188 posts in this topic

But back to the main stars - sorry, can´t resist posting some more birds.

 

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Black-Headed Batis

 

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African Citril

 

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Chestnut Weaver - one of the many new species for me.

 

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The Banded Barbet was an imporant find - it is another endemic to the Horn, we saw two of them.

 

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Grey-Headed Bush Shrike

 

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We had a nice extended sighting of this (European) Hoopoe, one of my favourite birds, and could also clearly hear how it got its name:

 

 

 

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Northern Carmine Bee-Eater - always a special bird to see.

 

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Red-Headed Weaver - they look like they fell in a red paint pot.

 

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Red-Fronted Tinkerbird - I have seen this little beauty before but never as close.

 

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Wire-Tailed Swallow sleeping in the dining room.

 

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Goliath Heron, pretty relaxed about our presence - normally they are much shier in my experience.

 

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It was very enjoyable watching these Pelicans hunt - obviously the Cormorant hoped to steal a bit from them.

 

 

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Green Sandpiper

 

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Yellow-Billed Stork

 

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Spur-Winged Lapwing

 

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As mentioned before the lodge is very close to the village, which of course means a lot of livestock - and people - are around. After a while Abiy had his hands full "protecting" our bird findings. The kids were quite shy at first, only one or two started following us, curious about what we were doing here.

 

Well, it did not take long for them to become a bit bolder, and they multiplied - and all of them wanted to be models.

 

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Eventually we drew quite a crowd and finally gave up, as nice as the kids were, having 20 of them jumping around us was not really beneficial for birding. :)

 

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We felt a bit like rock stars - the first time so many other people found us so inherently fascinating. B)

 

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We hoped to get two specific bird species here at Langano, and were successful on both fronts.

 

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Ethiopian Bee-Eater (Merops lafresnayii). I love Bee-Eaters (but then, who doesn´t?), and so I am always very happy when I get a new one. This is quite a recent, though apparently somewhat controversial split from the more widespread Blue-Breasted Bee-Eater (Merops variegatus). It´s different in having a richer blue forehead and supercilium, slightly darker belly, much broader dark tailband and significantly larger size. This form is a near-endemic to Ethiopia and Erithrea. While scientists might be arguing about the exact taxonomic status there can be no debate that it´s a beautiful bird.

 

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Late afternoon I was becoming a bit worried if we would manage our second top target bird. But I need not have worried - Abiy was confident we would find them, and of course due to his skill and experience he was right.

 

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The Yellow-Fronted Parrot, a bird exclusively found in Ethiopia.

 

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A gorgeous bird, and we had the pleasure of watching three of them for about half an hour.

 

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Posted (edited)

large.593c29840a0d8_TREthiopia398.JPG.00

 

Everything shown in the posts so far was found in a radius of certainly not more than 1,000 m from the lodge, so it´s really in incredibly rich area, and I´m sure that it would be the perfect place to convert everybody into a birder! Birding groups tend to stay here for three nights, and it´s easy to see why. Even if not keen on feathered friends I do recommend Haro Lodge for everybody going to Bale, it´s such a wonderful atmosphere here, a little slice of paradise, and as mentioned before it´s perfect for a stop to break up the long drive South.

 

On our way out we quickly had a look at the Bishangari area. Seeing the burnt premises was of course not too enjoyable (and I did not find it in my heart to take pictures of this long-standing and well-reputed wildlife lover centre). There are plans to rebuild apparently, though I cannot quite see how this would be a good idea without solving the tensions with the local community.

 

We had a very nice sigthing of Abyssinian Ground Hornbill close by.

 

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Bishangari is famous for its ancient huge trees, home to all kinds of birds and other wildlife, shared quite harmoniously with livestock.

 

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At least the Warthogs and cattle seem to get along quite well. :)

 

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Baboons were also quite common around Haro and Bishangari, but - as I do quite often I confess - they were pretty much ignored, so no photos.

 

Two more birds to cap off the Langano part:

 

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Sulphur-Breasted (aka Orange-Breasted) Bush-Shrike

 

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Grey-Backed Fiscal

 

Next up: Back to Mammals - we are moving on to Bale Mountains NP - which means Wolves!

Edited by michael-ibk
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Posted (edited)

This last Abyssinian calao picture is absolutely fantastic!

