My first trip to Ethiopia was with Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris in January and February 2011. See their web site at http://www.cheesemans.com/ They are great to travel with!
Our journey started in Addis Ababa, or just plain Addis as most people say. Addis is centrally located in Ethiopia, population about 3.5 million, elevation 2355 m (7726 feet), up to 3000 meters (9000 feet) in the surrounding hillsides. Emperor Menelik II founded Addis in 1886 at a location chosen by his wife. Addis Ababa means "new flower" in Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia.
There were 8 of us in the group, plus Doug and Gail Cheeseman, Solomon our local leader, and Mebrahtu, our driver.
Solomon was an excellent leader and coordinator of logistics. He knew where to find the birds! Don't even think about hiring anybody else for natural history tours in Ethiopia. He knows the culture, the geography, as well the natural history of Ethiopia. http://www.solomonberhetours.com/
Doug and Gail Cheeseman in the Top Supermarket in Addis.
In Addis we stayed in the Ghion Hotel. I can't imagine a nicer place to stay in the middle of a huge city. Spacious grounds filled with flowers, trees and birds. Nice food, nice staff. They also have a small bank in the hotel for money exchange. Some rooms have internet if that is important to you. When I am on vacation, I want to get away from the internet! We also enjoyed eating at the Chinese restaurant just outside the main entrance to the Ghion Hotel, first building on the left, within easy walking distance. Gail led optional bird walks mornings and evenings when we were here. This is the first image of 137 in this album with GPS data. If you don't see a google map on the right of your screen with photo location, you may need to create a google account and log in, then the map data should show up--if you are interested!
A city tour included the National Museum of Ethiopia, as well as other interesting sights, but always with hordes of people, cars, and noise in the background, not what I came to Africa to see!
An interior view in the National Museum.
In the middle of a roundabout on a busy city street. I think the cannon was never fired, and is so large to be not very practical.
We had lunch at the Air Force Officer's Club. Many of us had traditional Ethiopian food, as in the foreground of this image. This is fasting food (no meat), vegetables on a large piece of injera, "a yeast-risen flatbread with a unique, slightly spongy texture."--from Wikipedia.
A couple days later we had a chance to see men harvesting teff, which is the grain from which injera is made.
Piles of teff waiting to be threshed, by hand.
Attractively arranged fruit along highway 4 leading out of Addis.
In a store not far from the Hotel Ghion I was surprised to see Gala apples from our home state of Washington. They cost about 90 cents each (USA equivalent).
Having fun with my fisheye lens at the Panaroma Hotel where Ethiopian Airlines gave us a day room when they bumped us from our flight to Tanzania.
This dog was resting in this presumed planter on a busy street in Addis.
You can see almost anything walking down the street in the Mercado, a huge mostly open air market in Addis.
She was keeping an eye on pedestrians on a busy street (all the streets in Addis were busy!)
Her friends were inside.
Lyall and I got our shoes polished by these ruffians. They did such a good job, we paid them twice what they asked.They had requested 5 birr (30 cents), but we gave them 10 birr!
The African Paradise Flycatcher has got to be one of the prettiest birds in Africa, and this photo is of just a female! This photo was captured on the grounds of the Ghion Hotel.
White-collared Pigeon, endemic to Ethiopia and Eritrea, meaning that it occurs only in these areas, and nowhere else in the world.
Tacazze Sunbird, male, Hotel Ghion. These birds were common on the hotel grounds.
Red-eyed Dove--easy to know if he is in the neighborhood, as he says repetitively, "I-am-a-red-eyed-dove." Hotel Ghion.
Tacazze Sunbird, female. Hotel Ghion.
Another Ethiopian endemic, the Wattled Ibis. You can see the wattle, hanging just at the base of the bill. Hotel Ghion. Ethiopia has 15 endemic species and another 38 near-endemics which it shares only with adjacent countries. In our 3 week visit, I photographed 7 of the endemic species, and 24 of the near-endemics.
Montane White-eye--Hotel Ghion.
This Speckled Mousebird was soaking up morning sun. Hotel Ghion.
African Dusky Flycatcher--Hotel Ghion.
This Lanner Falcon was soaring above fields near the Gerfasa Reservoir, which supplies water for Addis.
Yellow-billed Kite--Gerfasa Reservoir. Watch out for food in your hand if you are eating outdoors. These kites will swoop down an steal it from you, often leaving a nasty scratch on your hand!
