Day 3, Wednesday July 13. Dar es Salaam - Arusha.

We had agreed with Paul Oliver to look at some properties in Arusha so we set off on the long journey early that morning. We planned to arrive in Arusha before darkness and did very good on time. This was a chance for me to get used to the car and it ran like a clock all the time. Once in Arusha we parked the car in Paul´s garden. I had a cool  well deserved beer from the newly bought electrical cooler and then we set up our tent. Paul came over and pointed out a Little Sparrowhawk in the garden. We got our cameras out and managed to get a few pictures. I had purchased a Nikon D500 before the trip and had accidentally put the ISO on 3200, Something I did not discover before a few days into the trip. Whilst we were busy, Paul cooked a nice meal for us and we had a few drinks to get the road dust out of the system.

Some pictures from Day 3

Lunch stop at Korogwa - Halfway between Dar es Salaam and Arusha

Taking pictures of Little Sparrowhawk in Paul´s Garden - Picture by Paul Oliver

Day 4, Thursday  July 14, Arusha.

We slept fantastic in our first night in our home away from home. Later the day, Paul took us to look at some of his properties in Arusha. We also went and said hi to Neil´s son Marc. We did some stocking up for the trip and returned to Paul´s house. Florence did a little bit of birding in the garden, but did not see anything of real interest. Paul cooked us a nice dinner again and we soon retired to our tent.

Day 5, Friday July 15, Arusha to Singida

We said goodbye to Paul and set out for Singida where we were supposed to meet Liz, Neil, Michael and Friedemann. Roughly 350 km on a very nice road all the way. We arrived  at Paragon Hotel in Singida just in time to have lunch. Lunch was really nothing to brag about though. In the afternoon, we drove down to the lakeshore to see if we could find any birds. The lake was filled with more than 2000 red-knobbed Coots. Besides that we saw the regular suspects of waterbirds, herons, Ducks, Ibises, but nothing real interesting. We went back to the hotel and finally the Bakers showed up long time after dark. We retired early that day after a very mediocre dinner.

Day 6, Saturday July 16, Singida to a little West of Kahama.

We had to go into town in the morning to buy some few last supplies and change a few fuses on the cars, but we were soon on our way. Finally our real adventure had started. Our first stop was at a likely Karamoja Apalis habitat. We had Grey-capped Social-Weavers, Cut-throat finches, and Silverbird. It was quite hot so we walked back to the car for some shade. Liz said she had heard the Karamoja Apalis. I played it briefly and a pair showed up and entertained us for some time. Not a bad first lifer for the trip! We were soon on our way again. Next stop were at a little lake on a dirt road between Nzega and Kahama. We found quite a few waterfowls there including a Rufous-bellied Heron. We continued for a while and then Neil found a very nice place to camp just west of Kahama.

Relaxing with a beer in Singida whilst waiting for the Bakers

Karamoja Apalis, Apalis karamojae - Lifer - Picture by Florence

Day 7, Sunday July 17, Kahama to Bukoba

We woke up early and did some birding. We had a very nice Brown-backed Honeybird close to camp + a nice displaying Golden-breasted Bunting. We were soon on our way again. Our first stop were for a nicely displayed Brown Snake-Eagle. We continued and Neil stopped at a place he knew just on the outskirts of the Kigosi Game Reserve. We were soon into a Black-and-white Mannikin (lifer). Florence wandered off as usual by herself and got our first Yellow-throated Leaflove for the trip. We soon drove off again. Neil knew some nice riverine forest close to the road just before Lusahunga. We went in on a very bad road, so bad that Neil manage to bend the tie rod on his Landy. The front wheels was pointing at difference directions, so a roadside repair was called for. Friedemann turned out to be an expert mechanic. Florence and I was told to wonder off and find some good birds :-). The targets were Ross´s Turaco and Red-faced Barbet. We saw a flash of the Turaco and Florence saw the Barbet, but no pictures. Instead we got very nice views of Red-headed Lovebird (lifer) and quite a few Narina Trogons. Other birds were Red-throated Twinspot, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Ashy Flycatcher and Purple-crested Turaco. We returned several times to the mechanic site to check on progress. After quite a few hours they were finally finished. It was now late afternoon and we still had quite a few hours to Bakuba. It soon became dark and we kept on driving through the night. We eventually arrived in Bukoba at 10 PM, found a hotel and settled in for the night.

