TSAVO NATIONAL PARKS (inc ATHI PLAINS), SOUTH KITUI & TIATA HILLS NATIONAL RESERVES & LIST

KENYA 
region (near), (Compass)

Lat:00o00´S/00o00´W Tsavo East NP 1,174,700ha, 250-1,000m, fairly flat savanna and scrub, Tsavo West NP906,500ha, 1,000-2,000m rolling and isolated hills and escarpments with savanna and scrub, South Kitui NR ha, 250-500m & Tiata Hills NR 11,340ha, 1,000-2,000m

 
Protected/registered status

 
Best Time for visit (time visited), entry $25 each per day for Tsavo

Birding Site Guide

These protected areas are in se Kenya, Tsavo is split by Nairobi-Mombasa railway and by the parallel A109 road, and is administered as 2 parks (so 2 entry fees). South Kitui lies adjacent to the n tip of Tsavo East. The Tiata Hills are situated between the 2 s halves of Tsavo, and w of the road and railway. If continuing to the coast be warned the main Nairobi-Mombasa road was in a hideous state on our visit, we were not even allowed to take our (by now quite battered) 2 wheel-drive saloon along it by the car hire company (Avis) despite never being told this before our arrival in Kenya (they knew which route we planned long before). So as well as damage costs to the underside of the saloon we now had to pay extra for the 4 wheel-drive to head e. Of course with hindsight, now knowing the condition of the roads we should have had 4 wheel-drive all along (never told this either!). The middle section of the A109 is a crater (this covers holes from puddle size to several metres diameter and a metre deep!) potted dust bowl of heavy congested traffic (mainly lorries) on which it is usually not possible to swerve to avoid potholes because of on-coming traffic, difficult to go slow because of vehicles behind and often impossible to see the vehicle in front for thick red dust. If the vehicle in front has stopped or slowed for any reason (an accident say) there is no way of knowing till you crash into the back of it. Add to this the ill maintained vehicles and lax-a-daisy driving skills of the average Kenyan, you may as well book your hospital bed now! At night or in wet weather it is probably suicidal. Apart from all this the further e the less frequent the petrol stations, and just to add interest on our trip we broke down! The train might be a more attractive option!

 
The n two-thirds of Tsavo e is closed to the public due to issues of safety because of continued poaching. Tsavo West close to the main road (the n part) is obviously a most popular area, there are many lodges n of the Tsavo River here, the best for wildlife, because of its watering hole is possibly Kilaguni, though if fully booked other very good options are available. There are places to stay elsewhere, such as in the s of Tsavo West or the s of Tsavo East (accessed via the town of Voi) as usual they include many expensive lodges, and cheap campsites at the main gates and elsewhere.

 
Tiata Hills has 2 lodges, Tiata Hills and Salt Lick Lodges.

 
Species seen (Tsavo and Athi Plains visited only). For full bird and mammal species list with scientific names go to KENYA FULL TRIP LIST 

