Danny Yee >> Travelogues >> Kenya + Tanzania

Birds and birdwatching

Camilla and I are occasional birdwatchers but far from being serious twitchers — we aren't interested in distinguishing all the species of cisticola, for example, or telling a southern banded snake eagle from a banded snake eagle. (Though I might be interested in the ecological and evolutionary processes behind their differentiation.) And there were a lot of distractions from mammals and landscapes!

That said, the savannahs and woodlands of East Africa sport a range of large and colourful birds that really do push themselves on you. At least in the grasslands, they are often easy to see and even possible to photograph (many seem habituated to vehicles). And Kassim and Duncan, our guide and driver in Kenya, were both really keen birdwatchers, which was somewhat infectious.

Most of the general field guides have some coverage of birds. But the two serious bird books are Zimmerman et al. Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania (Amazon, Amazon UK) and Stevenson & Fanshawe Birds of East Africa (Amazon, Amazon UK).

Foolishly I didn't bring either of those on the trip: Kassim and Duncan had copies of Zimmerman and Simon had Stevenson, but it would have been nice to have had one ourselves. The major difference between them is that Zimmerman has the material in two sections, with brief entries facing photographs in part one and the detailed species descriptions in part two, while Stevenson has everything in one section, covering fewer birds on each double-page spread. So Zimmerman is easier to scan through looking for a bird.

This is a selection of some of my nicer bird photographs.

#9681 - 2011-03-15 11:49
184mm, f/5.6, 1/800s, ISO 100
#9914 - 2011-03-15 16:18
200mm, f/5.0, 1/500s, ISO 200
#9934 - 2011-03-15 17:05
200mm, f/5.0, 1/640s, ISO 200
#0805 - 2011-03-19 09:37
200mm, f/4.0, 1/4000s, ISO 800
#0889 - 2011-03-20 13:54
200mm, f/4.0, 1/1000s, ISO 400
#1105 - 2011-03-20 17:12
200mm, f/4.0, 1/500s, ISO 400
#1117 - 2011-03-20 17:40
112mm, f/2.9, 1/125s, ISO 800
#1837 - 2011-03-24 10:41
200mm, f/5.6, 1/1000s, ISO 200
#1867 - 2011-03-24 12:42
200mm, f/4.0, 1/400s, ISO 100
#2066 - 2011-03-25 09:02
200mm, f/5.0, 1/800s, ISO 100
#2206 - 2011-03-25 11:31
200mm, f/5.6, 1/1250s, ISO 200
#2213 - 2011-03-25 11:35
158mm, f/5.0, 1/1600s, ISO 200
#2282 - 2011-03-25 12:47
101mm, f/5.6, 1/800s, ISO 200
#2290 - 2011-03-25 12:48
158mm, f/5.6, 1/640s, ISO 200

A list of the species I saw (and remembered to write down):

Kenya + Tanzania << Travelogues << Danny Yee