by boat over a swamp in search for your “must-see” birds, Uganda is truly the Pearl of the African continent.
A Birding Day Tour in the Western Mt. Kenya Forests
Located on the Equator, about 200kms North of Nairobi and rising to a towering height of over 5,000 meters, Mount Kenya is Africa’s second-highest mountain. It is a famous site for hiking tours and an excellent site for birding day tours. With its rugged glacier-clad summits and forested middle slopes, Mt. Kenya is one of the most impressive landscapes in East Africa. It is one of the few World Heritage sites in Africa owing to its outstanding and irreplaceable cultural and biological value.
Beyond the striking landscapes, the mountain and its surrounding forest is an Important Bird Area (IBA) supporting a number of Kenyan endemic as well as range restricted species. It is a rich stronghold for a number of the montane bird species of East Africa. A birding day tour spent here will introduce you to some of central Kenya’s unique biodiversity.
In order to sample the forest’s biodiversity, you can access the mountain from several routes. There are routes advancing from virtually all cardinal points of the compass – North, South, East and West. Some of these routes are also used for mountain climbing- Mt. Kenya is a famous location for hiking tours.
Gathiuru and Kahurura Forests are two out of the five forest blocks to the West of Mt. Kenya; and perfect for a birding day tour. These sections of forest cover more than 20,000ha of land and are composed of various habitats including cultivated lands, plantation as well as indigenous trees. The diversity of habitats thus contributes to the many different species of birds in the region. There is a road that links the two forests. Nanyuki and Wathituga Rivers also traverse through these forests whereby the latter forms the natural boundary between the two forests. The Kahurura route (Near Nanyuki town) is less disturbed and has a more pristine forest. African Pencil Cedar, Podo and Brown Olive are some of the most distinct tree species in this site.
Around the Nanyuki River, riverine trees are home to parties of the endemic Mt. Kenya Guereza (a species of Colobus Monkey that is endemic to Kenya). Little and White-rumped Swifts also frequent the area as Cinnamon-chested Bee-eaters swoop up and down for insects. A few individuals of African Pied Wagtails also visit the river edges.
Further along, after passing the gated barrier, the road leads through a planted forest of Cypress trees which resound with calls of Chestnut-throated Apalises and Forest Cicadas. The secondary plantations of flowering bush usually turn up Double-collared Sunbirds (both Eastern and Northern), Yellow-crowned Canaries and African Dusky Flycatchers. Taking the first narrow path on the right, the trail leads you to an open clearing that is edged with indigenous trees. This open field serves as a camping ground for the local forest scouts. Abyssinian Thrush, Yellow-whiskered Greenbul, the Kenyan-endemic Kikuyu White-eye and Yellow-breasted Apalis are common here.
Back on the main track, the road forks after about 2kms. The main road continues on the right side while the left track, in addition to a few more narrower trails lead you to the local farmers’ cultivated fields. Birding alongside these fields can be very rewarding especially for raptors. Black-shouldered Kites, Long-crested Eagles, Mountain and Augur Buzzards normally seek out the rodents that occur on the potato fields. Common Quails frequently call in the grass.
The main track continues further into the heart of the forest. Indigenous trees on both sides of the road characterize the landscape. Due to the fact that the forest still remains relatively intact, birding can be done along as you stop and listen to the birds. Look out for highland and montane species such as Grey Apalis, White-starred Robin, Brown-capped Weaver, African Olive Pigeon, Cinnamon Bracken Warbler, Brown-chested Alethe and White-browed Crombec.
Farther along the track, you will pass by the bridge at Wathituga River. Montane Wagtail and Black Saw-wings often occur here. With patience, you might be rewarded with great views of Kandt’s Waxbills; showing up as they forage on the long grass. Another special bird here is the Slender-billed Starling; often seen feeding on the fruiting trees. In the fruiting season, ancient Podocarpus trees attract Red-fronted Parrots that gorge themselves with the fruits.
The track then descends and passes the Kenya Forest Service main office and onwards passing by cultivated fields and forest edges. At this lower elevation, Dusky Turtle and Red-eyed Doves are more common as are Yellow-bellied and Common Waxbills. The forest then gives way to Carissa and Euclea bush. This habitat teems with a number of Bush-shrikes, notably Tchagras, Puffbacks and Boubus. The stunning African Golden-breasted Bunting is also common here.
