Tuesday, August 24, 2010

2 day trip to Isunkaviola

We just got back from a short 2 day trip to Isunkaviola, 20th-22nd Aug we were at our Top Forest camp. (S07 75335 E034 71730) alt 1812 m. We had a fab time and good birding. our birding highlights for the past few days are as follows;The evening before we left our Magangwe camp we saw this Senegal Plover in a burned area very close to camp.

On the drive up there (which is roughly 50km from us along a small track
through miombo and mbugas). we saw quite a few Racket tailed rollers. On the
top forest area our highlight was seeing about 5 Hill Babblers (nominate race),
there was a Rhus, bush with loads of berries on it that Whytes Barbets,
Black-backed Barbets, Yellow rumped tinkerbirds , Black headed orioles, YVB and
Yellow belllied green bulls were really gorging on. Rob managed to get some
pics of the Babbler, they are not great but they are a record. We saw the
'different' miombo grey tit that has a thin grey strip down its face not the
white blobby marking, and is much blacker than the 'normal' miombo tit. There
were loads of Miombo bearded scrub robins too,

Another highlight was in the evening we witnessed about 60 crowned hornbills
flying over the valley from one section of forest to roost in our section of
forest. They must have bee feeding over there, It was an amazing stream of
hornbills . The morning we left we had two pairs of Grey whistling hornbills fly
over camp, with one of the pair carrying sticks. So I guess they were off to
breed somewhere up there. Maybe thats part of their movements that we witnessed
from Jongomero. We have the Grey hornbills with us at Magangwe now so maybe
they come up to the miombo areas to breed. The Olive pigeons were also
displaying to each other. The thick billed Cuckoo was here again, and on the way
up in a rocky area we saw the Pearl breasted swallows as well as a Miombo Rock
thrush. The African Broadbills were there as usual plus Peters twinspots, Lead
coloured flycatcher and loads and loads of Dusky flycatchers. etc. In total we
saw 87 species in about 11 hours of birding. Later on in the year is clocks up
to over 100 species in the same area.

When we came up here in early (10th- 14th) August 2 years ago we saw lots of
Cabanis and Golden breasted buntings displaying to each other, now there were
non so we suspect they may have been on eggs.

What we did not see which is interesting, was no sunbirds, only one Collared
sunbird and one scarlet chested. Later on in the year we can see 10 different
sunbird species in the same area. So the Copper sunbirds do not come up here
when they leave us at Magangwe in June, (they return to us in November). We
also did not see any raptors, just a Bateleur, a Lizard buzzard, and an African
Goshawk. Also, slightly later on from mid September we have seen endless
African golden Orioles but on this trip we only had a fleeting glimpse of one on
our way back in the lower miombo area.

The area had not been burned which was good, the miombo was just beginning to
change, with a couple of species throwing out new leaf and some flowers (B.
floribunda, B taxifolia,) and some flowering trees too (Dalbergia Nitidula,
Craibia ) , and plenty of trees in fruit ( Croton, Garcinia etc). But our
observations over the years tend to show that from mid September onwards they
variety of species increases dramatically not only due to migrants but due to
bird breeding up there. This co-incides with when the Miombo is in full change
with new leaves and flowers, All species seem to enjoy the dudus around the new
leaf buds and flowers on the miombo.

Finally, on the way home, when we were just turing into our drive to camp we
saw an Ayres Hawk Eagle which was flying by the car being chased by Dongos we
stopped as it perched not too far away I got pics of it but it was into the
light so they are not so good but you can see what it is.

The photos below are a few samples of the trip.

Sue and Rob

View from our Top Forest camp

Senegal Plover

Hill Babbler isunkaviola - nominate race

Hill Babbler (nominate)

The valley the Crowned Hornbill flew over

Ayres Hawk eagle Magangwe August 2010 - 7

Ayres Hawk eagle Magangwe August 2010 - 9


Ruaha National Park
Po Box 369,

Monday, August 23, 2010

Trumpeter Hornbill Map

This map to be read alongside that for the highland forest Silvery-cheeked.

still zillions of gaps out there for you all to help with.


Here's the Nov 2010 gaps

For those of you birding in Tanzania in November, have a look at these gaps to the maps!
Send your triplists and GPS-locations!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Western Banded Snake Eagle and Bronze-winged (Violet-tipped) Courser pics.


From: Fred Hodgson  

Good Morning Mr Baker,

These pictures may be of interest to you.
Some of the clearest I have seen of Violet-tipped Coursers.

The Snake Eagle bothers me. Banded yes. But the bandwidth seems neither one or the other.
Location apart, I would appreciate your views on this. It was in TZ.

