Tanzania Travel Diary - p
Our morning game drives end just after noon. We return to the lodge in
blistering mid-day sun. It sits almost straight overhead here close to the
We have lunch in the open-air dining room, watching a parade
of birds drinking and bathing at the water fixture nearby. The most common
are Superb Starlings and Fischer's Lovebirds, with a generous sprinkling of
Ring-necked Doves, Black-lored Babblers, Red-billed Buffalo Weavers, Blue-capped
Cordonbleus, Yellow-fronted Canaries, and the occasional Black-headed Oriole.
Then it's off for a nap until 4 p.m., when the light becomes
sweet again. My favorite afternoon game drive takes us through more
woodland along a watercourse west of the lodge.
A few steenbok and a herd of elephants hang out here, but
the birds again take center stage: Tawny Eagle, Grey-breasted Spurfowl,
Speckle-fronted Weavers, White-browed Coucal, Speckled Mousebirds, Ground
Hornbill, Von der Decken's Hornbill, and some nice finches: more
cordonbleus and nest-building Purple Grenadiers.
The most confiding is another handsome kingfisher, the
bird that I never expected to photograph is Yellow-necked Spurfowl. This
one hopped up on a snag and just wouldn't go away until I took a photo.
It, along with the more common Grey-breasted Spurfowl, delights in running along
the road, just a few feet ahead of the Landcruiser.
Neither is as numerous, though, as Helmeted Guineafowl, whose
main function here seems to be to tell everyone where predators like leopards
are. If the guineafowl are in the tree, the predator is on the ground, and
It never fails. You travel to a faraway country only to find that some bird
that never warranted a second glance in the field guides proves to be the most
charming and photogenic. For me it's the little Two-banded Courser, as
cute as a button.
Coursers behave like our killdeer, but are typically desert
birds of Africa and Asia. Another species, Temminck's Courser, is also
common here. The latter was named after Coenrad Temminck, a very busy
Dutch biologist of the 1800s. His name is borne by a shark, 7 fish, 16
birds, and 7 mammals.
Out onto the plains for our
evening drive today. Mixed herds of wildebeest and zebras have lingered
here on the fringe of the Serengeti plains due to rains that keep the grass
green and grazing animals well-fed. The calves that were born in February
add to the herd, who will start moving north any day now, Steven says.
But again the birds attract the eye and the camera.
Dozens of larks, mostly Rufous-naped but also Chestnut-backed Sparrowlarks fly
up as we drive along. Birds of prey, however, are more tempting.
Pygmy Falcon posed in an acacia thicket, but I couldn't resist this nice
Black-shouldered Kite, well lit by the afternoon sun.