After Laker Langano (see following post) we again headed east, this time towards the Bale Mountains - where some of Africa's finest scenery is on display. As we ascended the mountains we stopped at a well-known spot for Cape Eagle-Owl. Some local boys were able to show us one at its cliff-side roost almost immediately. Lanner Falcon also showed well roadside.
Our next port of call was the national park headquarters at Dinsho. Here, the park staff are adept at tracking down owls at their day roosts. We were shown a pair of roosting African Wood Owls, then an Abyssinian (Long-eared) Owl – a much-wanted specialty of the area.
|African Wood Owl|
We found a party of White-backed Black Tits and an Abyssinian Catbird in the wet forest surrounding the park headquarters.
Mammals were also about, including the endemic Mountain Nyala and Mendelik's Bushbuck, Warthogs were common.
Our home for the next two nights was the Wabishebele Hotel in Goba, where we had an opportunity to adjust to the high altitude. Thick-billed Raven was common about the town and we saw our first Somali Crows of the trip.
We had a full day traversing the beautiful Sanetti Plateau, where Africa's highest road ascends to 4300 metres. This was the only day of the trip that we needed to drag out all the warm weather clothes we anticipated needing for cold high altitude weather. A Golden Jackal emerged from bushes close to the road lower down and we stopped to see the local endemic race of the Brown Parisoma.
Spot-winged Lapwing and Rouget's Rail – both Ethiopian highland endemics – were easy enough to spot in the low moorland as we continued our ascent.
We saw plenty of Chesnut-naped Francolins and a Moorland Francolin as we drove across the plateau. A Lammergeier made an appearance overhead.
Rodents were in abundance – most were seemingly Blik's Grass-Rat, and were happy to find a few bizarre-looking Giant Mole-Rats.
Ethiopian Wolf is one of the star animals of this country , so we were pleased indeed to see a total of 5 of these mammals, including a pair close to the road.
We moved on to the Harema Forest – the largest forest in Ethiopia. Here we saw Ethiopian Oriole without much trouble and were pleased to tick off Abyssinian Woodpecker – one of the more difficult endemics.
We found a small troop of another endemic – the Bale Monkey, considered a race of the Vervet Monkey but a good candidate for a split.
On the way back, a Wattled Crane showed distantly.
The next day we left Gobe and retraced our steps across the Senetti Plateau before descending to the southern lowlands of Ethiopia. We stopped in an area of dry acacia in break-away country and saw some striking White-crested Helemet-shrikes before tracking down our main target for the site – a magnificent Ruspoli's Turaco.