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Field Guides Tour Report
Ethiopia 2019
Sep 6, 2019 to Sep 26, 2019
Terry Stevenson & Ned Brinkley

At many locations in the higher elevations, the group heard the distinctive twittering of Black-winged Lovebirds. This one and several others posed long enough for good studies and photographs. Photo by participant Rhys Harrison.

Our September 2019 Ethiopia tour recorded our longest list of species to date, with not only virtually all the endemic birds possible, but a surprising number of early migrants too. Just around Addis Ababa (the capital), we saw our first endemics with Wattled Ibis, White-collared Pigeon and Brown-rumped Seedeater all being common. Slightly further afield, we saw our first White-winged Cliff-Chats and Ethiopian Siskins, and then at a misty escarpment above the Rift Valley, White-billed Starlings and a close troop of fabulous Gelada Baboons. In the Bale Mountains, Blue-winged Goose, Spot-breasted Lapwing, Abyssinian Woodpecker, White-backed Black-Tit and Abyssinian Catbird were highlights, as were wonderful looks at three rare Ethiopian Wolves (Simien Fox). Stunning, close, Prince Ruspoli's Turaco and the rare Liben Lark were highlights of the south-east, and then further south at Yabello we had several encounters with Stresemann's Bush-Crow and White-tailed Swallow. Eluding us so far was Yellow-fronted Parrot, a species which wanders widely as they search for fruiting fig trees. Luckily, we discovered that the terrible road to one of its old haunts that we knew about had been repaired, and by adding this detour on our final day, we were rewarded with super looks at this elusive species.

So, returning to the beginning of our journey, we left Addis and headed north to Debre Birhan, stopping at a rocky hill along the way. This was a chance to walk around and enjoy some of the common highland birds, with first on the list being a close Lanner Falcon which had just killed a Dusky Turtle-Dove. Augur Buzzards flew overhead, while in the rough grasses were feeding Thekla's Larks, 3 Greater Whitethroats (our first unexpected migrants), and flocks of Ethiopian Siskins. A pair of White-winged Cliff-Chats and several Moorland Chats perched atop exposed rocks, and the surprise of the day was a pair of Cape Eagle-Owls sitting right in the open. After lunch, we were dismayed to find the area for seeing the famous Gelada troops was literally clouded in, but we persevered, and after an hour or so the clouds melted away and we were able to get good close views of mothers, babies, and several huge males as they swaggered along, raising their lips and flashing their impressive teeth.

The following day found us heading down into the Rift Valley and to a special area for Yellow-throated Serin. While searching for these elusive birds, we enjoyed such varied species as Eastern Plantain-eater, Tawny Eagle, Northern Red-billed Hornbill, Half-collared Kingfisher, Yellow-breasted Barbet, Northern Crombec, Beautiful Sunbird, Rueppell's Weaver, Northern Red Bishop (including males in full breeding plumage), and Crimson-rumped Waxbill. And finally, luck was with us once again as we all enjoyed repeated good looks at up to 4 of our target species - the little known Yellow-throated Serin.

After another night in Addis, we then had a very long day to Jemma Valley, previously an extensive area of rocky scrub-covered escarpment, but now, sadly, totally degraded and rapidly becoming farmland - oh how things can change in just one year! Somehow though, we still managed to pick up some great birds, with a few of the most interesting being Erckel's Francolin, Harwood's Francolin (briefly for some), Klaas's Cuckoo, Alpine Swift, Black-winged Lovebird, Little Rock-Thrush, Rueppell's Chat, Abyssinian Wheatear, and White-billed Starling.

Leaving the highlands behind, we then headed east for a three night stay at Awash National Park. What a contrast to what we'd seen so far, with just some of the species we added including Helmeted Guineafowl, Yellow-necked and Crested francolins, Namaqua Dove, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Arabian Bustard, White-bellied Go-away-bird, Dark Chanting-Goshawk, Blue-naped Mousebird, Eastern Yellow-billed and Von der Decken's hornbills, five species of bee-eaters including White-throated and Northern Carmine, Abyssinian Roller, Gray-headed Batis, Ethiopian Boubou, Rosy-patched Bushshrike, Somali Fiscal, Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark, Gillett's Lark, Mouse-colored Penduline-tit, Eastern Olivaceous and Upcher's warblers, Sombre Chat, Nile Valley and Shining sunbirds, Somali Bunting, and Eastern Paradise-Whydah. We also added several mammals to our list, including Black-faced Vervet Monkey, Hamadryas and Olive baboons, Spotted Hyaena, Warthog, Salt's Dikdik, and Soemmering's Gazelle.

The next part of our tour was to the some of the Rift Valley lakes while we were based at Lake Langano. First we stopped at Lake Ziway, where a shallow reedy area provided us with White-faced Whistling-Duck, Spur-winged Goose, Black-winged Stilt, African Jacana, Ruff, Wood Sandpiper, Gray-hooded Gull, African Openbill, Marabou and Yellow-billed storks, African Darter, Great White and Pink-backed pelicans, Hamerkop, and a variety of heron, egrets, and ibis. The alkaline Lake Abijatta was totally different, with a spectacular view of many thousands of Lesser Flamingos. Langano was the best for grass and woodland species, with Slender-tailed Nightjar, Northern White-faced Owl, Grayish Eagle-Owl, Black-billed Woodhoopoe, Abyssinian Ground-hornbill, Red-fronted Barbet, Lesser Honeyguide, Rufous-necked Wryneck, Red-bellied Parrot, Mocking Cliff-Chat, and Scarlet-chested Sunbird.

We then continued south to Shashemene, where coffee with the Thick-billed Ravens was the morning highlight, and then it was on for three nights at the Bale Mountains. Wonderful looks at three Ethiopian Wolves (a pair and a single) were the icing on the cake for most of us, but we also saw virtually all the special birds of the region: Blue-winged Goose, Chestnut-naped Francolin, White-cheeked Turaco, Rouget's Rail, Spot-breasted Lapwing, Bearded Vulture, Abyssinian Woodpecker, Red-billed Chough, White-backed Black-Tit, Abyssinian Catbird, Rueppell's Robin-Chat, Abyssinian Ground-Thrush, and Abyssinian Longclaw.

While the road over the Bale Mts. was the best ever, the road to Negele had seriously deteriorated, making for a long and bumpy journey south. It was not without rewards, though, as Ethiopia's star bird, Prince Ruspoli's Turaco, crossed the road in front of us and we all quickly dashed out to get super close views of this gorgeous, gorgeous bird! Nothing else mattered that day.

The other star attraction at Negele is Liben Lark, often referred to as Africa's rarest bird. Amazingly, the local guides there helped us find this bird in record time, giving us a more relaxed day as we then added Kori Bustard, three more Prince Ruspoli's Turacos, Gray-headed Bushshrike, White-breasted Cuckooshrike, Taita Fiscal, Somali Crow, Somali Short-toed Lark, Pectoral-patch Cisticola, White-rumped Babbler, and White-crowned Starling,

Heading back to the Rift Valley, we spent a night at the luxurious Haile Resort (a welcome change after the very basic accommodations at Negele); here we added a few more widespread species before heading yet further south to one of Ethiopia's top birding spots - Yabello. Both the specials of the area, Stresemann's Bush-crow and White-tailed Swallow, were seen easily, but we also had a fantastic time adding so many new birds to our list: White-bellied Bustard, Bateleur, Pearl-spotted Owlet, Black-throated Barbet, Pygmy Falcon, Pygmy Batis, Pringle's Puffback, Red-naped Bushshrike, Somali Tit, Somali Crombec, Pale Prinia, Scaly Chatterer, African Bare-eyed Thrush, Shelley's and Golden-breasted starlings, Hunter's Sunbird, and Northern Grosbeak-Canary - to name but a few!

We finished our regular tour with a long drive back to Addis, but broken along the way with a overnight stay once again at the Haile Resort. A local park provided us with great looks at a stationary Spotted Creeper, and then as mentioned in the introduction, a detour to our old Yellow-fronted Parrot site was the most wonderful way to celebrate yet another successful Ethiopian journey.

Most of our group then continued with a short flight to the north and our Churches of Lalibela Extension. The primary aim of this short tour is to see the rock hewn churches of Lalibela. It is always popular, and not without good reason, as these amazing churches are hand carved from solid rock and often referred to as "The Eighth Wonder of the World" - and this year we had the added attraction of being able to witness one of the Ethiopian Orthodox festivals - the Celebration of the Cross.

But, it wasn't just about visits to the churches, as we were able to enjoy some great birding too. Highlights this year were undoubtedly the Bearded Vulture (Lammergeier) show, with almost 30 birds being seen, and sometimes seven or eight in the air together! Other memorable moments were just seeing again many of the endemics we'd not seen since early in the main tour, or perhaps not seen so well the first time. New species included Abyssinian Nightjar (super looks), Eurasian Blackcap, Irania (a gorgeous migrant not normally encountered), Ortolan Bunting, Speckle-fronted Weaver, and Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver.

To see even more photos from this tour, click on Ethiopia Extras.

Our next Ethiopia tour with Terry Stevenson runs in September 2020.

One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

This Abyssinian Ground-Hornbill and an accomplice stalked the open acacia habitat of the Abijatta-Shalla National Park, where the group went primarily to enjoy the vast Lesser Flamingo flocks. More of these prehistoric-looking beasts were seen the next day along the highway south of Lake Langano. Photo by participant Cliff Hensel.

Struthionidae (Ostriches)
SOMALI OSTRICH (Struthio molybdophanes) – Nice looks at 2 close males near Lake Abijatta.
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
WHITE-FACED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna viduata) – Small numbers at lakes Cheleleka, Ziway and Awassa; in total we saw about 25.
FULVOUS WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna bicolor) – Small numbers at Lake Cheleleka, mixed with White-faced flocks, seen by some.
BLUE-WINGED GOOSE (Cyanochen cyanoptera) – Our first were 2 along a stream in the highlands north of Addis, and we then had many sightings, totaling about 90 in the Bale Mts. area. [E]
KNOB-BILLED DUCK (Sarkidiornis melanotos) – Some of the group saw 2 at Lake Cheleleka.
RUDDY SHELDUCK (Tadorna ferruginea) – Eight on a variety of small pools high in the Bale Mts.
EGYPTIAN GOOSE (Alopochen aegyptiaca) – Common and widespread at wetlands throughout the tour.
SPUR-WINGED GOOSE (Plectropterus gambensis) – Three, including a big close male at Lake Ziway, 2 at Awassa, and then a further 6 along the road north of Ziway.
HOTTENTOT TEAL (Spatula hottentota) – Two at Lake Cheleleka.
NORTHERN SHOVELER (Spatula clypeata) – Five at Lake Cheleleka.

