Tanzania

20th January 1990 - 4th February 1990.

20th January.

After travelling most of the previous day from Bristol to Nairobi, Kenya, I spent the first part of the morning looking at the birds in Jean Hartley's garden, seeing Reichenow's Weaver, Holub's Golden Weaver, 2 male Grosbeak Weavers the first new birds of the trip, Rufous Sparrow, Grey-headed Sparrow, Streaky Seedeater, Black Kite, Pied Crow, Fiscal, Paradise Flycatcher, Olive Thrush, Hadada Ibis, 2 Silvery-cheeked Hornbills and Dusky Turtle Dove. I was in East Africa on a sound recording trip to collect wildlife recordings for several progammes that the BBC were making here and also for the Natural History Sound Library collection. Jean Hartley of ViewFinders had planned and arranged all the logistics, and it was kind of her to let me stay the night at her house. Later in the morning Richard Matthews and wife to be Samantha Purdy arrived with the Land Rover, Samantha was to be my driver/guide for the first part of the trip.

In the afternoon we all went to Nairobi National Park on the outskirts of the city, a place I hadn't been to before. Here we saw Grant's and Thomson's Gazalles, Impala, 4 Masai Giraffe, 3 Black Rhinoceros, 4  Warthogs, a Common Waterbuck the first new mammal of the trip, Olive Baboons, 2 Vervet Monkeys, an African Fish Eagle, 2 Black-shouldered Kites, 2 Blacksmith Plovers, around 40 Ostriches including chicks, 2 White-bellied Bustards, Rufous-naped Lark, Long-tailed Fiscal, a Montagu's Harrier, 2 Lesser Kestrels, Helmeted Guineafowl, Marabou, White-backed Vultures, an immature Martial Eagleand 2 Black Storks.

Also Rattling, Singing, Winding and Stout Cisicolas, a Fork-tailed or Common Drongo, 2 Southern Black Flycatchers, a male and female Cardinal Woodpecker, a White-bellied Tit, 2 Klaas's Cuckoos, a Northern Brubru, Spectacled Weavers, Speke's Weaver, 2 Yellow-spotted Petronias, Blue-naped Mousebird, Northern Pied Babbler, Willow Warbler, Striped and Pied Kingfishers, 6 Shelley's Francolins, 4 Spotted Thick-knees, an African Marsh Owl and a White-browed Coucal.     

Photos: Common Waterbuck. 

             Immature Martial Eagle.

21st January.

An early start to load the Land Rover, today Samantha and I were heading south to Tanzania. In Nairobi I saw a male and female Variable Sunbird and 6 Cinnamon-chested Bee-eaters.

As we passed Nairobi National park we stopped to see a Kori Bustard, a new bird for me.

During the drive to the border crossing at Namanga we saw 2 Crowned Plovers, 3 White-bellied Go-away-Birds and a Hamerkop.

From Namanga to Arusha we saw 8 D'Arnaud's Barbets, Little Swifts, 2 Northern White-crowned Shrikes, a Northern Brubru, around 30 Crowned Plovers, a Harrier Hawk, 3 Montagu's Harriers, Lesser Kestrel, Superb Starling, Swallows, Isabelline Wheatear, 2 Pale Chanting Goshawks, 6 Capped Wheatears, Pied Crows, Red-winged Larks and a Hildebrandt's Starling.

In the hotel garden in Arusha there were 8 African Pied Wagtails, 2 Reichenow's Weavers, 2 Silvery-cheeked Hornbills, Red-eyed Doves, Common Bulbuls and Little Swifts.

 

Photo: Kori Bustard.

22nd January.

On a quick look around the hotel garden in Arusha I saw Reichenow's Weavers, Lesser Masked Weavers, 18 Vieillot's Black Weavers and 2 Tacazze Sunbirds.

Then Samantha and I headed west for Lake Manyara, stopping at interesting places along the way, enroute we saw 3 Little Bee-eaters, a Slate-coloured Boubou, an Eastern Double-collared Sunbird, Pin-tailed Whydahs, Chestnut Sparrows, White Storks, Abdim's Storks, Fischer's Finch Larks, Lesser Striped Swallows, Palm Swifts, Laughing Doves, a male Black-winged Bishop and Ring-necked Doves.