Edited by jeremie
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Thank you, @jeremie . I ran after the Hornbill quite some time to get close enough, and thankfully it was not too concerned about me. It is quite amazing, however, how quick they move even when they are just walking, it´s not easy catching up to them, but fun trying to do so. A big reason why I enjoyed Langano that much - it´s all about walking in the forest, walking at the shore, and this is a very different activity to sitting in a car, especially a non-safari car like we had here. This is something I loved about Ethiopia in general - no matter where you are, no matter what you see, it´s absulutely ok to get out and try to approach on foot.

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Posted (edited)

@michael-ibk,

 

Excellent report and photos as usual, and glad of having been of some limited help.

 

Very sad to see that the situation in Awash has further deteriorated since my visit in 2013 (it was very bleak then already).

 

As to the lions, I recall that the rangers got really excited during our second morning, since apparently lions  were heard calling close to the Filwoha Hot Springs. Even if we made a dash, obviously it took us some time to get there, and by the time we reached we could only see Afar and their livestock.

 

Somehow I have always been doubtful as to the genuiness of those lion vocalization we had been told had been heard, but who knows?

 

The rangers escorting us in Ali Deghe also told us that lions were present in the area - but again no more evidence than that.

Edited by Paolo
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Posted (edited)

Some authors still consider that Ethiopia is home to more than 1000 lions. I think this is an overestimate. Considering that Awash-Ali Deghe is the third lion stronghold of the country after Omo and Gambela regions, it seems clear that the real population is largely lower than this poor guess estimate. The Abyssinian country lacks of wildlife systematic surveys and its protected areas are very poorly management, thus this situation should get worse in the following decade. The fact that APN was expulsed out of the Gambela project after investing so much energy and money on it clearly shows the lack of interest Ethiopia has for its network of protected areas. 

 

There is a 2014 mammal watching report stating some lion indirect evidences from Awash and Ali Deghe here:

http://www.mammalwatching.com/Afrotropical/other reports/MDB Ethiopia 2014.pdf

 

I feel extremely worried to see that the last lions sightings on Mammalwatching for Ethiopia were in the Gera forest and in the Harenna forest South to Bale Mountain National Park...

http://mammalwatching.com/Afrotropical/other reports/JvG Ethiopia 2015 full.pdf

 

 

Edited by jeremie
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@jeremie

 

i am not very optimistic on the lion population in the Omo either. There is very little prey left for a healrhy lion popultion on the eastern side of the river. The western side is definitely faring better, but I guess that the big buffalo and eland herds for which the area was once famed are a thing of the past (I hope I am wrong).

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@Atravelynne and @Michael-Ibk I just love all your photos and I'm especially excited about all your bird photos and especially those of the endemics.I will definately visit Lake Lagano. I will also include Awash, and Guassa even if I'm already planning to visit Bale Mountain National Park. I'll be visiting Ethiopia soon enough.

 

 

 

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@michael-ibk sorry to hear about your illness - but you appeared to have recovered.

Beautiful bird photos -your stay by the lake was very productive. The Yellow fronted Parrot is stunning.

@Atravelynn wonderful writing and photos

You both write very sensitively about the difficulties for the parks and the people

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Posted (edited)

On 7/19/2017 at 9:32 PM, Kitsafari said:

@michael-ibk  a well-written piece on Awash - you conveyed the distressing state of affairs in Awash well as did Atravelynn. and it reminds me of that road they are building in Guassa - I do hope the latter doesn't become like Awash.   We are despairing together.  The geladas were taking the existing road traffic in stride.  I  recall one instance when a loud truck sound in the distance made me jump.  In contrast, the geladas were completely unfazed, no flinching whatsoever.

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Grooming continues undisturbed by truck traffic

 

what a capture of the kill by the roller!

 

Edited by Atravelynn
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Posted (edited)

On 7/20/2017 at 7:40 PM, michael-ibk said:

Langano does its birds big, splashy and colourful.

 

And you have showed them as big, splashy and colourful, @michael-ibk! That is my kind of a place, for birding :D! Beautiful photography, and I can only imagine what your Big Year result will be :o.

Edited by xelas
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Posted (edited)

medium.597288ee2b494_IMG_8132Langano.jpg

Dawn at Lake Langano, viewed from our lodge

 

It’s all happening at Haro/Hara Lodge! Birds, monkeys, sun squirrels, hippos, duiker playing soccer, etc.  So many of Ethiopian’s properties landmarks have a variety of spellings.  Our itinerary showed Haro, but everything else is Hara.

