NAIROBI PARK DIARY

The lecture

A bit of birdwatching turns into entertainment

In Summary

• A secretary bird gets a telling off for invading cranes' private space

Cranes and secretary bird at dawn
Cranes and secretary bird at dawn
Image: GARETH JONES

Very early one morning, I drove towards the Hyena dam. I saw a pair a grey crowned cranes standing on top of an acacia tree. Their shapes were profiled against the skyline in the pre-dawn haze.

As I watched them, the thought about possibly waiting for the sunrise and getting a photo crossed my mind. So I sat quietly and waited as the light slowly increased.

Then suddenly, another large bird flew towards the acacia tree and attempted to land virtually on top of the grey crested cranes. It was a secretary bird, a very large raptor. However, the cranes had a bit of a flap and then stood firm and would not move off “their tree”.

Then something strange happened. One of the grey crowned cranes began to seemingly vocally express how it felt as the secretary bird turned away and hung its head as it stood there passively.

I imagined the crane was “lecturing ” the secretary bird on the “basics of big bird etiquette“. Rule No1. No big bird should have its feathers ruffled if first on top of a tree, especially if the aggressive act was in front of his lifetime partner.

Rule No2. Big birds should behave in a regal manner, showing respect for other big birds. Then seemingly reciting Rule No 3,4,5,6,7, etc… maybe it recited the entire rule book?

The crane seemed to be really upset, continuously expressing distaste of the secretary birds behaviour. It really amused me to watch this “ big bird lecture”. Eventually, the secretary bird flew away and left the cranes in peace.

Spend a day in the park, go “birdwatching”. You will be surprised how many other animals can also be seen. Just slow down to the pace of nature.