Bird life at Bale

The highland plateaux are home to many endemic species, and Bale Mountains National park harbors some of them. Among these are the Blue- Winged Goose, whose closest relative is in the Andes mountains of South America. The Spot- Breasted Plover is very striking and can be seen in large numbers at some times of year. The comical Rougets Rail is often seen in grass clumps near water, its tail flashing white as it is flicked up and down. The Yellow-Fronted Parrot is usually first noted by its call and its typical fast parrot flight through the tall juniper trees.

The Thick-Billed Raven is unmistakable. It is one of the largest of the ravens and its bill seems to be aspiring to the proportions of a toucans beak. This Raven has a deep, wheezing croak, like a frog with asthma. It often frequents campsites, looking for garbage. It may be joined there by some related birds, the Fan-Tailed Ravens, Cape Rooks and Pied Crows.

Ethiopias lakes are famous for the sheer numbers of birds they harbor. In fact at each of two locations in the Rift Valley over 50% of all Ethiopias bird species have been recorded, because of the proximity of numerous aquatic and terrestrial habitats. These are the Awash National Park with Lake Basaka and the Abijata-Shalla Lakes National Park.

Abijata is a feeding ground for numerous great white pelicans and Various sorts of Flamingos, as well as flocks of Little Grebes. The Pelicans nest in very large numbers on an island in neighboring Lake Shalla, which is almost fishless. Every day the birds have to thermal up and across the isthmus separating the two lakes to feed. Every few years Lake Abijatas waters recede spectacularly, causing a rise in alkalinity accompied by major fish die-offs and a change in the algal composition of the waters. The Pelicans then have to fish further afield on lakes Langano, Ziway, Awasha and even Chamo and Abaya, while the Flamingos move further afield into neighboring countries.

An island in Lake Shalla, a regular breeding ground for Great White Pelicans, is also known to be a nesting spot for the greater Flamingo. The thousands of ice-pink birds coming and going over the water against the background of the lake shores are as wonderful bird spectacle as anywhere in the World. In the Northern winters the shores of these lakes are ringed with all sorts of waders - Ruff, Plovers, Sandpipers, Stints and many other species well known to bird-watchers of the Northern hemisphere. At the same time a large number of Ducks, will be found further from the shores, particularly Garganey, Shovellers and Wigeon.

Bird life at Bale Ethiopia The waters of these lakes are especially rich as breeding grounds for the larvae of various lake fly species that in their turn attract thousands of Swallows and Martins from the North. For the same reason the trees and shrubs around the lakes shores are festooned in gossamer nets of dusty cobwebs as the spiders wait their turn for the hapless hordes as they hatch from the waters each day.

Fresher lakes produce a greater quantity and variety of fish. Here the day is punctuated by the haunting cry of the Fish Eagle soaring high above, with the occasional Osprey in the season. Malachite Kingfishers flit like jewels along the banks and the Pied Kingfisher carries out its spectacular bombing runs on surface fish further out. In nearby grasslands other Kingfishers species plaque the insects, the lovely duet ting call of the Gray-headed being typical of grasslands in drier areas. It is among the lowland birds that bird-watchers find more birds with which they may be familiar from neighboring.


Birds Watching

No other aspect of Ethiopians biology typifies its unique situation more than does its bird fauna. Ethiopians position, an extensive highland-island surrounded by arid lands, has enabled the evolution of many birds in the region into unique forms and species, Ethiopia hosts 862 known bird species, of which 23 are considered Endemic, limited within the confines of the Ethiopian borders. Ethiopia benefits from the incredible variety and abundance of African bird life as well as the presence of species which have migrated from Europe.

Broadly speaking Ethiopia can be divided into a number of habitats with respect to bird life the Rift Valley lakes, the highland massifs, the lowlands , and the arid semi- deserts. Each of these is in turn a complex mosaic of terrain, soils, vegetation, and human use, all of which govern the avifauna found there.

Many of the endemic species present on the western and south- eastern highland plateau are common and surprisingly easy to see, even in the environs of a city. Endemic species include the Heavy- Headed Thick- Billed Raven the Wattled Ibis, with its raucous call and unsightly habit of clasping its partners wattles and pulling ; the Black- Winged Lovebird , which whirrs through the sky like a miniature helicopter; and the White- Collared Pigeon, a delicate-gray bird with a neat white collar and white wing patches. Songs of the forests.

The highland forests are home to birds less easily seen. Their song is usually the first sign of their presence. The Abyssinian Catbird has one of the most beautiful calls, the male and female performing a duet in the seclusion of thick bush. The Black- Headed Forest Oriole has a distinctive call and its yellow color shows clearly in the upper storey of the tall trees it favors. Two endemics are found in the southern edge of the plateau, in the Yabello area. These are the White- Tailed Swallow, and the colorful Prince Ruspolis Turaco. The last is on the endangered species list.