Guide advice: Birding in East Africa / Ethiopia





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  1. #1
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    Default Guide advice: Birding in East Africa / Ethiopia

    Hi all

    wondered if anyone has used the Birds of East africa android app:

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...dsofeastafrica

    Is is similar to the Roberts app (which I really liked while getting back into birding in Botswana earlier this year). Some of the features felt a bit like cheating; probably necessary - haven't been serious about birding for the last 15 years ;-)

    Second question: how well will it (or the print version) serve me in Ethiopia? I see there is a Birds of the Horn of Africa book, but will i get away with the East Africa guide while I'm there?

    Thanks!
    Matthew de Gale
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  2. #2
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    I'm not familiar with the app, but we birded Ethiopia using a combo of Sinclair's Birds of Africa and Collins East Africa. Ethiopia has a number of endemics (don't have the list to hand) and if you know what they are, it's pretty easy to suss out their ID. Which parts of Ethiopia are you visiting. Bale Mountains, Gondar area and Simien Mountains are among the hotspots.

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    Thanks Tony.

    Somehow the Sinclair's Africa book eluded me; that's rectified and will be the printed field guide for our trip, supplemented by the Roberts app up to Tanzania and the Collins/Fanshawe app from there on. The East Africa Birds app is - on a first viewing - very similar to Roberts, though with a slightly different "similar birds" feature, and less text. It a fair bit cheaper and a more lightweight download (320mb rather than 1gb for Roberts.

    We'll be in Ethiopia for a least a month, so hope to spend time in most of the well known areas. The Bradt guide seems to have quite a good pointers to some of the endemics. I'll compile that on the way up. Fairly unlikely to get to spend this much time in Ethiopia again so I better make it worthwhile !

    Thanks for
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    Just did a quick check back - there are something like 28 endemics (out of 850+ species) in Ethiopia. Bale Mountains has 16 endemics, including blue-winged goose, spot-breasted plover/lapwing, Rouget's rail and yellow-fronted parrot. If you are into fly fishing, take a rod along - there are some big trout in the rivers in Bale, especially in the upper reaches of the Web, Shiya and Danka rivers. You have to buy a permit at park HQ at Dinsho.

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    Thanks for the endemics list.

    If you are into fly fishing, take a rod along - there are some big trout in the rivers in Bale, especially in the upper reaches of the Web, Shiya and Danka rivers. You have to buy a permit at park HQ at Dinsho.
    Ssssh Tony. I've got my wife reading the forum now and I'm trying to keep this bit quiet. I've made out that our 6 months mid-life "sabbatical" trip to Ethiopia involves deep thought about history, cultural exposure for our daughter, and figuring out our place in the continent, and world. If she reads this she'll realise its actually a really, really, really expensive fishing trip.....

    I read an article about trout fishing in the Bale Mountains a while back (actually did you write it? , though it could have been Justin http://www.africanangler.com/fly_article.asp?id=619 article: http://www.africanangler.com/fly_article.asp?id=619) and have been dreaming and scheming ever since. Apart from an indigenous Atlas Mountain trout (damn you Arab Spring!), an Ethiopian trout is about as good as get s for me...;-)

    I'll ask in the fishing Channel if a 5# is crazy heavy....

    Matthew
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mdegale View Post
    I read an article about trout fishing in the Bale Mountains a while back (actually did you write it? , though it could have been Justin http://www.africanangler.com/fly_article.asp?id=619 article: http://www.africanangler.com/fly_article.asp?id=619) and have been dreaming and scheming ever since. Apart from an indigenous Atlas Mountain trout (damn you Arab Spring!), an Ethiopian trout is about as good as get s for me...;-)

    I'll ask in the fishing Channel if a 5# is crazy heavy....

