Sunday, 25 September 2011

Black Mamba

A friend just sent us this picture - a mammoth black mamba at 6.5m long, fortunately not found close to us! It was in a cemetery in a sugar cane plantation in South Africa. Just thought I'd post it as Granny likes them so much...

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Catching up 2...

Wildebeest heading for the plains for the night
After Serengeti our next weekend activity was a trip to Tarangire and Manyara Ranch, leaving after picking up H and M from the airport and Kitty from school and after a slow lunch. We arrived about 4pm and headed straight out for a short drive around the Small Serengeti. For a 2 hour drive of no more than 10kms it was pretty spectacular, with almost noone else on the road and huge numbers of yellow-throated sandgrouse to be seen. Mammal highlights were 8 lion cubs with a female in the tree above, another young male nearby, then coming back to camp we were treated to the sight of two male cheetahs chasing wildebeest on the plains. (little bit distant, but quite spectacular!). Soon after the monkeys were shouting 'leopard' all around us, but we couldn't find it and had to get back before curfew... With the usual elephants and assorted plains game it made for a spectacular evening drive, my only gripe being the lack of a decent sunset!

Lions and admirers
Next morning H and I went for a walk along the lodge site looking for birds ( and whilst nothing spectacular was playing, we had a nice time before breakfast and then abandoned Mama and littlies at the pool before on down to Silale. Approaching the river we found the lions from last night being very obliging by the main road (and now attracting a typical Northern Tarangire crowd!).

Most of them seemed to miss the main highlight of the bridge area though some obliging painted snipe.
Male Painted Snipe (the females are brighter!)

Mutant Buffalo
I pulled through the first two river loops, finding a nice female lion with a newly killed impala lamb (and a crowd of admirers) in the riverbed, before leaving the crowds and heading south. Highlight of the drive down was a couple of huge buffalo herds, including this extraordinary beast bringing up the rear: looks like the sun got too hot! Not in particularly good condition either (presumably it can't graze with these horns), but obviously survived a number of years.

Siliale had over 500 elephants visible from the picnic site, but the birds weren't quite as good as a couple fo weeks ago - we missed rufous-bellied heron and wooly-necked stork - but was still heaving with life. The highlight was probably the three pythons I found in trees nearby - never guaranteed to find even one, but Silale's the place!
Python - one of 3 (two in this tree alone!).

Heading back along the north of the swamp, via boundary hill, we stopped first to admire yet more lions under the trees, and then a rather nice leopard in a tree. Being the middle of the day there' wasn't much to be seen coming over the kopjes near boundary hill, but it's nice to see the woodlands there looking good. And then when we hit the river again we immediately found a cheetah sitting in the cool shade, being the highlight of the trip back.
Very spotty...

Leaving the park 5mins before our 24hr permit expired, we headed straight onto Manyara Ranch. Stragely, the clouds had come down and the wind got up, making this rather a cold and dusty drip, but we found a new bird for the ranch (short-tailed lark), which was rather nice and we got to camp in time to pick up drinks and head off for a last drive. With noisy children in the car we opted against joining the other client at the hide by the dam and took ourselves to the far side of the (dry) river, passing a beautiful group of lesser kudu en route. Parking up near the river, we hopped out and enjoyed some birds and 7 big bull eles nearby, with the kids enjoying their drink on top of the car... A short drive back in the dark with the spotlight found a nice family of lesser galago and a few hares, but nothing too spectacular. Kids in bed, we had a civilised meal before heading out again with the spotlight. Highlights of this drive were one (possibly 2) Aardwolves, Bat-eared Foxes and many Spring Hares.
Doe lesser kudu

Rosy-patched Shrikes
The others went for a good walk in the morning, tracking very recent lion spoor, but not quite catching up, whilst the kids and I explored around the camp, nearling walking into Aldo the rather large, but fairly friendly bull elephant that seems to have taken up residence in the camp area this season. I also found some white-tailed larks displaying, which was rather nice, and the camp birdbath pulled in a single Fischer's Lovebird among the large flock of Yellow-collared, another new one for the ranch list. More birding followed second breakasts (H catching up with the rosy-patched shrike I'd heard from my bed in the morning...), before we headed back to Arusha mid-afternoon. A nice weekend by anyone's standards...

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Catching up... 1

So, lots has hapened since we last posted here - lots of visitors and lots of safaris. First we had a couple of days with Grannie and Grandad and other visitors from the UK overlapping, which involved an obligatory trip to Arusha NP, for some excellent birding (I've finally found all the birds that I know breed in the NP, so that's a good sign!). And the colobus were neat too.

C & S may remember this Albino Baboon from last year - he's grown!

Then it was goodbye to my parents, and see you soon to H and M as we sent them off on safari a few minutes before more friends arrived from UK. So, it was Mama's turn to lead an Arusha NP trip the following morning, with more colobus and more fun! The adventure really started the next afternoon when we piled into a tiny plane and headed to Northern Serengeti for three nights of safari adventure, hoping that we'd encounter a few wildebeest crossing the Mara on the way, and refinding H and M for the weekend as their treck co-incided.

Mama likes bushbuck
For now, I'll leave you with some pics from this adventure, with the subsequent trips to come in due course... We did see the wildebeest go swimming (though no croc action, shame...) and it was beautifully green up there, thanks to Lake Victoria rainfall which made a nice change from the dry around Arusha!

Weather was too wet for proper sunsets...

But the wildebeest made it!

Young leopard was rather nice for the first morning too

We even looked at Mwanza Agamas

And we dressed up silly for the rain!

Oribi were enjoying the green again though

And this guy liked wildebeest. All on the first morning!

Spring may be in the air, but Kitty's desire to see them make babies will have to wait for another time.

Wattled Plover is neat

This young cheetah and her sib were nice to see

Mum put on a show chasing hares too - great!

Too full to snap up wildebeest I think...

Many wildebeest had drowned making the river very stinky. But also the ideal pillow, apparently...

Hippos are cool!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011


We're in the midst of a veritable whirlwind of visitors, which is great fun, if slightly chaotic at times! Granny and Grandad were safely delivered to the airport this afternoon and should now be sitting in Nairobi waiting for their onward connection. H and M have set off on safari - we'll next see them in Northern Serengeti on Friday evening! And Mr B is on his way back home from the airport bringing our next arrivals!

So, having half an hour or so to spare, I thought I'd better put up a few photos of our fabulous time last week in Zanzibar, before we're onto the next trip! (Captions to follow as they've arrived and it's now very late!)

The view from our verandah - a bit of a damp place to sit at times!