Kenya tops Africa in migratory bird sightings, ranked sixth globally

Some of the migratory birds species. Photo/ courtesy

Kenya grabbed the first position in Africa in sightings of migratory birds during the eBird Global Big Day.

It was ranked sixth globally after Columbia, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil and Bolivia.

A local team of birders recorded 817 species of migratory birds, with most birds recorded in the Rift Valley, Coast and Eastern regions.

Tanzania came second in Africa, while Uganda and South Africa were ranked second and third respectively.

Kenya emerged sixth after recording 817 different species of migratory birds in the global category. Columbia took first place with 1,289 species.

In the event that took place on October 17, this year, researchers and conservationists all over the world competed in observing birds on the same day and submitting their observations on the eBird website.

eBird is an online database of bird observations that provides scientists, researchers and naturalists with real-time data about bird distribution and abundance.

Nairobi National Park recorded the highest number of sightings at 211 species of migratory birds, Soysambu conservancy recorded 209 and Elkarama Ranch Eco lodge recorded 195.

Other sites where the sightings were recorded are Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Yala Swamp, Lake Kanyaboli, Lake Baringo, Rumuruti, Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Swamp and National Park and Kakamega forest.

“eBird Global Big Day is about conservationists and birders recording sightings to represent their countries. These recordings help in determining distribution of birds and details on health of the environment,” says Paul Matiku, the director of Nature Kenya, an organisation keen on conservation of birds.

Matiku said findings from sightings also help in making informed conservation decisions.

Top e-birders that submitted recordings as listed on e-Bird include Ole Sanoe Henry, Sunbird team, Tyler Davis, Sophie Grant, Albert Baya, Ibrahim Ogolla, James Omenya among others. This year, 2,745 birders in Kenya participated in the event.

Top hotspots where migratory birds prefer to land following their long migratory journeys, as listed in the website, include Lake Nakuru National Park, which has since recorded 506 species, followed by Amboseli National Park and Nairobi National Park.

Masai Mara, Lake Naivasha, Samburu National Reserve and Lake Baringo are also ranked among the top hotspots.

Rift Valley lakes are among Important Bird Areas, where the birds rest in their migratory expeditions.

Areas around the Aberdare Ranges, Mt Kenya and Taita Hills are also some of their stop-over havens as they fly down south into South Africa before they navigate back following the same routes up north.

The Kenya Lakes System consisting of lakes Elementaita, Nakuru and Bogoria, all of which lie on the floor of the Great Rift Valley, provide a vital wintering ground for over 100 species of migratory birds.