Some pictures from Day 7

Our Camp west of Kahama

Brown-backed Honeybird, Prodotiscus regulus

Golden-breasted Bunting, Emberiza flaviventris - Picture by Florence

Brown Snake-Eagle, Circaetus pectoralis

Mister Baker in his usual position :-)

Black-and-white Mannikin, Spermestes bicolor - Lifer - Picture by Florence

Red-headed Lovebird, Agapornis pullarius - Lifer - Picture by Florence

Narina Trogon, Apaloderma narina

Day 8, Monday July 18, Bukoba

Neil had to take the car to a proper garage this day. Florence and I started exploring Bukoba. One of the first birds we saw was a Splendid Glossy Starling (lifer), followed by huge flocks of Angola Swallows (lifer) and White-headed Saw-wings (lifer). On a bridge, we saw more than 40 Pied Kingfishers. We had not heard anything from Neil, so Florence and I decided to have lunch at Bukoba Coop Hotel on the beach of Lake Victoria. Whilst having lunch, an African Thrush (lifer) was walking among the tables. After lunch, we did some birding around the hotel and found out that they had a pair of resident African Fish-Eagles with a chick in the nest. We went to meet with Neil and the rest of the crew. They had finished the car-repair and they came with us back to the hotel. Florence and I paid TSH 40.000 (USD 18) for a suit :-). We birded some more around the hotel in the afternoon and found Western Citril (lifer), Northern Brown-throated Weaver (lifer), Red-chested Sunbird (lifer), Woodland Kingfisher, Pygmy Kingfisher, Grey Kestrel and Grey Woodpecker in the surrounds of the hotel. Just as the light was going, we had a Eastern Grey Plantain-eater (Lifer) and an overflying Bat Hawk.

Some pictures from Day 8

African Fish-Eagle, Haliaeetus vocifer

Splendid Glossy Starling, Lamprotornis splendidus - Lifer

Western Citril, Chritagra frontalis - Lifer

Red-chested Sunbird, Cinnyris erythocercus - Lifer

Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Ploceus castanops - Lifer

Grey Woodpecker, Dendropicos goertae

Day 9, Tuesday July 19, Bukoba - Minziro Forest

We had an early start and our goal was to get to Minziro forest (close to the Ugandan border). Our first lifer of the day was a Sooty Chat on top of a termite mound. We drove on a bit and Florence shouted stop and please go back. She had seen a pair of Double-toothed Barbets (Lifer) in a tree. We soon caught up with the others and they pointed at a Western-banded Snake-Eagle on a pylon. Then Neil discovered some Blue-breasted Bee-eaters (Lifer). Whilst I was chasing the Bee-eaters, Florence found a pair of Ross´s Turaco (lifer). We moved on and Florence and I stopped at a Eastern Grey Plantain-eater. Neil had an appointment with a forest reserve man in Bunazi, so we drove to meet him. As always, it took a terrible long time to clear all the papers. The forest guy decided to follow us in to the forest. 4 people in a new UN funded Toyota Land cruiser escorted us in to the reserve. We saw a few more Western-banded Snake-Eagles on the way. Neil had seen a nice little path through the forest on Google Earth and soon we were off-roading to find the path. We followed some tracks for a while, but then lost them. Next we had some Crazy off-roading for a couple of hours. Neil´s front wheels were going in all directions, so obviously the tie-rod was bent again. Finally I found a good spot to camp right next to the forest. We set up camp and Florence and I went for a short walk and found a nicely perched Cinnamon-breasted Bee-eater. The light was fading quickly, so we settled in for the night.