At Lake Manyara we only had time to look around the woodland by the entrance, before driving to the nearby lodge, here we saw a Schalow's Wheatear, 2 Desert Wheatears, a Variable Sunbird, a Silvery-cheeked Hornbill and around 20 Eastern Olive Baboons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Abdim's Stork.

 

23rd January.

A day spent at Lake Manyara National Park, seeing Pink-backed Pelicans, Eastern Olive Baboon, Impala, Yellow-billed Stork, an Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, a Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, a Crowned Hornbill, Palm Swifts, Wildebeest, Red-billed Quelea, Wattled Starling, 2 Kittlitz's Sand Plovers, Blacksmith Plover, Ruff, Egyptian Geese, Marabou, Warthog, Red-billed Oxpecker, Giraffe, Hamerkop, Long-tailed Cormorant, various flava wagtail races, Pied Kingfisher, Common Sandpiper, a Peregrine, African Spoonbill, Little Egret, Yellow-billed Egret, Hippopotamus, African Jacana, Grey Heron, 5 Southern Ground Hornbills, Grey Woodpecker, Northern White-crowned Shrike, Superb Starling, White-backed Vulture, Vervet Monkey, African Fish Eagle, White Pelican, Greater and Lesser Flamingos, Zebra, Black-backed Jackal, Greenshank, Grey Hornbill, Tropical Boubou, Lilac-breasted Roller, Woodland Kingfisher, Swallow, Little Bee-eater, Capped Wheatear, Isabelline Shrike, Eurasian Bee-eater, 2 Vitelline Masked Weavers, Grassland Pipit, Black Kite, 2 Saddle-billed Storks, African Buffalo, Green Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, a Kirk's Dik Dik, Green Wood Hoopoe, 2 D'Arnoud's Barbets, 2 Red-fronted Barbets, a Three-banded Plover, an Olive-tree Warbler, 2 Spotted Morning Thrushes, a Green-winged Pytilia, a Palm-nut Vulture, a Black-headed Bush Shrike, 3 Two-banded Coursers, Little Stint, Collared Pratincole, Tawny Eagle, Long-tailed Fiscal, Knob-billed Goose. 

 

 

Photos: Pink-backed Pelicans

 

             African Buffalo

 

             Palm-nut Vulture

 

             Two-banded Courser

 

             

Photos above: Three-banded Plover and Black-backed Jackal, showing two forms of scent marking, by urine and from gland by eye.

24th January.

Today we left Manyara and headed west, up into the Ngorongoro highlands, past the crater and down on to the Serengeti plains to the tented camp at Ndutu. We stopped at several places along the route when the opportunity to record or see something of interest arose. During the journey we saw Yellow Bishop, Blue-capped Cordon-bleu, Black Kite, Common Bulbul, Little Swift, Fiscal, Black-shouldered Kite, Pallid Harrier, Spotted Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Montagu's Harrier, Baglafecht Weaver, various races of flava wagtails, we heard a Common Quail, Stonechat, Black Roughwing Swallow, Streaky Seedeater, Eastern Double-collared Sunbird and White-naped or necked Raven. As we decended towards the Serengeti we saw an immature Woolly-necked Stork an unusual bird for this region. The first part of the plains still had quite a lot of acasia tree and scrub cover before becoming the classic short-grass plain, here we saw African Elephant, African Buffalo, Red-collared Widowbird, 2 Anteater Chats, Nyanza Swifts, 3 Kori Bustards, D' Arnaud's Barbet, Southern Savannah Giraffe, 1000's of Wildebeest, Zebra, Wheatear, Dusky Turtle Dove, Hoopoe, Abdim's Stork, White Stork, Chestnut- bellied Sandgrouse, Namaqua Dove, Speckled Dove, Helmeted Guineafowl, Brimstone Canary, a Bateleur and 3 Spotted Hyaenas.

After settling in to the tent at Ndutu there was time to look around the trees and bushes by the camp and visit the nearby marsh. Here I saw 2 Black-headed Herons, Superb Starling, Northern White-crowned Shrike, Striped Swallow, a Silverbird, 7 Fischer's Lovebirds, a Grey Woodpecker, Greater Flamingo, Rufous-tailed Weaver, Ring-necked Dove, 2 Blacksmith Plovers, a Black-shouldered Kite and a Red-breasted Wryneck.

Photos: Immature Woolly-necked Stork. Serengeti, short-grass plain. Southern Savannah Giraffes.

             

25th January.

