Though I am safely home in the US now, I will continue to blog, not only to share the adventure with you, but to document it for myself, as my memory certainly is not improving as I get older. Many of you know that, though I love all nature and sports photography, my absolute favorite subjects to photograph are birds, preferably in flight or doing something cool that is specific to each one. I will not talk about all of the ones I saw, though I had fun researching, but I will talk about how the ecosystem is impacted by birds, or the lack thereof. The birds in Tanzania ranged from the more common (sparrows just like ours) to birds seen only there, and in sizes ranging from tiny to huge.
The most common, yet one of the prettiest birds we saw is the Superb Starling, which is iridescent blue with an orange underside. They are everywhere, especially in areas where people have food. Much prettier than the common starling we have in the US, and prettier than the less-common Ashy Starling.
Another food-monger is the Marabou Stork, which is huge and intimidating, as well as butt-ugly. It was fun to watch unsuspecting tourists eating as the stork walked up behind them and they turned abound to find a 4′ bird right there!
Tanzania is home to a number of raptors, including vultures, eagles and kites. Vultures are being targeted for poisoning by poachers, who do not like them circling around a kill, giving wildlife officers their location.
Though vultures do not get much sympathy from people, they are such a necessary part of the ecosystem, cleaning up the remains of dead animals. With as many carcasses and skeletons as we saw, I was surprised at the small number of vultures, and that may be why.
A variety of birds are seen in close proximity to the wildlife, as both benefit. Cape buffalo herds, as well as hippos usually have egrets and the aptly-named red-billed oxpeckers in great numbers.
Both are feeding on bugs; both on the animals, and in the grass, which the buffalo crush down, making it easier for the egrets to find insects.
There are a variety of waterfowl in Tanzania, including various species of geese, ducks, egrets, herons, kingfishers and plovers. We saw many of these, but though some are the same ones as are found in the US, there were quite a few unique water birds.
Many small, colorful birds are often seen in all areas we visited, including Finches, Rollers,
Weavers and Barbets. Weavers are named for their tightly woven, gourd-shaped nests that hang from acacia trees in great numbers. The Red-and-Yellow Barbet is most often seen digging for termites on the huge termite mounds that abound in Tanzania.
Many large ground birds are to be found on the grassy plains, including the Ibises, Cranes, Red-Necked Spur Fowl, Guinea Fowl, and the vain-looking Kori Bustard, a pompous fellow that puffs up his tail trying to attract a mate.
And, of course there is the Common Ostrich, which is one of the fastest and meanest birds around. They easily outran our Jeep.
I could go on and on, but I think it’s best to just speak with pictures about the variety of bird life that abounds in Tanzania. Enjoy!