Rubondo was great. What was the "Rufous winged " bird we were meant to look out for? Apalis?



Cheers Fred, much appreciated. Banded most definately, what books are you using ?

rufous winged bird is a batis, potential spp nov.


Neil and Liz Baker, Tanzania Bird Atlas, P.O. Box 1605, Iringa, Tanzania.
Mobiles: +255 776-360876 and +255 776-360864.
Subscribe to: tanzaniabirds-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

NEW Birdspecies for Tanzania!

Ruaha Chat "Myrmecocichla collaris" Artist: Sue Stolberger

Ruaha Chat is the proposal for the new name of this species

Thanks (again, she also found the Ruaha Hornbill) to the artists eye of Sue Stolberger we now officially have yet another addition to the birds of Tanzania


thanks to all of you who contributed the atlas records that greatly enhance this map.


and I still think this should be called Stolberger's Chat !!
Find the article as pdf HERE!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

4th Sept. International Vulture Awareness Day 2010

White-headed Vulture, Serengeti
Photo: Stein Ø. Nilsen

Please consider participating in this year’s International Vulture Awareness Day
(IVAD), which is on September 4th.

There is not a set programme of events on the day – IVAD works by everyone doing
their own activities to increase general awareness of vulture conservation,
wherever they are.

Some people give talks, others jump out of planes, some run around dressed up as
a vulture! Whatever gets people’s attention about vultures.

You can register at www.vultureday.org and also see what other
people/organisations are doing.

Thanks for your support and interest.

Kind regards,

Campbell Murn
(Hawk Conservancy Trust)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Yellow-bellied Greenbul ID

From: "Mark Johnson"

>> Hi Neil,
>> Please could you give us a hand identifying this bird?
>> Cheers,
>> Mark

Hi Mark
> Looks like a young  to me. That split eye ring might be diagnostic.
pale gape and pale iris also suggest a young bird, can't see the tips of the
tail but this is surely a juvenile rather than an immature. Lack of colour
(yellow) on underparts also suggests a very young bird.

  Are adults quite common with you ? in the coastal lowlands this bird is
characteristic of forest and thicket, "up country" it occurs in quite dry
  bush (prefers the thicker stuff) and further west in riverine thicket in the Miombo belt.
> See map.
> Neil

August safari notes

some safari bird notes:
Aug 3-9:  2 game drives in Manyara, then to Serengeti Serena and all around Seronera for 2 days, then 2 crater tours, yielded:
2 Secretary birds (1 was 16km S of Seronera, 1 on nest at SNP/NCA border x main road)
Many Kori bustard in Crater (guess at least 50) and on plains
Many Crowned cranes in Crater (guess > 200). Lots of pairs accompanied by grown chicks. Am going back next week and will try & count better.
Ostriches mating in Crater.

David Bygott

Would be good to count those Crowned Cranes, numbers for both adults and young please.

Does anyone have any ideas where these 100 or so pairs of Grey Crowned Cranes are breeding ? we have VERY few records of pairs with chicks.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Hunter's Cisticola

the latest map for this species.

lots of basic questions here, amazing what we don't know and has no one been up Lolkisale since 1981 !!!

why not ??



Iringa Barn Swallow in Ukraine

at long last we have a control of one of our Iringa Barn Swallows.

ringed by us on 1st April 2007 at 7.73299 South / 35.71691 East

5,984 straight line km and a heading of 175 degrees, dam near due south.

this adds to our controls in Iringa of birds ringed in Poland, Bulgaria & Kazakhstan.




FINDING DATE 25.07.2010

PROVINCE Ukraine, Mikolayiv O.
FINDING PLACE Kinburn, Pokrovka
FINDING COORD. 46.26 N 31.41 E (Google earth put this in the Black Sea !)

FINDING DETAILS Hirundo rustica, female

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Identification of Tanzanian starling required

We have 3 different reference books here but cannot be sure of the exact ID of some birds.
Location: we are presently living in Tanzania, photos taken along the Katuma river – either at the river or on the Katisunga plains. The National Park is called KATAVI NATIONAL PARK and is slightly South West of Tanzania.
I have blown up the photos – so could be out of focus and tried to enhance to get the colours to stand out.
First is a Starling….. First book (Birds of Africa – Ian Sinclair and Peter Ryan) says MIOMBA BLUE EARED – as it has a distinct magenta breast – but the other books BIRDS OF EAST AFRICA (Terry Stevenson & John Fanshaw) does not have a Miombo but does have a SOUTHERN BLUE-EARED which is restricted to Miombo woodland, but under GREATER BLUE-EARED has that bird with Magenta breast and flank.
Geoff and Colleen Mullen