Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The Long Drive to Yabello...

This has to be one of the great birding travel days, as we drove from Negelle to Yabello through excellent habitat all the way. We clocked up so many new trip birds today, and it is hard to sum up how things went. Anyway, spotlighting a Dusky (Sombre) Nightjar was a good start and to be followed by 2 Spotted Hyenas was also pretty decent. As it became light it was apparent that there were going to be lots of birds along the road so our first couple of stop notched up a few Violet-backed Starlings, followed by Shelley’s Starlings, Lesser Striped Swallow, Marico Sunbird, Striped Kingfisher and the fantastic Golden-breasted Starling.

The amazing Golden-breasted Starling, plus a few Shelley's Starlings

Golden-breasted Starling

The unpaved road was in pretty good condition and we could speed along at certain intervals but when we did pass something interesting it always resulted in good birds. So we followed on with African Grey Hornbill, Red-and-yellow Barbet perched on a termite mound and a Yellow-necked Spurfowl calling from on top of a tree of all places. 

Typical pose of a Red-and-yellow Barbet

Von der Decken's Hornbill

A posing Yellow-necked Spurfowl

Whilst our drivers prepared breakfast we came across a flock consisting of Black-throated Barbet, Mouse-coloured Penduline Tit, Violet-backed Sunbird, several Abyssinian Scimitarbills, Brown-tailed (Yellow-breasted) Apalis, and a little later our first Grey Wren-Warbler.

Black-throated Barbet

Continuing our journey, a Pygmy Falcon was nice, followed by Buff-crested Bustard, and best of all a White-winged Dove. Upon arrival at the Dawa River we were lucky and quickly found Juba Weaver as the temperature was soaring. A short walk along the river gave us Lesser Masked and Chestnut Weavers, Pygmy Batis and Hunter’s Sunbird.

The rare African White-winged Dove

Great views of Bateleur on our journey

Never get tired of seeing this majestic raptor...

The long drive continued through several small villages and in one we saw our first Blue-naped Mousebird

Bare-eyed Thrush

More new birds followed, with flocks of Vulturine Guineafowl becoming increasingly common, Banded Parisoma, Chestnut Sparrow, White-browed Scrub-Robin, Bateleur, Alpine Swift, Bare-eyed Thrush, Straw-tailed Whydah and at the Soda Plains 7 Abdim’s Storks, and Somali Fiscal. Lots of Grant’s Gazelles and Gerenuks here also.

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