A day recording in the various habitats around Ndutu, comprising acasia woodland, short-grass plain, lake and marsh, seeing Great Spotted Cuckoo, Common Drongo, Superb Starling, Blacksmith Plover, Helmeted Guineafowl, 2 Grey-breasted Spurfowls, Southern Savannah Giraffe, Impala, 2 African Cuckoos, Fischer's Lovebird, Lilac-breasted Roller, a Shikra, Wattled Starling, Hildebrandt's Starling, Speckle-fronted Weaver, Yellow-fronted Canary, Gull-billed Tern, Zebra, 1000's Wildebeest, Ostrich, Rufous-naped Lark, Red-capped Lark, White-tailed Lark, 2 Black-chested Harrier Eagles, 2 Bateleurs, a Tawny Eagle, Grey-crested Helmet-shrike, Greater Flamingo, Black-winged Stilt, Little Stint, Avocet, Greenshank, 10 Spotted Hyaenas, Cape Teal, around 10 Chestnut-banded Plovers, 2 Marsh Sandpipers, Dunlin, Ruff, 40+ Black-necked Grebes, 3 Little Ringed Plovers, a Black-headed Heron, Lesser Flamingos, Green Wood-hoopoe, a Yellow-breasted Apalis, African Buffalo, Rufous-tailed Weaver, Grey Woodpecker, 2 Didric Cuckoos, 6 Angola Swallows, a White-headed Vulture, Hooded Vulture, Yellow-necked Spurfowl, Marabou, 2 Coqui Francolins, a female African Marsh Harrier, Grey Crowned Crane, White-backed Vulture, 2 Ruppell's Griffon Vultures, a Lappet-faced Vulture, Roller, White-winged Black Tern, 2 Hoopoes, a male and a female Bushbuck and 5 Kirk's Dikdiks.

 

Photos: Above: Female & male Chestnut-banded Plover, male Chestnut-banded Plover. Below: Spotted Hyaena.

26th January.

An early start, leaving Ndutu before dawn to spend most of the day on the plains as far north as Naabi Hill. On the road outside the camp we saw a Donaldson-Smith's Nightjar, then a Serval and then 2 Slender-tailed Nightjars. On the plains there were 100,000's of Wildebeest, 1000's of Zebra and 100's of Grant's and Thomson's Gazelles, also 5 Spotted Hyaenas and a Lioness, 6 Kori Bustards, Ostrich, 3 Montagu's Harriers, a female Beautiful Sunbird, a Cape Hare, 4 Lappet-faced Vultures, White-backed Vultures, 2 Pallid Harriers, 4 Secretary Birds, a Kestrel, Mourning Wheatear, Capped Wheatear, Northern Wheatear, Fischer's Finch Lark, Red-capped Lark, Speckled Pigeon, Rufous-naped Lark, Grassland Pipit, Swallows, 2 Bateleurs, an African Golden Jackal or Wolf, Gull-billed Tern, a Martial Eagle, 5 Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, a Two-banded Courser, Vieillot's Black Weaver, White-browed Coucal, Rattling Cisticola, Northern Brubru and Stout Cisticola.

Later we returned via the marsh at Ndutu, where we saw Blacksmith and Crowned Plovers, a Great Spotted Cuckoo, 3 Wood Sandpipers, Greater and Lesser Flamingos, 35 White Storks, 6 White-winged Black Terns, a Gull-billed Tern, Lesser Masked Weavers, a male Beautiful Sunbird, a Red-faced Apalis, Green Wood Hoopoes, Yellow-necked Spurfowl, 3 Marsh Sandpipers, 5 Spotted Hyaenas, 3 Hoopoes, a Greenshank, 6 Kittlitz's Plovers, a White-headed Vulture, White-backed and Hooded Vultures, Marabou and 2 African Penduline Tits

Photos: Wildebeest, Kori Bustard, Secretary Bird, Lappet-faced Vultures with White-backed Vultures at carcass.

 

 

 

Photos: Lappet-faced Vultures:

 

        Immature taking off.

 

Adult taking off.

 

Adult in flight.

27th January.

