Bagamoyo region, Coastal Tanzania north of Dar es Salaam - 2016

After a tiresome safari, it is always good to relax some days by the sea before returning home. On this journey, I booked a lodge at a place called Bomani Beach Bungalows, about 60 km north of Dar es Salaam. This lodge is situated in Mlingotini Village on coastal mainland Tanzania south of Bagamoyo. There I got a rustic room with a terrace overlooking a lagoon for about one week in early December. A perfect spot looking for birds and observe the locals doing their fishing business.

With December and January easily being the warmest months in the region, I preferred to stay in the shadows enjoying the Indian Ocean breeze, close to the air-conditioned room. I kept my camera with the 200-500 mm lens nearby, and occasionally got some photos of birds overflying the lagoon or smaller birds visiting the garden in front of me. Many of the heavily cropped bird images shown here were taken from this terrace spot. During my stay, I booked a two-hour boat trip in nearby Saadani National Park. Saadani National Park was gazetted as recently as in 2005. Saadani National Park covers 1062 km2 and is located about 130 km north of Dar es Salaam. Not known to be rich of wildlife, and far from resembling the in-land parks in terms of animal diversity, the coastal vicinity presents a different ecosystem. The trip that cost me about $180 for a two-hour boat ride (yikes!), was well worth the dollars. It started fro the Porokanya-Wami River Boat Safari Pier. Anyway, the most memorable moment of the trip was when the amateurish boat driver managed to ground the boat on a sandbank. An American, maybe aged 65, offered to help by jumping into the crocodile-infested river, to help pushing the boat free. His final words were, "I have lived a good life" :) With the help of the clients, the boat was freed. We got to see some hippos, and I got photos of the Pied Kingfisher. At the boat ramp area, I managed to get a photo of the Palm-Nut Vulture, the highlight of the trip. I am not saying you should not visit this park, although the Americans joining my boat ride claimed to have only seen giraffes during their morning safari game drive. My advice is to skip this park for mammals but go there for the birds. Although we did not see a lot of bird species during the boat ride, Saadani National Park appears to be a good place for birding.

I also went for a half-day dhow trip in the lagoon to look for flamingos. No flamingos were seen, unfortunately, but the white Indian Ocean beaches were well worth the visit. I managed to see numerous species of waders and terns from a distance. And got to see the Crab Plover, a new species to me.


Lagoon seen from Bomani Beach Bungalows

Cabin at the Bomani Beach Bungalows


Birding terrace

Dhow sailing


Lagoon view from the cabin terrace

Palm-nut Vulture (Gypohierax angolensis), Wami River. The highlight of the trip to Saadani National Park. I also observed this species from my terrace at Bomani Beach Bungalows and on my dhow trip at the same location. Meaning this vulture must be rather common on this coastal stretch


Palm-nut Vulture, appears to be the same individual as the opposite bird, coming back for more catfish


Northern Carmine Bee-eater (Merops nubicus), Bomani Beach Bungalows


Northern Carmine Bee-eater, Bomani Beach Bungalows

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Merops persicus), Bomani Beach Bungalows


Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Bomani Beach Bungalows

European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster), Bomani Beach Bungalows


Brown-breasted Barbet (Lybius melanopterus), Bomani Beach Bungalows

Common Scimitarbill (Rhinopomastus cyanomelas)


African Pied Wagtail (Motacilla aguimp), Bomani Beach Bungalows

Flower of the Baobab Tree (Adansonia digitata)


Baobab Tree fruit


Salt production plant in Saadani National Park


Grey-headed Kingfisher (Halcyon leucocephala), Bomani Beach Bungalows


Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis), Wami River, Saadani National Park

Southern Cordon-bleu (Uraeginthus angolensis), Bomani Beach Bungalows


Red-billed Firefinch (Lagonosticta senegala), Bomani Beach Bungalows

Spotted Flycatcher - Gråfluesnapper (Muscicapa striata), Bomani Beach Bungalows


Dark-capped/Common Bulbul (Pycnonotus barbatus), Bomani Beach Bungalows

Bronze Mannikin (Lonchura cucullata), Bomani Beach Bungalows


Indian Ocean seabirds, Bagamoyo

Indian Ocean seabirds, with lots of tern and wader species!


Sooty Gull (Ichthyaetus hemprichii), Bomani Beach Bungalows

Lesser Crested Tern (Thalasseus bengalensis), Bomani Beach Bungalows


Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica), Bomani Beach Bungalows

Saunder's Tern (Sternula saundersi), Saadani National Park


Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia) (with red bill, largest tern in the world), Bagamoyo (heavily cropped!)