Red-breasted Wheatear--Gerfasa Reservoir. A guard with a very real rifle approached us suspiciously and agressively. He and Solomon carried on a long and at times animated conversation, with the rifle aiming this way and that, often right at one of us. Later Solomon told us that the guard refused to believe that we had come all the way from America just to look at birds. He was certain that we had some sinister ulterior motive for the trip--perhaps to poison the water supply and kill thousands of Ethiopians. Solomon explained that there is a similar paranoia with many Ethiopians!
Spur-winged Plover--Gerfasa Reservoir.
There are several races of Yellow Wagtails which spend their winters in Africa, their summers in the Palearctic.This one chose to spend his winter at the Hotel Ghion!
Aregash Lodge is located about 317 km south of Addis, near the town of Yirgalem. It is in a lovely birdy forested area which could be a destination in itself, or a place to stay for access to surrounging areas. We enjoyed our time there.
Main dining area at Aregash Lodge. Great food.
Every evening they feed the Spotted Hyenas. A bit artificial, but welcomed by most as an interesting benefit of staying at the Aregash Lodge. The traditional coffee ceremony takes place at the top of a hill, and the hyena man throws scraps to hyenas below. They were difficult to photograph in the near-darkness.
Guess who else comes to the hyena feed, hoping for some scraps? Yep, the Hooded Vultures!
Some came close enough to make parents gather in their small children.
I think of an old fashioned wig instead of a hood when I see these birds.
A late afternoon Hooded Vulture portrait at Aregash Lodge. Despite its apparent huge size in this photo, it is actually, along with the Egyptian Vulture, the smallest of the African vultures. 24 inch length, 65 inch wingspan.
Abysinian Orioles were common at Aregash Lodge, but more easily heard than seen. This is an Ethiopian near-endemic--shared with Eritrea.
The African Firefinch, shown here, is less common than the Red-billed Firefinch. The main difference in appearance is the dark bill in the African. Aregash Lodge.
A flock of a dozen or so White-cheeked Turacos flew by in the forest at Aregash Lodge. Ethiopian near-endemic.
One of Haile Selassie's daughters was hidden in this cave for a time. On the Aregash Lodge grounds.
Striped Skink, Aregash Lodge.
This Hadada Ibis was perched motionless on a branch across the river below Aregash Lodge. I remember upon my arrival in Africa for the first time in 2000, this eponymous ibis was calling loudly at our lodge on the first night.
Awasa Lake is in the Rift Valley south of Addis. The city of Awasa is adjacent to the lake. Awasa is also spelled Awassa and Hawassa. There are many words without standardized English spellings, because they are really just phonetic translations of Amharic words.
We had an unexpected overnight stay at the luxury Haile Resort, being driven out of Wondo Genet by mosquitos!I had fun with my new fisheye lens and HDR techinques. Awasa Lake is in the background. The Haile Resort has been open for just over a year, and was built by Ethiopia's most famous athlete, and world record holder in the marathon, Haile Gebrselassie.
Grey-headed Kingfisher near the lake.
This kid has made his own reed boat from which to fish.
This Speckled Mousebird was just outside the Haile Resort, enjoying the morning sun. I have learned that this is common behavior for mousebirds, and the best time to get good views of them.
Our first stop at the lake was the local fish market with Marabou Strorks galore, then we took a walk just to the north through a park where more respectable birds were found, such as this winter visitor from the north, the Lesser Whitethroat.
Tawny-flanked Prinia--looks like a wren to me.
I wonder if this Scarlet-chested Sunbird knows how pretty he is?
The Long-tailed Cormorant is one of two cormorants in Ethiopia. The Great Cormorant is much larger.
The Fulvous Whistling Duck is the same species which occurs in the southern US.
An advantage of visiting East Africa or Ethiopia in January-February is the greater number of bird species to be seen, due to the presence of visiting Palearctic migrants such as this Eurasian Reed Warbler.
The Marabou Stork is huge; up to 5 feet tall, and wingspan over 10 feet. They can weigh up to 20 pounds.The large pendulous air sac can be inflated and deflated at will. It is used as a sign of agression and/or to attract a mate.
African Fish-Eagles are fairly common along lakes and rivers in east Africa.
They have a second inflatable air sac on the back of their neck, same purpose as the pendulous sub-gular sac. The Marabou stork eats anything, including dead animals, live animals, garbage, and feces.
