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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