Sunday, November 7, 2010

House Crow City - Dar es Salaam

My first introduction to Tanzania was via the large, sprawling city of Dar es Salaam. We arrived at the international airport late at night and headed to our hotel along the coast near the tip of the Msasani Peninsula. The next morning I woke up and opened up the window on my room to see what I could see.

I was looking east over the Indian Ocean and down on to a rather lush hotel garden area. My expectations were high and so was the humidity. Maybe something other than a Rock Pigeon, House Sparrow, or European Starling would be the first bird I found on this new continent? Turns out it was something different - but not really. The first bird I found was a House Crow. A species introduced into Dar from southeast Asia which has multiplied prodigiously in the area to the detriment of any of the native species they encounter. Sound familiar?

There were many House Crows. Lots and lots of House Crows. And nothing else. I made my way down to the hotel grounds and looked out over the exposed tidal flats and slowly started to find new birds.

Well, kind of new birds. First there was a Whimbrel slowly foraging in the tidal pools. Hadn't seen one of those for a while but still not new. There was also a Grey Plover strolling along the pool edges. A new name for a bird I have observed quite a few time in Montana. We just call them Black-bellied Plovers.

Then there was a Common Sandpiper. New bird for sure, but it certainly looked almost exactly like the Spotted Sandpipers from home.

Then the really new birds started showing up.

A Little Egret

a Dimorphic Egret

And an immature Striated Heron.

I was surprised by the lack of the gulls on the coast. Every other coastal habitat I have visited has had a large number, if not large variety, of gulls. Not Dar es Salaam though. I only saw two individual gulls during my time in Dar and both appeared to be Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

There were also a number of young men that roamed the tidal flats with large jugs and small hand nets. I was never able to determine exactly what fish they were catching but I assume that they were for the tropical fish trade.

Any comments on my identification of the birds of Tanzania are welcome.