Monday, 27 July 2009

Tanzania - Part 1

This month's Avian Adventures tour in Tanzania followed a familiar itinerary that took us to Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, places that can provide some of the most wonderful wildlife spectacles available anywhere on Earth. Our local driver/guide was Peter Loishiye Laizer who was excellent throughout and had a good knowledge of the birds, something that isn't guaranteed from safari guides in East Africa.

After a night in Arusha on arrival, we began in Tarangire National Park and enjoyed a two-night stay at the very comfortable Tarangire Sopa Lodge. Birding began on the way there with roadside species such as White-headed Buffalo-Weaver, Lilac-breasted Roller and Northern White-crowned Shrike providing a taste of things to come.

Northern White-crowned Shrike

Red-headed Rock Agama (female) - common around the lodge

The park is at its most attractive to large concentrations of wildlife in the dry season (June to September) when the Tarangire River offers a permanent water source. The rolling landscape was otherwise mainly dry and dusty red with huge baobab trees, acacia thorn-bush and large areas of parched grassland. During our stay we saw in good numbers most of the expected large mammal species. There were hundreds of Elephants, Zebra, Wildebeest and Impala for instance, plus Giraffes, Grant's Gazelles, tiny Kirk's Dik-diks and many more. We found our first of many Lions seen on the tour soon after lunch on the first day, always an impressive sight even when just 'lion around' doing nothing.

African Elephants

It was the birds, though, that were our main focus and there was always something to see ranging from the large, easy to see and identify, Ostriches to the more challenging cisticola species and weavers and bishops most of which were not unfortunately in their brightest and most helpful plumage. As many as 550 species are said to have been recorded in the park, amongst them the endemic Yellow-collared Lovebird and Ashy Starling both of which were very easy to see. Not surprisingly, showy species such as Saddle-billed Stork, Long-crested Eagle, Martial Eagle and Bateleur were among the favourites but a delightful Two-banded Courser was also particularly popular.


Martial Eagle

Saddle-billed Stork

Ashy Starling

Two-banded Courser

More to follow...

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