Monday, 10 October 2011

Waifs and strays

Eurasian Bee-eaters at Manyara Ranch, Jan 2011
For the past fortnight or so I've enjoyed daily sight and sound of migrating Eurasian Bee-eaters whizing overhead - migration is in full flow and over the next few weeks these early bee-eaters and swifts will be joined by a whole host of other passerines and raptors. Many of these are following the movement of the rains, and will have been in Africa for many weeks already, some will stop here (like many of the bee-eaters), others will carry on further south. And among the millions of birds that get it right, we can be sure there'll be one or two that took a wrong turn somewhere, or carried on a bit too far, to turn up in unexpected places. Also moving at the moment are lots of Afrotropical species that are using the onset of the rains as a cue to move from dry season hide aways, to wet season breeding areas and with so much movement going on there too, interesting things are bound to occur. We've been in our current house for about 2 years now, but a chestnut weaver in my garden last weekend was still the first I've heard here - it's fizzing song getting going despite still being in non-breeding plumage.
Chestnut weaver in non-breeding plumage, Manyara Ranch Aug 2011

And this weekend I enjoyed a walk (in the rain - I am British, after all) around Lake Duluti where, among the regular species, a lesser flamingo was swimming around the lake in the company of this rather fine black duck. African black ducks are usually found rather rarely on highland rivers and streams, so this was quite a surprise - note it's very long body and obvious white wing marks, plus white bits on the base of the bill that separate it from other species here abouts. This and the flamingo were both new birds for me to see at Duluti, despite many visits there. The diversity of birds in Africa is truly amazing, and now, with the start of the rains, is a great time to look out for unusual things moving between their more regular locations. The forecast is for a good short rains around this part of Tanzania this year, so expect lots of breeding activing in the next few weeks too - all very exciting! Let me know if you see anything good!
African Black Duck, Lake Duluti, Oct 2011

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