Friday, July 30, 2010

PHOtos of Weaver Nests

something here for most of u..go get Tz on this particular map, although most of you will have to wait until the next rains.

From: Dieter Oschadleus
PHOWN (PHOtos of Weaver Nests; rhymes with "own") is a new ADU Virtual
Museum project, where weaver nests or colonies may be photographed and
submitted. To take part in this project, you need to register as a
virtual museum participant. Then find weaver nests and take photos and
count the nests. It is currently the top item of Latest News on several
ADU websites (eg

You can view submissions already made (without being registered) at
and clicking on "Photos of Weaver Nests" --- There are different search
possibilities - explore these yourself! There are already 23 records of
a variety of southern African weavers in PHOWN.

To take part and submit your own photos, you need to register. Read more
details here:

Any weaver species (Ploceidae family) may be photographed.

To register, go to , click on "Registration" down
the left hand side menu, and fill in your contact details (if you have
an ADU number, use this and your email to obtain your password). Your
password is emailed to you. You use your email address and password to
"LOGIN" (the bottom item on the same left hand side menu). Once you have
done the LOGIN, the left hand side menu gets longer, and you can do
"Data upload".

PHOWN (PHotos Of Weaver Nests) is a monitoring project aimed at
determining the distribution of colonies or nests of all weaver species
globally. Counting weaver nests and taking photos allows tracking of
changes in weaver breeding effort. Many weavers are common and this
project provides an easy way of monitoring them, while some weaver
species are threatened and this project would help their conservation.
The software for the ADU Virtual Museum projects were written by Rene
Navarro and the current software allows users to submit photos directly
to the web, rather than emailing photos as was the case with the first
project (SARCA, Southern African Reptile Conservation Assessment). PHOWN
is the fourth Virtual Museum project and is being launched in time for
the 2010 breeding season. In the Western Cape Southern Masked and Cape
Weavers have started to build nests.

So take your camera while birding!

Dr H. Dieter Oschadleus (or

Bird-ringing Coordinator, SAFRING
Animal Demography Unit, Dept of Zoology tel: (021) 650-2421
University of Cape Town fax: (021) 650-3434
Rondebosch 7701 RSA After-hours: 083-285-6889

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Palm-nut Vulture juvs in Dar

25 July 2010 10:59
Yesterday at Jangwani Beach we watched two adults with two recently fledged
young interacting. The juvs were fully independent in terms of flight but
may well still have been attached to the parents for food / feeding
opportunities. We watched one adult make a somewhat half hearted attempt to
catch a crab. It would have made great video, a bright green crab running
with claws raised and this clown of a bird bouncing after it.

Inevitably the House Crows interfered and we were perhaps too close for the
palm-nut's liking.

Checking the data this is the first breeding season record for the Dar atlas
square yet surely these birds are breeding residents along this stretch of

As ever (for all raptors), pleeeeeze find time to watch any active nests for
evidence of breeding.


Wattled Crane Lukula

"Photo:Mark Johnson"

Sent: Monday, July 26, 2010 3:16 PM

Hi Neil,

Well I have some good news for you, on the 26/07 at 15:00 I managed to spot some of those wattled cranes from the camp on the other side of the river, so you will have to use the GPS co-ordinates for the camp,as we are not allowed to cross the river. Here is a photo, I had to crop it so the detail is not that great.

You are all aware that I often mention how little we know about our

this msg is clear testimony to that statement and it sadly reflects how
little our wildlife authorities know or care or take any interest in our

here is a population of one the rarest and most majestic birds on the
continent yet it has remained "unknown" to science and conservation despite

being seen by hundreds of game scouts and other Wildlife Division staff as

well as numerous professional hunters for rather many years.

that a population of this bird can remain hidden for so long is testimony to

how poor "birds" are taught in Tanzania at all levels.

there are quite a few Tanzanian "professionals" on this group but few bother

to participate.

Brent Leo-Smith is credited with finding these birds along the Luwegu River

in the SW of the Selous GR.

Nice pic Marc, do what you can to pima as many as possible as you work the

Luwegu Valley.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Scaly Chatterer

Latest map for this neat species...georeferenced records would be very much appreciated, esp from border areas.


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

Thursday, July 22, 2010


the latest map for this species

Onesmo, as you can see from this map there are VERY few records away from wintering forest edge habitat.

More on this species after we look at the ringing records.

DAY dates important if we are to understand any potential changes in arrival and departure times.


White Storks in Serengeti

Photo: Jo Anderson

How to find Usambara Eagle-Owl?

Hi Tanzania birders,

Ara Monadjem, zoology lecturer, ornithologist and keen birder from
Swaziland, is teaching at the Tropical Biology Course in Amani at the
moment. Does anyone have any info for him on how to find Usambara
Eagle-Owl, or a guide there to contact, or perhaps even a call? He's
not on this list, but can be emailed on If you
reply to the list, I can forward any info to him.



