The answer to this question is ‘Yes’. The Spotted Thick-knee is native to the grasslands and savannahs of sub-Saharan Africa and Mauritania in the west to Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa in the east and south. The Spotted Thick-knee (Burhinus capensis), also known as the Spotted Dikkop or Cape Thick-knee, is a wader in the family Burhinidae.
Spotted Thick-knee Identification
The Spotted Thick-knee can reach up to 45.5 cm (17.9 in) in height and has long legs and brown-and-white speckled plumage which provides camouflage. This makes it difficult to spot the bird in the grasslands and savannah, where it roams.
Its head is large and round with a prominent yellow eye and a short, stout beak. When in flight or standing in a characteristic position with its wings raised, it shows a striking contrasting pattern. Its legs are long and yellow and the tibiotarsal joint is expanded, giving it the name “thick-knee”.
This bird has a loud, distinctive “ti-ti-ti teeeteeeteeee-ti ti ti” call.
The Spotted Thick-knee is a nocturnal bird and squats on the ground during the daytime, making it difficult to spot. It hunts exclusively on the ground, feeding on insects, small mammals and lizards, and grass seeds.
The Thick-knee is found in a variety of habitats, ranging from grasslands and semi-desert, to urban areas.
The female typically lays two eggs, and males and females rear the offspring together, with both bringing food back to the nest. The Spotted Thick-knee is monogamous with the male becoming aggressive and territorial when breeding.
A nest of twigs and leaves is built on the ground, lined with small stones, normally placed under a bush. They lay between one and three eggs, that are incubated by both parents for around 26 days. The birds will defend the nest and adopt a defensive pose with wings spread and tail cocked, and will even peck an intruder. Sometimes they will fake injuries to lead predators away from the nest.
The Spotted Thick-knee is often found on the ground, but when in flight, they fly with rapid wing beats. They are normally found either singly or in pairs. These birds are well camouflaged and rely on this to avoid predators. Thick-knees are mostly nocturnal.
If you want to see a Spotted Thick-knee on a birding tour, contact us and find out how you can book a tour at www.tanzaniabirding.com.
2021 is here; and hopefully with it, some relief for travel and tour operators. The world has spent the last 12 months willing this year to come sooner. It is the year pregnant with the possibility of relief from a pandemic that has plagued every inch of our lives.
We are not only anticipating the global release of Coronavirus vaccines, but we are also entering a new travel year with the prospect of movements being more free and a more stable tourism industry returning.
Looking ahead at the year, there is a weight of expectation riding on it, as we all wonder:
What is to follow for the Tourism Industry now that 2021 has finally arrived?
We take a look at predicted travel niches expected to boom in 2021.
The first off the mark for popular travel niches in 2021 is multi-generational travel. This is already a popular segment in the tourism industry, but the last 12 months has brought about a newfound appreciation for family, and due to this, family travel has seen it spike in popularity.
After such a long time of separation, isolation and distance throughout the pandemic, many are using vacation time as the perfect opportunity to reunite, reconnect and create memories with extended families and their loved ones.
As a general rule, multi-generational travel is age inclusive and covers three generations; grandparents, parents and children. While catering to different ages and abilities is tricky, more people are expected to travel this way as the travel numbers grow throughout 2021 and 2022.
Is it a plane, a train or a vehicle? No, it’s a bicycle. The popularity of the bike movement is stronger than ever. Putting your pedal to the metal has never been so appealing now while the fitness industry, environmental consciousness movements, and everyone in between look to ways to boost a healthy alternative to a consumerist approach to tourism.
Whether individuals enjoy biking as a sport or are hoping to challenge themselves with something new by mountain biking and bikepacking; or perhaps they view it as a more leisurely way to take in sights with friends … this niche is showing explosive growth.
Being outdoors definitely provides a sense of freedom (a blessing in a confined COVID-19 world!). Bike tours and cycle holidays are bringing in tourists as governments and councils around the world start to focus greater amounts of cash into infrastructure for bikers.
