South-central Tanzania - March 21st - 27th 2006

Published by Mary Crickmore (crwrcwamt AT

Participants: Mary Crickmore


We flew into Dar es Salam on Kenya Airways, overnighted at Travertine Hotel, and took a public transit bus line called Scandinavian to Iringa the next day. The bus left on time, there were two stops with some food vendors and restrooms, and the condition of the bus was quite good. The ride took a bit less than eight hours. There were good views of Tanzanian scenery from the bus as well as some elephants and giraffes.

We first stayed at a private camp used by Houghton College for their semester abroad program; this is very close to a camp called Riverside Campsite. The driveway and sign for Riverside Campsite is a regular stop for the bus a few kilometers before entering the town of Iringa. I was told that Riverside is used by many people who are touristing with their own vehicles. In this area is a small river, bamboo growth alongside it, wooded areas, some coffee plants, and loads of birds. Highlights for me were the Purple-Crested Turaco, Golden-backed Weaver, and Steel-Blue Whydah, which were outstanding to look at as well as additions to my life list. Paradise Flycatchers, White-browed Robin Chats, and Tropical Boubous were always vocal and easy to observe right next to our tent. It was possible to ID many species only by ear: Trilling Cisticola, Rattling Cisticola, Yellow-bellied and Grey-olive Greenbuls among them.

We then went on safari to Ruaha National Park. The tented camp we stayed at is Mwagusi Safari Camp. Mornings began early with a bird walk before breakfast around the vicinity of the camp. Our guide pointed out plants and insects as well as birds, which he identified correctly without binoculars. Then we did morning and afternoon game drives. Highlights of the birds on the game drives were: a group of six Southern Ground Hornbills; a Martial Eagle eating a Helmeted Guinea Fowl it had just killed, right next to the track; Saddle-billed and Open-billed Storks on the river; close views of Brown Snake Eagle and Gymnogene (African Harrier-hawk); family groups of Ostriches; and a couple of good looks at Yellow-collared Lovebird. Ashy Starlings, another specialty of Ruaha, were abundant.

I was amazed at the way Mwagusi Safari Camp is set up for comfort while artistically and creatively using local stone, plants, and products to make the living and eating spaces beautiful and natural. The camp is on the river and the view from the dining area is gorgeous.

Species Lists

The species list has some species which were seen only in the area by the river near Iringa, and not in Ruaha. These are noted in the column “Iringa Only”.

