Monday, August 31, 2009

Blue-brested Kingfisher and Afr. Finfoot map

File 474-Blue-breasted Kingfisher
File 216-African Finfoot

15 new maps added

File 333 Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse Stein Nilsen File Aug 20, 2009 01:54 PM
File Wahlberg's Eagle x 12 months Stein Nilsen File Aug 21, 2009 12:10 PM
File 1242 Green-backed Twinspot Stein Nilsen File Aug 31, 2009 10:09 AM
File 1048-Violet-backed Starling Stein Nilsen File Aug 31, 2009 10:19 AM
File 1051-Ashy Starling Stein Nilsen File Aug 31, 2009 10:20 AM
File 1046-Chestnut-fronted Helmet Shrike Stein Nilsen File Aug 31, 2009 10:23 AM
File 1197-Rufous-tailed Weaver Stein Nilsen File Aug 31, 2009 10:24 AM
File 763-Sprosser Stein Nilsen File Aug 31, 2009 10:29 AM
File 688 Black Cuckoo Shrike Stein Nilsen File Aug 31, 2009 10:30 AM
File 716 Eastern Nicator Stein Nilsen File Aug 31, 2009 10:31 AM
File 95-African Marsh Harrier Stein Nilsen File Aug 31, 2009 10:37 AM
File 95- African Marsh Harrier x 12 Stein Nilsen File Aug 31, 2009 10:36 AM
File 1235-Peters Twinspot Stein Nilsen File Aug 31, 2009 10:41 AM
File Base Map 30m Stein Nilsen File Aug 31, 2009 09:40 AM
File 333 Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse Stein Nilsen File Aug 31, 2009 10:12 AM
File 332 Black-faced Sandgrouse Stein Nilsen File Aug 31, 2009 10:16 AM
File 334 Yellow-throated Sandgrouse Stein Nilsen File Aug 31, 2009 10:17 AM

YT Sandgrouse

Hi Neil,

Just seen your YT Sandgrouse map. I've yet to find any visible indication of
breeding by the birds here in Katavi although they certainly must on the
open flood plains and drier grasslands. We tend only to see the flocks come
past camp in the drier months (like now) and rarely see them at all in the
rains at all. Something to keep my eyes open for.

Also, I enjoyed an evening at Firelight's Palahala camp last night and added
a few new birds to my Katavi list, although sadly not the resident Pel's
Fishing Owl that Ben and Rika (the managers) have seen and hear on a regular
basis. Both are increasingly keen on their birds and I've asked them to
contribute to the atlas. I think they're in a different square (GPS:
S06deg.48min.41.0sec E031deg.22min09.4sec) but will leave for you to
discuss the project and the type of data you're after.



Green-backed Twinspot

Green-backed Twinspot

Hi Neil,
I saw two of this birds in Beho Beho forest in 2005yr.
Since then i never see them.


this map for Iringa square 3705D shows how useful plotting at this scale can be when looking for knowledge gaps.
if anyone wants such a map for their home square just shout.

Taita Falcon at Mpululu Mt.

phone call from Rob Glen this afternoon.

He and Sue just watching a Taita Falcon mobbing Verreaux's Eagle at Mpululu Mt. The latter with a young bird.

As far as I am aware this is only the second record of Taita from Ruaha, the first being in the 60s.

A rather special bird that is surely more common than we understand.


More Wahlbergs

From: "ethan kinsey"
Sent: Sunday, August 30, 2009 8:53 PM

> >

>> Hi Neil,
>> I saw a couple Whalberg's eagles in Wogakuria last week. A lot of
>> walking up there and just the usual- not that great birding.
>> Flappet lark
>> Long tailed fiscal
>> Grey headed social weavers
>> Speckle fronted weavers
>> Marabous
>> White headed vulture
>> Lappet faced vulture
>> White backed vulture
>> Ruppels griffon vulture
>> Hooded vulture
>> Bateleur
>> Ruppels long tailed starling
>> Superb starling
>> Dark chanting goshawk
>> Spoon bill in the river
>> Yellow billed stork in the river
>> Black headed heron in the river
>> Grey heron in the river
>> Goliath heron in the river
>> Great white egret in the river
>> There is a pair of buzzard like raptors nesting close to the camp
>> but I couldn't get decent visuals and didn't have the right resources.
>> Jo Anderson saw black headed gonolek on the north side of the river
>> on the Lamai wedge. I talked to a couple of the resident guides and
>> they have also seen them along the Korongos. Unfortunately a relief
>> walking guide can't just jump in a car and go check it out.
>> Also FYI- there is a serious birder at Manze Camp in Selous. He is
>> the manager and is helping with training the guides. I don't have
>> his email but I'm sure he would be into lists and Manze is quite
>> close to the square boundary.>> Thanks,
>> Ethan

GIS map for Arusha square

Just a few folk beginning to send us georeferenced data for Arusha, our most well covered square in terms of number of records.
More please.

