Trip report: Northern Tanzania, Birding Amongst the Beasts (Apr 2006) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Keith Barnes. This was a custom tour with a similar itinerary to our set-departure tour.

As usual, northern Tanzania was an extravaganza of birding set against the wildest and some of the most unique of Africa’s backdrops, Arusha NP, Mkomazi, the Usambara Mountains, Pemba Island, the expansive Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. As a wilderness experience, the mammals of northern Tanzania are hard to beat. Amongst the mammal highlights two leopard, as well as omnipresent lion prides and many species of ungulates amongst the 58 mammal species encountered! The birding yielded a 516 species. Birding highlights included some of Africa’s most endangered birds, the Critically Endangered and recently recognized Beesley’s Spike-heeled Lark and the equally enigmatic Moreau’s Tailorbird of the East Usambara Mountains. We also were overawed by most incredible birds in superb plumage including long-tailed whydahs and widowbirds, spectacular bishops and weavers in full breeding plumage. Bustards were strutting their stuff in full display, as were the larks doing their aerial acrobatics. We also nailed the Karamoja Apalis at the recently discovered stake out in the Serengeti. Although the birding was sensational and the predators impressive it was hard to top driving through what seemed like endless herds of grazing wildebeest and zebras that just seemed to go on forever in the Ndutu plains area. On this trip the birding was brilliant in the most spectacular wildlife show on earth!

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