The 2023 January Waterbird counts had an exciting start in Nairobi and some Rift Valley lakes. It’s an annual monitoring activity to collect information on the number of waterbirds in wetlands, indicating the health of the wetlands. The counts are coordinated by the National Museums of Kenya, Kenya Wildlife Service and Nature Kenya, with support from Wetlands International and others, and conducted by groups of volunteers.
Armed with binoculars, telescopes and data sheets, the volunteers were up to the task at the break of dawn or soon after, and carried on past midday. The bird counters endured a mix of landscapes ranging from rugged and dusty terrains to wet and muddy ones, bitter cold nights and scorching daytime sun.
Wetlands are home to other wild animals besides birds. In some sites, counters had to improvise safer offshore routes to avoid disturbing sunbathing hippos and crocodiles, keenly noting the number of birds keeping these giants company. These unusual encounters added an aura of adventure to the counts.
Sites covered in January included Manguo Ponds (almost dry), Dandora Sewage Works (Nairobi Oxygenation Ponds, Ruai), Nairobi National Park and Langata wetlands, Lake Ol’Bolossat, Lake Bogoria, Lake Baringo, and Lakes Naivasha, Sonachi and Oloidien. A Southern Ground Hornbill welcomed us at Hippo Camp in Naivasha, ushering in a successful count.
Lakes Nakuru, Elmenteita, and perhaps Magadi; Thika Sewage works; Coastal sites; and a few sites north of Nairobi will be counted in February. We thank our members, volunteers and partners for their participation.