A basic plumaged Grey-headed Gull.
There were many cleaning stations such as these, preparing fish for the nearby markets.
There seemed to be no shortage of fish to be caught in Lake Awasa.
I know you wanted another Marabou Stork photo! Aren't they cute? Like vultures they have abbreviated hair on their pates, due to their dirty eating habits.
Tourist boats on Lake Awasa were very colorful.
Some boats were faster than others.
Just outside of Awasa we stopped to admire this Black-chested Snake-Eagle.
Established in 1966, this 756 square km park preserves acacia woodland, grassland and the Awash River and canyon. It is located 200 km east of Addis.
Awash Falls is huge and noisy! This fisheye view doesn't capture the full height or width of the falls! It seems incongruous to have so much water in the midst of a very dry region. I jokingly suggested turning the falls off at night to conserve resources! At the falls were African Fish-Eagles, Common Sandpipers, Kingfishers, and Olive Baboons scampering about.
Lyall and I hiked down to the bottom of the falls to be closer to the crocodile infested river.
We were the only visitors at Keryu Lodge, overlooking the Awash River gorge below the falls.
I turned around from the previous photo to capture this view of the river. A Lammergeier delighted us with a flyby.
Alemu Seyoum was the waiter at the bar. He willingly posed beneath the oxskin ceiling.
Blue-naped Mousebird. Are they called mousebirds because they crawl around in the vegetation like mice?
This Yellow-breasted Barbet is same size as the Red-and-yellow Barbet, and they both dine on termites, but their range rarely overlaps.
Rupell's Weaver is common in the Horn of Africa, but does not occur in Kenya or Tanzania. Eduard Ruppell was born in Frankfurt in 1794, and died in 1884. He was the first naturalist to traverse Ethiopia and has several birds and mammals named for him.
Calotropis procera, Apple of Sodom. These were common roadside plants. The fruit has the appearance of an apple, but is mostly hollow, with seeds and sticky sap resistant to soap.
Lesser Masked Weaver female.
It is easy to recognize a batis, but difficult to distinguish between black-headed, grey-headed and pygmy. This is a grey-headed. They are active tiny little birds know for their skill at avoiding being photographed.
The Sacred or Hamadryas Baboon lives only in the Horn of Africa, and the SW portion of the Arabian peninsula. They are the northernmost of all baboons. Ancient Egyptians considered them sacred. This male was part of a small group crossing the highway.
Female and young Hamadryas Baboon. Males are twice as large as females.
The East African or Beisa Oryx is found only in the Horn of Africa. Both males and females have horns. Weight is about 175 kg.
The Beisa Oryx can raise its body temperature in times of drought, thus losing less sweat and decreasing their need to drink.
Pied Wheatear female. Some of the Wheatears are migrants from the north, others are resident. This is a migrant species.
Somali Fiscal--a near-endemic to the Horn of Africa. Fiscals are related to our North American shrikes.
Rosy-patched Bush-Shrike, female. The male is even more colorful.
Olive Baboons were common around our camp at Awash Falls. They invaded our dining area intent on stealing food.
Just downriver from Awash Falls were several Nile Crocodiles waiting patiently for anything edible which was unfortunate enough to come over the falls.
People were doing their laundry in this dirty water, within sight of the crocodiles. Seems a little risky to me!
An Eastern Grey Plaintaineater above the Awash River. They are related to the Turacos.
A pair of Cut-throat Finches. Only the male has the "cut throat." These and other small African finches are commonly kept as cage birds around the world.
Ruppell's Weaver at the nest. Both the male and female were actively feeding the young.
Female Ruppell's Weaver. This nest was at a restaurant where we stopped for lunch in the village of Awash.
Female Ruppell's Weaver.
Abyssinian Roller, certainly one of the most striking birds we saw. Rollers are named for their rolling display flights.
An HDR view of Judy and Lyall at Awash Falls.
A raucous Crested Francolin, more often heard than seen, photographed from our vehicle in Awash NP. Francolins are members of the grouse family.
Another of the pesky baboons at Awash Falls Lodge.
This Olive Baboon is up on a treetop soaking up the early morning sun.
Gail and I were the only ones to take an evening bird walk at Awash Falls Lodge, and were treated to this magnificant sunset.
