Birding Without Borders

Day 235: Covert Birding

Sometimes a little white lie pays off in species.

August 23, 2015: Same, TanzaniaThis morning Anthony and our driver, Roger, guided Harv, Kelle, David and me east from Arusha. We birded a couple of different spots before posting up in a town called Same (“Sah-may”) for the night.

Around midday Anthony took us down a dirt road to access a reservoir where, he said, we might find some interesting waterbirds. As we approached the lake, though, he suddenly pivoted in his seat and said, “Everyone, please hide your binoculars and cameras for a few minutes.”

This seemed like a strange request, but we did as he asked. To access the reservoir, Anthony said, we must pass through two security gates and, officially, tourists were not allowed to enter here. So, at the gate, Anthony explained to the security guards that we were missionaries visiting a Roman Catholic church in a village down the road! Never mind that our safari vehicle had “Tanzania Birding” signs plastered on the doorsit seemed like this was standard procedure here. The guards squinted through the windows and we were waved through. 

In another half mile we rolled into a dusty village, where Anthony pointed out the church standing vacant among some huts, and we turned a corner to find a lake full of birds nearby. “OK, you can get out your binoculars now,” said Anthony, and we spent a happy half hour scoping the water, where I saw a pair of White-necked Ravens and added White-winged Terns, a Marsh Sandpiper, and, most appropriately, a Zanzibar Red Bishop.

New birds today: 13

Year list: 4048

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