Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Away day in Somaliland

July 21st was the biggest single day's birding in my East African tour. It was in Somaliland and I was guided by Abdi Jama of Nature Somaliland. It was the undisputed highlight of my whole tour.

Abdi and Nature Somaliland, abdi.jama@ymail.com

  • speaks fluent English and spent much of his life in the USA. He responses fast to correspondence
  • very friendly and knowledgable about wildlife in general
  • arranged a letter of invitation for me so I could pick up a visa on arrival. It was impossible for me to visit Somaliland's representive offices in London, Addis Ababa or Djibouti. This is not a well publicised method of entry but without it I couldn't have gone.
  • provided a 4x4 for travel and drove. The 4x4 is open to the elements at the side and has been used for safaris in southern Africa. The openness makes birding much easier than in enclosed vehicles. The temperatures in highland Somaliland are mild and so aircon isn't needed or wanted.
  • arranged an armed police escort for the day. This is necessary for all travel in Somaliland outside Hargeisa though I never felt threatened.
  • His rate is $400 a day but it includes visa arrangement, pick up from hotel for the day trip, vehicle, police escort, fuel, water, lunch and tea. I reckoned this was value despite me being the only passenger. Obviously for a party of 2 or 3 birders the cost per person is much less. I understand he does discounts for multiple days.


The trip logistics

  • left the hotel at 5.30am
  • headed east until 4pm when we finished birding and headed back (using the main road) to Hargeisa to be back at hotel just before dusk
  • after the airport, we followed the route of the old British colonial road towards Berbera. It effectively runs parallel with the modern road but typically 10 kilometres further south.
  • most of the road is only fit to be travelled by 4x4

Trip results and comment

  • July is between the long rains and the short rains. It is an uncommon time for foreign birders to visit. The two rainy seasons probably offer more as do the passage times and mid-winter for wintering birds. Nevertheless, that is when my long vacation from work must be so I didn't really have a choice.
  • all the birds seen are recorded with location at the bottom of the blog
  • nearly 60 species were observed
  • 21 species were lifers
  • Somali Starling
    Somali Fiscal
    White-crowned Starling
    Abyssinian Scimitarbill
    Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver
    White-bellied Bustard
    Somali Courser
    Eastern Yellow-billed Hornbill
    Somali Bee-eater
    Mouse-coloured Penduline-Tit
    Pale Prinia
    Somali Bunting
    Yellow-spotted Petronia
    Blue-capped Cordonbleu
    Straw-tailed Whydah
    Somali Tit
    Nubian Woodpecker
    Greyish Flycatcher
    Red-billed Oxpecker
    White-bellied Canary
    White-headed Buffalo-Weaver
  • Apparently we birded more intensively and nearer to the city than with most clients. We birded within 60 kilometres.
  • Our first stop was a small rubbish dump which unfortunately the authorirties are now burning at dawn most days. It used to be guarenteed place for Marabou stork. Locals said that one or two still come around midday. Local baboons are not put off by the smoke.
  • The rest of the trip went much more smoothly. We stopped at Ina Qarboosh and several other villages as well as a farm on the way to the plains.
  • Ina Qarboosh was a great start. Each other stop had different habitat including one farm and two watering holes.
  • The plains at the end used to be home to many tens of Kori bustard. Unfortunately hunters from UAE have exterminated the whole population in the space of 5 years.

baboons eating at a smoking dump just outside the city

largest baboon at the dump

male chestnut-bellied sandgrouse

female chestnut-bellied sandgrouse


Ina Qarboosh
fork-tailed drongo

Namaqua dove

white-headed buffalo-weaver

red-billed quelea

red-billed oxpecker

superb starling

greyish flycatcher

Nubian woodpecker

After Ina Qarboosh


Somali courser

Egyptian goose

goosling

Eastern chanting goshawk

Farm, 30 kilometres along the route


yellow-spotted petronia

straw-tailed whydah

blue-capped cordonbleu

pale prinia

Somali bunting

After the farm
white-bellied bustard 1

white-bellied bustard 2

Eastern yellow-billed hornbill

red-billed buffalo-weaver

Eastern paradise-whydah

leopard tortoise

white-bellied go-away bird

white-crowned starling

wattled starling

Somali bee-eater

Somali fiscal

Speke's gazelle

Somali starling


Edge of Airport, Hargeisa, Woqooyi Galbeed, SO
21-Jul-2018 06:00
Little Swift  
Eurasian Hoopoe  
Superb Starling