Some pictures from Day 9

Sooty Chat, Myrmecocicichla nigra - Lifer

Western-banded Snake-Eagle, Circaetus cinerascens

Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Merops variegatus - Lifer

Ross´s Turaco, Musophaga rossae - Lifer

Eastern Grey Plantain-eater, Crinifer zonurus - Lifer

Some heavy-duty Off-roading

Cinnamon-breasted Bee-eater, Merops oreabates

Sundowners first night in Minziro Forest

Day 10, Wednesday July 20, Minziro Forest

We woke up this morning in the forest and there were birds calling everywhere. We had fantastic birding and added many species to our list although the birds were quite a distance away so the pictures did not turn out that good. Purple-throated Cuckoo-Shrike (Lifer), Green Crombec (Lifer), Little Grey Greenbul (Lifer), Yellow-throated Leaf-Love (Lifer), Red-bellied Paradise-Flycatcher (Lifer), Superb Sunbird (Lifer), White-chinned Prinia (Lifer), Slender-billed Weaver (Lifer) and Viellot´s Black Weaver (only seen this bird in Nigeria). After the morning birding, we decided to move on towards the little path Neil had found on Google Earth. We had a bit of rough driving until we came to the entrance to the forest. We went a kilometer inside the forest before we turned back and set up camp at the forest edge. We walked down the path in the afternoon. We added Grey-chinned Sunbird (Lifer) and Weyn´s Weaver (Lifer). We also had an overflying Ayres´s Hawk-Eagle.

Some pictures from Day 10

Lazy morning birding in Minziro Forest

Purple-throated Cuckoo-Shrike, Campephaga quiscalina - Lifer

Green Crombec, Sylvietta virens - Lifer

Little Grey Greenbul, Erillas gracilis - Lifer

Yellow-throated Leaf-Love, Atimastillas flavicollis - Lifer

Red-bellied Paradise-Flycatcher, Terpsiphone rufocinerea - Lifer

White-chinned Prinia, Schistolais leucopogon - Lifer

Superb Sunbird, Cinnyris superbus - Lifer

Vieillot´s Black Weaver, Ploceus nigerrimus

Grey-chinned Sunbird, Anthreptes rectirostris - Lifer

Weyns´s Weaver, Ploceus weynsi - Lifer

Day 11, Thursday July 21, Minziro Forest

We woke up in the forest again. Florence and I decided to walk the forest line and look for birds. I did not see anything of real interest until I saw a pair of Black-and-white Casqued Hornbills (Lifer) flying out. They crossed a great plain and I walked and walked and finally caught up with them. I started walking back to camp and picked up a Crowned Hornbill and a Olive-bellied Sunbird (Lifer). Back in camp we had breakfast. Florence and I went in to the forest on the path and picked up a couple of Blue Turacos (Lifer), then nice views of Pygmy Kingfisher. Then we found a Slender-billed Greenbul (Lifer). We walked back to camp. We broke camp and decided to drive through the forest on the overgrown path. Neil was driving in front clearing the way. We had to remove 2 big logs laying across the path before we emerged on the other side of the forest. We had lunch under the shade of a tree. We had some Senegal Lapwings wandering around. We drove slightly in to the forest again and set up camp. Liz came with Florence and me to bird the forest. The first bird of interest was a female African Shrike Flycatcher (Lifer). I walked a little ahead of Florence and Liz and picked up a Blue Malkoha (Lifer). On the way back to camp I saw some Swallows with extreme long tail feathers flying over us on the path. I asked Liz if they were not Blue Swallows and she agreed. I tried to take pictures, but they were too fast for me. I looked at Florence pictures later that night and she had as normal wandered off by herself. She had managed to get a Yellow-whiskered Greenbul and a Green-throated Sunbird. Both would have been lifers for me :-). In addition we also picked up a Black-headed Weaver (Lifer).

Some pictures from Day 11

Olive-bellied Sunbird, Cinnyris chloropygius - Lifer

Slender-billed Greenbul, Stelgidillas gracilirostris - Lifer

Great Blue Turaco, Corythaeola cristata - Lifer, Picture by Florence

Friedemann at work, clearing the path.

