In only a few areas did I specifically go to a particular spot searching for a single species, since I prefer to find an area that has potential, and then settle down to see what is prepared to show itself. Consequently, in the open habitats of Ethiopia (as opposed to Kenyan and Ugandan forest), I avoid using guides. The species where I felt that you had to search for in “their” locality were Harwood’s Francolin, Djibouti Francolin, Ruspoli’s Turaco, Sombre Rock-Chat, Sidamo & Degodi Larks, Yellow-throated Seed-eater, Salvadori’s Seed-eater and Ankober Serin. All of these species are so range restricted, that although it would be better to search nearby (and so create range extensions), that unless one has almost unlimited time, one is forced to visit the same site as everyone else. However, virtually all the other species I saw were seen in areas where I wasn’t expecting them, which emphasizes the importance of not becoming too focussed on one species. Ethiopia is still very “under-birded” and even when the Ethiopian Bird Atlas is published, the lack of information regarding ranges will far exceed the amount known.
There is no doubt that birders will still concentrate on the key endemic areas – which for twitchers means the sites identified by Richard Webb in his trip report, rather than the Important Bird Areas identified by the Ethiopian Wildlife & Natural History Society (EWNHS). However, due to the nature of my trip, and the fact that I didn’t stay in any one area enough to generate meaningful data, I was not able to provide records for the Atlas. Obviously there are a variety of sightings, but this does not provide the coverage required to contribute properly to the Atlas. I still feel rather guilty about this.
An Ethiopian trip: 27/11/1999 to 17/01/2000Giles Mulholland 31 January 2000