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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