Sunday, 21 December 2014

The Liben Plain

This was a really great day and could not have got off to a better start with a flock of 7 Abdim’s Storks roosting beside the road – well it was a good sighting for 2 out of our 3 Landcruisers as one of our vehicles had to return to the hotel to retrieve a wallet. Perfect timing or what!  Approaching the Liben Plains we stopped to scan a flock of hirundines perched on telegraph wires which turned out to be Ethiopian and the endemic White-tailed Swallows, and we had further flight views of both species over the next hour or so.

Sidamo Lark is one of the rarest endemics.

Then, within 10 minutes of searching we had found the rare Sidamo Lark on the huge Liben Plain! This scaly-backed lark can only be found here and we were treated to what can only be described as crippling views down to 5 metres – and I think David got even closer views at one stage. Shortly after, a little group of 3 Somali Short-toed Larks were found and it was good to be able to study them for a while. Around some grass huts a pair of Shelley’s Sparrows were new for the trip. 

Kori Bustard

Having already seen a pair of Kori Bustards on the drive here, a line of ten more birds in a crop field was pretty impressive and as we scoped them, noticed a lot of activity above them which turned out to be a flock of Amur Falcons. So we walked over and got a lot closer and spent a nice time watching their antics as they hawked for insects right in front of us. 

We were surprised to see a flock of Amur Falcons...

There was also a small flock of Lesser Kestrels to see here as well. Overhead there was a Montagu’s Harrier and we also had a very rare record of an Eastern Imperial Eagle.

Superb Starling

 Then we drove to an area of acacia trees and had our picnic breakfast, during which we saw Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Tree Pipit, many Superb Starlings & White-crowned Starlings, Red-billed Buffalo-Weavers, and a flock of Grey-capped Social Weavers.

Temminck's Courser

Driving on we hit a purple patch with a pair of Temminck’s Coursers beside the road, followed by a stately Secretarybird picking its way across a field of tall grass, a Grey Kestrel, Isabelline Shrike, Rufous-tailed Rock-Thrush and Somali Crow. Continuing on into the heat of the day we made our last stop along the road and came up trumps with an Abyssinian Oriole skulking in the shade of some large trees. Oh yes baby! There was also a flock of White-headed Buffalo-Weavers and Reichenow’s Seedeaters as well.

Abyssinian Oriole

So we turned around and headed back towards Negelle and our appointment with a very late lunch. Along the way we stopped at a seasonal lake where there were hundreds of Egyptian Geese, Egyptian Vulture, Marsh Sandpiper, White-winged Tern, African Sacred Ibis, but best of all was a superb Martial Eagle we watched soaring through the scopes and many Collared Pratincoles hawking for insects over the crop fields.

After lunch we checked out a small lake but there was nothing new, although a Hamerkop and 100’s of Yellow Wagtails were seen.

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