Kenya Blog Post 1 – Days 1-2

Kenya Blog Post 1 – Days 1-2

 

Due to my GCSE exams, I had an especially long summer holiday this year and my family and I decided to take full advantage of this by going to Tanzania for three weeks, Madagascar for 4 weeks, and with a three week school trip to Kenya wedged between them. I had one day of birding at the beginning and end of my school trip to Kenya.

This evening we arrived in Nairobi Airport, having travelled East all day and fly out of Dar.  We were met at the airport by a driver from our accommodation Wildebeest Eco Camp. It had been recommended to us and had a great vibe, with loads of young people and even a lorry overland trip.
With the wifi not working, I wasn’t able to upload by blog posts of photographs, so left Mum with strict instructions to do that the next evening if there was wifi.

Day 2 – 20 July 2018

Our bird guide, Moses Kandie (kandyrop@yahoo.com) had guided us around Kenya in 2014. Funnily enough, I saw my 4,000th bird in the world with him on my first morning of birding in Kenya. It was good to see him again. He was a great guide, which was why we were birding with him again.

This morning we birded in Nairobi National Park, which is just on the outskirts of the city. It was strange looking out on a savannah and seeing skyscrapers in the background. We had birded here on our last afternoon in We had one real target for the morning, Shelley’s Francolin. As well as getting amazingly close views of this, we saw A Fan-tailed Grassbird and Cuckoo-finch, both of which were new birds for us.

Trip list Kenya – 71

New birds Kenya – 3

Variable Sunbird, Nairobi National Park, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Dusky Turtle Dove, Nairobi National Park, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Nile Crocodile, Nairobi National Park, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Brimstone Canary, Nairobi National Park, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Secretary Bird on Nest, Nairobi National Park, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Long-tailed Fiscal, Nairobi National Park, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Yellow-throated Longclaw, Nairobi National Park, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Black-backed Jackal, Nairobi National Park, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Mum birdingl, Nairobi National Park, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Shelley’s Francolin, Nairobi National Park, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Topi, Nairobi National Park, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Nairobi National Park, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Grey-crowned Cranes, Nairobi National Park, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Giraffel, Nairobi National Park, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
African Python, Nairobi National Park, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

 

We had lunch at the Nairobi National Park and what was incredible was that there were literally thousands of mainly primary age children visiting the national park, visiting the animal sanctuary and hopefully educated about the need to conserve animals.

We had seen the site where the government has burnt stashes of ivory in 2012. There had been another burning since we last visited, on 30 April 2016, with over 105 tons of ivory destroyed which amounted to the tusks of 6,000 elephants and worth 68 million pounds. I agree with them that any kind trade in ivory creates a market for it and leads to more poaching.

Ivory Burning Memorial, Nairobi National Park, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Burnt ivory, Ivory Burning Memorial, Nairobi National Park, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Ivory Burning Memorial, Nairobi National Park, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Burnt ivory, Ivory Burning Memorial, Nairobi National Park, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Ivory Burning Memorial, Nairobi National Park, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Kenya is the only country in the area to ba n trophy hunting altogether.How can you have a National Park stopping poaching on one side of a line and people paying $100,000 dollars for a weeks’ poaching (AKA hunting) permit on the other side of the line such as in Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa. No wonder some poachers who are poor locals feel aggrieved. One rule for them and another for each white people. If you feel like me, write to these governments and say you will boycott their countries until they stop  trophy hunting.

We then went to Nairobi Airport and met up with my school group. I left my parents and Moses at this point, to meet up again in 16 days.

We were spending the night in Nairobi YMCA before travelling to Kisii in West Kenya. We were visiting a community project which was organised by Mend The Gap.

We then had a week off on safari in the Masai Mara and followed by a week with the Masai putting in solar panels to power up phones, whilst half the group did a walk in Mount Kenya.

My school, Chew Valley School were visiting at the same time as Gordano School, Churchill School and Clevedon School which are all close to my school and now in the same Lighthouse Academy.

