Birdnificent©: Mombasa

When? All year round

Experience the less well-known habitats of coastal birds between the vast Tsavo East & West National Parks, and the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and Mida Creek in Malindi.

We visit the area around the famous Fort Jesus in search of a wealth of fascinating species – Golden Palm Weavers nesting in the Cycads near the gate; Red Cheeked Cordon Bleus hop around the Fort and Brown Breasted Barbets seem to have adopted the old trees for their breeding site.

From the walls overlooking the sea, various Terns, Sooty Gulls and a variety of migrant waders can be seen and at the right time of year on English Point, opposite the Fort, Crab Plovers congregate.

The large Baobab Trees on Mama Ngina Drive have Black Headed Herons perching where in the past there used to be a busy heronry.

Soaring over the rehabilitated quarry with ponds and forest may be the very impressive African Fish Eagle.

Water birds of all types abound; Green Backed, Grey, Black Headed, Black Crowned Night and Goliath Herons, Egrets, Palm Nut Vulture, Pied, Grey Headed, Mangrove and Malachite Kingfisher. 

Eurasian migrant waders make it their home in winter. Several species of Weavers throng the trees and reeds. A scarcer bird but usually seen is the Black Throated Wattle Eye. There are very good bird guides at the park who can identify the species and who are also able to take birders to other sites round Mombasa. Better an early morning visit before the majority of tourists arrive. Narina’s Trogon can be seen in the forest.

We also have a chance of seeing over 100 species on a good morning at Nguuni Animal Sanctuary.

Bare Eyed Thrush, African Paradise Flycatcher, Red Faced and occasionally Northern Crombec, Greater Blue Eared, Violet Backed and Superb Starling, Grosbeak, Golden Palm, Village Weavers, Zanzibar Red Bishops, Black Shouldered Kite, Crested Guinea Fowl, Black Crake, Moorhen, Herons, Yellow Throated and Pangani’s Longclaw, Malachite, Mangrove and Grey headed Kingfisher, Siffling, Zitting Winding and occasionally Croaking Cisticolas, to name but a few species.

Migrant waders come to the ponds and Allens’ Gallinule and Great Painted Snipe can on occasion be seen in the reeds.

Other regular migrant visitors are Isabelline and Northern Wheatear and Common Rock Thrush. Diedrik and Klaas Cuckoo, Grey headed and Sulpher Breasted Bush Shrikes and White-Browed Robin Chat can be heard calling and with patience and luck can be seen. Such visions of beauty! Water Dikkops abound.

Birds of Prey pass overhead or hunt in the trees or over the grassland. Regular visitors are Black Breasted Snake Eagle, Long Crested Eagle, African Fish Eagle, Lizard Buzzard and Palm Nut Vulture. For the keen birder this is an area that can be so rewarding with many unexpected and exciting sightings.

Most Mombasa beaches are too busy for birds but a quiet and safe spot is Jumba La Mtwana, along the Malindi Road, for uninhibited viewing of migrant waders and sea birds. The forest there is also home to quite a few bird species including Peter’s Twinspot and Tambourine Dove. Many hotels have nurtured lovely gardens, which are full of beautiful Kenyan birds. It is in these gardens that one can often see weavers nesting at close quarters, a very fascinating process and well worth seeing.

The friendly city of Mombasa is a place to enjoy the sea, the sand and the sun and a paradise for the birdwatcher!

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