Sunday, 30 November 2014

Ethiopia - Addis Ababa to Debre Libanos

Following a direct, overnight flight from London to Addis Ababa we arrived about half an hour early. So after clearing immigration and getting our baggage we met our local guide, Girum, and loaded our luggage into our 3 Toyota Landcruisers. Whilst I  returned to the terminal to wait for Mike who was flying in from California the rest of the group notched up quite a few goodies around the airport including Dusky Turtle Dove, Thick-billed Raven, Grey-backed Fiscal, Greater Blue-eared Glossy Starling, African Citril, Tacazze Sunbird and Swainson's Sparrow amongst others. 

White-browed Robin-Chat

Once Mike had arrived we drove to the Ghion Hotel for breakfast and coffee (oh yes!!) and then a quick look in the gardens proved worthwhile as we saw a pair of White-browed Robin-Chats, Abyssinian Slaty and African Dusky Flycatchers, Speckled Mousebirds, Montane White-eye, and both Brown-rumped and Streaky Seedeaters. Leaving here we met up with Tony who had arrived earlier from Ireland and then set off through the chaotic traffic and up onto the Sululta Plain. 

The endemic Wattled Ibis

Our first stop was excellent as we had our first endemic Wattled Ibis, Blue-winged Goose, White-collared Pigeon, and Ethiopian Siskin. Some pools were full of water and held several Yellow-billed Ducks and at least 2 Hottentot Teals, Black Stork, African Sacred Ibis and Black-headed Heron, whilst waders present included a confiding Temminck's Stint, several Ruff, Black-winged Stilt, Wood and Green Sandpipers and a large flock of Spur-winged Lapwings. Best of all were several views of African Snipe, which seemed to outnumber the Common Snipes that were also present here. 

Yellow-billed Ducks

Walking across the field and around the edge of the pools yielded Egyptian Goose, many Blue-headed Wagtails and Red-throated Pipits, Brown-throated Martin, flocks of Red-rumped Swallows, Moorland Chat and a few Pied Wheatears. Many Yellow-billed Kites were present, along with quite a few Tawny Eagles, whilst overhead there was a Lanner, Hooded and Ruppell's Vultures, at least two classic Lammergeiers, and a perched Augur Buzzard was also very nice. 

A short drive took us to a different area of fields where Plain-backed Pipit, Isabelline Wheatear, Ethiopian Cisticola, a few Red-billed Oxpeckers were hitching a ride on some horses, and eventually decent views of the endemic Abyssinian Longclaw through the scope, whilst an African Fish-Eagle flew low over our heads. 

View from the lodge at Debre Libanos at dusk

From here we drove to our lodge situated right at the edge of a stunningly deep escarpment. We took a late lunch outside, watching quite a few Palearctic wintering birds such as Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler, and even a soaring male Pallid Harrier. More typical African birds were also present, such as Black-crowned Tchagra, Variable Sunbird, Fan-tailed Raven, a flyby Verreaux's Eagle, and even the endemic White-winged Cliff-Chat.

Stour Cisticola

After lunch we drove down to the monastery and found Red-fronted Tinkerbird, the endemic Banded Barbet, African Paradise Flycatcher, Little Rock Thrush, a brief Black-winged Lovebird, Baglafecht Weaver and Mountain Thrush. During the drive back to the lodge we saw a troop of Gelada Baboons, along with a few Hemprich's Hornbills, a confiding Stout Cisticola and a Common Fiscal

Mocking Cliff-Chat

Then a quick walk down to the Portuguese Bridge before the light went proved to be a good move as there was a small group of endemic White-billed Starlings, as well as Mocking Cliff-Chat and a few Nyanza Swifts flew over as well. 

What a day and after the checklist a quick count revealed we had seen 94 species today.

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