Not quite a bird-of-paradise, this adult Black Heron at Lake Ziway fed antically and frantically among several horses, racing around and creating an umbrella of shade to attract small fish, which it captured successfully. Photo by participant Terry Harrison.

AFRICAN BLACK DUCK (Anas sparsa) – One at Dinsho Pool.
YELLOW-BILLED DUCK (Anas undulata) – Four in the highlands north of Addis, and 3 in the Bale Mts.
RED-BILLED DUCK (Anas erythrorhyncha) – Ten in flight near Awash Falls Lodge.
Numididae (Guineafowl)
HELMETED GUINEAFOWL (Numida meleagris) – We saw flocks totaling about 200 at Awash, and several other small flocks in the Lake Abijatta area, and near Yabello.
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
CHESTNUT-NAPED FRANCOLIN (Pternistis castaneicollis) – Heard near Dinsho, and then a total of about 20 (including a pair with 4 tiny juveniles) seen in the Bale Mts. [E]
ERCKEL'S FRANCOLIN (Pternistis erckelii) – Great looks at the top of the escarpment above Jemma Valley, and then another single further downslope, and several heard at Lalibela. [E]
HARWOOD'S FRANCOLIN (Pternistis harwoodi) – Some of the group saw 2 in flight after they were flushed by our local guide. [E]
YELLOW-NECKED FRANCOLIN (Pternistis leucoscepus) – Two singles at Awash NP.
CRESTED FRANCOLIN (Dendroperdix sephaena) – Five at Awash NP, 2 on the way to Negele, and 4 near Yabello.
Phoenicopteridae (Flamingos)
GREATER FLAMINGO (Phoenicopterus roseus) – We saw a flock of 64 flying over Lake Langano.
LESSER FLAMINGO (Phoeniconaias minor) – About 25,000 at Lake Abijatta.

Ethiopia’s endemic Blue-winged Goose, found only in the highlands, reminded the group of South American sheldgeese (genus Chloephaga) structurally, but it is in fact part of a very ancient “duck” lineage that includes the taxonomically obscure Hartlaub’s Duck of Africa. Photo by guide Ned Brinkley.

Podicipedidae (Grebes)
LITTLE GREBE (Tachybaptus ruficollis) – Small numbers at a variety of scattered wetlands; in all we saw about a dozen.
EARED GREBE (Podiceps nigricollis) – One at Ziway.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) – Small numbers around Addis, Awash, and Modjo. [I]
SPECKLED PIGEON (Columba guinea) – Very common throughout the tour.
WHITE-COLLARED PIGEON (Columba albitorques) – A common endemic in the highlands north of Addis, in the Bale Mts, and at Lalibela. [E]
RAMERON PIGEON (Columba arquatrix) – Two in flight at Bale Mountain Lodge.
DUSKY TURTLE-DOVE (Streptopelia lugens) – Many hundreds in the highlands north of Addis, around the Bale Mts. and at Lalibela.
AFRICAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia roseogrisea) – Two at the Hallaydagen Asabot Reserve.
MOURNING COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decipiens) – About a dozen at Awash, 30 at Lake Langano, and small numbers around Negele and Yabello.
RED-EYED DOVE (Streptopelia semitorquata) – Very common throughout the tour.

What a happy moment it was when the heavy clouds suddenly parted at Gemessa Gebel to reveal a troop of more than 50 Gelada, an impressive primate related to baboons that is endemic to Ethiopia. Photo by participant Rhys Harrison.

RING-NECKED DOVE (Streptopelia capicola) – Another common and widespread dove.
LAUGHING DOVE (Streptopelia senegalensis) – Very common and widespread.
EMERALD-SPOTTED WOOD-DOVE (Turtur chalcospilos) – Singles at Melka Ghebdu, Awash, and Yabello.
BLUE-SPOTTED WOOD-DOVE (Turtur afer) – One on the Jemma Valley Escarpment, and 3 in the Lake Langano area.
TAMBOURINE DOVE (Turtur tympanistria) – Two in the forest near Agere Maryam.
NAMAQUA DOVE (Oena capensis) – Common and widespread in low dry bush country; all total we saw about 140.
BRUCE'S GREEN-PIGEON (Treron waalia) – Good looks at this attractive pigeon at Lake Hora (4), Lake Langano (1), and Lalibela (20).
Pteroclidae (Sandgrouse)
CHESTNUT-BELLIED SANDGROUSE (Pterocles exustus) – Great looks at a pair with a nest and a single egg at Bilen Lodge.
Otididae (Bustards)
ARABIAN BUSTARD (Ardeotis arabs) – Two on the grassy plains in the Hallaydagen Asabot Reserve.
KORI BUSTARD (Ardeotis kori) – Four in the wheat fields near Negele.

One of the great prizes of Ethiopian birding, Prince Ruspoli’s Turaco inhabits wooded areas of the Genale River valley and its drainages—and nowhere else. Terry spotted two flying across the road even before the group arrived in Negele! The species was discovered by Italian explorer Eugenio Ruspoli and was described from a specimen found among his possessions after he had been killed by an elephant that he had shot near Burgi, Somalia in 1893. Photo by participant Greg Griffith.

WHITE-BELLIED BUSTARD (Eupodotis senegalensis) – Nice looks at a single male near Dubuluk.
BUFF-CRESTED BUSTARD (Eupodotis gindiana) – Three singles at Awash NP, and 1 near Yabello.
Musophagidae (Turacos)
WHITE-CHEEKED TURACO (Tauraco leucotis) – Nice looks at this near endemic at Bale Mts (3), and near Lake Langano (2).
PRINCE RUSPOLI'S TURACO (Tauraco ruspolii) – Just fabulous this year, with super close looks on the way to Negele, and then to the west of there; in all we saw 5. [E]
BARE-FACED GO-AWAY-BIRD (BROWN-FACED) (Corythaixoides personatus personatus) – Three in the woodland near Lake Langano. Some authorities split this nominate form as Brown-faced Go-away-bird,
WHITE-BELLIED GO-AWAY-BIRD (Corythaixoides leucogaster) – Widespread in dry acacia country with a total of about 70.
EASTERN PLANTAIN-EATER (Crinifer zonurus) – Three at Melka Ghebdu, and 4 at Awash.
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
BLUE-HEADED COUCAL (Centropus monachus) – One at Awassa.
WHITE-BROWED COUCAL (Centropus superciliosus) – One seen and others heard at Awash NP.
GREEN MALKOHA (Ceuthmochares australis) – Good looks at 1 in the forest canopy near Lake Langano. Formerly called Yellowbill, this species is now split as both Blue and Green Malkoha. The bird we saw is an isolated population of Green Malkoha, C. australis.

Wattled Ibis is endemic to Ethiopia, where it inhabits open areas in highlands. Fortunately, this species (like Hadada Ibis) seems able to cope well with human-altered landscapes and was seen on all of the drives through the highlands. Photo by guide Ned Brinkley.

DIDERIC CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx caprius) – We saw a juvenile being fed by a Rueppell's Weaver on the Mount Fantalle lava flow, an adult there two days later, and 3 other singles at Awash NP, and near Lake Abijatta.
KLAAS'S CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx klaas) – Two singles at Jemma Valley, 1 at Ziway, and several others heard in different widespread areas.
RED-CHESTED CUCKOO (Cuculus solitarius) – One on the way to Negele.
COMMON CUCKOO (Cuculus canorus) – Two singles in flight at Awash NP, and 1 at Lalibela.
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
ABYSSINIAN NIGHTJAR (Caprimulgus poliocephalus) – Great looks at our hotel at Lalibela.
SLENDER-TAILED NIGHTJAR (Caprimulgus clarus) – We saw a total of 5 at Lake Langano, including great day time views of one at the old government lodge.
Apodidae (Swifts)
SCARCE SWIFT (Schoutedenapus myoptilus) – Greg and Ned photographed a pair of swifts over the Harenna Forest at Bale Mountain Lodge that turned out to be this species.
ALPINE SWIFT (Apus melba) – Two at the top of the Jemma Valley Escarpment, 1 at Awash, 3 at Lake Langano, and about a dozen at Lalibela.
NYANZA SWIFT (Apus niansae) – Six at the top of the Jemma Valley Escarpment, 15 in the Bale Mts. area, and 40+ at Lalibela.
LITTLE SWIFT (Apus affinis) – Some of the group saw 6 at Awassa.

White-tailed Swallow, an Ethiopian endemic with a tiny range near Yabello, was probably the most cooperative of all the swallows seen on the tour, with at least a dozen tallied between Yabello and the Borana National Park near Dubuluk. Photo by participant Greg Griffith.

HORUS SWIFT (Apus horus) – About 6 at Sabana Lodge.
WHITE-RUMPED SWIFT (Apus caffer) – About 20 in the Negele area.
AFRICAN PALM-SWIFT (Cypsiurus parvus) – Four near Lake Langano, and 1 near Negele.
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
ROUGET'S RAIL (Rougetius rougetii) – We saw 13 of these confiding rails in the Bale Mts. area. [E]
EURASIAN MOORHEN (Gallinula chloropus) – One at Lake Hora.
RED-KNOBBED COOT (Fulica cristata) – At least 100 at Lake Cheleleka, 6 at Lake Ziway, 16 at Dinsho Pool, and 40 Lake Awassa.
BLACK CRAKE (Zapornia flavirostra) – Heard at Lake Ziway, and then about a dozen seen at Lake Awassa,
Burhinidae (Thick-knees)
SENEGAL THICK-KNEE (Burhinus senegalensis) – One on the shore of Lake Langano.
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-WINGED STILT (Himantopus himantopus) – One at a pool north of Addis, 8 at Lake Ziway, and a further 10 along the road from Ziway to Modjo.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
SPUR-WINGED LAPWING (Vanellus spinosus) – Widespread in small numbers around a variety of wetlands; in all we saw about 55.