Landrovers after clearing a path through the Minziro Forest

Blue Malkoha, Ceuthmochares aereus - Lifer

African Shrike Flycatcher, Megabyas flammulatus - Lifer

Black-headed (Yellow-backed) Weaver, Ploceus melano cephalus- Lifer, Picture by Florence

Yellow-whiskered Greenbul, Eurillas latirostris, Picture by Florence (I still miss this bird)

Green-throated Sunbird, Chalocomitra rubescens, Picture by Florence (I still miss this bird)

Day 12, Friday July 22, Minziro Forest

At this time, Neil had managed to break off his tie-rod completely, so we agreed that he and Friedemann would go back to Bukoba to try to sort out a new one. Liz, Michael, Florence and me were left in the forest. We started the morning walking in to the forest. We soon picked up Black-throated and Buff-throated Apalises (we had seen both previously on the trip, but now we managed to get some half decent pictures).  I soon lost Liz and Florence and kept wandering by myself. I had a Pygmy Kingfisher perching nicely for me before I found my first Red-headed Bluebill (Lifer). I walked to the end of the forest and found another Red-headed Bluebill. Walking back towards camp I got a glimpse of a Hairy-breasted Barbet (lifer, but no pictures of any quality). I met up with Liz and we soon ran into Florence and Michael. They had gone through to the other end of the forest and had discovered quite a few roosting Blue Swallows there. Liz and I walked to the grassland and sure enough had some lovely sightings of Blue Swallows. We had a Black-headed Gonolek calling, but did not manage to get it out. We were surprised to find a number of Buff-bellied Warblers in a single Acacia all by itself in the grassland. At this point we heard from Neil, they were not going to make it back to camp that night. The good news was that he had managed to get hold of a tie-rod (and had bought me a fresh supply of beers), the bad news that our tent was at the top of our car which they were driving. Liz had a spare tent, so we managed. Liz and I went back to camp and continued into the forest again. We met up with Michael and Florence that told us they had a close encounter with a wild pig. We asked for pictures, but they had gotten scared and had been running :-). Liz and I continued and we finally managed to get visual of a Black-billed Turaco (Lifer). We had heard this bird many times in Minziro, but never been able to see it. We had a brief fly-by, but not enough to get any decent pictures. At camp that night, I saw through Florence pictures. She had managed to get nice images of a Stout Cisticola which would have been a lifer for me.

Some pictures from Day 12

Black-throated Apalis, Apalis jacksoni - Lifer

Buff-throated Apalis, Apalis rufogularis - Lifer

African Pygmy Kingfisher, Ispidina picta

Red-headed Bluebill, Spermophaga ruficapilla - Lifer

Blue Swallow, Hirundo atrocaerulea

Buff-bellied Warbler, Phyllolais pulchella

Black-billed Turaco, Turaco schuettii - Lifer

Stout Cisticola, Cisticola robustus - Picture by Florence (I never saw this bird)

Day 13, Saturday July 23, Minziro Forest - Bounazi

We started the day with an early breakfast. Just after breakfast, Michael pointed to a tree just by the camp. Two Afep Pigeons (Lifer) were busy feeding. We walked in to the forest and I got pictures of a Spotted Greenbul (Lifer). Soon afterwards we found a female Orange Weaver (Lifer). Neil and Friedemann had returned now and they were busy fixing the car. We had lunch in the forest and then we started slowly moving towards civilization. We had a fantastic few days inside the Minziro Forest and this is a place I really would like to go back too. We got an amazing number of lifers and I am sure there are many more to get. It would also be nice to go back and get better pictures of the birds we got (especially the birds Florence managed to get and not me).

We soon exited the forest and did a little rough driving again before we eventually came to the main road. Neil took a left and stopped by a small wetland. A Blue-headed Coucal (Lifer) were posing there. Then we heard a Black-headed Gonolek (Lifer) calling. It came out briefly so we managed to get some record shots. We stopped for  Palm-nut Vulture on the way towards Bunazi. Neil had found a small local hotel. Just before we headed to the showers, we saw a couple of Black-and-white Casqued Hornbills sitting in a tree across from the hotel. We got some pictures, cleaned up and had dinner. Florence and I entertained some locals during the night by offering them some free beer.

