Friday, 5 January 2018

Tarangire National Park

What a day and I barely know where to begin! We spent the entire day in Tarangire NP and it was hell. I mean there were far too many birds and animals, most of them too close to photograph with my 300mm lense. Just Hell…! Of course I’m joking. We began by birding the track from our lodge to the entrance gate seeing Purple Roller and Cardinal Woodpecker, before a bunch of birds came in to the owlet tape – Abyssinian White-eye (now split as Southern Scrub White-eye apparently), Vitelline and Lesser Masked Weavers and other previously seen species. Moving in to the park things began slowly until we picked up a pair of Abyssinian Scimitarbills in some large Acacias, followed by Red-and-yellow Barbet, Banded Parisoma, a perched Bateleur, Bare-faced Go-away-Bird, Black-faced Sandgrouse, Steppe Eagle, several perched White-backed Vultures, our first Silverbird, some European Bee-eaters, Yellow-collared Lovebird and numerous Ashy Starlings

Bare-faced Go-away-bird

Lilac-breasted Roller

Von der Decken's Hornbill

All this was along the same stretch of track before we drove higher where our first Common Ostriches were seen, plus Orange-bellied Parrots, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Northern Pied Babbler, Mottled Spinetail, Von Der Decken’s Hornbill, a flock of Eastern Paradise-Whydahs, and Greater Blue-eared Glossy Starling. Once we descended towards the plains we had an incredible vista below of us of typical African savannah with African Elephants (and we’d already had some incredibly close encounters), Plains Zebra, African Buffalo and Blue Wildebeest. But 4 Temminck’s Coursers were also very nice and a confiding pair of Southern Ground-Hornbills also. At a bridge over the Tarangire River we spent an enjoyable half an hour watching beautiful Grey-headed Kingfishers, Black Crake, Water Thick-Knee and others. 

Water Thick-knee

Moving on, and amazingly we came across another jeep watching a sleeping Leopard in an Acacia some distance away, but a very nice sighting so early in the trip.

We got to the picnic site overlooking Silale Swamp just in time to connect with a heavy rainshower. James found a Chameleon and we enjoyed close flybys from numerous Collared Pratincoles. After we’d eaten we followed the dry swamp, trying to find some water and along the way found an adult and a large grown juvenile Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl

Verreaux's Eagle Owl

At some narrow water margins we had 3 Saddle-billed Storks, Black Stork, Spur-winged Goose, Bearded Woodpecker, had a brief view of an African Wild Cat, African Rock Python, African Marsh Harrier and a Black-bellied Bustard

Saddle-billed Stork

Across the swamp were herds of Wildebeest, Elephants, Bohor Reedbuck etc. But by now we were very late, like 4.30pm and had to be out of the park by 6pm so retraced our steps. It was  a madcap race to get out of the park but we had to stop for seconds of the Leopard in a closer tree. Wow! It just stared balefully at us as we clicked away. 

Coqui Francolin

And a little further on a pair of Coqui Francolins were also much appreciated. What a day!

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