The Bale Mountains are located south and east of Addis and consists of a high altitude plain with mountains peaks.It includes the second highest peak in Ethiopia, at 4377 meters (14360 feet). There are many endemic animals in this area, including the Ethiopian Wolf.
We drove up and up from the surrounding farmland to the mountains, still to be greeted by children.
A new highway is beign built into the Bale Mountains. What a mix of old and new!
The new highway.
Modern equipment was used in places.
Rocks are cheaper than signs.
Lots of hand labor at a bridge construction site.
Typical roadside residence.
Oxen are used for pulling trailers.
Donkeys carrying firewood.
Oxen plowing a high altitude plot.
This is what Amharic script looks like--a sign outside our motel in Goba. I have no idea what the sign says. Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia, although English and Arabic are also listed as official languages. Some 90 other languages are also spoken in the country.
A Grey Duiker wandered though the grounds of our motel in Goba.
Scattered Giant Lobelias in a typical Sanetti Plateau vista in the Bale Mountains.
another giant lobelia
The Ethiopian Wolf is the rarest canid in the world, and is endemic to Ethiopia. Their diet is almost exclusively Giant Mole-Rats! See my article in the Guardian from the UK for more information about our quest to see these wolves: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/punctuated-equilibrium/2011/mar/28/2?INTCMP=SRCH
The Spot-breasted Plover is endemic to Ethiopia. Endemic does not mean rare; in fact, these were fairly common.
This relative of the Mallard is called the Yellow-billed Duck.
Abyssinian Owl, formerly conspecific with the Long-eared Owl. We did quite well with owls, thanks to Solomon.
Abyssinian Catbird, an Ethiopian endemic, in the Bale Mountains.
Thekla Lark--easy to tell from most other larks because of the short crest.
How's this for a nice looking thrush?--the Abyssinian Ground Thrush. This is a shy montane bird.
Baglefecht Weaver--lots of races and plumage variations of this weaver, but usually pretty straightforward. This one was on our motel grounds in Goba.
This Streaky Seedeater posed very nicely in the late afternoon sun. Too bad the lily wasn't still in bloom!
Augur Buzzards are the most commn buteos in East Africa. This is a light phase adult.
A rather nice looking crater south of Addis. We saw several species of birds here but no striking photos of them. We sat on the deck of the restaurant enjoying the view, sipping our cokes.
The area adjacent to this lake south of Addis is a fertile irritated vegetable farm. Nice views of the farm and people, and quite a few birds at the lake, but we were there at mid-day, so photography was problematic.
Horses are used for transportation in Ethiopia much much more than in Kenya and Tanzania.
These Bajaj 3-wheelers are very popular in Ethiopia. They are manufactured in India.
Veggie farm at the north end of the lake.
Kids always enjoy looking at their image on the screen on the back of the camera.
Kids, kids, kids. Many of them begging, but also willing to pose.
Plain-backed Pipit. So named for lack of streaks on the back.
Debre Libanos is an ancient monastery, with none of the original buildings surviving. We didn't actually visit it, but went to the vicinity. Photos in this section were taken north of Addis to and from the the Debre Libanos area. Debre means "mount" so is a common part of place names in Ethiopia.
Heading north out of Addis, we drove by these carvings at the side of the highway. The lion is the national symbol of Ethiopia.
These giraffes were next to the lions.
Ethiopia is a mixture of old and new life styles.
At a roadside stop heading north, we picked up several species, including the Abyssinian Longclaw, and this Alpine or Moorland Chat. This bird was our friend on Kilimanjaro a few years ago. In Ethiopia it seems to be present at lower elevations than in Tanzania.
Our destination--a hotel owned by an Ethiopian man and his German wife. I read an on-line review which says there is nothing to do here! Nothing could be farther from the truth! Perhaps he wasn't interested in fantastic scenery, hiking, a wide variety of birds, including regular sightings of the Lammergeier, and close up study of the only graminivorous baboon in the world. Plus eating authentic Ethiopian food.
My room at the Etiho-Germany Park Hotel. I had too much fun with my new fish-eye lens!
View from my bathroom window, using fisheye and HDR. The window is actually square, but is distorted by the fisheye lens. High Dynamic Range is using several different exposures, from underexposed to overexposed, and then fusing them into a single image using a program such as Photomatix or Photoshop.
Gail enjoying traditional food.
Lyall, Bill and Rosemary enjoying their meal and the view over the Jemma Valley. The river here is a tributary of the Blue Nile. Ambitious hikers can explore the wilderness here.
