Posts Tagged ‘Tanganyika’

Hi all

I’m back ………………………

Leaving the Indian Ocean behind us we drove steadily westwards passing the famous Uluguru Mountains.  There are a bunch of special birds up there including the Uluguru Bush-shrike.  Unfortunately it is a long hard and arduous climb and as ANBM had a triple by-pass some months previously it was deemed unwise for us to attempt the climb.

Uluguru

The famous Uluguru Mountains

Through the Mikumi National Park and into the town of Mikumi itself, where we booked in to the Tan-Swiss Lodge.  Very comfortable motel type accommodation and a restaurant.  Next morning we were off again on a new mission !

Southwards, skirting the also famous Udzungwa Mountains National Park.

Udzungwa Mountains

The sign ….

Our destination was to go past the town (village ?) of Ifakara and into the Kilombero swamps !  Why – you ask ?

Kilombero Weaver

Kilombero Weaver – only discovered in 1986 !!

There are two other specials, also both discovered as recently as 1986 ……………….

Kilombero Cisticola

Kilombero Cisticola

White-tailed Cisticola

White-tailed Cisticola

Well our intentions were good.  The reality is that at that time of year the locals burn the swamp vegetation to plant their crops !!  So to get away from the road we resorted to a different form of transport ……

Kilombero River

Dugout on the Kilombero River

Whilst this little sojourn was great for general birding it failed in it’s quest to find any of the three specials !!  Sigh …..

We were entertained on the return journey (of some 140 km) by this ……..

Nice Truck

A very Nice Truck

We checked back into the same motel in Mikumi and went exploring into the adjacent National Park to be rewarded by a bird which ANBM was very keen to see.

Long-tailed Fiscal

Long-tailed Fiscal

The next day we were once again off westwards and through the amazing Ruaha Valley which gave us a whole string of new species that we were keen to find.

Ashy Starling

Ashy Starling

White-winged Tit

White-winged Tit

von der Decken's Hornbill

Male von der Decken’s Hornbill

Female von der Decken's Hornbill

.. and the female

It was a long day but most productive from a birding point of view.  Very tiring because the driving in Tanzania can be a little frenetic with about 80% of the traffic being huge trucks.

Tanzanian Highway

.. busy roads….

But it can be quite entertaining too ……..

Bob Marley

Bob Marley

We eventually arrived back at the Mount Rungwe Avocado Company and were once again welcomed and royally accommodated by the Clowes family.

The last chapter was about to begin……….

And it will unfold soon …………….

Thanks for listening

Tony

Hi All

Terribly sorry about the inordinate delay !!  It is no excuse but there is a reason …… I have been a very very busy chap and have had little time to consider my readers. Sorry !

After the PAOC conference we could now start to relax a little and start to think seriously about getting into birding mode.  This started with a small trip up into the foothills of Kilimanjaro (still hidden in cloud and we never actually saw this mythical Gomo)

We then followed our original route back through Karogwe and then turned left.  From chatting to various Tanzanian folk we had learnt that some of the best birding was around the tiny village of Amani (nowt more than a medical research station – Malarial research specifically) which sits atop the East Usambara Mountains.

Amani sign

Arrived !

These Usambara Mountains are large things.  Although we were only at about 900 metres above sea level when at the top remember that the surrounding flat Tanzanian veld is only 200 metres a.s.l.

The roads were distinctly not great ….

Bad roads

Up the Usambara’s

Usambara

Really lousy roads

But the forest was impressive – very impressive !

Usambara-Forests

Usambara Forests

And the birds ?  Fantastic is the only word.  Stuff we had not even known existed !

Two of which live there and nowhere else !!

Amani Sunbird

Amani Sunbird

Long-billed Tailorbird

Long-billed Tailorbird

The known global range of the Tailorbird is about 20 square kilometres !!  And to top that no nest has ever been found !  There in itself is a nice little PhD project for an enterprising little soul.

Lots and lots of other very special birds – especially for us southern Africans who know a few of them as very special for our region.

Vanga

Female Black & White Flycatcher

Male Black & White Flycatcher

… and her Husband.

And the enigmatic Green-headed Oriole which in southern Africa is restricted to the massif of Mount Gorongosa in central Mocambique.

Green-headed Oriole

Green-headed Oriole

Also the Uluguru Violet-backed Sunbird in which, unlike the others in Africa, the female also wears the metalic Violet back and is only found here and on the Uluguru Mountains some hundreds of kilometre away.

Uluguru-violet-backed-sunbird

Uluguru violet-backed sunbird

And how about this next one ?  Not even the internet can produce a photograph of this bird !!!

Olive Ibis

Olive Ibis –

Bostrychia olivacea is the scientific name.

We stayed up there for two nights and also found the special Owl.  What an amazing call this bird has !

Usambara Eagle Owl "Bubo vosseleri"

Usambara Eagle Owl “Bubo vosseleri”

Finally we had to leave – the word Safari is simply Swahili for “journey” and has absolutely nothing to do with the way we westners view or understand its perceived meaning.

Amani sign

Farewell Amani – and thank you.

When we got back to the main road we turned left – because we could – and drove to the coast simply to put our feet in the Indian Ocean.

Tanga

The Indian Ocean at Tanga

A delightful city/town sort of place with poverty and tourism happily sharing the same tropical paradise and idyllic weather.

And somebody seems to have forgotten something that happened way back in the sixties ………..

Tanganyika

Tanganyika or Tanzania ?

That was it !  We filled up with fuel, money from an ATM and of course some beer supplies and headed west into the hinterland with yet another mission on the cards.

More later………… hopefully sooner rather than later ………..

Thanks for listening.

Tony