Another fairly early start, leaving Ndutu and heading northeast on to the Serengeti plains for the Gol Kopjes. Just after leaving the camp we saw 2 Bat-eared Foxes, as we crossed the plains we saw 4 African Golden Jackals, 3 Spotted Hyaenas, 3 Lappet-faced and 3 White-backed Vultures, 4 Secretary Birds, 12 Cape Rooks and an African Wild Cat. In an area of mounds and valleys we watched a female Cheetah with 3 well-grown cubs hunting, but she failed to make a kill. Out on the plains again there were 8 Kestrels, 3 Egyptian Geese, 9 Kori Bustards, 1000's of Wildebeest, 100's of Zebra and 100's of both Grant's and Thomson's Gazelles and 4 Cape Hares.

Reaching the Gol Kopjes, an area of rocky outcrops, we saw 2 male Lions, two young brothers with blackish manes who had yet to take-over a pride of their own. On the rocks was a Mwanza Flat-headed Rock Agama, nearby we saw a Warthog, 3 Tawny Eagles, 4 Montagu's Harriers, a Bateleur, Red-capped Larks, Fischer's Finch Larks, Pectoral-patch Cisticola, a Booted Eagle, around 150 Topi, a Fiscal and a Brown Harrier Eagle.

Returning to Ndutu we made a stop at the marsh where there was a Klaas's Cuckoo, about 35 Ruff, a Chestnut Sparrow, Stout and Rattling Cisticolas, Superb Starling, Fischer's Lovebird, Red-billed Buffalo Weavers, Common Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Rufous-tailed Weavers and 3 Savannah Cane-rats.

Photos:

 

           Gol Kopjes on the Seregeti.

 

           Black maned Lions.

 

           Mwanza Flat-headed Rock Agama.

28th January.

An early start, leaving Ndutu to travel north across the Serengeti plains to Seronera.

On the road outside the camp we saw a Donaldson-Smith's and a Slender-tailed Nightjar and 2 Kirk's Dikdiks. 

On our drive across the plains were 1000's of Wildebeest and Zebra, 100's of Grant's and Thomson's Gazelles and 100's of White Storks, also a Spotted Hyaena, Ostrich, 2 Black-shouldered Kites, Buffy Pipit, Red-capped Larks, Fischer's Finch Lark, a Bateleur, White-backed Vulture, Pectoral-patch Cisticollas, Banded Martins, Grey-rumped Swallow, 2 Redstarts, a Rock Thrush, a single young Lioness, Red-winged Lark, 3 Crowned Cranes, Lesser Kestrel, Short-tailed Lark, Kongoni or Hartebeest, Topi, Black Crake, Southern Savannah Giraffe, Waterbuck, a Black Coucal, 2 Red-throated Tits, a Buff-bellied Warbler, Olive Baboons, 2 Leopard Tortoises, a Red-necked Spurfowl, 4 Ruppell's Long-tailed Starlings and 2 Grey-backed Fiscals.

Not far from the lodge at Seronera was Alan Root's house, our accommodation for the next two nights, here Samantha and I met up with Richard Matthews and his assistant who were filming in the area. Outside the house I saw a Spotted Hyaena, Large Spotted Genet and a Yellow-throated Longclaw.   

 

Photos: Solitary young Lioness.

 

             Leopard Tortoise.

29th January.

A day around the Seronera area of the Serengeti, mainly near the small river which eventually flows into the Orangi River. Here we saw a Black-bellied Bustard, Red-throated Spurfowl, Grey-backed Fiscal, a Spotted Hyaena, Black-headed Heron, Black Coucal, Grey Woodpecker and Ruppell's Long-tailed Starling.

Then we saw a female Leopard feeding on a reedbuck in a large acasia tree, which we were told she had dragged up there the day before, it was amazing to see and we watched it for a long time.

Also seen was a Black-lored Babbler, Olive Baboons, Topi, Waterbuck, at least 6 Hippopotamuses, 2 Grey Herons, Impala, Southern Savannah Giraffe and White-crowned Shrike.

Back at Alan Root's house I saw Rock Hyrax, a Black-faced Waxbill, Grey-headed Social Weaver, Little Weaver, 8 Dwarf Mongooses, Common Bulbul, Red-fronted Barbet, a male Hunter's Sunbird, a White-bellied Canary, a Purple Grenadier, male and female Mariqua Sunbirds, a Grey-headed Silverbill, a Spotted Flycatcher, Rattling Cisticola, Didric Cuckoo, 4 Red-winged Starlings and a Pale Flycatcher.   

 

Photos: female Leopard feeding on reedbuck.

