Florence and I travelled to Tanzania again. This time we were staying for 2 months. Our main object was to look at a house in the Arusha region, but we managed to put in a little bit of birding as well :-). We birded on our way from Dar es Salaam to Arusha and then we had 3 weeks of hardcore birding in Kenya. This report will be about the Tanzanian part of the trip. We arrived in Dar es Salaam on June 21, spent a few days in Dar to sort out everything for the trip and left Dar on June 25th.


Day 1, Monday June 25, Dar es Salaam - Amani Forest, East Usambara

We had the Landrover serviced before we left and had a smooth ride without any stops before we reached Muheza, where we picked up our guide Marin Joho. Martin is the expert on birds in the Usambaras. As on my recent trip, we decided to camp at the Amani Forest Headquarters. They offer simple accommodation there, but we decided to camp in our Landrover. We were allowed to use the facilities in one of the apartments so toilet and showers were in good hand. In camp we were greeted by the Silvery-cheeked and Trumpeter Hornbills. After lunch, we went for a walk. It was clouded over and despite the bad light we started picking up the following species. Black-headed Apalis, Little Greenbul, Kenrick´s Starling, Green Barbet, Cabanis´s Bunting, a very obliging Moustached Tinkerbird, Waller´s Starling, Black-and-white Flycatcher (Lifer for Florence), Shelley´s Greenbul, Fischer´s Turaco, Southern Banded Snake Eagle, Southern Citril and Palm-nut Vulture + many more of the more common species. We walked among the old German research station which offer very good birding. Back in camp, we heard a Pale-breasted Illadopsis, but that skulker never wanted to show itself.

Some pictures from Day 1

Moustached Tinkerbird, Pogoniulus leucomystax

Cabanis´s Bunting, Emberiza cabanisi

The chef in Action - Amani Forest

Day 2, Tuesday June 26, Amani Forest, East Usambara

Florence decided to stay in this morning, so Martin and I took a morning walk. I had seen Amani Sunbird in Tanzania, but never had a picture. Martin knew of a flowering tree, so we sat of for that.  Sure enough, we found a pair of Amani Sunbirds together with a pair of Banded Sunbirds feeding in the tree. Other birds on the morning walk included Green-headed Oriole, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, White-chested Alethe, Red-tailed Ant Thrush, Grey Cuckooshrike, Uluguru Violet-backed Sunbird and Crowned Eagle. We walked back to camp and had lunch. After lunch, we took Florence to the same tree, but no Amani Sunbird there. We did the same walk we did the day before and here are some of the birds we added to the list: White-browed Coucal, Placid Greenbul, Mountain Wagtail, Sripe-cheeked Greenbul and  we heard Evergreen Forest Warbler and East Coast Boubou.  I also got a somewhat better picture of a Kenrick´s Starling than what I had from before, but still no way as good as I want. The birding was actually quite slow due to the bad weather, so we returned to camp and watched some football instead :-)

Some pictures from Day 2

White-browed Coucal, Centropus superciliosus

Amani Sunbird (Female),  Hedydipna pallidigaster - Localised endemic to Eastern Africa

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

Kenrick´s Starling,  Poeoptera kenricki - Endemic to Eastern Africa

Day 3, Wednesday June 27, Amani Forest, East Usambara - Same

We headed up early and drove to a spot a little further down the mountain with some nice natural forest. We added Red-throated Twinspot, African Hawk-Eagle, Chestnut-fronted Helmet-Shrike, Green Tinkerbird, Mombasa Woodpecker, Plain-backed Sunbird, Pale Batis, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher and Little Yellow Flycatcher to our list before we drove off. We saw a total of 80 species in the area in 2 days which is not bad considering many of the birds are endemic or near endemic to Tanzania or Eastern Africa. We got in the car and headed for Same. In Same we checked in to the Elephant Motel where we usually stay. After lunch we went birding towards the gate of Mkomazi NP. We have found some nice habitat in the past that does not necessitate to go in to the park. We quickly added a few birds to the list: Diederik Cuckoo, Black-necked Weaver, Spotted Palm Thrush, Eastern Black-headed Batis, Red-fronted Warbler D`Arnaud´s Barbet, Black-throated Barbet, Dodson´s Bulbul, Black-cheeked Waxbill, Grey-headed Bushshrike, Orange-breasted Bushshrike, Little Sparrowhawk, White-bellied Go-away-bird, Gabar Goshawk, Grey Wren-Warbler, Augur Buzzard and Parrot-billed Sparrow + many more common birds. Excellent birding in just a few hours. We returned to the motel to eat and watch some more football.

