Madagascar Post 3 – Days 10 – 14

Madagascar Post 3 – Days 10 – 14

Our birding trip was organised by Madagascar Tour Guide (madagascar.tour.guide@gmail.com), who was really well organised. Our guide for most of the trip was Julian, who was brilliant at digging the birds as well as sorting things out for us along the way. The company is owned by Andre who came to meet us as we passed through Tena. I would highly recommend them and the prices were modest with much of the money going back into local communities.

 

Day 10 – 14/08/2018

Tuesday 14th August 2018 we were up early again for a 5.30 am breakfast so that we could start out on our long journey to Ranomafana NP, which is a tropical jungle. Unfortunately, we didn’t see anything on the route except for Olive Bee-eater, Grey-headed Vanga and Common Myna which is introduced. We were staying at The Cristo Hotel, which was mid-range but the owner went out of her way to be accommodating.

 

Day 11 – 15/08/2018

Wednesday 15th August 2018, we were up for a 6 am breakfast, so that we could go birding into the Ranomafana NP, which is a tropical jungle. The forest is big and the paths go up and down steeply, keeping you fit in the heat. Our local guide was Emele (jery.ra@gmail.com), who was the best local guide in the area and had helped with many research projects. He was very friendly and told us very proudly about how he had two animals named after him, which was impressive for anyone. He told us that some parts of the forest had not even been investigated and that if he could get researchers and funding, they were bound to find new species.  That is exactly what I would like to do in the future but with a camera person filming. We also had a spotter with us for our visit.

We had a fantastic first-morning birding, with birds of the day being Malagasy Blue Pigeon, Red-fronted Coua, Velvety Asity,  Common Sunbird-asity, Wards Flycatcher, Crossley’s, Blue, Tylas and Rufous Vanga, White-throated Oxylabes, Spectacled Tetraka, Rand’s Warber, Malagasy White-eye, Nelicouvi Weaver and Forest Fody.

For most of the morning and afternoon, we tried for Rufous-headed Ground Roller again. Whilst we did hear one a few times very briefly, by the time we had followed the call, the birds had gone quiet. Maybe tomorrow?

 

Day 12 – 16/08/2018

Thursday 16th August 2018, we were back at Ranomafana Forest birding from 6.30 am. We had another tough day of birding, climbing up and down the steep paths and off-roading through thick forest, with one new bird, Long-billed Bernieria.

Other birds for the day were Brown Mesite, Madagascan Wood-Rail, Pitta-like Ground Roller, Common Sunbird-asity, Pollen’s, Blue Vanga and Tylas Vanga and Wards Flycatcher.

We drove up to Sahamalaotra Forest at 5.30 pm, which was at the top of the mountainside, to look at Lemurs, frogs and try for Madagascar Long-eared Owl,  which we didn’t see. However, we did see Brown Mouse Lemur.

 

Day 13 – 17/08/2018

Today, Friday 17th August 2018, we went up to the mountain early to go birding in Sahamalaotra Forest all day. It was another tough day, running up and down steep paths and climbing through dense forest with most of it spent trying to see Rufous-headed Ground Roller, which was only calling briefly. It’s frustrating when you spend a whole day trying for one bird and you just hear a 20-second burst every two hours or so. Eventually, I saw one but only managed to get mum and dad onto it briefly. When that happens, you can’t really celebrate and you know that you have to keep looking until everyone sees it well. Other birds were Blue Coua, Grey-crowned Tetraka, Green Jery, Madagascan Yellowbrow, Red Fody and Madagascan Mannikin.

 

Day 14 – 18/08/2018

We were up early again today and headed up to Sahamalaotra Forest for a final try before we had to start a long journey. It’s hard when you are trying for specific but without any joy. The forest paths here were steep, with lots of steps. We were listening for Rufous-headed Ground Roller the whole time. If we heard it, we would have to run to the part of the forest where the bird was calling from, go into the forest and sit quietly still. Julian and Emile would play the tape and the spotter would look for the bird. For all our hard work, we weren’t rewarded with the bird and by 8am we had to leave. New birds for the day were Cryptic Warbler and a Madagascar Flufftail, which we saw well, just as we were leaving the forest.

We then left this stunning location to make our way to Andasibe NP, another great forest. On the way, we stopped at wetlands where we saw Black Heron, Madagascan Lark and Stonechat.

We arrived at Andasibe NP at about 6 pm, in time to get sorted in our lower mid-range lodge Feon’ny Ala Hotel. This was the only place where the staff seemed disinterested but every time mum was about to complain, a different staff member would serve us who could speak English and seemed vaguely interested. This is where Julian lived and so he went off that evening to see his daughter and granddaughter who had been born the day before.

