Bird watching in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Lake Eyasi and Yaida Chini : There is a special wildlife reserve in the Ngorongoro Protected Area which joins Serengeti National park to the east. Here there are eight volcanoes that have formed a catered plateau. There are four peaks which are rising above 3,000 meters or 10,000 feet together with the wetlands that attract birds and various animals. The most famous in the region is the crater lake Magadi, it is also pronounced as Makati with an altitude of 1700 meters. The lake is known to be home to Flamingos. The bottom parts of the Ngorongoro crater is surrounded by wildlife, it is one of the places in the region with the highest density of mammal predators in Africa with the local lion population being the most noticeable.
There are more than 500 species of birds that can be see here in the Ngorongoro which include some Waterfowl, Lesser flamingos which are found on the lakes and marshes of the reserve, Cape Teals( Anas capensis), Maccoa Duck (Oxyura maccoa), which are increasingly rare in East Africa. Several species of herons are also found here, African Rails ( Rallus caerulescens) and whiskered Terns ( Chlidonias hybrida). Cattle Egret ( Bubulcus ibis) found in large numbers. This birds mostly seen on the back of castles are believed to remove ticks from the cattle and also help in driving away the flies, thus helping in fighting diseases in herds of herbivores. The Tanzania Maasai have a myth that they use the sign of these birds to determine that it is time to leave their habitat and move to a new one, after seeing a large concentration of egrets. They believe that the presence of the birds is a sign of a coming drought and it is Tim to leave their homes and drive the cattle to more fertile lands.
The low grasses of the Ngorongoro plains is an important habitat for all the seven species of Vultures that are found in Africa such as : White- backed vulture (Gyps africanus), Hooded Vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus), Lappet-faced Vulture or Nubian Vulture ( Torgos tracheliotos), White- headed vulture (Trigonoceps occipitalis), Egyptian vulture, which is also known as Pharaoh’s chicken ( Neophron percnopterus), Bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) and palm- nut Vulture (Gypohierax anglonsis), All the others, with the exception of the last two have been categorised as endangered species with some of them being in critical situation. There are also many other Raptors found in the region apart from vultures.
There are some Cape Crow ( Corvus capensis)and the Brown-backed woodpecker( Dendropicos obsoletus crateri) which are considered to be the most interesting birds in the area. Their population is unique to Tanzania and they are concentrated in the crater Highlands.
There are some birds species which are endemics to Ngorongoro and the neighbouring Serengeti National park. Which include; Grey-breasted Spurfowl ( Pternistis rufopictus) Tanzanian Red-billed Hornbill (Tockus ruahae) Kilimanjaro White Eye (Zosterops eurycricotus), Yellow- collared lovebird ( Agapornis personatus), Rufous tailed weaver (Histurgops ruficaudus) all these species are common in the Ngorongoro crater.
There are uncommonly spotted bird species in the Ngorongoro such as the Gray- Crested Helmetshrike ( Prionops poliolophus) their records in the region have not been updated for a long time as they are rarely seen. Birdwatchers believe that the Helmetshrikes which are the inhabitants of Kenya and Tanzania might have migrated to the neighbouring area of the Maswa Game Reserve.
Lake Eyasi is shallow salt which is located South of Ngorongoro crater. The lake is so small that it can completely dry up during the dry periods, it is so small that the local people cross it on foot. During the rainy season the is no deeper than one meter about 3 feet with some years there are enough water in Lake Eyasi to attract hippos from the neighbouring Serengeti. It is 80 kilometers long and there is still enough water in the lake to sustain waterfowl.
Flamingos enjoy the lake during their migration. The other waterfowls which live here include Yellow-billed Stork(Mycteria ibis),the Common Snipe( Gallinago gallinago), Temminck’s Stint ( Calidris temminckii), and the African Spoonbill( platelet alba) which has its name suggest has a spoon-shaped beak. The bird dips it beak into the water and swing it from side to side to catch small fish ,crustaceans, molluscs and larvae.
The endemics birds on the eastern shores of Lake Eyasi are Fischer’s lovebirds( Agapornis fischeri). These are very beautiful birds with richly coloured plumage. They are kept in captivity as pets ,because of their striking appearance. These birds require enough space for their rapid flights. Other endemic birds include: Ashy Starling( Lamprotornis unicolor), Karamoja Apalis ( Apalis karamojae) and many other birds.
Yaida Valley also know as Yaeda Valley lies south of Lake Eyasi. This region floods during the heavy rains seasons which turns the valley into marshes. Waterfowl are found on the thickets and other species of birds can be found on the acacia and baobab trees near the Mbulu Highlands.
There is a group of people called Hadzabe who are isolated live on the area, they are still maintaining their traditional lifestyle of Hunters and gatherers. They hunt the large animals in the region and to the birds they collect their eggs. This is one of the oppressed peoples of Tanzania by losing their vast territories.
The Hadza people and some of the birds in the region have mutually benefiting relationship. The birds such as the Greater Honeyguide( indicator indicator). It is one of the few birds which can digest beeswax. It got its name for its ability to literally point to the hives of the wild bees. The Hadza people diet include honey because of its caloric value. These people have learned to imitate the sound of these birds to call them to trees. The honeyguides fly in and show the location of the hive. The Hadza people smoke the bees, they then cut open the hive and take the honey, leaving the tidbits of the wax for the honeyguides.
This is the way in which humans and birds find themselves benefiting from each other. There is a myth that some people believe that the bird that has shown the hive must be given some wax, otherwise it will retaliate next time by leading them to a dangerous predator. The Hadza people have often taken with purpose the wax and Bury on the spot to prevent the birds from getting anything, to make them remain hungry and again quickly show a new place with bees. In Kenya it is reported that these birds have stopped showing hives because of such betrayal.
There are also Glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), Black-necked Grebe which travels in the air as far as 6,000 kilometers during migration. Yaida Chini is home to other species too such as the Knob-billed Duck( Dendrocygna bicolor), Black- tailed Godwits (Limosa limosa) and Ruffs (Calidris pugnax) whose males acquire impressive mating attire during breeding that includes bright coloration, which has tufts of feathers on the head and a magnificent collar on the neck. The name Ruff means an exaggerated collar fashionable which is the mid- sixteenth century to the mid- seventeenth century.