Because I have so much to say and so many wonderful photos, I thought I better break-up this blog into two parts to keep your attention.   Here is some of what we saw the last half of our trip.

Day 11

Hooray we are leaving Goba.  I think this hotel is the worst to date.  Very thin walls.  I could hear the couple next door to us as though they were in our room.  I had to use ear plugs and that still didn’t drown out all the sounds.  The food was barely edible and the service atrocious.   But as I understand it, not much else available within the immediate area.

We head back up the Sanetti Plateau on our way to our next location – Negelle.  We had a long drive ahead of us, but never so long as one cannot stop and check out the birds along the way.

We were hoping to get another look at an Ethiopian Wolf on the Sanetti Plateau, but no luck.  Nor did we see a Wattled Crane, which was a possibility.   Maybe we will see one yet.  Jack is hopeful.

On the way up to the plateau we came across several Francolin species, so yes we had to stop for some photos.  While sometimes I think our guide and Martin spend too much time photographing birds, I am glad we do stop for photographs (at least to photograph the birds they want to photograph) because we get some time to really look at and observe the bird.


Moorland Francolin


Chestnut-naped  Francolin

When we stopped for lunch and we were joined by a  good sized (10-15) group of kids – surprise, surprise.  By this time in the trip, one of the other participants – Johan (he’s from the Netherlands) – was driving me crazy.  He likes to step in front of people while they are looking at birds through their binoculars.  Sometimes he stops directly in front of you, and other times he merely passes in front of you.  Either way, it’s rude.  So Johan once again stopped right in front of me to photograph a bird I was looking at with my binoculars.  Several kids were around me.  I took my hands and pretended I wanted to strangle Johan.  I wonder what those kids thought of me.  Of course they wouldn’t understand why I was so frustrated.


One place we stopped there were camels. This one looks skinny despite the green vegetation.


This one looks like it is doing the yoga “tree pose”


Not sure what this is. Some type of root?


Endemic Salvadori’s Seedeater


Red-and-Yellow Barbet. It was hot outside and the bird on the left had its bill open to help cool it off.


White-crowned Starling

Negelle would be our base for the next three nights.  The hotel we stayed at was okay, although Arnold said his bathroom toilet didn’t have a seat, which could have proved interesting.  There was another bird group staying at the hotel  the same time as us and they left the next morning – early.  And they were not quiet about it despite my yelling at them to keep it quiet.  Must not have known English, but you think they would get the gist of what I was saying.  For those of you who don’t know me, I have zero tolerance for rudeness.

The hotel didn’t have a restaurant so our local guide Merid took us to a small restaurant where we ate a simple meal of rice, cooked vegetables (mostly cabbage), hot dinner rolls, and a hot sauce (not too hot, but very good).  I was actually surprised at how good the food was.  Luckily we all liked it because we would eat there all three nights we stayed in Negelle.

Day 12

We had an early morning departure to get a jump on several birds including the Prince Ruspoli’s Turaco (sorry, no photo).  The bird was not very accommodating for this photographer so you will have to google the name to see what the bird looks like – but a beautiful bird it is.  We headed further down the road for more great birding and another great field breakfast.  I just wish the field lunches were as good as breakfast.


Red-cheeked Cordon Bleu


Caterpillars – bird food???


Hartlaub’s Bustard

For me the bird of the day was a singing Rosy-patched Bush-shrike.  This bird was one of my favorite birds of the trip.  And the area we birded was forested, but with a relative open canopy so we could get good looks at birds.  This area was also another favorite birding area, with lots of different species present.


Three-streaked Tchagra


Singing Rosy-patched Bush-shrike


Female Batis sp.  Males will have a chestnut stripe across the chest.  There are several different species of Batis in Ethiopia.


Northern Grey Tit (aka Acacia Tit)


Red-billed Hornbill


Tree Pipit

Our next stop after breakfast was a small lake on the Liben Plains.  This lake is used for many purposes.  The birds like it – especially the storks, geese, and ducks.  The local people collect water from the lake and also bring their livestock to the lake to drink.  I suspect the water is not very clean.  We  had a large flock of over 100 Abdim’s Stork arrive and land adjacent to the lake.  These birds can be quite comical as they land.  In among the storks was a lone African Openbill.


