Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Blushing Hawks!

Yesterday we went on a walk to a village west of Shimoni named Kibuyuni. We were looking to see what wildlife we might encounter in the forest surrounding the village. However, we never really managed to get to the village. There were just too many birds to spot everywhere.

Especially noteworthy were the raptors (birds of prey). Africa at large and Shimoni in particular is the winter home to many migrating birds, among them raptors. One of the most common winters we see every day is the black kite Milvus migrans. Black kites are medium size raptors that favour open fields as hunting grounds. They are frequently seen above recently ploughed hunting small animals that were scared out of their hideouts.

Another impressive winterer we have seen in our skies in the past week is the steppe eagle Aquila nipalensis. This is a rather large brown eagle and has very impressive sight.

But maybe the most interesting factoid is about a local hawk species: the harrier hawk Polyboroides typus. On our way to Kibuyuni we were lucky enough to get a very good view of a harrier hawk flying low above our heads and perching on top of a coconut tree. What was most surprising was that the bare patch of skin on the hawk’s face was bright red and not yellow as is instructed in the field guide and as we saw in our previous sightings.

Further investigation and reading on the species taught us that harrier hawks’ facial skin turns red when they are excited!

Maybe the hawk was just as excited as we were upon seeing her!