 

Having gotten used to being the solo guests in the two Awash accommodations, we learned to share this place with a group of 3 (one of which was a diplomat) along with a group of about 10 diplomats and family members from Russia. We fit right in, being Ambassadors of Safaritalk.  Abiy mentioned there are quite a few lodgings around Lake Langano, but now only Hara Lodge offers the extensive natural habitat for birds and wildlife.

 

medium.597286e1ae303_IMG_7168pairofsilve   medium.597286e6ab213_IMG_7182whitecheeke

Pair o' Silvery-cheeked hornbills and pair o' White-cheeked turacaos--in the tree right outside Hara Lodge

 

medium.59728851d3c36_IMG_7827silverychee  medium.5972885d97d92_IMG_7838silverychee 

Silvery-cheeked hornbill right outside Hara Lodge

   

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A flock of Senegal thick-knees.  There were even more that did not fit into the frame.  Seen from Hara Lodge.

 

large.597288f55463c_IMG_8148duikerscore!

We watched a Common duiker score a goal on the makeshift soccer field right at Hara Lodge. (bit of an exaggeration-but it did walk under the goal.)

 

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The morning light is best for hippo shots.  A pod likes to congregate right in front of Hara Lodge.

 

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The Gambian sun squirrel captivated me early in the morning in the tree next to Hara Lodge.

 

Even more captivating were the Colobus Monkeys.  About 15-20 live on the compound.  They are free to roam anywhere, but the habitat keeps them in the area.  Most colobus viewing was within 50-200 (approx.) meters from the lodge, a traveling show.  Hara Lodge and compound offered some of the best, accessible, and prolonged Colobus viewing of anywhere I've been, resulting in Colobus overload on the rest of this page.

 

We had the opportunity to see the monkeys during our one full day in Lake Langano. (1st) after our birding walk, about 8:50 am - 9:50 am, very near the lodge; (2nd) in the afternoon about 4:00-4:40 pm during our bird walk further from the lodge but still on the property; and (3rd) again back near the lodge briefly about 6:10 - 6:25 pm when the light started to fade.  They were most active in the morning, resting and grooming in the afternoon, and jumping from tree to tree to find their bedding down spot in the evening.

  medium.5972874a42f27_IMG_7407colobusgaze  medium.5972871190b58_IMG_7282LanganoColo

 

medium.5972886fdb9dc_IMG_7849faceshotLan   medium.597288dacc306_IMG_8123colobusLang

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There was more opportunity here for these kinds of portrait shots, where you can see those dark expressive eyes.

In other more heavily forested environments, getting this shot was a much greater challenge. The above 8 portraits span the morning, afternoon, and 6 pm time frames.

 

The active morning time presented some amusing antics.

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medium.5972872672e32_IMG_7363123colobusL    medium.59728736ca3da_IMG_73882colobusLan

 

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Part of the 15-20 Colobus that live in the Hara compound.  Seen a minute or two walk from the from the lodge.

 

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medium.5972877028ba8_IMG_7428motherandba    medium.59728766c7ce3_IMG_7418hugLangano.

 

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Grooming time then nursing for baby Colobus - a minute or two walk from Hara Lodge

 

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Less harmonious morning family time - a minute or two walk from Hara Lodge

 

All civilized beings take a nap in the late afernoon heat, Colobus included.

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Seen on birding walk, away from lodge but within compound.  Looking a bit like their distant cousin, the Howler Monkey.

 

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Afternoon resting or deep in thought - Seen on birding walk, away from lodge but within compound. 

 

About 6 pm, the Colobus finished their foraging on the ground and tree-hopped in search of a good place to bed down for the night.

 

medium.597288c146d4c_IMG_8108colobusonth

 

medium.597288ca0cc2e_IMG_8112jumpingcolo        medium.597288d238696_IMG_8113jumpingcolo  

At Hara Lodge

A Colobus Monkey lover’s paradise!

 

Edited by Atravelynn
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Wow looks like fantastic birding! I know Ethiopia is a major birding destination and now I can see why. I've had several friends go on birding tours there.

 

Those Bee-eaters and Parrots and the Double-toothed Barbet...beautiful!

 

 

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@janzin

 

Abiy is often leading proper birding groups and he told me they can get between 500 and 600 species in two weeks. Lake Langano is certainly the most impressive birding-wise, unbelievable diversitiy there, and it´s really hard to decide what to photograph. I was running around like a little kid in a candy store while Lynn and Andreas were having fun with the Colobus monkeys.

