Florence and I got married at the registrar office in Dar es Salaam on July 11th, we celebrated the wedding at Kunduchi Beach Hotel on July 12th. July 13th was a day of rest.

Day 1, July 14th. Dar - Arusha National Park

 On July 14th, we flew from Dar to Kilimanjaro airport just outside Arusha. Florence uncle met us at the airport with a car we were supposed to borrow for our trip. I had expected a proper high clarence 4WD. It was a Toyota 4WD, but it had very low clearance and very low profile tires. I did not say anything, but wanted to test it out. Anyway, we had booked 2 nights at the Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge. We drove to the lodge and checked in. The lodge is situated just 3 km outside of the Arusha National Park. We had time for an afternoon trip to the park and was soon on our way. Florence had never been birding, so I decided to take it kind of easy on her. She had been in many of the parks as a kid, but had not been for a long time. I decided to focus on mammals the first day and take the occasional shots of nicely perched birds. 

The first nicely perched bird was a juvenile African Fish Eagle. It was sitting in the road and did not want to move. Next we found a pair of Scaly Spurfowls (lifer). Then a nicely perched African Dusky Flycatcher. Dark-capped Yellow Weaver and Red-faced Cisticola. The next lifer was a Taveta Weaver. The last birds of the day was a Rufous-naped Lark and a Long-billed Pipit. We exited the park and headed for the Lodge.

Some pictures from day one in Arusha National Park.


Diamorphic Egret (lifer), Kunduchi Beach, Dar es Salaam, July 7th

African Fish Eagle (Juvenile)

Scaly Spurfowl (lifer)

Taveta Weaver (lifer)

Day 2, July 15, Arusha National Park.

We planned to stay the entire day in Arusha National Park today. Our plan was to drive up to the Ngurdoto Crater, but we only made it as far as the ranger station before we had a flat tyre :-(. There were no jack in the car, so we had to wait for help. While waiting, what is better than doing a little birding? The first bird I saw was a Sharpe´s Starling, followed by Retz´s Helmet Shrikes and Black-headed Oriole. While we were waiting, we were also entertained by a group of Black-and-white Colubus Monkeys. Finally the help arrived in the form of a very friendly ranger. He changed our tyre in no time. We decided to go out of the park and swap vehicle. On the way out, we stopped for a nicely perched African Cuckoo Hawk. We exited the park, met up with Florence uncle and swapped to a Suzuki 4WD. A much smaller car, but with solid tires and high clearance. A few hours afterwards, we were back in the national park. The firs bird was a nicely perched Giant Kingfisher. It was pretty quiet, but we managed to pick up a Long-billed Pipit before we managed to get nearer the Momela lakes. Here we found a flock of very skittish Orange-breasted Waxbills and a flock of Brown-throated Martins. There were plenty of both species of Flamingos in the lakes and the next bird of interest was a Baglafecht Weaver (lifer). Later we found several pairs of Trilling Cisticolas (lifer). Other birds included Speckled Mousebirds, White-fronted Bee-eater, Scaly Spurfowl and a new lifer: Streaky Seed-eater. When we arrived at the lodge, we saw a Marabou Stork perched on top of the lodge.

Some pictures from day 2 in Arusha National Park.

Sharpe´s Starling (lifer)

African Cuckoo Hawk

Dark-capped Yellow-warbler

African Dusky Flycatcher

Orange-breasted Waxbill

Baglafecht Weaver (lifer)

Trilling Cisticola (lifer)

Day 3, July 16, Arusha National Park - Tarangire National Park

This was our last day in Arusha National Park. We were planning to stay in the park until lunch and then drive onwards to Tarangire National Park.

The first bird of the day was a African Stonechat, followed by a Grey-headed Kingfisher and a Long-crested Eagle. Since this was our last day, we decided to drive up to the Ngurdoto Crater. I had found the birding rather slow in the rest of the park, but we were up for a surprise at the crater. We found birds everywhere. The first nice bird was a Hartlaub´s Turaco (lifer), followed by a Black-fronted Bush-Shrike and Collared Sunbird. On the next stop along the crater, we found a noisy flock of  Montane White-eyes (lifer) and a Chinspot Batis. We drove on and found a Tambourine Dove in the road, more Scaly Spurfowls before we found a few Ruppel´s Robin-Chat (lifer). A bee-eater perched in the branches turned out to be a Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater (lifer). Once down from the crater, I found a Spot-flanked Barbet (lifer). Then before we left the park, we had a real nice bird party in front of us. The species in the party included: Taveta Weaver, African Stonechat, White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher (lifer), Cape Robin-chat and Brown-crowned Tchagra. Just before we left the park I noticed some Vultures flying. On closer inspection they turned out to be White-backed Vultures. In one three we also found a Palmnut Vulture perched with some White-backed Vultures. So we left Arusha National Park around midday and headed for our next stop Tarangire National Park.

