Friday, November 29, 2019

Ethiopia - Northeast

Black-headed Lapwings and Puff Adder
We continued north and east, next visiting Awash National Park and the beautiful namesake waterfall. This part of Ethiopia is dry but for a brief summer rainy period. It is flat with typical acacia scrub habitat. Moving a little farther north we visited the Aledeghi Wildlife Reserve, one of the best places in the world to see Arabian Bustard. After seeing our lifer bustard, we moved farther along looking for Black-headed Lapwing. A few were spotted and our Land Cruisers all moved into position for good views. As I was staring at the plovers through my camera lens I thought it interesting that the birds were all gathered around an old animal spine laying in the dirt. And then the spine started moving... SNAKE!! And not just any snake, but a Puff Adder. Wow! The snake wasn't bothered by the birds, nor in any hurry to go anywhere, so we got to look at it for a good long time - from a respectful distance!

eBird list Awash NP

eBird List Aledeghi Wildlife Preserve

Awash Falls

Scanning for Arabian Bustard

Abyssinian Roller

Double-banded Courser

Grey-headed Batis

Northern Carmine Bee-Eater

Northern Carmine Bee-Eater

Eastern Grey Plantain-Eater

Ruppell's Griffon Vulture

Sombre Rock-Chat

Arabian Bustard

Arabian Bustard

Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse

Hamadryas Baboon

Nrothern Carmine Bee-eater
Somali Ostrich

Yellow-breasted Barbet
Continuing still farther north we visited the high-altitude escarpment of the Gemasa Gedel to see two unique animal - the Ankober Serin and Gelada (Lion-headed) Baboons. The weather didn't cooperate very well with heavy fog and wind, but we still managed some good looks. The endemic Serin was only discovered in 1976 and lives in just a few isolated pockets along this escarpment. 

eBird list Gemasa Gedel

Birding the Gemasa Gedel escarpment

Endemic Abyssinian Longclaw

Ankober Serin

Gelada Baboon

Gelada Baboon

Gelada Baboon

Gelada Baboon
And finally we visited the deep Jemma Valley and the Blue Nile River. Along with the White Nile, the Blue Nile form the two major tributaries of the longest river in the world. 

eBird list Jemma Valley escarpment
eBird list Jemma Valley river

Jemma Valley and the Blue Nile

Black-winged Red Bishop

Endemic Harwood's Francolin

Mocking Cliff-Chat

Mountain Wagtail

Ruppell's Black Chat

Speckle-fronted Weaver

White-billed Starling
This finished our main birding tour of Ethiopia - but we're not done yet! In the next post we'll see the amazing 13th century rock churches of Lalibela.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Ethiopia - South

Stresmann's Bush-Crow
Coming out of the Bale Mountains we visited a number of sites in the south and Rift Valley - near the towns of Yabelo, Nagele, and Awassa. Each of these areas have special birds to see, especially Yabelo where we sought and found the endemics
White-tailed Swallow and Stresemann's Bush-Crow. For those who bird the mountains of the western U.S., it's not hard to see the amazing resemblance to our Clark's Nutcracker (also a corvid). 

We also spent part of a morning on the Liben Plains, near Negele, for a look at one of the rarest birds on earth - Archer's (Liben) Lark. With some estimates of as few at 100 birds, we felt fortunate to get good looks and a few photos of this species.

eBird List Liben Plain

eBird List Yabelo

eBird List Lake Awassa


Golden-breasted Starling

Scarlet-chested Sunbird

Somali Bunting

Vitelline Weaver

White-tailed Swallow

White-winged Widowbird
Archer's Lark

Archer's Lark

Plain-backed Pipit

Somali Fiscal

Somali Short-toed Lark

Straw-tailed Wydah on straw

White-bellied Bustard

White-crested Helmet-Shrike

White-crowned Starling
Black Crake

Grivet Monkey

Guereze (Black and White Colubus) Monkey

Marabou Stork

Silvery-cheeked Hornbill

Silvery-cheeked Hornbill

African Spotted Creeper

This post gets us caught up to real time. We have about a week left on the trip.