Rouget’s Rail (Rougetius rougetii) is a distinctive species of high-elevation marshes and meadows, endemic to Ethiopia. The group was glad to see several pairs and families in the Bale Mountains and surrounding highlands. Photo by guide Ned Brinkley.

BLACK-WINGED LAPWING (Vanellus melanopterus) – Two in the high altitude grasslands east of Shashemene.
CROWNED LAPWING (Vanellus coronatus) – Widespread in dry grasslands around Lake Langano, on the Liben Plains, and near Yabello.
SPOT-BREASTED LAPWING (Vanellus melanocephalus) – Very hard this year, but eventually we found two pairs on the Sanetti Plateau. [E]
THREE-BANDED PLOVER (Charadrius tricollaris) – Seven at Lake Ziway, and 1 at Lalibela.
Jacanidae (Jacanas)
AFRICAN JACANA (Actophilornis africanus) – Most common at Lake Awassa, but we also saw small numbers at several other wetlands; in all we saw about 45.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
RUFF (Calidris pugnax) – Small numbers at Lake Ziway (and roadside pools near there), and at Negele; in total we saw about 30.
LITTLE STINT (Calidris minuta) – Three near Negele.
COMMON SANDPIPER (Actitis hypoleucos) – Small numbers were widespread at a variety of scattered wetlands throughout the tour, in all we saw about 30.
GREEN SANDPIPER (Tringa ochropus) – Two in the highlands north of Addis, and then 6 in the Bale Mts.
COMMON GREENSHANK (Tringa nebularia) – One near Lake Awassa, and 6 at Lake Langano.

Barely visible through a gap in dense cover of the beautiful Afromontane forest of the Bale Mountains National Park, this African Wood-Owl peered back at the group sleepily near the park headquarters. This subspecies, umbrina, is found only in Ethiopia and a portion of adjacent South Sudan. Photo by participant Greg Griffith.

WOOD SANDPIPER (Tringa glareola) – Two at Lake Ziway, and 2 near Negele.
Glareolidae (Pratincoles and Coursers)
TEMMINCK'S COURSER (Cursorius temminckii) – Two on the grassy shore of Lake Abijatta, and 7 on the Liben Plains.
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
GRAY-HOODED GULL (Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus) – About 20 at Lake Ziway, 35 at Lake Awassa, and 30+ at Lake Langano.
GULL-BILLED TERN (Gelochelidon nilotica) – Four at Awash NP (flying over grasslands), and 11 at Lake Awassa.
WHITE-WINGED TERN (Chlidonias leucopterus) – Small numbers at lakes Hora and Ziway, and then about 50 at Lake Awassa.
WHISKERED TERN (Chlidonias hybrida) – About a dozen at Lake Awassa.
COMMON TERN (Sterna hirundo) – One at Lake Awassa.
Ciconiidae (Storks)
AFRICAN OPENBILL (Anastomus lamelligerus) – One at Lake Ziway.
WOOLLY-NECKED STORK (Ciconia episcopus) – Four in the grasslands at Lake Langano.
SADDLE-BILLED STORK (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis) – Two in flight near Lake Awassa.

Awash National Park thronged with birds in the mornings, and cooperative subjects for photography, such as this intently hunting Dark Chanting-Goshawk, were at every stop. Photo by participant Cliff Hensel.

MARABOU STORK (Leptoptilos crumenifer) – Widespread, with 250+ being the most together in the Awassa area; in all we saw about 500.
YELLOW-BILLED STORK (Mycteria ibis) – Small numbers in wetlands between Addis to Awash, and on to Ziway; in all we saw about 30.
Anhingidae (Anhingas)
AFRICAN DARTER (Anhinga rufa rufa) – Four at Lake Ziway.
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
LONG-TAILED CORMORANT (Microcarbo africanus) – Ten at Lake Ziway.
GREAT CORMORANT (WHITE-BREASTED) (Phalacrocorax carbo lucidus) – Twenty at Lake Hora, and 50+ at Lake Awassa.
Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
GREAT WHITE PELICAN (Pelecanus onocrotalus) – At least 150 at Lake Ziway, 60 + at Lake Awassa.
PINK-BACKED PELICAN (Pelecanus rufescens) – Six at Lake Hora, and 20 at Lake Ziway.
Scopidae (Hamerkop)
HAMERKOP (Scopus umbretta) – Widespread at wetlands throughout the tour; in all we saw about 90.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
LITTLE BITTERN (Ixobrychus minutus) – Some of our group saw 1 fly up river at Awash Falls Lodge.
GRAY HERON (Ardea cinerea) – One at Lake Langano.
BLACK-HEADED HERON (Ardea melanocephala) – Two at Lake Cheleleka, 2 near Yabello, and 1 near Awassa.

Always a pleasure to observe, Greater Kudus (including this stately adult male) were present in small numbers south of Yabello. Photo by participant Rhys Harrison.

GOLIATH HERON (Ardea goliath) – Nice scope views of 1 at Lake Awassa.
PURPLE HERON (Ardea purpurea) – One at Dinsho Pool, and 2 at Lake Awassa.
GREAT EGRET (AFRICAN) (Ardea alba melanorhynchos) – Two at Lake Cheleleka, 3 at Lake Ziway, and 5 at Lake Awassa.
INTERMEDIATE EGRET (Ardea intermedia) – Singles at Cheleleka, near Awash, and at Lake Awassa.
LITTLE EGRET (Egretta garzetta) – Small numbers were seen on a variety of wetlands with a total of about 35.
BLACK HERON (Egretta ardesiaca) – Great looks at 2 at Lake Ziway doing their unique 'umbrella' fishing action.
CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis) – Seen on many days throughout the tour; in all we saw about 550.
SQUACCO HERON (Ardeola ralloides) – Thirty at Lake Awassa were by far the most for a single area, but we also saw about another dozen at a variety of scattered wetlands.
STRIATED HERON (Butorides striata) – Three at Lake Beseka, and 1 at Lake Ziway.
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
SACRED IBIS (Threskiornis aethiopicus) – Common and widespread, with a total of about 400.

Slender-tailed Nightjar is a widespread African species that is relatively easy to observe in the Rift Valley. This day-roosting individual was near Lake Langano, and the group saw several emerge at dusk at the hotel. Photo by guide Ned Brinkley.

HADADA IBIS (Bostrychia hagedash) – Widespread, but in small numbers; in all we saw about 40.
WATTLED IBIS (Bostrychia carunculata) – This endemic was common in the highlands north of Addis (120+) and in the Bale Mts. (250), we also had far smaller number at a variety of scattered mainly highland sites. [E]
AFRICAN SPOONBILL (Platalea alba) – Two near Lake Ziway on the way south, and 5 in the same area on the way north.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
BLACK-WINGED KITE (Elanus caeruleus) – One in the farmlands north of Addis, another single on the way to Awash, and 3 more in the Ziway area.
AFRICAN HARRIER-HAWK (Polyboroides typus) – Two singles north of Addis, 4 in the Lake Langano area, 2 near Shashemene, and 1 at Negele, plus an immature seen on the extension to Lalibela. The juvenile raptor in the big fig tree in Lalibela indeed turned out to be this species: although oddly plumaged, the bird's horizontal, slit-like nostril shape confirmed Terry's initial identification!
BEARDED VULTURE (Gypaetus barbatus) – Just amazing this year, with 2 along the top of the Jemma Valley Escarpment, a pair in the Bale Mts, and then at least 28 in the Lalibela area, which included very close views of up to 8 in the air together!
WHITE-HEADED VULTURE (Trigonoceps occipitalis) – One along the road between Negele and Awassa.
LAPPET-FACED VULTURE (Torgos tracheliotos) – Two near Debre Birhan, and 1 the way to Awassa.
HOODED VULTURE (Necrosyrtes monachus) – By far the most common and widespread vulture, with many (sometimes 100's) together in towns like Addis and Awassa.
WHITE-BACKED VULTURE (Gyps africanus) – Less than expected, but we still saw a total of about 75 at a variety of scattered sites.

The widespread Mariqua (or Marico) Sunbird brightened birding stops in the Rift Valley and southward into the arid acacia woodlands. Photo by participant Cliff Hensel.

RUEPPELL'S GRIFFON (Gyps rueppelli) – Like several other vultures in Africa, this species is also suffering from a rapid decline in numbers; we saw just 5 in the Bale Mts. and about 10 at Lalibela.
BATELEUR (Terathopius ecaudatus) – A classic species of the big open African skies - we saw 6, all in the Yabello area.
BLACK-BREASTED SNAKE-EAGLE (Circaetus pectoralis) – We saw an adult near Negele.
CROWNED EAGLE (Stephanoaetus coronatus) – Some of our group saw a flying bird over the forest where we had lunch on the way to Goba, we then all saw 2 displaying at Bale Mountain Lodge, and finally 1 on the way to Awassa.
LONG-CRESTED EAGLE (Lophaetus occipitalis) – A single bird was seen from our bus near Ziway.
TAWNY EAGLE (Aquila rapax) – Seen almost daily with a total of about 90.
VERREAUX'S EAGLE (Aquila verreauxii) – We saw a pair in flight in the Bale Mts, and then another pair and a single at Lalibela.
AFRICAN HAWK-EAGLE (Aquila spilogaster) – We saw an immature in flight along the Debre Birhan road, and a pair of adults between Negele and Awassa.
DARK CHANTING-GOSHAWK (Melierax metabates) – Four at Awash NP, 1 north of Ziway, and 1 near Lake Abijatta.
EASTERN CHANTING-GOSHAWK (Melierax poliopterus) – Two in the Yabello area.

One of three memorable Giant Kingfishers on the tour, this one at Hara Langano Lodge hunted right near the lodge’s attractive dining hall. This big bird made a full “sweep” of the kingfisher species for the tour, after the lucky find of a Half-collared Kingfisher at Melka Ghebdu. Photo by participant Greg Griffith.