  • Darter Anhinga melanogaster T, A
  • Banded Snake-Eagle Circaetus cinerascens T
  • Bateleur Terathopius ecaudatus S, LN, T
  • Dark Chanting-Goshawk Melierax metabates LB, K, T
  • Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis LN, T
  • Verreaux's Eagle Aquila verreauxii A
  • Crested Francolin Francolinus sephaena S, T
  • Kori Bustard Ardeotis kori MM, T, A
  • White-bellied Bustard Eupodotis senegalensis MM, A
  • Hartlaub's Bustard Lissotis hartlaubii A
  • Temminck's Courser Cursorius temminckii A
  • Yellow-throated Sandgrouse Pterocles gutturalis A
  • European Roller Coracias garrulus NT T, TNa
  • Green Woodhoopoe Phoeniculus purpureus T, LNa
  • Abyssinian Scimitar-bill Rhinopomastus minor T
  • Red-billed Hornbill Tockus erythrorhynchus S, T
  • Eastern Yellow-billed Hornbill Tockus flavirostris S, LB, T
  • Von der Decken's Hornbill Tockus deckeni MM, LB, T
  • African Gray Hornbill Tockus nasutus MM, K, T,
  • Southern Ground-Hornbill Bucorvus leadbeateri MM, T
  • White-tailed Lark Mirafra albicauda A
  • Pink-breasted Lark Calendulauda poecilosterna S, T, A
  • Fischer's Sparrow-Lark Eremopterix leucopareia S, T, A
  • Somali Short-toed Lark Calandrella somalica A
  • Short-tailed Lark Pseudalaemon fremantlii A
  • Golden Pipit Tmetothylacus tenellus SF, T
  • Pangani Longclaw Macronyx aurantiigula T
  • Ashy Cisticola Cisticola cinereolus S, T
  • Pectoral-patch Cisticola Cisticola brunnescens A
  • Red-fronted Warbler Urorhipis rufifrons S, T
  • Gray Wren-Warbler Calamonastes simplex T
  • Moustached Grass-Warbler Melocichla mentalis T
  • Olive-tree Warbler Hippolais olivetorum LB, T
  • Banded Warbler Parisoma boehmi A
  • African Gray Flycatcher Bradornis microrhynchus S, MM, T
  • Red-backed Scrub-Robin Cercotrichas leucophrys K, T
  • White-breasted White-eye Zosterops abyssinicus T
  • African Golden Oriole Oriolus auratus SF, T
  • Rufous-tailed Shrike Lanius isabellinus LN, T
  • Pringle's Puffback Dryoscopus pringlii T
  • Slate-colored Boubou Laniarius funebris T
  • Gray-headed Bushshrike Malaconotus blanchoti T
  • White Helmetshrike Prionops plumatus K, T
  • Rueppell's Glossy-Starling Lamprotornis purpuroptera LN, T, LNa
  • Golden-breasted Starling Lamprotornis regius T
  • Hildebrandt's Starling Lamprotornis hildebrandti MM, T
  • Fischer's Starling Spreo fischeri T
  • Black-capped Social-Weaver Pseudonigrita cabanisi S, T
  • African Golden-Weaver Ploceus subaureus T
  • Yellow Bishop Euplectes capensis T, A
  • White-winged Widowbird Euplectes albonotatus T
  • Red-headed Bluebill Spermophaga ruficapilla K, T, A
  • Blue-capped Cordonbleu Uraeginthus cyanocephalus T
  • Cinnamon-breasted Bunting Emberiza tahapisi LN, T