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Birding in Tanzania Blog – Days 20-23

Birding in Tanzania Blog – Days 20-23

Due to my GCSE exams, I had an especially long summer holiday this year and my family and I decided to take full advantage of this by going to Tanzania for three weeks, Madagascar for 4 weeks, and with a three week school trip to Kenya wedged between them.

We had booked our 22 day birding trip with Tanzania Birding and Beyond (www.tanzaniabirding.com/about-us.html). Tina in the office was very responsive and sorted queries out very quickly. It is a Tanzanian owned company which is also great. Our guide was Anthony Raphael who was excellent at digging out the target species for us, staying focussed and not giving up. Our driver Gaiten was also brilliant, having some very long journeys to do. Anthony is at the Bird Fair 2018, so go an talk to him.

Day 20 – 16 July 2018

Monday 16th July 2018, we woke up in the lovely Swiss Tan Hotel and headed off to dry woodland, Miombo Forest, next to Mikumi National Park, starting at 5.30am. We were birding in an area run by the the military because there is an oil pipe running through to Malawi. For this reason we had to be out by 7.30 am and couldn’t take cameras in with us (so no photos).

We had a long list of birds to see here, so we birded until 8 am, went back to the hotel for breakfast, birded again until a late lunch, back to the hotel for lunch and that back again birding until dusk.
Birds we saw were Racket-tailed Roller, Pale-billed Hornbill, Speckle-throated Woodpecker, Stierling’s Woodpecker, Pale Batis, White-breasted Cuckoo-shrike, Cinnamon-breasted Tit, Neddicky, Stierling’s Wren-babbler, Western Violet-backed Sunbird, Yellow-throated Petronia, Broad-tailed Paradise Whydah and another Miombo Blue-eared Starling.

We then moved on to stay in a lodge by the entrance into East Udzungwas NP.

Day 21 – 17 July 2018

On the morning of Tuesday 17th July, we birded before breakfast in an area of scrub just outside the lodge. Here we heard a East Coast Boubou and saw Southern Brown-throated Weaver, Red-throated Twinspot, Moustached Grass Warbler, and Riechard’s Seedeater. There was another Twinspot species that we were looked for and then couldn’t find.

Southern Brown-throated Weaver, East Udunzungwa NP,  Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Yellow-crowned Canaary, East Udunzungwa NP, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

After breakfast, we then did the long drive to the Kilombero flood planes. However, due to climate change the flood planes were dry and was now mostly cultivated.We saw most of our target species, but not all. West African Darter, Black-winged Bishop (but still no Zanzibar Bishop), Wire-tailed Swallow, Coppery-tailed Coucal, Kilmobero Weaver and two as yet un-described species of Cisticola; White-tailed Cisticola and Kilombero Cisticola. One of these has not been described even though it has been known about for about 25 years. I think there has to be a balance because if species aren’t described, they are not usually protected. Nothing is stopping these birds becoming extinct at the moment.

Black-winged Bishop, Kilombero flood plains, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Kilombero Cisticola, Kilombero flood plains, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Kilombero Weaver, Kilombero flood plains, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Kilombero Weaver, Kilombero flood plains, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Wire-tailed Swallow at nest, Kilombero flood plains, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
African Harrier Hawk, Kilombero flood plains, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Just outside the lodge, by the entrance into the East Udunzungwa NP, we saw the endemic Iringa Colobus Monkeys.

Iringa Red Colobus Monkey, Ugunzungwa, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Then when we were back to the lodge, we walked the scrubland again for still didn’t see the remaining species of Twinspot.

Day 22 – 18 July 2018

The morning of Wednesday 18th July 2018, we spent the morning birding in East Udzungwas NP looking for one species, the  Livington’s Flycatcher.  It’s a bird I wanted to see just for the name.

Retz’s Helmet Shrike, Udzungwas NP, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Yellow Baboon, Udzungwas NP, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

After seeing this, we drove north to bird in Miombo Forest,  on the edge of the National Park in Miombo Forest again and this time managed to see Shelly’s Sunbird and Green-throated Woodpecker on our way back through. It was fantastic to see all the target birds here.
We also saw some other great birds including Red-throated Wryneck, Brown-headed Parrot, Speckle-throated Woodpecker, Crested Barbet, Pale Batis and Racket-tailed Roller.