GABAR GOSHAWK (Micronisus gabar) – One near Negele, and 3 in the Yabello area which included a melanistic bird.
MONTAGU'S HARRIER (Circus pygargus) – Distant views of 1 near Negele.
AFRICAN GOSHAWK (ETHIOPIAN) (Accipiter tachiro unduliventer) – One calling in flight high over Bale Mountain Lodge, and fantastic looks at a close perched adult at Lake Langano.
LITTLE SPARROWHAWK (Accipiter minullus) – Singles near Awash Falls Lodge and Bale Mountain Lodge.
RUFOUS-CHESTED SPARROWHAWK (Accipiter rufiventris) – Some of the group saw 1 at Gemessa Gebel.
BLACK KITE (YELLOW-BILLED) (Milvus migrans parasitus) – Common and widespread, with a total of about 160.
AFRICAN FISH-EAGLE (Haliaeetus vocifer) – We saw about 45 of these beautiful eagles (mainly on the Rift Valley lakes).
COMMON BUZZARD (Buteo buteo) – One at Lalibela.
AUGUR BUZZARD (Buteo augur) – Most common in the highlands and the Rift Valley, where we saw a total of about 70.
Strigidae (Owls)
NORTHERN WHITE-FACED OWL (Ptilopsis leucotis) – Thanks to a local guide, we had fabulous views of a single bird at Lake Langano.

Although the group encountered Lammergeiers (Bearded Vultures) on two days on the main Ethiopia tour, many more were observed at close range on the Churches of Lalibela extension. This youngster (with 16 friends) patronized a memorable hillside where butchers discard their bones! Photo by participant Cliff Hensel.

CAPE EAGLE-OWL (NORTHERN) (Bubo capensis dillonii) – We had great scope views of a pair on a rocky hill near Debre Birhan.
GRAYISH EAGLE-OWL (Bubo cinerascens) – Nice looks at 2 singles in the acacia woodlands at Lake Langano.
PEARL-SPOTTED OWLET (Glaucidium perlatum) – Nice looks at 1 in the acacia country north of Yabello.
AFRICAN WOOD-OWL (Strix woodfordii) – We had very close views of a well hidden bird at the Dinsho Park HQ.
Coliidae (Mousebirds)
SPECKLED MOUSEBIRD (Colius striatus) – Common and widespread.
BLUE-NAPED MOUSEBIRD (Urocolius macrourus) – More common than the previous species in dry bush country like at Awash and in the Rift Valley; in all we saw about 90.
Upupidae (Hoopoes)
EURASIAN HOOPOE (CENTRAL AFRICAN) (Upupa epops senegalensis) – Small numbers in a variety of bush and open woodland; with a total of about 25.
Phoeniculidae (Woodhoopoes and Scimitarbills)
BLACK-BILLED WOODHOOPOE (Phoeniculus somaliensis) – Great looks at about 20 in the Lake Langano to Abijatta area, 3 near Negele, 3 at Awassa, and 1 at Lalibela. [E]
BLACK SCIMITARBILL (Rhinopomastus aterrimus) – One at Simbo Lodge, Lake Langano.
ABYSSINIAN SCIMITARBILL (Rhinopomastus minor) – One in flight at Awash NP.

Among dozens of new species for the tour list around Yabello, Black-cheeked Waxbill was arguably the showiest—this arid habitat is home to many species plumaged in grays, rusts, and browns (exceptions being the glorious sunbirds, barbets, and bushshrikes). Photo by participant Greg Griffith.

Bucorvidae (Ground-Hornbills)
ABYSSINIAN GROUND-HORNBILL (Bucorvus abyssinicus) – Fabulous looks at 3 and then 2, and then another 2, all near Lake Abijatta.
Bucerotidae (Hornbills)
HEMPRICH'S HORNBILL (Lophoceros hemprichii) – One at Jemma Valley, 4 at Lake Langano, 2 on the way to Awassa, and 4 at Lalibela.
AFRICAN GRAY HORNBILL (Lophoceros nasutus) – About a dozen at Awash NP, and 10 in the Negele area.
EASTERN YELLOW-BILLED HORNBILL (Tockus flavirostris) – One on the way to Bilen Lodge.
VON DER DECKEN'S HORNBILL (Tockus deckeni) – Three at Awash NP, 1 near Lake Abijatta, and 1 near Yabello.
NORTHERN RED-BILLED HORNBILL (Tockus erythrorhynchus) – The most common and widespread bush country hornbill, with a total of about 140.
SILVERY-CHEEKED HORNBILL (Bycanistes brevis) – Fantastic views of about 140 in the Lake Awassa area, and 30+ others in the highland forest around Agere Maryam.
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
HALF-COLLARED KINGFISHER (Alcedo semitorquata) – Wonderful to see this rather uncommon kingfisher; we had a single bird along a stream at Melka Ghebdu.
MALACHITE KINGFISHER (Corythornis cristatus) – One at Lake Ziway, about a dozen at Lake Awassa, and 2 at Lake Langano.
AFRICAN PYGMY-KINGFISHER (Ispidina picta) – One at Melka Ghebdu.

A small herd of Burchell’s Zebra (or Bontequagga) south of Yabello provided an unexpected pleasure, here at the extreme northeastern edge of this handsome species’ range. Photo by guide Ned Brinkley.

GRAY-HEADED KINGFISHER (Halcyon leucocephala) – Three at Awash NP.
WOODLAND KINGFISHER (Halcyon senegalensis) – One at Lake Ziway, and 4 or 5 at Awassa.
STRIPED KINGFISHER (Halcyon chelicuti) – One in the acacia woodlands at Lake Langano.
GIANT KINGFISHER (Megaceryle maxima) – We saw 1 eating a huge tilapia at Lake Awassa, and then another single in the same area, and a third along the road near Agere Maryam.
PIED KINGFISHER (Ceryle rudis) – About 10 at Awash NP, 20+ at Lake Ziway, and 20 at Lake Awassa.
Meropidae (Bee-eaters)
LITTLE BEE-EATER (Merops pusillus) – Small numbers (and usually in pairs) were seen at Melka Ghebdu, Awash NP, Ziway, Abijatta, and the Yabello area.
BLUE-BREASTED BEE-EATER (Merops variegatus lafresnayii) – This distinctive race (which may be split as Ethiopian Bee-eater) was seen well at Melka Ghebdu, in the Jemma Valley, and at Awassa. [E]
WHITE-THROATED BEE-EATER (Merops albicollis) – At least 120 were seen in the Awash area.
BLUE-CHEEKED BEE-EATER (Merops persicus) – Three at Awash NP.
MADAGASCAR BEE-EATER (Merops superciliosus) – A single flock of over 60 and others totaling about 40 were seen at Awash NP.

Probably soon to be elevated to full-species status, Ethiopian Bee-eater is still listed by some authorities (including Clements) as a subspecies of Blue-breasted Bee-eater. The group found several, from Melka Ghebdu to the Jemma Valley and to the Rift Valley lakes of Awassa and Langano. For the first time, this tour “swept” all the bee-eater species including migrants like Blue-cheeked, Northern Carmine, and Madagascar, which swirled in huge flocks with White-throateds at Awash National Park. Photo by participant Greg Griffith.

EUROPEAN BEE-EATER (Merops apiaster) – Migrating flocks were seen in about 6 locations, with the most together being 250+ around Awassa town and to the north of there.
NORTHERN CARMINE BEE-EATER (Merops nubicus) – At least 6 of these gorgeous bee-eaters were at Awash NP.
Coraciidae (Rollers)
ABYSSINIAN ROLLER (Coracias abyssinicus) – Great scope looks at 1, and then a few others from the bus in the Awash area.
LILAC-BREASTED ROLLER (BLUE-BREASTED) (Coracias caudatus lorti) – Also known as Lilac-throated Roller; we saw at least a dozen in the Awash area, and 4 or 5 near Yabello.
RUFOUS-CROWNED ROLLER (Coracias naevius) – One along the shore at Lake Langano, and 1 near Yabello.
Lybiidae (African Barbets)
RED-AND-YELLOW BARBET (Trachyphonus erythrocephalus) – Nice looks at 1 (and others heard) in the dry bush country south of the Bale Mts.
YELLOW-BREASTED BARBET (Trachyphonus margaritatus) – Four at Melka Ghebdu, and 1 at Awash.
D'ARNAUD'S BARBET (Trachyphonus darnaudii) – One near Awash was well north of its usual range, and we then saw about 20 in the Yabello area.
RED-FRONTED TINKERBIRD (Pogoniulus pusillus) – Singles at Awash, Lake Langano, Awassa, and Lalibela.
RED-FRONTED BARBET (Tricholaema diademata) – One at Lake Hora, 4 in the Lake Langano area, and 2 near Yabello.

The group thanks Rick Hetrick (who called for a rest stop, in good birding habitat, of course) for the only White Helmetshrikes of the trip, south of Melka Amana! Ornithologists now consider this and other helmetshrike species to be members of the vanga family (Vangidae). Photo by participant Cliff Hensel.

BLACK-THROATED BARBET (Tricholaema melanocephala) – Four around Dubuluk.
BANDED BARBET (Lybius undatus) – Nice looks at this attractive endemic at Lake Hora (2), Awassa (1), and Lalibela (8). [E]
BLACK-BILLED BARBET (Lybius guifsobalito) – Small numbers in a variety of woodland, but especially in areas with figs.
DOUBLE-TOOTHED BARBET (Lybius bidentatus) – Two on the SE side of Lake Langano.
Indicatoridae (Honeyguides)
LESSER HONEYGUIDE (Indicator minor) – Three in the acacia woodland at Lake Langano, and 1 along the way to Negele.
GREATER HONEYGUIDE (Indicator indicator) – Heard at a couple of places in the south. [*]
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
RUFOUS-NECKED WRYNECK (Jynx ruficollis) – Fantastic views in the woodlands at Lake Langano.
ABYSSINIAN WOODPECKER (Chloropicus abyssinicus) – Can be very difficult but we had amazing luck this tour, first seeing a male feeding in Red-hot Poker flowers at the Bale Mts. NP HQ, and then a female near Bale Mountain Lodge. [E]
CARDINAL WOODPECKER (Chloropicus fuscescens) – One at Awash NP.
MOUNTAIN GRAY WOODPECKER (Chloropicus spodocephalus) – Two at Lake Hora, and singles at Lake Ziway, Bale Mountain Lodge, and Awassa.