Green-backed Twinspot

while this species shares forest / forest edge habitat with the more widespread Peters' Twinspot it is far less common.
while it's not an easy bird to see well in the field it's an easy bird to catch in mist nets but there are still rather few records.
212 of the 396 records (53%) are of birds caught for ringing.
all records very much appreciated, especially any dead birds under lighted windows with the direction of the window being most important.
this is the first species with the new base map.

Sandgrouse maps

We had a request recently for an updated Chestnut-banded Sandgrouse map. A fine excuse to do all 3 species.

Note the extra 8,000 or so records entered this past week with a special thanks to Daudi Peterson for most of them and the mammal atlas crowd for some visual entertainment.


See all our maps at

Wahlberg's Eagle again

Hi Neil,
> Just to let u know there is another pair of Walbergs Eagle around
> Matambwe.
> This gives us three different sights making five individualy because
> the one around the camp has no mate.Is there anyone in Selous obsvng.
> them?
> Onesmo.
Neil and Liz Baker, Tanzania Bird Atlas, P.O. Box 1605, Iringa, Tanzania.

thanks Onesmo

No one else sending info from the Selous, do you know the guides at Sand
Rivers ?


Wahlberg's Eagle again

Hi Neil,
> Just to let u know there is another pair of Walbergs Eagle around
> Matambwe.
> This gives us three different sights making five individualy because
> the one around the camp has no mate.Is there anyone in Selous obsvng.
> them?
> Onesmo.

thanks Onesmo

No one else sending info from the Selous, do you know the guides at Sand
Rivers ?


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Satellite tracking of Eurasian Hobbies

5 gms and counting, wonderful stuff, do check out the link, shows how important Miombo woodland is to this bird.
It took us several years to realise how important our western and SE miombo is to this species. Not until you see them concentrating on roost sites do you realise just how many there can be in any given area.


----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, August 27, 2009 12:07 AM
Subject: [AfricanBirding] Satellite tracking of Eurasian Hobbies

Dear all,

The Eurasian Hobby is a small falcon. It breeds
across Europe and Asia and is a long-distance
migrant. European birds winter in Africa. More than
5,700 Hobbies have been ringed in 10 European
countries, but so far there have been only two ring
recoveries south of the Sahara desert. Satellite
tracking using the Argos system is now an accepted
technique for long distance migration studies of
birds. It is generally accepted that any device we
burden a bird with should weigh no more than 3% of
the bird’s weight if we are not to affect its behavior.


The prototype of the smallest satellite transmitter
(PTT) produced so far weighing just 5 g was fitted by me for
the first time to an adult female Hobby (weight 265 g)
on 9 August 2008 in Germany near Berlin and
successfully recorded the annual migration route.
The Hobby had raised two offspring and was trapped
near its eyrie using the dho-ghaza-method. This new
type of solar-powered PTT was still in the trial phase
and is still working (in August 2009).


This smallest and lightest satellite transmitter
produced to date delivered astoundingly high
numbers of good Argos Doppler fixes (LC:2 and

After leaving on migration in the second week of
August, and a short rest period on the island of Elba
off the west coast of Italy from 6 to 13 September,
the bird flew at first in a southerly direction towards
North Africa. The falcon held this course more or less
until reaching its main wintering area in Southern
Angola on 17 October. The migration to southern
Angola took 49 days including some days on the
island of Elba and one day (8 October) in Cameroon
when the falcon was not moving. On average the
falcon migrated 174 km per day including the days
when it did not migrate.

Map: Outward migration route in 2008 up to the southernmost
point in Zimbabwe not showing local movements during
wintering in Angola. Copyright by B.-U. Meyburg, 2009

A summary of the results with further details has recently been presented
at the 7th Conference of the European Ornithologists' Union 2009:

K.D. Fiuczynski, P. W. Howey, C. Meyburg & B.-U. Meyburg (2009):
Intercontinental migration of an Eurasian Hobby (Falco subbuteo) tracked by means of a
5g satellite transmitter. 7th Conference of the European Ornithologists'
Union 2009, University of Zurich, Switzerland, 21 - 26 August 2009. Poster.
(see: &

In July and August 2009 I have been able to trap eight more adult Hobbies
and mark them with even smaller solar-powered satellite tags (size: 9.3 x
30 x 16.4 mm ). From these transmitters we already received much better
results during the last few weeks in the breeding area than from the first PTT in
2008. One surprising result has been an adult female which migrated 300 kms
north from her breeding site after the fledging of her offspring to reach
the coast of the Baltic Sea in western Poland.

