Sunday, November 7, 2010

More Dar in in the Afternoon

In the afternoon I managed to head north from the hotel after looping through a small road just to the west. There was a notice at the end of the road warning me not to go any farther and to not take any photos. So I headed east to the coast and then wandered into what appeared to be native coastal scrub to the north. No sign so I figured I was ok. I didn't see too much for new birds that afternoon but there were a few I could see and many more I could only hear or catch a quick glimpse of.
It was nice to be away from all the people and into some decent looking native vegetation for a bit to struggle with the identification of birds I had only rehearsed identifying from the field guide. I wound up using the camera as an identification aid much more than I anticipated. It was nice to have even rather crappy photos to use as an ID aid latter when I had time to use the field guide when there weren't new birds all around me.
There were a few Zanzibar Sombre Greenbuls around.

And a couple small groups of Speckled Mousebirds.

But the best bird by far was a member of the sunbird family, the Nectariniidae. This was one group of birds I was really looking forward to seeing and my first introduction was a stunning Purple-banded Sunbird foraging in a bare tree just around the corner from the hotel.

Later that afternoon, Steve Windels, a biologist from Minnesota and a member of our technical assistance team, and I headed south from the hotel along the coast into some severely modified habitats. We found quite a few birds in the open fields and remaining scrub. There was the seemingly mandatory House Sparrows, but also a number of wonderful new birds too. They included Blue-capped Cordon-bleu

African Red-billed Firefinches

A Grassland Pipit

and Black and White Manakins.

Later that afternoon we went to the Mwenge carvers market to look for goodies for family back home. I was introduced to a wonderful little shop with a great selection of masks and other assorted carvings.

Later that evening we had a few moments to sample some local brews and do a bit of birding looking over the tidal flats again.

And as the sun dropped quickly into the hazy horizon to the west (no sliding slowly at an angle into darkness here at the equator) the Palm Swifts emerged into the twilight.

The next day was a series of meetings and prep work but there were more birds to be found and even better, I had Steve, the mammal guy from Minnesota, hooked on looking for birds with me.

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