At the group’s very first stop on the first day of birding, this Lanner Falcon dispatched a Dusky Turtle-Dove and carried it away for breakfast! Photo by guide Ned Brinkley.

NUBIAN WOODPECKER (Campethera nubica) – Singles were seen in seven widespread areas of acacia woodland.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
PYGMY FALCON (Polihierax semitorquatus) – Nice looks at a close female near Yabello.
EURASIAN KESTREL (RUFESCENT) (Falco tinnunculus rufescens) – Small numbers in the Debre Birhan area, Jemma Valley, Lake Langano, and Lalibela.
LANNER FALCON (Falco biarmicus) – Our first was a young bird carrying a freshly killed Dusky Turtle-Dove near Debre Birhan, and we then saw a further 14 in widespread areas of open country.
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus) – One at Awassa.
Psittaculidae (Old World Parrots)
BLACK-WINGED LOVEBIRD (Agapornis taranta) – Small flocks were widespread in a variety of wooded areas; in all we saw about 120. [E]
Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)
RED-BELLIED PARROT (Poicephalus rufiventris) – Also known as African Orange-bellied Parrot. We saw a pair at Simbo Lodge, and a female near Yabello.
YELLOW-FRONTED PARROT (Poicephalus flavifrons) – It is becoming increasingly difficult to find this localized and wandering parrot. We had brief views of 4 in flight near Shashemene, then another 2 as flying silhouettes, and finally, wonderful close views of a pair resting in an acacia tree on the SE shore of Lake Langano. [E]
Platysteiridae (Wattle-eyes and Batises)
BROWN-THROATED WATTLE-EYE (Platysteira cyanea) – Heard at Awassa. [*]
GRAY-HEADED BATIS (Batis orientalis) – Three at Awash NP.

One of few specialized predators on scorpions, Northern White-faced Owl has a tuft of plumes around the bill (rather like a cat’s whiskers) that is apparently deployed when tackling difficult prey. This roosting bird was found with local help near Lake Langano. Photo by participant Greg Griffith.

BLACK-HEADED BATIS (Batis minor) – The race 'erlangeri' is often considered specifically distinct from the nominate race. We saw pairs at Lake Hora, Lake Langano, and in the Negele area.
PYGMY BATIS (Batis perkeo) – Nice looks at 2 pairs in the Yabello area.
Vangidae (Vangas, Helmetshrikes, and Allies)
WHITE HELMETSHRIKE (Prionops plumatus) – Two flocks (16 in total) were seen about halfway between the Bale Mts. and Negele.
Malaconotidae (Bushshrikes and Allies)
BRUBRU (Nilaus afer) – Two at Lake Langano, and 3 near Yabello.
NORTHERN PUFFBACK (Dryoscopus gambensis) – Widespread in small numbers; in total we saw 15.
PRINGLE'S PUFFBACK (Dryoscopus pringlii) – A shy species of dense Commiphora scrub so we were very lucky to get great looks at a female and then a preening male to the south of Yabello.
BLACK-CROWNED TCHAGRA (Tchagra senegalus) – Two at Jemma Valley, and singles at Awash NP and Lalibela.
RED-NAPED BUSHSHRIKE (Laniarius ruficeps) – Another secretive inhabitant of Commiphora scrub, we had excellent views of about 6 south of Yabello.
ETHIOPIAN BOUBOU (Laniarius aethiopicus) – Widespread with about 17 seen and many others heard. [E]
SLATE-COLORED BOUBOU (Laniarius funebris) – Singles at Lake Langano and near Negele, and then a further 8 in the Yabello area.

Pringle’s Puffbacks can be very tricky to find in the dense Commiphora scrub of Ethiopia’s southern border areas, also home to scarce Scaly Chatterers. The group was fortunate to find both males and females in three different locations south of Yabello. Photo by participant Greg Griffith.

ROSY-PATCHED BUSHSHRIKE (Rhodophoneus cruentus) – We saw these attractive and unusual looking bushshrikes at Awash NP, and around Yabello.
SULPHUR-BREASTED BUSHSHRIKE (Telophorus sulfureopectus) – Wonderful looks at Awash NP, and Lake Langano.
GRAY-HEADED BUSHSHRIKE (Malaconotus blanchoti) – One, as we ate breakfast at Negele town.
Campephagidae (Cuckooshrikes)
WHITE-BREASTED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina pectoralis) – Rather uncommon in Ethiopia so we were surprised to see 2 to the west of Negele.
RED-SHOULDERED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Campephaga phoenicea) – Nice looks at a male at Lake Langano.
Laniidae (Shrikes)
GRAY-BACKED FISCAL (Lanius excubitoroides) – We saw a total of about 20 in the open woodlands between Lake Langano and Awassa.
TAITA FISCAL (Lanius dorsalis) – One near Negele.
SOMALI FISCAL (Lanius somalicus) – Nice looks at up to 5 in Awash NP, and then 3 near Dubuluk.
NORTHERN FISCAL (Lanius humeralis) – Common and widespread in the highlands.
MASKED SHRIKE (Lanius nubicus) – Fabulous scope views of 1 at Lake Langano.
WHITE-RUMPED SHRIKE (Eurocephalus ruppelli) – Common in open acacia country; in total we saw about 45.

The group appreciated the many contributions of local guide Kibrom Tesfay, Terry Stevenson’s collaborator on this itinerary for many years, seen here with Terry at Adama (Nazaret). Photo by guide Ned Brinkley.

Oriolidae (Old World Orioles)
EURASIAN GOLDEN ORIOLE (Oriolus oriolus) – Four at Awash NP, and at least a dozen at Lalibela.
ETHIOPIAN BLACK-HEADED ORIOLE (Oriolus monacha) – About 10 at Bale Mountain Lodge, and 6 in the forest near Agere Maryam. [E]
AFRICAN BLACK-HEADED ORIOLE (Oriolus larvatus) – Six in the Negele area, 4 at Awassa, and 1 near Yabello.
Dicruridae (Drongos)
FORK-TAILED DRONGO (GLOSSY-BACKED) (Dicrurus adsimilis divaricatus) – Some authorities are now splitting the form 'divaricatus' as Glossy-backed Drongo; they were widespread, with a total of about 60.
Monarchidae (Monarch Flycatchers)
AFRICAN PARADISE-FLYCATCHER (Terpsiphone viridis) – Widespread in small numbers.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
STRESEMANN'S BUSH-CROW (Zavattariornis stresemanni) – One of the highlights of the tour, with fabulous views of almost 30 (including birds on nests) near Yabello. [E]
RED-BILLED CHOUGH (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) – Four high in the Bale Mts.

Endemic to Ethiopia, Thick-billed Raven was a tour favorite—for its truly massive bill, interesting behaviors, and unusual vocalizations. A coffee stop at Shashemene, home to many Rastafari whose families were granted land by Emperor Haile Selassie in the 1960s, got the group up close and personal with several rather tame individuals. Photo by guide Ned Brinkley.

CAPE CROW (Corvus capensis) – Common and widespread.
PIED CROW (Corvus albus) – Common and widespread.
SOMALI CROW (Corvus edithae) – About 25 in the Negele area.
FAN-TAILED RAVEN (Corvus rhipidurus) – Another very common corvid, with a single flock of 120+ at Lalibela being by far the most together.
THICK-BILLED RAVEN (Corvus crassirostris) – Another group favorite; they were widespread around several towns and villages with a total of about 135. [E]
Alaudidae (Larks)
CHESTNUT-BACKED SPARROW-LARK (Eremopterix leucotis) – One at the top of Jemma Valley, and about 30 at Awash NP.
FOXY LARK (Calendulauda alopex) – Some of the group saw 1 near Dubuluk.
LIBEN LARK (Heteromirafra archeri) – Often described as the rarest bird in continental Africa, and thanks to our local guides, we had great close scope views on the Liben Plains. [E]
GILLETT'S LARK (Mirafra gilletti) – We all had excellent close views of this endemic at Awash NP. [E]
SOMALI SHORT-TOED LARK (Alaudala somalica) – Three on the Liben Plains.

The group’s encounter with Africa’s rarest bird, Liben Lark, could not have been better. At the Turaco Hotel in Negele, an artist’s rendering of this endemic bird gave hope for a sighting. The next morning, the warden of the bird’s habitat east of town greeted the group, along with his daughters, and with a team of local people helped the group to see one—a real needle in a haystack in the wide-open Liben Plains—in just a few minutes. Photos by guide Ned Brinkley and participants Terry Harrison and Greg Griffith.

THEKLA'S LARK (Galerida theklae) – Very common in the highlands north of Addis, and in the Bale Mts.
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
PLAIN MARTIN (Riparia paludicola) – Flocks were common around lakes and pools throughout the tour.
BANK SWALLOW (Riparia riparia) – Small numbers at Awash NP, and at Lalibela.
BANDED MARTIN (Riparia cincta) – Four at a small stream in the high country above Jemma Valley.
ROCK MARTIN (Ptyonoprogne fuligula) – Common and widespread in small numbers.
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica) – Very common throughout the tour.
ETHIOPIAN SWALLOW (Hirundo aethiopica) – Three in the Negele area.
WIRE-TAILED SWALLOW (Hirundo smithii) – Small numbers at Negele and Awassa.
WHITE-TAILED SWALLOW (Hirundo megaensis) – Just amazing this year, with about a dozen in the Yabello area - great looks at perched birds too! [E]
RED-RUMPED SWALLOW (Cecropis daurica) – A dozen at Jemma Valley, 10 near Goba, and about 40 at Lalibela.

On the group’s final day, birding the forest around the Hara Langano Lodge was truly sensational, resulting in this extraordinary up-close study of the obscure Ethiopian subspecies (unduliventer) of African Goshawk. Photo by participant Greg Griffith.