Though the track meanders frequently, it is surprisingly smooth. However, during the rainy season, it might get muddy and pose a challenge to navigate through. A four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended. The rains are frequent in the afternoon and thus it is recommended that birding starts in the morning and concludes by early afternoon. To avoid getting stuck in the steep terrain, it is best to plan the birding day tour to begin at the Gathiuru forest section and journey through to the other end of the Kahurura forest section.
Plan a Birding Day Tour in the Western Mt. Kenya Forests today
At Cisticola Tours, we have several tours and safaris that visit the Mt. Kenya region. Some of the popular safaris and tours that visit the Mt. Kenya Forest include:-
The Kenya Women Birders is a group of passionate ladies who are trained in a series of programs to equip them with skills to become professional bird guides. The trainings are facilitated by Cisticola Tours Limited as part of our sustainability projects with the aim of nurturing the next generation of female guides. Cisticola Tours partners with many friends and organizations to fund and run the trainings.
The following is a brief report that highlights the destinations and activities carried out during the three day tour supported by Cisticola Tours. On this weekend, the ladies had a familiarization tour to Shimba Hills National Reserve and study the common birds found therein and the adjacent areas. The team comprised of six enthusiastic ladies who were looking forward to learn and appreciate the diversity and abundance of the birds of Shimba Hills. With their bird watching equipment in place, they were all set to begin the trip.
Day One: (13th March 2020) Nairobi to Shimba Hills
The team left Nairobi at 6:30AM in a bid to beat the early morning traffic in the city. Fortunately for them, there was minimal traffic. This was a sign of a great start. Heading South via Mombasa Road, near Mlolongo area, a number of city birds were being observed, notably Speckled Pigeons roosting on rooftops, Western Cattle Egrets flying in their “V” formations as well as the cryptic Fischer’s Sparrow-Larks dust-bathing at the edges of the road. It was interesting to note that these species have now adapted to busy towns. The team proceeded on to Emali town, for a break and refreshments. The 40 minute break at the town yielded more commonly found town dwellers, Little Swifts, Red-winged Starlings and Pied Crows joining the list.
After sharing some moments of fun and laughter, the team proceeded on enjoying the beautiful landscapes that form the Tsavo National Parks. Shortly after passing Tsavo West’s Mtito Andei gate, the team got a rare treat of the world’s largest land mammal- African Elephants! The herd consisted of about a dozen individuals busy crossing from one end of the road to another and involved about seven adults and five calves sandwiched between them. The team watched and photographed this spectacle for a few minutes before the beasts hurriedly disappeared into the bushes. After that brief encounter the team proceeded on.
The team later arrived in Voi town where they had lunch at a local restaurant. The sun had already reached its apex point and the team was already beginning to experience the difference in weather, coastal weather being warmer than the Nairobi.
Soon the team members were on the road again. As they passed several coastal towns, a prominent bird species, the Indian House Crow and the massive Baobab tree were a common feature. The bird was a recently introduced species in Kenya and its population is spreading fast towards the inland. The team arrived at the port city of Mombasa, took the Likoni Ferry and made their way into the Southern part of the Kenyan coast.
Day Two: (14th March 2020) Full Day at Shimba Hills National Reserve
With the team departing at 6:30AM, they headed for the gate to Shimba Hills eager to see what the forest contained. Shortly after arriving and making payment, birding began. Near the fruiting trees at the gate, a flock of Chestnut-fronted Helmetshrikes was actively searching for fruit at the canopy. The flock was soon joined by a trio of Green-headed Orioles who perched on a branch briefly then took off again. Eastern Nicators and Green Barbets were also calling in the distance.
Soon after they headed towards the Sable Bandas circuit and en route were treated with a flock of some Crested Guineafowl along the road. The flock consisted of adults and immatures, frequently making low contact calls as they foraged together. Shimba Hills National Reserve is always a great site to spot this forest species when on a birding safari in Kenya.
