Birding at Paradise Lost

I haven’t gone for birdwalks in quite a while, life has been chaotic, stressful and ultra busy in the last few weeks. But that’s a story for another post. Today I (virtually) revisit one of my favourite birdwatching locations. Read on to join in the journey…

Grosbeak Weaver nest.
Grosbeak Weaver nest: the neatest of all weavers.

The first time I went to Paradise Lost, it was on a weekend youth camp. The most vivid memory I carried from there is experiencing extreme biting cold! That was one long night. We didn’t explore the grounds though, and I left unaware of the many treasures there. Little did I know that two years later I would be back but on a different mission.

A Cormorant in the bushes.
A Cormorant trying to stay low-key in the bushes.

Going for birdwalks at Paradise Lost with Nature Kenya is always exciting, as we get to see new species almost every time. Our first stop is an expansive pond which is a favourite habitat for weaver birds. Speke’s, Black-headed, Grosbeak and Holub’s Golden Weavers call this place their home. Watching their nest-building process is such a treat. When the adjacent fig tree is in fruit, you may spot a Green Pigeon or two.

Weaver bird nest cluster at a pond.
Weaver ‘village’ at the pond.

The next spot is a second pond said to have been designed to take the shape of Africa. It is usually very vibrant, with quite a number of wading bird species moving about. I particularly like the Yellow-billed ducks looking cute while swimming in a single file. African Jacanas amaze me with their huge feet- they look so comical. On a really good day, a Malachite Kingfisher may decide to make an appearance. You won’t believe how small this guy is! Oh and this is a seasonal pond so during the dry season it’s rather quiet.

Yellow-billed ducks in pond.
Yellow-billed ducks having a splashing good time.

We then proceed to the third pond at the Paradise Lost Gardens, of course watching out for action along the way. I never miss to see a Common Fiscal nearby- I don’t know if it’s always the same one? There aren’t many waders here because this pond is too deep for them. We have spotted the African Fish Eagle here on some occasions. Migratory birds love hiding in the bushes, such that we usually hear them but not see them.

Common fiscal on branches.
Don’t be fooled by that cute face! It’s actually a butcherbird.

It’s now time to go to Paradise Lost proper! This place is so big, we often have to remind each other to hurry lest we run out of time before completing the full circuit. Beginning at the picnic area, we make our way down a slope searching for our feathered friends. On weekends when the place is teeming with visitors, a horde of Black Kites cover the trees, waiting to snatch food from unsuspecting people. On the path leading to the waterfall, we encounter so many birds but they give us a hard time by hiding in the foliage.

Village/ Black-headed Weaver.
The Village/ Black-headed Weaver.

And now for the piece de resistance: the waterfall and caves. I love this place for the crisp fresh air and the thundering of water as it hits the rocks. ‘Selfie Nation’ peeps are always ready with their phones to capture the moment. This part is also rich in birds. One time we spotted a juvenile bird of prey whose identity we couldn’t immediately confirm. We spent almost 20 minutes (yes!) at that spot debating. The bird was gracious enough to pose all that time, even turning around to give us various views. It was only one week later that it was confirmed to be a Wahlberg’s Eagle. That day presented a shocking sight: the waterfall had dried to a pitiful trickle, following a prolonged drought.

Juvenile Wahlberg's Eagle.
Piercing stare of the Wahlberg’s Eagle.

After taking in the beauty, it’s time to head back. There’s a spot I like passing by at this time. It’s where I come across birds that no one else has during the walk. 🙂 One time I saw a Long-crested Eagle, and another time a Spot-flanked Barbet.

Long-crested eagle in tree.
Don’t mess with the Long-crested eagle.

Paradise Lost is a special place I enjoy visiting. When we get to the end of the walk, people are always reluctant to leave. I find the horses there too scrawny though, they look like they can collapse when you mount them. For real. Anyway if you’re looking for a cool picnic or camping site near Nairobi, Paradise Lost is a great choice!

Weaver bird nest cluster near a pond.
Home sweet home: The green nests are newer than the others.
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