Friday, 31 January 2014

Tanzanian Safari 12th-26th January..PART 1

We booked this safari, called 'The Ultimate Tanzanian Safari, with Kuoni last year and I managed to negotiate a private vehicle at the same price so I could birdwatch and photograph at my leisure without involving anyone else. We flew out at 7.00pm with Kenyan Airways from Heathrow to Nairobi,  arriving at 6.30am (3 hours ahead) then caught the 40 minute flight to Kilimanjaro at 9.00am. I bumped into Tim Appleton and the Ornitholidays MD at Heathrow who were  going to Nairobi and were also sitting opposite me in the plane.  Arriving at Kilimanjaro, we had a one hour transfer to our hotel in Arusha by Ranger Safaris who were organising the trip starting the next day. 

Snow capped Mt. Kilimanjaro in the distance and Mt. Meru in the foreground

Picked up from the comfortable hotel at 8.00am to start our safari and headed off to The Arusha National Park for a morning visit. The park is mainly wooded with just a few open areas but is noted for the Blue Monkey and the Black and White Colobus monkey.

Entrance Gate to Arusha N.P.


Juvenile Fiscal Shrike

Animals seen were zebra, warthogs, giraffe, waterbuck, bush buck and red duiker, birds included, 2 mountain buzzards, 4 cinnamon-chested bee-eaters but not much else. We drove through the forest and up onto the rim of the Ngurdoto Crater which is about two miles in diameter and 100 metres deep finding lots of colourful butterflies along the track. On the way back we came across a family of black and white colobus monkeys and one blue monkey.

Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater

Mountain buzzard

Ngurdoto Crater

Blue/Sykes Monkey

Black and White Colobus Monkey

Zebra and Waterbuck

We drove on to a wetland and lake area where there were c.60 little grebes all fishing together in a frenzy, most strange. Around the lake, little stints, ruff, common sands, 7 lesser flamingoes, cape teal, 3 sacred ibises etc.. Of course all photography and viewing on the parks has to be done from inside the vehicle. 

Cape Teal 

Sacred Ibis

We left the park and headed back towards Arusha and the 'Mountain Lodge' for a 4 course lunch then at 3.00 pm drove to our next stop for two days at the Tarangire N.P arriving at 7.20 pm, virtually dark! A few short stops to check out some birds inc. chestnut sparrow, ashy starling, speckle-fronted weavers, crowned lapwings, tawny eagles (common), gabon nightjars and grey-crowned cranes. Animals included, dik diks, Grant's gazellles, impala, buffalo, elephants and giraffes. 

Masai Giraffe

Buffalo and Cattle Egrets

 Red-tailed Weaver

Grey-crowned Cranes

Very hot in our rondelle but an overhead fan kept things a bit cooler, excellent food but very tired and soon went to sleep ready for the 6.30 breakfast next morning.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Ramsgate Cemetery

With the lovely weather it seemed a good idea to go looking for the Hume's Yellow-browed/Leaf  Warbler which upon arrival was performing nicely just through the main gate.  Often heard making a ' sort of sound resembling a type of spotted redshank call and on the move through the canopy all the time stopping only for a second or so making photography very difficult. Quite a few regular birders present coming from all parts of Kent  to see this little gem.

Hume's Yellow-Browed Warbler

Also, along the back of the cemetery were two or three chiffchaffs and a firecrest plus several long-tailed and blue tits.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Going for eastern promise. 5th Jan.

I've not been out much lately, little people to look after plus the weather has made it unpalatable but I managed a few short trips down to Seasalter where conditions didn't encourage me to get out of the car. The mudflats looked quite empty except for a large flock of c.3000 knot, the ditch at the pumping station held the usual mallard, gadwall and teal, the fields were awash and looked quiet. 

                                       The fields along Seasalter Lane were all flooded like this
However, the brighter day on Sunday encouraged me to go out and see some birds and after hearing about the 40 snow buntings at Foreness I headed east.  Upon arrival I luckily met Barry Hunt who told me where to look for the SBs. Easily missed unless you looked up on the side of the cliffes, most strange, never seen them feed like this before.

Lots of dog walkers and kids about but fortunately they didn't phase the flock much although they periodically flew from the sewage pumping station  back towards the Botany Bay Road end. Walking along the dunes below the cliffes was hard work which made me think back 30 years ago when they were not there!

I left here mid morning and called in at Hampton Pier on the way home where Andy Hills, Tim Gutsell and Steve Ashton had been busy photographing purple sandpipers. The tide had come in to far to crawl out on the rocks so I just managed a few shots from the side of the pier.

Whilst there, a couple of oystercatchers posed out on the rocks, feeding on the mussels plus a few gulls were wheeling about but no sign of the Med. gull.