COMMON HOUSE-MARTIN (Delichon urbicum) – Six at Jemma Valley, and about 10 at Lalibela.
BLACK SAWWING (Psalidoprocne pristoptera pristoptera) – The nominate form is sometimes considered specifically distinct and known as Blue Sawwing; we saw 1 at Lalibela.
BLACK SAWWING (Psalidoprocne pristoptera antinorii) – The form 'antinorii' ' is sometimes considered specifically distinct and named Brown Sawwing; we saw them at Bale Mts. and near Negele.
Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)
WHITE-WINGED BLACK-TIT (Melaniparus leucomelas) – Two at Lake Hora, and 4 near Negele.
SOMALI TIT (Melaniparus thruppi) – Four in the Yabello area.
WHITE-BACKED BLACK-TIT (Melaniparus leuconotus) – A few of the group saw 1 at our lunch stop on the way to Goba, and then we all saw 3 at the Bale Mts. NP HQ. [E]
Remizidae (Penduline-Tits)
MOUSE-COLORED PENDULINE-TIT (Anthoscopus musculus) – Singles were seen at Awash NP, near Lake Beseka, and near Dubuluk.
Certhiidae (Treecreepers)
AFRICAN SPOTTED CREEPER (Salpornis salvadori) – Great scope views of a strangely stationary bird in the woodlands at Lake Awassa.
Pycnonotidae (Bulbuls)
COMMON BULBUL (COMMON) (Pycnonotus barbatus schoanus) – Common north of Addis, at Lake Langano, Negele, Awassa, and at Lalibela.
COMMON BULBUL (SOMALI) (Pycnonotus barbatus somaliensis) – Replaces the previous form at Awash NP.

White-billed Buffalo-Weaver is little known in Ethiopia. The group was surprised to see one in Borana National Park, mixed with a small group of the more expected Red-billed. Photo by guide Ned Brinkley.

COMMON BULBUL (DODSON'S) (Pycnonotus barbatus dodsoni) – The resident common bulbul species around Negele and Yabello.
COMMON BULBUL (DARK-CAPPED) (Pycnonotus barbatus spurius) – Common around the Bale Mts. and near Agere Maryam.
Macrosphenidae (African Warblers)
NORTHERN CROMBEC (Sylvietta brachyura) – Singles at Melka Ghebdu and near Negele.
RED-FACED CROMBEC (Sylvietta whytii) – One at Lake Hora, 2 at Lake Langano, and 2 further singles near Negele and Awassa.
SOMALI CROMBEC (Sylvietta isabellina) – Often difficult, but we had great looks at up to 3 this tour.
Phylloscopidae (Leaf Warblers)
BROWN WOODLAND-WARBLER (Phylloscopus umbrovirens) – One at Gemessa Gebel, 2 at Bale Mts. NP HQ, and 3 at Lalibela.
Acrocephalidae (Reed Warblers and Allies)
EASTERN OLIVACEOUS WARBLER (Iduna pallida) – One at Awash NP.
UPCHER'S WARBLER (Hippolais languida) – One near Bilen Lodge.
AFRICAN REED WARBLER (Acrocephalus baeticatus) – One in the reed beds at Lake Awassa.
LESSER SWAMP WARBLER (Acrocephalus gracilirostris) – Heard in the reed beds at Lake Ziway, and then seen nicely at Lake Awassa.

Beautiful Rüppell’s Robin-Chats captivated the group around Goba and the Bale Mountains. Guide Terry Stevenson pointed out that the tour found six species whose names commemorate Wilhelm Peter Eduard Simon Rüppell, the German explorer who in the 1820s was the first European to traverse Ethiopia. Photo by participant Rhys Harrison.

Locustellidae (Grassbirds and Allies)
CINNAMON BRACKEN-WARBLER (Bradypterus cinnamomeus) – We saw this super skulker in the Bale Mts.
Cisticolidae (Cisticolas and Allies)
YELLOW-BELLIED EREMOMELA (Eremomela icteropygialis) – Small numbers at Awash NP, Lake Langano, Negele, and around Yabello.
GRAY WREN-WARBLER (Calamonastes simplex) – Four at Awash NP, and 5 in the Yabello area.
GREEN-BACKED CAMAROPTERA (GRAY-BACKED) (Camaroptera brachyura brevicaudata) – Common and widespread.
BUFF-BELLIED WARBLER (Phyllolais pulchella) – About 10 in the acacia woodlands at Lake Langano, and 14+ around Yabello.
YELLOW-BREASTED APALIS (Apalis flavida) – One on the way to Negele, and then about 40 in the Yabello area.
TAWNY-FLANKED PRINIA (Prinia subflava) – Widespread in small numbers.
PALE PRINIA (Prinia somalica) – Four around Dubuluk.
RED-FRONTED PRINIA (Prinia rufifrons) – One near Dubuluk.
SINGING CISTICOLA (Cisticola cantans) – Three at the Jemma Valley, and then about 12 at Lalibela.

Newly split (in August 2019) from Winding Cisticola, the endemic Ethiopian Cisticola was often heard and sometimes seen in the highlands, particularly around wetlands and wet meadows. Photo by participant Greg Griffith.

BORAN CISTICOLA (Cisticola bodessa) – Two near Negele, and 6 near Yabello.
RATTLING CISTICOLA (Cisticola chiniana) – Small numbers in the acacia country at Jemma Valley, and at Lake Langano.
WINDING CISTICOLA (ETHIOPIAN) (Cisticola galactotes lugubris) – Often considered specifically distinct as Ethiopian Cisticola; we saw them in the highlands north of Addis, and commonly around the Bale Mts. [E]
PECTORAL-PATCH CISTICOLA (Cisticola brunnescens) – One on the Liben Plains.
Sylviidae (Sylviid Warblers)
ABYSSINIAN CATBIRD (Parophasma galinieri) – We saw about 16 in the Bale Mts. area - great voice too! [E]
EURASIAN BLACKCAP (Sylvia atricapilla) – Four at Lalibela.
BANDED PARISOMA (Sylvia boehmi) – About 6 in the Yabello area.
LESSER WHITETHROAT (Sylvia curruca) – One at Lalibela.
BROWN PARISOMA (GRAY-VENTED) (Sylvia lugens griseiventris) – This gray-bellied form is often considered specifically distinct from Brown Parisoma; we had fantastic super close looks on the north side of Bale Mts. [EN]
GREATER WHITETHROAT (Sylvia communis) – Three to the south of Debre Birhan.

Visits to 11 rock-hewn churches on the extension were mesmerizing. Local lore says that the churches were carved out of solid rock in just 24 years, with teams of angels descending to continue the work overnight as the human craftsmen slept. Photo by guide Ned Brinkley.

Zosteropidae (White-eyes, Yuhinas, and Allies)
BROAD-RINGED WHITE-EYE (ETHIOPIAN) (Zosterops poliogastrus poliogastrus) – Recently split as Heuglin's White-eye; we saw them at the Bale Mts. NP HQ and in forested patches of the Bale Mts.
ABYSSINIAN WHITE-EYE (ABYSSINIAN) (Zosterops abyssinicus abyssinicus) – Recently split as Abyssinian White-eye Z. abyssinicus and Pale White-eye, Z. flavilateralis. The birds we saw at Melka Ghebdu, Jemma Valley and Lake Hora were the pale-bellied nominate race of Abyssinian White-eye.
ABYSSINIAN WHITE-EYE (KENYA) (Zosterops abyssinicus jubaensis) – Recently split from Abyssinian White-eye, Z. abyssinicus, as Pale White-eye, Z. flavilateralis. The birds we saw near Negele and Yabello were yellow-bellied, so now split as Pale White-eye, Z. flavilateralis jubaensis.
Leiothrichidae (Laughingthrushes and Allies)
SCALY CHATTERER (Turdoides aylmeri) – Normally a very shy bird of dense Commiphora scrub, but we were lucky and had excellent close views of 4 (right in the open) south of Yabello.
RUFOUS CHATTERER (Turdoides rubiginosa) – About a dozen south of Yabello.
WHITE-RUMPED BABBLER (Turdoides leucopygia) – Eight to the west of Negele, and about a dozen near Lake Langano. [E]
Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers)
DUSKY-BROWN FLYCATCHER (Muscicapa adusta) – Small numbers at a variety of scattered forested areas; in all we saw about 40.
SPOTTED FLYCATCHER (Muscicapa striata) – One at Awash NP, and 5 at Lalibela.
GRAYISH FLYCATCHER (ETHIOPIAN) (Bradornis microrhynchus pumilus) – Fairly common in acacia country, like at Awash NP (20), and in the Yabello area (50).
NORTHERN BLACK-FLYCATCHER (Melaenornis edolioides) – Four in the Lake Langano area, and then further small numbers at Bale Mountain Lodge, Negele, and Awassa; in all we saw about 18.

Voted the bird of the trip, the endemic Stresemann’s Bush-Crow could not have been more cooperative in the habitat south of Yabello: pairs were busily allo-preening, nest-building, and courtship-feeding, and family groups foraged actively around the unusual termite mounds of this compelling landscape. Photo by participant Greg Griffith.

ABYSSINIAN SLATY-FLYCATCHER (Melaenornis chocolatinus) – Most common in the Bale Mts. area (20+), but we also saw a few others at scattered highland forest sites. [E]
RED-BACKED SCRUB-ROBIN (Cercotrichas leucophrys) – Two at Awash NP, and 10+ in the Yabello area.
RUEPPELL'S ROBIN-CHAT (Cossypha semirufa) – Three seen (and several others heard) in the Bale Mts. The song here is very different from Kenya birds.
WHITE-BROWED ROBIN-CHAT (Cossypha heuglini) – Seven in the wooded areas at Lake Awassa, and 1 near Lalibela.
SPOTTED MORNING-THRUSH (Cichladusa guttata) – Three in the Yabello area.
WHITE-THROATED ROBIN (Irania gutturalis) – Also known as Irania, we had good looks at 5 in the Lalibela area - which included some splendid looking males.
COMMON NIGHTINGALE (Luscinia megarhynchos) – Nice looks at 1 in some thick scrub near Lalibela.
SEMICOLLARED FLYCATCHER (Ficedula semitorquata) – One for some of the group near Lake Langano.
COMMON REDSTART (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) – Some of the group saw a male at Melka Ghebdu.
LITTLE ROCK-THRUSH (Monticola rufocinereus) – One at Jemma Valley, 2 at Lake Langano, and 5 at Lalibela.

Endemic to the Horn of Africa and a sliver of northern Kenya, White-crowned Starlings put in a fine showing around Negele (here) and Yabello. The white parts of their plumage were often stained a reddish color by the dusty red soil of the region! Photo by participant Rhys Harrison.

