Msasani Peninsula, Dar es Salaam: December 3, 2010

I've heard the months of December and January are an exciting period for birders in Tanzania as palearctic migrants stream south through the country, including a variety of bee-eater species. Indeed, I noticed a lovely group of Blue-Cheeked Bee-Eaters late Friday afternoon as I was riding my bike home from work. Waiting on power lines strung over a washed-out dirt road, they swooped gracefully after wasps, returning to their perch as they shook loose the stingers and squeezed out the venom with their powerful beaks. These elegant migrants were joined by a pair of Swallow-Tailed Bee-Eaters, which I've not recorded before on the Msasani Peninsula but have seen in more wooded habitat near Saadani National Park. While not migratory to the extreme of the Blue-Cheeked or European Bee-Eater, which I also recorded the following morning at Pugu Hills, the Swallow-Tailed Bee-Eater almost certainly moves in response to climate patterns and could have simply been wandering a bit with the Blue-Cheeked Bee-Eaters.

Although I haven't done much serious birding recently here in southern coastal Tanzania, I'll be heading up to the northern part of the country in just a few weeks, for over twenty days of exploring various parks and reserves. Aimee and I will first visit Mkomazi National Park in search of a few regional endemics as well as keeping watch for Black Rhinoceros, which has been reintroduced here along with the African Wild Dog. Then, we'll be covering Arusha National Park, first birding for several days and then climbing towering Mt. Meru. Next, it's off on a safari to Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Parks, where we'll encounter tree-climbing lions and cheetahs as well as a wealth of new birds in the great Rift Valley. To top it off, we'll be visiting the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Serengeti National Park for over a week, spending more money just on national park fees than I care to think about. With so many new important bird areas to be explored, I'm guessing my country list is about to double, hopefully including target species like the unique Secretary Bird. While we will obviously miss visiting many sites and seeing many birds in the region, any recommendations are very much welcome.


  1. When you visit the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, be on the lookout for Taita Falcon. While trekking there in 2003 and camping on the rim of Embakai Crater, a falcon flew overhead several times one evening. It's a great place!

  2. Looking forward to your post following this amazing trip. Best wishes to you and Aimee.

  3. Thanks for the suggestion, Bryan. I actually fell sick with malaria on the first day of the Crater Highlands Trek, so I didn't make it to the site you mentioned. Taita Falcon is a terrific find, though. Congratulations!

  4. Thanks, Renato. I'm finally finding the time to write posts about our trip. Hope you enjoy!

    How's the birding season in Ecuador this year, by the way? I heard folks have been seeing Black-Tipped Cotinga at Milpe, which is a neat conservation success story.


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