Birds, Birds & More Birds!!!- Article by Gareth Jones
Birds Of Nairobi National Park!
As I sat thinking of the amazing diversity of bird species in the tiny Nairobi National Park, the idea came to me to check the global records. Well, a bit of quick research revealed that there are just over 10,000 bird species on Earth and about 2,500 species in Africa and about 1,500 species in East Africa, and over 500 species of birds (permanent & seasonal) in the tiny 117 square kilometer little Nairobi National Park. Compared to the enormous mass of Africa with 30.34 Million square Kilometers, therefore we have about 20% of the bird species in Africa on only 0.0004% of the land! That is incredibly amazing when also considering that the park is surrounded by Nairobi, a growing megacity of over 5 million people!!! The park is uniquely located where a number of different habitat ecosystems converge therefore contributing to the amazingly brilliant diversity of birds that are unique and localized, in dense forest, riverine forest wetlands, grasslands , shrub-veld etc. Birds are often doing something interesting if you watch them. Raptors like Secretary birds are very rewarding to watch especially when they are hunting, some species like the Bee-eaters, Kingfishers, Narina trogon, Bush-shrikes, Grey crowned Cranes, Saddle-billed storks, various ducks and many more all have beautiful colours and markings.
I clearly remember a time as a child more than half a century ago, when my father told me what an African game guide who spent a lot of time in the bush once told him. He said something similar to “God did not give us so many different types of bird species to eat, but many were created for enjoyment, to gladden the heart”. The truth is that so many of us are weary and perhaps stressed in the current day and age. There is something very therapeutic about sitting quietly in a wild natural place early in the morning, surrounded by trees and plants as many bird species echo their melodious calls as if in a symphony of sound that somehow synchronizes into a feathered orchestra every day, as the feathered friends find their unique way to introduce a new day in song.
For those who also enjoy photography, birds are very rewarding subjects to try and capture. Many species have beautiful vibrant colours or unusual feathers. Plus birds are very active, so it is worth waiting for some special action moments. In recent years, it has been good to note that there is an emerging group of talented young photographers who take some great bird photos. The balance between patience and speed skill takes time to develop, irrespective of the type of photographic equipment.
I would also recommend that those who want to take an active interest in watching and photographing birds do the following 1) purchase a Nairobi National Park bird guide book available from FoNNaP (Friends of Nairobi National Park) at Office 12, Langata link, Nairobi or phone 0723690686 or email [email protected] FoNNaP also has fun bird walk outings that are periodically arranged for FoNNaP members. Membership fees are very affordable, especially as it is for a good cause for the Nairobi National Park.
It is always a joy to see birds when driving in the park, God has created such amazing diversity. When you go on into the Nairobi National Park with the attitude of “bird watching”, all too often the larger species like Rhino, Buffalo, and even Lions, just “get in the way!”. But remember simply speaking the Nairobi National Park is just brilliant for birds, another reason why Nairobi National Park must be saved!!! Yes! so much to see and enjoy, so many birds, birds and more birds!