Many people have been very helpful in searching for nests and helping with
trapping the falcons, especially André Hallau. The transmitters are still
experimental and are not available for sale.

Kind regards,

Bernd Meyburg

Prof. Dr. Bernd-U. Meyburg

Wangenheimstr. 32
D-14193 BERLIN
Work Fax: ++49-30-892 80 67
Private Fax: ++49-30-89 50 21 55
Mobile phone: ++49-172-38 38 084

New base map

Hi all

Apologies for the file size of this map but it's so good to look at and so informative that I hope you all agree it is worth it.

This is based around the latest SRTM 30m data. This is the latest FREE version from NASA (we only work with free versions). Created as the space shuttle photographs the earth with an altitude error / accuracy of 30 m. Not yet good enough to produce detailed accurate maps of the shoreline of Lake Victoria (we have a Marabou roosting in the lake!!) but getting there and simply wonderful to visualize.

We use a transparency setting to reduce this file size for the regular atlas species maps. This gives a faded background that allows the atlas data to show well and keeps the file size down to manageable levels.

Should anyone want an even better quality map for their wall just ask and state any file size limitations.

For anyone with ARCGIS the .mxd file is just superb to work with.
A pdf is published at

As you will see in the coming months these altitude barriers are beginning to make some sense.


Neil and Liz Baker, Tanzania Bird Atlas, P.O. Box 1605, Iringa, Tanzania.
Mobiles: 0776-360876 and 0776-360864.
Subscribe to:

Godwit in Dar

I assume John means a Bar-tailed Godwit, Black-tailed is more of a fresh water bird and an inland species with us.

----- Original Message -----
From: John Dixon
To: Neil & Liz Baker
Sent: Friday, August 28, 2009 5:02 PM

Howzit Neil, Liz

For your Dar birders, a Godwit hanging out at Africana all week.

Numbers of waders & tern starting to pick up again.




Saturday, August 29, 2009

Indian House Crow

Hi all

this beast continues its relentless and sadly unopposed invasion of Tanzania.

the first record from Mtwara just in, 14 August this month.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Mascarene Martin

more details on this excellent sighting.

so much still to learn from the whole of the SE

no resident birders in 250,000km2 of pretty good habitat.


----- Original Message -----
From: "P. Theopil"
To: ;
Sent: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 6:53 PM
Subject: Re: Fwd: [tanzaniabirds] Mascarene Martin

> the mascarene martins were at rufiji-r.-bridge south of dar.. I first
> was occupied with a secure identification, which was no problem,
> because the birds came very near and were not shy. but quite late
> I realized, after departing, that it was a quite seriously good
> bird, as I read in my guide (helmfield guide: birds of east afrca).
> So I unfortunately failed to count the birds. therefore I can
> only estimate them to at least 10, perhaps up to 20. but who
> knows, what was going on up- and downstream....!
> greetings from st. ottilien!
> fr. theophil

Lake Natron project

Just to keep everyone informed.

This potential nightmare will not go away until the site / project is shown to be uneconomical. TATA withdrew because of this. They know from their experience at Lake Magadi where they have recently doubled output which still leaves them many thousands of years of recoverable deposit.

This soda ash project is a major part of justifying the grand scheme to develop the "northern corridor" essentially this is a link between the new proposed "Tanga Port" and Uganda (to give them a political alternative to Mombasa) and Rwanda, Burundi, DRC and such potential projects as the Kibanga Nickel Mine and the bauxite deposit in the Usambaras. This grand project requires huge amounts of capital to rebuild the rail and road links to Arusha and to extend them to Lake Victoria. That there already exists a greatly under utilised rail link to Mwanza from Dar with easy access to Port Bell across the lake is well understood by any potential western donors but of course the Chinese and others will have their own agendas so a careful watch is required by all concerned.

mandeleo tu but in which direction one often asks.

Sent: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 9:07 PM
Subject: Saddle billed Stork at Eyasi

Dear Neil,

very exciting for us and a first: we had a Saddle billed Stork around all day. We have never had one here before, and I am certain this is a bird we would have recognized, even before we started getting interested in birds!

On 22nd we had our first Ruff.