WHINCHAT (Saxicola rubetra) – One on top of the Jemma Valley Escarpment.
AFRICAN STONECHAT (ETHIOPIAN) (Saxicola torquatus albofasciatus) – Two above the Jemma Valley, and 1 near Dinsho Pool.
RUEPPELL'S CHAT (Myrmecocichla melaena) – Six on the higher slopes of Jemma Valley, and 8 at Lalibela.
MOCKING CLIFF-CHAT (Thamnolaea cinnamomeiventris) – Four at Lake Langano, and another 4 at Lalibela.
WHITE-WINGED CLIFF-CHAT (Thamnolaea semirufa) – Two near Debre Birhan, 6 on the Jemma Valley Escarpment, and 4 at Lalibela. [E]
SOMBRE CHAT (Cercomela dubia) – Nice looks at 1 on the Mount Fantalle lava flow. [E]
BLACKSTART (Cercomela melanura) – At least 5 on the Mount Fantalle lava flow.
MOORLAND CHAT (Cercomela sordida) – Very common in highland areas like around Debre Birhan, above the Jemma Valley, and in the Bale Mts.; in all we saw about 160.
NORTHERN WHEATEAR (Oenanthe oenanthe) – Small numbers in open country, with a total of about 8.
ABYSSINIAN WHEATEAR (Oenanthe lugubris lugubris) – Three near Debre Birhan, 4 above Jemma Valley, and 2 at Lake Langano. [E]

One of the highlights of the tour extension was an invitation to enjoy the sacred procession celebrating the high holiday called Meskel, the Festival of the Cross, which marks the fourth-century discovery of the True Cross by the Empress Helena of Rome. Photo by guide Ned Brinkley.

PIED WHEATEAR (Oenanthe pleschanka) – One in a small gulley near Lalibela airport.
ISABELLINE WHEATEAR (Oenanthe isabellina) – One in the highland farming area above Jemma Valley.
RED-BREASTED WHEATEAR (Oenanthe bottae) – We saw this highland species near Debre Birhan, above Jemma Valley, and around Dinsho Pool.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
ABYSSINIAN GROUND-THRUSH (Geokichla piaggiae) – Can be very shy, but we had a responsive bird in the forest near Bale Mountain Lodge and eventually all got good looks.
GROUNDSCRAPER THRUSH (HEATH) (Psophocichla litsitsirupa simensis) – Small numbers in the open high altitude country; in all we saw about 35, with most being in the Bale Mts. [E]
ABYSSINIAN THRUSH (ABYSSINIAN) (Turdus abyssinicus abyssinicus) – This mainly highlands species was most common in the Bale Mts. (40+), but we also saw them in scattered wooded areas elsewhere.
AFRICAN BARE-EYED THRUSH (Turdus tephronotus) – Nice scope views of 2 near Yabello.
AFRICAN THRUSH (Turdus pelios) – Singles near Addis and Negele.
Sturnidae (Starlings)
WATTLED STARLING (Creatophora cinerea) – Several flocks varying in size from 10 to 30 at Awash NP, the Liben Plains, and around Yabello.
SLENDER-BILLED STARLING (Onychognathus tenuirostris) – Nice looks at flocks at Shashemene, near Dinsho Pool, near Agere Maryam, and at Lalibela.

After one got away from the group during a picnic lunch overlooking Wassama Gorge, a small flock of endemic White-backed Black-Tits emerged following a rain shower at the Bale Mountains National Park headquarters. Photo by participant Greg Griffith.

RED-WINGED STARLING (Onychognathus morio) – First seen at Bale Mountain Lodge, and then frequently at a variety of widespread sites; in total we saw about 90.
WHITE-BILLED STARLING (Onychognathus albirostris) – We saw this attractive endemic at Gemessa Gebel (12), Jemma Valley (25), and Lalibela (60+). [E]
BRISTLE-CROWNED STARLING (Onychognathus salvadorii) – Two as we crossed the Genale River, and another 2-4 in the Negele town area.
SHELLEY'S STARLING (Lamprotornis shelleyi) – Good scope looks of 1 near Yabello, and a few others seen in flight around there.
RUEPPELL'S STARLING (Lamprotornis purpuroptera) – Fairly common and widespread in open wooded grasslands; in all we saw about 120.
GOLDEN-BREASTED STARLING (Lamprotornis regius) – We saw a total of 7 in the Yabello area (although not everyone saw all of them).
SUPERB STARLING (Lamprotornis superbus) – Common and widespread away from the highland forested areas.
WHITE-CROWNED STARLING (Lamprotornis albicapillus) – About a dozen near Negele, and 40 at Yabello and Dubuluk.
GREATER BLUE-EARED STARLING (Lamprotornis chalybaeus) – Very common and widespread apart from in the Bale Mts.
Buphagidae (Oxpeckers)
RED-BILLED OXPECKER (Buphagus erythrorhynchus) – Widespread in small numbers (and especially on cattle or camels), in all we saw about 75.

A near-miss this year, but happily seen well in the tour’s final hour of birding, two Yellow-fronted Parrots foraged quietly on acacia seed pods near Lake Langano, leading to three cheers (and audible sighs of relief from the guides). Habitat destruction has regrettably reduced populations of this handsome endemic parrot. Photo by participant Greg Griffith.

Nectariniidae (Sunbirds and Spiderhunters)
EASTERN VIOLET-BACKED SUNBIRD (Anthreptes orientalis) – We saw a pair near Dubuluk.
COLLARED SUNBIRD (Hedydipna collaris) – Single males near Negele, and at Lake Awassa.
NILE VALLEY SUNBIRD (Hedydipna metallica) – Three at Bilen Lodge, and 4 at the Mount Fantalle lava flow.
OLIVE SUNBIRD (Cyanomitra olivacea) – Some of the group saw 1 briefly and everyone heard 1 at Bale Mountain Lodge.
SCARLET-CHESTED SUNBIRD (Chalcomitra senegalensis) – Small numbers around Lake Langano, Negele, and Awassa; in all we saw about 9.
HUNTER'S SUNBIRD (Chalcomitra hunteri) – At least 3 in the Yabello area.
TACAZZE SUNBIRD (Nectarinia tacazze) – Most common in the Bale Mts. where we saw well over 120, we also had perhaps another 12+ north of Addis, and about 20 at Lalibela.
BEAUTIFUL SUNBIRD (Cinnyris pulchellus) – Common at Awash NP and Yabello, with smaller numbers at many widespread sites with acacia trees.
MARIQUA SUNBIRD (Cinnyris mariquensis) – First seen near Negele, and then more commonly around Yabello; in all we saw about 24.
SHINING SUNBIRD (Cinnyris habessinicus) – Two males at Awash NP.

Sometimes a wickedly difficult species to find, much less see well, Scaly Chatterers popped out into the open in the final hour of birding around Yabello, a real victory to close the day. Photo by participant Greg Griffith.

VARIABLE SUNBIRD (Cinnyris venustus) – Widespread in small numbers with a total of about 90.
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
MOUNTAIN WAGTAIL (Motacilla clara) – One at Melka Ghebdu, 2 at Yirge Chafe, and 2 at Lalibela.
GRAY WAGTAIL (Motacilla cinerea) – Three along the stream at Melka Ghebdu, and 1 at Jemma Valley.
WESTERN YELLOW WAGTAIL (Motacilla flava) – Small numbers (often in fields with cattle) above Jemma Valley, and then from Awash to Lake Langano.
AFRICAN PIPIT (Anthus cinnamomeus) – Several single birds along the shore of Lake Abijatta, and near Dinsho Pool.
LONG-BILLED PIPIT (NICHOLSON'S) (Anthus similis hararensis) – One on the cliffs at Lake Langano.
TAWNY PIPIT (Anthus campestris) – Two in an open grassy area north of Dubuluk.
PLAIN-BACKED PIPIT (Anthus leucophrys) – About 25 on the Liben Plains.
TREE PIPIT (Anthus trivialis) – One in the Bale Mts.
ABYSSINIAN LONGCLAW (Macronyx flavicollis) – Very difficult this tour, but eventually we all got good scope views near Dinsho. [E]

Certainly one of the great moments of the tour, the appearance of two Ethiopian Wolves on the Sanetti Plateau, their last stronghold, was tinged with some sorrow at the recent declines in its population. Thankfully, conservation biologists are hard at work to reverse this latest decline. Photo by participant Greg Griffith.

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
AFRICAN CITRIL (Crithagra citrinelloides) – Common and widespread.
REICHENOW'S SEEDEATER (Crithagra reichenowi) – Common around Negele and Yabello, and a few at Awassa.
YELLOW-RUMPED SERIN (Crithagra xanthopygia) – A few of the group saw 1 briefly in flight at the Jemma Valley Escarpment, and then everyone on the Lalibela extension saw up to 6 really well feeding in tall grasses. Also known as White-throated Seedeater. [E]
WHITE-BELLIED CANARY (Crithagra dorsostriata) – Two near Yabello.
YELLOW-THROATED SERIN (Crithagra flavigula) – This rare and localized endemic was seen well by everyone at Melka Ghebdu; in all we saw 4. [E]
NORTHERN GROSBEAK-CANARY (Crithagra donaldsoni) – Great looks at 2 single males south of Yabello.
STREAKY SEEDEATER (Crithagra striolata) – Common and widespread in the highlands.
BROWN-RUMPED SEEDEATER (Crithagra tristriata) – A very common highland endemic. [E]
YELLOW-CROWNED CANARY (Serinus flavivertex) – Common in the Bale Mts, and smaller numbers in the highlands north of Addis.
ETHIOPIAN SISKIN (Serinus nigriceps) – Very common (several hundred daily) in the highlands north of Addis and in the Bale Mts. [E]

Blue skies on the Sanetti Plateau meant a grand show of interacting, acrobatic ravens, eagles, and hawks, which along with a pair of Spot-breasted Lapwings successfully distracted the group from the marvelous mammal show there. Photo by guide Ned Brinkley.