Of particular note within this travel niche is the popularity of electric bikes, which provide more power for your pedal effort, aiding those that may have difficulty biking normally. This is now rated as the third top trending ‘hot demand trips’ by the Adventure Travel Trade Association in 2020, itineraries catering to electric bikers are gaining popularity by the week. Electric bikes broaden the target market of cycle tourists, boosting the popularity of the segment.
They are known by many names across the world. Campervans, RV’s, mobile homes. It is a way of travelling that is associated with the idea of freedom of movement while still being comfortable.
Similar to the other travel niches on this list, motorhome travel offers a great deal of flexibility, while not compromising on safety; especially in these uncertain times. With the ability to self-drive and remain socially distant from others, holidaying in a motorhome is an option that many are taking.
Travellers who travel in this way are drawn to exploring and spending time in natural locations. The number of travellers buying a motorhome, in particular first time buyers, has also increased with over 40,000 RV wholesale shipments taking place in June 2020, a 10% increase from the year previous. Such numbers are an indicator of how popular this niche segment will continue to be in the near future.
Considered by many to be a little sedate, birding has flipped this viewpoint on its head as people craved deeper connections with nature and a sense of freedom. We don’t think it could get any more niche than birding or avitourism.
According to bird watchers around the world, the drawcard of bird watching is that it brings with it an almost meditative state as birds symbolise the “ultimate freedom of movement.”
It is being noticed that a much younger generation of bird watchers is emerging following the outbreak of the Coronavirus, and we are putting bets on birding tours being one to watch in 2021 and beyond.
New birders may simply be reacting to the line of thinking that the number of bird species in a person’s surroundings is said to directly impact individual happiness. By simply immersing yourself in an environment with a variety of bird species, people can increase their overall level of life satisfaction; and what better time to do this than when on holiday?!
As is the story with most travel niches, whether they be newfound or long term individual interests such as bird watching, these are often the triggers for participating in such specialised tourism activities.
Virtual Reality Tours
Seeking a total unplug from technology, travellers often crave the absence of technology of any kind while on holiday. Rather, they prefer to take the opportunity to soak up nature rather than looking for the best WiFi signal. It is no surprise that holidaying can be seen as an escape from staring at a screen all day for work, or an unhealthy social media habit.
Virtual reality is carving out a very successful niche for itself as online experiences offer a glimpse of travel for many. Making tourism encounters possible via an immersive experience (headset, simulators), virtual reality technology can make someone truly feel they are seeing and experiencing things in their chosen location on the screen. The gamification of tourism through the sales of virtual reality headsets is expected to grow by 53% by 2024.
In the past, this technology operated as a great marketing tool for Destination Management Organisations, allowing potential travellers to ‘try before you buy’. It is likely that physical holidays will be replaced with virtual experiences in 2021 in areas affected by travel restrictions. Virtual Reality Tours are an important tool to keep inspiration and discussions about travel alive.
Now that we know what trends to keep a look out for when booking travel in 2021, you can look forward to satisfying your birding interest and experience the wonder of the natural world. You can book your tour with us and contact us here.
Hearing a Black-bellied Bustard is an unusual experience. They have a rather striking call.
The male and female Bustard differ in their plumage and colours.
The adult male has:
Long legs and long slender neck.
Large whitish cheek patch extends down sides of neck to form large white patches on either side of the breast.
Head buffy-brown, with black eye stripe (mostly behind eye) and faint whitish supercilium.
Hind neck buffy-brown, finely mottled darker brown.
Back, rump, upper tail coverts and tail buffy brown, with prominent blackish chevrons; tail with 3-4 evenly spaced, darker brown bars.
Upper wing coverts mostly buffy brown, with prominent blackish chevrons; white greater coverts form line along leading edge of folded wing.
Underwing black, except for white flash in primaries. Black line down foreneck broadens onto a black breast and belly.
Eyes pale brown.
Legs dull yellow.
The adult female has:
Similar to adult male, but with plain brown head and neck.
Chin and throat white.
Breast buff, finely vermiculated with black; belly white.
