Working for birds in Africa

White-winged Flufftail Sarothrura ayresi in Ethiopia

pp 28-36

We visited the only two known sites, Weserbi (near Sululta) and Berga, of the globally threatened White-winged Flufftail Sarothrura ayresi in the highlands of Ethiopia on 24 July - 2 August 2003. No vocalisations of the flufftails were heard despite the birds breeding and our listening for them before and after sunrise and sunset. An adult male was captured at Weserbi and details of its measurements and moult are presented. White-winged Flufftails were flushed on c.20 occasions on each of two day-trips to Weserbi. At Berga, ten flufftails were flushed during 433 minutes of rope-dragging covering all apparently suitable habitat and many more were flushed while at this wetland engaged in other activities. Details of other large waterbirds encountered at Berga are presented and compared with similar data from six of the nine main wetlands in South Africa where the species has been recorded since the 1980s. African Snipe Gallinago nigripennis was the most common large waterbird at both Berga and the South African wetlands. Details are presented of 12 snipe nests found at Weserbi and Berga. Clutch size (typically four eggs) was unusually large for African Snipe. Details are also presented of White-winged Flufftail habitat, including breeding habitat, at Berga. Of the seven White-winged Flufftail nests found at this site, one contained four eggs, whilst the others were empty. Quantified details of the nests and eggs are presented. Two days were spent searching unsuccessfully for potential new White-winged Flufftail breeding sites north of Addis Ababa. An error presented in Allan (2004) relating to the misidentification of alleged flufftail stomachs is corrected.

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