Avian fauna census in Kendu Bay, South Nyanza, Kenya

Kutembea kwingi ni kuona mengi“, loosely translated to, “the more you travel, the more you see and know”. Bearing this Swahili adage in mind, a team of six (6) avid birders ventured into Kendu bay, to conduct a bird species inventory. During this activity, the team documented over 140 avian species found in Kendu Bay general area, spread across multiple habitats such as planted forests, grasslands, farmlands and man-made dams. It is hoped that the findings will generate curiosity and angst for research, tourism and general knowledge. Acknowledgements are extended to Mr. Collins Luseka and Mr. Jeam Agutu. Mr. Luseka, is a research assistant for the International Crane Foundation / Kenya Cranes Conservation and Wetlands Project. His work entails monitoring Grey-crowned Cranes within the county. He proposed ideal birding locations. Mr. Agutu, an avid birder, was our warm host, guide and proactive team-leader.

Birding team at Rice Paddy

On February 22, 2022 the team visited Lake Simbi Nyaima, a wonderful little volcanic lake in the Karachuonyo area, approximately 7 kilometers from Kendu Bay Pier, along Lake Victoria). We identified and recorded more than 500 individuals of both Greater and Lesser Flamingoes. Lake Simbi Nyaima, could be a refuge site for flamingoes during their internal migration from the Rift Valley lakes and needs to be ascertained. Other species worth mentioning in this site include: Great White Pelicans, Little Grebes and nesting Pied Kingfishers.

Flamingos at Lake Simbi Nyaima

Ondago (Otok) swamp, south of Lake Simbi Nyaima, had no flamingoes. Sections of the swamp looked disturbed and burnt. At Kendu Bay Showground area, we encountered approximately 200 individuals of Hamerkops. Locals refers to this area as a fish landing and drying hub, doubling as a foraging place for Hamerkops. At the Government Land area, we recorded more Hamerkop individuals engaged in different activities such as foraging, resting and grooming. The area is predominantly cultivated and used for livestock grazing.

Water thick-knees

At the Kendu pier, the team recorded 14 individuals of Water Thicknees. On 23 February 2022, we visited Maugo rice fields, an important habitat for different bird communities. We recorded large numbers of Grey Crowned Cranes, colonies of Red-billed Quealea, Red Bishops and Speckled Pigeons.

Evidence of burnt riparian site at Got Ndonyo waterfront

At Got Ndonyo (Ndonyo Hill) waterfront, we recorded four invasive plants: Mathenge (Prosopis juliflora), Pathenium spp., dodders (Cuscuta spp.) and water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes). The area had also experienced a recent fire, evidenced by the burnt reeds. However, on the positive side, there was amazingly flock of flying Collared Pranticoles. We recorded more than 500 individuals of Collared Pranticole, most of which were foraging. Other species noted were African Jacana, Egyptian Geese, Sacred Ibis, Purple Heron, African Spoonbill, Yellow-billed Storks and an African Open-billed Stork.

Fruiting Prosopis juliflora

The last site visited by the team was K’Odhiambo dam, a man-made wetland used mostly for fishing, livestock watering and irrigation. The dam hosted a flock of White-faced Whistling-Ducks, Knob-billed Ducks, Water Thick-knees, African Jacana and Little Grebes.

The inventory culminated with actual sightings and audio-call confirmations of over 140 species of birds (checklist below). Indeed, Kendu bay is an ideal yet underappreciated birding hotspot, worthy for consideration as an important bird area (IBA).

For more birding information, guiding, logistical planning and accommodation at Kendu Bay Area, do liaise with Mr. Jeam Agutu on: +254-712-780044 and jeam283@gmail.com.

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