Friday, January 22, 2010

Kingfishers, Rollers, and Bee-eaters

This is the ninth in a series of posts summarizing my experiences on our recent trip to Kenya to study East African Raptor Ecology. The previous posts:
Post 1: East African Raptor Ecology
Post 2: The Big Cats!
Post 3: The Vultures of Maasai Mara
Post 4: Giraffes!
Post 5: More Raptors of Kenya: Chanting-goshawks and Buzzards
Post 6: The Vulures of Maasai Mara Revisited
Post 7: The large mammals of Kenya
Post 8: Eagles, Eagles, and more Eagles.

One of my favorite birds from Idaho is the Belted Kingfisher. Those who have followed this blog for some time, might know this as I have posted a number of Kingfisher photos over the years. Kingfishers were one of the birds I really wanted to see in Kenya, and I was not disappointed.

Highest on the Kingfisher want list was the Giant Kingfisher, followed by the Pied Kingfisher. We saw both!

Giant Kingfisher. Lake Naivasha, Kenya.

Pied Kingfisher. Lake Naivasha, Kenya.

But nothing can compare to the beauty of the Malachite Kingfisher. We were disappointed to learn that this species is no longer seen at Lake Naivasha. What a loss. This is likely the result of the native fish population being replaced by larger species. The native fish is now extinct (at least in Lake Naivasha). We did, however, find one in the Maasai Mara. He/She was very cooperative.

Malachite Kingfisher. Maasai Mara, Kenya.

While in Maasai Mara, we stayed at the Ilkeliani Tent Camp. Ilkeliani means young warrior in Swahili. It's an excellent place. Great staff, great food, excellent accommodations, and Kingfishers! Within the compound we saw an African Pygmy Kingfisher, a Woodland Kingfisher, and a Grey-headed Kingfisher. The Pygmy appeared to be delivering food to a nest!

A number of the African kingfishers don't even eat fish. It was a surprise to find some of them in habitat far from water. The Woodland, Grey-headed, and Striped for example prefer dry wooded areas. They eat insects, small reptiles, some fish, and even small birds! We found the Striped Kingfisher in Nairobi National Park.

Striped Kingfisher. Nairobi National Park, Kenya.

Rollers and Hoopoes

Another great aspect of traveling far from home is that you not only see new species, but also whole new families. Rollers, Hoopoes, and Wood-hoopoes would be three new families for me. While they are all in the same order as Kingfishers (Coraciiformes), they are not believed to be that closely related. Of all of the Rollers, the Lilac-breasted is the most beautiful.

Lilac-breasted Roller. Maasai Mara, Kenya.

I should probably do a post on the funky bird category. The Hoopoe would definitely fit into that. I couldn't ever capture a photo with his crest raised.

Hoopoe. Lake Naivasha, Kenya.

There are just too many great birds in Kenya. Another one of my "favorites" is the Bee-eater family. How could you not love these guys?

Little Bee-eaters. Maasai Mara, Kenya.

White-fronted Bee-eaters. Lake Naivasha, Kenya.

Back to mammals for the next post.

1 comment:

eileeninmd said...

What a cool experience and trip. The birds and photos are all wonderful.