Monday, 4 November 2013

Ethiopia - Debre Libanos and Sululta Plain

Following a reasonably comfortable 8 hour overnight flight we touched down in Addis Ababa (2640m) at 6.40am and then undertook the tedious immigration and customs procedures before meeting up with our local guide and driver. We drove straight out of the city and headed up to the Sululta Plain stopping for breakfast at a roadside hotel. There was a small garden here and we were very surprised to notch up a number of species here with such goodies as African Citril, Mountain Thrush, Tacazze Sunbird, Brown-rumped and Streaky Seedeaters, Greater Blue-eared Glossy Starling and many Swainson’s Sparrows. Overhead there was a constant stream of Yellow-billed Kites, Hooded Vultures, a few Ruppell’s and White-backed Vultures, plus the first of 5 Lammergeiers to be seen today. 

Ruppell's Griffon Vulture

Just as we were about to get back into the landcruiser, a Moorland Chat flew up onto the telegraph wire right next to us. 

Moorland Chat - a common highland endemic

Once out on the plain and we made our first stop when a little group of endemic Wattled Ibis were spotted beside a small pool. After a nice look at them through the scope we also saw a couple commoner endemics with White-collared Pigeon and Blue-winged Goose showing well, plus Egyptian Goose, Tawny Eagle, Plain Martin and flocks of Yellow Wagtails as well. Our next stop produced yet another endemic, this time a pair of Erlanger’s Larks, followed by Yellow Bishop, male Pin-tailed Whydah, Pied and Isabelline Wheatears

Isabelline Wheatear

A few kilometres further on and we stopped rather abruptly when a bunch of vultures were seen feeding on a carcass close to the road. Pride of place was a hulking Lappet-faced Vulture that literally towered over the squabbling Ruppell’s, White-backed and a single tiny Hooded Vulture here. 

Lappet-faced Vulture and a Ruppell's Griffon Vulture

Lappet-faced Vulture towers over the White-backed and Ruppell's Vultures

A Red-breasted Wheatear was then picked up nearby, along with more Erlanger’s and a Thekla Lark as well.

Erlanger's Lark - another endemic

We eventually reached our destination at lunchtime of the Ethio-German Park Hotel which is literally placed right on the edge of a huge escarpment where Fan-tailed Ravens and various raptors come in for great views. Once we had dropped our luggage into our rooms we had a little look around the trees and scrubby bushes in the garden and picked up Stout Cisticola, Ethiopia Boubou, Variable Sunbird, Ruppell’s Robin-chat, a fine Yellow-bellied Waxbill, and a trio of new endemics: White-winged Cliff-chat, Ruppell’s Black Chat and White-billed Starling.

The view from our lodge at Debre Libanos

Debre Libanos
Stout Cisticola
Yellow-bellied Waxbill

 In the late afternoon we drove the short distance to Debre Libanos Monastery, stopping along the way to view our first Gelada Baboons and a spanking Red-collared Widowbird.  The woodland here was pretty good and pride of place went to several White-cheeked Turacos present, although an endemic trio of Banded Barbet, Abyssinian Slaty Flycatcher and Black-winged Lovebird weren’t too shabby either! 

White-cheeked Turaco

We also had Brown Woodland Warbler, Red-billed Firefinch, Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, Village Indigobird, Mountain Wagtail and Northern Puffback. Back at the lodge we had better views of White-winged Cliff-chat near the Portuguese Bridge, along with Erckel’s Francolin, Wahlberg’s EagleMocking Cliff-chat and a huge flock of Nyanza Swifts. Lee was on fire today and to cap off all of his great finds today he also spotted a Golden Jackal to end a great day’s birding.

Gelada Baboon - non bird of the day

Internet is a rare thing over here so there may well be a few day's gap before I can continue the story.......

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