NAIROBI PARK DIARY

Purely purple moments

Spotting a purple gallinule provides a pure pleasure

In Summary

• Their shy and almost secretive nature helps them increase their possibility of survival

Purple galinule walk
Purple galinule walk
Image: GARETH JONES

I sat for some time at the Hyena dam and patiently watched and waited. Everything looked so much greener and the dam was very full and overflowing due to recent heavy rains.

There were so many birds around the area, all looking very busy as they actively searched the murky waters for their version of delicious aquatic meals for them to feast on.

Then suddenly, as I was about to leave, there was some movement in the thick aquatic vegetation along the fringes of the dam. I waited a few minutes and watched as a beautiful purple-bluish bird emerged. Wow! It was a purple gallinule (purple swamphen). As I sat very quietly, it began to behave naturally, seemingly oblivious to my presence.

Purple gallinules are uniquely created. Apart from having beautiful feathers, they have powerful beaks suited for easily cutting through thick reed stalks, and elongated semi-webbed feet to allow them the move with relative ease over floating aquatic vegetation.

Their diet is completely vegetarian, and they consume large quantities of predominately fibrous plants. The shy and almost secretive nature of the purple gallinule actually helps them to increase their possibility of survival.

Just sitting peacefully in a serene aquatic setting has a very calming effect on me. There are places and creatures on earth that God has put there so that our very souls will be restored.

Next time you are feeling a bit stressed or just need time out, it is a very good idea to spend some quality time in a national park, and slow down to the pace of nature.

So why not find a dam, wetland or stream, and watch the birds enjoying their aquatic feasts? Then perhaps if you sit very quietly, you might be privileged to have a purely purple moment as a purple gallinule emerges.

For more information on the park you can link to the following website  www.kws.go.ke