30th January.

Our last night at Alan Root's house at Seronera, from the window in my room I saw a Ratel or Honey Badger running past the house, outside I saw a Bateleur.

After loading up the Land Rover, Samantha and I set off, back south and east to our final stop on this part of the trip, Ngorongoro Crater, stopping on the way to record and view species of interest.

During the journey we saw Topi, Waterbuck, Warthog, Lilac-breasted Roller, Lesser Kestrel, 5 Kori Bustards, 4 Secretary Birds, 2 Lionesses, Impala, Wildebeest, Zebra, Grant's and Thomson's Gazelles, 7 Lappet-faced, 4 Ruppell's Griffon, 15 White-backed and 6 Hooded Vultures.

We also saw a Yellow-billed Kite, considered by many to be a race of Black Kite, but recent DNA results indicate that it should be given full species status.

After viewing the kite we continued seeing Ostrich, 4 Spotted Hyaenas, 5 African Golden Jackals, a Pallid Harrier, Bateleur, Capped Wheatear, Swallows, 100's of Abdim's Storks and a few White Storks, 4 Augur Buzzards, a Pale Chanting Goshawk, a Red-and-Yellow Barbet, 4 Brimstone Canaries, Southern Savannah Giraffe, Rufous Sparrow, a Black-tipped Mongoose, 4 Hildebrandt's Francolins, 2 Southern Citrils, Stonechats, an Olive Pigeon and 12 Elephants. 

Photos: Yellow-billed Kite.

 

             Red-and-Yellow Barbet.

31st January.

Samantha and I made an early start from our hotel on the rim of Ngorongoro Crater, before the tourist buses departed, as we had been given special permission to enter the reserve an hour before everyone else, to give me a chance to record without engines in the background.

It took at least half an hour to drive to the track which descended in a zigzag to the crater floor.

On the way we saw a Serval, a Eurasian Nightjar and a Montane Nightjar and 4 Augur Buzzards.

The descent down the winding, rough track was slow as we were stopping to record and view species the whole way down, here we saw White-Browed Robin Chat, Red-rumped Swallow, Anteater Chat, Black-headed Bush-shrike also called Black-crowned Tchagra, Yellow Bishop, Black Coucal, Variable Sunbird, Grey-backed Camaroptera, an immature Red-backed Shrike, Scaly Francolin, 2 Purple Grenadiers, at least 2 Singing Cisticolas, Fiscal, Mourning Wheatear, Blue-naped Mousebird, Southern Citril and Helmeted Guineafowl.

On the approach and at Lake Magadi we saw Egyptian Geese, Ruff, Greenshank, Blacksmith Plover, Spur-winged Geese, around 200 Glossy Ibises, Sacred Ibis, a Yellow-billed Duck, Black-headed Heron, Lesser Flamingos, Wood Sandpiper, Little Stint, Grey-headed Gulls, Long-tailed Cormorant, Crested Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Red-billed Duck, Little Grebe, Hottentot Teal, Gull-billed Tern, Kittlitz's Plover and 2 Long-toed Lapwings.       

Exploring the other areas of the crater we saw African Buffalo, Grant's and Thomson's Gazelles, 4 African Golden Jackals, Zebra, Kongoni, Wildebeest, Elephants, 5 Kori Bustards, Swallows, Flava Wagtails, Grassland Pipit, Rufous-naped Lark, Pectoral-patch Cisticola, Pallid Harrier, 2 Black-backed Jackals, 4 Fan-tailed Widowbirds, 2 Jackson's Widowbirds, a male and two female Black-bellied Bustards, the second female was watched repeatedly picking up and dropping a large woolly caterpillar until it finally swallowed it.

Also seen were 7 male and 5 female Lions, Cattle Egrets, Rosy-breasted Longclaw, Banded Martin, African Sand Martin, a Spotted Hyaena, 2 Bateleurs, Abdim's Stork, Olive Baboon, 2 Vervet Monkeys, a Marsh Mongoose, 2 Black Rhinoceroses, Black Kite, 6 Crowned Cranes, White Stork, Marabou, 4 Olive Pigeons, Ostrich, Warthog, Red-capped Lark, a Woolly-necked Stork, a White-headed and 2 Lappet-faced Vultures and 3 Blue Monkeys.    

 

Photos: Ngorongoro Crater from rim.

             

             Lake Magadi in crater.

