There are a number of long drives on any Ethiopia tour and today was no exception, but there are always lots and lots of birds to see with Yellow-necked Spurfowl and Eastern Chanting Goshawk being the first new birds of the day. So we left Negelle shortly after 5am and headed out on the bumpy dirt road towards Yabello, and after about an hour as we drove through acacia woodland saw a pair of African Golden Orioles fly over the road. So we stopped and spent a little while in the area and it was jumping, with a pair of Black-headed Orioles, Yellow-spotted Petronia, African Grey Hornbill, Nubian Woodpecker, Lilac-breasted Roller and a cracking pair of Grey-headed Bush-shrikes present. Continuing on we stopped at the edge of a small village when a Striped Kingfisher was seen, and also saw a Diederik Cuckoo, and some Shelley’s Starlings.
As usual when we stop and find one bird, then others quickly follow and at the same stop a pair of Brubru were called in, a male Hunter’s Sunbird flew in to its nest and then a Cardinal Woodpecker appeared.
We kept on driving all day and the route was characterised by an extremely long, straight dirt road that kept on going all the way to the horizon. A Grey Wren-Warbler was new for us some time later, and then at a stake-out we quickly located African White-winged Dove after a heavy thunderstorm. At the same spot an immature Rufous-tailed Rock-thrush was a nice find as well.
|African White-winged Dove|
|Rufous-tailed Rock-thrush - looking very bedraggled after a thunderstorm|
We spent the early afternoon at the Dawa River not finding Juba Weaver in the hottest temperature we had experienced so far. The Acacia forest here was very quiet until we got to a certain point and then found Somali Bunting, Purple Grenadier, White-browed Scrub-robin, D’Arnaud’s Barbet, Violet-backed Sunbird, Yellow-breasted Apalis, and a Pygmy Batis. Along the river a pair of African Fish-eagles were seen, along with Pied Kingfisher, African Pied Wagtail, and overhead a Long-legged Buzzard was a surprise, as was another Black-chested Snake-eagle. Leaving here a Turkestan Shrike was perched along the roadside.
Driving on, and the road kept on going on and on, we had Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Golden-breasted Starlng, flocks of Vulturine Guineafowl, Pygmy Falcon, and a Grasshopper Buzzard.
Finally, we reached an open, savannah area where several Somali Ostriches were striding along in a typical African scene, Somali Fiscals were perched up, a pair of White-bellied Bustards were spotted by Lee, and a colony of Black-capped Social-Weavers were seen.
It was then that the rain came in really heavy and stayed until the end of the day so we drove another 80 kms to Yabello, where we found ourselves at a rather nice hotel – much to our surprise!