Tuesday, 15 February 2011

ETHIOPIA 15 February 2011: Wondo Genet

Thursday 15 February. All day was spent birding at Wondo Genet. In the morning we went up the main trail from outside the lodge, the one I’d been up briefly the previous evening. We went further onto a saddle with some larger trees before dropping down to a stream. George and I stayed up on the trail while the others returned for lunch but we soon got bored with the local kids who seemed to prefer pestering us to goat herding and we came down to check the hotel gardens. In the afternoon we went up a side valley to a Crowned Eagle nest, having seen what were presumably the adults from the main trail in the morning. This area was even more degraded and we were dismayed to find a family had started a small fire 5m from the base of the nesting tree. An alert chick was in the nest but was at least two months away from fledging putting it in a very precarious situation. Despite seeing lots of birds, and all the hoped for specialities at Wondo Genet, it was one of the most depressing days I can remember. The eaglet’s plight really brought home how badly the habitat was being degraded - almost worsening out of control before our eyes. We discussed the eaglet’s plight with Merid who came up with the idea of paying our local guide to put a bee-hive up in the tree in the hope it would dissuade someone from cutting it down. This we agreed to do as although it seemed to have a remote chance of success anything was worth trying. I was therefore delighted to receive a recent email from Merid:"The Crowned Eagle survived but not with the bee-hive. I came up with another idea and what we did was we bought a paint similar to that of one used by government forestry people and labelled it. In my experience, labelled trees seem to survive longer than others and that was what we did."  This was wonderful news, although the longer term prospects for this site remain dire indeed, and not just for Crowned Eagles.  Birds seen including a flushed Scaly Francolin, 2 Wattled Ibis, 2 Verreaux’s Eagles, Lemon Dove, 10 Black-faced Lovebirds, 3 Yellow-fronted Parrots, 10 White-cheeked Turacos, Half-collared Kingfisher, 15 Silvery-cheeked Hornbills, 2 Banded and a Double-toothed Barbet, Greater Honeyguide, 3 Abyssinian Woodpeckers, 6 Abyssinian Orioles, 4 Spotted Creepers, 4 Abyssinian Ground Thrushes, 5 Ruppell’s Robin-Chats, 3 White-winged Cliff Chats, 6 Scarlet-chested Sunbirds and 2 Grosbeak Weavers.

Tamborine Dove

Double-toothed Barbet

Blue-headed Coucal, on range although not in the expected habitat

Brown-throated Wattle-eye
Abyssinian Woodpecker

Wattled Ibis

Spotted Creeper

Klaas's Cuckoo
half hidden Half-collared Kingfisher

Yellow-fronted Parrot

Wondo Genet

Crowned Eaglet

Crowned Eagle nest tree

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