When? October - April
Unique in being located alongside a major city, the 120-km² Nairobi National Park encompasses a wealth of contrasting habitats, ranging from open grassland and lightly wooded plains with rocky valleys to seasonal swamps, dams, forest-lined rivers and streams, and – along its western boundary – a thin strip of upland forest.
Gazetted in 1946, the Park is Kenya’s oldest conservation area, with a bird list running to 520 species, of which 200 can often be seen in a single day.
- Game drives
- Bird watching
White-backed Night-Heron, Hartlaub’s Bustard, Shelley’s Francolin, Brown-backed Woodpecker, White-tailed Lark, Nairobi Pipit, Siffling Cisticola
Ivory Burn Site – a good early morning stop in October–April for uncommon migrant species, including Irania and Upcher’s Warbler.
Hyena Dam and environs – Widowbirds in breeding plumage (Red-collared, Jackson’s, White-winged) are conspicuous during the rainy season. African Water Rail, in bulrushes around the dam, can be hard to spot. Herons and other marsh specialists are common on the feeder stream.
Radio Beacon area – this grassland teems with Larks (Rufous-naped, Red-capped, Fawn-coloured) and – seasonally –with migrants too: Shrikes (Red-tailed, Red-backed), Whinchats and Wheatears (Isabelline, Northern, Pied).
Athi Basin – Shelley’s Francolin, hard to find elsewhere in Kenya, feeds on the road in the early mornings and late afternoons. Flushed birds might include Long-billed Pipit, or even shy Quailfinch. Hartlaub’s Bustard too is common, but can be cryptic.
Athi Dam – October to April, Red-throated Pipit abounds in low scrub near the dam’s northern edge. Look for Black-crowned Night-Heron under trees on the causeway. White-tailed Lark is plentiful in low grassland nearby, as is Fischer’s Sparrow-Lark.
Hippo Pools – African Finfoot is often seen in the early mornings. White-backed Night-Heron is resident, but skulks in thick cover during the day. In mixed flocks in the riverine woodland, look for Violet Wood-Hoopoe, Eastern Honeybird and Red-throated Tit. White-backed Vulture nests in taller trees, and Vitelline Masked Weaver nests dangle from overhanging branches. Kingfishers include Giant, Malachite and Pied. Secretive African Firefinches flit about in the undergrowth.