Headed to the Bilen Lodge area of Awash NP and along the bumpy, rocky track scored quickly with several Nile Valley Sunbirds and a Rufous Bushchat – both new species for the trip.
There was also Cardinal Woodpecker, Black-throated Barbet, Turkestan Shrike, and other common birds. At a small pool there were a few Little and Temminck’s Stints, Wood Sandpiper, Black-headed Wagtail and best of all, a pair of Three-banded Plovers.
Nearby we had a couple pairs of Yellow-breasted Barbets showing well, an incredible bird and one I wasn’t expecting for some reason. Overhead we had lots of Montagu’s and a few Pallid Harriers, Brown Snake-Eagle and flocks of Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse. Leaving here we drove to the Aladeghe Plain and I think we left it a bit too late as it was 10.30am and the heat haze was really bad, but it was an enjoyable time as there was an invasion of locusts being predated on by 500+ Lesser Kestrels, as well as flocks of Marabou and White Storks, and a few Woolly-necked Storks.
We drove quite a way across the grassland and eventually found a single Arabian Bustard about 300m away, so we quietly walked towards it and had great views through the scope. This is a much-wanted bird for everyone and a contender for bird of the trip. A Steppe Grey Shrike was also skulking in the shade of a small acacia, at another tree a flock of Red-billed Quelea were seen and our only Black-headed Plover of the tour as well.
So by now it was getting well over 100 fahrenheit so we returned to the hotel for a cold drink, lunch and a siesta before heading back into the park. As usual here it was pretty quiet but we managed to find 4 Senegal Thick-knees along the river, a group of Blue-naped Mousebirds, White-bellied Go-Away-Bird, and Eastern Grey Plantain-Eater. On the drive out we saw Crested Francolin, Yellow-necked Spurfowl, and a flock of Helmetted Guineafowl. Non avian interest today was quite high with Olive Baboon, Gerenuk, Soemmering’s Gazelle, Dikdik, Lesser Kudu and a Golden Jackal which was being mobbed by a couple of Steppe Eagles who were after the rodent he had just caught.