Monday, 25 January 2010

More duck adventures

Continuing the waterbird adventures from earlier in the month I got back safely on Friday from a fun 48hrs counting ducks (and looking for Rufous-tailed Weavers) in and around Tarangire NP. The mission was to count ducks on Lake Burunge, to the west of the park, then enter the park, count some smaller pools, camp and the next day to rush around and count at the large swamp (Silale) and along the river, whilst simultaneously spotting as many weavers as possible... So, after a somewhat African start rushing around town to get the final things sorted, we drove out ona  fantastically beautiful morning into the hot, hot, hot bush and, after an uneventful trip we found Lake Burunge. And we were just about to begin (with the first flocks of terns already sighted) when along came an official on a piki-piki and told us all we needed to sign in at the village office before we could begin. So we bundled back in the landrover, wizzed back to the village, to find the office empty... Still, after a little while things were sorted and we headed out again. Why does everything here, even just looking at ducks, need sooooo much paperwork? Still, we got back and had a happy, hot few hours counting along the lake shore, dodging herds of cattle and happily, seeing quite a few waterbirds, though perhaps not as many as we'd hoped for (there were ducks though!):

Then we headed into the NP, counted a few more little pools, spotted a few giraffe and set up camp where, kindly, TANAPA sent an armed guard down to look after us during the night. A totally unnecessary precaution we all agreed...

So a hearty meal for 20 was prepared for the four of us, and we settled down to tell stories over the camp fire, with the sound of lions in the far distance and owlets (both barred and pearl-spotted) in the trees above us. Very nice. Before bed and the gentle sounds of crickets to lull us to sleep.
Until about 1, when the moon went down and the lions started up again. A bit closer this time. And then a bit closer still. And then really rather close. And then extremely close... Oooo. Noisy! And then "bang, bang" went the guard's gun and, silence was restored... Hmmm. So they had been rather close... Though in the morning we decided the guard had really just been concerned by the fact they were very obviously coming straight in our direction, rather than being actually too close at the time and it was probably rather unnecessary.
And looking at the tracks around the tents there had actually been an elephant much closer among the tends than the lions anyway! They're just rather quieter...

Beautiful sunrise from my tent in the morning, and then whilst eating breakfast sitting in my stool I was once again amazed at the diversity of life here: I saw more than 40 species of bird in and around the acacia above my head (including lots of these nice Von der Decken's Hornbills).

Then it was off, down to the swamp (through a rather deep ford too, and clouds of horrible tetses - when I took my t-shirt off at the end of the day I seemed little more than one big bite, as they'd avoided the areas I'd sprayed and just bitten through the cloth. Mmmm. Nice. I'd have taken a picture to show, but thought it might put too many people off. It was really only this central/southern bit of Tarangire they seemed to be in this time. Honest... It's not usually like that!)

And the swamp was pretty well populated, but the tall grass and limited open water made it a bit difficult - we must have missed 1000s of things... Still, very pretty and nice to see some proper ducks too:

Whilst no trip to Tarangire would be complete without a picture of an Elephant.

And we saw other types of wetland bird too! And we proved that once again Mama is right, the best animals all seem to be seen on the way from the lodge to the gate, as we saw a lovely cheetah stalking through the long grass and had a few minutes to stop before our departure deadline. Very nice! Saturday's party was also nice, but I'll leave that description for another time now.


  1. Pretty pretty.

    Couldn't help feeling that was a very small elephant though; at least until I scrolled down!

  2. Fantastic - you lucky lucky *******!