Greater coverts buff, with dark central spots.
Primaries blackish, with white bars at base.
The juvenile has:
As with the female, but cheeks, throat and neck rufous-brown.
Buff tips to flight feathers and upper wing coverts.
The male Bustard calls by slowly raising his neck, bill upwards and half open. The neck expands, displaying his black and white throat; with a slight tuft at the nape and pale ear covert feathers raised. This gives a drawling, frog-like quark; as he immediately pulls his head back onto his shoulders with his bill horizontal, then extends his neck and gives abrupt, explosive kww-ick, like a cork being pulled from a bottle.
This is repeated every 10-15 sec, for 30 minutes or more. They sometimes calls at night. Males gives a growling call when fighting and an alarm call that sounds like a hoarse krak. Half grown young give a high-pitched wailing call when handled.
The Bustard forages by walking and pecking close to the ground. They are omnivorous and feed on mainly small invertebrates (especially locusts, grasshoppers and beetles), as well as caterpillars, termites, mantids, crickets, Hemiptera, cicadas, ant-lions, wasps, ants, cockroaches and centipedes; also including vegetable matter (berries, seeds, fruits, flowers, palm kernels and green leaves).
This Bustard inhabits the tall dense grassland and grassy savannah, in both hilly and flat country, where the rainfall is more than 600 mm.
The bustard is likely polygynous and a solitary nester. Its eggs are laid directly on the ground, in a shallow scrape, among tufts of tall (under 1 m) grass; sometimes at the base of sapling or termite mound.
The eggs are virtually spherical; some with nodules at ends. They are olive green to olive-brown, with yellowish- and chocolate-brown markings, underlain with purple or grey in colour. The eggs are incubated for a period of 23 days (in captivity); by the female only.
Males will display at regularly used sites and the females nest away from display arenas. Males may gather in loose leks with 4 displaying males and 1 young male in close proximity at 1 site. The male display flight will typically occur after rain, in late afternoon and after calling.
They fly high up, with exaggerated wing-beats, displaying white primaries (wings raised high on upstroke, almost touching over back; barely reach horizontal on downstroke), with breast feathers puffed out. They return to ground in a shallow glide with wings held in deep ‘V’. Aerial displays and calling are concentrated in pre-breeding season.
In courtship, the male approaches the female Bustard, with mincing steps and the neck outstretched, throat puffed out, along with head and neck feathers raised to form ruff. He repeatedly retracts and stretches out his neck horizontally, and then raises it back to vertical position with sinuous, reptilian movement.
The male also runs after the female in crouched position, with tail raised vertically while competing males strut in front of each other; they fight with heads down, feathers fluffed out, rearing up to kick, tails raised, giving growling calls.
If you want to witness one of these unusual sounding Black-bellied Bustard’s, contact us and find out how you can book a tour at www.tanzaniabirding.com.
Your birding trip is booked, and now it is time to book your air ticket. This can prove to be quite costly, so will require a little research to make sure that you are getting good value for money. You need to be aware that there are sometimes hidden costs or additional costs should you make a mistake and need to change something on the ticket booking.
No matter how you choose to book, whether online or through an agent, here are some tips to help you keep your ticket booking process in check.
Read Fare Rules
There may be specials running for cheaper tickets. You should always read the fare rules for changes and cancellations before booking the ticket. You may find that cheaper tickets are non-refundable and will incur costs for any changes. The more flexible tickets tend to be more expensive.
Does it include airport taxes?
If you see a special offer advertised, check the T&C’s on the advert and ensure that the advertised price does include airport taxes. Some adverts do not mention excluding airport taxes, because the seemingly lower rate will appeal to purchasers.
Does it include baggage charge?
Check your ticket to make sure that it includes the baggage charge. Some airlines only notify you of this when you have already purchased the ticket.
Get a return ticket
It works out cheaper to purchase a return ticket over purchasing two one-way tickets. Consider this when planning your itinerary for your trip.
