bird-watching

hobnobbing with the shorebirds at lake langano

Tuesday, October 30:  This morning, we pack up for our return trip to Addis Ababa.  We eat a breakfast of omelets: Ed has an Ethiopian Omelet with tomato, onion, & chili, and I have an Omelet a la Bishangari, with mango, pineapple, banana and sugar. I’m surprised it has more of a savory flavor than sweet.  We drink fresh papaya juice and coffee.  The tea and coffee set-up harkens back to British colonial days and adds a nostalgic ambiance to our morning.  It’s our last day here and I’m sad to leave.

We take a walk along the lake edge to check out the shorebirds.  The day is crisp and breezy; the clouds are in fine form in a hazy blue sky.  Ed is hesitant to cross outside of the fenced-in area of Bishangari Lodge, but I figure we went there last night and it was perfectly fine, so why not?  He’s afraid we’ll be harassed by the locals for money or handouts.  I’m not worried because I know how to say no and how to ignore people who harass me.  I’m determined to cross no matter what he decides to do.  In the end, he comes along.

speckled pigeon

speckled pigeon

acacia trees on the landscape near the lake

acacia trees on the landscape near the lake

marshland

marshland

Our adventurous foray is richly rewarded.  We see speckled pigeons, little egrets, white and gray pelicans, cormorants, and ducks.  They allow us to approach them without flying away.  We linger for a long time, creeping silently closer.  Finally, after most of them leisurely swim or fly away, showing no fear of us at all, we make our way back to the lodge.  We meet an olive baboon and stroll under more amazing ficus trees.  Then we head back on the road for our trip to Addis Ababa.

a flock of little egrets

a flock of little egrets

pumice-stone moonscape

pumice-stone moonscape

white & gray pelicans

white & gray pelicans

white pelicans and cormorants

white pelicans and cormorants

white pelicans and cormorants

white pelicans and cormorants

more white pelicans and cormorants

more white pelicans and cormorants

white pelicans & cormorants

white pelicans & cormorants

looks to me like a pregnant pelican!

looks to me like a pregnant pelican!

pelicans afloat

pelicans afloat

cormorants

cormorants

the lakeshore

the lakeshore

me in front of a huge ficus tree

me in front of a huge ficus tree

olive baboons

olive baboon

pretty tree

pretty tree

tukul huts

tukul huts

local houses

local houses

scenery on the drive back to Addis

scenery on the drive back to Addis

fields

fields

In the evening, when we return to Addis Ababa, we eat a meal that Ed’s housekeeper/cook Kitay has prepared for us: injera, wat, cabbage & potatoes, lentils.  We top it off with some Montrouge Merlot.  Later, Ed shows me pictures on his computer, but when I want to show him pictures of my time in Greece, he’s not really interested.

As there is really nothing to do in the evening, he suggests we watch a movie.  Just as he’s about to put it on, he says he needs to make a business call to the U.S.  I wait.  And wait.  Finally I go upstairs to read, and hear him chatting away on Skype to his sons.  He is heading back to the U.S. on Saturday, and today is Tuesday, so I figure the conversation will be short.  It isn’t.  As a matter of fact, I give up and get in bed to read, telling him I’m no longer interested in watching the movie.  This is one time I wish I had the numbers of my colleagues so I could join them somewhere in Addis for some fun.

Categories: Acacia trees, Africa, bird-watching, Birds, Bishangari Lodge, Ethiopia, Lake eco-zone, Lake Langano, Pumice stone eco-zone | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

massages & creature encounters at lake langano

Monday, October 29:  After our morning of birdwatching, we each have an hour-long massage in the massage hut. It’s wonderfully relaxing, except for the deep tissue kneading the masseuse does on my calves.  They feel bruised and beaten after all is said and done.

the massage hut at Bishangari Lodge

the massage hut at Bishangari Lodge

Behind this door lies a great massage!

Behind this door lies a great massage!

our masseuse doubles duty as a waitress

our masseuse doubles duty as a waitress

After our massages, we take another walk along the lakeshore, where we see a couple of scary-looking birds that appear to be right out of some prehistoric age.  They’re Abyssinian ground hornbills, and they don’t seem frightened of us at all.  They just strut their stuff confidently under the acacia trees and across the pumice rock.

