This was our intinerary – it was a busy few weeks!
We started out the the Rift Valley – the cradle of civilization
Fishermen amidest White-backed pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus) and Maribou storks (Leptoptilos crumenifer)
Blue-breasted Bee-eaters (Merops variegatus) are amazing – and they really do eat bees!
Wow. A kingfisher that doesn’t eat fish! This is a Woodland Kingfisher (Cinnyris venustus), which hunts insects, lizards on the forest floor
The Kush Escarpment and Forests were amazing – although forests were few and far between
Abyssinian Woodpecker (Dendropicos abyssinicus) – one of the rarest birds of the trip – seen on day One, in the hotel gardens
It wasn’t all birds…here’s a Colobus monkey
The perfectly-named Superb Starling (Lamprotornis superbus)
The Gray-backed fiscal (Lanius excubitoroides) is widely distributed throughout Africa
Onwards to the Highlands, which is where most people live – and farm
A typican African scene. Every usable inch is cultivated
Hummingbirds are confined to the Americas, but in Africa the sunbirds occupy the same ecological nicsh. This is a Variable Sunbird (Cinnyris venustus)
The Abyssinian ground hornbill (Bucorvus abyssinicus) is an active predator – on mice, lizards, snakes, or pretty much anything
Few are aware that Ethiopia has the highest mountains in Africa – up to 15,000 footers – and it sometimes snows
Onwards to the savannah and desert
The trip routine was birding at dawn, and when it got too hot, find some shade and cook breakfast – we were usually pretty hungry by this time
One of my trip favorites, the Lilac-breasted roller (Coracias caudata)
Here’a an Abyssinian roller (Coracias abyssinica) in flight – another of my favorites
The local “spotters” were key to birding success. Our guides would call them a few days before, saying “we’ll be arriving at such-and-such-a-time. Can you find us an X, Y and Z please?”
Classic Ethiopian “multi-use” of natural resources. Everyone, and every thing, congregates down by the river.
90 million people live in Ethiopia, and the cattle population is huge, also leading to overgrazing and deforestation.
Deforestation is visible everywhere. Note the bright reddish termite mound at left, which is testiment that this area was only recently cleared.
There are some positive development notes, exemplified by this windfarm.
The Warka tree is massive, and of great importance for the shade they offer. Note the size of the people standing beneath it, on the right side.
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.