Thursday, 6 February 2014

Tanzanian Safari. PART 3

16th Jan.. We left the Sopa Lodge at Tarangire at 7.30 am with a game drive on the way out as we headed for the Ngorongoro Crater. It was a full days drive with a lunch stop at Gibbs Farm which is high up in the hill country, a wonderful place. From there we pressed on to the crater or more correctly the caldera which is 9 miles in diameter, 2000-2500 ft deep and got spectacular views from the 7,500 ft high rim. It took a half an hour to drive around the rim to reach the lodge where we arrived at 5.45. These safaris do involve a lot of time travelling, often on lovely new roads but many, many miles on tracks. 

A 7.30 am goodbye to our stay at the Tanrangire Sopa Lodge and headed for Ngorongoro Crater.

Martial Eagle, they always look 'cropless', I've photographed them in other years and they looked the same when perched, a massive crater where their crop should be, really emaciated and hungry looking.

Egyptian Geese were one of the commonest ducky's and could be found in all  parks.

African Grey Hornbill, male, only saw the odd one here and there, as the book says, 'widespread but uncommon'.

As we were approaching the exit from Tanrangire we stopped seeing a large Verreaux's eagle owl flying out of a tree and below five grey crowned cranes and the head and neck of a saddle-billed stork!

Impala family group; The male visible by his horns, leading his females who can number up to two hundred in very large groups. We sometimes saw parties of males following the females who were closely guarded by their male who had to spend his time driving of the other males. Doing this all the time weakens him and eventually one of the other males would take over the herd and so it would go on!

Giraffes on the track

Orange-bellied Parrot; Another stop under a tree revealed this parrot, females don't have the orange bellys and at 10in. a lot bigger than the 6in. lovebirds.

Red and Yellow Barbet; A strikingly colourful barbet much brighter then the other d'Arnaud barbet that seemed more plentiful, however, we did see at least half a dozen red and yellows, these ones after termites.

Just as we approached the exit gate this cheetah was sat on a mound not less than 200 yards from the gate. It sat there for ages, so after filling my boots with photos we left it to its slumber.

A brief stop at the gate for the driver to complete all his exit paperwork and time for a drink and use the washrooms, some better than others. Mid-morning saw us speeding on through the country on lovely metalled roads and hardly any traffic. Climbing up the side of the rift valley we moved into more green and fertile areas finally arriving at Gibbs Farm for lunch. One of the first guesthouses in Northern Tanzania, Gibb's Farm began as a coffee plantation in the late 1920s. Neglected through the war years the farm was bought in 1948 by James Gibb, a retired war veteran and his wife started the large organic herb and vegetable garden and ran the farm until 2003.  At this point we were in the Ngorongore Conservation Area where the animals and peoples have to co-exist as it acts as a corridor between the national parks. The approach track up to the farm was full of birds inc. citril finches, red cheeked cordon bleu, streaky seedeaters etc.. 

The path leading into Gibbs Farm 

A view back down the path

View of vegetable garden from the gents loo!

We had a super, help yourself lunch overlooking the rift valley and a bird table attracting this red-headed weaver, common bulbul, village weavers. etc

Arrow-marked Babbler

After lunch we had a guided walk around the gardens and shown how the coffee bean harvest was processed. Lots of birds as we walked around but felt it rude not to pay attention to the guide.

 Streaky Seedeater

Snapped these two photos on our guided walk but couldn't get a good shot of the firefinches.

White-browed robin Chat

  Female Grosbeak Weaver; After the walk we had 20 minutes around the flower garden- brilliant place, birds all over the place wish we could have stay there longer. Another cracker was the White-tailed blue flycatcher which evaded being photographed.

 Village or Black-headed Weaver

 Thick-billed Seedeater

 African Paradise Flycatcher

Tropical feel to the place

Many colourful butterflies, this one is ?

Birds were continuously coming to the pool to drink and bathe inc. grey-capped warbler and speckled mousebirds

Bronze Sunbird

Tacazze Sunbird 

Yours truly, at possibly one of the best birding spots.
However, couldn't stop any longer we needed to get our skates on, still a long way to go. No more stops this pm until we reached the crater view point except briefly at the National Park Entrance. 

  Always a lot of paper work to do at entrances and exits and a lot of money paid out, often fees were $60  dollars a day per person plus $100 for the vehicle!

Finally, the track arrived at the crater rim where you could stop at the viewpoint.  Steep sided drops down into the crater, 2,500 ft but a good place to see black saw-wing, 3 off, 1 male blackcap (tick for the driver), several red-eyed doves and an olive pigeon. 

Finally we arrived at 5.45, given a lovely rondelle overlooking the crater, a late ramble produced golden-winged sunbird and ashy flycatcher.

Ashy Flycatcher; a late evening shot at high ISOs.

Next, a day in the crater.

1 comment:

Greater Kent Birder said...

Still catching up Mike. The farm sounded like a brilliant destination in it's own right rather than a brief stopping off point. Some great looking birds.