Incoming – Abdim’s Stork


Spur-winged Plovers hiding in the vegetation


African Openbill

We got a much needed rest in the afternoon, and then midday headed back out for a drive through a river valley in search of the Juba Weaver.  We finally got on the bird, thanks to Richard.  However, scopes were needed to get good views.  I’m so glad we had our scope for this trip.  The road to and through the valley was bumpy, which gave us the opportunity to spot some good birds along the way including the Golden-breasted Starling.


Golden-breasted Starling


Area where we saw the Juba Weaver


Ethiopians do like their fences …


… and their donkeys

Day 13

Our second day in the Negelle area brought us back to the Liben Plains in search of several localized lark species – Somali Short-toed Lark and the Archer’s Lark.  We did a sweep through the grass to find the birds.   The Archer’s Lark is critically endangered.


Plains living


In search of the larks – the march goes on ….


The vegetation luckily (for us) was low and made the bird easier to find and see


The critically-endangered “Archer’s Lark”


Somali Short-toed Lark (I believe?)

Later in the day we drove down a road in search of birds, finding a large number of vultures on a recent road kill.  Of course a “road kill” is probably inaccurate as I can’t see a cart with donkey running over or striking and killing an animal.  Maybe the better term is roadside carcass.


I thought this flower was pretty


Reminded me of a pineapple


Surprisingly there were flowers in bloom despite the lack of precipitation.  Jack recently read that Ethiopia is undergoing its worst drought in “50” years.


Lappet-faced Vulture near roadside carcass


Off to get water. I love the colorful clothing worn by the Ethiopia women. The women (and children) were always the ones to get water.


Another girl off to get water

We finished the day back at the small lake.  We saw a number of local people out and about, stopping to talk with our driver and local guide as we birded.  Our local guide later told us one gentleman there (around 40 years old) had 11 kids.  Ouch!!!  I wonder how big their house is and how he manages to feed all his children.


Knob-billed Ducks


Cattle coming to the lake to drink


Arnold just stood and watched the cattle as they lazily moved to the lake for much needed water


We stayed at the lake until dusk

Day 14

We left Negelle and headed towards Yabello.  Our goal today was to find the Streseman’s Bush-Crow and the African White-winged Dove.  The dove we spotted in a small village along the roadside.  The bird was perched in the eves of a house and then later flew up onto the metal roof.  The Bush-Crow we found on the Soda Plains.  This area is breathtaking.  Thunderstorms threatened, but never released any precip.

Along the way, we stopped at the Dawa River to bird.  This was the only area where I really felt the heat and after breakfast I stayed back while others birded.  Just too hot for me and I didn’t want to get heatstroke.  The area produced some fine birds, including the d’Arnaud’s Barbet and Bare-eyed Thrush.


Dawa River – running muddy


I thought this was pretty. I should know what this tree is as I have seen in before.  The mind – such a terrible thing to go to waste.


African Grey Flycatcher


The owners don’t want this guy to wonder off to far.   That was one big bell.

We continued our travels towards Yabello, stopping for birds along the way.  Oh and lunch too.


Vulturine Guineafowl – my favorite of the three species of guineafowl we saw while in Africa.  Love the colors on this bird.


Black-capped Social Weaver …


… with one in the nest. I think these birds were in the process of building their nests for the season.


Storm looming

We made one last stop for the day before heading to our accommodations for the night – the Soda Plains.  This was one of my favorite areas as I thought the countryside was beautiful.  Maybe the clouds helped add to the beauty of the area.


Plenty green here


The trees are tall, and so is the termite mound in the middle of the photo.


Stresemann’s Bush-Crow


I love the blue around its eye


Purple Roller


Purple Roller


Our accommodations for two nights. This place was big. Unfortunately no lights between our cottage and where we ate dinner.  And I misplaced my flashlight and Jack’s headlamp wasn’t too bright.  Made getting to and from in the dark interesting.

