We are pleased to report another highly successful Birdfinders Ethiopia tour. Including the extension, all the true endemics were seen apart from Red-billed Pytilia together with all of the regional endemics with the exception of African Long-eared Owl, Somali Starling and Parrot-billed Sparrow. The weather was highly variable from +40°C in the lowlands down to –4°C in the mountains, with hot sun, torrential rains, fog and strong winds to add to the variety!
A total of 509 species were seen (a new record for our Ethiopia tour). This included the endemics (to Eritrea and Ethiopia) Wattled Ibis, Blue-winged Goose, Harwood’s Francolin, Rouget’s Rail, Spot-breasted Lapwing, White-collared Pigeon, Yellow-fronted Parrot, Black-winged Lovebird, Abyssinian Woodpecker, Banded Barbet, Prince Ruspoli’s Turaco, Liben and Erlanger’s Larks, White-tailed Swallow, Abyssinian Longclaw, Abyssinian Catbird, Stresemann’s Bush-crow, Thick-billed Raven, Abyssinian Slaty-flycatcher, White-backed Black-tit, Rüppell’s Black-chat, White-winged Cliff-chat, Sombre Chat, Dark-headed Oriole, White-billed Starling, Yellow-rumped, Yellow-throated, Salvadori’s and Ankober Serins and Abyssinian Siskin. Additionally, Brown Saw-wing (antinorii ssp.), Blue Saw-wing (pristoptera ssp.), Winding (Ethiopian) Cisticola (lugubris ssp.), Brown (Bale Parisoma) Warbler (griseiventre ssp.), Mourning (Abyssinian) Wheatear (lugubris ssp.) and Fawn-breasted (Abyssinian) Waxbill (ochrogaster ssp.) were seen.
Of the other birds seen on the tour, the following were 'Horn of Africa' (including Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan) endemics and included Chestnut-naped, Erckel’s and Moorland Francolins, African White-winged Dove, White-cheeked Turaco, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Gillett’s and Somali Short-toed Larks, White-rumped Babbler, Ethiopian Boubou (aethiopicus ssp.), Somali Fiscal, Swainson’s Sparrow, Salvadori’s (Juba) Weaver, African (Ethiopian) Stonechat (albofasciatus ssp.), Somali Crow, White-crowned Starling, African Citril and Brown-rumped Seedeater.
Other sightings of particular interest during the tour and sent to the African Bird Club included:
3rd November – whilst driving from Goba to Sof Omar (roughly half way) we spotted a hybrid Pied/Somali crow in the flock of half a dozen of Somali Crows feeding by the road near the crop field.
10th November – after leaving Lake Langano and driving along a rough, dusty desert road, we stopped for large owl silhouetted in the acacia tree canopy. It turned out to be a Cape Eagle-owl, which was totally unexpected as according the literature they are an 'uncommon resident in North and Central Ethiopia at 2400–4200m in rocky moorland and montane country'. The elevation of Langano Lake is only 1585 metres and it is surrounded with desert so was very unusual place for this bird.
All records were supported by photographic evidence.
Despite having run this very popular tour for a number of years, we added a number of other interesting species to the Birdfinders tour list including Little Bittern, Basra Reed-warbler, Icterine and Olive-tree Warblers, Black-bellied Sunbird and Familiar Chat.
Birdfinders will be running this extremely popular tour again 29 November–15/20 November 2013 and places are filling fast so don’t leave it too late to book!