  • Common Kenyan species some of which were seen here and the rest generally
  • Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
  • Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
  • Long-tailed Cormorant Phalacrocorax africanus
  • Gray Heron Ardea cinerea
  • Black-headed Heron Ardea melanocephala
  • Goliath Heron Ardea goliath
  • Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
  • Great Egret Ardea alba
  • Little Egret Egretta garzetta
  • Western Reef-Heron Egretta gularis
  • Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides
  • Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
  • Striated Heron Butorides striata
  • Hamerkop Scopus umbretta
  • Yellow-billed Stork Mycteria ibis
  • Abdim's Stork Ciconia abdimii
  • Saddle-billed Stork Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis
  • Marabou Stork Leptoptilos crumeniferus
  • Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus
  • Hadada Ibis Bostrychia hagedash
  • Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus
  • Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus
  • Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca
  • Yellow-billed Duck Anas undulata
  • Osprey Pandion haliaetus
  • Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus
  • Scissor-tailed Kite Chelictinia riocourii
  • Black Kite Milvus migrans
  • African Fish-Eagle Haliaeetus vocifer
  • White-backed Vulture Gyps africanus
  • Black-breasted Snake-Eagle Circaetus pectoralis
  • Western Marsh-Harrier Circus aeruginosus
  • African Marsh-Harrier Circus ranivorus
  • Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus
  • African Harrier-Hawk Polyboroides typus
  • Lizard Buzzard Kaupifalco monogrammicus
  • Gabar Goshawk Micronisus gabar
  • Eurasian Buzzard Buteo buteo
  • Augur Buzzard Buteo augur
  • Tawny Eagle Aquila rapax
  • Long-crested Eagle Lophaetus occipitalis
  • Secretary-bird Sagittarius serpentarius
  • Eurasian Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
  • Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus
  • Hildebrandt's Francolin Francolinus hildebrandti
  • Yellow-necked Francolin Francolinus leucoscepus
  • Helmeted Guineafowl Numida meleagris
  • Black Crake Amaurornis flavirostra
  • Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
  • African Jacana Actophilornis africanus
  • Greater Painted-snipe Rostratula benghalensis
  • Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
  • Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta
  • Blacksmith Plover Vanellus armatus
  • Crowned Lapwing Vanellus coronatus
  • Black-bellied Plover Pluvialis squatarola
  • Three-banded Plover Charadrius tricollaris
  • Greater Sandplover Charadrius leschenaultii
  • Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago
  • Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
  • Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata
  • Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
  • Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
  • Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
  • Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis
  • Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
  • Common Redshank Tringa totanus
  • Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
  • Sanderling Calidris alba
  • Little Stint Calidris minuta
  • Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
  • Dunlin Calidris alpina
  • Ruff Philomachus pugnax
  • European Herring Gull Larus argentatus
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus
  • Gray-headed Gull Larus cirrocephalus
  • Saunders' Tern Sternula saundersi
  • Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica
  • Common Tern Sterna hirundo
  • Rock Pigeon Columba livia
  • African Mourning Dove Streptopelia decipiens
  • Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis
  • Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove Turtur chalcospilos
  • Tambourine Dove Turtur tympanistria
  • Hartlaub's Turaco Tauraco hartlaubi
  • Eastern Plantain-eater Crinifer zonurus
  • Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius
  • Klaas' Cuckoo Chrysococcyx klaas
  • Yellowbill Ceuthmochares aereus
  • White-browed Coucal Centropus superciliosus
  • African Palm-Swift Cypsiurus parvus
  • Common Swift Apus apus
  • Little Swift Apus affinis
  • Speckled Mousebird Colius striatus
  • Narina Trogon Apaloderma narina
  • Malachite Kingfisher Alcedo cristata
  • Gray-headed Kingfisher Halcyon leucocephala
  • Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis
  • Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater Merops oreobates
  • White-throated Bee-eater Merops albicollis
  • Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Merops persicus