Various raptors soar on the thermals right in front of the hotel. This yellow-billed kite is the one that steals food out of your hand if given the chance. This is an excellent site to practice your flight photography skills.
One of the specialties of this location is the Lammergeier--literally "Lamb Vulture". This is a huge vulture-like scavenger of the mountains which is known to drop bones onto rocks, to break them into pieces small enough to eat. I had thought they break up the bones so they can eat the marrow, but they actually eat the entire bone. See this fascinating account in the Guardian featuring a photo of mine. Make sure you watch the video: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/punctuated-equilibrium/2011/may/17/5?INTCMP=SRCH
The previous and the next images are of the same bird just a second or so apart. I was fascinated by the perspective changing the apparent shape and length of the tail, and the play of light on the feathers from slightly different angles.
An alternate name for the Lamergeier is the Bearded Vulture. You can see the 'beard' on this bird.
This Fan-tailed Raven was harrassing the Lammergeier. Check out the size difference!
A short hike from the hotel leads to the Portuguese Bridge. By tradition, this bridge was built by the Portuguese in the 16th century, but others think it may have been constructed by Ethiopians in the 19th century. I guess that's a problem with having a history that spans thousands of years. It's hard to know when things happened!
An HDR view looking up at the Portuguese Bridge. I bet this is spectacular in the rainy season.
The morning sun has not yet hit this spot in the canyon. The cliff at the right is where the Gelada baboons spent the night. Acutally they sleep just to the right of what we see here where the cliff is much higher and more vertical.
Here the Gelada are just leaving their night roosts to climb to the top and begin their daily activities. Can you see the baby on the back of his mom? Of course they sleep on vertical cliffs to avoid predation. None of their enemies are skilled (or stupid) enough to climb the cliffs.
The day begins with social interaction, more important than feeding.
It can be very relaxing!
I know you were wondering what 'graminivorous' means! Yep, it means grass eating. That's mostly what these Gelada eat--grass. This one was busy picking grass and eating it, roots and all. They spend most of the day in this position, moving around their foraging area in a unique 'shuffle-gait.' Their buttocks are out of view, so the bright buttock skin of baboons isn't useful.
That's why their bright skin is on their chest.
Gelada are placed in a Genus of their own, different than baboons and monkeys. There are other members of their genus in the fossil record, but none living. So usually these primates are just called 'Gelada'--less frequently the term 'Gelada Baboon' is used.
These sheep were grazing not far from the Geladas, and in turn, Red-billed Oxpeckers were grazing on the sheep!
While we were watching the Geladas graze, a group of people set up shop and we obliged by purchasing several items. I bought this basket from this boy, on the condition that I could take his photograph!
Pied Wheatear. Have you wondered why they are called Wheatears? Best guess is that it is a corrupted version of "White-Arse". They typically have white rumps.
A Globe Thistle not far from the hotel.
This Abyssinian Slaty Flycatcher has a tasty multicolored caterpillar in its beak. This is another endemic species.
These courting Blue-Winged Geese are endemic to the highlands of Ethiopia.
On the way back to Addis we stopped for lunch at this nice motel with abundant flowers, and murals at each door.
Pied crows were keeping an eye on us and.....
helping themselves to hanging meat.
A couple of the murals by the doors to units. This is a stone chruch at Lalibela which we would see a couple weeks later, and
this lady is probably harvesting teff.
We payed a mid-day visit to Hora Lake, south of Addis. Still it was quite birdy.
The Common Redstart is a common winter visitor to Ethiopia.
Endemic to the Horn of Africa is the Black-winged Lovebird, seen here feeding on the ground at Hora Lake.
A male Black-winged Lovebird.
A rather striking Ruppell's Robin Chat--a beautiful songster, although we needed to wait until Tanzania to hear it sing.
We flew to Lalibela in northern Ethiopia, a city of some 8.000 people, mostly as a cultural visit to see the famous rock-hewn churches. These churches are carved from solid rock, and are said to have been constructed during the reign of King Lalibela in late 12th and early 13th century. Lalibela was the capitol of Ethiopia at that time. It remains the second most holy city in the country, after Axum. Most Ethiopian orthodox peoples make pilgrimages to Lalibela.
This, the Church of St George (or Bet Giyorgis), is the most often pictured church, because of it's unique architecture, and location where is is easily photographed.
