Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Rift Valley Lakes...

After a leisurely 6am breakfast we headed out of Addis Ababa and down into the Great African Rift Valley and the first of a series of bird-filled lakes. At the Cheleklaka Wetlands there were simply birds everywhere, and in big numbers. 

Scanning through all these birds was really fun....

New birds here were Red-billed Teal, Common Crane, Marabou Stork, Glossy Ibis, Squacco Heron, 100’s of White Storks amongst the Marabou Storks, 100’s of Greater and Lesser Flamingo’s, Knob-billed Duck, Garganey, Hottentot Teal, Western Marsh & Pallid Harriers, flocks of Red-knobbed Coots, African Jacana, African Snipe, and numerous Red-throated Pipits

There was a pair of Black Crowned Cranes present.

A pair of Black Crowned Cranes strode majestically through the tall grass here right in front of us as well.  the star bird here was an African Quailfinch that flew in and landed nearby, before flying off into the distance. A little further down the road we came across a flock of Village Weavers, and scanning from this viewpoint resulted in a nice view of this corner of the lake where White-faced and Fulvous Whistling-Ducks were close by, an African Spoonbill was stood beside 3 Yellow-billed Storks, a dainty Marsh Sandpiper picked its way along the water’s edge and Ruppell’s Vulture & Steppe Eagle flew overhead.

African Spoonbill, Yellow-billed & Marabou Storks, Fulvous & White-faced Whistling-Ducks, 

Moving on, we headed to Koka Dam where a pair of awesome Saddle-billed Storks were stood out in the marsh, and we also picked up Intermediate Egret, Spur-winged Goose, Woodland and Malachite Kingfishers, flyby Northern Carmine Bee-eaters, Ruppell’s Glossy Starling and Kit had a Kittlitz’s Plover.

Saddle-billed Storks

A rather forgettable lunch was taken at Ziway, but the birds in the garden kept us in good spirits with a pair of close perched Black-winged Lovebirds, White-browed Sparrow-Weavers, Abyssinian White-eye, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Vitelline Masked Weaver, Beautiful Sunbird and a group of Speckled Mousebirds

Black-winged Lovebird

Just around the corner was Lake Ziway where hundreds of African White Pelicans and Marabou Storks congregate to gorge on the fishy leftovers from the latest catch. A Three-banded Plover was a nice addition to our burgeoning list, as was a Black Heron doing his "night time, daytime thing", whilst Little Stints, Long-tailed Cormorant, African Darter and Ruppell’s Weaver appeared, Whiskered and White-winged Terns were also seen, and a few European Bee-eaters flew over. I don’t know where you can get so close to these birds and literally the Hamerkops and Marabou's were too close to photograph.

Marabous Stork at Lake Ziway

Driving between sites today resulted in Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Rufous-crowned and Lilac-breasted Rollers, Crowned Lapwing, Red-billed Quelea and Superb Starlings became commoner the further south we travelled.

Record shot of Half-collared Kingfisher - got my camera settings totally wrong for this bird!

Leaving here we then headed up into the hills following a tip-off and twitched a stake-out for Half-collared Kingfisher. Granted this was a bit of a gamble, but it was a lifer for everyone in the group and fortunately things panned out nicely as we had a bird fly downstream and land maybe 30m away from us on a large boulder. Wow! We also saw White-cheeked Turaco, Black Saw-wing, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, many Silvery-cheeked Hornbills, and a brief Abyssinian (Ethiopian) Oriole.

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