Shortly after sunrise we were on the Aledeghe Plain and watching the first of 5 Arabian Bustards feeding quietly right out in this vast open wilderness, and with some careful positioning form our drivers we got ahead of one bird and it just kept walking towards us until only about 30 metres away! Probably the highlight was seeing one of these much-wanted bustards with a Northern Carmine Bee-eater riding on its back – an extraordinary sighting and my personal highlight of the whole tour.
We were able to drive the cars closer and had amazing views once again and were able to observe them for quite some time. Many Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Larks were also present, along with White Stork, a couple of distant Secretarybirds, plus Soemmering’s Gazelle and Beisa Oryx.
We then drove the short distance to the Bilen Plain and the first bird we found was a pair of Yellow-breasted Barbets perched on top of an acacia, followed by a Tawny Pipit. Further on we took a short walk but it was getting really hot, however we did find several Nile Valley Sunbirds including one male still in breeding plumage which was something of a surprise. There was also a Black-cheeked Waxbill, Brubru, Blue-naped Mousebird and plenty of other birds in the vicinity.
We had a coffee at Bilen Lodge and saw yet more barbets, and a flock of Red-rumped Swallows on the wires here, but by now it was late morning and really hot. Returning to the hotel for lunch and a siesta we set out at 3.30pm for a drive in Awash NP but it was rather quiet.
Although our first Red-fronted Warbler was overshadowed by 3 Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse seen just before the light faded. Driving out we had a brief view of more Bat-eared Foxes beside he track.