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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