Tanzania Days 3 and 4 – Travel and Speke Bay

To avoid a long drive, we would be flying from West Arusha to Mwanza from which we would then head to our next accommodations at Speke Bay Lodge on the shores of Lake Victoria. Our flight was preceded by some birding on the grounds of Ngare Sero Mountain Lodge and would include some birding on the drive from the Mwanza Airport to the Lodge. This limited birding added only 18 species to our trip list, but three were new life birds as well. One of the life birds, Abdim’s Stork, was found at the Kilimanjaro Airport where a group of 40 were circling just as we arrived. We would see many later with good views and photo ops.

The entrance to the airport was chaotic as maybe 200 people were in line outside the entrance to the small terminal waiting to get through security – there was not enough room inside to accommodate the crowd. It was pretty hot and there was no sun cover but the real concern was making our departure time. It was not a great case of efficiency, but the line moved faster than feared and we were there in plenty of time. It is about 500 miles from Arusha to Mwanza – a drive of 10 hours or more. The flight was only an hour and 10 minutes and saved us the long drive and made for a much more efficient itinerary.

The new life birds seen at Ngare Sero Mountain Lodge that morning were Green Malkoha and Green-backed Honeyguide. Not the best of photo ops for the Malkoha as it was buried in foliage, but getting any picture was greatly appreciated. I am also including photos of some other fun birds seen that morning.

Green Malkoha
Green-backed Honeyguide
Little Greenbul
African Pied Wagtail
White-eared Barbet
Black-backed Puffback Female
Amethyst Sunbird

We made no serious stops on the way from the Mwanza Airport to Speke Bay but had passing looks at a number of waders that we would see again later in the trip. Cattle Egrets seemed to be in every field and we easily saw more than 500 of them. Other “waders” included Great and Little Egrets, African Sacred Ibis, Black-headed Heron, Marabou Stork and African Openbill. Speke Bay Lodge is located on the south-eastern shore of Lake Victoria in Tanzania, East Africa. It is 15 kilometers from the Serengeti National Park. It would be our comfortable home for the next several nights and our take off place for exploring the wonderful Serengeti. At the end of the day, our trip list was at 134 species.

Black-headed Heron
African Openbill

Our accommodations at Speke Bay were in individual bungalows fronting on Lake Victoria. As would be the case in many places we stayed, after dusk we were supposed to be escorted back to our rooms after dinner. Why was that? Because we were in Wild Africa and hippos often would amble through the grounds to feed at night. We never saw a hippo but we saw many hippo tracks even a quarter mile or more from the Lake.

Our Bungalows at Speke Bay Lodge

After breakfast on Saturday, February 18th, Day 4 of our tour, we birded all day on and around the extensive grounds at Speke Bay Lodge. In about 10 hours we had 77 species, including 53 new birds for the tour and 5 new life birds for me: Eurasian and Square Tailed Nightjars, Common Reed Warbler, Black Bishop and Blue-capped Cordonbleu. I don’t know how many were new but I got photos of more than half of the species seen.

Eurasian Nightjar
Square Tailed Nightjar
Blue-capped Cordonbleu
Black Bishop

It is tempting to add all of the photos, but I am doing some self-imposed selecting and just including favorites from the day including the 4 Kingfisher species we saw.

Woodland Kingfisher
Gray-headed Kingfisher
Malachite Kingfisher
Pied Kingfisher
Dideric Cuckoo – The Cuckoo that Says Its Name
Nubian Woodpecker
White-browed Robin Chat
Golden-backed Weaver
Malachite Sunbird
Black-headed Gonolek
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
Blue-Naped Mousebird
Water Thick-knee
Red-chested Cuckoo – The Most Common of the 11 “Cuckoo” Species Seen on the Tour – Heard Often
D’Arnaud’s Barbet – “Usambiru” maybe a split later

Our weather was great and there were very few bugs. Food was good and we even got in some walking, which would become much more limited as we got into wildlife parks where we could be in danger. Our trip species count was now at 187 species. I had added 20 lifers and probably more than twice that many life photos. The next day we would bird again at Speke Bay Lodge and then head into the iconic Serengeti National Park.

One thought on “Tanzania Days 3 and 4 – Travel and Speke Bay

  1. You got stunning photos Blair!! Wow so exciting what a dream worth every penny. So nice you and Cindy could share this together making it more memorable and special!


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