Saturday, December 03, 2016

Arusha to Tarangire

After 2 nights at Hatari we were headed to Tarangire National Park, our second longest stop of the trip and a key birding location in Tanzania.  On the way we stopped from time-to-time, seeing the fairly common White-headed Buffalo Weaver:

And the now scarce Fischer's Lovebird:

Outside of the park the landscape is dry and hot and the land farmed and dry:

On arrival at Tarangire late morning we had to wait an hour for the paperwork queue to be worked through.  It was baking hot.  Most people stood under a large Boabab tree.  We wandered about looking for birds, though frankly we could have stood in the shade too, these Ashy Starlings are everywhere around the park entrance:

The landscape in the park is stunning:

And majestic trees and grasslands:

The birding is very good too.   Here a well-lit African Hoopoe:

A White-faced Go-Away-Bird:

An African White-headed Vulture:

Brown-crowned Tchagra:

Grassland Pipit:

Crested Francolin, them of the early morning wake-up call:

Like every park it's not all about the birds, I adore these Dwarf Mongooses and their habit of taking over termite mounds:

Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, their wings are very dark brown when they fly, often that's how you know what just flew away from you:

A soaring Egyptian Vulture:

The small but brightly coloured Green-winged Pytillia, this a female without the red-face:

Grey-headed Kingfisher:

There are lots of antelopes of various species, all living in this jaw-dropping landscape:

Together with Masai Giraffe:

The start of the short-rain/wet season triggers breeding for some species, here a Moustached Warbler is gathering nesting material:

Red-billed Buffalo Weaver, one of the 'small five':

Rufous-tailed Weavers:

A Schallow's Wheatear:

And in a flock of Cordon-bleus, we also saw Speckle-fronted Weavers, feeding on the ground:

We also saw a number of elephants, this being a major home for them in Tanzania, this one had just finished covering itself in red mud:

And all of this was before lunch, a buffet at Tarangire Safari Lodge.  We were booked into one of the concrete rooms, in a wild camp, which means no fences.   We regularly had impala outside our room, and we also found a scorpion in our sink but that's another story!

The food was very good and the lodge itself has amazing views being perched on the lip of an escarpment, overlooking a river:

We spent a few hours around the lodge in the heat of the day, and saw a lot more wildlife including the common and gregarious Northern White-crowned Shrike:

A Sulphur-breasted Bush-Shrike, one species of an extremely colourful family of birds:

We really enjoyed watching a pair of Von der Decken's Hornbills feeding, first the female with the black bill:

Then she took watch while the male fed:

The cloud built through our afternoon game drive, giving some interesting light to work with, as you can see here with this Grey Go-Away bird:

Two-banded Courser, we've only seen these in the late afternoon, no idea why:

The sky, the cloud, the sun, the landscape:

And sunset:

We'd arrived in an amazing place.

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