Some pictures from Day 13

Afep Pigeon, Columba unicincta - Lifer

Florence starting the fire, Minziro Forest

Spotted Greenbul, Ixonotus guttatus - Lifer

Orange Weaver, Ploceus aurantius - Lifer

Blue-headed Coucal, Centropus monachus - Lifer

Black-headed Gonolek, Laniarius erythrogaster - Lifer

Palm-nut Vulture, Gypohierax angolensis - Picture by Florence

Black-and-white Casqued Hornbill, Bycanistes subcylindricus - Lifer

Day 14, Sunday July 24, Bunazi - Close to Nkwenda

We left Bunazi early heading south. At Kyaka we stocked up on Chapati. We stopped at a papyrus marsh just west of Kyaka. We managed to call out a Papyrus Gonolek (Lifer) there. It was quite far away, so we only managed some record shots. We drove on and had a roadside breakfast. I got pictures of a Bare-faced Go-away-bird before we stopped at a small wetland. We saw quite a few birds at this wetland. The ones we photographed was a Croaking Cisticola and a Spot-flanked Barbet. We drove on for a while and came to a village called Kayanga. Neil needed some small repairs on his car again. We checked our car as well and found out that a shock absorber was broken. From Kayanga we drove for a long while stopping at different spots to bird. We picked up Ruaha Chat (Lifer). It was starting to get late, so Neil suddenly stopped and found a cattle track going down to a huge wetland. The wetland was bordered by Papyrus. We quickly set up camp and Florence and I were off birding. The first bird was a Black-crowned Waxbill (Lifer). Then we spotted Double-toothed Barbet (Lifer), Brown-throated Wattle-eye (Lifer) and a Green-backed Woodpecker. There were plenty of Mosquitos around, but we had repellent so they did not bother Florence and me that much.

Some pictures from Day 14

Ready for the road

Roadside breakfast west of Kayaka

Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Corythaixoides leucogaster

Croaking Cisticola, Cisticola natalensis

Spot-flanked Barbet, Tricholaema lacrymosa

Black-crowned Waxbill, Estrilda nonnula - Lifer

Double-toothet Barbet, Lybius bidenatus - Lifer

Brown-throated Wattle-eye, Platysteira cyanea - Lifer

Green-backed Woodpecker, Campethera cailliautii

Day 15, Monday July 25, Close to Nkwenda - Ngare

We woke up after having a short very unseasonal rain shower in the middle of the night. The mosquitos were still out in plenty. We started birding around the campsite and were amazed to see all the birds in the area. The first lifer of the morning was a nice Grey-capped Warbler (Lifer), followed by a Green-headed Sunbird, Western-banded Snake-Eagle, African Green-Pigeon, Lesser Honeyguide, White-browed Robin-Chat, Yellow-throated Leaf-Love, Common Waxbill, Ross´s Turaco, Variable Sunbird, Violet-backed Starling, Red-chested Sunbird, African Paradise Flycatcher, Black-crowned Waxbill, White-browed Coucal, Yellow-fronted Canary, White-browed Scrub-Robin. We went back to camp for breakfast and found a very exited Friedemann. He had seen a Papyrus Gonolek down by the Papyrus. Sure enough, the Papyrus Gonolek (Lifer) displayed nicely. We had breakfast and then went out again. Green-backed Heron, African Thrush (Lifer) and Slender-billed Weaver (Lifer). Unfortunately, we had to move on.

We were trying to look for some habitat, but we found miles upon miles of banana plantation. We found a Grey-backed Fiscal and a Pale Flycatcher on the road. After still some more driving, Florence found some habitat. In this habitat, we found Red-headed Weaver, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Plain-backed Pipit, White-browed Scrub-Robin, Meyer´s Parrot, Red-faced Crombec, Black-crowned Tchagra and Ruppel´s Starling. We had lunch and soon headed off again. We had a long drive in front of us and did not see anything of real interest before we reached Ngare at dusk. Neil got a motorbike driver to find a hotel for us. Soon we were installed had dinner and went to bed.

