Birds of Mount Kisingiri, Nyanza Province, including a preliminary survey of the Gwassi Hills Forest Reserve and a species new to Kenya
Mount Kisingiri comprises a much overlooked highland massif in southern Nyanza Province with a hitherto completely unknown avifauna. Here we detail our findings from three brief exploratory visits undertaken between 2011 and 2014, with a focus on forested habitats above 1800 m in the Gwassi Hills Forest Reserve (GHFR). We confirm the presence of 34 forest-dependent species, including a globally near threatened forest raptor, the Crowned Eagle Stephanoaetus coronatus, as well as the first known occurrence of the Western Citril Crithagra frontalis in Kenya. Including noteworthy species recorded from other, non-forested areas at lower elevations on the volcano, we provide 46 new or updated (post-1970) distributional records for these two quarter degree atlas squares (60A and 60C). Estimates of species detection probability and abundance, a comparison of forest-dependent species between logged and unlogged sites, and a coarse assessment of overall forest integrity, reveal a highly threatened forest bird community with apparently dwindling numbers of forest specialists. Lastly, we confirm continuing and rapid deforestation in the GHFR and highlight the pressing need for improved forest management and more thorough biodiversity surveys of extant forest.