As always, East Africa produced the goods during all of the several tours that we ran successfully in the first quarter of the year in Tanzania. In the forests of the north-eastern parts of the country, we enjoyed great views of Spot-throat, Red-capped Forest Warbler, White-chested Alethe, Bar-tailed Trogon, African Hobby, Hartlaub’s Turaco, Taveta Weaver, Red-throated Twinspot and Moustached Tinkerbird; while the drier areas near the Kenyan border produced Pink-breasted Lark, Tsavo and Black-bellied Sunbirds, Scaly Chatterer, Pangani Longclaw, Beesley’s Lark, Fisher’s Starling, White-headed Mousebird and Zanzibar Red Bishop.
On the standard wildlife circuit in northern Tanzania, there is always enough happening to keep anyone permanently on the lookout. Some of the highlights here included White-throated Robin, Yellow-collared and Fisher’s Lovebird, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Golden-backed and Rufous-tailed Weaver, Grey-capped Warbler, Grey-breasted Spurfowl, Purple-throated Cuckooshrike, Golden-winged Sunbird, Jackson’s Widowbird, Red-throated Tit and Long-tailed Cisticola.
The wildlife experience of Northern Tanzania is unbeatable and these tours were no exception. The highlight is, of course, the 1.5 million Blue Wildebeest that make up the core of the famous Serengeti migration. Sightings on recent tours included rarely encountered Striped Hyenas, dozens of Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Spotted Hyena, African Elephant, Black Rhino, Buffalo and a wide range of smaller antelope and other species.
PJ Fryer guided our debut “Under Canvas” Tanzania safari in early February and it was a great success! This type of tour offers participants a very different experience to staying in lodges. All the campsites that are used are private and located well off the beaten track, allowing for a true wilderness experience! Our tour covered some of the more spectacular areas in Northern Tanzania, including Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks, Ngorongoro Crater, Oldupai Gorge and Serengeti. PJ and his clients thoroughly enjoyed this tour and it is highly recommended for those who want to combine a great birding and wildlife adventure with getting back to nature!
Most recently, David Hoddinott travelled to Kenya and led yet another phenomenal Kenya Mega tour after having just completed a successful Kenya Mega in December. Our group again notched up over 800 species of birds, including an impressive 90 families! Highlights included finding the following Kenyan endemics: Jackson’s Francolin, William’s Lark, Aberdare Cisticola and Sharpe’s Longclaw, as well as several flocks of Vulturine Guineafowl, 7 species of stork, Rufous-bellied and Black Heron, 55 raptors – ranging from the tiny Pygmy Falcon to the ever-impressive African Crowned Eagle, 6 species of bustard – including the rare and seldom seen Heuglin’s Bustard in Tsavo East, awesome White-spotted Flufftail sightings, African Finfoot, Crab-plover, Greater Painted Snipe, Temminck’s Stint, Broad-billed Sandpiper, 4 species of courser, Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon, 10 species of turaco, Black Coucal, 8 species of owls – including the cute Sokoke Scops Owl and Red-chested Owlet, the rare Forbes-Watson’s Swift, White-headed Mousebird, Somali Bee-eater, Speckle-breasted Woodpecker, African Broadbill, Yellow-bellied Wattle-eye, Red-naped Bushshrike, Green-headed Oriole, Friedmann’s Lark, Toro Olive Greenbul, Basra Reed Warbler, Turner’s Eremomela, Yellow-bellied and Southern Hyliota, dazzling Golden-breasted Starling, Abyssinian Ground Thrush, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, Gambaga and Semi-collared Flycatcher, Amani, Golden-winged, Black-bellied, Tsavo and six rare Violet-breasted Sunbirds (the latter feeding on a flowering Combretum tree at the Sabaki River), Heuglin’s Masked Weaver, Jackson’s Widowbird displaying, Abyssinian Crimsonwing, Red-throated Twinspot, Steel-blue Whydah, Cuckoo Finch, Golden, Sokoke and Malindi Pipit, Pangani and Rosy-throated Longclaw and Papyrus Canary. Mammal highlights included seeing the “big 5” (Lion, Leopard, African Buffalo, African Elephant, Black Rhinoceros), as well as Cheetah, Serval and White Rhinoceros. We also enjoyed a memorable sighting of a herd of buffalo that had tree’d two male Lions.