Thursday, April 17, 2014

Yellow-breasted Barbet

Yellow-breasted Barbet Trachyphonus margaritatus
Bilen, Ethiopia
23 January 2014

    African barbets in general are spectacular, perhaps none more so than Yellow-breasted Barbet. We saw this species on only a few days and even then it was not plentiful. It typically frequents rough terrain, acacia woodland, wadis and sandy plains where termite mounds provide nesting sites. It feeds primarily on a wide range of insectivorous prey including species as large as mantids, locusts and grasshoppers.

White-headed Buffalo Weaver

White-headed Buffalo Weaver Dinemellia dinemelli
Bilen, Ehtiopia
23 January 2015

    We saw this handsome species on numerous occasions during our journey through Ethiopia and it was never shy around human settlement. It forages on the ground for insects, especially beetles and butterflies. Breeding pairs are monogamous and build their nest together.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Northern Carmine Bee-eater

Northern Carmine Bee-eater Merops nubicus
Awash Falls National Park, Ethiopia
23 January 2014

    Surely one of the most beautiful birds in all the world, I found Carmine Bee-eater to be one of the most memorable species I have ever seen. Gregarious and confiding, they seemed not to be at all affected by our presence and we were thrilled at the large numbers we saw. I think I would have been quite happy to have simply watched them all day!

Awash Falls National Park

Awash Falls National Park, Ethiopia
23 January 2014

    There were huge numbers of Abdim's Stork Ciconia abdimii in appropriate habitat at Awash Falls National Park, often in close association with African Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus and Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca.
   They were prone to flush at the slightest provocation, usually undetected by us.

Abdim's Storks in flight

Abdim's Storks in flight

African Sacred Ibis with Egyptian Goose
Abdim's Stork with Africa Sacred Ibis
    We saw Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops quite frequently although rarely in a position for a decent photograph.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Abyssinian Roller

Abyssinian Roller Coracias abyssinicus
Awash Falls National Park, Ethiopia
23 January 2014

        Rollers as a group are nothing short of spectacular, but I am inclined to think that the Abyssinian Roller is perhaps the most stunning of all. Whenever I saw one with the sun glistening off its plumage it simply took my breath away. In this area they were reasonably common so we had lots of opportunities to revel in their beauty. 
      Their usual habitat is dry woodland with well spaced trees, but they take readily to human settlements and are not particularly shy. They will nest on buildings and tolerate pets, humans and vehicles.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Lake Abijata, Ethiopia

Lake Abijata, Ethiopia
22 January 2014

   The extensive shoreline of Lake Abijata, a shallow lake situated in the Rift Valley, had a great variety of avifauna and we spent a very productive half day there. 
    Grey Heron Ardea cinerea was quite common and seemed to find an abundance of prey at the water's edge.

    A Speckled Mousebird Colius striatus was tugging away at this hawser and appeared to be gleaning strands of the rope for nest building I assumed.

    Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca was a very common species, seen throughout the country. Here it is seen with with Greater Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus.

    At times it seemed that wherever one looked there were Western Yellow Wagtails Motacilla flava, but it was frustratingly difficult to photograph one for it seemed they never stayed still for a moment.

    The local African Fish Eagles Haliaeetus vocifer have developed a taste for flamingos and seemed to have a good deal of success in capturing them. This is all that was left of a recent kill. No doubt whatever the eagle might have left was rapidly cleaned up by Marabou Storks Leptoptilos crumenifer.

    As we were leaving we were delighted to see these two Somali Ostriches Struthio molybdophanes moving across the grassland. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Greater Flamingo

Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus
Lake Langano, Ethiopia
22 January 2014

    A spectacular bird unto itself, large flocks of Greater Flamingo are a true spectacle of nature. When massed together they seem to be a sea of pink, undulating in the shallows as they move in unison to feed. Their bills sweep back and forth at the surface as they sieve small invertebrates from the water. They are also capable of upending like ducks in deeper water and despite their long, thin legs are competent swimmers when they need to be.
    Whenever we saw flamingos, Marabou Storks Leptoptilos crumenifer patrolled the edges of the lake, feeding on carcasses of dead flamingos, and waiting on every opportunity to seize and kill an injured bird.