Beautiful Sunbird (Cinnyris pulchella)

The Beautiful Sunbird (Cinnyris pulchella) (formerly placed in the genus Nectarinia), is a sunbird. The sunbirds are a group of very small Old World passerine birds which feed largely on nectar, although they will also take insects, especially when feeding young. Flight is fast and direct on their short wings. Most species can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird, but usually perch to feed most of the time.

The name and the description are the same.  I managed to get a few good photos in Ndutu and Tarangire.

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The much duller female


They have a large range stretching from the West Coast of Africa to Ethiopia in the east and as far south as Tanzania.  Look for them in flowering plants in lodges, they seem to know a good free feed when they see one!  The red dot shows Ndutu where I had my best sighting.






There are a few clips from the Gambia on IBC as well as this one from YouTube.


Tarangire To Ngorongoro – Getting There Was Half The Fun

I could have called this the “scenic route” to Ngorongoro but in Africa just about everything is scenic!  We got a somewhat late start but who wouldn’t when there are all these delightful little Yellow-collared Lovebirds and Red-billed Firefinches to watch!  This is where I am different from normal birders or “twitchers”.  I can happily sit and watch a couple of interesting species for hours rather than running around ticking boxes off a list.

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The driver finally convinced me to go so we headed off back down the road towards Arusha past the Masai villages and farms.

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It never ceases to amaze me how these ladies do this!


Then we turned off down the road to Ngorongoro & Serengeti which proved equally as scenic.

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Along the way, there were lots of these little art stands.

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I resisted the temptation to shop until we reached the village of Mto Wa Mbu.

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This larger art market had much more variety so I just had to stop and shop.  Prices were extremely negotiable and I found some nice bird paintings in the traditional Tingatinga style to bring home for us and for gifts.

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We drove past the Lake Manyara NP, if we had had more time we could have stopped in but it was close to noon so not the best timing.

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After passing more handicraft stalls, we came to the town of Karatu which is a dry dusty town that didn’t really interest us, though we did top up the fuel tank.

IMG_6805 IMG_6807 IMG_6808A few km further and we reached the gates of Ngorongoro Conservation Area………..

Yellow-collared Lovebird (Agapornis personatus)

The yellow-collared lovebird (Agapornis personatus), also called masked lovebird or eye ring lovebird, is a monotypic species of bird of the lovebird genus in the parrot family Psittaculidae. They are native to northeast Tanzania and have been introduced to Burundi and Kenya.

I took these photos at Whistling Thorn Camp near Tarangire.

IMG_6745 IMG_6746 IMG_6755 IMG_6757 IMG_6759 IMG_6760 IMG_6765They are near endemic to Tanzania and are very easily seen at the northern end of Tarangire National Park.  They frequent a well at Whistling Thorn Camp and were the first birds to welcome us in!



World Parrot Trust





I had to search through a lot of captive bird videos to find some in the wild!

This is why they are called lovebirds!

Red-and-yellow Barbet (Trachyphonus erythrocephalus)

The red-and-yellow barbet (Trachyphonus erythrocephalus) is a species of African barbet found in eastern Africa. Males have distinctive black (spotted white), red, and yellow plumage; females and juveniles are similar, but less brightly colored. The species lives in broken terrain and nests and roosts in burrows. Omnivorous, the species feeds on seeds, fruit, and invertebrates. Where not hunted, they are tame, but their feathers are used by certain tribes, such as the Maasai.

I took these photos in Tarangire NP, Tanzania.  Despite his bright colours, notice how well he can hide himself in the bush when he wants to.

IMG_6677 IMG_6678 IMG_6679 IMG_6674They have quite a large range but for the traveling birder I can highly recommend Tarangire NP, also going into Ngorongoro Conservation area in Tanzania.  This one was very close to the Tarangire Safari Lodge.  You can see other location in the Xeno-canto and IBC websites listed below.







There are some more videos on IBC which show locations you can try to see these birds.

Stunning close-up footage of the Barbet!

 And here’s a charming concert presented by two Barbets in love!

