There are many places in the world where one can experience the joys of bird watching. However, very few can compare to the biodiversity endemic to East Africa. Kenya even holds the world record for bird sightings in a day, with 342 species seen in a period of only 24 hours. While the country is popular among members of the birding community, the rest of the region also offers amazing sights. A once in a lifetime experience such as this one needs to be perfect. Below are our tips on how to make a memorable birding experience.
Familiarise yourself with the birds
If you are new to the area and the accompanying fauna, it would be best to do research on the birdlife. You can do this by buying a book about the local birds or looking it up on the internet. Your knowledge doesn’t have to be extensive, but learning about the characteristics of several bird families would be helpful. Once you get past this, the challenge would then be to discern individual species. It is not all about the appearance, however, so make sure to acquaint yourself with their calls and behaviour.
Find a good schedule and location
There are places where bird watching would be more fruitful. The Mabira Forest Reserve in Uganda and Arabuko Sokoke National Park in Kenya are two excellent choices. If there are particular species you are interested in, look up places where you are most likely to see them. For example, rivers and dams are where you can find waterbirds, while open grassland areas are favoured by secretary birds. This also extends to the time of day and the season. Do your research in advance for a more rewarding experience.
Get the proper equipment
Binoculars and cameras are your best friends when you are on a birding excursion. A pair of binoculars will help you see birds from a distance. It can even let you identify far-away species by allowing you a clearer view. There are options for all price points. You will find decent budget options, but if you plan on taking the hobby further, it is worth it to save up for more advanced models. Cameras, meanwhile, are great if you want to do further research on your sightings. Invest in a camera that can offer high shutter frame speed and supports fast zoom lenses. Don’t forget to bring provisions such as a waterproof casing so that your tools will remain usable in whatever condition!
Hiring a guide is advisable so that you can gain expert advice and know-how about the area. But most of all, don’t forget to enjoy the experience! Some people get too caught up in the competitive aspect that they do not appreciate the aesthetic treat. The area has some of the
most diverse birdlife that can provide a beautiful and much-needed retreat from our busy lives. Bird watching in East Africa offers a rare opportunity to dive into the unrivalled splendour nature has to offer.