Some pictures from Day 15

Grey-capped Warbler, Eminia lepida - Lifer

African Thrush, Turdos pelios - Lifer

Slender-billed Weaver, Ploceus pelzelni - Lifer

Green-headed Sunbird, Cyanomitra verticalis

White-browed Scrub-Robin, Erythropygia leucophrys

Papyrus Gonolek, Laniarius mufumbiri - Lifer

Grey-backed Fiscal, Lanius excubitoroides

Pale Flycatcher, Bradornis pallidus

Plain-backed Pipit, Anthus leucophrys

Red-faced Crombec, Sylvietta whytii

Black-crowned Tchagra, Tchagra senegalus

Day 16, Tuesday July 26, Ngare to Ushirombo

As we were getting ready this morning, Liz spotted a Ruaha Chat in the hotel garden. I managed to get some pictures before we drove off. We were heading in to a Blue Square on the Burundi border. The border post had moved west, so we only managed to bird a small piece of the square. I only took picture of a Arrow-marked Babbler there. We then drove on some small roads trying to get as close to the border as possible. We drove on for what seemed like forever. I stopped for a Long-crested Eagle. Otherwise it was fairly silent. For lunch we randomly stopped at a nice looking woodland only to find that we had found a huge bird party. We had Green-backed Woodpecker, Striped Kingfisher, Woodland Pipit, Cinnamon-breasted Tit, Yellow-bellied Hyliota (Lifer), Long-tailed Cisticola and Greater Honeyguide. Quite a nice little lunch stop. We drove off. Because of the dust, we were hanging a little back and the car felt a little strange. Soon, I realized my clutch was gone. We were close to the Burundi border going west, but no mobile signal. I managed to get the car in third gear and we moved forward. We tried to contact Neil and we finally managed to get contact. We drove on for another 30 km before we met them coming looking for us. Neil showed me how to bleed the clutch and we were soon on our way again. We finally reached the tar road and at dusk we were cruising into Ushirombo. After checking out a couple of local hotels, we found a nice nearly new one.

Some pictures from Day 16

Ruaha Chat, Pentholaea collaris - Lifer

Arrow-marked Babbler, Turdoides jardineii

Long-crested Eagle, Lophaetus occipitalis

Woodland Pipit, Anthus nyassae

Cinnamon-breasted Tit, Parus pallidiventris

Yellow-bellied Hyliota, Hyliota flavigaster - Lifer

Day 17, Wednesday July 27, Ushirombo to Nzega

Neil´s plan today was to bird on the border of the Kigesi Game Reserve. We left early and went down a dust road. After going to and from for a while, we asked a lady in a village where the reserve border where. We drove on and parked were the path narrowed down so we had to park. It was terrible to see all the trees that were chopped down and everything was burned. We thought we were almost at the border of the game reserve, but could not see any habitat. We took walks further in. We did find a few birds: Crested Barbet, Pale Wren-Warbler (Lifer), White-browed Scrub-Robin, Slate-coloured Boubou, Greater Blue-eared Starling, Black-chested Snake-Eagle, Amethyst Sunbird, Grey Penduline Tit, Green-capped Eromomela, Crowned Hornbill, African Hawk-Eagle, Meyer´s Parrot, Purple-crested Turaco, Pale Flycatcher and Yellow-throated Petronia. We had breakfast and were ready to go, when a pickup showed up with a bunch of armed rangers. We were told that we had actually trespassed in to the Game Reserve. Neil tried to argue that this could not be a game reserve since everything was burned and most of the tress were cut. That did not make any impression to the lead ranger, so we were told to follow them to the ranger post in Kahama. Florence and I got a ranger with an AK-47 in our car, Neil had to drive with the rangers and Liz got another armed ranger in their car. Then we were escorted to the ranger station in Kahama. Too make a long story short, we spent a loooong time waiting for a decision, but in the end Neil managed to get us of the hook. It was now late afternoon and we were supposed to go all the way to Singida that day, but that was not feasible. We stopped and found a local hotel in Nzega.

