Ten years ago, whilst working with Turtle Bay Beach Club, Colin produced a map of the local area for the benefit of bird enthusiasts who were visiting the resort. The map covered nearby Turtle Bay and Dabaso areas and showed visitors taking a walk inland what kind of birds the might expect to see where.
In the intervening years, the local area has changed drastically as a result of development, but the map hasn’t been updated to indicate any changes to bird communities this may have caused. So, with a mind to change that, an intrepid group set out very early Thursday morning to see what they would see, with little anticipation of how significant the morning would be.
On the old airstrip by Dabaso rock, Colin noticed a pair of small brown birds feeding that he couldn’t immediately identify. Back at Mwamba, a study of the field guides suggested that it might be a rare sighting of the Greater Short-Toed Lark. On the suspicion that they might still be feeding there, another group hopped in the jeep and sped back out to the airstrip. Hopes were raised when they were immediately found again in the same spot and the view through the telescope confirmed that they were indeed Greater Short-Toed Larks!
The significance of this sighting is that according to the book ‘Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania’ by Zimmerman et al (1996), there are only two previous records for the whole of Kenya! The first was way back in 1899, whilst the most recent was 45 years ago in 1964! Whilst it is conceivable that there have been more sightings since the book was published, their rareity means that is unlikely that they would have happened without Mwamba Bird Centre hearing about it. Therefore, we can tentatively claim to have recorded Kenyas 3rd sighting!
Greater Short-Toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla longipennis)