Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Lariboro Plains - Tarangire Simba Lodge

Left early and drove to Lariboro Plains, some 70 minutes from the lodge, passing through yet more rain. Upon arrival at the vast plains the weather was kind to us and it was quite warm and clear and our first scan revealed Kori Bustard, Capped Wheatear, Grassland Pipit, Lesser Black-winged Lapwing, Kenya Rufous Sparrow, and a few Horus Swifts amongst a huge congregation of Common Swifts. After meeting up with our Maasai guides we drove out into the plains, but not before nailing a Southern Grosbeak Canary singing from on top of an Acacia and watching a singing Foxy Lark. We parked up and scoped an Eastern Chanting Goshawk and noted some White-rumped Swifts passing over. Amazingly, we picked up our main target species, Beesley’s Lark very quickly thanks to James and then spent the next 2 hours getting better and better views of this rare species, whilst searching for our other target birds. 

Beesley's Lark

A Short-tailed Lark was next, followed by Red-capped Lark but it took a while before we found Athi Short-toed Lark. It was a great experience to be able to watch these birds through the scopes. Other species seen included a cracking male Pallid Harrier, Secretarybird, Gabar Goshawk, a flock of European Bee-eaters and a Steppe Eagle. Once everyone was assembled back at the vehicles a scarce Fischer’s Starling appeared and then a Gorgeous (split from Beautiful) Sunbird was seen. 

Fischer's Starling

We then spent the next 4 hours driving to our next base at Tarangire, but made a comfort stop along the way. Of course I played the owlet call and an amazing number of species appeared: a real Pearl-spotted Owlet, Eastern Violet-backed Sunbird, Tiny Cisticola, White-browed Scrub-Robin, Slate-coloured Boubou, Fork-tailed Drongo, White-bellied and Yellow-fronted Canary, Green-winged Pytilia, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Red-faced Crombec, and finally a Little Sparrowhawk was drawn to the commotion. Wow!

Pearl-spotted Owlet

As we left the tarmac and followed the dirt track to the lodge we aw our first Ashy Starlings, a Black-chested snake-Eagle and some other commoner birds, but we were on a mission for a two o’clock lunch. Well, we reached the lodge which was pretty secluded and found lunch was naturally late as the staff didn’t seem to be expecting us, so we made the best of things and scanned from the verandah that overlooked a drinking pool and typical ‘bush country’. 

D'Arnaud's Barbet

From here we saw a D’Arnaud’s Barbet visiting a nest hole beside the swimming pool, a few endemic Yellow-collared Lovebirds, White-billed Buffalo-Weaver, flocks of Wattled Starlings and a  Brown Snake-eagle

White-bellied Bustard

After lunch and some Blue-capped Cordon-bleu’s we took a short walk into the bush. Another Pearl-spotted Owlet appeared, along with Northern Red-billed and African Grey Hornbills, Speckle-fronted Weaver, Spotting Mourning-Thrush, Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, near-endemic Rufous-tailed Weavers, Long-tailed Fiscal, and we ended with a pair of inquisitive White-bellied Bustards.

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