The only entry to the church is through a rock-hewn tunnel.
Same church from the top. All of these churches are still functional. They have priests on duty, and services and ceremonies are held regularly.
A wider view of Church of St George.
Bet Medhane Alem. This is thought to be the largest monolithic church in the world. UNESCO has built huge covers over several of the churches to prevent further deterioration.
A ceremony was taking place, and several tourists watched for a time.
This boy was looking down on the ceremony.
Shoes were removed prior to entry to the churches. A man neatly arranged and guarded the shoes, or if we exited a different door he would move the shoes to the exit.
Bet Abba Libanos. There is some thought that this church has been used as a prison.
Holy man studying. We were told that the older men were reading a primitive form of Amharic, Ge'ez. Most people cannot read it.
Lady on the street near the chuches. I forget what amused her.
Interior of one of the churches. An exorcism was taking place in one of the churches while we visited.
There were many old paintings on display, some hundreds of years old.
Human bones at Church of St George.
Gail and Judy in Bet Medhane Alem. In the background is Tesfa, our leader in Lalibela. A very nice and knowledgeable man.
Breakfast at the Jerusalem Hotel. http://www.lalibelajerusalemhotel.com/A nice spot to stay in Lalibela.
Lunch at the 7 Olives hotel in Lalibela.
Coffee (and popcorn) ceremony at the 7 Olives.
Typical houses in Lalibela.
Judy and Lyall in a small store in Lalibela.
Right at the Jeruselam Hotel, this African Harrier Hawk, or Gymnogene, landed on a treetop and started looking for nests. Skip 4 photos ahead for follow-up image.
While walking back to our hotel, Tesfa took us into a yard where this young lady was making injera. Her fuel, dried dung is just behind her, and the batter is in the blue bucket.
This is as fresh as it gets! Injera is eaten every day by most people in Ethiopia, and I think frequently more than once a day.
From doing a little research, injera is just teff flour and water, allowed to ferment for several days, then fried as in these photos. If teff is scarce, other grains are mixed with teff.
The Harrier Hawk has long double-jointed legs designed to reach into nests and pull our nestlings to eat. This one found no food, and soon flew off.
Abyssinian White-eye. It has a narrower eye ring than the Montane White-eye.
Brown-rumped Seedeater, another endemic. They were quite common.
This Ruppell's Black Chat was hanging out at the only church carved in a cave.
This lake is about 200 km south of Addis, and is the only freshwater lake in Ethiopia free of Schistosomiasis. It is brown in color, and water sports are popular.
We had a nice lunch at Langano Wabi Shebelle. http://www.wabeshebellehotels.com.et/langano-hotel.htmLunch was nice, but the late afternoon birding was even nicer!
That evening we stayed at the Sabana Beach Resort, also on Langano Lake. http://www.sabanalangano.com/This is an HDR image of the main lodge.
This image was obtained from the same spot as the previous, I just turned to the right and looked down on the dining area.
My cabin at the Sabana Beach Resort. A nice spot for our penultimate stop in Ethiopia. Next night we were back at the Ghion Hotel.
Fisherman on Lake Langano.
View of Lake Langano from the Langano Wabi Shebelle.
I would have walked right by this spot. How many birds can you see. I think there were 7 total visible from this standing right here. I can see only 3 in this photo. Give up? Go to the next photo.
These Long-tailed Nightjars are spending the day dozing, waiting for dusk to go off hunting for food. Solomon gave a small group of curious children some money, asking them to protect the birds from harm. He did this in several locations on our trip.
The Greyish Eagle-Owl likewise is a daytime sleeper.
Hemprich's Hornbill female.
Hemprich's Hornbill male, sitting not far away.
The Little Bee-eater is better than Mr. Miyagi at catching flies and bees.
After lunch at the Wabi Shebelle, we explored the grounds, amazed at the variety of avian species. At one small pond, I stood mesmerized for 16 minutes as 10 different species came in to drink. This is the Ruppell's Weaver female.
Female Village Weaver.
White-browed Sparrow-Weavers are common in East Africa. These are gregarious ground-feeding colony nesters.
Vitelline Masked Weaver
Superb Starlings are extrememly common, but difficult to photograph well.
Another bird named after Ruppell, the Rupell's Long-tailed Starling.
Swainson's Sparrow. This bird is one of several named for William John Swainson, an English ornithologist, malacologist and entomologist who lived from 1789 until 1855.