Northern Pied Babbler

Hi all

There are indications that several species are "moving", expanding their ranges in response to "environmental" change. While this may well be related to underlying changes in the climate it may also be due to an opening up of habitat due to human encroachment, perhaps both factors influencing each other, the drier climate slowing down the natural recovery of the habitat.

Whatever the cause there is evidence that several dry country species are expanding their ranges westwards, both directly west and also both SW and NW.

This may well be one of them.

PLEASE take a note of this and day date and georeference all records that will add to our understanding of any range expansion.


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

Igombe dam, Tabora

One of my volunteers here at the reserve Charlie Lucas worked as an
engineer in Tanganyika many many years ago. He was the engineer who
built the Igombe Dam (the water supply for Tabora [where co-incidentally
my own mother was born!]). The dam was opened in 1957. Charlie looked
up Google maps the other day to see how the dam looked and was surprised
to see that the whole area of water was bright green. Does anyone know
why this is? Algal bloom? Nile cabbage? It would be nice for Charlie
to get an update.

Zul Bhatia, Manager, Lochwinnoch RSPB Nature Reserve

RSPB Scotland is part of the RSPB, the UK-wide charity working to secure
a healthy environment for birds and wildlife, helping to create a better
world for us all.

For further information on membership, volunteering or events, please
phone: 01505 842663
or email :

Where to stay in / near Lushoto ?

what's the latest info for backpack birding in the Usambara mts.

where to stay in / near Lushoto ? daladalas to Magambo FR and even to Shagyo and Shume ??? what about Mazumbai, must still be good birding there.

then where to stay near Amani and how to get to the lowland forest in the Sigi-Segoma area such as Kambai.

any contacts at Muller's or another lodge that would appreciate Valery training their bird guide(s).

answers please from those of you that know.



End of August I'll be in the Usambaras for holidays with a friend coming for birding from Europe. Any place you can advise me where I can stay (low budget) and walk daily (we'll be there 10 days) to the forest is search for specials? All endemics (from Long-billed Tailorbirds to Usambara Eagle-Owl) and forest birds interest me, as I need most of them in photo (for the theoretical lessons of my training).

Aliens are tough adversaries

Please be warned: This is, without a shadow of doubt, what Tanzania will
face if the government does not act immediately against Parthenium and
chromoleana, both recently found in the country. We urgently need an early
detection rapid response initiative to prevent the disaster that is facing


MBABANE, 8 June (IRIN) - The effects of Cyclone Demonia are still being
felt a quarter of a century after it ripped through landlocked
Swaziland. The once-in-a-generation storm system swept in from the
Indian Ocean and across neighbouring Mozambique, devastating
infrastructure and sowing death among the Swazis, but its lasting legacy
was the alien plant seeds that the winds carried.

Unnoticed at first, the demonia weed (Parthenium hysterophorus),
colloquially named for the cyclone, has decimated indigenous hunting
areas that people relied on for game, as well as the recently
established community nature reserves that hoped to use wildlife as a
tourism drawcard.

Demonia is native to Mexico, Central and South America; on the Indian
Ocean island of Reunion, where the Swazi seeds are thought to have come
from, demonia is known as camomille z'oiseaux.

It grows up to 1.5 metres tall and can create severe allergic
reactions among humans. "The Demonia weed releases an irritating
chemical that animals find repellent; wherever the weed has taken root,
game animals vacate," botanist Linda Dobson told IRIN.

The invasive plants are worsening food insecurity in a country where
about one-fifth of the roughly one million people depend on food aid.
"Areas which were pristine twenty years ago have been overrun by
invasives," Dobson said. This pushes up the costs of agriculture because
resources are diverted to keep clearing arable land.

"We have a huge alien invader problem here in Swaziland. They bring
with them an increased risk of catastrophic events, such as floods and
landslides; they are hindering farmers' ability to produce crops and
raise cattle," Dobson said.

The Natural History Society of Swaziland has noted invasive plant
species, such as the triffid weed - Chromolaena odorata, an invasive
species from Central America that spreads rapidly, smothering local
indigenous plants - has colonized the country's lowveld, leading to
regions becoming devoid of indigenous antelope.

The noxious triffid weed, known locally as sandanezwe, has been the
subject of government information campaigns. "The problem with
sandanezwe is that it is toxic to cattle, but it has taken over grazing
areas. With nothing to eat the cattle starve," Andrew Dlamini, a field
extension officer in charge of community education at the Ministry of
Agriculture, told IRIN.

In 2009 a programme was launched to eliminate sandanezwe from
government-owned farms, but it became mired in allegations of corruption
and was suspended in late 2009, but others have pointed to the
stubbornness of the triffid as the cause.