Brown-headed Parrot, Miombo Forest, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Crested Barbet, Miombo Forest, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Pale Batis, Miombo Forest, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Racket-tailed Roller, Miombo Forest, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Red-throated Wryneck, Miombo Forest, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Speckle-throated Woodpecker, Miombo Forest, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Day 23 – 19 July 2018

Thursday 29th July, we had an early start to drive east to Dar es Salaam. The traffic is always heavy in Dar, due to road works and so we were met on the outskirts who knew the back roads really well and could get us into the airport through the back entrance. It felt sad to say goodbye to Anthony and Geiton after our three weeks together and I hope we meet again, maybe birding Malawi. Six hours later we arrived at Dar for our flight to Nairobi, Kenya.

Tanzania trip list – 451 (+ 2 un-described species)
New birds seen in Tanzania – 92 (+ 2 un-described species)

World List  = 4738 + 92 = 4830

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Birding in Tanzania Blog – Days 16 – 19

Birding in Tanzania Blog – Days 16 – 19

Due to my GCSE exams, I had an especially long summer holiday this year and my family and I decided to take full advantage of this by going to Tanzania for three weeks, Madagascar for 4 weeks, and with a three week school trip to Kenya wedged between them.

We had booked our 22 day birding trip with Tanzania Birding and Beyond (www.tanzaniabirding.com/about-us.html). Tina in the office was very responsive and sorted queries out very quickly. It is a Tanzanian owned company which is also great. Our guide was Anthony Raphael who was excellent at digging out the target species for us, staying focussed and not giving up. Our driver Gaiten was also brilliant, having some very long journeys to do. Anthony is at the Bird Fair 2018, so go and talk to him.

Day 16 – 12 July 2018

On Thursday 12th July, we awoke feeling flat and tired from staying up to watch England lose in the World Cup semi-finals. In a way it was good not to be home, will all the disappointment inevitably around. Birding is a great antidote for misery.

As Mum and Dad had missed the Usambara Akalat the evening before, Anthony was taking us to a different site to give it another chance. We were moving on afterwards so didn’t have long to spend looking, which was added pressure.  It’s always particularly painful to miss a bird, but much more so when your 16 year old daughter sees it and you don’t. Then for years to come, every time you look through your world list, the injustice and pain is felt again.

However, luck was with them, as within a short time we heard a Usambara Akalat. We had to then follow the call into the forest on a rough steep trail before catching sight of the bird.  There was a silent relief after both Mum and Dad had seen the bird.

We also saw some of the regional endemics again; Shelley’s, Mountain and Fischer’s Greenbul, Black-headed Apalis, Usambara Double-collared Sunbird and fantastic views of Spot-throat.

Black-headed Apalis, West Usamabara, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Usambara Double-collared Sunbird, West Usamabara, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

By 11 am, we have returned to the Lodge, got our bags and got on our way to the East Usambara.En-route from West to East Usamabara, we looked for Zanzibar Red Bishop at the road-side from the vehicle but we only saw Southern Red Bishop and Yellow Bishop, which was disappointing, as I would love to see something with Zanzibar in the name.

Southern Red Bishop, On road between West and East Usambara, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

We were staying at the Amani Research Station at the top of the mountain road, in Amani Nature Reserve which was at about 1400 metres. As we reached the approach road at the bottom, we stopped to look for Kretchmer’s Longbill which is resident at about 1000 metres. After about 45 minutes of searching, we managed to find one and went to find out accommodation.  The research station was clean and comfortable, though apparently not luxurious enough for lots of birders who don’t stay here. I would say that it’s a site you cant afford to miss in Tanzania.

New sign at Armani Forest, East Usambara, Tanzania – notice what’s wrong with the birds??
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

 

Old sign at Armani Forest, East Usambara, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

 

Day 17 – 13 July 2018

On Friday 13th July we got up early bird the trails around the research station, before going back for a late breakfast. We then birded until lunchtime and in the afternoon again in the Amani area.