Our morning sunbathing friend the Speckled Mousebird was also thirsty.
Barbets are never as common as so many other birds like the starlings and weavers, so it is always a treat to see them. This is the Black-billed Barbet.
The irridescent Greater Blue-eared Starling is always to treat to study. And that was 10 species at the same site in 16 minutes!
The Speckled Pigeon is a handsome bird.
A late afternoon walk down to the lakeshore from Sabana Beach Resort was very birdy. This is a Rufous Chatterer.
I was especially pleased with the quality of this just-after-sundown photo of this Slate Colored Boubou. Boubous are rather shy, so I was lucky to find this one briefly out in the open. Pairs of boubous are known for their beautiful duetting.
The Red-fronted Barbet confided his nest location to us. Actually there is no way to know if this is a male or female,
Our friend the Speckled Mousebird. Soft lighting after sundown is great for photography. No harsh shadows!
It was interesting to compare and contrast two all black birds at the beach of Langano Lake. This is the Northern Black Flycatcher. The flycatcher is supposed to have upright posture, and the boubou horizontal posture. My birds are just the opposite of this!
Now this one is following the rules, waiting patiently for an insect to fly by!
Rattling Cisticola. There are about 19 species of cisticolas in Ethiopia. The rattling is likely the most common.
Tutu Fella is an archeological site about 350 km south of Addis. It is near the city of Dila.
It is a 1-2 km walk to the stellae field. For my photo essay about this fascinating afternoon, to to http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/punctuated-equilibrium/2011/sep/03/2
We were the afternoon entertainment for quite a few people!
A shy maiden tried to hide behind a small tree.
Solomon sitting amongst the stelae of Tutu Fella. The stelae are probably more than a thousand years old. Their function in the past is poorly known.
AI had fun using my fish-eye lens and doing some HDR images.
Better lightling early or late in the day would have been nice, but you have to deal with what is dealt!
My favorite little guy.
On the return walk to the bus, Lyall conducted English lessons.
Located about 150 miles south of Addis, and in the hills above the city of Shashemene, Wondo Genet is a small town and resort area The Wondo Genet Hotel is on land formerly used as a vacation area for the royal family. Hot springs and swimming are an attraction, as are the surrounding forested land.
Our local young bird finder and guide, one of several aound the country that Solomon is training.
Young kids were everywhere.
Lyall and I paid these girls a few cents to pose for our photos.
These well groomed and friendly girls were carrying there packs to market. Are they carrying chat? I'm not sure.
The Vervet Monkeys at the hotel were so cute! These guys were scampering about and eating leaves on the lawn just outside my room.
Vervets range from South Africa north in East Africa to Ethiopia.
They have different alarm calls for various predators, such as leopard, snake, eagle. Later, in Tanzania we were in the Serengeti when Francis, our driver-guide, heard vervets making an alarm call, and immediately he said "leopard." So Francis speaks "vervet"! And sure enough within a couple minutes he had spotted 2 leopards.
Vervets always live in goups, of up to 72 individuals.
Males have a pale blue scrotum and a red penis. I talked with a lady once who actually thought the name for these primates was "Blueball Monkey!"
The largest passerine is the Thick-billed Raven, seen here right on the grounds of the Wondo Genet Hotel. In this image you can't see the white on the back of the neck.
The Red-billed Oxpecker is helping this ox with skin hygeine.
Solomon took us on a march up into the mountains above the resort. We hardly had time to complain about the difficulty of the hike because there were too many birds to see! This is the endemic Black-winged Lovebird.
A Wattled Ibis was walking along the stream.
Silvery-cheeked Hornbill pair.
This Red-shouldered Cuckooshrike was very elusive, but did allow this photo.
Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, a resident bird.
The Common Bulbul is common, but not always easy to photograph. I am proud of this image.
Curious children are watching Doug write in his journal above Wondo Genet.
The Common Fiscal, like all shrikes, often impales it prey (sometimes alive) on a thorn for later consumption. The fiscal got its name from the tax collector for the Dutch East India Company, the "fiskall." The fiskall was dressed in black and white, visiously preyed on people's money and left them hanging "out to dry."
The Spotted Flycatcher has somewhat streaked underparts, a black bill, and is somewhat larger than the similar African Dusky Flycatcher. The Spotted Flycatcher is a winter visitor in Ethiopia.
