Monday, 27 July 2009

Tanzania - Part 2

From Tarangire we drove the short distance to Lake Manyara National Park for a one-night stay at the Lake Manyara Serena Lodge. This gave us a very limited time in the park, just an afternoon on arrival and then the following morning before we moved on again.

Manyara is actually a relatively small park - it covers 330 square kilometres, 200 square kilometres of which is lake when water levels are high. The road in to the park passes through some quite dense woodland where Silvery-cheeked Hornbills were the most notable birds. Numerous Olive Baboons lined the road and we also saw several Sykes's Monkeys. On the grassy floodplain, Zebras, Wildebeest, Giraffes and Impala were grazing.

Olive Baboon

Silvery-cheeked Hornbill

We had seen from the lodge, situated high on a hillside above the lake, what must have been tens of thousands of Lesser Flamingos, from a distance just a mass of pink. Unfortunately, when we went to the lake we found there was no way that we could get anywhere near them which was rather frustrating. These are birds some of which breed at Lake Natron, a Ramsar Site that is currently threatened by the development of a soda ash plant on its shores. A world wide campaign is in progress to stop the planned construction of the soda ash factory by Tata Chemicals Ltd of Mumbai, India and National Development Corporation of Tanzania.

Although there were no close-up Flamingos we did get some excellent views of other birds at the edge of the lake. There were countless Great White Pelicans, at least 200 African Spoonbills and a similar number of Yellow-billed Storks, plus Grey Herons, Great Cormorants of the race lucidus, Collared Pratincoles, Spur-winged Lapwings, Cattle Egrets, Grey-headed Gulls and even a couple of Greenshanks. It was quite a sight. All of these were at the aptly-named Hippo Pool - apparently the collective noun for a group of Hippos is a bloat, which seemed quite appropriate!

Hippopotamus - with Yellow-billed Oxpecker onboard

Great White Pelican

African Spoonbill

Amongst the many other birds seen in the park, personal favourites were a pair of elegant Mountain Wagtails at a nest - a reminder that the lake is at an altitude of about 1,000 metres above sea level.

More to follow...

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