 

Sunrise, East Usambara, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Birds of the day were critically endangered Long-billed Forest Warbler (Tailorbird). There are only a few birds left in this location and so few that they don’t know how many. IUCN had paid for the research station, in an effort to find out more about this species and try and save it from extinction. It is therefore an extremely difficult bird to see and Anthony told us that he had not seen it for the last 4 visits here. We found one calling and managed to get some brilliant views, so were ecstatic. Other great birds were Montane Tiny Greenbul, Banded Green Sunbird and Amani Sunbird.

Lizard Buzzard, Amani Forest Reserve, East Usamabara, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
East Coast Boubou, Amani Forest Reserve, East Usamabara, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Fischer’s Turaco, Amani Forest Reserve, East Usamabara, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Chestnut-fronted Helmet-shrike, Amani Forest Reserve, East Usamabara, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Trumpeter Hornbill, Amani Forest Reserve, East Usamabara, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

During our trip so far, dad had decided to cross-reference my world list of 4725 against his world list of 6050, to see if there were missing birds on either of our lists. He researched the missing birds to see if they were birds I really didn’t see or ones that had been missed off my list. Tonight he finished his check, with a few more he still had to do when we were home. Add in my Tanzanian new birds so far, my world list total is 4,800!

Day 18 – 14 July 2018

On the morning of Saturday 14th July, we decided to have an early breakfast before birding the local trails, as there wasn’t much activity the previous morning until about 8 am. We birded a different trail and managed to see Usambara Hyliota and Banded Green Sunbird, which were both target birds here. We were starting to connect with all our targets, with just a couple left.

After lunch and a bit of downtime, we were out birding the trail above the research station. Anthony said that this was a good area for Sharp’s Akalat. Within about half an hour, we heard a Sharp’s Akalat and almost immediately it flew across the path, giving us all flight views. We tried there for a while and carried on to a viewpoint before turning back. On the way back, we found an Akalat calling and preening only a metre from the path. We were able to watch it for 5 minutes. Amazing!

As we walked back to the lodge, we discussed that the Usambara Eagle Owl did roost in the forests around the lodge but that they hadn’t been calling for a month. So that would have to wait on the wanted list for the next time we visited.

That night at the research station, there was a large group of people attended a conference from around Tanzania. They worked in tourism and were there to see what Tanzanian tourists can do at Amani. There was a BBQ and a group of local young men dancing for entertainment. I decided to get to bed early and had just drifted off when I could hear mum running and panting towards the building. She had told us this morning that the night before she was sitting outside in the one place the WIFI worked when she had heard an animal with a large bite chomping loudly on fruit, which had scared her. Was she being chased by a Monkey?? The next minute, she burst into my room, “Eagle Owl!”. I jumped out of bed, as mum grabbed my binoculars and handed them to me and the next minute we were running down the hill. Anthony and two of the rangers were watching a Usambara Eagle Owl perched above the road. As we watched it, Anthony told us that there were three owls calling, which was unbelievable after a month of silence and that he had never seen the owls from the road itself. Just at this moment, another owl flew in. That was the last of our target Usamabara birds. Every single one. Anthony told us that he had never seen all of them in one visit before. On that high note, I went to bed.

Usambara Eagle Owl, Amani Forest Reserve, East Usamabara, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

I couldn’t sleep but could hear the local guys singing and dancing for a few hours. At one point, dad came into my room. Mum had brought one of dad’s unworn Liverpool FC T-shirts with her and said she would give into the first person who said they supported Liverpool. So, for the whole trip waiters & rangers said they supported Man U, Man City, Arsenal but no Liverpool. When Dad came in to get the T-shirt from my room, he said that Anthony had asked the group if anyone supported Liverpool and the lad at the front (who couldn’t speak English) started jumping up and down, shouting “Mo Salah,  Mo Salah, Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, Sadio Mane”. Dad told me that when Anthony told him we had a  Liverpool FC T-Shirt and were giving it to him, he had been jumping up and down, shouting “Mo Salah”, giving Mum and him hugs and saying “I love you”. On that even happier note, I did manage to get to sleep, ready for our early start and long 10 hour journey tomorrow.