Brown Parrot aka Meyer’s Parrot (Poicephalus meyeri)

The Brown Parrot aka Meyer’s parrot (Poicephalus meyeri) is a small (about 21 cm, 90-130g), stocky African parrot. Meyer’s parrots display a dull brown head, back and tail, green or blue-green abdomen, blue rump and bright yellow markings on the carpal joint of the wings. Most subspecies have some yellow on the top of the head as well. Forshaw (1989) recognizes six subspecies of P. meyeri which vary in home range, size and in markings, including the extent of yellow markings on the head and wings and intensity of turquoise markings on the abdomen and rump. The name commemorates the German ornithologist Bernhard Meyer.

I had to work for these shots as the Meyer’s Parrots in Tarangire were pretty far away and experts at camouflage!

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The six subspecies are:

  • P. m. meyeri (Cretzschmar, 1827) — s Chad to w Ethiopia
  • P. m. saturatus (Sharpe, 1901) — Uganda and w Kenya to w Tanzania
  • P. m. matschiei (Neumann, 1898) — c Tanzania, se Congo, Zambia and n Malawi
  • P. m. reichenowi (Neumann, 1898) — c Angola to s Congo
  • P. m. damarensis (Neumann, 1898) — n Namibia, s Angola and nw Botswana
  • P. m. transvaalensis (Neumann, 1899) — Botswana, Zimbabwe and n South Africa

Meyer RangeMeyer’s Parrots have a huge range so you have a good chance to see them on most African birding safaris.  Check above as to the subspecies you are likely to see.  Tarangire NP in Tanzania is a relatively easy place to see them (red dot) but you also could try Serengeti, Masai Mara, some parks in Uganda, Zambia, Zimabawe, Chobe in Botswana, Etosha in Namibia.  The Xeno-Canto & IBC websites below have actual locations where other people saw them and took sound clips.



World Parrot Trust





Well YT has hundreds of captive Meyer’s Parrot videos but this one at last shows their natural sound.  There are more videos on IBC which I can’t embed here that have actual wild birds.

Tarangire National Park Part 2 – Afternoon Safari

This time I was on a mission – to find and photograph Meyer’s Parrots!  Since we now had a good lead on on where to find them we went off in that direction.  But getting there is always half the fun when you can also see a Red & Yellow Barbet along the way!  He tried to hide but our guide spotted him.

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Rednecked Spurfowl


White-browed Scrub Robin

IMG_6684We drove past a sausage tree grove and I saw some movement in the bushes across the stream.  I took aim and this is what I got.  See if you can find the hidden birds!

IMG_6686 IMG_6687 IMG_6688 IMG_6689 IMG_6690 IMG_6691 IMG_6692 IMG_6694 IMG_6695 IMG_6703 IMG_6704After cropping the above photos, NOW can you see them?  Meyer’s Parrots!  And a little friend in a couple photos, maybe a Bulbul of some sort?

IMG_6686a IMG_6687a IMG_6688a IMG_6689a IMG_6690a IMG_6691a IMG_6692a IMG_6694a IMG_6703a IMG_6704aSuccess!  Having seen and photographed all 3 of my target birds, the 3 parrot species, I could now sit back, relax and enjoy the rest of the afternoon.

Magpie shrike


Dark-backed Forest Weaver

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Nubian Woodpecker

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Very cool how these elephants were standing on their hind legs to reach the tree!

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Superb Starling glowing in the sun.


The end of the day and a beautiful sunset over Tarangire National Park.


Taking A Break At Tarangire Safari Lodge

After lunch, we pushed on but it was obvious the birds were taking a break so when we passed a sign leading to Tarangire Safari Lodge, I decided it was time for us to take a break too!


The travel blogger in me was keen to check out the accommodation as well.  Of course I couldn’t enter a bungalow but the grounds and facilities were excellent!  They even had wifi at the restaurant so I could check my emails while resting and sipping cold drinks.  The lucky guests had a pool to cool off in.  It was really hot that day!

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I really loved the poster they had to show what birds frequent the area!

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Our driver had gone off to where the other drivers & guides hang out for a nap and promised to pick us up at 4pm.  Ina & I headed to the restaurant to chill out and have some ice-cold drinks.

