Saturday, February 27, 2010

Poaching is back in Selous

Down in Tanzania's Selous game reserve an age-old scourge has returned to haunt Africa's biggest wildlife stronghold. Poaching is back, big time, with an average of 50 elephants being killed every month to fuel the ivory trade. Read the whole story HERE!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Crested guineafowl complex

here u go.. a rather cluttered map as a pdf with the text from Britton (1980).

really important that you talk to any hunters you know and ask them to take digital images of any / all crested guineafowl heads when they are shooting for the pot.

more updates as they happen. it will be fun sorting this out.

need to prove black birds and red&blue birds breeding alongside / close to each other and without intergrades.


Crested Guineafowl Guttera edouardi
This and the next species are allopatric, forming a superspecies with G. plumifera. The races barbata and granti are locally common in dense thickets at low and medium elevations in E Tanzania, respectively to the south and west of G. pucherani, in the Mtwra and Lindi regions, and from Lake Eyasi and Ufiome Forest south to Ruaha NP. Typically, the race sethsmithi is a rather uncommon forest bird, though it also occurs in thickets and woodland. In Kenya it is widespread in the highlands west of the Rift at 1700-3000m, east to the Nguruman Hills, Eldama Ravine and Nakuru (in the Rift). In Uganda it is mainly a bird of larger tracts of forest in the south and west, north to Kabalega Falls NP and NE Teso. Specimens from Mahale Mt in W Tanzania have been assigned to sethsmithi but might belong in schoutedeni with which they should be compared.

Kenya Crested Guineafowl
Guttera pucherani
Allopatric with G. edouardi, mainly in coastal forest but also in bushland and woodland thicket, from sea level to 1800m. It occurs from Soga to Witu, including Zanzibar and Tumbatu islands, inland to the Ulugurus, the East Usambaras, Mt Kilimanjaro and Lake Manyara in E Tanzania, and through the E plateau of Kenya to the eastern edge of the C highlands, from Ngong and Kikuyu to Meru and Mt Marsabit. In plateau country it is mainly localized in ground-water forests (e.g. Kitovu, Kibwezi, Lake Manyara) but also occurs in riverine thickets (e.g. Ngulia, Voi River).

Ant rises

Dear Neil & Liz,

Saw a couple of good ant rises recently

Saturday 13th Feb 3pm between Kiso and Wombera around 120 birds mostly
european hobbies plus 5 Amur falcons + 2 Eleonoras.

Sunday 21st February

Grasslands Road smaller swamp 6. 45 pm Well over 250 birds light bad so
difficult to identify the non Hobbies.

Regards Shanna

White stork movements

sms just in from Rob and Sue in Ruaha.

>500 White Storks in a kettle above them and drifting north.

several reports of White Storks moving north in Kenya but still low numbers.

Paul etc... are there still large flocks in the Serengeti ecosystem ? still tens of thousands

anyone in the northern Rift these next few days / week or so should be aware of White and Abdim's stork movements.


I'll attach the 2006 map of sat tagged storks for those that did not save this.


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

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Celebrating Lake Natron's Flamingos with action

The 2010 World Wetlands Day celebrations in Tanzania focussed on a meeting to support the conservation of Lesser Flamingo Phoenicopterus minor (Near Threatened) through the completion of a National Single Species Action Plan.

"This is an important step in ensuring the protection of this important species not only for Tanzania but also for the world", said Lota Melamari - CEO of Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania (WCST, BirdLife Partner). "This action plan provides Tanzania with an opportunity to ensure that threats facing Lesser Flamingo are thoroughly addressed", he added.

Tanzania is home to the most important breeding site in the world for Lesser Flamingo – Lake Natron. Of the world's global population of Lesser Flamingo, 75% breed at Lake Natron. Read the whole story

BirdLife launches Africa Climate Exchange

The BirdLife Africa Partnership has launched a new website about climate change and its impacts on biodiversity in Africa. Developed by the BirdLife Africa Partnership, the Africa Climate Exchange (ACE) uses birds and BirdLife's Important Bird Area (IBA) network to demonstrate how biodiversity in Africa will respond to Climate Change, and what can be done to mitigate its impacts.

"The Africa Climate Exchange is an extremely valuable resource for anybody who wants to know more about the impacts of climate change on birds and biodiversity", said Dr Hazell Shokellu Thompson - BirdLife’s Regional Director for Africa.

The Africa Climate Exchange links to various sources of information on climate change in Africa and other parts of the world. It includes a rapidly growing library, currently containing over 250 documents on a wide range of climate change topics, including national and community adaptation plans, mitigation, livelihoods and economies, conventions, financing, species and ecosystems, and modeling and monitoring.