Emberizidae (Old World Buntings)
ORTOLAN BUNTING (Emberiza hortulana) – Two near Lalibela.
SOMALI BUNTING (Emberiza poliopleura) – One at Awash NP, and 7 south of Yabello.
CINNAMON-BREASTED BUNTING (Emberiza tahapisi) – Eight on the Jemma Valley Escarpment, and 6 at Lalibela.
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
SHELLEY'S RUFOUS SPARROW (Passer shelleyi) – About 6 south of Lalibela.
SWAINSON'S SPARROW (Passer swainsonii) – Very common and widespread.
YELLOW-SPOTTED PETRONIA (Gymnornis pyrgita) – About 15 at Awash NP, and 20 around Yabello.
BUSH PETRONIA (Gymnornis dentata) – A dozen near Lalibela were rather unexpected. After a genus change from Petronia to Gymnornis the new English name is Sahel Bush-Sparrow.
Ploceidae (Weavers and Allies)
WHITE-BILLED BUFFALO-WEAVER (Bubalornis albirostris) – We saw a single male to the south of Dubuluk.
RED-BILLED BUFFALO-WEAVER (Bubalornis niger) – About 50 between Awash NP and Lake Langano, and 40 between Awassa and Yabello.
WHITE-HEADED BUFFALO-WEAVER (Dinemellia dinemelli) – Fairly common and widespread in open acacia country; in all we saw about 140.
SPECKLE-FRONTED WEAVER (Sporopipes frontalis) – Eight near Lalibela airport.

D’Arnaud’s Barbet is an attractive species of East Africa that reaches the northern limit of its range in Ethiopia, in acacia forests of the south. The group saw many around Yabello, including several mobbing a nonplussed-looking Pearl-spotted Owlet. Photo by participant Greg Griffith.

WHITE-BROWED SPARROW-WEAVER (Plocepasser mahali) – Common in open country with acacia trees throughout the tour.
CHESTNUT-CROWNED SPARROW-WEAVER (Plocepasser superciliosus) – Two near Lalibela airport.
GRAY-HEADED SOCIAL-WEAVER (Pseudonigrita arnaudi) – About 10 at a colony south of Yabello.
BLACK-CAPPED SOCIAL-WEAVER (Pseudonigrita cabanisi) – One south of Yabello.
BAGLAFECHT WEAVER (Ploceus baglafecht) – Common and widespread in the highlands and more moist parts of the Rift Valley.
SPECTACLED WEAVER (Ploceus ocularis) – Several pairs around Awassa.
VITELLINE MASKED-WEAVER (Ploceus vitellinus) – One near Negele, and about 8 around Yabello.
RUEPPELL'S WEAVER (Ploceus galbula) – Common from near Addis Ababa to Awash NP and then south to Lake Langano.
SPEKE'S WEAVER (Ploceus spekei) – About a dozen in the Negele area.
VILLAGE WEAVER (Ploceus cucullatus) – Most common at Lake Langano and Awassa, and a few others at widely scattered sites elsewhere.
CHESTNUT WEAVER (Ploceus rubiginosus) – We saw a single male at Awash NP, and then several other flocks around Negele and Yabello.

The very first stop on the first day of the tour produced a lovely pair of Cape Eagle-Owls of the little-known taxon dillonii, found only in the Ethiopian highlands and a sliver of southern Eritrea. Some authorities combine this taxon with subspecies mackinderi (Kenya to Mozambique) as a full species, distinct from the nominate form of South Africa and Namibia. Photo by participant Greg Griffith.

RED-BILLED QUELEA (Quelea quelea) – Surprisingly few this year, with just 4 at Awash NP and some mostly flying flocks near Negele.
NORTHERN RED BISHOP (Euplectes franciscanus) – We saw gorgeous males in breeding plumage at Melka Ghebdu, Lake Cheleleka, Awash, Lake Langano, and Awassa.
YELLOW-CROWNED BISHOP (Euplectes afer) – Two males in the farmland above Jemma Valley.
YELLOW BISHOP (Euplectes capensis) – Thirty in the highlands north of Addis were the most for one area, but we also saw them near Dinsho.
RED-COLLARED WIDOWBIRD (Euplectes ardens) – Forty on the higher slopes and above the Jemma Valley, 20+ near Dinsho, and 20 at Lalibela.
GROSBEAK WEAVER (Amblyospiza albifrons) – Twenty were seen nest building in the reeds at Lake Awassa.
Estrildidae (Waxbills and Allies)
YELLOW-BELLIED WAXBILL (Coccopygia quartinia) – About 5 at our hotel at Goba, 10 at Bale Mountain Lodge, and 1 at Lalibela.
CRIMSON-RUMPED WAXBILL (Estrilda rhodopyga) – Fifteen at Melka Ghebdu, and 2 at Lake Langano.
COMMON WAXBILL (Estrilda astrild) – Two near Negele.
BLACK-CHEEKED WAXBILL (Estrilda charmosyna) – We saw 6 of these beautiful waxbills south of Yabello.

The group saw Eastern Paradise-Whydahs in all manner of plumages around Yabello and in Awash National Park, but this displaying male and many others took the breath away! Photo by participant Cliff Hensel.

RED-CHEEKED CORDONBLEU (Uraeginthus bengalus) – Common and widespread; in all we saw about 220.
PURPLE GRENADIER (Granatina ianthinogaster) – Six in the Yabello area.
RED-BILLED FIREFINCH (Lagonosticta senegala) – Widespread in small numbers.
CUT-THROAT (Amadina fasciata) – Four at Melka Ghebdu, and singles at Awash NP and Lake Langano.
BRONZE MANNIKIN (Spermestes cucullata) – Eight in the reeds at Lake Awassa.
AFRICAN SILVERBILL (Euodice cantans) – Six at Melka Ghebdu, and 2 at Awash.
Viduidae (Indigobirds)
PIN-TAILED WHYDAH (Vidua macroura) – We saw a total of about 22 (including several males in full breeding plumage) at a variety of widespread sites - particularly fond of farms and villages.
EASTERN PARADISE-WHYDAH (Vidua paradisaea) – Four at Awash NP, and then 15 (in a variety of plumages) on the way to Negele.
STEEL-BLUE WHYDAH (Vidua hypocherina) – We saw a single male in breeding plumage on the way to Bilen Lodge.
VILLAGE INDIGOBIRD (Vidua chalybeata) – About 25 at Lalibela were the most for a single site, but we also saw them at Melka Ghebdu, and in the Awash area.

BLACK-FACED VERVET MONKEY (Cercopithecus aethiops) – Fairly common and widespread with a total of about 300.

A rather rare large antelope found only in central Ethiopia east of the Rift Valley, Mountain Nyala showed very well near Dinsho, en route to the Bale Mountains. Photo by participant Greg Griffith.

HAMADRYAS BABOON (Papio hamadryas) – We saw 2 troops totaling about 100 in the Awash area.
OLIVE BABOON (Papio anubis) – Common and widespread; in all we saw about 450.
GELADA (Theropithecus gelada) – We arrived at Gemessa Gebel in thick cloud, but after an hour or so it lifted to reveal about 50 of these magnificent 'baboons' - nice looks at big males showing their teeth, too! [E]
MANTLED GUEREZA (Colobus guereza) – About 30 in the Bale Mountain Lodge area, and then 10 at Lake Awassa.
CAPE HARE (Lepus capensis) – Five at Awash NP, and 3 south of Yabello.
STARCK'S HARE (Lepus starcki) – Nice looks at 4 of these endemic hares in the Bale Mts. [E]
UNSTRIPED GROUND SQUIRREL (Xerus rutilus) – Five in the Yabello area.
STRIPED GROUND SQUIRREL (Xerus erythropus) – Two near Goba, and 4 on the way to Negele.
ETHIOPIAN MOLE-RAT (Tachyoryctes macrocephalus) – Good scope views of up to 6 in the Bale Mts. [E]
SIMIEN FOX (ETHIOPIAN WOLF) (Canis simensis) – Fantastic views, with 2 on our first day in the Bale Mts. and then another very close single there the following day. [E]

Another endemic of Ethiopia, and in a monotypic genus (Parophasma), Abyssinian Catbird is usually experienced as a canorous song emanating from dense cover, but the group managed to see this one and several more rather well on the grounds of the Bale Mountains National Park headquarters. Photo by participant Greg Griffith.

SLENDER MONGOOSE (Herpestes sanguineus) – Some of the group saw 1 near Dubuluk.
SPOTTED HYAENA (Crocuta crocuta) – One on the main track at Awash NP.
WILD CAT (Felis silvestris) – One at Bale Mountain Lodge.
ROCK HYRAX (Procavia capensis) – Two near Debre Birhan, and 1 at Jemma Valley.
BURCHELL'S ZEBRA (Equus burchelli) – Six along the road between Yabello and Dubuluk.
WARTHOG (Phacochoerus aethiopicus) – Five near the old Bilen Lodge, 30+ in the Dinsho Pools area, and 20 near Bale Mountain Lodge.
MOUNTAIN NYALA (Tragelaphus buxtoni) – About 30 in the Bale Mts. included a couple of huge males. [E]
MENELICK'S BUSHBUCK (Tragelaphus scriptus meneliki) – One seen well and up to 5 others briefly in the Bale Mts. Officially this form is now considered conspecific with Bushbuck.
GREATER KUDU (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) – Six females (or young males) and 1 glorious big male to the south of Yabello.
BUSH (GRAY) DUIKER (Sylvicapra grimmia) – One high in the Bale Mts.
BOHOR REEDBUCK (Redunca redunca) – Two on the high altitude grasslands near Dinsho.
SALT'S DIK-DIK (Madoqua saltiana) – One at Awash NP.
GUENTHER'S DIK-DIK (Madoqua guentheri) – Two near Yabello.
SOEMMERING'S GAZELLE (Gazella soemmerringi) – Four in Awash NP. [E]
GRANT'S GAZELLE (Gazella granti) – Seven at Lake Abijatta, and 1 south of Yabello.


Other interesting creatures seen on the tour included;

Nile Crocodile; about a dozen at Awash Falls Lodge and further along the river there.

Leopard Tortoise; we saw a very large one at Awash NP.

Ethiopian Grass Rat; we were told over 30 species of rodents occur in the Bale Mts. but one of the most common is Ethiopian or Blick's Grass Rat 'Arvicanthus blicki'.

Totals for the tour: 412 bird taxa and 26 mammal taxa