Sunday, 23 February 2014

Tanzanian Safari - finish

24th - Lunchtime
Sorry the last part of yesterdays blog was corrupted somehow so I'll continue again from that point.

We had arrived at Olduvai gorge, the birthplace of mankind. A busy place with many people looking around the museum founded by Mary Leaky in the late 1970s, which exhibits many of the unearthed fragments of bones and tools etc. of early man. Excavations by Louis and Mary Leaky in the 1930s revealed four distinct types of hominid showing increases in brain size and advances in their stone tools.  The gorge was a lake millions of years ago surrounded by volcanic ash and c.500,000 years ago seismic activity diverted a nearby river which cut down into the sediments revealing the seven main layers in the gorge.

There was  open air lecture about the origins of the gorge and the work of the Leakys together with their findings followed by our lunch break. Whilst there, a commotion in the small carpark as one of the Maasai 'guards' was chasing and subsequently killed a black mamba snake, highly poisonous. If bitten you only have ten minutes to get anti venom which does not always have a successfull outcome apparently, hence the importance to 'neutralize' it. I had the pleasure to be introduced to Terry Stevenson, author of' The Birds of East Africa' (the best book) who was seemingly on a private tour with a small group. We were parked next to his vehicle and our driver new his driver as they were at college together which gave us the opportunity. It wasn't the place to bird but a few were noted as per photos.

 Streaky Seedeater? Not sure, colouration seems wrong.

Vitelline Weaver.

After a little walk around we continued our drive onward and literally upwards to pass through a high area with lovely green grass and a couple of Maasai villages that we had seen on the way out.

Good grazing for these Maasai cattle in this high pasture.

Finally, at 3.30pm we arrived at the Lake Manyara Serena Lodge set on the top of the rift valley with a lovely view from our room overlooking  Lake Manyara. The lake itself is only a couple of feet deep in the centre and it often dries out as is only fed  by rainfall plus a few springs bubbling out from base of the scarp. The rest of the day was spent looking around the lodge grounds and generally taking it easy.

Room with a View.

Next morning before our game drive, a quick look from the veranda produced; Easter violet-back starling, streaky seedeaters, citril finch, speckled mousebirds, baglafecht weavers, fiscal shrike,grey hornbill, rock martins, mottled swifts etc.. A short drive down from the high scarp brought us to the park entrance which is heavily wooded and continues like this for some way towards the lake. It was better birding than I thought with hornbills, barbets. village indigo birds, vultures, eagles and pelicans to name a few, flamingoes were too distant to see as the lake had retreated some distance from the shoreline.

 Streaky Seedeater

 Eastern Violet-backed Starling

African Citril - colours in book show them as yellow?

 Sykes or Blue Monkey

 Crowned Hornbill

 Silvery-cheeked Hornbill

Forest Wagtail

 Violet-backed Starling

 Spot-flanked Barbet

Black Bishop

 Great White Pelicans

 Emerald-spotted Wood Dove

Grey Headed Kingfisher

Pangani Longclaw

 Isabelline Shrike

Wildebeeste- pale form found at L.Manyara

Back to the lodge for lunch then a bit of a rest as it was quite hot and humid then at 4.00pm 'a walk with a naturalist' was on the programme.  This young chap took us along a rough path and scrubby area behind the lodge showing us the plants and also helped us add chinspot batis, yellow-rumped seedeater and a Walberg's eagle to the list.

26th. Let's go home.

A 7.00am breakfast and away at 8.00 for the drive back to Arusha and a fancy looking hotel for lunch (worst food of the holiday).  Just before we left, a few more photos around the lodge plus some group shots.

 Group photos: Simon and Karen on the left

Sadiki our excellent guide and driver

After the poor lunch we were taken to the Kilimanjaro airport, an hours drive, to board the 7.30pm flight back to Nairobi and then the 11.45 pm flight back to Heathrow, arriving at 6.20am.  Total birdlist was 285 plus a couple of don't knows. 

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