A local Liverpool FC fan who was really happy with the T-shirt Mum and dad gave him
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Day 19 – 15 July 2018

The morning of Sunday 15th July, we were up early after the excitement of the previous night. We had a 6.30 am breakfast so that we could get on the way as we had a 10 hour drive down to Mikumi National Park, where you get all the big game. We drove south down the main highway and then took the right fork where the left goes to Dar es Salaam (Dar) and we were using the highway to all the landlocked central African countries. The highway was full of lorries with supplies going from Dar bound inland and was jointly funded by the landlocked countries.

The highway that goes through adjoining countries actually goes through the National Park for 50 kilometres with lorries going far too fast for the wildlife. There was too much roadkill including a poor hyena. The Tanzanian Government want to divert the highway around the park border but have been blocked by the neighbouring countries who will not contribute to the building of a new road. Something has to be done though, as the situation is ridiculous.

We saw a Dickinson’s Kestrel before we entered Mikumi National Park and then within the park, we saw White-headed Vulture and Miombo Blue-eared Starling.

Number of new birds – 73
Trip list –  407

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Birding in Tanzania Blog – Days 12 – 15

Birding in Tanzania Blog – Days 12 – 15

Due to my GCSE exams, I had an especially long summer holiday this year and my family and I decided to take full advantage of this by going to Tanzania for three weeks, Madagascar for 4 weeks, and with a three week school trip to Kenya wedged between them.

We had booked our 22 day birding trip with Tanzania Birding and Beyond (www.tanzaniabirding.com/about-us.html). Tina in the office was very responsive and sorted queries out very quickly. It is a Tanzanian owned company which is also great. Our guide was Anthony Raphael who was excellent at digging out the target species for us, staying focussed and not giving up. Our driver Gaiten was also brilliant, having some very long journeys to do. Anthony is at the Bird Fair 2018, so go and talk to him.

Day 12 – 8 July 2018

On Sunday 8 July, we left Arusha to head east. However, first, we stopped at an upmarket part of town with big houses, embassies and old trees, where we found our target, Brown-breasted Barbet.

Brown-breasted Barbet, Arusha, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Then we had a two-hour drive to the North Pare Mountains, but first stopping by a river at Kifaru, where we saw Taveta Weaver, African Reed Warbler, several Malachite Kingfishers and finally saw Bare-eyed Thrush, after so many attempts.

Bare-faced Thrush, Kifaru, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Taveta Weaver, Kifaru, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

After more driving, we stopped at Nyumba Ya Mungu. Here we saw Somali Bunting (I love anything with Somali in the name!), Baglafecht Weaver and Red-faced Crombec.

Brubru, Nyumba Ya Mungu, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
African Rock Python body, Nyumba Ya Mungu, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
African Rock Python head, Nyumba Ya Mungu, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Somali Bunting, Nyumba Ya Mungu, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

That night we stayed at Elephant Motel in Kakatu where we were staying for two nights whilst we birded that area.

Day 13 – 9 July 2018

This morning, Monday 9th July we went for a pre breakfast birding jaunt to the South Pare Mountains (part of the Eastern Arc Mountain range), where we saw our target species of Scaly Chatterer, another Bare-eyed Thrush, Tsavo Sunbird, Grey-headed Silverbill and Southern Grosbeak-starling.

Scaly Chatterer, South Pare Mountains, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

 

We carried on, to bird at Shengena Peak, also in the Southern Pare Mountains. Here we had a brilliant few hours birding seeing Black-headed Apalis (white bodied form), Montane White-eye (surely this is going to be a split to South Pare White-eye?), Usambara Double-collared Sunbird, Southern Grosbeak-canary, White-headed Mousebird and Green-winged Pytilla.

