03 May, 2007

Safari Notes: Bird Watching In Africa

Africa is a treasure house for birding. The continent has over 2,050 bird species recorded, two thirds of which are found nowhere else. East Africa, in particular, has an amazing variety of birds, perhaps due to a mild climate devoid of extremes. The region has 4 of the Top Ten Birding Sites in Africa as rated by the African Bird Club (www.africanbirdclub.org) -an international organisation devoted to the study of Africa's birds. These sites are: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (Uganda), Bale Mountains (Ethiopia), the Rift Valley Lakes (Kenya) and Murchison Falls Park (Uganda). africapoint

Bird watching is an activity that can be done wherever one is, on almost any part of the globe. It is fun, educational and doesn't require much, except a pair of good eyes; at most, a pair of binoculars. No matter where one lives, there are always birds around. Africa offers a large number and a variety of bird species; Eastern Africa has the largest number, especially Kenya and Tanzania. And Eastern Africa has the best sites for watching the gregarious flamingos, pelicans, herons, storks, cormorants, marabous, hamerkops, ibis, cranes, vultures, ostriches, weavers, owls, sparrows and hundreds of more other species.

East Africa's birds are scattered in all sorts of habitats: mountain forest, lowland forest, seacoast, deserts, savannah, lakes, marsh, swamps and mudflats. In this article, we shall look at the region's water birds. This category refers to those birds that depend directly on water for food, habitat and breeding or indirectly for a certain component of their life cycle. Most water birds linger along the shallow shoreline of lakes, temporary waters in the inland ecosystems and rivers and very few venture far away from shore. Water birds delight birders, being easier to spot and photograph, as they tend to be larger and live more in the open.

Further Info: Birdwatching in Eastafrica, African Bird Club, Bird Links

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