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The Birds of Galu

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Birds of Galu

All the birds listed I have recorded within walking distance of Pinewood Village. Since the records are only of species present at one time during the year, the Christmas Holiday period of 1993 and 1994 when Palaearctic migrants are included, other intra Africa migrants visiting at other times of the year will inevitably increase the total number of species that Pinewood and its environs hosts.


The presence of a solitary OYSTERCATCHER in 1994 is a rare occurrence on the Kenya coast. Equally the very large flocks, several thousand in total, of migrant WHITE - WINGED BLACK TERNS on the rocks to the south at low tide and normally more of an inland species are noteworthy.Several absentees from the lists should also occur from time to time at Galu all of which are regulars at other locations on Kenya's south coast. I refer particularly to the BLACK NECKED HERON, the shy and elusive GREEN - BACKED HERON, always solitary and showing a preference for rocky foreshores and the less common BLACK HERON where wanderers from the colony on Kisite Island off Wasini should occur occasionally.

The PIED KINGFISHER, the commonest kingfisher of the Kenya coast is another species I have not recorded at Galu which is strange. Its' place, in the scrub, is taken by the less colourful STRIPED KINGFISHER.


The unspoilt forest area to the north of Pinewood hosts a number of species that prefer forest as opposed to scrub vegetation for their existence. Many forest species are colourful birds which although elusive are well worth the sighting and of particular note at Galu are the FISCHER'S TURACO, SILVERY-CHEEKED HORNBILL, GOLDEN-TAILED WOODPECKER, GREEN WOOD HOOPOE, BLACK-COLLARED BARBET, LESSER-HONEY GUIDE, MOTTLE-THROATED SPINETAIL, BLACK- HEADED BUSH SHRIKE and ZANZIBAR PUFF-BACK SHRIKE. In 1993 I also recorded a TRUMPETER HORNBILL uncommon on the south coast.

As with shorebirds the birds of Galu during the Northern Hemisphere's winter are swelled by migrant species which in 1994 were particularly well represented. Records included the European species of the SPOTTED FLYCATCHER, ROCK THRUSH, GOLDEN ORIOLE, RED-BACKED SHRIKE and, unusually on the beach WHEATEAR and YELLOW WAGTAIL.


Many of the species recorded however can be seen without leaving the Pinewood precincts. Although activity declines during the heat of the day the smaller birds that require continual energy replacement are constantly in evidence. The flowering bushes receive regular visits from COLLARED SUNBIRDS and LITTLE PURPLE-BANDED SUNBIRDS while RUFOUS - BACKED MANNIKINS, BRONZE MANNIKINS and RED CHEEKED CORDON BLEUS of the Waxbill family are also numerous. In the cool of the day the birds from the adjoining undergrowth will sometimes make their appearance, notably the GOLDEN-RUMPED TINKERBIRD and the TROPICAL BOUBOU named the Bell-bird for its dueting calls. BLACK -BREASTED GLOSSY STARLINGS are to be seen in the foliage of the larger trees.

In the air I have recorded eight species of Swifts and Swallows to test the identification powers of the more advanced enthusiast while 1994 is characterised by large numbers of migrant WHITE-THROATED BEE-EATERS from the north of the African continent.

So enjoy the bird life of Pinewood and let the management know of your unusual or additional observations so the records can be updated.

Robin Cahill, P O Box 40612, Nairobi

Colobus Monkey


We have in the forest that surrounds Pinewood, a large family unit of the Angolan species (pictures) Colobus monkey. They are an endangered species and protected by the Colobus Trust in Diani. They are a shy species and have, after 10 years, started to come into Pinewood. Enjoy them. And please do not scare them. On the other hand, we have plenty of Sykes Monkeys (grey) that are aggressive and will get into your rooms. Do not feed.


The Colobus monkey has a number of features that demonstrate adaptation to a life spent primarily in the upper levels of the forest canopy. A light weight bone structure and elongated limbs make it easier to leap from branch to branch. A hand with four fingers and no thumb provides a strong grasp on branches as the animal moves through the trees. (The name "colobus" means "mutilated one" and refers to the missing thumb.)
In traveling from tree to tree, these animals often perform spectacular downward leaps of 15-20 feet, during which the long shoulder hair acts like a parachute, fanning out to help check the animal's descent.
This same white fringe also provides camouflage by breaking up the animal's outline. Unlike other Old World monkeys, the Colobus has no cheek pouches.


Most arboreal of all African monkeys, the Colobus seldom descend from the trees. They are confined to the higher elevations, scattered across Africa from Cameroon to Ethiopia. Home range of individual troops are defined and marked by a creaking and rattling vocalization.


A shy and retiring aloofness sets this species apart from other monkeys and may be the reason they are considered holy in West Africa. They live in troops led by a strong male who usually covers the troop's retreat. As with other species, there is frequent social grooming among troop members.


Leaves are the main diet of the Colobus monkey. It also eats fruit, bark, flowers, and, occasionally, insects. Most species spend all their time in the trees.


Unlike many animals, fighting rarely occurs during breeding season. Instead, males and estrous females withdraw from the troop and engage in a "communal marriage" of short duration. The male mates with various females in succession.
After a gestation period of 5-7 months, the pregnant female, accompanied by a male, withdraws from the troop. A day after birth she returns with her young clinging to her underside. The mother carries the young in this manner for about eight months. Other members of the group frequently help by carrying the infant.


In the past, Black and White colobus monkeys have been hunted by local tribes for their spectacular coats which were used on ceremonial occasions. In addition, American and European furriers used the fur as coat trimmings. African legend calls colo¬bus monkeys the messen¬gers of the gods because some of them climb to the tops of trees at sunrise and sit silently, as if in prayer.

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