Some pictures from Day 17

Pale Wren-Warbler, Calamonastes simplex - Lifer

Amethyst Sunbird, Chalcomitra amethystina

Green-capped Eremomela, Eremomela scotops

African Hawk-Eagle, Aquila spilogaster

Meyer´s Parrot, Poicephalus meyeri

Crowned Hornbill, Tockus alboterminatus

SUV - Tanzanian style 2 adults + 4 children

Yellow-throated Petronia, Gymnoris superciliaris - Picture by Florence

Day 18, Thursday July 28, Nzega to Singida

Heading towards Singida, we stopped at a nice habitat for breakfast. We started birding and Liz and Florence found a Three-banded Courser. Other birds in the area included: Banded Parisoma, Winding Cisticola, Silverbird, Grey-capped Social-Weaver, Black-necked Weaver, Nubian Woodpecker and African Grey Flycatcher. We continued and reached Singida for lunch. We had lunch and then we went to a Fundi to repair my clutch. We managed to get hold of a new clutch cylinder and the Fundi fitted it.

Some pictures from Day 18

Three-banded Courser, Rhinoptilus cinctus

Banded Parisoma, Sylvia boehmi

Winding Cisticola, Cisticola marginatus

African Grey Flycatcher, Bradornis mariquensis, Picture by Florence

Nubian Woodpecker, Campethera nubica - Picture by Florence

Silverbird, Empidornis semipartitus - Picture by Florence

Day 19, Friday July 29, Singida to close to Rungwa

Friedemann was leaving us today taking the bus back to Dar. Neil still had some things he needed to fix on his car, so he went back to the Fundi. Liz, Florence and I just relaxed by the hotel until Neil returned just after lunch. Neil and Liz had agreed with us to take a detour for us back to Iringa. We tanked up and left in the afternoon. We drove to Itigi and took the looong gravel road towards Mbeya. Just before dark, Neil found a camp spot for us. Michael fixed dinner and soon we got some local visitors.

A picture from Day 19

Nikon commercial in Singida

Fundi stop in Singida

Our hotel in Singida, just by the lake

Liz, me and Neil with some local visitors at the camp site close to Rongwe.

Day 20, Saturday July 30, Rungwa to a small nameless Village :-)

We birded a little around our camp in the morning. Species seen included: Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Slate-coloured Boubou, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Variable Sunbird, Western Violet-backed Sunbird, Grey-backed Camaroptera and Scaly Chatterer. We had breakfast and drove off. The first birds of notice were a pair of Racket-tailed Rollers on a pylon. Then we found our target bird: White-winged Babbling Starling (Lifer number 50 for the trip). This bird was the reason we took the detour, so it was nice to find a flock of about 20 birds. We drove on with Neil and Liz in front. Florence and I stopped at a bridge to see if we could locate anything of interest, nothing there. When I tried to start the car, I had no clutch. I checked, and all the clutch liquid were gone. Apparently the Fundi in Singida had changed the clutch cylinder without checking for another leakage. I knew how to bleed the clutch now, the only problem was that the Fundi in Singida had tightened the bolts too hard. After a while, Neil came back to look for us. He tried as well, but we could not loose the bolts. I managed to start the car in third gear and we drove off into the afternoon. We drove for about 50km well into the darkness before I finally found a Fundi in a nameless village. They had the tool to bleed the clutch. Neil found a local hotel and we settled for the night.

Some pictures from Day 20

Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Chlorocichla flaviventris

Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Chalcomitra senegalensis

Slate-coloured Boubou, Laniarius funebris - Picture by Florence

Grey-backed Camaroptera, Camaroptera brevicaudata - Picture by Florence

Variable Sunbird, Cinnyris venustus - Picture by Florence

Scaly Chatterer, Turdoides aylmeri - Picture by Florence

White-winged Babbling Starling, Neocichla gutturalis - Lifer

Day 21, Sunday July 31, A small nameless Village to Iringa

Since we had only bled the clutch the day before, we went back to the Fundi this morning. After a thorough check, he found that a flexible pipe was leaking. Of course they did not have this pipe, but in short time they had made one. After some waiting, we were ready to move on. We had about 100 KM on bad roads to Mbaya + the 334 km from Mbeya to Iringa. We finally reached a tar road after a total off roughly 400 km on a dust road and drove the new road over the escarpment and down the Rift Valley to Mbeya. Florence and I stopped for some food in Mbeya and the others pushed on. We soon overtook them. The road between Mbeya and Mafinga was being extended so we had to drive in a dust hell on feeder roads. We just managed to get to Mafinga before darkness fell. From there we had good roads all the way to Iringa. We arrived at the Bakers house and retired early.