Crab Plover (Dromas ardeola), Bagamoyo


Crab Plover, Bagamoyo

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta), Bomani Beach Bungalows



Little Egret, or more likely Dimorphic Egret, dark morph (Egretta dimorpha), Bagamoyo. Little and Dimorphic Egret is now considered the same species by some experts

Hamerkop (Scopus umbretta), Bomani Beach Bungalows


Dimorphic Egret (Egretta dimorpha), Wami River, Saadani National Park

Ring-necked Dove (Streptopelia capicola), Bomani Beach Bungalows


Emerald-spotted Wood-dove (Turtur chalcospilos), Bomani Beach Bungalows

Namaqua Dove (Oena capensis), Bomani Beach Bungalows


Fork-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus adsimilis fugax), Bomani Beach Bungalows

Black-bellied Starling (Lamprotornis corruscus), Bomani Beach Bungalows


Speckled Mousebird (Colius striatus), Bomani Beach Bungalows

Spectacled Weaver - male (Ploceus ocularis), Bomani Beach Bungalows


Spectacled Weaver - female (Ploceus ocularis), Bomani Beach Bungalows

Nest-building Village Weaver (Ploceus cucullatus), Saadani National Park


Sombre Greenbul (Andropadus importunus), Bomani Beach Bungalows

Tropical butterfly. I think this may be a Round-winged Orangetip (Colotis euippe)


Indian House Crows harassing a Pied Crow. The first species is introduced to the region, and considered a pest species since it decimate local bird wildlife by eating eggs and chicks. The Pied Crow, which is the natural crow in the region, is larger, but still was chased away by the more aggressive House Crows

Here chasing away a Yellow-billed Kite


African Harrier Hawk, here with a Pied Crow

Yellow-billed Kite with prey, looks like a Crab Plover?


Poor image of a Black Goshawk (Accipiter melanoleucus) with a wader prey

African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer), Wami River, Saadani National Park


African Harrier Hawk (Polyboroides typus), Bomani Beach Bungalows

Scarlet-chested Sundbird (Cinnyris bifasciatus), Bomani Beach Bungalows


Mouse-colored Sunbird (Cyanomitra veroxii), Bomani Beach Bungalows

Collared Sunbird (Hedydipna collaris), Bomani Beach Bungalows


Purple-banded Sunbird (Cinnyris bifasciatus), Bomani Beach Bungalows

Eurasian Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus), Bomani Beach Bungalows


African Black-headed Oriole (Oriolus larvatus), Bomani Beach Bungalows

Klaas's Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx klaas), Bomani Beach Bungalows


Northern Grey-headed Sparrow (Passer griseus) with a Brown-Breasted Barbet

White-browed Coucal (Centropus superciliosus), Bomani Beach Bungalows


Long-tailed Cormorant (Microcarbo africanus), Wami River, Saadani National Park

Curlew Sandpiper - Tundrasnipe (Calidris ferruginea)


Common Greenshank - Gluttsnipe (Tringa nebularia), Saadani National Park

White-fronted Plover - Strandlo (Charadrius marginatus)


White-fronted Plover

Greater Sandplover - Ørkenlo (Charadrius leschenaultii) in front of a Curlew Sandpiper


Size matter! A Lesser Sandplover - Mongollo (Charadrius mongolus), next to a Curlew Sandpiper (left)

Little Stint - Dvergsnipe (Charadrius marginatus)


Little Stint - Dvergsnipe

Bar-tailed Godwit - Lappsove (Limosa lapponica), with a Common Greenshank in front and Whimbrel to the left


Eurasian Curlew - Storspove (Numenius arquata)

Common Ringed Plover - Sandlo (Charadrius hiaticula)


Terek Sandpiper - Tereksnipe (Xenus cinereus) and Whimbrel - Småspove (Numenius phaeopus)

Whimbrel - Småsove (Numenius phaeopus), Wami River, Saadani National Park


Water Thick-knee (Burhinus vermiculatus), Bomani Beach Bungalows

Hippo (Hippopotamus amphibius), Wami River, Saadani National Park


Black-bellied Plover - Tundralo (Pluvialis squatarola)

Slender Mongoose (Galerella sanguinea), Bomani Beach Bungalows



Slender Mongoose. Notice those strange horisontal slit pupils

Banded Mongoose (Mungos mungo), Bomani Beach Bungalows


Banded Mongoose on alert


Stranded Blue-lined Philinopsis (Philinopsis speciosa), Bomani Beach Bungalows



Mangrove Fiddler crab (Uca sp.), Saadani NP. Female left, only males have large claw. Six species of fiddler crabs occur in East Africa: Uca annulipes (=Uca occidentalis), Uca gaimardi, Uca inversa, Uca hesperiae, Uca urvillei and Uca tetragonon. Could be Uca tetragonon? Saadani National Park

African Open-billed Stork (Anastomus lamelligerus), Bomani Beach Bungalows


Woolly-necked Stork (Ciconia episcopus), Wami River, Saadani National Park

The Sausage Tree (Kigelia africana) fruit


From the beach at Bomani Beach Bungalows

Northern Greater Galago (Otolemur garnettii ssp. panganiensis), the most common bushbaby in coastal Tanzania. Bomani Beach Bungalows


Tropical House Gecko (Hemidactylus mabouia), Bomani Beach Bungalows