Check connecting flight times
Allow yourself extra time between connecting flights. You never know what may happen with a flight that may end up delaying your landing time. Also, you may want to check up on airports and the amount of security checks you will experience, because this will slow down your time to get to the next flight. A general estimate of a safe time between flights for domestic flights is 2 hours, and international is 3 hours.
Should you need to change airports, your travel time from one to the other must be factored into this as well.
If you are crossing borders between countries, check that you will not require additional visas for the different destinations.
Different baggage policies
When your flights happen to be with different airlines, pack your luggage according to the airline with the most restrictive baggage policy. If you choose to go with a different allowance, it is likely that you will need to pay excess baggage charges with the stricter limits on an airline.
Choosing your seat
If you decide to choose a pre-booked seat with an airline, check if there is an additional fee. Most airlines will charge an extra fee for this. If you want to avoid this charge, select your seat from the remaining available seats at check-in online or at the airport.
Get travel insurance
Buy your travel insurance around the same time as you do your air ticket. In this way, if you have an unexpected cancellation before the trip, you will already be covered. The insurance company will still likely request a valid reason for cancellation, though.
Use reputable airlines
Use long-standing and reputable airlines. Avoid purchasing tickets on new airlines until they have proven their reliability and financial sustainability. When airlines shut down, tickets are not refunded.
The airline industry is constantly changing and so are the rules. It is important to research and make sure you are clued up on what you are paying for. Travel is exciting and will always pay dividends on your investment with much joy and many memories.
Now that you have your ticket in line, you can look forward to your birding tour with us and experience the wonder of the natural world. You can contact us here.
Birding is more than just a hobby. It turns out it has become as popular as … well… a phenomenon. So choosing the right Company to ensure that you have a birding tour that suits you can be a little bit daunting. The key in picking the right touring Company most likely lies in asking the right questions and ticking off when the answers match what you need. The very first step in this process is to narrow down your options into a group that you can make a selection from.
Big or Small Tour Company?
Do you choose to go big or small? Depending on what your budget looks like you may decide to go for a big, well established tour company and pay a little more. The benefit here is that it could mean you get a little more and also a company providing a good quality experience. This being said, smaller companies can often provide a more personalised experience. However, you should always research the company as much as possible to see what you are getting for what they are asking and make sure it falls within what it is you want from your tour. Ask about the points that matter to you, i.e. the birds you really want to see, ratio of customers to guides and what comforts the tour offers.
Word of Mouth
Experience is the best proof of a tour company’s service, so ask around! Talk to members of your local bird club, read up on any online reviews the company may have and ask on birding forums if anyone has toured with them before. Chances are good that you know someone who has taken guided tours. Personal recommendations can be very helpful.
For Starters, Take It Easy
If you’ve never gone on a tour, start with a relatively short trip to see if you enjoy the experience, rather than jump into a marathon trip to some country on the other side of the planet. take into consideration what the pace and intensity of the tour are as well. Some will be more relaxed and have an easier timeline while others may be more challenging. If it is your first time, begin with an easy trip and plan for a more challenging one later. Ask the tour company can tell you about the pace of the trip when you get in touch.
Questions to Ask the Tour Company
Usually a bird-tour company will have an office with people who know the tour business. If you can’t find out what you need to know by reading the website, or published information about a tour, call the office and ask questions. It could give you in depth knowledge into what you need.
Have they run this tour before? Sometimes it’s wise to avoid a company’s very first trip to a region. You can catch the tour next year, after the itinerary has been perfected.
Is the guide familiar with the area you are visiting? The company may have a long history of trips to the region, but that’s not helpful if this year’s guide has never been there.
What is the maximum group size? Group size can be a crucial factor in the quality of your experience. Fifty bird watchers following one guide is not a good ratio, but effective group size can vary with the terrain. In open surroundings, one leader might be enough for 20 participants. On narrow forest trails, a group of fewer than eight or nine with one leader is probably best.