             Glossy Ibises

Female Black-bellied Bustard.

Male Black-bellied Bustard giving its two stage call, first a guttural musical growl while crouched, then as it shoots its head up a pop.

Female Black-bellied Bustard feeding on hairy caterpillar.

1st February.

Another early start driving down into Ngorongoro Crater, where we spent the whole day sound recording. During the day we visited most parts of the crater floor seeing 9 Black-backed Jackals, a large herd of Buffalo and a few single bulls, Cattle Egrets, 3 Bat-eared Foxes, 8 Kori Bustards, Yellow-throated Longclaws, Grassland Pipits which were formally treated as a race of Richard's Pipit, Plain-backed Pipits, Pectoral-patch Cisticolas, 5 African Golden Jackals, lots of Lesser Flamingos, a Bearded Woodpecker, African Elephants which were mainly in the shorter grass areas, Zebras and Wildebeest.

The Wildebeest were spread out with a lot of them with very young calves, in one area we watched a single Spotted Hyaena kill a calf which was only a few hours old, the hyaena ran down the mother and calf until they were exhausted, then took the calf easily, in fact, all the calves seen at this spot were gone by our next visit on the 3rd.

Also in this area we saw Grant's and Thomson's Gazelles, a Black-tipped or Slender Mongoose and 2 African Fish Eagles.

Although we did see 3 Hippopotamuses at one of the smaller lakes, the majority were in a small, fairly deep pool in the center of the reserve, where the dominant sound was of them swishing their tails in the water to disperse their dung, with the occasional deep call from a male. There were lots of females, a few with calves, and 2 or 3 bulls which is probally why there was so much grunting.

We also saw Crowned Cranes, Egyptian Geese, Rufous-naped Larks, Blacksmith Plovers and 3 male and 5 female Lions.

We parked on a hillside overlooking a marshy area of reeds and rushes surrounding a large pool watching a mixed herd of Zebra and Wildebeest coming down to drink. Then a Lioness shot from cover, selected a Wildebeest and brought it down before the herd realised what was happening, the herd panicked and ran back up the hillside and then turned to watch, staring and snorting, as the Lioness throttled its prey. The herd remained at the top of the hill watching as the Lioness tried to drag the Wildebeest into the rushes, which she found difficult on her own, but after 15-20 minutes she eventually succeeded. 

Near the centre of the crater is a raised, flat-topped area where you are allowed to get out of your vehicle, here we stopped for lunch.

Later we continued to collect sounds in several areas seeing 2 Black-winged Plovers, Shoveler, Abdim's Storks, Anteater Chats, White-headed, White-backed and Lappet-faced Vultures, African Citrils, Capped Wheatears, 4 Black-bellied Bustards, Cape Rooks, Red-billed Oxpeckers, Black Kites, Sacred Ibises, Spur-winged Geese, a Pallid and a Montagu's Harrier, a Tawny Eagle, Rosy-breasted Longclaws and 100's of flava wagtails.

By the lakes and pools we saw a Little Grebe, a Black Crake, 7 Night Herons, Hoopoes, Augur Buzzards, Glossy Ibises, Hottentot Teal, Red-billed Ducks, Ruff, Little Stints, Kittlitz's Sand Plovers, Black-winged Stilts, Grey-headed Gulls, a Grey Kestrel, 2 Bohor Reedbucks and Winding Cisticolas.

 

Photos: African or Cape Buffalo.

 

             African Elephants.

Hippopotamus, bull and with calf.

2nd February.

Not such an early start today, as we headed back to the plains of the Serengeti to vist Olduvai Gorge. On the way seeing a Striped Hyaena, an African Buffalo, a Lioness with 3 well grown cubs, 4 Spotted Hyaenas, Zebras and Giraffes.

The gorges proper spelling is Oldupai, a Maasai word for wild, and is also the name given to the plant that we know as Wild Sisal.

Olduvai Gorge was not as impressive as I had imagined, more a series of canyons with gently sloping walls, it was also very arid with few trees and bushes. But, we did see a Peregrine, a Kestrel, a Black Kite, Yellow-necked Spurfowls, Slate-coloured Boubous, Variable Sunbirds, 6 Kirk's Dikdiks, a Black-backed Jackal, 2 Red-and-Yellow Barbets, Capped Wheatears and a Pied Wheatear. And, the biggest surprise was bumping into Bill Oddie who was leading a small group on a birdwatching tour.