    Matthew
    Hi Matthew, I wrote a piece for Out There magazine way back on fishing the Bale Mountains, and then a two part series for The Complete Flyfisherman on fly fishing Africa.
    Five weight is perfect for Bale - the fish get very big there - I took several in the three to four pound class, and I have heard of a fish of over 10 pounds being taken in the lower reaches of the Web. There are 13 rivers, and several tarns originally stocked with rainbow and brown trout from Kenya in the 1960s. Best fishing times are just before and just after the rains, permits must be bought at Dinsho, and only flies are allowed.
    The most accessible fishing is in the Web (Weib) which flows through Dinsho; in the Shiya, 24km from Dinsho on the Robe road; and in the Danka, near Dinsho. Try small gold ribbed hare's ear and dragon fly nymphs fished upstream.

    Here's an extract from the Out There article:

    IT WAS the lure of wild mountain trout that took us to Bale Goba.

    We weren't even half-way there from Shashemene when the old Landy started hoesing and poeping like an incontinent ox.

    Then we hit a patch of mud on a bad downslope and spun through 540 degrees in agonizing slow motion before ending up in a ditch facing back the way we had come. A 40-seater bus with 103 passengers stopped to see if we were alright and a crowd of kids gathered calling to us "you, you, you faranjee (foreigner), you want to buy some eggs?"

    This wasn't really egg-buying time, so we made our apologies and straggled out of the ditch. A bit further up the cliff we stopped to buy firewood. An expatriate Brit we met at Wondo Genet warned that if we wanted to use the sauna at Bale National Park HQ at Dinsho, we had to take our own firewood.

    So we inspected the wood by the side of the road, big, generous bundles at 50 cents each. The wood had a rich, yellow hue. We looked around. We were in a yellowwood forest, surrounded by podocarpus and hagenia groves glaring down at us in accusatory, arboreal hues.

    We never did get to take that sauna. Like much of Ethiopia, it was a non-functioning myth, although I hear it now works. But we ended up camping in a forest so beautiful that all was forgotten. We caught a lot of mountain trout. We got snowed in. We got wet. We went to heaven.

    The Bale Mountain National Park in Ethiopia is one of the truly great African wilderness destinations. Epic is a word that springs to mind.

    You leave the hot, lowland Rift Valley lakes at Shashemene, and in just under 200km, climb from 1 500 metres to the highest all-weather road in Africa, the Sanetti Plateau, over 4 000 metres. Ethiopia's second-highest mountain, Tullu Deemtu (4 337m) is a mere scramble after driving almost to the summit.

    Two days earlier, we were camped under huge fever trees on the shores of Lake Langano, lying in the warm water to escape temperatures of 35deg C. Now we were huddled in our tent, all our clothes on, the temperature at minus eight degrees, snowbound in a blizzard.

    Only in Ethiopia.

    Our journey had taken us from the thorn-scrub savannah of the Rift Valley, through vast forests of yellowwood, juniper and hagenia, then up through increasingly bizarre Afro-Alpine scenery as the forests gave way to the high altitude plants of East Africa -- giant St Johns Wort (hypericum revolutum), aromatic sagebrush (artemesia afra), heather (mainly erica arborea) and red hot poker (kniphofia spp) then to the weird and wonderful everlastings (helichrysum spp) and giant lobeliae (lobelia rhynchopetalum) reaching heights of six metres and more. We had only previously seen this kind of vegetation on Mounts Kenya, Kilimanjaro and Elgon -- they are islands of relict vegetation, with many species closely related to the fynbos of the Western Cape.

    High on the pass traversing the deep, forested Zuten Melak Gorge, we came across a group of ancient pilgrims, brightly dressed men and women carrying forked sticks with the bark peeled off. They were ceaselessly wandering Muslim pilgrims who walk hundreds of kilometers to worship at the tombs of Shek Husen, and at the limestone labyrinth of caves of Sof Omar, both beyond Goba. The only words we had in common were "Salaam Aleikum", Peace be with you. We parted friends.

