It is now just about a month since we effected the idea of the Vigilance strategy at Bunyala Rice Irrigation Scheme. With the resources provided by our kind sponsors we have been able to forge the way forward in the face of suspicion, resistance and confrontations by poachers. The physically demanding nature of our scouting activity has seen a few of us to near giving up point while the influence of the local climatic and topographic conditions characterized by heavy rains and flooding as well as the presence of mosquitoes has not spared the unaccustomed members of the team from contracting deadly malaria. Nonetheless we have continued to realize more positive outcomes than negatives.
The roads in Bunyala during the past rainy week
Today’s update is a sort of pictorial album post indicative of an improving ‘home’ for birdlife at Bunyala. We take pride in sharing this information as we keep up with our work. In summary our daily cumulative estimates of all observed waterbirds have been ranging between 3000 to 4000. Of this number, the migrant waders numbers estimate remained at 2000 until two days ago (today’s survey estimate was 1200) the reason of which we believe is another wave of passing migrants that should now be on their way southwards of the globe.
A section of a flock of waders that seemed all excited (typical behaviour heralding migration) and was seen to fly in the general southerly direction shortly afterwards.
Probably the most dramatic news however is that we have been regularly observing – though in small numbers – species that had been thought absolutely wiped out by poisoning at Bunyala.
A lone white-faced whistling duck over Bunyala Rice Scheme.
We count over 10 birds of this species in our daily surveys which is an improvement. During last year, only 2 birds were irregularly observed at the site. It was generally alleged by the locals and poachers that the white-faced whistling duck was poisoned enmasse and the few surviving individuals had become suspicious and may have changed their foraging grounds. We are therefore likely witnessing the beginning of a bouncing back population of the species at the site.
Wattled Starling (picture not taken in Bunyala)
The Wattled starling is another species that was not recorded at the site during surveys in the previous two years. 6 individuals of the species have been regularly observed in our recent surveys to feed and water at the flooded grasslands bordering the rice plantation.
Generally, the dynamics of birdlife at Bunyala therefore seem to be normalizing as affected by water hence food availability with species of migrant flocks seen to be arriving and settling at the site alongside resident species.
Migrant waders flying into Bunyala Rice Scheme
Settled flock of migrant waders.
Resting Cattle Egrets after foraging in the rice scheme grounds
Less congregatory Black Egret & Yellow-billed Egret
Glossy Ibis (at Bunyala) of which both afrotropical and palaearctic migrant sub-populations migrate into Kenya inclusive of Bunyala.
Fulvous Whistling Ducks
A section of a mixed flock of swallows (Barn Swallow, Angola Swallow and Banded Martin) resting after an insect meal over Bunyala.
These and many other species seem to be gaining confidence at the site once again. We have the challenge of ensuring this comfort is sustained.
Keep visiting the blog for more updates.