+254 735 204 519 info@conquestadventures.co.ke
+254 735 204 519 info@conquestadventures.co.ke

Southern Tanzania Birding Tour (Nyerere National Park and Pugu Hills) Tour Report

Bird Guide Isaac Kilusu

Clients: Javier Cotin and Lucho Verdesoto both from Lindblad Expeditions

eBird Report: https://ebird.org/tripreport/220692

Tour Pace &Style: Tailor-made Birding Tour

Top Ten Birds: Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Ruvu Weaver, Green Malkoha, Fasciated Snake Eagle, Dwarf Bittern, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Bohm’s Bee-eater, Reichenow’s Woodpecker, Dickinson’s Kestrel, and Zanzibar Boubou

This was a short planned birding tour, covering Nyerere National Park and Pugu Hills in Southern Tanzania, For passionate birders and wildlife lovers Tanzania stands out as a delight, the country’s wildlife is spectacular. Visiting Southern Tanzania in April presents stunning scenery with a verdant landscape and lush green painting a fascinating topography.

Tanzania birding trips
White-crowned Lapwing

Nyerere National Park and Pugu Hills are iconic birding destinations in the Southern Tanzania birding circuit, with over 450 birds recorded we also saw half the number, we only recorded 188 birds which was exceptional, we expected a bigger number of species but due to the ongoing rains, most birding loops were inaccessible we had to do birding on the main road most of the times. The weather was good during the day though it was overcast, hot, and humid. We had rain most nights during our stay, making our birding a little harder in the early mornings. The birding clients were excited to see and record many Southern Tanzania specialties with 45 lifers on their checklist. Tanzania boasts 21 endemic birds, 43 near-endemics, and more than 800 resident birds a bucket list birding destination for many bird lovers.

Tanzania Birding Tours
Dwarf Mongoose

Day 1-April 11th 2024

The Tanzania birding trip got off to an excellent start with picking up the clients at Nyerere International Airport at 11 am. After having lunch we boarded the safari jeep and proceeded to Nyerere National Park via the Kisaware road which is much way shorter. Along the way after we left the busy city of Dar es Salaam


we started picking up a few roadside birds which included the Pin-tailed, and Steel-blue Whydahs, Bronze Mannikins, Red-billed Firefinch, Black-chested Snake Eagle, Helmeted Guineafowl, Malachite Kingfisher, and Eastern Golden Weaver. We arrived at Selous Safari Lodge when it was getting dark, we had a quick check-in to our lovely rooms had dinner, and retired early to bed

Day 2-April 12th 2024

We began our morning with a delicious breakfast and started birding around camp at 630 we enjoyed the lush gardens with their open lawns, and we had splendid sightings of Bearded Scrub Robin, Variable and Collared Sunbirds, African Grey Hornbill, Böhm’s Bee-eater, a Little Greenbul was heard calling nearby. We drove towards Mloka village and we had several birding stops that were very productive, Spotted Palm  Thrush, a flock of female Ruvu Weavers, Red-billed Quelea, Green-winged Pytilia, Gabar Goshawk, Little Sparrowhawk, Zanzibar Red Bishop, Orange-breasted Waxbill, African Grey Flycatcher, Southern Cordonbleu and a Sterling’s Wren Warbler was heard calling.

Tanzania _Birding_Tours
Lappet-faced Vulture

At Mloka village there were a few Pied Crows, White-winged Widowbirds, Indian House Crows,s and House Sparrows. We drove towards Mtemere gate but just before where they were constructing the new entrance gate we stopped and scanned a roadside marsh, there were male Ruvu Weaver literary all over the place displaying, a Crowned Hornbill perched in one of the tall trees, a male Golden-tailed Woodpecker flew in and we had good views of Green Wood Hoopoe and a male Scarlet-chested sunbird visiting the nearby flowers. Along the way, we saw Black-collared Barbet, Southern-banded Snake Eagle, Zanzibar Boubou, Swallow-tailed, and more Böhm’s Bee-eater.

Vitelline Masked Weaver Nest

We arrived at the gate at around 1030, did some paperwork, and quickly checked in, just past the gate we had White-crowned Lapwing, Hamerkop and African Pipit, Dwarf Bittern, Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, Egyptian Goose, and African Open-bill. We drove into the park and diverted on Sonongo Loop which was also very good, Water Thick-knee, Mottled and Böhm’s Spinetails, Reichenow’s  Woodpecker, Black, Klaas’s and Dideric Cuckoos, Crested Francolin, Crowned Lapwing and many more. After we were done birding the Sonongo Circuit we joined the main road again and drove to the Hippo Pool picnic site where we had a quick lunch and resumed birding, we saw waterbirds at the pool, and on the big overlooking the water, there were hundreds of Village and Lesser Masked Weavers nesting.