    It was market day as we drove into Dinsho, the roads were packed with wild horsemen and women dressed in dazzling robes, daggers in their belts, some slinging AK47s. We could have been in Afghanistan, or ancient Persia, as the distinctively Arabic Oromo equestrians thundered past. It was thrilling, Technicolour stuff.

    We had entered a world of wonder and majesty, a land time has forgotten. This is the magical kingdom of Bale-Goba, a land of soaring mountains, crystal mountain lakes, tumbling rivers where record-breaking wild trout haunt the deep gorges, a place where you can be sweating in tropical heat in the morning, and freezing in Afro-Alpine snow at night. Where huge giant molerats (tachyoryctes macrocephalus) blunder their way into the sunshine and slinky Simien Foxes wait to pounce on their unwary fat bodies.

    But we had really come for the trout.

    In Nairobi just before we left, an acquaintance told us he had in his freezer a brown trout weighing a staggering 15 pounds. It was caught in the Web River by a missionary ledgering for barbel with ox-heart bait 40km below the trout waters.

    We fished the Web amid Biblical scenes as wild equestrians and blizzards swept down from the mountains and blue-winged geese settled on the pools. The water was brown and muddy at the end of the dry season, but even so, the fish queued up to be caught. We never got near the 15 pound mark, but several trout of two and three pounds committed suicide on our hooks, eagerly seizing upstream nymphs and drifting dry flies.

    The hilltop camp site at Dinsho is extraordinary. Every morning we would wake with herds of Mountain Nyala and small groups of Menelik's Bushbuck wandering through our camp: Both are endemic and among the most critically endangered of all African species. The vista westward was so magnificent it was hard to tear ourselves away, we found excuses for one more cup of coffee for the road.

    Our time in the Bale Mountains was too short, as is all time in the real wilderness areas of Africa. But when we left, we knew we had been blessed, privileged, to have experienced this wonderland.

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    Hi Matthew,

    The app is pretty good for Tanzania, Kenya & Uganda.

    Regards,

    Riaan

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    Default Birders are hardcore!

    Having just spent a week in Southern Ethiopia (Yabello - Arero - Negele Borena) and ending with 4 days in Bale Mountain National Park, I'll answer my own question... get the Birds of the Horn of Africa book! (don't think there is an app). Birding in Ethiopia is amazing and hard. Toughest roads in 3 months of Africa travel have been the ones recommended by ornithologists!



    A brief delay which led to a flash sighting of Prince Ruspolis Turaco...



    Searching high & low...well...mostly *very* high



    en route to Abyssinian Owls...





    Found 'em!

    Anyway, the really exciting birding in Ethiopia are the endemics (eg, Stresemans Crow (more like a white starling/babbler) which (obviously!) aren't covered by the the East african apps/books, and the transitional Eurasian species - also not easily id'ed via the East Africa books.
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    Matthew de Gale
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mdegale View Post
    ...and ending with 4 days in Bale Mountain National Park.
    You ducked the key question - did you catch any trout?

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    Matthew, your third pic (GPS in shot) looks like the track on the Sanetti Plateau up Mount Tullu Deemtu - if it is, Liz and I got snowed in there for 24 hours. Went to bed, temperature started dropping, we put on all our clothes, woke in the morning to find we were in more than a metre of snow and we had Simyen wolves hunting giant molerats in the snow. Stunning place.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Weaver View Post
    Matthew, your third pic (GPS in shot) looks like the track on the Sanetti Plateau up Mount Tullu Deemtu - if it is, Liz and I got snowed in there for 24 hours. Went to bed, temperature started dropping, we put on all our clothes, woke in the morning to find we were in more than a metre of snow and we had Simyen wolves hunting giant molerats in the snow. Stunning place.

    Spot on Tony. I think the trip across the plateau was one of the highlights so far.

    At the comms station on top of Tulu Dimtu two young boys - maybe 14 & 19 - look after the place complete with goats. Talk about a a lonely posting!

    Matthew
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