Day 1, Saturday June 24, 2017 - Dar es Salaam to Amani Forest, East Usambara

The day was basically a transportation day. The problem was that the car was not performing good. It sounded like we had a problem with the carburetors since I did not have full power. We stopped at the Kerogwe pan just before Bagamoyo, but to much water and not a lot of birds. We wanted to stop on the other side of Bagamoyo to check for the Ruvu Weaver, but they had changed the roads, so we did not find a a side road. We pushed onwards and our next stop was the Wami river to check for Bohm´s Bee-eaters. When we arrived, it was raining, so we hurried on. We reached Segera and soon Muhesa. Martin knew a Fundi in Muhesa. He had a look at the car and changed the spark plugs. It felt better, so we continued. We stocked up on some more food in Muhesa before we started the climb up the mountain towards Amani Forest in The East Usambara. We were struggling since the car was not performing. We had lost a lot of time and only arrived in the forest in time to set up camp. We had dinner and settled in for the night, but we were soon woken by the call of the Usambara Eagle-Owl. We both got out, brought the torch and camera with flash. Two owls were calling to each other, but even though we were standing under the tree were one of the owls were calling from, we could not get a visual of it. After an hour or so, the owls stopped to call and we ventured back to bed.

Camp in Amani Forest

Day 2, Sunday June 25, 2017 - Amani Forest, East Usambara

Florence and I had been in Amani Forest before. The last time we stayed a little further up at Emau Hill Lodge. With our Landy, we are a lot more flexible. They do have some accommodation at the headquarter where we camped, but there was a big conference on while we were there, so everything was taken and we slept in our tent. We had an early start this morning walking around in the area: Little Greenbul, Green Barbet, Green-headed Oriole, Red-backed Mannikins, Kenrick´s Starling, Southern Banded Snake Eagle, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Waller´s Starling, Fisher´s Turaco, Cabanis´s Bunting and white-eared Barbet were the birds we saw on our first walk. We came back to camp, had lunch, and relaxed a little. Some Ashy Flycatchers were hunting in camp and some Silvery-cheeked Hornbill was having a racket. After lunch we walked out again. Banded Green Sunbird, Uluguru violet-backed Sunbird, Pale Batis, Grey Cuckooshrike and Red-tailed Rufous-Thrush were some of the birds we added to our list.

Here are some pictures from day 2:

Little Greenbul, Eurillas virens

Green-headed Oriole - Oriolus crassirostris - Endemic to SE Africa

Fischer´s Turaco - Turaco fischeri - Endemic to coastal E Africa

White-eared Barbet - Stactolaema leucotis

Ashy Flycatcher - Muscicapa caerulescens

Grey Cuckooshrike - Coracina caesia

Red-tailed Rufous-Thrush - Neocossyphus rufus

Day 3, Monday,  June 26, 2017 - Amani Forest, East Usambara

Today, we wanted to go and look for the Kretchmer´s Longbill and the Long-billed Forest-Warbler (Tailorbird). Martin has a spot where we went last time. We set out early and parked at the spot. There were 2 or 3 Longbills calling from inside the bush. However as usual, it proved hard to get them out or get a decent picture. I finally managed one picture, but the best feature, the bill, were hidden :-). We did not see the Forest-Warbler at the regular spot, but Martin had another spot. A few hundred meters walk and we had 2 of the birds calling. We managed to get decent pictures and we returned to search for the Longbill. We tried and tried, but could not get it out. Instead we managed to get decent views of some Uluguru Violet-backed Sunbirds. In the area, we heard a East Coast Boubou calling, but did not get visuals. In addition we connected with African Yellow White-eye and a fleeting glimpse of Amani Sunbird. We returned to camp had lunch and started a walk from Camp: Pale Batis, Red-backed Mannikin, Black-and-white Flycatcher, Common Waxbill, Long-crested Eagle, Silvery-cheeked Hornbill and Spectacled Weaver were some of the birds we saw. We returned to camp and relaxed for dinner.

