What a Morning! Birding in Dakatcha Woodland KBA in June

By Fleur Ng’weno and Adam Scott Kennedy

Clarke’s Weaver, Ploceus golandi, also called Kilifi Weaver because it’s only found in Kilifi County, had not been seen – or at least reported – in 2023. On the Global Big Day of birding in May, it was missing both in Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and Dakatcha Woodland. After five seasons of drought, we feared the worst.

Then on June 14th at the Kibaoni Nature Reserve near Marafa, Maxwell Issa, a bird guide from Dakatcha Woodland Conservation Group, Edwin Utumbi of Nature Kenya, and Japhet Masha of Kibaoni, finally saw a flock of Clarke’s Weavers, males and females! The next day, Maxwell Issa and Julio Mwambire found more Kilifi Weavers in the nearby Munyenzeni wetland, also called Bore wetland.

Adam Scott Kennedy picks up the story: 

I heard the news from James Apolloh on Thursday morning and immediately booked my flights! I flew into Malindi on Friday afternoon, met with Apolloh then drove straight to Marafa where we spent the night. Next morning, around 5am, Julio and Maxwell took us to the wetland site. First weaver flies by at around 6am, and our small group located at least 25 weavers at the wetland before 9am.

At the same site, at least 10 Madagascar Pond Herons (it has been a long time since a double-figure site count of this endangered species was last recorded in Kenya), a Dwarf Bittern, a busy pair of Little Bitterns flying back and forth, several vocal and reed-jumping Allen’s Gallinule, and healthy numbers of confiding Red-headed Quelea with recently fledged young. Then the heavens gifted us 4 Mascarene Martins – vagrants from Madagascar – circling over the swamp!  Unbelievable.

Around 9am we moved from the wetland to the woodland at the Nature Kenya Kibaoni Nature Reserve, where we observed another c.25 Kilifi Weavers, plus both coastal helmetshrikes and a Mombasa Woodpecker. All this before lunchtime – a truly remarkable morning.