It’s been really hard blogging in Madagascar as the internet has been really weak, so I’ll just have to wait until we get home to upload any images.

Today was my niece Laila’s 10th birthday. We were all really missing her and it was great to have a WhatApp call to her.

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In the last footsteps of Phoebe Snetsinger – Madagascar Post 1 – Days 1 – 5

In the last footsteps of Phoebe Snetsinger – Madagascar Post 1 – Days 1 – 5

Our birding trip was organised by Madagascar Tour Guide (madagascar.tour.guide@gmail.com), who was really well organised. Our guide for most of the trip was Julian, who was brilliant at digging out the birds as well as sorting things out for us along the way. The company is owned by Andre who came to meet us as we passed through Tena. I would highly recommend them and the prices were modest.

Day 1 – 05/08/2018

On Sunday 5th August 2018, my mum and dad picked me up at 7.30 am for Nairobi YMCA, to go straight to Nairobi NP for a final day of birding.

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig on her trip with Chew Valley School
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

With a new bird snuck in right at the end, I was pretty happy to be finishing that bit of the trip on 4,836 including a couple of new birds I found after taking into account the latest IOC World List update. The latest total list for the world is 10,711, so if I want to see half by the time I’m 18 years old, then that would be 5,356 which it will be touch and go whether I manage in time.
We were dropped at the airport at 6 pm for our 10.05 pm Air Kenya flight to Tana, the capital of Madagascar.

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig with Chris Craig at Nairobi Airport, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

After dinner at the airport, we finally took off about 45 minutes late. Our flight was actually stopping on the Comoros Islands, which didn’t seem so bad, except that loads of people got off, they cleaned the plane, loads of people got on and they had to do lots of swapping people around presumably because the checking in process wasn’t very efficient. I was so exhausted after 16 nights of camping and late nights with my friends, I passed out on the flight, somehow flat over two seats with my head on mum’s lap.

Day 2 – 06/08/2018

Our Madagascar Tour with Madagascar Tours
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Monday 6th August 2018, we arrived in Madagascar.  Unsurprisingly, our fight was very late arriving in Tana and then our pick up wasn’t there, so we got a taxi in a VERY old french taxi with a guy whose passengers hadn’t turned up either, so we were both happy. Tana is in the mid-east of the country.

Our hotel was called The Saka Manga, which is the title of one of the Tin Tin books that were based on Madagascar. It was a lovely hotel and we had a fantastic 2 bedroom apartment, which was great to hang out in. We decided to stay up for 15 mins, have a 6 am breakfast, before heading to bed. Madagascar was a French colony and got independence around 1960. French is the second language and lots of people speak it as it is taught in schools and so it is also popular with french speaking tourists. You could also tell it was a French colony from the food. At breakfast, they had the very best soft french bread and pain au chocolate, which was brilliant.

By 7 am we were in bed, exhausted from our night flight. We were being picked up at 3.30 pm and so plenty of time to sleep through.

We got up at 3 pm, having skipped lunch, with a quick change before meeting Andre’s brother, who runs Madagascar Tours. We drove to Tsarasoatra Wetland, to try and get a few of our first endemics. The Lake is an artificial one and apparently a Madagascan Queen in about 1840 had the lake built by lots of slaves.

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Tsarasoatra Wetland, Tana, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl, Mya-Rose Craig

Almost the first bird I saw was a Dimorphic Egret, which is my favourite type of new bird, a tick back. Mum and Dad saw this without me toward the end of their time in Kenya and so it was brilliant to catch it up. As well as this, I saw 12 endemics for Madagascar which were fantastic, the best being Meller’s Duck, Malagasy Kingfisher, Malagasy White-eye, Malagasy Kestrel and Malagasy Mannikin.

Madagascar Kestrel, Tsarasoatra Wetland, Tana, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl, Mya-Rose Craig
Malagasy White-eye, Tsarasoatra Wetland, Tana, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl, Mya-Rose Craig
Malagasy Kingfisher, Tsarasoatra Wetland, Tana, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl, Mya-Rose Craig

 

Meller’s Duck, Tsarasoatra Wetland, Tana, Madagascar
Photograph digiscoped by Birdgirl, Mya-Rose Craig using a Leica scope

 

Back at the hotel, we met up with Andre by the pool to go through the itinerary and check a few things over. There had been talking of being picked up at 4.30 am for our morning flight which I was not looking forward to, but Andre had been to the airport himself to find out what time our flight was due to go (as it is not published accurately) and it was agreed that we would be picked up at 6.30 am after breakfast. The thought of a freshly baked pain au chocolate cheered me up. Dinner was at the hotel restaurant which had a great ambience, being full of tourists from across the city. It was also ridiculously cheap with most of the main veggie courses costing only £2.50.
We tried to get an early night so that we didn’t start our trip exhausted.

