Are you in Nairobi for a business trip or vacation and can spare a half or a full day in between your busy schedule to go bird watching? The Nairobi National Park is your best bet. The Park is one of the top birding destinations in Africa, and the world, due to its proximity to Kenya’s capital city, variety of bird species and great weather conditions. Around 520 bird species have been recorded in the park and, when you consider its small size, it makes for good birdwatching. It has the longest bird checklist in all cities in the world! The park also plays host to species migrating from Europe and North Africa during the summer for breeding. It is also rich in wildlife.
The Nairobi National Park is located on the southern outskirts of Nairobi City. It is 117 square kilometers in extent and is 7 kilometers from the central business district. It can be accessed by road by hiring a 4 by 4 vehicle or going on an organised tour. The Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Wilson Airport are nearby. The park was gazetted in 1946 making it the oldest park in Kenya. It is also one of Africa’s smallest parks and it’s the only natural park in the world within the limits of a capital city thus dubbed the world’s only wildlife capital.
Birds of the Nairobi National Park
The park is home to both endemic and near-endemic species. Birdwatching can be done all year round. Between November to April, you can spot migrant birds from Europe and North Africa. The month of April is very wet making it less productive.
Birds you can spot in the park include:
• African Fish Eagle
• African Crowned Eagle
• African Quail
• Kori Bustard
• Fox Kestrel
• Zebra Waxbill
• Pangani Longclaw
• Jackson’s Widowbird (can be spotted between March to May)
Bird Watching Locations
The Nairobi National Park has great scenery since it is made up of a diverse, undisturbed ecosystem ranging from woodland, grassland, wetland forest, rivers, to streams. Each habitat has different bird species.
The highland forest birds can be accessed on the west side of the park, which is the highest point of the Nairobi National Park and is near the Langa’ta main gate.
The wetland and riverine birds such as Madagascar Pond Heron, Purple Swamphen, Allen’s Gallinule and Saddle-billed Stork can be spotted on the southern edge of the park.
Birds like the Kori Bustard, Ostriches, Somali Short-toed Larks and the Secretarybird can be found in the grasslands which are also breeding grounds for Jackson’s widow.
Birds of prey including Martial Eagle, Black Kite, and Ruppell’s Vulture may be seen soaring overhead.
The park also forms a single ecological unit with the Athi-Kapiti plains which borders it to the south and has the Kitengela migration corridor. It has man-made dams which make it favorable for certain bird species.
Accommodation in and around Nairobi National Park
If on vacation and needing accommodation, the park does have some campsites. Luxury and budget lodges can be found just outside the park.
The Nairobi National Park is a top choice for a birding trip when you are in Nairobi for a business trip or on vacation. It is close to the CBD and has 520 bird species within a small area, each habitat has certain bird species thus making for a fantastic birdwatching experience.