Some pictures from day 3 in Arusha National Park.

Hartlaub´s Turaco (lifer)

Montane White-eye (lifer)

Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater (lifer)

Spot-flanked Barbet (lifer)

White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher (lifer)

Day 3, July 16, Arusha National Park - Tarangire National Park (continued)

Once in Arusha, we got lost since there were no signs telling us where to go. After a while, we were heading in the right direction only to find out that they were building a new road. The alternate road was a very bad gravel road with speed bumps every 200 meter and max speed limit 30 kmh. It was a real bumpy ride. Anyway we were booked for 3 nights at the Roika Tarangire Tented Lodge. We did not bird at all on the way, but the light were real good when we left the main Tarangire road and we decided to look for birds. By now, Florence were also into birding and she borrowed my Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 300, 2.8 and 2X converter.  The first bird on the scene was a new lifer; Ashy Starling, endemic to Tanzania. Then a Augur Buzzard followed by a new lifer, Yellow-collared Lovebird. This bird was quite common in the area. We saw several Double-banded Coursers and then a nicely perched Pygmy Falcon. We arrived at the Lodge checked in and had a late Lunch. I did a little birding in the garden and found Slate-coloured Boubou and Brown-crowned Tchagra before the light disappeared.

Some pictures from day 3 just outside Tarangire National Park.

Ashy Starling (lifer)

Augur Buzzard

Yellow-collared Lovebird (lifer)

Double-banded Courser

Pygmy Falcon

Brown-crowned Tchagra

Day 4, July 17, Tarangire National Park

We headed out early this morning and did some birding on the way to the park. We saw the Double-banded Coursers again, both Red-billed and White-headed Buffalo Weavers, a juvenile Beautiful Sunbird (lifer), Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Superb Starling, Ashy Starling and Crested Francolin, before we entered the park. At the park gate, we walked a little in the area and picked up more Lovebirds and also a Nubian Woodpecker. Once in the park, our first good bird was a Black-faced Sandgrouse. I stopped for Florence to take picture of a Lilac-breasted Roller, that was soon joined in the three by a female Wattled Starling and a Van Decken´s Hornbill. We were soon under attack by horseflies and Florence was really on the war path killing everything that buzzed. Next bird was a Northern White-crowned Shrike, followed by a couple of White-backed Vultures, before I got my next lifer of the day:  Speckle-fronted Weaver. Then a Tawny Eagle feeding on a kill and a Black-shouldered Kite. The next lifer was also a Tanzanian endemic: Rufous-tailed Weaver. We found a mixed flock of Speckle-fronted Weavers and Red-cheeked Cordonbleu.  A White-browed Coucal and a nicely perched Little Bee-eater. We also saw a Long-crested Eagle dive down and catch a rodent. It was getting quite hot and we headed towards the gate again, on the way, we picked up more Rufous-tailed Weavers, Fischer´s Sparrow-Larks and Fawn coloured Lark. We stopped at a river for Florence to get pictures of a Hamerkop. Once back in camp, I found a noisy band of Northern Pied Babblers and more Slate coloured Boubous. We had lunch and retreated to the swimming pool. At the pool I saw a little drip and a small pool of water. I positioned the sun chairs quite close to the little pool and was very soon entertained by quite a few birds coming in to drink: Lesser-striped Swallows drinking from the main pool. Black Bishop (lifer), Red-billed Firefinch, Superb Starling, Swahili Sparrow (lifer), Speckle-fronted Weavers, Red-cheeked Cordonbleu, Green-winged Pytilia and Chestnut Sparrow (lifer). This was indeed very productive and lazy birding :-). After the pool, we decided to bird the road from the lodge to the main road. The first new bird was a Long-tailed Shrike. We found the normal Northern Red-billed Hornbill. Village Indigobirds and finally a Blue-capped Cordonbleu (lifer). The last bird of the day was a nicely perched Lilac-breasted Roller.

Some pictures from day 4, Tarangire National Park.

