Saturday, 27 February 2016

Ethiopia: Bilen Lodge & Awash National Park

Chefe Lake.

 Cinnamon breasted Rock Bunting

We were once again up early on 10th February driving to Chefe Lake near Debre Zeit. We enjoyed some very good wetland birding here including lots of Common Cranes.

Bilen Lodge.

Slender tailed Nightjar
Around the chalets at dusk.
Remote it may well be, but it had a bar!

After a pleasant lunch at the Rift Valley Hotel we drove further north east down the Rift Valley arriving at Bilen Lodge just as darkness engulfed us. It had been a long day driving.

My rustic cabin!
The view from the cabin.
A shallow depression held a large marsh.

Lichenstein's Sandgrouse.

Ethiopian Swallow
Photo courtesy of Paul Edmondson.
Somali Bulbul
Photo courtesy of Paul Edmondson.
White headed Buffalo Weaver
Quite common around the camp.
Yellow breasted Barbet.

The next morning we birded in the dry scrub next to & around the lodge. Birding was surprisingly good in this very arid habitat.
Merid, who was our superb local guide.
This area looks lifeless but it wasn't!

People are desperately poor in this area.
They are really struggling & need help.

The local children are very friendly
 & curious about foreigners.
Golden Jackal.
Arabian Bustard.
A poor photo at distance, but one of my
 most wanted birds!
Photo courtesy of  Paul Edmondson
Black Bush Robin.
Red fronted Barbet.
Yellow bellied Eremomela.

Mid morning we left for a local community wildlife reserve at Ali Dege Plain.  

The rest of the day was spent driving to Awash National Park.

Spur winged Lapwing.

 Grivet Monkey.

The lodge was set on the edge of the Awash River Gorge, and made for a very scenic backdrop.

The Awash Gorge.

Salt's Dikdik
Photo courtesy of  Paul Edmondson
The rare & unpredictable Ayers's Hawk Eagle.

Von der Decken's Hornbill.

Black billed Barbet.

Some areas were a little greener, 
but these were few & far between.

Buff crested Bustard.

Beisa Oryx.
A superb animal.

Lesser Kudu.

Abyssinian Hare.
Photo courtesy of  Paul Edmondson
Termite mounds Come in all shapes & sizes.
This Leopard Tortoise was the largest
 specimen I have ever seen!
Greater Blue eared Glossy Starling.
White browed Sparrow Weaver.

White bellied Canary.
Green winged Pytilia
Photo courtesy of Paul Edmondson.

A Pygmy Falcon which had stunned itself
 against a window at the lodge.

But the rest of the park was very dry & birding was tough going.

The fairly recent barren, lava flows.
A poor photo of our target species:
Sombre Rock Chat.

On 13th February we left the national park & traveled to Beseka Lake, where we saw a few waterbirds. However, the main reason for coming here was to see the endemic Sombre Rock Chat on the totally barren lava flows.

The resort was a very pleasant place to stay the night.

The resort was surrounded by habitat which was 
protected because the resort was there!
Outside of the grounds there was
 precious little habitat remaining.

Hemprich's Hornbill.
Eating scrambled egg from
 the breakfast table!

Von der Decken's Hornbill.

White bellied Go-awaybird.
Red throated Wryneck.
This race has much more extensive red 
than the South African race.
Little Rock Thrush.
African Paradise Flycatcher.
Superb Starling.
Yes, it really is superb!
Photo courtesy of Paul Edmondson.

On 14th we birded around the Simbo Beach Resort, which was quite productive.

We came across Spot breasted Lapwing 
but at long range.
Red chested Swallow.
This is a very localized species.
Spotted Hyena
Photo courtesy of Paul Edmondson
Mountain Nyala.

A small herd of females.
This is a really superb animal.

A young one.
Photo courtesy of Paul Edmondson
Bohor Reedbuck.

African Wood Owl.
Mountain Thrush.

We then spent the rest of the day traveling to the Bale Mountains with a stop en route around Dinsho Lodge.

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