Monday, 29 December 2014

Awash National Park

Leaving Nazret early we reached the lava flow of the long dormant Fantale Crater volcano not too long after sunrise and it was still quite cool. Fortunately we managed to find the endemic Sombre Rock-Chat quite quickly and were treated to point-blank views of a pair perched on rocks right in front of us. 

Sombre Rock-Chat

In the same vicinity were several Shining Sunbirds, a breeding Ruppell’s Weaver, Ethiopian Swallow and our first Purple Heron and African Palm Swifts. Checking out another site nearby and having our field breakfast proved to be a good move as the first of several Striolated Buntings appeared, followed by a pair of Chestnut-headed Sparrow-Larks. Nearby, there were a few Pied and Isabelline Wheatears, Steppe Grey Shrike, a perched Gabar Goshawk, flocks of Red-billed Quelea, Abyssinian Roller, and best of all a stonking Yellow-breasted Barbet.  

Beisa Oryx at Awash National Park
Leaving here we drove to our hotel and enjoyed several hours siesta over the extreme heat of the midday period. Afterwards we drove through Awash National Park across the grassland seeing species such as Pygmy Falcon, Pallid Harrier, Somali Fiscals and other previously seen species. An Ashy Cisticola was new, as was Long-tailed Paradise-Whydah, flocks of Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Larks, Singing Bushlark, and an awesome Hartlaub’s Bustard patrolling the edge of the tall grass. Wow! 

A stunning Hartlaub's Bustard

Hartlaub's Bustard

Non avian interest was spiked by several stately Beisa Oryx walking across the savannah.

Star-spotted Nightjar

As it got dark we spent a very enjoyable hour spotlighting our was back across the park, and although initially we drew a blank we got our just rewards with a Greyish Eagle-Owl, Abyssinian Hare, another Common Genet and on the track right in front of us was a Star-spotted Nightjar that allowed an extraordinary close approach. What a bird! Then, as we drove back to the hotel a Bat-eared Fox was seen. What a day!    

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