Neil Hughes – “Ethiopia: a birding extravaganza”

Neil Hughes – “Ethiopia: a birding extravaganza”
by Andrew Bryant, 17
 November 2016.

Long-time club member, professional forester, and die-hard birder, Neil entertained us last year with his talk about spring migration in the eastern Mediterranean.  Although he’s moved away from Powell River and now calls Victoria home, Neil made a special trip back to share his latest amazing adventure – to Ethiopia!

It was more than a succession of marvelous bird photographs (although there were a lot of those).  I did not know, for example, that Ethiopia had such a diversity of landscapes, including not only the famous Rift Valley, but deserts, savannahs, forests, and montane habitats.

Nor was I was aware of the tremendous bird diversity to be found there (over 800 species), or of the extraordinary challenges facing not only birdwatchers, but the country as a whole.

In between the fascinating tidbits of natural history (sunbirds are the hummingbirds of Africa) and birding humor (“this is a drab, little brown bird…indeed it positively revels it its drabness”), there were some wonderful insights into the sense of the place.  I liked the all-essential “spotters”, without whom visiting birders would see little, and the quite extraordinary “meeting at the waterhole”.   Brilliant.