Birdlife around Loldia House in the Great Rift Valley has been prolific and interesting this January. There are a number of fig trees in the garden and they have been fruiting, attracting large flocks of green pigeons.
Green pigeons are fruit eaters and are arguably the most attractive pigeon in Africa. Unfortunately for the green pigeons, their presence has attracted some interesting birds of prey. A pair of great sparrowhawks have regularly been preying on the pigeons causing panic in the trees, and occasionally an African goshawk has joined in. Both of these birds of prey eat birds up to the size of pigeons.
A single African hawk eagle paid a visit to the camp and was very interested in the flock of helmeted guineafowl that live in the area. African hawk eagles regularly hunt for guineafowls but normally they hunt them in pairs. One bird will fly near the guineafowl to attract their attention and while the guinefowl are watching it, the other bird swoops down from behind and catches one.
Also resident in the garden is a little sparrowhawk who preys on small birds such as sparrows and finches.
At this time of the year there are also many migrant birds; flocks of yellow wagtails in the garden, many northern wheatears, a few Isabelline wheatears, a lesser grey shrike, several steppe eagles and, best of all, a single, elusive Eleonora’s falcon that was seen but not photographed.
Eleonora’s falcons prey on small birds and breed on islands in the Mediterranean. They time their breeding to coincide with when the migrant European song birds are passing through the area on their way to Africa, ensuring plenty of food for their young.