Home > Birding & bird counts > Bird Counting at The Sabaki River Estuary

Whenever you see this peculiar group of people with binoculars and telescopes in your area do not mistake them for tourists. These are birders, people who have dedicated their lives to study the distribution and characteristics of different bird species around the world. A Rocha Kenya takes pride in its birding activities as they have opened many avenues to explore the richness in birdlife along the Kenyan Coastal forests. One such area where this study is conducted in the Sabaki River Estuary, located just a few Kilometers from Malindi town.

Sabaki River is the second-longest river in Kenya. It originates from the Kenyan highlands as the Athi river and eventually deposits its water in the Indian ocean as the Galana or Sabaki River. It boasts an abundance of wildlife ranging from crocodiles, hippos, freshwater fish and water birds. The estuary is a spectacle where there is a clear demarcation at the point the river touches the sea despite natures efforts to unify the two. Right at this point is where our interest lies as it provides a haven for different kinds of waterbirds that feed and roost here.

To access the Estuary we go through a scrub and mangrove patch that flourishes in the sand and mudflats in the area. Apart from a few fishermen and herdsmen, the area seemed almost undisturbed by human activities. A Rocha Kenya conducts this session at the estuary once every month when the tide is lowest. The ocean water recedes exposing the mudflats that the birds come to forage in.  In the middle of the estuary is an exposed sand flat, a perfect point to mount our telescope tripods.

“Bird counting is an intensive and necessary study. The aim of each exercise is to know which type of bird is present at the estuary and approximately how many they are. Nature is always changing and these records help us keep track of this change. The last book published about the birds found in east Africa is over 30 years old. How would we know if there was a new species or which ones are migrating or going extinct due to climate change and human activities? This study enables us to have a comprehensive record of this data and it helps greatly in our quest for conservation.” Research scientist Kirao says.

This October, we were able to spot 83 species of land and water birds and counted 2,878 water birds that were present at the estuary. A Rocha Kenya invites you to join us in our next bird counting session. If you’re a lover of birds, this is the place for you.