There is a small stretch of wooded grassland on the way to the Sable Bandas; and as they drove through, the ladies made additions of Yellow-throated Longclaw, Violet-backed Starlings and Little Bee-eater. At the Sable Bandas, the team stopped for a while and walked along the camping grounds. Little Yellow Flycatcher, Mombasa Woodpecker and Black-headed Apalis were among the highlight birds that the ladies enjoyed watching there.
The women birders then left for the Sheldrick Waterfalls view point. The drive was filled with beautiful landscapes featuring rolling hills in the distant and large tracts of open habitat. White-throated Bee-eaters and Barn Swallows flew along the road too.
At the observation point, the team got off and enjoyed lunch with a bird’s-eye view of the reserve. Notably, a male Common Rock Thrush had perched on a bare twig unperturbed by the ladies’ presence.
After lunch, the team embarked on more game drives making good sightings of mammals such as a male Bushbuck, Cape Buffalo and Common Warthog. By this time, bird activity had began decreasing due to the hot conditions. Before exiting the park, the Kenya Women Birders decided to check out at the gate environs for possible new additions; and got one more- a Common Bulbul!
The Shimba Hills Lodge route added Black-crowned Tchagra, and Yellow-fronted Canary. Further forward at the Marere River, a duo of Palm-nut Vultures flew above heading along the river and perched on a bare tree beyond. Little and White-rumped Swifts were also observed actively searching for aerial insects.
Afterwards the ladies left the forest and headed for the coastal wetland habitat to study the birds at Ukunda Beach. The team managed to add Sooty Gull, Common Sandpiper and Whiskered Tern.
Day Three: (15th March 2020) Shimba Hills National Reserve to Nairobi
The team left in the early hours of the morning and began the journey back. Crossing the Likoni ferry and the coastal city of Mombasa, they continued North to Mackinnon Road town where they had breakfast. House Sparrow, Indian House Crow and Red-winged Starlings being the most common species. Being on a Sunday meant that there was little traffic on the highway which gave good opportunities to conduct roadside birding. A few kilometers from Vacani Resort (near Voi town) were good sightings of Bateleur, Slate-coloured Boubou and Pin-tailed Whydah. The habitat was short-scrub and bushland; where dry country birds were in plenty. A Tawny Eagle on the side of the road was perched well and gave good time to observe its behaviour. Due to the ever-increasing heat, the eagle was panting in an attempt to cool off.
The team then proceeded on and briefly made a stopover at Hunter’s Lodge. The lodge is reputed to be a great birding hotspot to visitors plying the Mombasa Road. They were met by a huge heronry of Black-headed Herons at a tree located near the artificial wetland in the lodge. Similarly, male Eastern Golden Weavers were busy weaving their nests on some reeds in the same wetland. Additional sightings at the lodge were Thick-billed Weavers and Malachite Kingfisher. The team then hit the road and headed back to Nairobi.
This was the first training held specifically for the Kenya Women Birders. The Kenya Women Birders is a new club whose aim is to nurture the next generation of female birders in Kenya. The club was launched at a spectacular event that was held at Ford Hall, Nairobi National Museum, on 29th March, 2019. The launch event was supported by the National Museums of Kenya, Wildlife Clubs of Kenya, Eastern Africa Primate Diversity and Conservation Program, Youth Conservation Awareness Program, and Cisticola Tours LTD. Over 72 people from Kenya and Uganda joined the launch event; representing Universities, Birding Clubs, Conservation NGOs, Tour Operators, Individual Birders and Guides, Media, and many more.
One of the main commitments pledged by Cisticola Tours LTD, at the launch event, was to facilitate trainings for the club in the coming months and further years. In light of this, the company fundraised for the first training held in September, 2019. At present, the club has twelve members, all of whom were eligible for the training, although some were occupied with other responsibilities.
The training involved eight ladies from the club. The training venue, Mt. Kenya Eco-resource Center, is located within the expansive Gathiuru forest of Mount Kenya and this provided a natural and ideal setting where practical birdwalks were conducted.
