Reports, with Bird Lists, of our Meetings, Walks and Outings

Birds and Wildlife of Tanzania and Kenya
by Ken Panchen

Date: Thursday 18 January 2018 at 19:30


Fifty-three people attended this meeting, at which Ken Panchen gave an illustrated presentation of some of the birds and mammals seen on a trip to Tanzania and Kenya.

Ken is a long-time member of our group and served as Group Leader from 2002 – 2007.

The presentation covered three African wildlife hot-spots; the Ngorongoro Crater (the largest intact volcanic caldera on the planet), the Serengeti and Amboseli as well as the Olduvai Gorge, famous for its remains of some of the earliest ancestors of modern man.  The overall bird species count for the trip was over 500 so Ken was only able to show us about 10% of these.

Bird species included numerous larks, three large bustards, including the largest one of all Corrie’s bustard, crested guinea fowl and the vulture guinea fowl which has the most beautiful blue body, but a very ugly head.

Mammals were well represented by two species of giraffe, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, wild dogs, tree hyrax, golden jackals, Thompson’s gazelles and gerenuk – a very long-necked antelope.  Lion cubs provided an inevitable “ah” from the audience and a young, testosterone-fuelled, bull elephant the evening’s fright as he charged the vehicle Ken was travelling in!

Some extremes featured, e.g. very small antelope - the blue dyke antelope, the largest hornbill – the ground hornbill, the smallest falcon – the pygmy falcon, the tallest heron – the Goliath heron, several kingfishers that don’t fish, two- and three-banded coursers which seem to have six or seven bands and some exceptionally beautiful and rare birds including the lilac-breasted roller, the yellow-billed stork, the saddle-billed stork, Schalow’s turaco,  purple-breasted cuckoo shrike and the golden-breasted starling.

Ken, as always, gave a very interesting talk supported by wonderful quality photography by Marcus Lilje.  We look forward to the output from his next birdwatching odyssey!

Brian Clews gave the What’s About report:

Generally, reports of the many hawfinches present in the county over recent weeks (including up to 111 at Basildon Park) have declined but potentially only because birders have stopped visiting now.

  • Jubilee River – several water rails calling, (and responding well to mimicking calls), at least five Cetti’s warblers, a Mediterranean gull on the floods, with shelduck now back there.
  • Little Marlow GP – another Mediterranean gull (or the same) in a roost of 4,000 common gulls and 5,000 black-headed gulls
  • Dinton Pastures – 1 hawfinch occasionally, 2 ferruginous ducks (present for some time)
  • Burghfield Lake/Field Farm land-fill – great white egret
  • Lower Farm,Newbury – black-necked grebe
  • Wishmoor, Sandhurst – 16 parrot-billed crossbills
  • Ridgeway towards Cow Down – great grey shrike (100m west of Ridgeway car park)
  • Otmoor – Starling murmuration very good this year but an appeal to visit mid-week to relieve congestion at weekends.  (Marsh and hen harrier there and large numbers of lapwing and golden plover)
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Lilac breasted roller in Tarangire National Park
Lilac breasted roller in Tarangire National Park

Tanzania and Kenya offer the best viewing opportunities for Southern African birds and other wildlife. The hot spots of the Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti and Amboseli all feature in this talk, along with other, less familiar areas.

White-headed Mousebird at Buffalo Springs National Reserve, Kenya Saddle-billed Stork, Serengeti
White-headed Mousebird Saddle-billed Stork


Ken has been associated with the RSPB East Berks Local Group for well over 30 years, having served as a Committee Member and Group Leader during that time. He now devotes much of his spare time travelling far and wide with birding as his main focus. He is still an active volunteer for the RSPB as a Warden at Otmoor and Church Wood Hedgerley, and as an RSPB Community speaker. He also gives presentations for The Chilterns Conservation Board.

All pictures are © Copyright. Do not reproduce without permission from Marcus Lilje.