Sunday, 31 December 2017

Another Day in Arusha NP

We had another full day in Arusha National Park and after seriously heavy overnight rain we woke to more mist and rain, which continued through to late morning again. Lovely! But it didn’t stop us seeing a good selection of birds during this time with one of the best birds of the day being our first bird of the day – Broad-tailed Warbler. Moving into the park we took a different route to yesterday and picked up Yellow Bishop, Golden-winged Sunbird, Red-collared Widowbird, Black-backed Puffback, and eventually we nailed Hartlaub’s Turaco, with several good views. 

African Crowned Eagle

An African Crowned Eagle was perched over the road, and other notable sightings included Klaas’s Cuckoo, Olive Sunbird, several African Dusky Flycatchers, Stripe-cheeked Greenbul, Black-headed Apalis, African Black-headed Oriole and Red-faced Cisticola. At a marsh we saw several Taveta Golden Weavers, 2 Hippos, Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, African Fish-Eagle, and a Northern Grosbeak-Weaver

A distant Taveta Golden Weaver

A family of African Elephants crossed the track in front of us as we returned to the crossroads, having seen a rather confiding Ruppell’s Robin-Chat singing beside our vehicles.

With the weather improving we could head higher up to the crater, and a good decision this turned out to be as a superb Black-fronted Bush-Shrike and a flock of Tanzanian Broad-ringed White-eyes (split form Montane White-eye) appeared. At a large fruiting tree a flock of endemic Kenrick’s Starlings were feeding and as we drove ever higher a perched Long-crested Eagle was spotted, and we had more views of Silvery-cheeked Hornbill as well. 

Red-backed Mannikin

Then we took our picnic lunch at an overlook with superb views across the crater with Red-backed Mannikin, Red-headed Weaver, Taveta Golden Weaver and Golden-tailed Woodpecker performing close by. 

Nice view for lunch

Moving up we visited the highest viewpoint and found an Ayres’s Hawk-Eagle perched nearby. What a cracker! 

Ayres's Hawk-Eagle

So by now it was 4.30pm and we had to leave and drive back to the lodge where a couple of us scoped an African Goshawk in the garden.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Tanzania - Arusha National Park

A quick check of the gardens at first light revealed flocks of Scarce Swifts passing over, along with Brown-breasted and White-eared Barbets, White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher, Black Cuckooshrike, Bronze and Amethyst Sunbirds, and plenty of common Dark-capped Bulbuls

After breakfast we headed in our two safari vehicles into Arusha National Park which was just a 
5 minute drive away and a brief stop at the entrance gate produced Singing Cisticola, Cape Robin-Chat, Speke’s Weaver, Chestnut Weaver and the first of many Northern Fiscals. Most of the morning was hampered by rain, which made viewing difficult and reduced bird activity substantially. However, we still managed to pick up lots of birds such as Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Tropical Boubou, Little and Cinnamon-chested Bee-eaters, Trilling Cisticola, African Black-headed Oriole, Black-headed Apalis and Brown-hooded Kingfisher before the rain stopped. 

Brown-hooded Kingfisher

Driving through an open area on our way to the Momella Lakes we had point-blank views of several White-fronted Bee-eaters, Long-billed Pipit, Crowned Lapwing, a cracking Pangani Longclaw, and an African Moustached Warbler singing from a bare stump beside the road.

Pangani Longclaw

White-fronted Bee-eater
African Moustached Warbler

Upon reaching the lakes we ate our picnic lunch whilst enjoying views of numerous Southern Pochards, a pair of Maccoa Ducks, a pair of Grey Crowned Cranes, Glossy Ibis, African Harrier Hawk, both Lesser Striped and Mosque Swallows and Winding Cisticola. A nearby muddy margin held Marsh, Wood and Common Sandpipers, and a pair of Ruff, whilst a flock of Pied Avocets were scoped further away. A few Hippopotamus were scoped on an island and a few Red-billed Oxpeckers were sat on them as well. 

Momella Lakes

We then took the route that circled the lakes and found hundreds of Lesser and a few Greater Flamingo’s feeding at the next lake, plus Speckled Mousebird, Spur-winged and Blacksmith’s Lapwings, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Cape Teal, Little Stint, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Cardinal Woodpecker, Rattling Cisticola, Red-knobbed Coot, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Tawny-flanked Prinia and a flock of White-crested Helmetshrikes.  On the way back Taveta Golden Weaver, African Fish Eagle and an all-too-brief flyover Eleonora’s Falcon were also seen. What a day and a good introduction to the amazing array of wildlife on offer in amazing Tanzania.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Australia - The End!

Our final two days in Oz gave us a few more goodies. Most noteably this Bassian Thrush provided amazing views at Minnamurra Falls. A very pleasing sighting and a species we'd thought we had missed - but it's a Zoothera thrush so all the sweeter.

Bassian Thrush

We also found a nice selection of birds at a nearby park...

Crimson Rosella


Long-billed Corella

On the way to Sydney Airport and our flight back to the UK we called in to the Olympic Park and discovered a flock of Red-necked Avocets - a bird I was very keen to see.

Red-necked Avocet

And there were some close Royal Spoonbills....

Royal Spoonbill

And our final lifer was this Tawny Frogmouth...

Tawny Frogmouth

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Kiama Pelagic

Oh yes! The pelagic is on! After our Sydney pelagic was cancelled a couple of weeks ago due to some bullshit reason we were very (and I mean very) excited to get on the ocean today. The day got off to a great start with our one and only Australian Hobby of the trip flying over whist we were still docked. The previous evening we'd done a seawatch from Kiama headland and seen quite a few Humpback Whales and as we headed out to sea this morning passed a few more. There were lots of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters today and they were far and away the most numerous seabird seen today.

Wedge-tailed Shearwater

A few Australasian Gannets were also seen early doors...

Australasian Gannet

We also saw tens of Fluttering and Huttons Shearwaters flying by but it took most of the day to get decent views, but no pics. Heading out further it was apparent that there weren't big numbers of birds today and we went a spell without seeing much, until our first Black-browed Albatross appeared and we definitely saw 3 different individuals.

Black-browed Albatross

Then we began picking up what the local birders are calling Solander's Petrels, although this is not yet split from Providence Petrel by IOC.

Solander's (Providence) Petrel

At least 3 White-capped Albatross also began following our chum slick....

White-capped Albatross

We also saw a White-faced Storm Petrel, 4 Short-tailed Shearwaters and a single Flesh-footed Shearwater.

White-faced Storm-Petrel

Flesh-footed Shearwater

One of my personal targets was Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross and I was pretty excited to see a couple individuals....

Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross

But the undoubted highlight of the day was seeing this Wandering Albatross (exulans) come flying in from the horizon and then alighting on the water right beside us. Wow! The bird was captured and ringed and although it was rather humbling to be able to see this majestic bird so close, I didn't like the length of time it was kept in people's hands and also doubt the scientific value of stressing this beautiful creature so much.

Wandering Albatross