Last week I travelled from home in Murray Bridge to attend a meeting in Adelaide. I take the South-eastern Freeway and this takes me through the Adelaide Hills. I generally take quite an interest in the birds seen along the way, noting that more and more frequently I am seeing the wonderful Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos flying overhead.
On this occasion, however, I saw two – perhaps a pair – of Wedge-tailed Eagles soaring low over the freeway. This magnificent species – Australia’s largest eagle – is widespread throughout the country without being very common anywhere.
As is quite usual both birds were being harassed by other species, including Australian Magpies and Little Ravens. While they might be lovely birds, they are generally not loved birds; at least, not in the bird kingdom.
Over recent days I have written about some of the birds I saw on a visit to the Portuguese Bridge area (near Debre Libanos) which is about 110km north of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. There is some controversy over the old bridge (shown above). Local guides claim it was built by the Portuguese about 400 years ago. Other authorities claim that it was built more recently.
We were visiting the area last December. Geologically it is a very interesting place. We had wonderful views over the valley and down into the Blue Nile Gorge about 1000 metres below us. I’ve included no bird photos today – only scenery shots of this amazing place.
I saw a good number of birds and if you look through recent posts here you will see photos of some of them. Instead of bird photos I have compiled an annotated list of some of the birds seen:
- Pied Crow – numerous
- Fan-tailed Raven – 3 flying overhead
- Lammergeier – 1 soaring on thermals overhead
- Yellow-billed Kites – numerous – about 20 – 30 swooping low over people eating lunch. One took food from my fingers!
- Dusky Turtledove – about 5 seen
- Speckled Pigeon – only 1 seen
- Tacazza Sunbird – 2
- Rock Martin – about 10 swooping around the cliff edges
- Blue-breasted Bee-eater – 2 seen swooping for insects and then sitting on a branch
- Augur Buzzard – one seen only briefly, flying overhead
I saw and heard a number of other species but either didn’t get good views of them or no views at all. One of the more frustrating sightings was that of the Rock Martins swooping around the cliff edges. They came quite close – close enough for good identification – but none settled down to perch so I could get a photo. On the wing they were too swift to focus on. [Sigh]
So – you’ll have to be content with some lovely scenery shots instead. But stay tuned for more photos taken elsewhere in the coming days.
Sometimes – no, make that often – nature photography can have its frustrating moments. Take the two photos on today’s post. We were having a picnic lunch at Portuguese Bridge, just over 100km north of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. Around us and other visitors to the area we saw a dozen or so Yellow-billed Kites soaring around and swooping low over where people were eating. They were actually causing some distress to others but I thought it a good opportunity to get some practice at shooting birds in flight.
The above photo was one attempt, but I only managed to get part of the bird in the frame. At least it is more or less in focus! The photo below fills the frame, but is out of focus. The problem here was the slight delay between getting it in the viewfinder and the camera actually responding to the focussing mechanism. It’s challenging trying to do this and I have had varied success. When it comes off it’s great. Many other times it is frustrating.
On a more interesting note, one of the birds caught me by surprise, much to the delight and amusement of our picnic group. One of our party J and I were sitting near the edge of the cliff having lunch. The view over the Blue Nile Gorge was impressive, plummeting some 1000 metres to the river below. The kites kept circling menacingly. I said to J, “If I hold this piece of my bread roll up…” Before I’d finished the sentence, one of the kites swooped down and snatched the food out of my outstretched hand!
The offending kite left a scratch mark on my finger but I’m not sure if it was a talon or its beak. After that we retreated under the cover of the nearby veranda to finish our meal without harassment, only to have a local cat smooching up for a handout. Despite all this “drama” the meal was great and the view inspiring. Kind of made up for my photographic blunders.
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.