Tanzania Day 14 – Lake Manyara

I was confused. In my head I thought I had visited Lake Manyara on my Kenya trip in 2007 and did not understand how it could be on a Tanzania trip. Maybe it was very large and both countries bordered on it. Nope. Its entire 125 sq. mis. are within Tanzania. Checking Kenya lists, I found Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha and Lake Baringo and going over those lists, found some overlap with species but our visit to the Lake and Manyara National Park although short was productive and a number of new species were added to our Tanzania list, to my photo list and to my World List. And this was despite the fact that the lake was very high and had flooded some of the roads that the tour had used in the past to access some excellent birding areas. We continued to see great animal wildlife including more lions and noted the large numbers of baboons, and the warnings to keep track of our food at any stops or we might be raided.

We would be moving from Tloma Lodge to Manyara Serena Lodge so we had a box lunch in the Park and birded there all day. Another word. With the exception of the Gibbs Farm lunch, food on the trip was not fancy, but it was always good, well served and in quantities that ranged from too much to even more than too much. And since there was not that much walking, I should not have been surprised to have gained weight on the tour – maybe the gin and tonic routine helped. In the park we had 70 species including 10 new ones for the tour, taking us over 400, and 5 of them were new lifers for me. We also had one of my favorite observations of the trip, a large group of Black Herons using their wings to form a canopy to aid their fishing. Our guides said they had seen this behavior on only a few occasions and only with a handful of birds. We were able to see more than 50 of these birds giving us quite the display – and it was a life bird for me as a topper!

The other world lifers at Lake Manyara were Yellow-spotted Bush Sparrow, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Collared Palm Thrush and Common Nightingale. The latter is known for its rich and powerful song and for being very plain. I never heard the song, got only a quick glimpse in the foliage and did not get a photo. It is “common” in Europe and I have two trips to Europe in the future and hope to hear and photograph it there.

Yellow Spotted Bush Sparrow – the Yellow Spot on the Throat Not Visible in this Photo
Yellow Bellied Greenbul with a VERY Visible Yellow Belly
Collared Palm Thrush

There were three other birds (and photos) of note for me at Lake Manyara. The first is the Verreaux’s Eagle Owl which we found at a known day roost. It is the largest of the African owls but somewhat smaller than our Great Horned Owl. We had excellent looks at its oddest and most notable feature, its pink eyelids!! The second was our first Red and Yellow Barbet – noted because I love barbets and like most of them is a very striking fellow.

Red and Yellow Barbet

In some respects the third bird and photo of note was the most important for me, since it was of a bird that I first saw without a photo in Kenya in 2007 and then almost exactly 7 years later as a mega-rarity in my home state of Washington in Neah Bay again without a photo. This time I got a photo – not the same as having one from that Neah Bay visitor, but very satisfying to plug that hole for Eurasian Hobby in my seen but not photographed list.

Eurasian Hobby

There was another raptor commonly found in Europe that cooperated for a photo. The previous day there had been several Common Buzzards in a kettle with other raptors. No photo. On this day one posed nicely and the photo was easy. On a good day for raptor photos we also had a cooperative Pearl Spotted Owlet. Similar to our Northern Pygmy Owl, it is perhaps the most common owl in Africa, seen earlier on the trip but this photo was much better.

Common Buzzard
Pearl Spotted Owlet

As we had been warned/advised, there were indeed many olive baboons in the park. None were able to sneak off with any of our lunches, but they were close by as we ate. For the most part I have not included photos of monkeys in earlier posts. Although we saw many and in several different places, they just did not compare in either numbers or perceived (misperceived?) importance to many other mammals. We saw 4 species in Tanzania: Olive Baboon, Sykes Monkey, Black and White Colobus (Mantled Guereza) and Vervet Monkey.

Olive Baboon Mother and Baby
Sykes Monkey
Vervet Monkey
Black and White Colobus Monkey with Young

The next day we would be leaving Manyara and birding in Tarangire National Park – counting down to the end of the trip but with more birds and mammals ahead.

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