The End of a Big Year: Musselburgh and Liverpool, 23rd-31st December 2018

It was calm crossing and a serene morning as we watched the Moon slowly setting as we passed Brechin on our way to Musselburgh for Christmas. Brechin moonset Liverpool were top of the table for Christmas and extended their lead on Boxing Day, as they took their record at halfway in the season to played … Continue reading The End of a Big Year: Musselburgh and Liverpool, 23rd-31st December 2018

Recuperation: Unst, Shetland, 12th-22nd December 2018

The flight from Tanzania was not full, so I managed to find somewhere to lie down and get some sleep. Amsterdam was just waking when we arrived, Aberdeen was slumbering, Sumburgh was raw and blustery. As I dropped Paul and Rob off at their homes, a watery, wintery sun poked through the clouds just above … Continue reading Recuperation: Unst, Shetland, 12th-22nd December 2018

555+: Simanjiro Plains, Tanzania, Tuesday 11th December 2018

Just before the trip started, James told Paul what he expected the trip list target should be. He chose the numerologically-pleasing total of 555. When Paul told me I scoffed, but when we got to almost 400 species in the first week I began to wonder. We began today just 17 species short of the … Continue reading 555+: Simanjiro Plains, Tanzania, Tuesday 11th December 2018

The Start of the Road Home: East Usambara Mountains to KIA, Tanzania, Monday 10th December 2018

I fully admit I am not the greatest first thing in the morning, but I have been up at 05:15 almost every morning on the trip (and not much later on the other days). It is interesting to be up at this time, to see and hear all the activity, but there has been one … Continue reading The Start of the Road Home: East Usambara Mountains to KIA, Tanzania, Monday 10th December 2018

Birding Amongst Taxi-bikes: Amani, East Usambara Mountains, Tanzania, Sunday 9th December 2018

The main mode of transport in rural Tanzania seems to be the motorbike taxi, known as the boda boda in Swahili. There are few private cars, even in the cities as far as we could work out, but there are taxis, minibuses and tuks-tuks in the towns, but in rural areas the boda boda seems … Continue reading Birding Amongst Taxi-bikes: Amani, East Usambara Mountains, Tanzania, Sunday 9th December 2018

Dipping Put in Perspective: Amani, East Usambara Mountains, Tanzania, Saturday 8th December 2018

Before we came to the Usambaras several of us were a little worried as we had been told that birding here was very hard work. We envisaged slithering up and down muddy trails in sweltering heat, but this was not the case. The birding is hard work because the birds are so hard to see. … Continue reading Dipping Put in Perspective: Amani, East Usambara Mountains, Tanzania, Saturday 8th December 2018

West to East: Magamba to Amani, Usambara Mountains, Tanzania, Friday 7th December 2018

It was another chilly morning, with the temperature well below 10o C. After breakfast we enjoyed a charming send-off from the staff at Muller’s Mountain Lodge. The place is a sort of Tanzanian Fawlty Towers - endearingly shambolic: the water went off for all the rooms yesterday as the pump broke down (they have a gravity … Continue reading West to East: Magamba to Amani, Usambara Mountains, Tanzania, Friday 7th December 2018

Spot-throat Dawn: Magamba, West Usambara Mountains, Tanzania, Thursday 6th December 2018

We decided to head out before breakfast for Spot-throat this morning, returning to the area close to the lodge where we had heard the species on our first afternoon. We could hear song almost as soon as we arrived, and Martin J. took us up the slope and into the thick undergrowth. It wasn't long … Continue reading Spot-throat Dawn: Magamba, West Usambara Mountains, Tanzania, Thursday 6th December 2018

Not Spotting Spot-throat: Magamba, West Usambara Mountains, Tanzania, Wednesday 5th December 2018

The Usambara Mountains are part of the Eastern Arc Mountains, which are mainly in Tanzania, but range from the Taita Hills in southern Kenya to the highlands of northern Malawi and Mozambique. They are ancient mountain ranges, over 100 million years old; Kilimanjaro is, by comparison, a youthful two million years old. The Eastern Arc … Continue reading Not Spotting Spot-throat: Magamba, West Usambara Mountains, Tanzania, Wednesday 5th December 2018

Off the Tourist Trail: Arusha to Magamba, West Usambara Mountains, Tanzania, Tuesday 4th December 2018

We met our new driver today, Martin, and we were introduced to our new vehicle, which was almost identical to the last Land Cruiser, but with a few subtle differences. Each one is, apparently, hand-customised, so the seating configuration was ever-so-slightly different. We set off from KIA lodge admiring the views of Mount Meru and … Continue reading Off the Tourist Trail: Arusha to Magamba, West Usambara Mountains, Tanzania, Tuesday 4th December 2018