Day 3 – 07/08/2018

Tuesday 7th August 2018 we were up at 5.30 am for a lovely french baked breakfast, before being picked up to go to the airport. Andre’s brother met us again and explained that the fog was bad which was why they were 10 minutes late. Mum and I immediately fell asleep in the car but dad later told us it was a stressful journey because we were stationary for so much of it. Our flight was at 9.30 am and we managed to get there at 8 am with half an hour to spare before check in closed.  We had heard that Madagascan flights were not that reliable, so we’re not surprised to hear that our flight was delayed because of bad weather in the southwest where the flight was coming from and where we were going. It was 11.30 am before we took off for Toliara in the South West of Madagascar, so once we were picked up by our guide for the trip Julian and the local guide for South West Madagascar Jean-Marie, we went straight to a supermarket to buy water and emergency provisions (like biscuits for me) before going to our hotel, The Victory Hotel for lunch.

We were meant to be going to the Andatabo Forest, which is a dry wooded area for our main target of the endemic and localised Red-shouldered Vanga but because of our delayed flight, we instead visited the nearby privately-owned Toliara Arboretum.

Here we caught up with a few more Madagascan endemic birds, Madagascan Magpie-robin, Malagasy Bulbul, Malagasy Paradise-flycatcher, Sakalava Weaver, Chabert Vanga, and the rare Green-capped Coua which is likely to become an IOC split from Red-capped Coua.

Malagasy Paradise Flycatcher, Toliara Arboreum, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Green-capped Coua, Toliara Arboreum, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Malagascan Magpie-Robin, Toliara Arboreum, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Madagascan Manakin, Toliara Arboreum, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Malagasy Bulbul, Toliara Arboreum, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

 

Sakalava Weaver, Toliara Arboreum, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

 

Here, we bumped into our first group of birders let alone a bird Tour. It was a Rockjumper Tours group, whose leader was really friendly to us. Dad had actually thought about us going on this tour, but it started before I had finished my school trip in Kenya, so had to be ruled out.

When we got back to the hotel, the Rockjumper Tours group arrived just after us, which was another co-incidence.

After dinner, I decided to take advantage of the lull and get an early night.

 

Day 4 – 08/08/2018

Wednesday 8th August 2018, we opted for a 5.30 am breakfast before going straight out birding to Andatabo Forest, which is a dry forest which we had to miss the day before.

The main target was Red-Shouldered Vanga, which you only get in this forest. This is a really special bird for me and one that I really want to see. Phoebe Snetsinger is still the top female world birder, almost 20 years after she died in Madagascar in a car accident. She was an amazing woman who was passionate about birds and who only started world birding after she was diagnosed with cancer. Really inspirational. Red-shouldered Vanga was the last new bird that she saw before she died. I think that seeing one would be really really emotional.

 


 

When I Googled “Phoebe Snetsinger birder”, this is a screenshot of part of the page. It made me giggle, as I love Jack Black and “almost” met Greg Miller (the birder Jack Black was playing) on a mountainside in Arizona a couple of years ago.

After two hours, we had seen Common Newtonia, Crested Drongo, Subdesert Brush Warbler, Soulmanga Sunbird and Lafresnaye’s Vanga but no sign of Red-shouldered Vanga.  I felt so disappointed but this was meant to be. The only thing that cheered me up was that we would be able to try again when we returned to Toliara in a couple of days.

 

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Andatabo Forest, Toliara, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Common Jery, Andatabo Forest, Toliara, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Common Newtonia, Andatabo Forest, Toliara, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Lafresnaye’s Vanga, Andatabo Forest, Toliara, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Soumanga Sunbird, Andatabo Forest, Toliara, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

From here, we drove straight to the quayside. First, we loaded our bags into a wooden cart pulled by two zebus, which then took us across a muddy bay as the tide was out, to a waiting speed boat to which we were transferred. Then we had an hour and a half speed boat journey to the beach resort of Anakao which is further south from Toliara and opposite the island of Nosy Ve, where were birded early afternoon.

The target for mum and I was a Red-tailed Tropicbird, which bred on the island, but which dad had seen before. There were still large young on nests under bushes as well adults flying around, which were stunning. We also saw Madagascan Cisticola on the island which was a bonus. I was hoping to catch up with Crab Plover and Sanderson’s Terns, but I think it was too early for them this far south.