What is included in the tour cost? This can vary a lot. Some trips can look surprisingly cheap, until you find out that meals are not included in the price. On foreign tours, airfare is normally not included in the price. As a general rule, tour prices do not include laundry costs, alcoholic beverages, personal phone calls, or a private secretary to write down all the birds for you. So make sure you are sure what is included and what you still need to pay for yourself.
If you are looking to go on your inaugural birding tour, or if you are experienced and want to find that lifer that you have been chasing, take a look at our website to find a tour that suits your budget and time constraints. While you are at it, have an experience of a lifetime!
Contact us now with questions about your birding tour.
Children are naturally curious. Why not take advantage of this and introduce them to a healthy pastime?
Birdwatching is inspiring and refreshing. It connects us to a place and gets us outside in our yards and neighbourhoods to explore. So how do you get started and how do you make this hobby interesting for children? Take a look at some tips and games that your children can play to get them birding.
How to Bird
Prompt children with the knowledge that birds are not easy to see, and sometimes adults struggle too. But if you listen quietly and carefully, you can hear them. Help them by telling them to close their eyes and listen, and then to point to the area the call is coming from.
Where to go
This is one hobby where you don’t need to go far. You can see birds on the street, in your yard, in parks and in conservation areas. But having water or a dam in an area means it will attract birds. You may see herons, ducks, egrets and if you are lucky, swans.
What to look for
Not having much luck finding birds? Look for telltale signs that birds leave behind. Try finding nests, the remainder of cracked seeds or bird poop.
Which binoculars to use
Binoculars take some getting used to, and it can be difficult for children. Kids also find spotting through scopes challenging. Why not teach them to focus on staying still and looking for movement of birds or other animals? Or for fun and to get them into the habit, why not make a pair of DIY cardboard binoculars?
How do you get a child interested in something? Make it a game! Here are some ways that will help them get into birding.
Get them interested in a goal – try to see as many different birds as possible. For many children, counting up from zero to a number eg. ten, will be enough to keep them focused and enjoy learning.
Help children be more observant. Make a list of birds you would like to see before heading out. Use general categories like hawks, doves, sunbirds or even small animals in groups below four.
Encourage children’s independence. Let them pick an area on a map (that has a green patch) close to you to visit. When you arrive, let your child select which trail to take and guide you, telling you which things or places they want to study along the way.
If your child is able to make use of binoculars, teach them to use them properly by asking them to read signs at different distances. Start closer to you and continue to move further away until they are able to hold the barrels steady and turn the focus wheel steady while operating.
Once they have this in their skills, play ‘I Spy’ to help them find smaller objects.
Most children can easily tell you what a dog or a chicken sounds like, but what about a guineafowl? Get your child to imitate the bird sounds they hear and then use a field guide app to pull up the bird and play back clips to listen to and identify. Then get them to voice their own translation of the songs and calls.
Now that you have the actionable steps to getting your birding skills on point, plan and book ahead for a tour. You can contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Birders’ vocabulary often sounds confusing to people who don’t share the same passion. For example, did you know that someone who travels a long distance to view a particular bird, is referred to as a ‘Twitcher’? Generally, this is translated as an avid bird watcher.
If you are new to birding, we decided it would be good to list some of the vocabulary regularly used to help you. Some words may differ from area to area due to cultural and dialect differences.
Big Day: a birding event in which a birder or team of birders tries to see as many species of birds as possible within a calendar day.
Big Year: a birding event in which a birder tries to see as many species of birds as possible within a defined area (county, state, ABA area, etc.) within a calendar year; originated with the American Birding Association, and the basis for the movie The Big Year.
To burn up or flog: to beat around in the undergrowth hoping to flush a bird. A desperate measure and not a kind way to treat an exhausted migrant.
BVD: “Better View Desired”, describing a lifer that was observed well enough to identify, but not enjoy.
CFW (Eastern North America): An abbreviation that stands for “Confusing Fall Warbler” (During fall migration and through mid spring, most members of Parulidae found in the Eastern US and Canada tend to be in nonbreeding plumage, and therefore have relatively few distinctive markings or patterns).
Chooks (Australia): already seen or common birds.