Day 15

We birded the area around Yabello for the day.  The special treat were great views and photo opportunities of the Heuglin’s Courser.   At least one person felt as though we spent too much time photographing these species.  Martin and Janos (our guide) did tend to take a few thousand photos of the birds, or so it seemed.  We saw two different pairs within a relatively short distance of each other, and we spent about 30 minutes with each pair.  Now me, I was glad to spend a lot of time watching this bird while others were busy photographing them.  It is not often we get to spend long periods of time observing a given bird – either because the bird flies off or because we have to keep to a schedule.   This species was also within the top five species viewed on this trip.


Colorful Caterpillar


Klass’s Cuckoo. Boy does this bird blend in or what?


Rattling Cisticola


Abyssinian Scimitarbill


White-crested Helmetshrike


Vulturine Guineafowl


Not interested in sticking around to be photographed




Heuglin’s Courser


The bird squatting/resting

Another great day of birding.  We did go to an area designated as a National  Park.  The locals approached our driver and local guide wanting payment for walking in the park.   Not sure how the matter was addressed.  For many National Parks we did need permits.  At times when we got stopped at a place to bird I wondered if we were on private property or not and whether we had (or needed) permission to access private lands to bird.

Day 16

We did a little birding of the area before heading to Lake Awassa.  The road from Yabello to Lake Awassa was the worst we encountered.  Lots of potholes, construction, people, animals.  In fact it felt like we spent a couple of hours traveling through one continuous town.  This was not the case, but I couldn’t tell where one town ended and another began.  Let’s just say there were houses and business all along the road.   Janos said this is the worst he has seen the road and it took us 3 hours longer (9 hours total) to drive this stretch of road than for previous trips.  We did stop in a town for lunch and I had a delicious pizza.  The Ethiopians are good at making pizzas.

We stayed in individual cabanas at a resort along Lake Awassa.   The rooms were nice.  However, we lost electricity almost as soon as we got there.  And , the quality of the rooms, does not necessarily equate to the quality of the food.  I think this was the worst place we ate.  The food was bland.  While waiting for the food I checked emails – something we haven’t been able to do on a regular basis (no consistently reliable internet service) – and learned that a dog (Honey) we have watched for friends had died.  Honey was a great dog and the news of her death broke my heart.

Day 17

We birded the area near the resort, finding a lot of great species, including the African Spotted Creeper.


Wetland vegetation adjacent to shoreline of Lake Awassa


African Pygmy Goose – Male


Marabou Stork


Marabou Stork and Hamerkop. The Hamerkop is a good sized bird, so you can imagine how big the Marabou Stork is.


Blue-headed Coucal


Eqygtian Geese with gooslings


The three “Pied” Kingfishers


Black Crake. I love these guys because they don’t skulk in the vegetation and hide from you. Easy to see these crakes.


White-rumped Babbler


Double-toothed Barbet. You can actually see the double teeth on its bill.


Hamerkop pair


Pretty flower on the resort grounds


Those Marabou Storks sure love the tree tops


Banded Barbet


Stork head – where are the feathers?


Eastern Grey Woodpecker


Woodland Kingfisher

After breakfast (yes we got a lot of great birding in before breakfast) we headed to Lake Langano, but only after making a short detour to check on the possibility of seeing Wattled Cranes.  Along the way we stopped to bird, including another spot along Lake Awassa.


Squacco Heron


Malachite Kingfisher


Great White Pelican …


… taking off from the lake


Massage therapy??? Can I be next???


Birds, Boats, and Bodies (live)


African Jacana – my what big feet you have


White-faced Whistling Ducks. I wonder if their call sounds like a whistle. Never heard a sound from them.


Monkey see, Monkey do

Once on the road we stopped to check out this roller and bee-eater.


Abyssinian Roller – beautiful bird


The backside of the Abyssinian Roller


Northern Carmine Bee-eater

The following photos are some of the houses and stores we saw along the roadside as we were driving.  I never did see a “shopping mall”.   Most people buy their goods from local vendors.

