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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Impromptu Ethiopia - Day 2

After a fantastic nights sleep I awoke early. I wanted to have a trek down to "portuguese bridge" at first light before breakfast. We had had an amazing Thuunderstorm the night before and had watched, huddled around a wood fire, the most amazing electrical activity.  This morning the view I was presented with was stunning !  Stood at the top of the gorge there was a layer of cloud below me in the valley,  to my regret I did not have my pocket camera with me and a 500mm lens just would not have captured the scene.   Spent most of the early morning in this location and at nearby Debre Libanos before heading off to Jemma Valley.  This would mean a descent from around 3500m and to around a 1000m and a significant increase in temperature !

Some pics from the Portuguese Bridge and Debre Libanos locations :

Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu (Uraeginthus bengalus)

Pied Crow ( Corvus albus)

African Goshawk (Accipiter tachiro )

African Goshawk (Accipiter tachiro )

Brown-throated Wattle-eye (Platysteira cyane)

Mountain Wagtail (Motacilla clara)

Speckled Mousebird (Colius striatus)

White-billed Starling (Onychognathus albirostris)

Speckled Mousebird (Colius striatus)


We then moved on down into Jemma Valley,  this was a beautiful journey descending into the valley.  The road down was a little hairy in places but added to the fun !!  At the bottom was a river bed and as it was only just the start of the rainy season the flow of water was not too strong.  With plenty of space to walk along side.   However my stride was soon halted with the site of what I believe to be Nile Crocodiles !  Fortunately they were keen to get into the water as I approached closer,  something I was quite happy about and made sure I did not get too close to the water's edge !!  Some pictures taken on the way to the valley and in the valley.    You can see many more of my Ethiopian Images here :  Flikr or here Pbase


Hammerkop (Scopus umbretta)


Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax)

Abyssinian Siskin (Serinus nigric)

Spur-winged Plover (Vanellus spinosus )


Senegal Thick-knee (Burhinus senegalensis)


Nile Crocodile



Saturday, July 9, 2011

Impromptu Ethiopia !

Day 1

Weekend of 30.06.11 was a three day weekend here in the UAE due to a national holiday.  Not wanting to be sitting around in the heat for three days a friend of mine suggested a short trip somewhere,  he had in mind Ethiopia given it's proximity to the UAE and relatively cheap travel opportunity.  Unfortunately the weather forecast was pretty poor as this was now the start of the rainy season, so the trip was off then on then off and then on again !   We both decided we should take the risk as the birding opportunity was too good to give up on with a number of endemic and near-endemic species on our hitlist.   So eventually, wtih everything booked,  we arrived at the airport around 15:00 in good time for our 17:15 departure to Addis Ababa.  We were travelling Ethiopian Airlines and arriving at check-in, it quickly became obvious that this was going to be a slow process :-(

Eventually we were checked in and informed of a one-and-half hour delay ,  hmm,  in my experience that number is standard as the first stake-in-the-ground.  I was to be proved right when the total delay was eventually 6 hours,  eventually leaving at 23:00 and not arriving at our hotel in Addis Ababa until 03:30 leaving us with only a couple of hours to sleep as we wanted to be up at first light !  We stayed at the Ghion Hotel, known for it's extensive Garden's. These gardens were alive with birds at 5:30am a little too dark for photography but one or two species were captured.  Adrenalin was to keep me going for the rest of the day,  sites visited were :

Addis airport swamp, Sululta Plains, Portuguese Bridge & Debre Libranos (o/n Ethio-German Lodge, Portuguese Bridge)

During the whole three days we saw 137 Species ,  including 21 near-endemic and 4 endemic.  In conclusion Ethiopia is a wonderful country to visit ,  with lovely country side and lovely people.  Best of all many species which are very approachable !

Here are some pictures from Day 1.

 Brown-rumped Seedeater (Serinus tristriatus)


 Tacazze Sunbird (Nectarinia tacazze)

 Baglafecht Weaver (Ploceus baglafecht)

 Ethiopian Cisticola (Cisticola lugubris)

 Groundscraper Thrush (Psophocichla litsipsirup)

 Blue-winged Goose (Cyanochen cyanoptera)

  Blue-winged Goose (Cyanochen cyanoptera)

 Ethiopian Cisticola (Cisticola lugubris)

African Citril (Serinus citrinelloides)

 Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus)

 Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus)

 Thekla Lark (Galerida theklae)

 Blue-eared Glossy-starling (Lamprotornis chalybaeus)

 Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)

 Hemprich's Hornbill (Tockus hemprichii)

 Grey Woodpecker (Dendropicos goertae)

Fan-tailed Raven (Corvus rhipidurus)

White-cheeked Turaco (Tauraco leucotis)

"The Gelada Baboon is large and robust. It is covered with buff to dark brown coarse hair and has a dark face with pale eyelids. Its arms and feet are nearly black. Its tail is shorter than its body and has a tuft of hair at the end.  Adult males have a long, heavy cape of hair on their back. The gelada has a hairless face that is shorter and higher than in baboons and its snout is more like that of a chimpanzee. It can also be physically distinguished from a baboon by the bright patch of skin on its chest. This patch is hourglass-shaped. On males it is bright red and surrounded by white hair; on females it is far less pronounced. However, when in estrus, the female's patch will brighten, and a "necklace" of fluid-filled blisters forms on the patch. This is thought to be analogous to the swollen buttocks common to most baboons experiencing estrus.  In addition, females have pearl-like knobs of skin around their patches"   quote - Wikipaedia.

Gelada Baboon (Theropithecus gelada)
Gelada Baboon (Theropithecus gelada)

Gelada Baboon (Theropithecus gelada)
Gelada Baboon (Theropithecus gelada)
Gelada Baboon (Theropithecus gelada)