Here are some pictures from day 3:

Day 4, Tuesday,  June 27, 2017 - Amani Forest

We planned to bird around camp today. We had still not given up on the Usambara Eagle-Owl although we had not heard it the last two nights. We started the walk and found Shelley´s Greenbul, Pale Batis, Long-crested Eagle, Cabanis´s Bunting, Green Barbet, Black-bellied Starling, Southern Banded Snake-Eagle, Banded Sunbird, Moustached Tinkerbird and then we heard a East Coast Boubou calling. We stayed with the bird for a long time and finally managed some half decent shots of this skulker. After that, we went back to camp for lunch. After lunch we decided to go to the viewpoint on top of the Forest. On the way, we found Yellow-streaked Greenbul (a new TZ bird for me). It was very quiet on the way up, but on top we found a Lanner Falcon. We walked slowly back to camp and found some Black-headed Apalis and Short-tailed Batis on the way. We relaxed in camp and had Dinner. Martin disappeared and after a while, he came back and told me: you might want to go and get your camera, because I might have seen the owl” I said “You might have seen the owl or you have seen it?”. He confirmed he had seen it. I ran to camp in the dark. Grabbed my camera and there it was sitting very close to camp on a naked branch, the mystical Usambara Eagle-Owl. Wow, that was a nice bird and I had to celebrate with a few Whiskey´s afterwards :-). In camp, Martin introduced me to a guide that knew the Taita Hills in Kenya. He said he could guarantee me the 3 endemic birds there. I told him we would meet up in early August.

Here are some pictures from day 4:

Kretchmer´s Longbill - Macrosphenus kretschmeri - Endemic to coastal SE Africa

Long-billed Forest-Warbler - Artisornis moreaui - Restricted to E Usambara (TZ) and Jeci (N Moz)

Uluguru Violet-backed Sunbird - Anthreptes neglectus - Localised endemic to E Africa

African Yellow White-eye - Zosterops senegalensis

Red-backed Mannikin - Spermestes nigriceps

Black-and-white Flycatcher (Female) - Bias misucus

Silvery-cheeked Hornbill - Bycanistes brevis

Spectackled Weaver - Ploceus ocularis

Hunting for Longbill and Forest-Warbler. Nikon D810 with Nikon 300mm F2.8 + flash, the other a Nikon D500 with Nikon 200-500mm.

Shelley´s Greenbul - Arizelocichla masukuensis - Endemic to Eastern Arc Mts of TZ and N Malawi

Cabanis´s Bunting - Emberiza cabanisi

Southern Banded Snake-Eagle - Circaetus fasciolatus

Green Barbet - Stactolaema olivacea

Moustached Tinkerbird - Pogoniulus leucomystax

Banded (Green) Sunbird (female) - Anthreptes rubritorques - Endemic to Eastern Arc Mts, Tanzania

East Coast Boubou - Laniarius sublacteus- Endemic to coastal E Africa

Yellow-streaked Greenbul - Phyllastrephus flovostriatus - Endemic to SE Africa

Lanner Falcon - Falco biarmicus

Usambara Eagle-Owl - Bubo vosseleri - Endemic to Eastern Arc. Mountains

Day 5, Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - Amani Forest, East Usambara - Segera

We wanted to bird the lower part off Amani Forest on the way out this day. We parked the car, but it was very quiet. Some of the birds we found included Square-tailed Drongo, Short-tailed Batis, Tiny Greenbul and Little Yellow Flycatcher. We drove down to Muhesa. The car was still not working good. Just before we reached Segera, we lost the exhaust pipe again! We stopped by a Fundi in Segera and they got to work on the car. They managed to fix the exhaust pipe, but did not have a clue on the carburetors. They did not finish that night and we had to stay at a local hotel for the night.

Here are some pictures from day 5:

Short-tailed Batis - Batis mixta - Endemic to coastal E Africa

Tiny Greenbul - Phyllastrephus debilis - Endemic to coastal SE Africa

Day 6, Thursday, June 29, 2017 - Segera - Same

We drove the car back to the Fundi the next morning, they disassembled the entire engine, put it back, but still could not fix it. We did not have any choice but to push on. We stopped at another Fundi in Korogwe. We spent a few hours with this Fundi to no avail. Our original plan was to head for Magamba Forest in the West Usambara. However, the car had no power so we pushed on towards Same. I contacted a Fundi in Arusha that promised to fix the car for me when we got there. Just before Same, we saw an Eastern Chanting Goshawk and a few Straw-tailed Whydahs

Here are one picture from day  6:

Eastern Chanting Goshawk - Melierax poliopterus - Endemic to NE Africa

Day 7, Friday, June 30, 2017 - Segera - Same

We had an early start this morning and headed for the Nyumba ya Mungu Dam. Martin had a spot there where we had been before. We got packed lunches from the Elephant Motel and left at 06:00. The car was still very slow, but eventually we managed to get there. The birds were very active and we ticked of amongst other: Abyssinian White-eye, Purple Grenadier, Slate-coloured Boubou, Northern Brownbul, Blue-naped Mousebird, Rufous Chatterer, Spotted Palm Thrush, D`Arnaud´s Barbet, Pink-breasted Lark, Grey Wren-Warbler, Pringle´s Puffback, Somali Bunting, Bare-eyed Thrush, White-headed Mousebird, Black-necked Weaver, White-bellied Go-away-bird, Pygmy Batis, Chestnut-bellied and Black-faced Sandgrouse, African Silverbill, Black-throated Barbet, Southern Grosbeak Canary and Crimson-rumped Waxbill. All in all about 50 species. We then headed back towards Same and went to the gate of Mkomazi NP. We had also birded here before and knew the gate had many birds: Eastern Violet-backed Sunbird, Tsavo Sunbird, Brown Snake-Eagle, Reichenow´s Seed-eater, Parrot-billed Sparrow, Red-headed Weaver, Black-faced Waxbill, Yellow-necked Spurfowl and Fischer´s Starling. More than 40 species in the parking lot at the gate entrance. We drove a km or two back to the main road, parked and started birding again: Straw-tailed Whydah, Black-bellied Sunbird, Hunter´s Sunbird, Spotted Palm-Thrush, Brubru, Orange-breasted Bushshrike, Eastern Violet-backed Sunbird, Vitelline Masked Weaver, Von der Decken´s Hornbill and Red-bellied Parrot were some of the birds we found. Finally we had a good day birding again after all the trouble with the car. We headed back to the Elephant Hotel in Same and I had a nice dinner before getting to bed.

Here are some pictures from day  7:

Pygmy Batis - Batis perkeo - Endemic to NE Africa

Rufous Chatterer - Turdoides rubiginosa - Endemic to NE Africa

Pringle´s Puffback - Dryoscopus pringlii - Endemic to NE Africa

Somali Bunting - Emberiza poliopleura - Endemic to NE Africa

Pink-breasted Lark - Calendulauda poecilosterna - Endemic to NE Africa

Reichenow´s Seed-eater - Crithagra reichenowi - Endemic to NE Africa

Black-faced Waxbill - Estrilda erythronotos

Red-fronted Warbler - Urorhipis rufifrons

Northern Brownbul - Phyllastrephus strepitans - Endemic to NE Africa

Yellow-necked Spurfowl - Pternistis leucoscepus - Endemic to NE Africa

Straw-tailed Whydah - Vidua fischeri - Endemic to NE Africa

Von der Decken´s Hornbill - Tockus deckeni - Endemic to NE Africa

Eastern Black-headed batis - Batis minor - Endemic to NE Africa

Black-bellied Sunbird - Cinnyris nectarinoides - Endemic to NE Africa

Hunter´s Sunbird - Chalcomitra hunteri - Endemic to NE Africa

Spotted Palm-Thrush - Cichladusa guttata - Endemic to NE Africa

Day 8, Saturday, July 1, 2017 -  Same - Arusha

This day was a driving day. With the performance of the car our only goal was to reach Arusha before nightfall. The car started performing a little better before we reached Moshi, where we had great views of Mt. Kilomanjaro. From there we were cruising in to Arusha. We met the Fundi there and he promised to take a look at the car on Monday. Martin and I had plans for the Lark Plains in Engikaret the day after so, we risked to use the car there.

Day 9, Sunday, July 2, 2017 -  Arusha - Engikaret

We had an early start heading towards Engikaret. We had a few birds on the way including Schalow´s Wheatear. Once at the Lark plains, our Masai guide Saruni had yet not showed up, so Martin and I started birding on our own. It took Martin only 3 minutes to locate the Beesleys´s Lark. That is the species everyone come to find here, so the job was done. Saruni eventually arrived and we birded a little more finding plenty of Red-capped Larks, and a couple of Athi Short-toed Larks. Last time I was there we had been driving down the road where you turn off to the Lark Plains. I told Martin that I wanted to do the same this time. We drove for a kilometer before we were stopped by some Masais that wanted money. They wanted TSh 50.000  (USD 25) for us to drive on the road. I though that was nonsense and we continued. after another kilometer or two, we were stopped once again and this time they wanted us to follow them to their village. We went to the village and the chief started addressing us. Suddenly he wanted TSh 200.000 (USD 100). I got very angry, but we were badly outnumbered. I wanted to call the police. They got a little scared then and to make a long story short, I ended up paying TSh 50.000. Not sure what I actually paid for, but the Masais were quite threatening. Martin and I drove back and found a Rosy-patched Bush-Shrike. Martin then told me there was nice Miombo next to Saruni´s Boma. We headed there and had a Pygmy Falcon and some Chestnut Sandgrouse on the way. We met up with Saruni again and told the story to him. He said it was nothing he could do since that was another village. The habitat next to Saruni´s Boma was indeed a nice place to bird. We found amongst others the following species: Spot-flanked Barbet, Grey-capped Social Weaver, Southern Grosbeak-Canary, Banded Parisoma, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, White-headed Buffalo Weaver, Grey Wren-Warbler, Black-faced Waxvill, White-bellied Go-away-bird, Red-faced Crombec, Kenya Rufous Sparrow, Chestnut Sparrow, Buff-bellied Warbler, Red-fronted Warbler, Abyssinian Scimitarbill,  Lanner Falcon and Red-fronted Warbler. We had rented a house for a month in Arusha and returned there. The Fundi came and picked up our car and we rented his Landcruiser for a couple of days.