Some pictures from Day 21

Fixing the clutch again

Just north of Mbeya overlooking the Rift Valley

Day 22, Monday August 1, Iringa

Florence and I decided to go in to Ruaha National Park the next day, so we hung around Iringa all day getting supplies for our trip. We did some birding in the garden of the Bakers though.

Some pictures from Day 22

Purple-crested Turaco, Turaco porphyreolopha - Picture by Florence

Reichenow´s Seed-eater, Chritagra reichenowi

Crimson-rumped Waxbill, Estrilda rhodopyga

Western Barn Owl, Tyto alba

Day 23, Tuesday August 2, Ruaha National Park

Florence and I went to the park. We arrived at the entrance at about 10:30. It was hot and not too many birds to be seen. At the hippo pool we had one of many Saddle-billed Storks, followed by a Red-necked Falcon. Then I found my first Goliath Heron for Tanzania. We followed the river north and checked out our camping spot for the night. Superb Starling, Ashy Starling and Tanzanian (Ruaha) Red-billed Hornbills were plentiful. We also found White-headed Lapwing, Spur-winged Lapwing, Red-necked Spurfowl, Crowned Crane, African Fish-Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Namaqua Dove and D`Arnaud´s Barbet along the river. We had lunch by the cottages. After lunch, we decided to drive around one of the Kopjes. It was very quiet, but Florence managed to get a picture of a Meyer´s Parrot. Since it was the first time we were sleeping in a tent in a National Park, we decided to go back to our camp site and get ready for the first night. The rangers had gathered a lot of firewood for us. We did some birding at the camp site and found amongst others these species: Northern Grey-headed Sparrow, Superb and Ashy Starlings, Greater Honeyguide, Slate-coloured Boubou, Nubian Woodpecker, Red-billed Firefinch, Baglafecht Weaver and at night African Scops-Owl.We were the only ones in the camp and lit a nice fire while watching the stars.

Some pictures from Day 23

Saddle-billed Stork

Red-necked Falcon

Goliath Heron

White-headed Lapwing

Tanzanian (Ruaha) Red-billed Hornbill, Tockus Ruahae

Tawny Eagle

African Scops-Owl

Ready to Camp in Ruaha National Park

Ready to Camp in Ruaha National Park - Nice view of the river

Relaxing with a Whiskey by the fire.

Day 24, Wednesday August 3, Ruaha National Park to Iringa

Florence wanted to bird a little in the camp before we drove off. We did not find anything new. We started heading for the gate in beautiful light. Magpie Shrike, African Grey Hornbill, Grey Kestrel, White-browed Coucal and Ashy Starling were some of the birds we saw and Photographed. We reached the gate and headed back to Iringa. Ruaha National Park was a little disappointing birding wise. If you want to watch Elephants, it is definitively the place to go.We had lunch in town before we met up with the Bakers again. When we arrived there we had almost done 5.000 Km since we left Dar. We stayed with the Bakers that night.

Some pictures from Day 24

Magpie Shrike

African Grey Hornbill

White-browed Coucal

Ashy Starling

Florence by the Hippo Pool

Day 25, Thursday August 4, Iringa to Dar es Salaam

Neil had some errands to do in Dar, so he very kindly drove us there. We were birding on the way and we managed to see no less than 3 Martial Eagles in a very short time period. We arrived safe and sound in Dar.

A picture from Day 25

Martial Eagle

Day 26, Friday, August 5, Dar es Salaam - Home to Oslo, Norway arrived on August 6th

A relaxing day in Dar meeting up with Florence´s family before we took a taxi to the airport.

All in all, probably the best trip we have had to Tanzania birding wise. I added 50 lifers on the trip. We should probably have stayed a little longer in each place and we might have driven too much, but as an appetizer of what Norht West Tanzania have to offer it was a very nice introduction. A lot of the birding have been in forests, so the quality of many of the pictures could have been a lot better. That is a good reason to go back and also catch up with the ones that flew away :-). A special thanks to Liz and Neil Baker for arranging the trip. Without them, this trip would never have happened.