Stop, listen and be grateful

How Geodesign can address development challenges in Africa | Guest Post
November 19, 2018
At 19
AT 19 | Guest Post
November 26, 2018
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As human beings, we are entitled to find something beautiful in life no matter how slight. Being with nature, from the magnificence of the elephant in the vast African Savannah to the microscopic wildlife, there is always something beautiful. Large or small. We are inspired by nature daily. We only have to be observant.

Many of us are always in awe by the trumpet call of an elephant, the roar of a lion or the agility of a leopard when in the hunt. Others find pleasure in the beauty of birds with their stimulating calls and/or songs. Being in nature teaches you to be still and listen. To notice the common yet not so common. As the human population, urbanization and development in our world loom, nature enthusiasts are always left to wonder whether nature will fight back or be forgotten. However, over time you realize, even in the business of a city, nature is always calling. This has been my experience, taking every day to realize nature won’t go anyone as long as humans are still part of it.

My best experiences in nature have been in the urban jungle of Nairobi. Even though being with elephants, rhinos and buffalos up close is amazing, nature in the city is very tenacious and inspiring. There is always the chatter of birds in the morning as I wake up. The Common Bulbuls always ready with their calls feasting on the early morning insects together with the House Sparrows, Olive Thrushes, Cape Robin-Chats.  The loud calls of a Hadada Ibis and Pied Crows can be heard from a distance as the scurry for what to eat for breakfast. Sometimes, during warm mornings, sunbirds also join the others. When you live in a somewhat suburban area and are a bird enthusiast, waking up is always filled with fascination.

As I head towards work I will always notice a Black Kite in flight, my all time favourite, the Black-headed Heron followed by Hamerkops that have built their large nests in a tree beside a busy road. I’m I always in awe of the large size of their homes. It’s like a fortress. Unbreakable by the wind. Strong enough to hold a family the whole year through with repairs done immediately the weather changes. These morning experiences are not to be taken for granted. Birds always remind me how close we are to nature no matter where we are. In the bush, forest, beach or the city. It is right there with us.

Recently, as I was minding my own business getting work done, I had a unique call. For some reason I was excited. I scan through my brains records of calls and songs. I remembered it. It was the call of a Red-Chested Cuckoo. The call was not still as it was close then far. So I decided to take a walk and look for it. Although a common suburban bird, it is still a forest bird and very good at being conspicuous. Unfortunately, I did not get to see it but hoped it will back tomorrow as the call had stopped. The following day, it came at exactly the same late again, late in the morning. After not getting to see it again, I thought maybe it becomes a resident bird during this time of the year. To no luck, I was not able to see it and it did not call on the third day.

Other common birds I get to hear and sometimes see on a daily basis include the Grey-backed Camaroptera, Pin-Tailed Whydah, Speke’s and Baglafecht weavers, the Marabous stork, Red–Eyed Dove, Streaky Seedeater, African Paradise Flycather, White-Bellied Tit, White eyed slaty flycatcher and the Cape Robin-Chat. In the evening, hearing the Montane Nightjar always gives me peace, so does getting to see owls. It is always rare to witness owls in a country where more often than not they are considered as a bad omen. To know they still roam our skyies at night is a blessing.

Every single day I am reminded to be still, observe and listen. Our daily rituals as humans can make us forget we are experiencing nature every day without having to go to a protected area once a year. In the urbanized concrete jungle of Nairobi, which is  surrounded by a national park, and forests makes it easier to experience wildlife every day. It not even in the birds alone, but also the occasional vervet monkeys in some areas, natural fences which still host hedgehogs or the wondering white – tailed mongoose. We still have wildlife within our city.

Featured Image: Balck-headed Heron © TonyWild by Anthony Ochieng’

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Vicki Wangui
Vicki Wangui
Vicki Wangui is a believer in all things beautiful. A believer in spreading information in regards to environmental awareness. A believer in sharing all that is good in Kenya's natural world. A believer in speaking truth with no boundaries. Do you have a story, photo, experience or message you need to share? Send your work to or

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