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig on the way to Anakao, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Anakao, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Sandbank off Nosy Ve, Anakao, Madagascar

Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig on the way to Nosy Ve, Anakao, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig on the way to Nosy Ve, Anakao, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Nosy Ve, Anakao, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Nosy Ve, Anakao, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Red-tailed Tropicbird, Nosy Ve, Anakao, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Immature Red-tailed Tropicbird, Nosy Ve, Anakao, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

We were back on the beach by 3.30 pm, so after a quick Littoral Rock Thrush twitch behind our bungalow, we had loads of time to swim and sunbathe, which was fantastic and restful. It always makes a change to get some R & R on a full-on birding trip. It’s really is idyllic here with white sand and the island across the water.

Littoral Rock Thrush, Anakao, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Just as it turned dark, we heard nightjar calling outside and immediately found Madagascan Nightjar behind us. Julian and Jean-Marie came to find us at this point and so we’re able to help us to find another couple of birds.

Madagascar Nightjar, Anakao, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

After a very expensive dinner, we made sure we were in bed by 9.30 pm, as tomorrow we were being picked up at 4.30 am with a packed breakfast.

Day 5  – 09/08/2018

Today, we were up at 4.00 am, to leave at 4.30 am with a few bits for breakfast to drive southeast to Tisimanampetostra Lake and Nature Reserve. It was a two-hour drive to the lake, so I managed to sleep the whole way and still arrived at 6.30 am just as the sun was rising. We had another local guide with us and saw a whole load of endemic birds, especially after birding in the dry forest. The best were Madagascan Plover, which is critically endangered and there are only about 3000 left, Madagascan Sandgrouse which only has a few birds left here due to hunting, Greater and Lesser Vasa Parrots, Archbold’s Newtonia and the stunning Verreaux’s Coua.

 

Tisimanampetostra Lake, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

 

Black-winged Stilt, Tisimanampetostra Lake, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Tisimanampetostra Lake, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Madagascan Soundgrouse, Tisimanampetostra Lake, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Madagascan Soundgrouse, Tisimanampetostra Lake, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Madagascan Soundgrouse, Tisimanampetostra Lake, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Madagascan Swamp Warbler, Tisimanampetostra Lake, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Madagascan Plover, Tisimanampetostra Lake, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Red-billed Teal, Tisimanampetostra Lake, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Archbold’s Newtonia, Tisimanampetostra Nature Reserve, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig with a 2000 year old Boabab tree,
Tisimanampetostra Nature Reserve, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Madagascar Lark, Tisimanampetostra Nature Reserve, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Ringtail Lemur, Tisimanampetostra Nature Reserve, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Ringtail Lemur, Tisimanampetostra Nature Reserve, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Verreaux Coua, Tisimanampetostra Nature Reserve, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Verreaux Coua, Tisimanampetostra Nature Reserve, Madagascar
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

 

We looked in the dry forest for Red-shouldered Vaga, but with no luck, as they are even rarer here. Maybe tomorrow…

As it was getting hot, we headed back to the beach and were thereby midday, so that I could spend the whole afternoon sunbathing, swimming and reading.
Madagascar List – 62Number of new life birds – 39

World List – 4,865

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Kenya post 2 – Day 18

Kenya post 2 – Day 18

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.

Day 18 – 5 August 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 Moses and my parents picked me up from the Nairobi YMCA at 7.30 am. It was sad to say goodbye to all my friends, having had a really great time in Kisii and Masai Mara getting to know the communities there.

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig in Kisii, Kenya with Chew Valley School
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

We birded in Nairobi National Park, which is just on the outskirts of the city. It was strange looking out on the savannah and seeing skyscrapers in the background, but I really love it.  This was the third time I had birded here.

The new bird for the morning was Striped Crake, which was a fantastic bonus. Moses had told us that he did not even have a reliable site for this.

We also saw a Saddlebilled Stork, which was new for this trip. A Black-backed Jackal did try it’s luck, but didn’t get far!

 

Saddlebilled Stork, Nairobi NP, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Saddle-billed Stork, Nairobi NP, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Black-backed Jackal, Nairobi National Park, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

 

White-winged Widowbird, Nairobi NP, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

 

Gabar Goshawk dark morph, Nairobi NP, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Lesser Swamp Warbler, Nairobi NP, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

 

Grey-crowned Cranes, Nairobi National Park, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Trip list Kenya – 80

New birds Kenya – 4World List – 4835

Topi, Nairobi National Park, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Giraffe, Nairobi National Park, Kenya
Photograph copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

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. We must stop governments around the world going back on this promise.

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

We then went to Nairobi Airport for our evening flight to Madagascar.

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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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