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The view from the restaurant is amazing!

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While we were sitting and relaxing, we could see some Beautiful Sunbirds.

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There was also a cute little Speckled Mousebird.

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Female Beautiful Sunbird

IMG_6663 IMG_6665 IMG_6666 IMG_6667Refreshed and rejuvenated, we were ready to make our final afternoon safari in Tarangire.  I had been talking to some other people who had seen Meyer’s Parrots that morning and I got their guide to tell our guide where to find them.  So off we went!

Blue-capped Cordonbleu (Uraeginthus cyanocephalus)


IMG_6430 IMG_6431The delicately coloured Blue-capped Cordon-bleu or Blue-Capped cordonbleu (Uraeginthus cyanocephalus) is native to Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Tanzania in East Africa.

bccb rangeI saw them in Tarangire (red dot) in Tanzania where they were foraging with a mixed flock.  Check the Xeno-canto website below to see other people’s sightings of this elegant little bird.







There are some wild bird videos on IBC which also give more reliable locations to see Cordonbleus.

This one from YT shows a captive Cordonbleu demonstrating foraging methods of his wild cousins.

Red-bellied Parrot (Poicephalus rufiventris)

The red-bellied parrot (Poicephalus rufiventris) is a small African parrot about 23 cm (9 in) long of the Poicephalus genus.  Some guidebooks call this the “African Orange-bellied Parrot” so be sure you check the scientific name.  It is a mostly greenish and grey parrot. Males have a bright orange belly and females have a greenish belly.

I saw them in two different locations at Tarangire, one in the small Serengeti plain and one near the campground.  Here’s a close-up of the male & female respectively, then some photos showing their environment.

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IMG_6472 IMG_6475 IMG_6470 IMG_6478 IMG_6476 IMG_6479 IMG_6482 IMG_6505 IMG_6508They have a decent sized range in East Africa but the easiest places to find them would be Tarangire NP, Arusha NP and possibly Amboseli in Kenya.  The red dot is Tarangire NP location.



World Parrot Trust





It was a challenge to find a video of these birds in the wild but here’s one.


Visiting Tarangire National Park – Part 1

Many visitors to Tanzania bypass Tarangire National Park in favour of the more dramatic Ngorongoro Crater and the iconic Serengeti.  But for the birder, Tarangire is a must!  Since there are so many photos, this part will take us up to lunch time, the 2nd part will cover the afternoon and early evening.  I have identified what I can, still missing a few so will get back to them – or help me out in the comments!

This is the entrance gate nearest to Whistling Thorn Camp.


Mind the rules!

IMG_6437Fees are paid on a 24 hour basis so you want to spend the full day in the park to maximize your wildlife sightings.  If you are staying at a lodge inside the park, you will pay the fee for each 24 hour period you are there.  These fees were valid from July 2013 – June 2015.  Keep an eye on the website to see the new prices taking effect after July 2015.

TZ Park fees - Tarangire, ArushaAmazing baobab trees are everywhere!


Some delicate little Cordon-bleu Waxbills

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Yellow-collared Lovebirds foraging


Curious vervet monkey






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Waterbuck – these guys crack me up as they look like they sat on a freshly painted toilet!

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Mixed flocks foraging – plenty to go around

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A pair of African Orange-bellied Parrots aka Red-bellied Parrots

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This is where we saw them

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Tanzanian Hornbill

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White-headed Buffalo-weaver

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Blue-cheeked Bee-eater


Lilac-breasted Roller


Vervet monkey family


Picnic ground where we had breakfast

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More Red-bellied Parrots

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Dik dik

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Poachers tree – they used to hide in here and capture wildlife




Little Bee-eaters

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Black backed Jackal


Egyptian Goose


Marabou Stork

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White-headed Buffalo-weaver

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Little Bee-eater






Lilac-breasted Rollers

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Banded Mongoose


No shortage of monkeys trying to rob the tourists at the lunch stop – Matete Picnic Spot!

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Skilled thieves

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During lunch one of the other drivers told our driver where to find these lions.  It’s nice how they all share information like that!

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