Tanzania – Africa at its best

10,000 Birds

Tanzania is without a doubt the quintessential African safari nation. Despite being a proud South African, my honest answer is Tanzania. For this post, I have selected what is in my opinion the three essential and must-visit sites in Tanzania and these all fall within the classic Northern Tanzania safari circuit. This 12,000 square mile ecosystem stretches across north-western Tanzania into the Maasai Mara in Kenya. Destinations africa tanzania

Tanzanian Starlings, Shrikes, and Weavers (Part 2)

10,000 Birds

” This one was calling to its family group as they wandered through the thorns searching for tidbits. Tanzania’s more commonly seen shrikes are the Common Fiscal , Long-tailed Fiscal , Grey-backed Fiscal , the beautiful dark Magpie Shrike , and the White-crowned Shrike (seen in the series below). Birds Beat on Assignment features shrikes TanzaniaSTELLAR SHRIKES Shrikes (like this Grey-backed Fiscal ) are little wannabe raptors.

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Tanzanian Starlings, Shrikes, and Weavers (Part 1)

10,000 Birds

SUPER STARLINGS Tanzania plays host to a wide variety of Starlings, over twenty species in fact. Getting a glimpse into the workings of the world by witnessing a family of starlings foraging together is a real treat. Birds Beat on Assignment starlings Superb Starling TanzaniaIn California we have the feisty intelligent generalist European Starling.

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Marabou Storks

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This is a family site so I won’t mention the what it managed to extract from that bag of garbage. Birds Beat on Assignment storks TanzaniaMarabou Storks are ugly/lovely. They have character. They are unmistakeable. I won’t expend too much energy trying to describe them… I’ll just let the pictures do the heavy lifting this week. Marabou Storks are gigantic. Twelve feet tall at the shoulder!

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What is a Palm-thrush?

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It all comes back to a split in one of the great bird families, the Turdidae, or thrushes. Once upon a time, when I started birding, this great family included a wide range of species collectively known as the robins and chats. But then the family was split and the chats and robins instead found themselves with the Old World flycatchers, Muscicapidae. The family reunited in safety.

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Weavers

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However many weavers have wide ranges across Africa, notably the most familiar of all weavers, the Village Weaver, but several are highly range-restricted including the mythical Yellow-legged and Golden-naped Weavers which are restricted to a few forests of inaccessible Eastern DRC, Clarke’s Weaver which occurs in just a few Kenyan coastal forests and the recently described Kilombero Weaver known only from its namesake swamp in Tanzania. Image taken by Adam Riley in Tanzania.

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A Brief Tour of Uganda, The Pearl of Africa

10,000 Birds

While Uganda does not have the international reputation of its neighbors Kenya and Tanzania, the experience there is no less extraordinary – and in many ways, particularly for the birder, it’s even more so. It’s a fun game for New World birders to find equivalents to many of the Old World bird families that we are unfamiliar with, but there is no equivalent to turacos.

The Storks of Africa

10,000 Birds

Furthermore we have another very special stork-like bird, the regal Shoebill , previously known as the Whale-headed Stork but now placed in its own family. A Marabou Stork arriving at its roost tree, Serengeti, Tanzania by Adam Riley We’ll start off with the largest and ugliest of them all (measuring up to 60in (152cm) in height, a weight of 20 lb (9 kg) and a wingspan of up to 12ft), the Marabou Stork.

Introducing the African Birding Beat

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Quintessential African scene from Tarangire National Park, Tanzania Africa boasts a fabulous and unique avifauna. Families that are endemic to the continent include such strange birds as Shoebill , Secretarybird , Hamerkop , mousebirds and rockfowl ( picathartes ) and delightful groups including bushshrikes, sugarbirds, rockjumpers, woodhoopoes, turacos and hyliotas. Friends, birders, and globe-trotters, lend me your ears.

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White-backed Vultures are Proper Birds

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As for the pseudo-warblers, I’m not actually against them so much, they are after all a family that, while wanting for a name that is descriptive and not derived from a misapplication of European names, are easy to identify and pleasant enough on the eye (with a few exceptions). The populations remain stable in Ethiopia, Tanzania and southern Africa, but have collapsed in West Africa and have declined in other parts as well.

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The Bee-eaters of Africa

10,000 Birds

The wonderful family Meropidae contains 27 dazzling species, of which Africa is endowed with no less than 20 species, the balance occurring across Asia and with one as far afield as Australia. Furthermore, they are far more secretive, quietly perching on forest edges (where their predominantly green plumage makes them tough to spot), usually solitarily or in small family groups and inconspicuously making short sallies to catch bees and other prey.

Pink in Africa

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Its mostly found on the ground in thickets or the edges of dense vegetation and usually in small family parties. This attractive (for a lark anyway) species is restricted to the dry savannah Somali-Maasai biome of north-east Africa (northern Tanzania, Kenya, southern Ethiopia and Somalia). It is found in higher-elevation woodlands from northern Zambia and Malawi northwards through Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and Somalia and into the Arabian peninsula.

Africa’s Big Five and Little Five

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Prime destinations for seeing African Elephant in the wild include Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Uganda. Elephant Bulls in the Ngorongoro Crater by Adam Riley A matriarchial herd of African or Bush Elephant in Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park by Adam Riley The little – elephant shrews are a group of 17 small to medium sized insectivorous mammals that have confused taxidermists since they were first described.

Can we talk about Cecil the Lion?

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If tourists are too dim to tell Sierra Leone from Botswana or Tanzania, do we really want to rely on them to save Africa’s species? And don’t forget that Africa’s population continues to grow, putting more and more pressure on the land and many eyes watch the remaining wild spaces asking why the animals should have them and not hungry families. Hi there. I can’t help noticing that you’ve just posted an angry story about Cecil the Lion on your timeline.

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Frogs and Toads of the World: A Book Review by a Fairy Tale Junkie

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Or, Pygmy leaf-folding frogs, Afrixalus brachycnemis, from Tanzania, tiny climbing frogs who lay their eggs in leaves and then fold the leaves over them for protection, sealing the nest with secretions. For example, I was going to add “no tail” to the list of features above, what all frogs share, when I remembered that there are indeed a small family of Tailed frogs, four species in New Zealand and two in North America (though, the tails are quite tiny). “Peek!” Plunk.

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Summer Books for Kids (and the rest of us)

10,000 Birds

The first, The Mangrove Tree: Planting Trees to Feed Families , tells the story of Dr. Gordon Sato’s mangrove tree-planting project, which transformed the African village of Hargigo. My favorite was the Greater Flamingo in Tanzania (Pinkest bird!). I love reading children’s books, even though my child is well over the age when she asks to have them read at bedtime and my nephews fall asleep all too easily after playing lacrosse all day.

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KwaZulu-Natal

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The famous Verreaux family who made several expeditions into the province through the 1820’s and 1830’s procuring specimens for rich collectors. Gurney’s Sugarbird was discovered by the Verreaux family and named after wealthy English banker and amateur naturalist John Gurney from Norwich. The nearest population to them is several thousand miles north in Malawi and southern Tanzania. “ There is, perhaps, no better place in the world for birds than this country.

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