Latin name English name Iringa only x

Struthio camelus Ostrich
Ardea goliath Goliath Heron
Ardea melanocephala Black-headed Heron
Bubulcus ibis Cattle Egret
Butorides striatus Green-backed Heron
Casmerodius albus Great White Egret
Scopus umbretta Hamerkop
Anastomus lamelligerus Open-billed Stork
Ephippiorryhnchus senegalensis Saddle-billed Stork
Leptopilus crumeniferus Marabou Stork
Bostrychia hagedash Hadada Ibis x
Alopochen aegyptiacus Egyptian Goose
Sarkidiornis melanotos Knob-billed Duck
Gyps rueppellii Ruppell's Vulture
Necrosyrtes monachus Hooded Vulture
Torgos tracheliotus Lappet-faced Vulture
Circus pygargus Montagu's Harrier
Polyboroides typus Gymnogene (Harrier-hawk)
Circaetus cinereus Brown Snake Eagle
Terathopius ecaudatus Bateleur
Accipter badius Shikra
Aquila rapax Tawny Eagle
Aquila wahlbergi Wahlberg's Eagle x
Lophaetus occipitalus Long-crested Eagle x
Micronisus gabar Gabar Goshawk
Melierax poliopterus Pale Chanting Goshawk
Polemaetus bellicosus Martial Eagle
Haliaeetus vocifer Fish Eagle
Elanus caeruleus Black-shouldered Kite
Falco ardosiacus Grey Kestrel
Falco peregrinus Peregrine Falcon x
Falco cuvieri Hobby x
Coturnix delegorguei Harlequin Quail
Francolinus afer Red-necked Spurfowl
Francolinus sephanea Crested Francolin
Numida meleagris Helmeted Guineafowl
Turnix sylvatica Button Quail
Balearica regulorum Grey Crowned Crane
Vanellus coronatus Crowned Plover
Actitis hypoleucos Common Sandpiper
Pterocles decoratus Black-faced Sandgrouse
Oena capensis Namaqua Dove
Streptopelia capicola Ring-necked Dove
Streptopelia decipiens Mourning Dove
Streptopelia semitorquata Red-eyed Dove x
Streptopelia senegalensis Laughing Dove
Turtur chalcospilos Emerald-spotted Wood Dove
Agapornis personatus Yellow-collared Lovebird
Corythaixoides personata Bare-faced Go-away Bird
Tauraco porphyreolophus Purple-crested Turaco x
Chrysococcyx caprius Diederik Cuckoo
Chrysococcyx klaas Klaas' Cuckoo
Clamator glandarius Great Spotted Cuckoo
Oxylophus jacobinus Jacobin Cuckoo
Cuculus canorus Eurasian Cuckoo
Cuculus gularis African Cuckoo
Cuculus solitarius Red-chested Cuckoo
Centropus grillii Black Coucal
Centropus senegalensis Senegal Coucal
Centropus superciliosus White-browed Coucal
Glaucidium perlatum Pearl-spotted Owlet
Otus senegalensis African Scops Owl
Apus caffer White-rumped Swift
Cypsiurus parvus Palm Swift
Colius striatus Speckled Mousebird x
Ceryle rudis Pied Kingfisher
Halcyon chelicuti Striped Kingfisher x
Halcyon leucocephela Chestnut-bellied Kingfisher
Halcyon senegalensis Woodland Kingfisher
Merops persicus Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
Merops pusillus Little Bee-eater
Coracias caudata Lilac-breasted Roller
Coracias naevia Rufous-crowned Roller
Upupa epops Hoopoe
Tockus alboterminatus Crowned Hornbill
Tockus erythrorhynchus Red-billed Hornbill
Tockus nasutus Grey Hornbill
Bucorvus leadbeateri Southern Ground Hornbill
Tricholaema lachrymosa Spot-flanked Barbet x
Dendropicos namaquus Bearded Woodpecker
Eremopterix leucopareia Fischer's Sparrow Lark
Hirundo fuligula African Rock Martin x
Hirundo rustica Barn Swallow
Hirundo smithii Wire-tailed Swallow
Dicrurus adsimilis Drongo
Oriolus larvatus Black-headed Oriole x
Corvus albicollis White-naped Raven bus stop
Corvus albus Pied Crow x
Turdoides jarnideii Arrow-marked Babbler
Campephaga flava Black Cuckoo Shrike x
Chlorocichla flaviventris Yellow-bellied Greenbul x
Phyllastrephus cerviniventris Grey-olive Greenbul x
Pycnonotus barbatus Common bulbul
Cercotrichas leucophrys White-browed Scrub Robin x
Cossypha heuglini White-browed Robin Chat x
Luscina luscina Sprosser x
Apalis flavida Yellow-breasted Apalis x
Camaroptera brachyura Grey-backed Camaroptera
Calamonastes simplex Grey Wren Warbler x
Cisticola cantans Singing Cisticola x
Cisticola chiniana Rattling Cisticola
Cisticola woosnami Trilling Cisticola x
Cisticola galactotes Winding Cisticola
Cisticola juncidis Zitting Cisticola
Prinia subflava Tawny-flanked Prinia
Sylvia Borin Garden Warbler x
Sylvietta whytii Red-faced Crombec x
Bradornis microrhynchus Grey Flycatcher x
Bradornis pallidus Pale Flycatcher x
Muscicapa striata Spotted Flycatcher
Batis molitor Chin-spot Batis x
Terpsiphone viridis Paradise Flycatcher
Anthus trivialus Tree Pipit x
Motacill aguimp African Pied Wagtail x
Dryoscopus cubla Black-backed Puffback x
Laniarius aethiopicus Tropical Boubou x
Laniarius funebris Slate-coloured Boubou
Malaconotus sulfureopectus Sulphur-breasted Bush Shrike x
Tchagra australis Brown-crowned Tchagra x
Urolestes melanoleucus Magpie Shrike
Lanius collurio Red-backed Shrike
Lanius isabellinus Red-tailed Shrike
Eurocephalus rueppelli White-rumped Shrike
Cinnyricinclus leucogaster Violet-backed Starling x
Lamprotornis unicolor Ashy Starling
Onychoganthus morio Red-winged Starling
Lamprotornis superbus Superb Starling
Buphagus africanus Yellow-billed Oxpecker
Anthreptes longuemarei Western Violet-backed Sunbird
Chalcomitra amethystina Amethyst Sunbird x
Cinnyris mariquensis Marico Sunbird x
Cinnyris pulchellus Beautiful Sunbird
Chalcomitra senegalensis Scarlet-chested Sunbird
Cinnyris venustus Variable Sunbird
Zosterops senegalensis Yellow White-eye x
Euplectes albonatus White-winged Widowbird x
Euplectes orix Southern Red Bishop
Ploceus cucullatus Village Weaver
Ploceus jacksoni Golden-backed Weaver x
Ploceus rubiginosus Chestnut Weaver
Ploceus xanthops Holub's Golden Weaver
Quelea quelea Red-billed Quelea
Bubalornis niger Red-billed Buffalo Weaver
Dinemellia dinemelli White-headed Buffalo Weaver
Pseudonigrita arnaudi Grey-capped Social Weaver
Passer griseus Grey-headed Sparrow
Vidua chalybeata Village Indigobird
Vidua hypocherina Steel-blue Whydah x
Vidua paradisaea Eastern Paradise Whydah
Estrilda astrild Common Waxbill x
Estrilda erythronotus Black-faced Waxbill x
Pytila melba Green-winged Pytilia
Uraeginthus bengalus Red-cheeked Cordonbleu
Lonchura cucullata Bronze Mannikin x
Serinus citrinelloides African Citril x
not on African Bird Club checklist Ruaha Hornbill


Masai Giraffe
Kirk’s Dik Dik
Lesser Kudu
Greater Kudu
Defassa Waterbuck
African Elephant
Common Zebra
Tree Hyrax
Rock Hyrax
Black-backed Jackal
Banded Mongoose
Yellow Baboon
Black-faced Vervet Monkey