White-headed Buffalo Weaver

Scarlet-chested Sunbird

Superb Starling

Nubian Woodpecker

Black-faced Sandgrouse

Northern White-crowned Shrike

Rufous-tailed Weaver (lifer)

Little Bee-eater

Fischer´s Sparrowlark

Northern Pied Babbler (lifer)

Black Bishop (lifer)

Red-billed Firefinch

Speckle-fronted Weaver (lifer)

Red-cheeked Cordonbleu

Green-winged Pytilia

Swahili Sparrow (lifer)

Chestnut Sparrow (lifer)

Long-tailed Shrike

Lilac-breasted Roller

Day 5, July 18, Tarangire National Park

We headed out early this morning as well and into the park. We spoke with some people in the bar the night before and they told us about an elephant carcass. We wanted to try to find this carcass to see if there were any good Vultures present. On the way to the park, We found an African Orange-bellied Parrot. The first bird we stopped for was a Tawny Eagle. It was on my side of the road, so Florence got so eager that she went out of the car to get a picture of it. Close to it we found a flock of Magpie Shrikes. Then several Lappet-faced Vultures spaced in different threes a long the way. Then we found a Yellow-necked Spurfowl. I saw some Sandgrouses up ahead and could finally get another shot at a Yellow-throated Sandgrouse. Last time I photographed one, was in Madikwe (SA) in 2008! The next birds were Red-necked Spurfowl and Black-bellied Bustards. An Ostrich gave good photo opportunities followed by more Rufous-tailed Weavers and a very nicely perched White-browed Coucal. We managed to find the Elephant carcass and indeed there were a few Vultures around. I very quickly found a Ruppel´s Vulture (lifer). I scanned all the other Vultures, but most of them were White-backed with a few Lappet-faced thrown into the mix. Florence looked away from the carcass and found an African Grey Flycatcher (lifer). There were also several Marabou Storks at the carcass. We left the carcass and headed for the picnic site. I picked up a Red-faced Crombec on the way. After lunch, it was getting very hot and we headed back to the lodge. We did the same as the day before and rigged us up with cameras in hand, close to the pool. The first bird to show up was a Blue-capped Cordonbleu. Besides that we had all the birds that visited the day before. Florence started walking in the garden and picked up a Red-faced Crombec, a Pygmy Kingfisher, Meyer´s Parrot, African Mourning Dove, Wire-tailed Swallow and a pair of White-bellied Go-away-birds. The last bird of the day was a Buff-bellied Warbler (lifer).

Some pictures from day 5, Tarangire National Park.

Florence risking her life for picture of a Tawny Eagle

Lappet-faced Vulture

Yellow-necked Spurfowl

Yellow-throated Sandgrouse

Red-necked Spurfowl

Common Ostrich

Ruppel´s Vulture (lifer)

White-backed Vulture

Marabou Stork

Red-faced Crombec

African Grey Flycatcher (lifer)

Blue-capped Cordonbleu (lifer)

African Mourning Dove

Wire-tailed Swallow

Buff-bellied Warbler (lifer)

Day 6, July 19, Tarangire National Park - Arusha

Our last day in Tarangire National Park. We had an early morning yet again. We were soon into a huge bird party, but no new birds to add to the list. The first bird of interest was a Nubian Woodpecker. Then we got a beautiful view of a pair of Bare-faced Go-away-birds (lifer). The next bird was a Grey-headed Kingfisher. We then found another party of the regular small birds. I spotted a White-browed Scrub-Robin in a bush. I looked up and saw a Falconide flying by. It settled in a tree far away. I managed to get a picture and it turned out to be a Grey Kestrel. We drove on and found a pair of Grey-crowned Cranes. More Rufous-tailed Warblers, before Florence spotted a Dwarf Bittern. We had picnic at the gate and then found a pair of White-bellied Go-away-birds and finally a Hildebrandt´s Starling. Then we started on the long way back to Arusha.

Some pictures from day 6, Tarangire National Park.

Florence with her bedtime reading, preparing for next day birding

Bare-faced Go-away-bird (lifer)

Grey-headed Kingfisher

Hildebrandt´s Starling

Day 6, July 19, Tarangire National Park - Arusha (continued)

We drove the long way back to Arusha on the very bad road. We had booked us in for one night at The African Tulip. After having checked in and showered off the road dust, it was time to go out and refresh ourselves with a drink. They had a little garden next to the pool, and the garden was teaming with birds.

We picked up a Tropical Boubou, Baglafecht Weaver, Variable Sunbird, and a flock of Red-backed Mannikins

The day after, we headed for the airport and flew back to Dar.

All in all both of us enjoyed the trip. We saw 150 species of birds, Photographed 112 species and I added 27 lifers. We would probably have done better if we had hired a guide, but since it was our honeymoon, I did not fell like tagging a guide a long. This was my first of many birding trips in Tanzania over the coming years. I believe I have about 400 species to add in the country.