Crippler (UK): a rare and spectacular bird that shows brilliantly, perhaps an allusion towards its preventing people from moving on.
Crush (verb, U.S.): to get very high-quality photos of a bird, often referred to as a banger. See hammer.
Dip (or dip out): to miss seeing a bird which you were looking for.
Dude: “a bird-watcher who doesn’t really know all that much about birds.” A novice birdwatcher; slightly pejorative term. Also used to refer to someone who primarily seeks out birds for photography rather than study.
Empid (US): any of the flycatchers of the genus Empidonax, infamous among North American birders for being difficult to identify in the field without the aid of vocalizations.
Fallout: a natural occurrence where migratory birds are forced down by adverse weather in a way that makes them congregate in large numbers; generally associated with meteorological and geographical conditions (exclusively in spring, generally in the United States along the Texas and Florida coasts of the Gulf of Mexico).
First: a first record of a species (in a defined area, such as a county first).
Grip (or grip off) (UK): to see a bird which another birder missed and to tell them you’ve seen it.
Hammer (US): to get high-quality photos of a bird.
Jizz or giss: the overall impression given by the general shape, movement, behaviour, etc., of a species rather than any particular feature. Experienced birders can often identify species, even with only fleeting or distant views, on jizz alone.
LBJ (or little brown job. UK): drab songbirds that are difficult to differentiate and identify.
”LC” (noun; local U.S., San Francisco Bay Area): the action of reporting vagrants suspiciously often, generally without photos or audio. As in: “Did you see that LC of an Ancient Murrelet? They couldn’t make it more obvious that they didn’t actually see a murrelet, but were instead just trying to increase their Sonoma County list.”
Lifer: a first-ever sighting of a bird species by an observer; an addition to one’s life list.
Noun: a list of all species seen by a particular observer (often qualified, e.g. life list, county list, year list, etc.). Keen twitchers may keep several lists, and some listers compete to amass longer lists than their rivals.
Verb: to keep or compile a bird list (a lister is someone who is intensely focused on keeping and growing lists, and can be used negatively).
m.ob. or mob or MOB: an abbreviation that stands for “many observers,” often used as a collective noun.
Mega or megatick or meguh: a very rare bird.
Nemesis (or nemesis bird): a bird that has eluded a birder despite multiple attempts to see it.
Patagonia Picnic Table Effect (or Patagonia Roadside Rest Effect) (US): the phenomenon that occurs when one bird draws many birders to a remote area, who then find more rarities and other interesting species in that same location. Named after an actual roadside rest area just west of Patagonia, Arizona.
Patch (or local patch): a birding location or set of birding locations near one’s home that a birder visits frequently.
Pelagic (noun): a boat trip designed for birders to find open-ocean (pelagic) species, such as albatrosses.
Pish (US): an emphatic shushing or hissing noise used by North American birders to elicit mobbing behaviour; made in imitation of alarm calls of chickadees and titmice.
Peep (US): a collective term for the five smallest North American Calidris sandpipers: least sandpiper, semipalmated sandpiper, Western sandpiper, white-rumped sandpiper, and Baird’s sandpiper.
Plastic (UK): an adjective used to indicate a bird which has escaped from captivity, rather than a genuinely wild bird.
Sibe (US): a bird from Siberia (usually applied to rare migrants).
Siesta time (also the doldrums) (US): the period in mid-afternoon when birds (and therefore birders) are least active.
Slash: a cryptic species pair (on a day list), e.g. long-billed dowitcher/short-billed dowitcher, willow flycatcher/alder flycatcher.
SOB: “Spouse of Birder”, a non-birder spouse.
Spark bird: a species that triggers a lifelong obsession with birding.
Spuh: birds that are only identifiable to genus level (on a day list) (from “sp.”, abbreviated form of species).
String (see LC):
Noun: a dubious, “ropy” record.
Verb: to claim such a record.
Note: the term stringer usually denotes people who intentionally mislead and falsify bird sightings, as opposed to well-intentioned mistakes made from lack of field experience.