Small dump, east of Hargeisa, Woqooyi Galbeed, SO
21-Jul-2018 06:30 - 06:45
Namaqua Dove  
Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark  
Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse (3 kilometres down the road)

Ina Qarboosh, Woqooyi Galbeed, SO
21-Jul-2018 07:00 - 08:30
Speckled Pigeon  
Mourning Collared Dove  
Laughing Dove  
Namaqua Dove  
Hamerkop  
Eurasian Hoopoe  
Nubian Woodpecker  
Fork-tailed Drongo  
Singing Bushlark  
Thekla's Lark  
Greyish Flycatcher  
Superb Starling  
Red-billed Oxpecker  
White-bellied Canary  
Swainson's Sparrow  
White-headed Buffalo-Weaver  
Chestnut Weaver  
Red-billed Quelea 

Watering hole, east of Ina Qarboosh, Woqooyi Galbeed, SO
21-Jul-2018 09:15 - 09:45
Egyptian Goose      two goslings and two adults
Laughing Dove  
Namaqua Dove  
Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse  
Somali Tit  
Common Bulbul (Somali)  

Old Colonial Road, east of Ina Qarboosh, Woqooyi Galbeed, SO
21-Jul-2018 10:00
Eastern Chanting-Goshawk  
Desert Lark 
Somali Courser 

Farm, 30km, east of Hargeisa, Woqooyi Galbeed, SO
21-Jul-2018 10:30 - 11:45
Mourning Collared Dove  
Namaqua Dove  
Somali Bee-eater  
Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark  
Mouse-coloured Penduline-Tit  
Common Bulbul  (Somali)
Pale Prinia  
Greyish Flycatcher  
African Scrub-Robin  
Somali Bunting  
Yellow-spotted Petronia  
Chestnut Weaver  
Red-billed Quelea  
Blue-capped Cordonbleu  
Straw-tailed Whydah  

Abdi Jama also saw a Purple Grenadier

Old Colonial Road to Berbera, Woqooyi Galbeed, SO
21-Jul-2018 12:01
White-bellied Bustard  
Eastern Yellow-billed Hornbill  
Great Grey Shrike (Sahara)  

Viilage, 40km east of Hargeisa, Woqooyi Galbeed, SO
21-Jul-2018 12:30 - 13:15
Speckled Pigeon  
Mourning Collared Dove  
Namaqua Dove  
African Palm-Swift  
Little Bee-eater  
Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver  
Cut-throat  
Eastern Paradise-Whydah  
Straw-tailed Whydah  

45k east, old colonial road, Woqooyi Galbeed, SO
21-Jul-2018 13:30
Abyssinian Scimitarbill  
Somali Bee-eater  
Pale Prinia  


Village 50 k, east of Hargeisa, Woqooyi Galbeed, SO
21-Jul-2018 13:45 - 14:15
Laughing Dove  
Somali Bee-eater  
Pied Crow  
Somali Crow 
Hybrid Pied/Somali Crow 
Blackstart  
Superb Starling  

Plains, 50km east of Hargeisa, Woqooyi Galbeed, SO
21-Jul-2018 14:45 - 15:30 (including tea break)
Somali Bee-eater  
Somali Fiscal  
Wattled Starling  
White-crowned Starling  

55k, east of Hargiesa, S main road, Woqooyi Galbeed, SO
21-Jul-2018 16:00
Somali Starling  2

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