Bwejuu, Zanzibar: October 21-23, 2010

Having spent a week scuba diving and exploring the island’s cultural points of interest, including taking a spice tour of the island and visiting historic Stone Town, Aimee and I retired to the southwest coast for a bit of rest and relaxation. Although I had no substantial plans for birding during this vacation, aside from a morning’s visit to Jozani-Chwaka National Park, this side of the island appeared to harbor much more birdlife than the northern coast, where we had stayed earlier. The scrub and garden habitat around our small hotel harbored a few lovely birds, including the Lilac-Breasted Roller and Scarlet-Chested Sunbird, and each day the tide would go out dramatically, exposing over a kilometer of reef to shorebirds. For once, birding for me was a leisurely activity, as I lounged in the hammock all afternoon reading a book with my binoculars around my neck.

A fruiting tree next to the dining area provided a few hours of entertainment each morning, as I watched waves of garden birds come through and snatch a few berries away from the resident Zanzibar Sombre Greenbulls. The most delightful of these was the Yellow-Rumped Tinkerbird, a member of the diminutive genus of African barbets, which would calmly choke down relatively massive berries as the greenbulls cautiously looked on. A group of noisy Black-Bellied Starlings would also make an appearance, although they weren’t nearly as disruptive as the hotel staff, which insisted on yelling to each other all morning as they went about their duties just nearby. I find this high-volume interpersonal communication to be one of the most challenging aspects of living in Tanzania, but I imagine I’ll get used to it eventually.

As the tide dropped late each morning, I would walk around on the exposed reef in my shoes, joining the rest of the village communities along the coastline as they scoured the tidal pools for stranded fish, crabs, and eels. Of course, I was just looking for shorebirds, and eventually found a few solitary Crab Plovers slowly patrolling open sandy areas. This uniquely large-headed plover stabs about in the sand occasionally with its stout bills, running about on long grey-blue colored legs. It looks rather like a tern but has slightly webbed feet, making it something of an anomalous bird; indeed, it has been placed in its own family. Common enough along the coastline in the Indian Ocean, it’s still one of my favorite birds of the region so far.

Notable birds seen: Crab Plover, Lilac-Breasted Roller, Yellow-Rumped Tinkerbird, Scarlet-Chested Sunbird.


  1. Hello, I am Kanakot Tanaka, Japanese volunteer working for ecotourism development, at National Forestry Authority Uganda. I would like to ask for permission to use your photo of the Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird on our internet radio website.

    We are going to focus on Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird and I would like to post a photo of the bird for listeners.
    I would be grateful if you could allow us to use the photo.

    I was fascinated with your photos. They are wonderful.

  2. Thanks for your message. Yes, you may use the photo for your website. All the best!

    1. Mr.Derek,
      Thank you for your kindness.
      We have updated the podcast website.
      I am sure listener's enjoy your photo!


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