On the way back we stopped off to see the Shifting Sands, this amazing sand dune has travelled 10's of miles over the centuries from the volcanoes to the east, even on the still day of our visit you could see the sand grains moving and making a slight rustling sound. At the back of the dune we found snail shells which could have been hundreds of years old, being uncovered as the dunes creeps west.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos: Olduvai Gorge.

 

              Oldupai or Wild Sisal.

 

              Shifting Sands.

3rd February.

An early start from our hotel on the rim of Ngorongoro Crater, just as it was getting light. On the road I saw 8 Nightjars, which were probably Montane, a White-naped Weasel, a Bushbuck and 2 Bohor Reedbucks.

 

We began our decent on the winding, rough track into the crater, as we neared the bottom we saw a group of 5 or 6 bull African Buffaloes defending an injured bull Buffalo, the injured animal could barely stand and had probably been ham-strung earlier by the pride of 18-20 Lions which were now confronting it.

For around an hour the line of Buffaloes repeatedly charged at the Lions as they edged forward, during which time the injured Buffalo collapsed to the ground, at times struggling to get up but couldn't and groaning most of the time. Then came the point when the defending Buffaloes turned and walked away, leaving their comrade to the Lions, even then the Lions approached cautiously, attacking the rear of the animal first, until a lioness got a throttle hold on its neck, and the groaning stopped.

After the kill more Lions emerged from the surrounding bushes, in all the pride numbered about 30, but no adult male, he we found a short way down on the plain, obviously not hungry.

As the Lions were feeding more and more tourist buses arrived to watch, to our amasement the guides allowed their tourists to get out and stand on top of the roadside bank to view, not realising that several of the Lions which had fed had moved into the bushes only a few feet below them. When we pointed this out to them they didn't seem bothered!

 

Continuing our recording trip into the crater we saw another male Lion and 5 other Lionesses, 100's more Buffaloes, 2 Bateleurs, at least 6 Anteater Chats, Rufous-tailed Starlings, around 20 African Elephants, 5 Kori Bustards, 2 male Black-bellied Bustards, a Black-headed Bush-Shrike and a White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher.

In other parts of the crater we saw 2 Black Rhinoceroses, 100's of Zebra, Wildebeest, Thomson's and Grant's Gazelles, around 10 Kongoni, 6 Spotted Hyaenas, about 18 Waterbucks and 5 Black-backed Jackals. Also a Pin-tailed Whydah, an immature Long-crested Eagle, 2 Black Kites, 8 Vervet Monkeys, Helmeted Guineafowls, 6 Ostriches, Superb Starlings, 3 Red-billed Oxpeckers, about 300 Cattle Egrets, 10 Warthogs and around 60 Olive Baboons.

On the drive back to the hotel, along the rim, there was a Montane Nightjar and 6 African Black Rough-wing Swallows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos: Lion pride feeding on buffalo.

4th February.

Today was my first chance to explore the area around the hotel in daylight. While Samantha was packing to leave, I had a look in the forest along the rim of Ngorongoro Crater, seeing 2 Waller's Chestnut-winged Starlings, several Hunter's Cisticolas, Reichenow's Weavers, a Large Grey Flycatcher, 2 Tropical Boubous, Eastern Double-collared Sunbirds, Streaky Seed-eaters, 2 Mountain Greenbuls, a Mountain Buzzard, 2 Hildebrandt's Francolins, a White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher and male and female Golden-winged Sunbirds.

The drive back through Tanzania  was uneventful until we got to the Kenyan boarder. It had taken us longer than we hoped to get this far and it was late afternoon by the time we arrived. Leaving Tanzania was fine, but entering Kenya was a different matter, first the boarder guards made us unpack and show them everything in the Land Rover, then the official in the boarder post said we had to pay for their overtime as the boarder was due to close for the day! As time was getting on I said OK but I wanted a receipt, at which the official became very agitated so I let Samantha take over, and, finally we were allowed through. But we still had to pay the money without a receipt, and no the BBC would not except it on my expenses.

By now it was getting dark, not a good time to travel in Kenya, but nothing happened on the drive and we arrived safely back at Jean Hartley's house in Nairobi where we spent the night.

The trip continues in Kenya.

 

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© 2014  Nigel Tucker. All rights reserved.

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