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@Atravelynn @michael-ibk @AndMic

 

I'm just now finding your report, and what a joy it is to read.  I've always found the idea of Ethiopia to be a fascinating travel destination, though, as a history buff, Lalibela and Gondar have also been at the top of the Ethiopia must-do list, as well.   That being the case, the logistics for fitting everything in have been challenging, so I've put it off thus far, but your delightful report certainly brings things to the forefront. 

 

Of all all the wonderful sightings you've reported so far, I have to say that the gelagas with their coats blowing in the wind, all in sync with the long grasses surrounding them, are just magical. I could spend days just trying to capture the "perfect" photo of that. The birds are so appealing, as well. 

 

Very sorry to to hear that you got sick, Michael. That's the last thing anyone wants while traveling, but it sounds as if you recuperated heroically in no time at all. 

 

I'm looking forward to more. And what a treat it will be for the three of you to travel together once more. We will be all the more better for the shared experience, wherever your travels may take you. 

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Posted (edited)

10 hours ago, michael-ibk said:

@janzin

 

Abiy is often leading proper birding groups and he told me they can get between 500 and 600 species in two weeks. Lake Langano is certainly the most impressive birding-wise, unbelievable diversitiy there, and it´s really hard to decide what to photograph. I was running around like a little kid in a candy store while Lynn and Andreas were having fun with the Colobus monkeys.  Is that when the Paradise Flycatcher flew by?

 

Speaking of "running around" I recall Michael zipping over a steep embankment at high speed in pursuit of wattled ibis early in the trip.  His success resulted in a very visible wattle.  I had to wait until Lake Langano for the wattle shot, which required less zipping.

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Some gnarly vegetation almost obscured the wattle in the left shot.  Wattle in motion in the right shot.  Lake Langano.

 

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Abiy and Michael standing still and  finding the birds in Lake Langano. 

 

@xelas's description of  “big, splashy and colourful” is the perfect description for the Lake Langano birds.

large.597287c0996c8_IMG_7705LanganoNCarm        medium.59728917559df_IMG_8422LanganoAbys

  Northern carmine bee eater--maybe not big, but are splashy and colorful     The non-splashy and colorful birds are so intimidated they fly right out of the photo, like this  Spur-winged plover.

                                   Seen on bird walk                                                                             At Bishangari, where we drove for a bird walk our last morning.

 

medium.597288b5df48d_IMG_8013bluebreaste

 

   large.597288a2c8836_IMG_7998bluebreasted

@AndMicvoted for the Blue-breasted bee eater as his fav of Lake Langano.  Seen on bird walk

 

medium.597288235d739_IMG_7779doubletooth  medium.5972881bbfd20_IMG_7778doubletooth

@michael-ibk and I voted for the Double toothed barbet as the fav of Lake Langano, if I am correct.  Seen on bird walk.

 

medium.5972880e9ec93_IMG_7774Langanoethi

Abiy's favorite, Ethiopian boubou.  His fav because he likes its song.  Seen on bird walk. Thanks @michael-ibk for the ID help.

 

Even though the Yellow-fronted parrot was not voted as our #1, didn’t mean we did not want to see it.  This endemic is a prize of the area and we were hoping for the prize.  Abiy said that morning is the best time to see them, and we were looking.  But no parrots that morning. That afternoon about 4:55 pm we found the Yellow-fronted parrots!  Just in time for perfect light.

medium.597288892b833_IMG_7952yellowfront

 

medium.5972888638104_IMG_7908yellowfront

 

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Yellow-fronted parrot, an endemic highlight of Lake Langano on afternoon walk.

 

medium.597287d6e365a_IMG_7741pelicansonL  medium.597287cd3c61f_IMG_7730LakeLangano

Pelicans on Lake Langano - Can you find the cormorant?