Tick: an addition to a personal list (sometimes qualified as year tick, county tick, etc.). Life tick and lifer are synonymous. a tart’s tick is a relatively common species added to one’s list later than might be expected. An armchair tick is an addition without leaving one’s home, typically as a result of a taxonomic change.
To pull an Easterla (California): to find a ridiculously rare vagrant in a place with no vagrant potential whatsoever. As in: “A first state record of Yellow-browed Warbler in Alpine County? How did a Sibe end up 160 miles inland alongside a mountain stream?! And how was it even found?!?”
Twitch: the act of travelling a long distance to see a rare bird. Synonymous with chase.
Vagrant: a stray far from the normal ecological range.
Warbler Neck (US): a painful crick in the neck from looking at birds high in the treetops. Named after the New World warblers, which are often found in the tops of trees.
Yank (UK): a bird from North America (usually applied to vagrants seen in Europe).
Zootie (US, uncommon): a locally rare or unusual bird.
We hope that having this vocabulary list will help you feel more confident in your birding outings.
Can you identify the large endemic birds that make Tanzania their home? We are helping you out by putting together a list. Why not see how many you know?
Large endemic ground birds
These large birds hatch from a soccer ball-sized egg. The male of this endemic species is black and white, and the female a scruffy grey-brown colour. Ostriches can run up to 70 km/h, covering up to 5 m in a single stride.
This 1,5 m tall raptor is seen in the grasslands and is mostly terrestrial. It is thought its name derives from the European trend that secretaries had of tucking a quill pen behind their ear.
This is one of the most striking birds that looks like a black turkey, with white underwings, red wattled throat and eyes, and long, fluttering eyelashes. They also have a walk that resembles a waddle.
This endemic helmeted bird is quite common and is known for its panicky behaviour and call. It is a white speckled grey bird with a blue head and ivory casque.
This is the world’s heaviest flying bird and makes the grassland its habitat. It has brown wings with a speckled belly, prominent backward crest and a laborious gait.
There are two endemic species of francolin in Tanzania. The grey breasted francolin of the Serengeti and the Udzungwa forest partridge. They are usually seen hunting for food on the ground or at the base of trees and low down in the shrubs.
The larder billed great white pelican is a large bird that is white with black underwings and a large yellow throat pouch. This is used for catching prey and draining water from the scooped-up contents before swallowing.
The algae sifting flamingoes are one of East Africa’s most popular birding attractions. There are an estimated 5 – 6 million present here. They eat shrimps, algae, crustaceans and the pigments in their food (called carotenoids) are responsible for the red and pink colours of their feathers.
Herons & Egrets
Although most species are water dependant, the black-backed heron often looks for food in the grasslands and the cattle egret flocks around buffalo herds to catch insects.
Tanzania has 8 stork species of which three are migrant, notably the familiar Eurasian variety. These birds are unable to sing.
This bird has grey feathering capped by a bristly gold crown and a red neck wattle. They frequent marsh and rank grasslands. Unlike other cranes, they usually roost in trees.
Endemic Birds of prey
This is Africa’s second-largest raptor. It has black feathering offset by the yellow beak and legs with a distinctive white ‘V’ on its back. It measures 75 to 96 cm (30 to 38 in) long from the bill to the tip of the tail, making it the sixth-longest eagle in the world.
One of the most distinctive African sounds is the piercing cry of a Fish Eagle. This fish feeding bird has a chestnut belly and yellow beak with black and white plumage.
This heavyset black eagle is both a hunter and a scavenger. It preys on birds and reptiles and can fly for as much as eight hours at a time searching for live food or carrion.
The augur buzzard is a fairly large African bird of prey. With the exception of the tail, the rest of the body is slate-grey with white specks and an orange tail.
These scavengers form the very important role of nature’s garbage cleaners. Due to them feasting on rotten meat, vultures have strong immune systems so they don’t get sick. Their heads and necks are almost bare of feathers so they can stay clean while feasting on a carcass.