Some pictures from Day 3

Black-throated Barbet,  Tricolaema melanocephala - Endemic to North Eastern Africa

Black-necked Weaver, Ploceus nigricollis

Grey Wren-Warbler, Calamonastes simplex - Endemic to NE Africa

Little Sparrowhawk, Accipiter minullus

Day 4, Thursday June 28, Same area

This morning we headed for Nyumba ya Mungu Dam. At the crest before you start going down to the dam, there is a very nice habitat for birds. We quickly saw Bar-eyed Thrush, Grey Wren-Warbler, Fischer´s Sparrowlark, Pink-breasted Lark, Somali Bunting, Spotted Palm Thrush,Tsavo Sunbird, Slate-coloured Boubou, Purple Grenadier, Pygmy Batis, Black-necked Weaver, White-headed Mousebird, Yellow-spotted Petronia, Hunter´s Sunbird, Pringle´s Puffback, Northern Brownbul, White-bellied Go-away-bird, Southern Grosbeak-Canary, Abyssinian White-eye, Scaly Chatterer, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Red-fronted Warbler, Blue-naped Mousebird, Black-throated Barbet, Eastern Violet-backed Sunbird and many common birds a total of 50 species. Not bad for a few hours walk. We returned to the Motel for lunch.  Florence stayed behind at the Motel and Martin and I went to the gate of the Mkomazi park. We have birded here before, but now they did not allow us to bird at the gate. They wanted us to pay in order to bird at the parking lot. We went back to the habitat we birded the day before (only 1 km away). However; hidden from the road was a sign in Swahili saying that this area was also a Nature reserve. No phone numbers or anything on how to get a ticket to enter the reserve. We spent the reminder of the day figuring out where to obtain tickets. Finally, we got in contact with a man that took us to the headquarter of the Forest reserve and we managed to obtain tickets for the next day. No afternoon birding that day :-(.

Some pictures from Day 4

Pygmy Batis, Batis perkeo - Endemic to NE Africa

Scaly Chatterer, Turdoides aylmeri - Endemic to NE Africa

Purple Grenadier, Granatina iantinogaster - Endemic to NE Africa

Day 5, Friday June 29, Same - Arusha

Equipped with the proper permit, we went back to the habitat very close to the Mkomazi gate. For once, we had beautiful photographic light. We went a little further than 2 days before and walked with the rising sun at our back. We started taking pictures like mad and soon added many new species to our list: Red-and-Yellow Barbet, Northern Red-billed Hornbill, Long-crested Eagle, Abyssinian Scimitarbill African Grey Flycatcher, Reichenow Seed-eater, Mouse-coloured Penduline Tit, Tiny Cisticola, Nubian Woodpecker, Fischer´s Starling, Hildebrandt´s Starling, Chinspot Batis, Straw-tailed Whydah and Black-bellied Sunbird (Lifer for Florence). Around 10, we decided to move out. We had a long drive ahead to USA River near Arusha. We said goodbye to Martin in Same and headed for USA River.  In USA river, we met with the manager at the estate and he showed us the house we were supposed to buy. At that time, the house was just a shell with roof and walls. We had agreed beforehand that we could camp outside the house to get a feeling for the environment. We also agreed we could bird on the estate whilst staying there. The estate has a bird list of about 350 species.

