Leaving Massawa, drive directly back to Asmara. This trip, along a uniformly excellent road, takes two to three hours, depending, of course, on the number of stops you make en route.
When you travel this road, the reason behind the slogan” three seasons in two hours” becomes obvious. After the flat coastal plain, you will transverse high, rugged mountains, some with low woods and others covered in scrub, the terrain becomes increasingly rocky, and where the low natural scrub has been cleared, vast tracts of alien, invasive prickly pear cactus now stand.
While this might be a disturbing sight, birding remains rewarding: little rock thrushes can often be seen using the cacti as vantage points, while erckel’s francolin appear to be as common as in the wet forests of Filfil.
Where cliffs are steep, you will see the near-endemic, massive thick-billed raven, as well as other near endemics such as the white- napped pigeon. With luck, one can also see a pair of the absurd-looking Abyssinian ground hornbill, with their characteristic facial skin and wattles, stalking afoot for food.
In the rather sterile-looking uplands around Asmara, you can make some last-minute additions to your list, such as mourning and red-breasted wheat eaters, which frequent particularly cultivated areas.
Back on Asmara, you can see dusky turtle doves, migratory pied wagtail and near-endemic brown ramped seed eaters in the quieter parts of the city.
This is but a brief overview of what one can see with ease in Eritrea in the space of three or four days. Bearing in mind the ruggedness of much of the country’s terrain, the vast and dense forests of the Semienawi Bahri and extent of the hot coastal plains, as well as the fact that Eritrean fauna is still but poorly documented, it would not be surprising if a few species new to science were to be found in the next five years.
Whether or not this is the case, Eritrea will remain a wonderful birding destination.
Eritrea is a natural habitat both for species that inhabit highland areas and coastal and marine areas. It can also be called a bird watcher’s paradise. Eritrea offers a wide variety of birds over a relatively small land area. Three eagerly sought endemics are the Blue Winged Goose; Rouge’s Rail and the Abyssinian Long claw, found in Africa’s semi arid scrub lands and deserts to evergreen forests.
Filfil valley, about 20 Kms outside Asmara surrounded by Mount Mog’o, Mount Sabur and Mount Medhanit with its spectacular views is also home to the raucous crowing of Erckels, Francolins as well as clapper ton’s francolin. One could also get a glimpse of the White-cheeked Tura co. On the Mount sabur, the most prominent aboreal species include Bruce’s Green pigeon, Black Headed forest Oriole, Tacazze Sunbird, and Somali Chestnut Winged Starling, and many more.
It is a rewarding experience for any avid bird watcher, both inland and across the Dahlak islands.
Birds to look out for include the Red-Billed Tropic Bird, sooty Gull, Somali Ostrich, Swift Term yellow-Billed stock, lesser Crested Tern, Lammergeier, white-Colllared kingfisher, Egyptian Vulture, Olive Bee-Eater, Augur Buzzard, Abyssinian Roller, fox Kestrel, Hoopoe, Sooty falcon, Black Bush Robin, Lanner Falcon, Black-Tailed Rock-Chat, Tufted Guinea Fowl, Nile Valley Sunbird, Corncrake, Rupp ell’s Weaver, crab plover, Cretsczmar’s Bunting, and Terek sandpiper
Oasis Travel & Tour Agency. © 2012
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