We slowly made our way from the Tarangire Safari Lodge toward the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
En route, we visited the Mao wa Abu village of about 18,000 people who represent all 120 tribes from Tanzania. A young married couple gave us a tour, including their banana plantation and the youth art project. We had lunch in the village before leaving. It was extremely interesting – I didn’t know there were so many varieties of bananas (the community grows more than 30 varieties) and I bought a painting of Maasai women that I love. However, there were men who approached as we loaded into our vehicles about buying random items from them and they did not like that we said no. They just griped about us and we were able to quickly drive off.
We finally arrived at the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a UNESCO Mixed World Heritage Site. At the entrance, Gabi and James, our tour guides with #RegalAfricanSafaris (previously known as #MaasaiMagicSafaris), gave us a short presentation on the area during a break before entering the conservation area.
The real winners of the break were these naughty monkeys who stole my aunt’s bag of nuts and tauntedly finished them off while staring her down. They jumped into one vehicle, and stole a purse from another vehicle. While entertaining and frustrating at times, the experience reminded us to keep our doors looked and the windows up around these guys.
Then, there were the birds. I have no words about how amazing they are so I’ll just so you a few highlights.
Day 5 began with us preparing to leave Tarangire Safari Lodge where we stayed the last two nights. It was basically glamping and I can definitely say I didn’t expect it to be this wonderful but it was.
It was interesting that electricity was only on for certain hours each day, and we had to have a guide to go back to our cabin after dark due to presence of wild animals. And we definitely had visitors that included monkeys, Dik-diks and giraffes. Can you spot the giraffe in the below picture?
As we finished breakfast, one of the lodge workers asked if we’d seen the African Scops-Owl that sleeps in a tree just outside of the lodge’s front entrance. Naturally, I had to go find it and he was kind enough to point it out.
Day 3 began early as we left Arusha and headed to Tarangire National Park.
Our first stop on the road was at Shanga, a social enterprise in Arusha that employs people with disabilities to create handmade jewelry, glassware and home wares out of recycled materials. I bought several pieces of jewelry and other items there that I still enjoy today. The tour was very informative. I loved learning how they made the various items and the employees were friendly. They encouraged us to be hands-on in learning how they completed their work. Also, their final products were simply wonderful.
The journey itself from Arusha to Tarangire National Park was interesting. We passed groups of women headed to the airport to celebrate the return of an oppositional party leader after the courts threw out the criminal charges against him.
We also made a quick stop to tour a meat auction where our tour guides said cattle went for $500 to $800. We also stopped to look out at another local market to observe it.
We began to see more wildlife as we neared, then entered Tarangire National Park. I absolutely loved this park.
Tarangire is the third largest national park in Tanzania and is best known for its large herds of elephants. We quickly found on why.
One animal I really wanted to see was the Lilac-breasted Roller. As I was preparing for my trip, a coworker (who lived in Africa and knew that I loved birds) told me her favorite bird in Africa was the Lilac-breasted Roller. She said it was the prettiest bird she had ever seen. When I arrived in Tanzania, I told my tour guides how I really wanted to see one and asked what my chances were? They just laughed and see I would definitely see the Lilac-breasted Roller. In fact, they said I would see the bird so often that I would get tired of it. They were right I would see the bird often, but I never got tired of it.
While the Lilac-breasted Roller was a highlight, the bird was not the only one seen. Below’s a highlight of the birds spotted that day.
I arrived in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania a year ago for the start of an African wildlife safari and my first visit to Africa. The last 12 months have included several life changes with one result being I never shared my trip photos. I figured now’s a good time to do so.
I left Arkansas during the morning of March 4, 2022, for Amsterdam. A goal from 2022 that I am continuing this year is that I complete an eBird checklist each day. I actually completed that day’s checklist at the Amsterdam airport where I spotted a Carrion Crow.
It was also there that we met up with others in our group for our final flight to Mount Kilimanjaro. We arrived at 8:45 p.m. and completed our COVID-19 testing requirements and made our way through customs pretty quickly. By the time we got done, we were all pretty tired so we headed straight to Arusha Serena Hotel to get settled into our rooms. While we weren’t able to get a good picture of the hotel, we were happy with our rooms. My aunt Jodi also joined the group so we were roommates throughout the trip.
A white-winged Scoter was the first rare bird I have ever found. White-winged Scoters are large sea ducks that can hold their breath for a minute or more as they dive deep underwater for food. In the winter, they are found along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. They are typically found in the upmost part of the United States and most of northern Canada and Alaska.
My bird was found on February 9, 2014, at Craighead Forest Park. Interestingly, it was not the first white-winged scoter found in Arkansas that year. Several others were found across the state in Northwest Arkansas.
Earlier this week, I took advantage of a free morning to take a hike on a new, roughly 2.5-mile trail off Lake Maumelle. Not only was the hike relaxing, there were tons of birds singing along the way. My most exciting find wasn’t actually on the trail but soaring above it. I happened to look up just as the above pictured Osprey was circling above. I’ve never actually seen an Osprey in Arkansas, although these hawks are pretty common in central part of the state. I actually thought this one was a Mississippi Kite until I took a photograph and zoomed in closer to take a better look.
While the Osprey was a first for me, I also enjoyed practicing my bird call recognition. I’ve started using the sound ID section of the Cornell Lab’s Merlin Bird ID app. While it has listed a few birds as calling that I know are not found in Arkansas, the sound ID app has correctly ID’d quite a few birds that I didn’t recognize the calls of. Two such birds on this trip were the White-eyed Vireo and Yellow-throated Vireo.
The above-pictured Yellow-throated Vireo is actually the third one of its species that I have seen period. I found all three Yellow-throated Vireos within the past week – all thanks to the app’s Sound ID. I would record bird calls, the app would ID the bird call correctly as the Yellow-throated Vireo, and the bird would then respond when I played callbacks (each one has come out in the open, allowing me to get a picture). It’s pretty exciting. The Yellow-throated Vireo may be one of the most colorful members of the vireo family, but it can blend it pretty darn well.
They say whatever you do on the first day of a new year is what you will be doing a lot for the remainder of the year. I took this advice to heart and decided to take a morning walk and bird. I first visited the arboretum trail at Pinnacle Mountain State Park.
Then, I visited a nearby old bridge that is no longer in use and is part of the Ouachita Trail area. The trip was a success. Not only was it a peaceful and happy trip, but I found plenty of birds. Here are a few photos from my trip.
I arrived home to find our feeders and front yard full of birds. 🐦 We even had a surprise visitor – a Cooper’s Hawk – that stayed quite a while, scaring off all of our other birds. Luckily, no birds were harmed during this visit. He eventually left, meaning all of our others slowly, hesitantly came back.
I previously worked as a news and sports photographer. Recently I have been enjoying wildlife photography. My approach toward bird photos is similar to sports photography. I attempt to capture mostly action and hopefully a unique perspective.