Some pictures from Day 5

Red-and-yellow Barbet, Trachyphonus erythrocephalus - Endemic to NE Africa

D`Arnaud´s Barbet, Trachyphonus darnaudi - Endemic to NE Africa

Chinspot Batis, Batis molitor

Tiny Cisticola, Cisticola nanus - Endemic to NE Africa

White-bellied Go-away-bird, Corythaixoides leucogaster - Endemic to NE Africa

Mouse-coloured Penduline-Tit, Anthoscopus musculus - Endemic to NE Africa

Abyssinian Scimitarbill, Rhinopomastus minor - Endemic to NE Africa - Picture by Florence

Fischer´s Starling, Lamprotornis fischeri - Endemic to NE Africa - Picture by Florence

Black-bellied Sunbird, Cinnyris erythrocercus - Endemic to NE Africa

Hunter´s Sunbird (Female), Chalcomitra hunteri - Endemic to NE Africa

Tsavo Sunbird, Cinnyris tsavoensis - Endemic to E Africa

Bar-eyed Thrush, Turdus tephronotus - Endemic to NE Africa

Day 6, Saturday June 30, USA River

We had several items to sort out on this day, but we had time to do some morning birding walking around on the property. Northern White-crowned Shrike, Superb Starling, African Fish Eagle, White-bellied Go-away-bird, Magpie Shrike, African Grey Flycatcher, Purple Grenadier and Yellow-collared Lovebird were some of the birds we saw on the morning walk. We had lunch at the clubhouse and after that we signed the papers for our property :-). After lunch, we borrowed a golf cart to go down to our property and found a Gabar Goshawk feeding in a tree in our garden. We relaxed a little before we started the afternoon birding. We added Grey-headed Kingfisher, African Hoopoe, Red-cheeked Cordonbleu, Pangani Longclaw, Long-crested Eagle, Northern Fiscal and Hildebrandt´s Starling amongst many other. More football at the clubhouse at night. On the way back to our property at night we flushed many Slender-tailed Nightjars, but we did not have cameras with us.

Some pictures from Day 6

Gabar Goshawk, Micronisus gabar

Rattling Cisticola, Cisticola chiniana

African Hoopoe, Upupa africana

Yellow-collared Lovebird, Agapornis personatus - Endemic to East Africa

Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Chalcomitra senegalensis

Nubian Woodpecker, Campethera nubica - Endemic to NE Africa

A different camping experience

The first Gin & Tonic in our new house :-)

Day 7&8, Monday July 1&2, USA River

We did not do much birding on the Sunday, but picked up amongst other these birds: Bar-eyed Thrush, Crimson-rumped Waxbill, Spotted Palm Thrush, Bronzy Sunbird, Slate-coloured Boubou, Malachite Kingfisher and Red-faced Crombec. We had quite a lot of errands to perform that day, so as mentioned, not much birding. On July second, we brought our cameras again and found amongst others: Marico Sunbird, Beautiful Sunbird, Steel-blue Whydah (picture lifer), Reichenow´s Seed-eater and Red-chested Cuckoo. On the way back from watching football that night we flashed a lot of Nightjars again. We went to our house, picked up the cameras and finally got a picture of one (lifer for both Florence and me).

Some pictures from Day 8

Red-chested Cuckoo - Cuculus solitarius

Village Indigobird - Vidua chalybeata

Marico Sunbird - Cinnyris mariquensis

Pin-tailed Whydah - Vidua macroura

Steel-blue Whydah - Vidua hypocherina - Endemic to NE Africa - Picture lifer

Stlender-tailed Nightjar - Caprimulgus ciarus - Endemic to NE Africa - Lifer

We stayed one more night in USA River before we had a couple of nights in Arusha. Then on July 6th we started our epic journey to Kenya. Stay tuned for trip reports from our Kenya trip.

If you are interested in seeing some of these birds, check out holmen-birding-safari.com (the website is still under development) We will from February 2019 arrange trips to see all these birds endemic to Tanzania and East and Norht East Africa + many more on one of our trips.  On our Usambara trip, a South African birder can get more than 150 lifers provided he/she has never birded outside of Southern Africa. Contact me at holmenp@gmail.com to show your interest. As you can read on the website, we can arrange trips to a very low cost compared to other operators.