 

This was water from a faucet very near Hara Lodge. The birds loved it.  We spent a lot of time here in the nice morning light.  Maybe we should have been Yellow-fronted parrot hunting that morning instead.

large.597286fcc5cc3_IMG_7228starlingsGre  medium.59728703b7282_IMG_7233greaterblue

Greater blue-eared starlings

 

medium.5976c3d7a763e_cordonbleuLangano.j

Cordon Bleus

 

medium.597287b574c08_IMG_7632jackalgolde

Golden Jackal Lake Langano on our bird (and jackal) walk

 

Long ago I had read about tree climbing goats in various parts of the world.  I always wanted to see that.  Here it was at Lake Langano.   The Yellow-fronted parrot may have competition as a prize of Lake Langano.

medium.597287ad0ffd4_IMG_7527treeclimbin

Tree climbing goat in Lake Langano.  Seen on bird (and goat) walk.

 

Edited by Atravelynn
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10 hours ago, janzin said:

Wow looks like fantastic birding! I know Ethiopia is a major birding destination and now I can see why. I've had several friends go on birding tours there.

 

Those Bee-eaters and Parrots and the Double-toothed Barbet...beautiful!  And the tree-climbing goat.  A lifer. :P

 

 

 

1 hour ago, Alexander33 said:

@Atravelynn @michael-ibk @AndMic

 

I'm just now finding your report, and what a joy it is to read.  I've always found the idea of Ethiopia to be a fascinating travel destination, though, as a history buff, Lalibela and Gondar have also been at the top of the Ethiopia must-do list, as well.   That being the case, the logistics for fitting everything in have been challenging,  Yes, if you have about 3 weeks or less.  There are scheduled flts to Gondar but not Bale or Guassa. so I've put it off thus far, but your delightful report certainly brings things to the forefront.   Do consider Ethiopian Quadrants if you decide to take the plunge.

 

Of all all the wonderful sightings you've reported so far, I have to say that the gelagas with their coats blowing in the wind, all in sync with the long grasses surrounding them, are just magical. Yes they are! I could spend days just trying to capture the "perfect" photo of that. The birds are so appealing, as well. 

 

Very sorry to to hear that you got sick, Michael. That's the last thing anyone wants while traveling, but it sounds as if you recuperated heroically in no time at all. All of us had our moments, and apparently our driver Begashaw was almost equally as sick a couple of days when we did not use his services.  It was one of the better times to get sick and miss a day, if it had to happen.

 

I'm looking forward to more. And what a treat it will be for the three of you to travel together once more. We will be all the more better for the shared experience, wherever your travels may take you. Why, thank you!

 

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@Atravelynn  What wonderful sightings of the Colobus monkeys - and so close to your lodge. Lovely photos - and a great selection of birds

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Birds and Colobus--Lake Langano's highlights.  And of course the tree climbing goats.

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that goat in the bush walking on the branches is the best image of birdlife, in my view. 

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@Atravelynn, @michael-ibk wow didn't you have a great trip (so far).  Your fantastic report has reminded me that I am still 6 days away from the end of my own Ethiopian TR and the 2 year anniversary from the start of that is not too far away either.  I should really get my head down and get it finished.  It will include the 2 nights we had at Bishangari Lodge.

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4 hours ago, Kitsafari said:

that goat in the bush walking on the branches is the best image of birdlife, in my view. 

Right! No binos needed.

12 minutes ago, IamFisheye said:

@Atravelynn, @michael-ibk wow didn't you have a great trip (so far).  Your fantastic report has reminded me that I am still 6 days away from the end of my own Ethiopian TR and the 2 year anniversary from the start of that is not too far away either.  Maybe we can have a race to finish the reports.  I should really get my head down and get it finished.  It will include the 2 nights we had at Bishangari Lodge.

I've been following before and after our own trip.  You were fortunate to visit Bishangari before it was burnt down. 

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@atravellyn, I admire the way you provide the community with all kinds of data, I love your photo collages and I love your dry humour. How elegantly you put M's vomiting in post 79 as roadside deposit.  "The post-disgorgement wave of relief" made me LOL. (Am I a heartless mother?)

 

Michael, you were not born a birder, but you are one now. You catch the beauty of birds in your photographic portraits. The Abyssinian Roller in post89 is simply glamourous.

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7 hours ago, screentraveller said:

@atravellyn, I admire the way you provide the community with all kinds of data, I love your photo collages and I love your dry humour. How elegantly you put M's vomiting in post 79 as roadside deposit.  "The post-disgorgement wave of relief" made me LOL. (Am I a heartless mother?)  Just one with a sense of humor!

 

Michael, you were not born a birder, but you are one now. Once he caught the "bird bug" it did not take long! You catch the beauty of birds in your photographic portraits. The Abyssinian Roller in post89 is simply glamourous.

 

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