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The African Pitta Still Believes in Pugu Forest

The interest for the African Pitta migration of 2012 started with a possible siting on the Pugu Hills Nature Centre trail during the Eastern Holidays. Due to doubts about this African Pitta a query among the "Dar Birders" revealed that actually an African Pitta had landed in the "Peninsula", the part of Dar es Salaam with adequately invitive gardens.

african_pitta_dar Photo Courtesy of Jan van Hombergh

The pitta did not allow anymore photographs in the "wild" after being released.

Neil Baker (one of Tanzanian's bird gurus) wrote:

"These birds are moving through Dar at the moment, on their way north from southern breeding grounds. Only a small population is involved that is known to "winter" in coastal Kenya and probably originates in SE Tanzania.
They are nocturnal migrants and can get disoriented in heavy rain which forces them down where they are attracted to bright lights that enable them to "focus". They are often tired when forced to land and can be collected by hand. it is not all that unusual.

This is an EARLY bird, more frequent in the Pugu Hills during the 1st week of May. They breed as far north as the southern bank of the Rufiji and Kilombero rivers. There is a large and seemingly healthy population in SE Tanzania that most probably migrates NW to DRC and Uganda but we have VERY few records to prove this assumption. Movement through Mufindi in May is well documented and we have a single July record from Minziro forest on the border with Uganda.
As ever there is much to learn and for sure many populations of many birds will be extirpated before we know much more about them."

On Sunday April 29th, 2012 "An Annual African Pitta Hunt in Dar" was organised in the Pugu Forest and very successful with three sightings in a part of the forest which hardly deserves the name any longer. The picture shows one of this year's annual visitors to Pugu.

African_Pitta_Pugu_Forest_4-2012_reduced Photo Courtesy of Tony Evans






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