If the Mountain Wagtail isn't eating, it is usually singing. As its name implies, it lives in mountainous areas, forest edges, and along streams. It is a resident bird, unlike the Yellow Wagtail which is a winter visitor.
Ziway Lake is another of the lakes in the Great Rift Valley. It is north of Langano Lake and Awasa Lake, about 60 miles south of Addis.
As soon as we got off our bus, children surrounded us, as usual.
About 2454 metric tons of fish are harvested each year from Ziway Lake. I wonder who weighs them all?--we didn't see anybody weighing their fish at this location! A metric ton is 1000 kg, about 2200 pounds.
Cleaning all those fish attracts lots of fish eaters, including Marabou Storks and......
Hamerkops. Walt always says it will be a lucky day if you see a hamerkop. We saw enough here to have a whole lucky month!
Epauletted Fruit Bats hanging in a palm tree near Ziway Lake.
The Marabou Stork is sometimes called the undertaker bird, due to its appearance from behind--cloak like dark wings, skinny white legs, and white-haired head. Their wingspan can be 10.5 feet, rivallng the Andean Condor for the largest wingspan of all landbirds.
This cute plover with two black bands on its breast is called the Three-banded Plover. The ones I have seen have usually been solitary, scattered along streams and lakes in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya.
The Marsh Sandpiper is a common winter visitor to Africa. It has a long thin bill and yellow legs.
Black-tailed Godwits, with White-faced Whistling Ducks in the background. The godwits are winter visitors.
The Sacred Ibis was both venerated and mummified by ancient Egyptians.
This Black-tailed Godwit seems to be sleeping, but I think it is actually grooming.
Sacred Ibis, a symbol of the god Thoth. The ibis was thought to protect Egypt from the annual spring invasion of winged serpents from Arabia.
How many birds do you know where the female has a different name than the male? The female Ruff is called a Reeve. The Ruff is easy to recognize with its orange legs.
The Spur-winged Plover has spurs on the "elbow" of each wing. Their function is poorly known.
One of the many varieties of the Yellow Wagtail.
The Little Stint is a very common winter visitor. Even though stint and stent are pronounced the same, don't get them confused--you wouldn't want a small bird inserted into one of your coronary arteries!
The Wood Sandpiper has a shorter and thicker bill than the Marsh Sandpiper, and its legs are yellower. We just called these "woodies."
Even though the Malachite Kingfisher is small (5 inches), it makes up for that in appearance!
Hamerkop is derived from the Afrikaans name for hammer-head. Can you guess why?
Lesser Black-backed Gull, Ziway Lake
Several Black-and-white Colobus monkeys were watching us from the trees at Wondo Genet. I know, I got this in the Ziway Lake section by mistake. Colobus monkeys are named from the Greek kolobos (maimed), because their thumb is just a stump.
Little Ringed Plover, with characteristic yellow eye-ring.
Another stint, the Temminck's Stint. Greenish yellow legs help distinguish it from the similar Little Stint. This bird is named after Coenraad Jacob Temminck, a Dutch zoologist who lived from 1778 to 1858. He seemed to specialize in getting things named after him!
The Hamerkop is the only member of its family, a so-called monotypic family.
I like this portrait--he looks very distinguished.
The Common Moorhen does not live in moorlands, but rather in marshes. I guess 'moor' is an old English name for 'marsh'. The Common Gallinule of the Ameericas may or may not be a different species depending on who you ask.
A mated and mating pair of African Jacanas. They are always seen in marshes with water lilies.
How do you say jacana? It depends on who you ask! Some say 'Zha-sah-NAH', while others say 'Jah-KA-nah'. Perhaps 'Lilytrotter' might be a good alternate pronounciation!
Another Malachite Kingfisher.
This is a hovering Pied Kingfisher. For some reason I thought pied meant black and white, perhaps because of this bird, but according to Merriam-Webster, pied means 2 or more colors in blotches.
This smallest of the perching ducks is called the African Pygmy Goose, perhaps because the bill looks goose-like. This is the male.
Another African Jacana.
Little Grebes are also known as Dabchicks. This one is not in breeding plumage.
A female African Pygmy Goose.
We end with a pair of African Pygmy Geese. These 313 images represent just a small portion of the 294 bird species photographed, and some 12,000 total images from my visit to Ethiopia, but you have to draw the line somewhere!