A twitchers island paradise

By Paul Oliver, founder of Oliver’s Camp and well-known birder

When invited to join a visit to Rubondo Island National Park by the ‘Friends of Asilia’ a huge smile spread across my face! Having been there a few times in the late 90s and for a memorable 10-day visit over the millennium I was eager to return. Birding safaris, ones that focus on Tanzania’s extraordinary avian diversity, are something I organize 3-4 times a year; these safaris get us to quite remote and often little known parts of this huge country. On such safaris we ‘birders’ make lists, we look for rarities of course but the bulk of our data collection is to document the seasonality and breeding of an areas birdlife. I also take photographs and the enjoyment of capturing a special image drives me on! Thankfully some of my photographs are good enough to be displayed here: www.tanzaniabirds.net

Everyone is fishing at Rubondo

The Tanzanian Bird Atlas to which I have been a contributor for the past 25 years or so collects the history of bird observations in a particular area. http://tanzaniabirdatlas.com/

Before this visit I requested an up to date list from the bird atlas and was amazed to find that 316 species had been recorded on or close to Rubondo Island. That’s a lot of diversity in a relatively small area. These records are broken down by month and breeding activity and I noticed that November had few visitor records. This really gets the blood pumping for a ‘birder’! These bird records highlight observer visits of course and if only a few people have submitted records for any November then data is lacking.

Would I find new species for the Island, new breeding records, unknown migrant species perhaps? Would some central Africa species that we don’t encounter in the Serengeti/Manyara/Tarangire areas be common? Which species would be easier to photograph? Were the varied habitats still healthy and the birdlife here still as diverse and abundant as I remembered from my last visit in 2002? Would I remember the forest birdcalls? I quickly went to this website: www.xeno-canto.org/world-area.php?area=africa to listen and reacquaint myself.

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My next Rubondo bird‐blog will reveal my findings… Best wishes for 2013!

Paul Oliver

Rubondo Island Camp logo