The Udzungwa Mountains National Park is home to approximately 400 species of bird, many of which are endemic to the area. Known as the Galapagos of East Africa due to the spectacular levels of biodiversity and endemism, the birdwatching opportunities here are unrivalled in Tanzania and the park ranks as one of the top ten birdwatching locations in the whole of the African continent.
The list of birds recorded in the Udzungwa Mountains National Park includes one of Udzungwa's most unusual birds, the Udzungwa Forest Partridge. The partridge, endemic to Tanzania and the Udzungwa Highlands, was only recently discovered in 1991 and is listed in the IUCN Red List 2008 as "globally threatened". Other Udzungwa bird species that are worthy of note include the Rufous-winged Sunbird, which was discovered in 1981, and also Swynnerton's robin, the Dappled mountain robin, the green-headed oriole, Livingstone's Turaco and the Usambara Eagle owl. Other bird species, common and rare, are found throughout the forest, the valley and the camp grounds themselves.
Another unique endemic species found only in this area is the Kilombero Weaver. A day trip down to the market town of Ifakara will include a trip to the ferry over the Kilombero River, and there you can wander along the riverbank and observe this brightly coloured endemic bird flying in and out of its remarkable nests. An afternoon trip down the river in a local dugout canoe will surely afford you more glimpses of this rare bird, among other birds congregating around the river and along its banks.
Of particular relevance to the Udzungwa Forest Tented Camp are the Hondo Hondo or Hornbills found in profusion in and around the campsite. Located on the forest edge, the lodge plays host to a remarkable nightly sight, as the three species of hornbills for which the camp is named come home to roost. Trumpeter, Silver-cheeked and Crowned Hornbills soar in across the forest at dusk, their calls echoing over the valley. You can watch as they call and settle in the surrounding trees, without having to leave the comfort of your lodge!
Hondo Hondo was recently delighted to welcome Valery Schollaert, a French orthnithologist and the brains behind Le Monde d'Ornithologie who spent about a month living with us, researching the resident and migrant bird species found in the grounds and surrounding area and training some of our staff. His webpage on the Birds of Hondo Hondo has some fantastic photographs of the unusual bird species found here. Another keen birder wrote of his visit to Hondo Hondo in his blog Udzungwas or Bust!
If you are a keen birder please see the Hondo Hondo Bird List for a detailed list compiled by Valery Schollaert in July 2011 of birds recorded in and around Hondo Hondo. There are many more to be found in the Kilombero Valley and the National Park as well, and of course this list is limited to Valery's time with us. We would be delighted if you were able to add to this list and we look forward to your visit!
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