Birds of Serengeti, Lake Natron and Wembere Steppe in Tanzania : Tanzania is a country in East Africa known for its great diversity of birds. It is  recorded to be more than 11,00 species of birds in the world ,Tanzania has more than 1,100 species making up to 10% of the world’s  birds population. Tanzania is known to be a rewarding birding area and a bird watching heaven.

Tanzania has most of its national parks in the northern part of the country close to the city of Arusha. Arusha is known to be the  tourist capital of Tanzania, because it has its infrastructure and travel itineraries most comfortable hotels .

Serengeti National park

Serengeti National park lies across the plains of the Central Plateau between the largest lake in Africa, Lake Victoria and the Great Rift Valley. In Serengeti plains ,there are several rivers which crisscross the park from west to east; the Mbalageti , the branching Grumeti, and Mara river which is found in the North. The park is known globally for its legendary Great migration which is among the seven wonders of Africa and the biggest land animals migration in the world. The circular migration of millions of wildebeest, antelopes and Zebras take place which is picturesque.

A good meticulous bird watcher in Serengeti National park will be able to observe between 600 and 700 species of birds. This is one of the best bird watching destination like no other in Africa ,the only other place that can compete with Serengeti National park is the Queen Elizabeth National park in Uganda. The advance of Serengeti is that it is surrounded by other biodiversity of wildlife area which offer the more exciting birding opportunities.

There are several birds of prey in Serengeti such as the African Fish Eagle, which prey on fish, ibis ,storks, flamingos, waterfowl, small  lizards and crocodiles. There are also a good number of martial eagles, which feed on hares, Hyraxes, monkeys, Jackals and small antelopes. It can prey on a total of 90 mammals. The park is home to Ostriches, turacos, herons, nightjars , go- away- birds, parrots, lovebirds, Oxpeckers, sunbirds among more others.

A quarter of the species found on Serengeti are migratory and assemble here from other parts of the world. It is possible for birdwatchers to find familiar birds like the Little stint ( Calidris minuta)  and the White stork ( Ciconia ciconia) which are believed to migrate to Africa to escape the cold months in Europe. Others include European Roller ( Coracias garrulus) from Europe and South- West Asia, Barn swallow ( Hirundo rustica), Common swift( Apus apus), Helmeted Guineafowl (Numida meleagris), Marabou stork ( Leptoptilos Crumenifer), Lesser Flamingo( phoeniconaias minor),African Openbill ( Anastomus lamelligerus) and many more.

There are no specific endemic in the Serengeti National park but there are species endemic to Tanzania. Such as the Grey- brested spurfowl or Grey- breasted Francolin (pternistis rufopictus), Tanzanian Red-billed Hornbill ( Tockus ruahae), White- tailed Cisticola ( Cisticola anderseni), Kilimanjaro White-eye( Zosterops eurycricotus),Rufous-Tailed weaver ( Ploceus reichardi),and Yellow-collard lovebird ( Agapornis personatus). Some of these birds can also be spotted in the Neighbouring countries but they are considered endemics of Tanzania.

Lake Victoria Africa’s largest lake lies west of Serengeti National park which attracts birds from other parts of the continent. There are also parts to explore such as the Minziro Forest Reserve on the western shores of the lake. There are other birdwatching islands on the southern shores of Lake Victoria such as Rubondo, Swanage, and others. They include at least three bays in the East Coast of Lake Victoria, the perfect spot to see waterfowl. Reedbeds and big water which are rarely seen on the plains but found in abundance on the lake shores.

Lake Natron

Lake Natron is known for its pink or red-looking waters when filmed from above. This is because of the fact that billions of Artemia salina crustaceans which are a few millimetres long live in the water. They thrive in the lake because it is a salty alkaline lake. There is Ol Doinyo Lengai, which is the only volcano in the world which produces natrocarbonatite lava which is mainly sodium carbonate dissolved in the lake.

Lake Natron reaches 52 kilometers in length and stretches way far across the border in Kenya. The lake is known to breed the highest number of lesser flamingos in the world. It I’d estimated that 80 % of the lesser flamingos found on the planet are bred on Lake Natron. The flamingos feed on the Algae eaten by Artemia crustaceans (brine shrimp).

Birds of Serengeti, Lake Natron and Wembere Steppe in Tanzania
Little Stint

Lake Natron is home to waterfowl such as Little Stint ( Calidris minuta) the Chestnut- banded plover ( Charadrius pallidus), Glossy ibis( Plegadis falcinellus), Abdim’s storks (Ciconia abdimii) which are indigenous to Africa. Somali Bunting ( Emberiza poliopleura) also appear at Lake Natron. Another common bird is the white-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus) which is from Rurope and Asia they spend the winter here in Africa. There are more than 200 species that can be observed at Lake Natron especially at the regions of Engaruka basin.

Wembere Steppe

This is the vast area in central Tanzania that is considered Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA). It is the  floodplain of the Vembere River which flows Northwards and pours its water into Lake Eyasi. The river creates wetlands that are interest to birds and also actively used as pasture, Birds of Serengeti

Some of the birds found in the region include the Black-faced Sandgrouse ( Pterocles decoratus), Yellow-necked Spurfowl (Pternistis leucoscepus), and the Von der Decken’s Hornbill ( Tockus deckeni) live in the Vembere River floodplains. Usambiro Barbet ( Trachyphonus usambiro) together with other beautiful birds live here. Fischer’s lovebird ( Agapornis fischeri) which is distinguished by its attractive appearance can be spotted easily. This bird is endemic to East Africa, living in two countries Tanzania and the neighbouring Kenya.

The Eastern Violet backed Sunbird( Anthreptes orientalis) ,White- headed  Buffalo weaver( Dinemellia dinemelli) Blue-Capped Cordon bleu ( Uraeginthus cyanocephalus), Steel-  blue Whydah ( Vidua hypocherina) straw- tailed whydah ( visual fisheri) with their 30cm long tails are an amazing to see. They are likely to be seen on the prickly bushes.

The Raptors in the area include the Eastern pale Chanting Goshawk(Melierax poliopterus) known to make melodious cries during the nesting period.

Several rivers are found in the Vembere Steppe: Kitangiri, Singida, Balangida Lehu and Kindai which are found south of Lake Eyasi. There are many waterfowl I  the region with the presence of both flamingo species has been recorded in each of the lakes.

Apart from the above mentioned places of Tanzania which are good for bird watching other recommended places include; Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro, Mkomazi National park, and the Mountain forest national parks of Kilimanjaro and Arusha.

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