IMG_4926-1 IMG_4928-1 IMG_4937-1 IMG_4938-1 IMG_4923-1 IMG_4942-1


Typical scene with a cart being pulled by a donkey.

The detour was worth it as we saw a large flock of Wattled Cranes, although most the the cranes were far away and we needed a scope to check them out.  But one pair was feeding nearby and we got some great views.  Jack was a happy camper because he had been hoping to see this crane in Southern Africa, but the crane eluded us there.


Wattled Crane pair


Notice the “wattle”?


This young horse (foal) came up to me hoping I was its mother. The poor thing was whinnying away and getting no response. I hope it lives a long life.


After checking out the cranes we headed to our accommodations for the night located along the shores of Lake Langano.  Our goal here was to see the endemic Yellow-fronted Parrot.  We would have to wait until morning to see the bird.

Day 18

We got up early hoping to catch site of the Yellow-fronted Parrot, which comes to the lake shoreline to feed.  We weren’t disappointed.


Lake Langano and shoreline


Yellow-fronted Parrot (Endemic)


Yellow-fronted Parrot


Yellow-fronted Parrot – feeding


Grey-backed Fiscal


Lemon Dove


Greater Honeyguide


Verreaux’s Eagle Owl


Houses observed on the road between the main road and our Lodge.  Pretty simple.   People, for the most part, use these structures for sleeping.  Must get pretty cozy.


More housing. We were once again in the part of Ethiopia that was quite dry.


As you can see from this photo – not much vegetation.


Locals shopping; locals bringing their goods to market.


I am just fascinated by the way they put holes in their houses.

After birding around Lake Langano we headed to Wolliso, our final destination.  The journey led us back towards Lake Ziway, were we stopped for lunch.  We then proceeded to ascend into the mountains eventually reaching our lodge at Wolliso.


Countryside as we made our way up the mountain


High elevation living


These huts most likely have a tighter weave to keep heat in I suspect.


Our group taking photos of the view – with the ever present kids

Day 19

Our final birding excursion brought us to Gibe Gorge.  We spent the morning birding this area in search of the Ethiopian Pytilia and the Black-faced Firefinch.  We found and observed both birds.


The countryside


Pied Wheatear


Namaqua Dove. For some reason the bird’s reminds me of a Catholic nun.


Blue-breasted Bee-eater


African Wattled Plover


Cutthroat Finch – another favorite bird


The Gibe River

After lunch at our lodge, where we picked up our luggage, we left to return to Addis Ababa.  Most of the tour participants were leaving on a late evening flight.  We stopped for dinner at the same hotel where we had breakfast the first day of our tour.   On the way to the airport, our local guide took us to Hotel Lobelia as our flight did not leave until the next morning.  Herman (from Switzerland) had chosen to spend a couple of extra days up north, and was able to get a room at our hotel also.

At the end of the day – as the saying goes – I was able to successfully identify 469 of the 856 birds that have been observed in Ethiopia (residents, migrants, accidentals, strays, and rarities).  Of these, 280 were life birds – birds I saw for the very first time.  Many of the other 189 species I saw in Ethiopia, I had only recently seen for the first time on our trip to Southern Africa.   In all,  I estimate I saw around 750 life birds during our Africa trip.  That is a lot of birds.

We left Ethiopia on December 4, 2015.  What surprised me was the level of security we went through before boarding our plane.  Upon entering the terminal, we had to have our bags and bodies screened.  We then checked in at the ticket counter and got our boarding passes.  Next was immigration (where we got our passports stamped so we could leave the country).  Next was another round of security checks – more x-rays of bodies and bags.  We then went to our gate where someone checked out ticket to make sure we were at the right gate.  And finally when our flight was called (this was a chaotic mess) we had our tickets scanned before we could board the plane.   A lot more security than any other country we have visited so far.

I’m glad we took the opportunity to visit this country.  The countryside, to me, was beautiful (even the developed parts), and the birds fantastic.

I found Africa to be a special place and a place I would like to go back and visit.

Hope you enjoyed our journey.  No matter where you are in the world, it is always –