Some pictures from Day 9

Mt. Kilimanjaro

My new friend Saruni and me posing with Mt Meru in the background

Beesley´s Lark - Chersomanes beesleyi - Highly localized to Engikaret, Tanzania

Rosy-patched Bush-Shrike - Rhodophoneus cruentus - Endemic to NE Africa

African Pygmy Falcon - Polihierax semitorquatus

Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse - Pterocles exustus

Red-Throated Tit - Parus rufiventris - Endemic to S Kenya and N Tanzania

African Grey Flycatcher - Bradornis microrhynchus - Endemic to NE Africa

White-headed Buffalo-Weaver - Dinemellia dinemelli - Endemic to NE Africa

Southern Grosbeak-Canary - Crithagra buchanani - Endemic to S Kenya to N Tanzania

Yellow-bellied Eremomela - Eremomela icteropygialis

Day 10, Monday, July 3, 2017 -  Arusha National Park

With the borrowed car, we entered Arusha NP. The sky was very grey and absolutely not ideal conditions for birding at least not taking pictures of birds. We entered the park and took a right towards the Ngurduto Crater. We had Moustached Grass Warbler, Singing and Trilling Cisticola, and Spot-flanked and Brown-breasted Barbet. We stopped at the Museum to scan the canopy. We found Waller, Kenrick´s and Sharpe´s Starling there. On the slope to the crater we had an African Goshawk. Up on the crater rim, we found Abyssinian Crimsonwings, Harlaub´s Turaco, Stripe-cheeked Greenbul, Black-fronted Bush-shrike, Narina Trogon and Ruppel´s Robin-Chat. We went down to the junction and up on the other slope of Ngurduto and had Scaly Francolin and 2 Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeons. We dropped down from the crater and headed towards the Momela lakes. It was very quiet. At the lakes we saw amongst other birds: Grey-crowned Crane, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Winding Cisticola, Dusky Turtle Dove, Sand Martins (early?), Cape Teal, Lesser and Greater Flamingos, Pied Avocet, Tropical Boubou, Southern Pochard, Squacco Heron, Crowned Eagle, Lesser Honeyguide, Black Saw-wing, Spur-winged Lapwing, Long-crested Eagle and Nubian Woodpecker. We drove from the Lake towards Mt. Meru. We drove all the way as far as you can drive, it was still quiet: White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher, Montane White-eye, Cinnamon Bracken and Evergreen Forest Warbler, Streaky seed-eater and Black-headed Mountain Greenbul. We drove down from the mountain and tried the Ngurduto Crater once more, but nothing new to add. All in all, we saw and heard many birds, but the light was terrible and we did not get many pictures.

Some pictures from Day 10

Moustached Grass Warbler - Melocichla mentalis

Squacco Heron - Ardeola ralloides

Scaly Spurfowl - Pternistis ahantensis

Black Saw-wing - Psalidoprocne pristoptera

African Crowned Eagle - Stephanoaetus coronatus

Day 11, Tuesday, July 4, 2017 -  End of trip Part 1

Every good thing must come to the end and so this ends the first part off the trip. Martin left this morning and I went to Kilimanjaro airport to pick up my wife, Florence and her son, Junior. The next 10 days in Arusha would mainly be used to looking for a house we could buy.

I had a fantastic time with Martin. We only visited places I have been before and such only got 1 new lifer so far, The Usambara Eagle-Owl, but I have gotten better pictures of birds I have seen before, new species for Tanzania and besides the trouble with the car. I had a fantastic trip.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this adventure: Lark Plains (again), Tarangire NP, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti, Speke´s Bay Lodge, Musoma, Mara, Mwanza, Singida and back to Arusha.