One of the spectacular birds I saw on my visit to Ethiopia last December was the Lammergeier, or Bearded Vulture, Gypaetus barbatus. Although I was very pleased to see this bird, it couldn’t be counted as a “lifer“. I had previously seen the species in the Himalayas in Nepal.
Being members of the vulture family of birds, their diet features carrion. A high proportion of their diet is bone marrow and they are very adept at carrying a bone on high and dropping it onto rocks to break it. They are also able to easily digest whole bones they have swallowed.
This one soared effortlessly on the thermals not far above our heads when we were having a picnic lunch at Portuguese Bridge, about 100km north of Addis Ababa.
At first glance I identified it as a Lammergeier and wrote that down in my notebook. Several months later while preparing this article I started to have a few doubts. Could it be something else? Then I discovered that the tail shape is somewhat diagnostic; there’s nothing quite like it in the raptor family.
Birding in Africa
I am currently in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia visiting our daughter who is teaching here. We are living with her on campus at Bingham Academy, a private school in the capital city.
The grounds of the school are extensive and well planted with native and exotic species. We are delighted to feel almost at home because we’ve found many Australian plants included.
I’ve also been doing quite a deal of birding on the campus. So far I’ve seen about 15 different species and all of them are “lifers”, meaning that it’s the first time I’ve seen each species in my life. Probably the most interesting is the Hooded Vulture which frequents the school oval.
I’ve managed to get some good photos of some of the birds, but I won’t be putting these up on this site until I return home. The internet connection here is rather slow to load photos and I’d rather be out and about birding than sitting here at my daughter’s computer waiting for them to load.
In the meantime, I have scheduled photos and articles to appear here over the next few weeks. The articles were prepared before I left.