"It is not enough to cut it [the triffid weed] - it has to be dug out
and burned; otherwise, it is like a zombie that keeps coming back to
life again and again. Some people in government did not understand this,
and when the weed returned to crop-growing areas that had supposedly
been cleared of sandanezwe, they blamed it on incompetence or
corruption," an agriculture ministry researcher, who declined to be
named, told IRIN.

"Its seeds are viable for a half a century, and are brought to life by
fire - that is why the triffid weed has been so successful at taking
over the northern highveld, because those hills are burned by bush fires
twice a year."

Cultural historian Jabulani Ndwandwe commented: "Swazis ... were
unprepared when nature started behaving in ways no one understood, and
strange plants took over the grazing lands and waterways."

The water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), originally imported into
South Africa from South America to beautify artificial ponds, found its
way into the ecosystem and spread across the border into Swaziland.

"These 'water weeds' literally choke rivers by removing nutrients,
because as they spread out they block sunlight. Everything below them
dies. Their seeds are viable for up to 30 years, and can lie dormant.
You look at a lake covered by hyacinths and it appears as a green field;
the fish are gone, which further reduces Swazis' food supply, and the
water quality is affected," Dlamini said.

Zinde Mthimkhulu, Senior Water Engineer and Hydrologist at the
Ministry of Natural Resources, told IRIN that invasives like eucalyptus
trees, which can consume 1,000 litres of water each day, were a threat
to the water table. "The deep-rooted invasives pose a problem because
Swazis depend on boreholes during the dry months and the invasives
compete for aquifers."

Mthimkhulu said a national policy was needed to police invasive plants
in the water supply, but the necessary surveys and studies to inform any
such policy were lacking.


© IRIN. All rights reserved. More humanitarian news and analysis:

Friday, July 9, 2010

Coucals - do they meet?

Bit of duplication here but what to do. Having looked at the two coucals and raised a few questions I thought I should look at them all and send them to our group in search of answers, there are, as ever, quite a few required. are the latest White-browed and Burchell's to begin with. Because burchelli was treated as a race in Britton (1980) we still have to move quite a few coastal records from superciliosus to this species.


The nightjars - measuering Primaries

From the just sent paper please note the "easy" separation of the poliocephalus , ruwenzorii , guttifer by measureing the P's!!!

P10-P8 are all long in guttifer and the (P7 and) P6 are shorter.

P10 P9 P8 P7 P6

C. poliocephalus 143.6±4.5 (129-153) 60 152.3±4.1 (139-162) 57 152.3±4.3 (137-162) 59 145.6±4.7 (132-158) 60 124.5±4.1 (115-134) 60

C. r. ruwenzorii 145.3±4.8 (130-155) 40 154.5±4.9 (141-163) 40 154.8±4.7 (144-163) 40 147.3±4.9 (136-156) 40 126.8±5.0 (116-139) 39

C. r. guttifer 146.5±2.9 (141-150) 8 155.6±3.1 (151-162) 8 156.1±2.6 (151-161) 9 145.6±3.5 (139-151) 8 123.0±3.3 (116-127) 9


Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Dear Neil and Liz,

Here are some more thrushes for the fast growing collection.

Listen to the sounds from Uluguru, by Brian Finch

1. ROEHLI from the Magamba Sawmill Road, West Usambaras.

2. Now this bird is an OLDEANI from Sopa Lodge, Ngorongoro. If you
read the description of Oldeani from the Handbook, you will find that
it has little in common with this bird. Either Oldeani is a suspect
race, or birds on the Crater Rim are not oldeani.

3. This is a nominate from 10,000 feet on Mt Kenya in the bamboo zone.
Not a great difference between this and the bird from the Crater Rim.

4. This is the form around Nairobi, it is richer than the Mt Kenya
birds though they are the same race.

5. These are three different calls from the bird on the Ulugurus,
treated in the Handbook as Nyikae. The bird was almost black head to
chest, hardly any relief on the throat. Dark below but somewhat
browner. In flight the rusty flanks were very conspicuous on the
almost uniformly dark bird. I can find no illustrations or images of
nyikae. Whilst roehli is dark, “nyikae” on Uluguru appears as black as
helleri from Taita Hills. I hope that someone can find a use for this.
As you can hear it is very strong and melodic.

Best for now

Friday, July 2, 2010

African Bare-Eyed Thrush in Ruaha

From: David Erickson


I was doing fieldwork for my masters in and around Ruaha.

Part of the project I was working on involved camera traps (Targeting Mammals). I am currently sorting through all the photos. I came across a picture of a Turdus Thrush, and from the book I have it looks like an African Bare-Eyed Thrush. The "Birds of East Africa" book I have does not show this species in the Ruaha area so I thought I'd pass it along to the TZ bird atlas for a look (Two pics are attached to this email). Hopefully it's useful.


Dave Erickson
tks David

as you can see from this latest map there have been records from the Ruaha ecosystem but not many so yours are most welcome.

this bird is moving, expanding its range westwards. climate change...who knows !!!!