Tuesday 15 October 2013

Sodere resort, Ethiopia

I am now back in Saudi Arabia having flown back from Ethiopia today. The four-day trip there was intense. I travelled with Roger Butler whose main interest is lizards so we were looking for terrain that suited both tastes. 

Birds are so easy to find compared with Saudi Arabia and it was a little over-whelming trying to digest information on so many species in a short time, many of which were new to me.

Even the hotel garden in Adama was a challenge with 30 different species seen on two pre-breakfast walks.

Our first serious trip outside the hotel was to Sodere resort and village. This is 25 kilometres from Adama and is a hot spring resort, forested area and also has the Awash river running through. Apparently the river contains crocodiles but I didn't see any.

It was good day, even between the main entrance and the ticket inspectors the birding was good.

Blue-breasted bee-eater (Ethiopian bee-eater)

Parties of Blue-breasted bee-eater were making forays into the air to catch insects before resting very close to me without any alarm. 

I initially misidentified this bird as a little bee-eater. However its blue supercilium extends over the bill and in another photo, the throat is stretched and the blue band is more clearly seen.  I am not finding African birding ID easy!

location of Sodhere

Very near the little bee-eater, a grey headed kingfisher was sitting ready to eat.

grey headed kingfisher with food

I saw a second one much later without a catch.

another grey headed kingfisher

Most people stayed close to the entrance which has swimming, spa and eating facilities.

Vervet monkeys

Vervet monkeys mixed freely with the people there. There seemed to be no signs of aggression or indeed fear by the monkeys.

Fan-tailed raven

Fan-tailed raven were also abundant in this area and they were incredibly tame too.

Fan-tailed raven with partially brown neck

I saw fan-tailed raven with a partially brown neck. This confused me for a while but they are no brown-necked raven in this part of Ethiopia so it must be within the spectrum of fan-tailed raven possibilities.

Hadada ibis

Hadada ibis browsed in this patch too. This was a lifer for me. They seem to like shaded areas near water.

eastern plantain eater

Another noisy bird around the peopled section were eastern plantain eater. This was another lifer though I had previously seen the closely related western plantain eater in Senegal.

African pied wagtail

Another notable bird here was an African pied wagtail. We watched one during lunch which had perfected the art of grabbing insects which had fallen into the water of a swimming pool and were struggling on the top surface.  

Yellow billed kite is a ubiquitous bird near people sub sahara and Sodere was no exception. There were several in recreational areas.

yellow-billed kite

Walking away from the recreational areas and from most people produced a different set of birds. 

Egyptian goose

Two Egyptian goose were relaxing in a small fish pond.


I walked straight passed a hamerkop within feet and only noticed it first time round when it flew after I had passed it on a path running alongside a stream. 

Tawny eagle

Close-by a tawny eagle was resting in a tree and refused to move however close I got.

Two birds I didn't get to photograph here were African grey hornbill and red-headed lovebird. The latter was another lifer. It is a particularly beautiful but also nervous bird.

cattle egret

The area just outside the resort were also interesting. Cattle egret there were following the cattle and goats as you might expect.

greater blue-eared glossy starling

Greater blue-eared glossy starling were in a bush outside the main entrance.

However the main attraction for the bird watcher outside the resort is a wetland next to the village of Sodere. Water birds were sharing the place with locals doing their washing and bathing. 

three-banded plover

Here I saw my first ever three-banded plover.

common sandpiper

There were some western palearctic wintering birds too. I saw several common sandpiper

spur winged lapwing

Spur-winged lapwing is a bird of grassed wetland here just as it is in Saudi Arabia.

Ethiopian swallow

Both barn swallow and Ethiopian swallow (another lifer) were flying in numbers over-head.

yellow wagtail

And last but not least, the wetland was teeming with wintering yellow wagtail.

This trip was our shortest day trip, made possible using public transport with the locals - a great experience.

On the two next days we travelled a little further afield and visited two national parks thanks to Roger's research. Both we discovered are on the commercial bird tours circuit.

I'll write about them in forthcoming blogs. 

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