Abyssinian Ground Hornbill

Abyssinian Ground Hornbill

Abyssinian Ground Hornbill

Abyssinian Ground Hornbill

Abyssinian Ground Hornbill

Abyssinian Ground Hornbill

Abyssinian Ground Hornbill

Abyssinian Ground Hornbill

While the strange black birds strut around like they own the land, a yellow-billed stork sits quietly on the lakeshore.

yellow-billed stork

yellow-billed stork

yellow-billed stork takes flight

yellow-billed stork takes flight

yellow-billed stork

yellow-billed stork

And we see a companionable little group of spur-winged plovers and Senegal thick-knees relaxing on the pumice stones.

spur-winged plovers and Senegal thick knees

spur-winged plovers and Senegal thick knees

grassy land beside the lake

grassy land beside the lake

As we stroll back through the forest toward our cabin, we hear leaves rustling overhead and find some elusive black & white Colobus monkeys darting about through the branches.  This one sits still just long enough for us to capture a blurry image of him on camera.

Colobus monkey in the forest

Colobus monkey in the forest

And later still, as I swing on the hammock by the lake, this black bird comes into the branches directly overhead.  I’m not sure what he is, but he’s possibly a Northern black flycatcher or a fork-tailed drongo.  I don’t know about the forked tail though, as his tail doesn’t look very forked to me.

Northern Black Flycatcher or fork-tailed drongo?  Not sure... :-)

Northern black flycatcher or fork-tailed drongo? Not sure… 🙂

Here at Lake Langano is the first time I have ever done any birdwatching, and I find it quite fascinating, especially as Ed knows his birds and has a book about birds of Ethiopia.  I love being out in nature at this place along Lake Langano.

Categories: Acacia trees, Africa, bird-watching, Ethiopia, Forest, Lake eco-zone, Lake Langano, Pumice stone eco-zone | 3 Comments

a dawn birdwatching expedition at lake langano

Monday, October 29:  This morning we wake up before dawn to go on a guided birdwatching stroll.  While waiting for our guide near the lodge dining area, a scaly francolin with bright orange webbed feet hops about on the ground and on the low branches of trees.  Wild horses graze near the lodge dining area.

a Scaly Francoline outdoors near the dining area

a scaly francolin outdoors near the dining area

wild horses graze near the dining area

wild horses graze near the dining area

another wild horse

another wild horse

Once our guide arrives, we spend two hours traipsing in the acacia zone by the lake and then through the forest.  We cross a big open field, and then wander along the fringes of the forest. Yellow-fronted parrots flit about in trees near the lake.

yellow-fronted parrots

yellow-fronted parrots

The bird of paradise alights only upon the hand that does not grasp. –John Berry

In the forest, we marvel at the huge gnarled ficus trees, and as we walk out into the open field, we come across a group of baboons romping around and grooming each other.  We nearly stumble into a hole dug by an aardvark, and up the trees, we spot three black & white Colobus monkeys watching us like spies from the treetops.

red shoes & wildflowers

red shoes & wildflowers

ficus tree in the forest

ficus tree in the forest

Olive baboons groom each other with care

Olive baboons groom each other with care

an aardvark hole

an aardvark hole

three black & white Colobus monkeys watch us from the treetops

three black & white Colobus monkeys watch us from the treetops

Lines of schoolchildren, books under their arms and dressed in colorful mismatched clothing, pass by us in the field on their way to school.  One elderly gentleman accompanies his children on horseback.

renewal of the mind: going to school

renewal of the mind: going to school

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

an elderly gentleman accompanies his children to school on horseback

We find scores of different birds.  Most of them I’m not able to capture on film. Blue-breasted bee eaters flit about on some bushes. Greater blue-eared starlings hop about in the field.  A red-headed weaver industriously builds a nest.

blue-breasted bee eater

blue-breasted bee eater

blue-breasted bee eater

blue-breasted bee eater

blue breasted bee eater

blue breasted bee eater

In order to see birds it is necessary to become part of the silence – Robert Lynd

Greater blue-eared starling

Greater blue-eared starling

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song. –Chinese Proverb

a red-headed weaver builds his nest

a red-headed weaver builds his nest

Later, as we have breakfast at the lodge, Ed identifies all the birds we saw on the walk: speckled pigeons, lemon doves, African paradise flycatchers, white-rumped babblers, Grey-headed bush shrikes, fork-tailed drongos, red-checked cordon bleu, white-throated seed eaters, African dusty flycatchers, Eurasian hoopoes, common red starts.  And many more elusive little birds with colorful names.

Categories: Africa, bird-watching, Birds, Ethiopia, Forest, Lake Langano | 3 Comments

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