The black kite is a medium-sized bird of prey and is Tanzania’s most common raptor. It is a bold scavenger and is regularly seen in urban areas. These birds prey on lizards, small mammals and insects, especially grasshoppers. Both live and dead (carrion) prey is eaten.
Tanzania has 15 species of Owls, which range from a thrush sized African Scops Owl to the huge Verreaux’s Eagle Owl. The local population believe that these birds are the harbinger of death.
These birds inhabit a multitude of areas, from desert to jungle, and are recognised for their heavy decurved (and sometimes colourful) bills.
There is hardly ever a bad time to view birds. But that being said, there are optimal times when your viewing will definitely be of higher quality.
In a busy world with limited time to enjoy the finer things in life, how do you find the right time to get the best viewing?
We provide you with a few quick tips to increase your viewing quality.
Best time of day to view birds
Birds, like humans, have patterns that they carry out their activities like feeding, roosting and other habits. Learning those patterns can help you get the best viewing in the time you have.
Birds spend most of their time trying to find food for themselves or to feed their hatchlings or mate. One of the most active feeding times is early in the morning when the sun rises and warms up insects. This makes it easier for insect-eating birds to forage. At the same time, other species are also recovering after a long night. The late evening has a similar pattern for feeding birds so they can store energy for the night.
Birds that enjoy sunning themselves are often easy to find in the mid-afternoon when the sun is at its best strength. Birds use the sun for temperature regulation and feather mite control, so this is a very opportune time to view birds in any season.
Birding by ear is much simpler when the birds are singing. During the spring and summer, birds are working hard to establish their territories and attract mates. They do this by often singing in the early morning (although some do sing at night) when it is still and sounds carry further. Birders who are in the field early morning are more likely to take advantage of the sounds birds make to find and identify different species.
Birds will drink at any time of day but are more likely to visit birdbaths and other water sources when the sun is at its hottest. Likely drinking times, particularly at garden bird baths, are the same times the birds are feeding; when they will take advantage of the water while simultaneously eating.
Familiarising yourself with the basics of bird behaviour is an easy way to learn when to go birding. It will provide lots of opportunities to view a variety of bird behaviours with different species of birds.
Birding has some real benefits for your health. It is not strange that it has become a favourite hobby of millions of people worldwide. With the ever-changing seasons, different birds are present all year round to be viewed. Birders have ample opportunity to live their lives in motion with fun experiences that promote a healthy lifestyle.
How can birding improve your health? Take a look at our points and let us know if you agree.
Health tips in birding
1. Getting fresh air in your lungs
When you are birding, you are typically fairly deep into nature and can reap the benefits. Fresh air can be very good to help respiratory problems. You are in a space where trees remove the pollution from the air, which means your lungs are getting a healthy dose of fresh oxygen.
2. Quick reflexes and alertness
Bird watching needs a quick eye, generally tracked by a fast arm reflex. Due to birds being so nifty, the time period you have to see them is short. Tracking and looking for birds helps to promote mental alertness in your brain while you are scanning the trees to catch a sighting of your favourite feathered friends.
After not carrying out these types of activities for a while, you will find you need to ‘retrain’ your eyes to be alert again to see the wonders around you.
3. Upper body strength
Bird watchers generally select top-notch binoculars that let more light in. Larger bino’s are ideal for low-lighting and are heavier, meaning your arms need to work more. Holding these binoculars for a long period of time will help increase arm strength and set your future birding up for success.
4. Stress reduction
Getting out into nature regularly is important to living a happier, healthy life. It is an opportunity to leave the everyday routines and surroundings to spend time in a naturally appealing atmosphere.
Birding calls for patience, which means plenty of hours of downtime – a natural antidote to stress. Being surrounded by the beauty of nature while out birding helps to reduce stress and calm the mind.
5. Community and togetherness
Birding can be done alone or as a couple, but being active in the birding community can lead to meeting new people and potentially a whole new community. Hobbyists enjoy sharing birding trips and adventures together. A new interest in birding may inspire more friendships in your life.