Monday, 12 December 2011

Ethiopia - Part 2

After arriving in Addis Ababa on an overnight flight from Heathrow we spent most of our first day in Ethiopia travelling north to Debre Libanos. Yellow-billed Kites, Pied Crows and Dusky Turtle Doves were among the first birds seen.

Erlanger's Lark

Our route took us across the Sululta Plain, undulating plateau grassland with frequent opportunities to stop for roadside birding. New and unfamiliar birds appeared one after the other! Many of them such as Wattled Ibis, Thick-billed Raven, Brown-rumped Seedeater and White-collared Pigeon would prove to be common but at this point they were just as exciting as Erlanger’s Lark and Long-billed Pipit which we saw only today. There was disappointment for those who missed seeing a Rüppell’s Robin-Chat, not knowing how many more we were going to see over the next two weeks.

We paused for lunch in the town of Sululta and for some of us this provided an early opportunity to sample the local staple, injera. It has to be said that it wasn’t wildly popular, being likened by those who tried it to foam-rubber carpet underlay! Soon we would get used to scouring menus for ‘safe’ alternatives! Omelette anyone?

Red-breasted Wheatear

By the time we reached the Ethio-German Park Hotel at Debre Libanos we had seen our first Egyptian and White-backed Vultures, Black-winged Lapwings, White-winged Cliff Chat, Pied, Isabelline and Red-breasted Wheatears, Groundscraper Thrush and lots of Moorland Chats.

Groundscraper Thrush

White-winged Cliff Chat


Rüppell's Griffon

The hotel is wonderfully situated, perched on the cliff top overlooking the Jemma Valley. In no time we were standing outside watching Lammergeier, Rüppell’s Vultures, Tawny Eagle and Fan-tailed Raven soaring at eye level plus a distant Verreaux’s Eagle; Tacazze and Variable Sunbirds were an added distraction.

Tawny Eagle


When we started birding the following morning it was cold with a stiff breeze, a reminder that we were at 2,400 metres above sea level. Erckel’s Francolin, Rüppell’s Black Chat, White-billed Starling and Ethiopian Cisticola were just some of our target species that were found quite easily close to the hotel. We also came across a troop of Geladas, grass-grazing primates that look like and are obviously closely related to baboons and which occur only in the Ethiopian highlands.

We had just a one-night stay in Debre Libanos and then returned to Addis. Next we would be heading for the Rift Valley lakes…

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