Trip report: Ethiopia, Birding the Roof of Africa (Nov 2011) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Ken Behrens. This was a custom tour.

This was a highly successful trip both in terms of endemics and total number of birds encountered. We found all the Ethiopia and Abyssinian endemics save the scarce Linneated Pytilia and, of course, Nechisar Nightjar. We racked up 565 species of birds, another excellent total for this tour, which consistently scores some of our highest trip lists in Africa. We also notched up 44 mammals, a surprisingly high total for a country that is well off the main ʻsafariʼ circuit.

We had excellent encounters with all of Ethiopiaʼs most sought-after endemics such as the bizarre Stresemannʼs Bush Crow, a communal cooperative ʻwhite-crowʼ, and the enigmatic and spectacular Prince Ruspoliʼs Turaco. In the highlands, we found one of the worldʼs tamest rallids, the dapper Rougetʼs Rail, which shares its moist highland habitat with the delicate Spot-breasted Lapwing, the fiery-throated Abyssinian Longclaw, and the strange Blue-winged Goose, an offshoot of a group of South American waterfowl. Another great bird that we found in the south was Sidamo Lark, which might actually be one of the most beautiful Ethiopian birds in its own cryptic way. Other more common, but no less impressive endemics we sighted include the Thick- billed Raven, endowed with a bill that looks like it could open a tin can, the dapper Black-winged Lovebird, striking Banded Barbet, and the audacious White-cheeked Turaco.

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