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NAIROBI PARK DIARY

Just pelicans

There are eight known different species of pelicans worldwide, with two species seasonally visiting the Nairobi National Park

In Summary

•They are easy to identify because of rarity among birds of a pouch under their bill

Pelicans at Athi dam
Pelicans at Athi dam
Image: GARETH JONES

Over many years, I have noted that most of us are still in “City mode” when we enter a national park, and would like to see as much of the created wonders as possible.

Our challenge is to quickly snap out of “City mode” into “Bush mode”. When we relax and wait at the water, then wildlife becomes a very different experience as species start to behave naturally. This can be a very rewarding experience as we never know what species might be seen and enjoyed.

In this article, we focus on any interesting and peculiar looking bird known as the pelican. Pelicans are a genus of large water birds that makes up the family Pelecanidae.

There are eight known different species of pelicans worldwide, with two species seasonally visiting the Nairobi National Park, namely the great white pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus) and the smaller pink-backed pelican (Pelecanus rufescens).

I have personally seen both species of pelicans on many occasions in the park. Mostly seen at the bigger dams.

It is easy to identify pelicans because they are one of the only birds with a pouch under their bill. Their wingspan can range from 2 to 3.6m, depending on species. Pelicans are splendid fliers and can soar like eagles with their giant wings.

While most pelicans eat fish exclusively, they can be opportunistic feeders, eating lizards, frogs, crabs and lobsters and even other birds on occasion.

I hope your time waiting at the water will be restful and be like a “soul tonic”. I believe God has also created nature for mankind to observe and relax in when we escape for a short while from the craziness of the city ways of the this world we live in.

So why not plan your next visit to the Nairobi National Park to include some “waiting at the water” moments. You never know, you might also enjoy seeing some pelicans.

The park is open daily from 06h00 to 19h00.