Pumice stone eco-zone

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.

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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

the dry pumice stone eco-zone at lake langano

Sunday, October 28: One of Lake Langano‘s eco-zones is a dry pumice stone area on a piece of land that juts through the lake like a gnarly finger, separating the lake proper from a wetland area. On our first afternoon at the lodge, we take a walk through the area, encountering numerous birds and acacia trees. It feels a little like a walk on the moon, somewhat surreal but lovely .

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

first encounter with the pumice stone

pumice under the clouds and an acacia tree

pumice under the clouds and an acacia tree

Pumice stone may have had a more important historical role in our lives than just scrubbing dead skin off feet.  Scientists claim the rock, which is produced as volcanic gases bubble through lava as it solidifies, may have been responsible for the birth of life on earth more than 3.5 billion years ago, according to a 2011 article from The Telegraph: Humans may owe more than smooth feet to pumice, claim scientists.

a whole spread of pumice

a whole spread of pumice

I think it does look like some prehistoric landscape.

more pumice along the lake

more pumice along the lake, not unlike a moonscape

me in pumice land

me in pumice land

Palaeobiologists believe the essential cocktail of chemicals that make up all organisms on earth could have accumulated inside the pumice pores, while other chemicals commonly found within could have kick-started biological reactions under ultraviolet light.

Ed takes a seat on a pumice chair

Ed takes a seat on a pumice chair

dramatic pumice landscape

dramatic pumice landscape

pumice meets lake

pumice meets lake

I’m amazed by this landscape, especially as the light wanes in the afternoon.  We walk along the rocky surface, checking out the birds preening and flitting about along the lakeshore:  pied kingfishers, spur-winged plovers, Senegal thick-knees, Great cormorants, Nyanza swifts.  I’ll feature some of our fine-feathered friends in another post.

and seen in a different light, as the sun goes down

and seen in a different light, as the sun goes down

The next two days, we explore the pumice-stone area a little more, marveling at how it appears in different light.

further down the finger peninsula, along the lakeshore

further down the finger peninsula, along the lakeshore

and shadowed by acacia trees

and shadowed by acacia trees

I love this stunning and peaceful place, where there are only a few quiet and relaxed inhabitants.  Namely us.  🙂

Categories: Africa, Ethiopia, Lake Langano, Pumice stone eco-zone | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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