Tarangire National Park

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Tarangire National Park is not as famous as Serengeti and Ngorongoro, but in the dry season (June - October), it offer much higher density of animals as many of them migrate here in search for water. The name of park comes from the Tarangire River, which in dry season shrinks to a small creek (1st 2 pix). It's amazing that this small creek is the life source of hundreds of elephant and masses of wildebeest, zebra, eland, hartebeest, buffalo and oryx... Another common sight of the park is the huge Baobab trees (2 pix).

 

Birds. I personally think Birdlife is the more interesting part of Tarangire. So I'll start with the pretty Lilac-breasted Roller (Coracias caudatus, 3 pix). Its riveting colorful feather is just unforgettable. Next is a Fischer's Lovebird (Agapornis fischeri, 1 pix) and a tiny Sunbird that feeds on nectar (2 pix).

Terrestrial Birds. We had to share the road with all kinds of wildlife, including these Helmeted Guinea fowls (Numida meleagris).

A Yellow-necked Spurfowl (Francolinus leucoscepus, 2 pix) and a couple of Red-necked Spurfowls (Francolinus afer, 3 pix). The little baby was really cute.

A pair of Black-faced Sandgrouse (Pterocles decoratus). The more colorful one (with yellow eyes, 2nd pic) is male. The monstrous walking Ostrich (Struthio camelus, 2 pix).

Raptors. A group of Vultures (Gyps rueppellii mostly) gathering around the Tarangire River. They spread their wings against the wind to cool down the body, says our guide Hamisi.

A Martial Eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus, 3 pix). It's the largest eagle in Africa, with a wingspan about 6 feet 4 inches, a body about 32 inches long, and weigh about 14 lbs (6.5 kilo). Martial Eagles are fierce hunters, who usually dive from high altitude onto the preys. It is capable of taking on prey as big as an impala. In the next 2 pix is an African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer). Does it remind you of the Bald Eagle, our state bird? Magnificent bird. In the last 2 pix is a Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus), distinct by its red facial skin, bill, and feet. Bateleur is a mid-size raptor mainly prey on small birds such as pigeons and sandgrouses and some time small mammals and reptiles as well.

A Brown Snake Eagle (Circaetus cinereus). The first 2 is an adult while the last 3 is a chick. It's of course very good at killing snake, although its prey may include many other reptiles and small mammals.

Hornbills are tropical birds with bills shape like a cow's horns. Southern Ground Hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri, 2 pix); an African Gray Hornbill (Tockus nasutus); and a.Red-billed Hornbill (Tockus erythrorhynchus).

Shorebirds. This funny-looking water bird Hammerkop (Scopus umbretta). The name is Dutch, meaning "hammerhead." It obviously come from the thick crest behind the head. Probably owing to the unusual look, the hammerkop is associated with many superstitions and tales. Some consider it magical and some think it evil. In either case the hammerkops are to be respected and so they're able to coexist with human quite well. In the last 2 pix is the ever present Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiacus).

First is a Coucal (1 pic). The rest are pix of Bare-faced Go-away-birds (Corythaixoides personatus). They sound like a baby crying "go, go..." Very funny.

In the 1st 3 pix is a rare Ashy Starling (Cosmopsarus unicolor). It might not be as flashy as its Superb Starling cousin, but our guide Hamisi told us that it's a endanger specie and it's only found in Tarangire. The last 3 is a Lesser Striped Swallow (Hirundo abyssinica syn. Cecropis abyssinica).

The 1st one of my favorite pictures, a Specked Pigeon (Columba guinea) standing on the roof of the lodge. The 2nd pic is a Laughing Dove (Streptopelia senegalensis). Next 2 is a Wattled Starling (Creatophora cinerea).

 

The Animals. The dry season is the best time to find large herds of Elephants (genus Loxodonta) in the park, some time up to 600 of them.

Another attraction is the gentle and graceful Giraffe (Ardea intermedia).

Buffalos herds studying us and cross the road with caution. Next three are the ever-present Zebras (Equus quagga).

A troop of naughty Baboons (Papio anubis, Olive race). It's always fun to watch these little pucks.

This is what "butt ugly" means. In the last pic, a Blacksmith Lapwing (Vanellus armatus) is cautiously watching and crying threateningly. Our guide Hamisi explained that her nest is nearby and she's afraid baboons may steal her eggs.

The Antelopes. The slim and swift Impala (Aepyceros melampus 3 pix) and the bigger, hygrophilous Waterbucks (Kobus ellipsiprymnus defassa, 3 pix).

Two Jackals lied on a runway in an airstrip (1 pic); a Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis, 2 pix); a Five-lined Skink (Trachylepis quinquetaeniata, 2 pix), and a Tropical Gecko (Hemidactylus mabouia, 1 pic).

 

At the end I feel that I should say something about the park's trade mark, the huge, bulky Baobab Tree (Adansonia digitata), also commonly know as the Monkey Bread Tree. The swollen trunk, which can reaches 11m in diameter, is hollow for storage of water. As shown in pix 2 and 3, hunters dug holes in some of the dead baobad trunk and use it as a tent to spend the night in hunting season. The baobad fruit can be eaten, by monkey and human as well. The seeds are commonly used as a soup thickener.

 

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