Thursday, 4 December 2014

Jemma Valley

We left at 4am for a full day in the Jemma Valley, which produced a superb number of great species that began with an awesome Harwood’s Francolin calling about 30m metres away on the slope below the road. As we watched this a Long-billed Pipit appeared behind us, plenty of Cinnamon-breasted Buntings appeared and then a short while later we picked up an Erckel’s Francolin calling from on top of a boulder below us. 

Cinnamon-breasted Bunting

We also enjoyed views of a pair of Abyssinian Wheatears here but got much better views further down the road. As the cool of the morning gave way to soaring temperatures we drove down into the valley we saw Dark Chanting Goshawk, Booted Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle, Eastern Grey Woodpecker, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Red-throated Wryneck, Red-collared Widowbird, African Citril, and best of all a couple of Yellow-rumped Seedeaters

Abyssinian Wheatear

Further down we really enjoyed some fine breeding-plumaged Black-winged Red Bishops, Little Bee-eater, African Silverbill, Bush Petronia, and also saw Namaqua Dove, our only Vinaceous Dove of the trip, Speckle-fronted Weaver, and both Isabelline and Woodchat Shrikes.

Black-winged Red Bishop

We eventually reached the river where Great Cormorant, Hamerkop, Wire-tailed Swallow, several Pied Kingfishers, African Pied Wagtail and some Woolly-necked Storks were seen.  Walking upriver we found a huge Nile Crocodile, Malachite and Giant Kingfishers, Green Sandpiper and a pair of Senegal Thick-knees. In the trees along the riverbank there was a fine Black-billed Barbet, along with a mixed flock of Red-cheeked Cordon-bleus, Red-billed Firefinches and Crimson-rumped Waxbills. A pair of Mocking Cliff-chats and a Grey-backed Cameroptera was also seen. Returning to the shade of a large tree for lunch, a Western Osprey flew over, a male Common Redstart and an African Pygmy Kingfisher were seen in the canopy above us.

Erlanger's Lark - another endemic

Driving towards Addis Ababa across the Sululta Plain and we still had a few species to find, which duly complied and the endemic Erlanger’s Lark, the widespread Thekla Lark and several Red-breasted Wheatears were all found easily. A male Pallid Harrier was nice, as was a flyover Lammergeier, a group of Black-winged Lapwings and an Ortolan Bunting to end the day off nicely. We eventually reached our hotel around 6.30pm and enjoyed a fine evening meal, cold beers and long night’s sleep.

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