On the road by 5.30am and drove in darkness back towards Addis Ababa and then got through the city without too many hold-ups. Our crazy schedule meant we got down to a cracking hotel overlooking Debre Zeit Crater for breakfast. From the veranda we could overlook a scrub and acacia covered slope down to the lake which was very scenic. There were lots of birds moving around in the morning sunshine and one of the first was possibly the best one of the day, in the shape of several Blue-breasted Bee-eaters perched up nearby. I was surprised to see this Erckel’s Francolin perched below us, whilst species such as Abyssinian White-eye, African Paradise-Flycatcher and African Dusky Flycatcher were more expected. More familiar wintering birds such as Common Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Blackcap were also a welcome sight. Overhead, African Fish Eagle, Marabou Stork, Pink-backed Pelican, Booted Eagle and Osprey were noted. And a fine breakfast was also much appreciated!
It was just a short drive to the Cheleklaka Wetlands, a vast lake area with tall grasses and scrub and out on the water we saw Maccoa Duck, Comb Duck, Spur-winged Goose and both Fulvous and White-faced Whistling-ducks.
A couple of Black Crowned Cranes were nice, whilst Lesser Flamingo and African Spoonbill were rather distant. A few waders were seen such as Temminck’s Stint, Wood, Green and Marsh Sandpipers, and there were also Hamerkop, Steppe Eagle, Yellow-billed Stork, Sacred Ibis, Squacco Heron, Ethiopian Swallow and a couple of flyover Common Cranes. Leaving here we stopped abruptly further down the main road when an Eastern Imperial Eagle flew over and there was also Wire-tailed Swallows here and a low flying immature Steppe Eagle. More roadside stops gave us Long-crested Eagle, Saddle-billed Stork and at Koka Dam numerous African Fish Eagles and 40+ Hamerkops.
|African Fish Eagle|
Finally we reached Ziway for lunch around 1pm and had a great Spaghetti Bolognese sat in the shade watching lots of birds visiting a fruiting tree next to us. We began with Hemprich’s Hornbill, Klaas’s Cuckoo, and Beautiful Sunbird followed by Red-faced Crombec, Black-headed Batis, Buff-bellied Warbler, White-browed Sparrow-weaver and an all too brief ‘acro’ warbler that disappeared before we could nail it.
Just around the corner was Lake Ziway and an amazing experience with 100’s of White Pelicans, Marabou Storks and a whole bunch of other ibis, egrets and others within touching distance.
We also had Pied, Malachite and Woodland Kingfishers, Ruppell’s Starling, Lesser Moorhen, Glossy Ibis and a few African Pygmy Goose.
|White Pelicans at Lake Ziway|
Dragging ourselves away from here we drove down the main road but didn’t get far before a pair of Abyssinian Ground Hornbills were seen right beside the road, and as we watched them also found Von Der Decken’s and Northern Red-billed Hornbills, Hadada Ibis, 4 Northern White-crowned Shrikes, Rufous-crowned Roller, plus a low flying White-rumped Swift.
|Abyssinian Ground Hornbill|
By the time we pulled into a superb lodge at Hawassa we had seen 143 species today. Not too shabby huh?