Saturday saw the following few birds:
*Yellow bishop in breeding coat at Ngongongare gate.
*3 flocks of Wattled starlings at Ngongongare gate.
*6 Southern porchad; 2 males and 4 females in the Big momella lake.
*150-200 Ruff, southern end of Small momella lake.
*200-300 Lesser Flamingos in the Small momella lake.
*2 adult Crowned cranes with 2 young at the small island in Big momella lake.
*20 Cape Teal at Small momella lake.
*Black smith plover.
*Tawny eagle at Tululusia water falls.
*Hadada ibis.
*Sacred ibis.
*Augur buzzard.
*Eurasian marsh harrier.
*1 male Common Indigobird ( Vidua chalybeata centralis) in Usa river.
*Fawn coloured lark at Momella main gate.

Sorry, I couldn't do much birding as it was kind like rush tour.
Who knows the overlapping area between Yellow crowned and Yellow bishops. I have seen the Yellow crowned bishop in Usa river, south from the Arusha-Moshi road, while the Yellow bishop is from Ngongongare gate to other parts of the park.


Red-backed shrike returns

a smart Red-backed Shrike in the garden this week... nothing unusual in that but this one was ringed by us on 17 March 2006.

always good to have them revisit.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Globally threatened birds in Tanzania

Hi all

These maps, probably better than anything else, clearly demonstrate just how important Tanzania is for those birds designated globally threatened by IUCN / BirdLife (+ Beesley's Lark but minus our two new cisticolas and a few other new species waiting in the wings as it were)

The gaps are more likely our knowledge gaps rather than real ones. Just about the whole country qualifies !!

The GT champ squares list is quite interesting and suggests there are simply too many GT species !! we we have many more designated as Near Threatened how will we justify all this to Government ? how will we manage the next IBA book ? what will we have to leave out ?


we have never created any IBAs from such categories as biome-restricted.

this is how special Tanzania is.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

New chameleon species discovered in Tanzania

New chameleon species discovered in East Africa

Posted on 23 November 2009

A new species of chameleon has been discovered in Tanzania by a team of scientists.

The new species has been named Kinyongia magomberae (the Magombera chameleon)

Dr Andrew Marshall, from the Environment Department at the University of York, first spotted the animal while surveying monkeys in the Magombera Forest when he disturbed a twig snake eating one.

The specimen was collected, tested and compared to two others found by scientists in the same area and has now been named Kinyongia magomberae (the Magombera chameleon) in research published in the African Journal of Herpetology.

Dr Marshall is co-author of the study alongside researchers from the Museo Tridentino di Scienze Naturali, the South African National Biodiversity Institute, Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Stellenbosch.

Hopefully this discovery will support efforts to provide this area and others like it with greater protection

Dr Andrew Marshall

He said: “Discovering a new species is a rare event so to be involved in the identification and naming of this animal is very exciting.

“Chameleon species tend to be focused in small areas and, unfortunately, the habitat this one depends on, the Magombera Forest, is under threat. Hopefully this discovery will support efforts to provide this area and others like it with greater protection.”

Dr Marshall, who is also Director of Conservation Science at the Flamingo Land theme park and zoo, is leading a research project investigating changes in the Magombera Forest. The forest is an important resource for people in the area and home to wildlife, including endangered red colobus monkeys.

The project combines research into the biology of the forest with education for local people on how to manage it in a more sustainable way. The ultimate aim is to develop protected status for the forest and find alternative ways of meeting the needs of local communities.


Mara - Red chested or a Black Cuckoo?

One of or guys has recently photographed this cuckoo in the Mara.
My sense is that it is a near adult Red-chested (reason for lacking the
yellow in the bill/eye?). There is not much clarity on the gabonensis
race of Black Cuckoo ito what an intergrade might look like. I don't see
the rufous really covering the throat.

Do you know much about the gabonensis race?

Hello all,

Hope this mail finds you well.

I need some help in identifying the bird in the pictures attached. There
has been a bit of a debate as to whether it is a juv. Red chested Cuckoo
or a Black Cuckoo! There is however mention from Sinclair as to a sub
species of the Black Cuckoo in W Africa that looks similar and has been
recorded venturing into E Africa.

Any help will be much appreciated!



Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Mystery bird


Here's a little bird I found behind Emayani Lodge (near Pangani) at night on 10 Jan 2010. It was asleep, alone, on a twig under a thicket canopy near a path, about head height. When it woke up I only got the one picture. I assumed it would be something common, but I can't find it in the book, and I didn't see anything like it in daylight. In the field the main thing that caught my eye was the intense whiteness of its throat and breast. It's about the size and shape of a camaroptera. Closest I can find is red-winged warbler, but it's all puffed out so we can't see wings. Any idea?