Different methods of training were employed, including use of lectures, field guides, visual aids such as power point presentations and films; as well as student discussion groups. Key topics such as Birding basics, Binoculars choice and use, Bird Anatomy, Birds of Kenya, Bird Taxonomy, Bird Feeding, Bird Migration, Colours and Patterns,and Breeding were taught and short films illustrating these topics also included.
The program was designed in a practical format and had birdwalk sessions early in the morning before breakfast and in the early evening after the four o’clock tea break.
At the end of the training, certificates were awarded to the participants for successfully completing the training and branded T-shirts issued to all the ladies.
Day One: [13th September]
Upon arrival, and after meeting the hosts, the training exercise kicked off with a briefing about the operations of the eco-resource center. Later, participants were briefed about the targets of the whole training, highlighting the various aspects of the course outline and what the ladies were expected to learn during the training.
After a tea break, the first talk on basics of birding commenced. Various topics of the day were taught with the program accommodating short breaks for the students to exercise the various concepts taught.
An afternoon birdwalk was done around the resource center grounds with the team spotting some exciting species such as Hartlaub’s Turaco (and East African endemic species), Silvery-cheeked Hornbill and Common Bulbul. A Cape Hare hurried off for a hideout nearby as we birded along and thus added to the mammals list.
Later, after the participants had enjoyed their dinner, they left for the accommodation hotel to relax after the long day. Everyone was excited and looking forward to the next day’s training.
Day Two: [14th September]
Departing the hotel at six o’clock in the morning, the team headed for the training center. The theme for the morning’s birdwalk was on how to take notes while in the field, noting such aspects as time started, weather, species records, etc.
En route, the birders got an opportunity to spot a slightly injured Dusky Nightjar (Caprimulgus fraenatus) on the ground. With nightjars being a difficult group to tell species apart, the trainees were taught on the key identification features for identifying them by looking at different aspects such as tail and wing shape, distribution and range of each species as well as colours and patterns on different parts of the bird.
With light conditions being perfect, Mount Kenya was well visible in the background, being lit by the morning sun. Other bird species that were spotted that morning included the Northern Fiscal, Baglafecht Weaver, African Golden-breasted Bunting, as well as a flock of Red-cheeked Cordon-Bleus. After the birdwalk, the team proceeded to class.
Various lectures for the day were given with short films and breaks in between. In the afternoon, student discussion groups were formed with the students handling various research assignments issued, for them to present later in class.
During the afternoon birdwalk, the main theme was to train the students on the ethics to observe while birding and professional field craft. The points mentioned, among others, included the right dress code, walking and stopping for some time to listen as well as showing birds to the other team members. Birds added on this walk included the Yellow-whiskered Greenbul, Grey-backed Camaroptera and a pair of Hadada Ibis. As the light was fading away, the evening birdwalk was crowned by a Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl flying past above us and landed on a nearby tree.
Having had a successful training and practical birdwalk for the day, the team decided to wind up the day’s activities and head for the hotel, ready for the next day.
Day Three: [15th September]
The morning birdwalk began on a high note with birders having learnt the various identification techniques by now. Learning bird calls and songs was the major theme for the day. Identifying the birds had now become relatively easier since the birders were able to work out the particular species using the skills taught for the past two days. More bird species were added including Chin-spot Batis and several Black Saw-Wings.
Afterwards, breakfast was served and the lessons commenced. The lessons were tailored to enhance what was observed in the field so that the students could understand better what they were seeing in the field.
A mid-morning session had the team visiting the nearby Gathiuru forest in order to identify and learn about the moist-forest bird species. En route, the trainees made a quick stop at the Equator line near Nanyuki to learn about the imaginary line. The team also enjoyed taking some photos here, before embarking on the journey to the forest.
Various species of sunbirds were the main highlight of the birdwalk. The birders were also lucky to spot one of Kenya’s 12 endemic bird species, the Kikuyu White-eye (Zosterops kikuyuensis). After a few hours of birding, the team returned for lunch.
Having completed the training, it was time for the team to head back for Nairobi. Before their departure, each of the ladies was awarded with a certificate for successfully completing the training course.
With the team of women birders, it is envisioned that the avian tourism industry will see more women in the birding field that was previously dominated by male guides and also help in realizing the Kenyan government’s goals of achieving gender equity in all sectors of the economy.