  • European Bee-eater Merops apiaster
  • Northern Carmine Bee-eater Merops nubicus
  • Lilac-breasted Roller Coracias caudatus
  • Common Scimitar-bill Rhinopomastus cyanomelas
  • Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird Pogoniulus bilineatus
  • Greater Honeyguide Indicator indicator
  • Cardinal Woodpecker Dendropicos fuscescens
  • Gray Woodpecker Dendropicos goertae
  • Singing Bushlark Mirafra cantillans
  • Rufous-naped Lark Mirafra africana
  • Chestnut-headed Sparrow-Lark Eremopterix signatus
  • Black Sawwing Psalidoprocne pristoptera
  • Plain Martin Riparia paludicola
  • Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
  • Wire-tailed Swallow Hirundo smithii
  • House Martin Delichon urbicum
  • Lesser Striped-Swallow Cecropis abyssinica
  • Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica
  • African Pipit Anthus cinnamomeus
  • Rosy-throated Longclaw Macronyx ameliae
  • African Pied Wagtail Motacilla aguimp
  • Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
  • Purple-throated Cuckoo-shrike Campephaga quiscalina
  • Common Bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus
  • Yellow-whiskered Greenbul Andropadus latirostris
  • Eastern Mountain-Greenbul Andropadus nigriceps
  • Honeyguide Greenbul Baeopogon indicator
  • Rufous-tailed Rock-Thrush Monticola saxatilis
  • African Thrush Turdus pelios
  • Singing Cisticola Cisticola cantans
  • Winding Cisticola Cisticola galactotes
  • Carruthers' Cisticola Cisticola carruthersi
  • Yellow-breasted Apalis Apalis flavida
  • Green-backed Camaroptera Camaroptera brachyura
  • African Bush-Warbler Bradypterus baboecala
  • Red-faced Crombec Sylvietta whytii
  • Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
  • Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
  • Southern Hyliota Hyliota australis
  • Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
  • Pale Flycatcher Bradornis pallidus
  • White-eyed Slaty-Flycatcher Melaenornis fischeri
  • Gray Tit-Flycatcher Myioparus plumbeus
  • Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis
  • Equatorial Akalat Sheppardia aequatorialis
  • Rufous-tailed Scrub-Robin Cercotrichas galactotes
  • African Stonechat Saxicola torquatus
  • Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina
  • Yellow-bellied Wattle-eye Platysteira concreta
  • African Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone viridis
  • Scaly-breasted Illadopsis Illadopsis albipectus
  • Pale-breasted Illadopsis Illadopsis rufipennis
  • Gray Tit Melaniparus afer
  • Green-headed Sunbird Cyanomitra verticalis
  • Green-throated Sunbird Chalcomitra rubescens
  • Amethyst Sunbird Chalcomitra amethystina
  • Hunter's Sunbird Chalcomitra hunteri
  • African Black-headed Oriole Oriolus larvatus
  • Gray-backed Fiscal Lanius excubitoroides
  • Long-tailed Fiscal Lanius cabanisi
  • Common Fiscal Lanius collaris
  • White-crowned Shrike Eurocephalus anguitimens
  • Marsh Tchagra Tchagra minutus
  • Black-crowned Tchagra Tchagra senegalus
  • Brown-crowned Tchagra Tchagra australis
  • Fork-tailed Drongo Dicrurus adsimilis
  • House Crow Corvus splendens intro
  • Pied Crow Corvus albus
  • Wattled Starling Creatophora cinerea
  • Superb Starling Lamprotornis superbus
  • Red-winged Starling Onychognathus morio
  • Stuhlmann's Starling Poeoptera stuhlmanni
  • House Sparrow Passer domesticus
  • Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver Bubalornis niger
  • White-headed Buffalo-Weaver Dinemellia dinemelli
  • White-browed Sparrow-Weaver Plocepasser mahali
  • Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver Plocepasser superciliosus
  • Baglafecht Weaver Ploceus baglafecht
  • Holub's Golden-Weaver Ploceus xanthops
  • Northern Brown-throated Weaver Ploceus castanops
  • Red-billed Quelea Quelea quelea
  • Jackson's Widowbird Euplectes jacksoni NT
  • White-breasted Negrofinch Nigrita fusconotus
  • Green-backed Twinspot Mandingoa nitidula
  • Red-cheeked Cordonbleu Uraeginthus bengalus
  • Bar-breasted Firefinch Lagonosticta rufopicta
  • Pin-tailed Whydah Vidua macroura
  • Streaky Seedeater Serinus striolatus


  • KEY
  • CR = Critical
  • E = Endangered
  • V = Vulnerable
  • NT = Near-threatened
  • e = endemic
  • intro = introduced


  • no sites given for common species or species more readily found in Europe
  • A = Athi Plains
  • L = Liota Plains
  • LB = Lake Baringo
  • LN = Lake Nakuru
  • LNa = Lake Naivasha
  • MM = Masia Mara NP
  • Mt = Mount Kenya NP
  • N = Niarobi NP
  • N to M = Niarobi to Mombasa
  • R = Red Brick Dam, Lake Victoria
  • S = Samburu GR
  • SF = Sokoke Forest & coast
  • SS = Saiwa Swamp
  • T = Tsavo
  • h = heard only


Author: BSG

www.birdingsiteguide.com