Green-winged Pytilla, Shengena Peak, South Pare Mountains, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Southern Grosbeak Canary, Shengena Peak, South Pare Mountains, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
White-headed Mousebird, Shengena Peak, South Pare Mountains, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Day 14 – 10 July 2018

In the morning we birded in Mkomazi, still in the South Pare Mountains, where we saw our target Eastern Black-headed Batis.

Eastern Black-headed Batis, Mkomazi, Southern Pare Mountains, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Then we drove east, stopping at one roadside site en-route where we saw Coastal Cisticola. The area after this is good for Striped Pipit, so although we looked from the road, we didn’t see one.

We reached Muller’s Lodge in Lushoto for lunch, which is also in the West Usambara, which is within the Eastern Arc Mountain range.

Tanzania used to be a German colony until after the Second World War when Britain took over.  Lushoto was chosen as the German administrative centre and our hotel was where the Governor lived. They chose this area as their headquarters to live in because it was cool in the mountains and fewer mosquitos.

We spent the afternoon birding in the Mkuzi Forest, surrounding forests within West Usambara. It was a shame that in the background all we could hear was the constant sound of chainsaws, even though it is meant to be protected as National Park.  We saw some great birds, including a larger race of Fork-tailed Drongo (ripe for a split?), Red-capped Forest Warbler, Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater and White-chested Alethe.

Black-headed Apalis, Western Usambara, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater, Western Usambara, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Usambara Double-collared Sunbird, Western Usambara, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Back at the lodge, pre dinner, we saw an African Wood Owl that Anthony had called in then came to get us from our room. Apparently, they got African Spotted Eagle Owl and Usambara Nightjar on the grounds, but we, unfortunately, didn’t see them.

African Wood Owl, Western Usambara,  Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Day 15 – 11 July 2018

Today, Wednesday 11th July we spent the whole day birding in Magambe Forest, in the West Usambara. The section of the forest we visited has been preserved better than the area where we birded yesterday which was closer to villages.
I saw all our targets which were Mountain, Shelley’s, Stripe-faced and Placid Greenbuls, Usambara Thrush, Weaver and Akalat and a Spot-throat. The last four birds are incredibly skulky and so we had to go to a quiet area, where we walked deep into the forest. It’s the sort of birding that I’m in my element in, lots of sitting still and picking out the slightest movement with my young eyes, which makes a lot of difference. The Usambara Akalat was a bird that only I saw. I called it and pointed out where it had disappeared just as it called again from where I was pointing, just to prove me right. So we would be returning to the forest tomorrow to try and get Mum and Dad onto it. Unsurprisingly, no photos of the sulky birds!
It was rapidly getting dark as we tried to find our way out of the forest when Anthony called Usambara Nightjar, then which flew over several times.
Back at the hotel after dinner, we settled down to watch England V Croatia on TV,  with a coal fire bowl nest to us to keep us warm. We then went through all the emotions of the match, with everyone back home, from a goal up to a loss…

Number of bird species seen – 364

Number of new world life birds seen – 48

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Birding in Tanzania Blog Post 3 – Days 8 -11

Birding in Tanzania Blog Post 3 – Days 8 -11

Due to my GCSE exams, I had an especially long summer holiday this year and my family and I decided to take full advantage of this by going to Tanzania for three weeks, Madagascar for 4 weeks, and with a three week school trip to Kenya wedged between them.

We had booked our 22 day birding trip with Tanzania Birding and Beyond (www.tanzaniabirding.com/about-us.html). Tina in the office was very responsive and sorted queries out very quickly. It is a Tanzanian owned company which is also great. Our guide was Anthony Raphael who was excellent at digging out the target species for us, staying focussed and not giving up. Our driver Gaiten was also brilliant, having some very long journeys to do. Anthony is at the Bird Fair 2018, so go and talk to him.

Day 8 – 4 July 2018

On Wednesday 4th July, we left The Country Lodge after breakfast and birded in the Lake Manyara area trying to pick up a couple of birds we had still missed. We managed to catch up with Straw-tailed Whydah from a roadside stop.  At the Manyara Lake area itself, we saw Steel-blue Whydah, Abyssinian Wheatear, Rufous-tailed Weaver and looked again for Bare-eyed Thrush.

