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TANZANIA'S EASTERN ARC

Tuesday 27th September - Monday 24th October 2016

Pete Morris

The magnificent Usambara Eagle Owl (Pete Morris)

The magnificent Usambara Eagle Owl (Pete Morris)

Our 2017 tour to ‘Remote Tanzania’ turned out to be a fantastic adventure that way-surpassed most of our expectations. And with the addition of a pre-tour Northern Tanzania endemics extension, and a post-tour Udzungwa Mountains extension, the tour really was converted to an ‘Ultimate Tanzania’. For most of the tour we were accompanied by our ever reliable, super friendly and efficient local driver and excellent local guide, and were blessed with largely good weather, most importantly when we were camping up in the mountains. With such a good set up and conditions, there were few excuses, so we efficiently set about our task of hoovering up the endemics, whilst enjoying the other wonders that this great country has to offer.

The pre-tour extension involved a whistle stop trek from Arusha to the Lariboro Plains and then down to Ndutu on the edge of the great Serengeti Plains and back via the amazing Ngorongoro Crater. Our task was to find the endemics: Grey-breasted Spurfowl, Yellow-collared and Fischer’s Lovebirds, Beesley’s Lark, Rufous-tailed Weaver and Ashy Starling all performed well alongside an excellent cast of other hoped-for birds and mammals. The main tour saw us travelling through arid plains and on to the South Pare Mountains, the East and West Usambaras, the attractive Pemba Island, the remote Uluguru and Ukaguru Mountains, the impressive Mikumi National Park and its surrounding miombo woodlands and the little explored Kilombero Plains. Here the good birds were almost too numerous to pick from, but special mention must go to the skulking Scaly Chatterers, the amazing Usambara Eagle Owls, gorgeous Green-headed Orioles, Long-billed and Red-capped Forest Warblers, Pemba Scops Owl (and all other endemics), colourful Böhm’s Bee-eaters, the hulking Uluguru Bushshrike, the little-known Rubeho Akalat, the sneaky Spot-throat, both Winifred’s and Rubeho Warblers, amazing displaying Racket-tailed Rollers, colourful Hofmann’s Sunbirds and a delightful Lesser Seedcracker. Our post-tour extension to the Udzungwa mountains was also a superb experience. Although more arduous, both in terms of the physical effort and living conditions, the targets all fell. The near-mythical Udzungwa Forest Partridge was the obvious star, but the stunning Swynnerton’s Robin, unique Rufous-winged Sunbird, White-winged Apalis and skulking Dapple-throat were just a small part of the excellent supporting cast! It was actually my first time around many of these sites, and I have to say I was very impressed with it as a birding destination and certainly relish the prospect of another visit to see my friends there… both avian and human!!

The endemic Pemba Scops Owl (Pete Morris)

The endemic Pemba Scops Owl (Pete Morris)