Recent Updates From the Field
African Birding Megafaris Guided by Keith Barnes
Africa is unique amongst birding destinations in that there is so much other wildlife to see that is party to the drama of a birding tour. Perhaps one of the best things is that most TB trips to the continent, while satisfying the most ardent birders, also rack up an incredible array of mammals and simultaneously keep non-birders more than satised. When asked the question “I am a non-birder and I want to know what the dierence is between a regular safari and a birding tour”, the answer is pretty straight-forward. One will see more mammals and other things on a birding tour because we spend more time out and are looking for the little things. We have recently had a series of clients asking us, “If I came to Africa once in my life, what would you recommend that I do?”The result has been two Birding Megafaris! We have run these two-extended multi- country trips this year, both of which have been absolutely exceptional for the number of birds and mammals that they picked up.
indulged in an incredible mammal viewing marathon of epic propor- tions, seeing thousands upon thou- sands of migrating wildebeest, and soaking up both game and had multiple encounters with predators such as the secretive leopard, bold lion and slight cheetah. With the rains having fallen recently, the birding was beyond belief, with all the weav- ers and bishops as well as wydahs in full breeding swing. We started o by visiting some arid country near Arusha and then explored the giddy heights and montane forests of Arusha NP before setting o for the more typical Northern Tanzania desti- nations such as Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater and
nally, the Serengeti NP. This tour is
perfect for anyone with an interest in the outdoors, perfect for birders, perfect for non-birding spouses, and perfect for photographers. If you are looking for one trip to keep anyone and everyone happy, this is it!
The second leg of Megafari 1 took in Uganda and Rwanda. The main aims were to see a Shoebill stalking in deep Papyrus swamps, score a gamut of rainforest birds in both the lowlands of Budongo and the impres- sive montane forests of the incredible Nyungwe NP, and to see primates and of course, the irrepressible great apes, Chimpanzee and Mountain Gorilla. Fortunately, we achieved all these aims, netting 417 bird species on this 12-day leg of the trip, as well as accu- mulating an incredible 675 bird species and 62 mammals in total for this Megafari (in just over three- weeks). This Megafari was a boon for spectacular birds and we saw 51 species of bird of prey, 11 species of turaco, 11 species of kingsher, 10 species of bee-eater, 12 species of hornbill, and 25 species of sunbird. We also saw the famous “Big-5” mam- mals and had incredible encounters with Mountain Gorillas and Chimpan- zees amongst 11 species of primates.
Megafari 1: Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda (April 2010)
Our rst was in April, and combined Tanzania in the midst of the great migration with Uganda and Rwanda. Our Tanzania leg ended up being the most successful Northern Tanzania trip we had ever run, netting an incredible 426 bird species in only 11 days. Not only did we see loads of birds, but we revelled in the myriad photographic opportunities that we were presented with, and also