Straw-tailed Whydah, Manyara Lake area, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig & Chris Craig, Manyara Lake area, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

From the lake area, we travelled to Tarangire National Park, to the southeast, in time for a picnic lunch before birding the outer road from our vehicle.  We were specifically looking for Pangani Longclaw, which we didn’t see, but had to keep swatting the Tsu flies which have a nasty bite.

Buffalo, Tarangire National Park, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Giraffe with baby, Tarangire National Park, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

We arrived at Tarangire Lodge within the park when it was still light. The views from the verandah over the park and flood plains were stunning. We also managed to speak to my sister Ayesha on WhatsApp which was fantastic.

Our bungalow was a little walk from the main building and again we were told to be careful, as there was no fence, look for eye shine with our torches (flashlights). After dinner, I wanted to back to our room alone but was told by my Dad I had to wait for them. There were lots of sounds around but the loud roar of a Lion close by when I was in bed kept things real.

Day 9 – 5 July 2018

On Thursday 5th July, after an early breakfast, our guide, Anthony, asked us if we wanted to go back and look for Pangani Longclaw or go to look for more animals. We were unanimous; we wanted to go and look for a brown drab bird in a biting-fly infested area of the park. After about an hour, there they were, 4 Pangani Longclaw, a new bird for us.

Warthog, Tarangire National Park, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Elephants with baby, Tarangire National Park, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Pangani Longclaw, Tarangire National Park, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Pygmy Falcon, Tarangire National Park, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Love-collared Lovebird, Tarangire National Park, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Next, we drove back to Arusha, where we were back staying at the Korona Villa. Arusha is Tanzania’s third city and it was where The Rwandan war trials were held.

Day 10 – 6 July 2018

Greater and Lesser Flamingo, Arusha National Park, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

On the morning of Friday 6th July, we drove to Arusha National Park. It has a large lake which we birded for ducks and other water birds. A large section of the park was flooded from recent heavy rains and so the roads couldn’t be passed and lots of habitats had been washed away. More signs of climate change being seen here.

Flooding, Arusha National Park, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Flooding, Arusha National Park, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Some of the birds we saw were Mountain Green-bull, Striped-faced Greenbull, Grey-olive Greenbull, Augur Falcon and another Pangani Longclaw.

Augar Buzzard, Arusha National Park, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Colobus Monkey, Arusha National Park, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Narina Trogon, Arusha National Park, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
White-fronted Bee-eater, Arusha National Park, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

 

Pagani Longclaw, Arusha National Park, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Day 11 – 7 July 2018

On Saturday 7th July, we drove east from Arusha to the Lark plains close to Mount Kilimanjaro and the border with Kenya. Tanzania Birding and Beyond had set up a bird tourism conservation project that provides income to the local Masai community. They have trained 2 young men to find the 3 rare Larks that occur here, Beesley’s, Athi Short-toed and Short-tailed Lark. The first of these is endemic to this tiny area with only about 200 birds left. If you go birding to Tanzania, please make sure you fit this site into your itinerary. The contact details are 076348921, 0758508163 or beesleyslarkengikarat@gmail.com .

The Masai men had found 3 Beesley’s Larks and waited for us to arrive, to show us. The other 2 larks were a bit easier to find, in these small plains in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig with Masai guides, Lark Plains, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig with guide Anthony, Lark Plains, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Lark Plains, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Lark Plains, Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Lark Plains, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Athi Short-toed Lark, Lark Plains, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Beesley’s Lark, Lark Plains, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Short-talled Lark, Lark Plains, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig and Chris Craig, Lark Plains, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig with Chris Craig, Lark Plains, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
 Lark Plains, Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Lark Plains, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Lark Plains, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Lark Plains, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

The afternoon was time off, so the vehicle could be checked over, which fitted in well, with the England V Sweden World Cup quarter-finals. So at 5 pm, we found a working TV to watch England win 2-0. A fantastic end to the day!

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig and Chris Craig watching football, Arusha, Tanzania
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

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