Today I feature several more photos taken in the grounds of Bingham Academy in Addis Ababa, an international school where my daughter was teaching last year. There were always several dozen soaring over the campus or low over the ground. On many occasions I saw anything from a dozen to 20 or 30 feeding on the school oval. I can only assume they were catching insects and beetles stirred up during watering of the grass.
Pied Crows are one of the common birds you can see on a visit to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. I saw many on my visit there late last year to visit my daughter who was teaching at an international school in the capital.
The birds shown in this set of photos were feeding on the school oval. The grass had just been watered and I suspect that this stirred up quite a deal of insect activity. In the last photo you can see a Yellow-billed Kite, a species that is also very common in and around the city. Every day during our 2 week visit I saw dozens of this species of kite. Sometimes the sky was filled with 50 – 100 of them soaring over the school and the surrounding suburb.
Sometimes birding opportunities occur in a split second or two. This sighting was one of those. I was taking photos of some other birds in the grounds of Bingham Academy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last December when we were visiting our daughter while she was teaching there. This large bird flew overhead and was gone in seconds; I hardly had time to focus. In fact, the photo could be better and I didn’t even have time to zoom in and enlarge the image. The bird never returned. I never saw another of this same species during my two week stay in Ethiopia.
Such is the birding life.
Yesterday I wrote about a Hooded Vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus) with missing feathers (click here to read). As promised I have several more photos to show today, including some much closer up than those shown yesterday. These photos were taken on the campus of Bingham Academy, Addis Ababa, the international school where my daughter was teaching last year. We went to visit her in December.
Hooded Vultures are found over a large part of sub-Saharan Africa. They are often found near human habitation and are not slow to clean up after human rubbish is dumped. I guess the school oval was an interesting and fruitful place for them to visit, especially after the students had finished eating lunch.
While this species can be locally abundant it has recently (2011) been placed on the IUCN Red List as an endangered species, with fewer than 200,000 individuals left. There has been a rapid decline in numbers in recent years due to poisoning by poachers not wishing the birds to attract attention to their kills. Some are taken for food and sold as chicken meat while others are victims of avian influenza. A further decline has been caused in some areas due to more hygienic waste disposal methods by abattoirs. This species mainly eats carrion but also feeds extensively on insects.
As an interesting side note, observant Australian readers will note that the tree this bird in perching in happens to be an Australian eucalypt. Many have been planted in the school grounds. There are also very extensive eucalypt forests surrounding Addis Ababa, many of them planted in the late 1800s. It is now used extensively for firewood and on construction sites.
Reference: BirdLife International 2011. Necrosyrtes monachus. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 07 February 2012.
One of the more unusual birds I saw on my visit to Addis Ababa last December was this Hooded Vulture. In another post in a few days’ time I will show some close up photos of this species, but today I want to focus on this particular bird. It was soaring low over the oval of the international school where my daughter was teaching, Bingham Academy.
It was unusual for two reasons: I didn’t expect to see vultures on or near the school oval in the heart of the city of Addis Ababa, and I didn’t expect to see a large bird like this with a considerable portion of one wing missing. I have no idea as to why this bird was missing all those feathers but it didn’t seem to hinder its flying abilities one bit.
Perhaps my readers can suggest some possible causes.