With more than 300 species recorded, Meru is an excellent birding destination. It has several northern Kenya specials, including the impressive Somali ostrich, Boran cisticola and vulturine guineafowl. The noisy yellow-necked spurfowl is very common and the sought-after Hinde’s babbler can sometimes be spotted as well. The rivers running through the park offer the right habitat for Pel’s fishing-owl, the elusive African finfoot and the localized golden palm weaver as well as more common water birds. Meru offers good bird watching throughout the year, but the best time is from November to April when the migrants from Europe and north Africa are present. This coincides with the breeding season when many species are nesting. Although good for birding, April tends to be very wet and is a less productive time for general wildlife viewing.
Meru National Park
Meru National Park is most known for the story of Elsa the Lioness, made famous in the book Born Free. Meru forms part of a complex of protected areas along the Tana River and it straddles the equator in the central part of the country. Meru National Park is a forest reserve located 350km from Nairobi, east of Meru town. It is one of Kenya's lesser known parks, covering an area of 87 044 hectares. Meru is part of a complex of protected areas along the Tana River that includes the Bisanadi and Mwingi National Reserves, Kora National Park and Rahole National Reserve.
The wetter north western sector is hilly with rich volcanic soils. Towards the east the land flattens and the soil appears grey and volcanic. As well as the many streams that cross Meru National Park, the park is bound by three large rivers: Rojeweru River to the East, Ura River to the south west and the Tana River to the south. Kenya's location on the equator gives it a tropical climate and a lot of summer rainfall, which encourages the growth of vegetation. This in turn makes animal spotting fairly difficult out of the dry season, but beautiful scenery nevertheless.
Meru offers good overall wildlife viewing and is home to the Big Five. Elephants are particularly common and relaxed. Big cat sightings are hit-and-miss. There is a chance of spotting a white or black rhino in the drive-in rhino sanctuary, although the vegetation is extremely thick. Hippos and Nile crocodiles are common along the Tana River. Most people will appreciate Meru National Park for its northern specials, which are animals that are specially adapted to arid conditions. The reticulated giraffe is distinguishable by its dramatic pattern. Grevy's zebra occur alongside the smaller and more common Burchell's zebra. This is one of few places to encounter the shy lesser kudu and the impressive looking beisa oryx. Most odd of them all is the gerenuk with its elongated neck.