Tanzania Birding tour
Ruvu Weaver

We left the pool and drove even further north where we picked birds on the way such as Bateleur, Eastern Golden Weaver, and Lizard Buzzard before we encountered a kill on the way where there were White-headed, Rüppell’s, White-backed and Lappet-faced Vultures. We made a U-turn and drove back for kilometers before we took another loop, recorded Red-billed buffalo weavers, Red-chested Cuckoo, White-throated Bee-eater, and Long-tailed Fiscal.

Tanzania Birding Trips
White Helmetshrike

After we managed to change the tires we drove to the main road towards the gate because it was getting late, on the way we saw Grey Go- away-bird, Greater Honeyguide, Woodland Kingfisher, Black Cuckooshrike, Chinspot Batis, and Square-tailed Drongo. We checked out at the gate by 6 pm and drove straight to camp, the guests requested an early dinner which was served and we all went to bed happily having had a very productive day full of lifers for our guests

Day 3-April 13th 2024

On this day we left Lucho at camp he said he needed to rest because he hadn’t had enough time to sleep between the long trips he had been doing. We started early as usual and by 630 we had left the camp and were driving towards the main gate, on this day we only made stops on the way but nothing new was encountered, After the check-in procedure we drove along the main road just encountering the birds that we had seen the previous day, the new birds we saw for the list includes Eastern Black-headed Batis, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Cutthroat Finch, Retz’s Helmetshrike, Black-crowned Tchagra, Red-backed Shrike, Sombre Greenbul, Northern Brownbul, Red-billed and Yellow-billed Oxpeckers, Wattled and Greater-blue eared Starlings and Jacobin Cuckoo.

Birding Tanzania Tours
Red-billed Firefinch

We drove past the hippo pool further north towards Behobeho Hills and just past the second bridge near the sign board towards Roho ya Selous Asilia Camp, there was a flock of Eastern Golden and Ruvu Weavers nesting very close to the road, the Eastern Golden Weavers were nesting on the left side of the road while the very similar Ruvu Weavers were nesting on the right side of the road, we stop for some photographic opportunities and we later drove up towards Mbuyu picking a site and on the way added Coastal Cisticola and Grey-headed Kingfisher. After we had lunch we drove to the nearby wetland trying to catch up with some waders but to our surprise, only water birds were seen, Purple, Grey, and Black-headed Heron, Blacksmith and Spur-winged  Lapwing, Wood and Common Sandpipers, Yellow-billed Stork and Pied Kingfishers. We later drove again to the main road and headed back home

Day 4, April 14th 2024

On this day Lucho joined us again and we drove straight to the gate and started our birding. The plan was to go to the park for half a day and go to the camp for a hot lunch and later at 3 pm go for a boat safari at Rufiji River. Today the birding was slightly quieter, no new birds were encountered but we had excellent views of a pair of Brown-headed Parrots, Coqui Francolin, Striped Kingfisher, Southern Ground Hornbill, Common Scimitarbill, Orange-breasted Waxbill, Dickinson’s Kestrel and a Brubru. We later drove back to camp and had lunch at 1 pm, we relaxed for one hour and moved towards the Rufiji River where we met our boat driver and started off scanning the river banks

Tanzania Birding tours
White-throated Bee-eater

The day offered some top-notch birding and photography opportunities which we all enjoyed tremendously, Pied kingfishers were all over, and we also saw Giant and Malachite Kingfishers. We headed up north and we had waterbirds such as the Striated Heron, Yellow-billed and African Open-billed Stork, and Little Egret, other birds we saw are the African Fish Eagle, Wire-tailed Swallow, Common Reed Warbler, Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, Collared Palm Thrush, African Harrier Hawk, Broad-billed Roller, European and White-fronted Bee-eaters, Purple- banded Sunbird and Tropical Boubou, we finished the boat ride and in our way towards the car we had Terrestrial Brownbul calling, we went to track them down and we had good views of 4 birds foraging in leaf litters.

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Wild Dog

After an excellent birding, we retired to our comfortable lodge and enjoyed a sumptuous meal as we chatted about our day and the exciting day ahead.

Day 5 April 15th 2024

After an early breakfast, we drove straight to Dar picking Woolly-necked Stork and Yellow Bishop. We arrived at the Pugu Hills office at around 11 am paid the entrance fees and started our walk straight away, there was low birding activity, so we went to the main trail, and only heard birds calling. The primary target on the main trail was the Gorgeous Bushshrike which we heard it calling several times, we tried some playbacks but it didn’t show off, we had other birds along the way before we camped down at the dam and had lunch there, we continued with the loop on our way out and deviated to several feeder trails, we got Lowland Tiny Greenbul,  Kretchmers  Longbill, East Coast Akalat, Grey Sunbird, Forest Weaver, Green Malkoha, Eastern Nicator, Livingstone’s Turaco,  Trumpeter hornbill, black-throated wattle eye, Little Yellow Flycatcher, Red-capped Robinchat, Red-throated Twinspot and Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird. We packed our belongings and took a taxi to Slip Way Hotel where we left our guests there for the night

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