Saturday, December 03, 2016

Tarangire National Park

For our first full day in Taragangire, our driver chose to go South to a wetland/marsh area, taking in what we encountered on the way.

This included a Black-headed Sandgrouse, a family of birds which we'd only ever seen in the half-light after sundown:


Perched on a tree a beautiful Black Kite, check out the eyes:






















Then we were fortunate enough to see a Crested Barbet, with a happy combination of shade, light and proximity, i am very pleased with this sequence of the bird:




The middle picture above in particular i think is one of the best i've taken so far.

We stopped at a picnic/toilet stop on another ridge, overlooking a valley, and what sight!  A herd of hundreds of buffalo was moving across the landscape like a river, going down to water and then moving off to feed:


The herd just kept coming even as the vanguard was heading back away from the water, amazing sight, normally stuff you only see on nature documentaries and here it was happening just below us!

We headed down for a closer look, seeing this Martial Eagle just after a bath at a river crossing point:


Zebra were drinking there too:


Soon we saw vultures, African White-backed in this case:


And then we saw the reason why the vultures were present - a distant view of lions:


More carrion birds were arriving including this Marabou Stork:


We tried to locate the carcass but it was behind a small ridge and you're not allowed off-road or out of the car, so hidden it stayed.  You can see the vultures had found it and filled-up by the blood covering their necks:


We drove on, stopping to identify this Silverbird:


Another Black-faced Sandgrouse, this one in better light:



Towards lunchtime we arrived at the wetland, seeing our first African White-backed Ducks, among lots of other species:


It's an enormous landscape, which i tried to illustrate with the following image.  In the foreground are hundreds of African Openbill Storks, in the middle-ground a herd of elephants and in the far distance hills, all under an enormous sky:


We stopped for lunch at the picnic site and bumped into a group of Belgians who had been staying at Hatari at the same time.  They put us to shame with two bottles of wine between four of them for lunch and then an initial order of four bottles with dinner!  We were staying in the lodge, they were staying in tented accommodation, however they clearly had the better deal.  Their lunch was sumptuous with salad and vegetables, cake, etc.  So much so that they had a lot of leftovers.  Our offering was much more spartan.   This was also one of the few places that got the food wrong, one packed lunch they provided had chicken in, which i spotted but Helen didn't, queue 24 hours of downtime.  A day later they finally apologised and gave us a complimentary bottle of wine, i enjoyed it but Helen was still too ill to do so.  So given our experience i'd say the tented camp in the park would be a better choice.

Anyway we had to drive all the way back again, and indeed saw lots of wildlife and birds on the way, including Common Fiscal Shrike:


Elephant and Common Ostrich:



Yellow-necked Spurfowl:


A White-bellied Bustard:


Black-lored Babbler:


And finally a bird from Helen's favourite family of species,  Pearl-Spotted Owlet:



They are small and very unpopular with the other birds, given their diet.  They also have 'false' eyes on the back of their head, an evolutionary adaptation which no doubt serves them well.

Time to retreat back to the lodge for a sunset over the valley and a pleasant dinner.

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