Working for birds in Africa



Wed, 02/06/2013 - 15:38 -- abc_admin

Ethiopian Swallow Hirundo aethiopica


Image Credit: 
Abdi Jama

These are largely unconfirmed records published in recent Bulletins of the African Bird Club for information only.

from ABC Bulletin 21.2

The most noteworthy records from a visit on 28 March - 5 April 2014, coinciding with the arrival of the first rains and the start of the breeding season for many species, include the following. Black-headed Heron Ardea melanocephala was suspected to be nesting in Hargeisa; breeding was known only from Wajaale, with a record of 50 birds nesting in May 1995 (cf. Ash & Miskell 1998. Birds of Somalia). A pale-morph Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus observed at Las Geel, c.60 km east-northeast of Hargeisa, on 5 April, may be the second record for Somaliland, the first being in December 2010; the species is probably a frequent passage migrant. A Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni was seen near Hargeisa on 4 April; there are few spring records. A pair of Greater Kestrels F. rupicoloides at their nest on Qool-Caday plain, on 4 April, is a new record for Ash & Miskell’s (1998) 19c square. A Three-banded Plover Charadrius tricollaris with a juvenile was found in the wadi at Las Geel on 5 April, suggesting local breeding; there appear to be no confirmed breeding records for Somaliland. A flock of 28 European Bee-eaters Merops apiaster flew east on 3 April, just before the arrival of a rain front; Ash & Miskell (1998) mention that ‘no spring passage has been noted in the north’ [= in Somaliland and Puntland]. A Blue-cheeked Bee-eater M. persicus was observed at Hargeisa on 29 March, with probably two others on 3 April (with the preceding species); previous spring records in Somaliland date from 26 April - 12 May. At least three Arabian Warblers Sylvia leucomelaena were singing at Las Geel on 5 April; this species is a presumed breeding resident, although it is reported to be quiet and elusive, with no records mentioned for square 19a (Ash & Miskell 1998). Two Magpie Starlings Speculipastor bicolor were seen near Las Geel on 5 April. In Hargeisa, large numbers of Chestnut Weavers Ploceus rubiginosus were present. In addition, the usual four species of bustard (Kori Ardeotis kori, Buff-crested Lophotis gindiana, White-bellied Eupodotis senegalensis and Little Brown Bustard E. humilis) and three species of courser (Somali Cursorius somalensis, Three-banded Rhinoptilus cinctus and Double-banded Courser R. africanus) were observed south and south-east of Hargeisa.

from ABC Bulletin 20.2

A tour to Somaliland in September 2012 managed to locate all of the potential Somali endemics and specialities, including Archer's Buzzard Buteo (augur) archeri, Little Brown Bustard Eupodotis humilis, Somali Pigeon Columba oliviae, Somali Lark Mirafra somalica, Collared Lark M. collaris, Lesser Hoopoe Lark Alaemon hamertoni, Somali Wheatear Oenanthe phillipsi, Somali Thrush Turdus ludoviciae, Philippa's Crombec Sylvietta philippae, Somali Golden-winged Grosbeak Rhynchostruthus louisae and Warsangli Linnet Carduelis johannis. Unsurprisingly, for a region so rarely visited by birders, quite a few range extensions were noted, such as Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis on the Quoryale Plain on 12th (this species was first found in the country only in 2010) and Pectoral-patch Cisticola C. brunnescens south of Ceerigaabo on 18th, which was much further east than previous records. In addition, a number of empty squares in the Somali atlas (Ash & Miskell 1998. Birds of Somalia) were duly filled to help give a more complete picture of the true ranges of Somali birds, and a Purple Heron Ardea purpurea in a wet wadi south of Ceerigaabo on 22nd is apparently the first ever for Somaliland. The most surprising find, however, was an unknown cisticola Cisticola sp. in Daallo Forest. Three birds were seen in Sallvia bushes on 21st; no song was heard, but their plumage and morphology do not match any of the cisticolas currently known from Somaliland, and these birds thus represent either a new species for Somaliland or a new taxon.

from ABC Bulletin 18.2

Highlights from a visit, on 11 December 2010, to the plains and bush country east of Hargeisa, Somaliland, down to the Tuuyoo plains, included Heuglin’s Neotis heuglini, Little Brown Eupodotis humilis and Buff-crested Bustards Lophotis gindiana, several confiding Somali Coursers Cursorius somalensis as well as Double-banded Coursers Rhinoptilus africanus, six lark species including Lesser Hoopoe Alaemon hamertoni, Blanford’s Calandrella blanfordi and Somali Short-toed Larks C. somalica, Somali Wheatears Oenanthe phillipsi, and Arabian Sylvia leucomelaena and Ménétries’ Warblers S. mystacea. A week later, an area close to Hargeisa produced some additional species including Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus and Steppe Grey Shrike Lanius (meridionalis) pallidirostris, two taxa with apparently few records for Somaliland. Somaliland is now generally safe and local guide Abdi Jama can provide logistics and advice.


During two visits to Somaliland, in May and September 2010, the following species were noted. On 17 May the Saylac area produced Nubian Nightjar Caprimulgus nubicus, Clamorous Reed Warbler Acrocephalus stentoreus and Mangrove Reed Warbler A. baeticatus avicenniae; the latter appears to be common in the area with numerous individuals still present in September. On 18 May, while driving from Saylac to Hargeysa, a female Somali Ostrich Struthio molybdophanes was seen. On 19th, the country's first Red-breasted Wheatear Oenanthe bottae was recorded near Tug Wajale, with other species including Somali Courser Cursorius (cursor) somalensis (a common species throughout the country) and Caspian PloverCharadrius asiaticus. A breeding colony of Madagascar (Olive) Bee-eaters Merops superciliosus was found between Hargeysa and Burao on 20 May. On 21 May, a Sooty Falcon Falco concolor was seen near Burao, and several Little Brown Bustards Eupodotis humilis, many Lesser Hoopoe Larks Alaemon hamertoni, a few Somali Larks Mirafra somalica and Philippa's Crombec Sylvietta philippae en route to Garadag (Little Brown Bustard was not uncommon on several other plains visited in September). Archer's (Orange River) Francolin Francolinus levaillantoides lorti and White-rumped Swift Apus caffer were seen near Daalo Forest. At Daalo, many Warsangli Linnets Carduelis johannis were observed in May, but numbers had substantially decreased by September. Also at Daalo, Somali Thrushes Turdus ludoviciae were common, whilst only a single Archer's Buzzard Buteo (augur) archeri was seen. African Swallow-tailed Kite Chelictinia riocourii, Heuglin's Bustard Neotis heuglinii and many displaying Tawny Pipits Anthus campestris were observed between Erigavo and Burao, whilst the Bohootleh area produced Donaldson Smith's Nightjar Caprimulgus donaldsoni, Von der Decken's Hornbill Tockus deckeni, Yellow-vented Eremomela Eremomela icteropygialis, Philippa's Crombec and Red-naped Bushshrike Laniarius ruficeps. On 28 May the country's first Short-toed Snake Eagle Circaetus gallicus was found near Berbera. On 31 May a Golden Pipit Tmetothylacus tenellus was seen on the Qorladey plains south of Hargeysa.

During a boat trip to Rabshie (Maydh) Island in September, a Wedge-tailed Shearwater Puffinus pacificus, a Wilson's Storm-petrel Oceanites oceanicus and three Red-necked Phalaropes Phalaropus lobatus were seen, whilst on the island itself a few Red-billed Tropicbirds Phaethon aethereus and several Masked Boobies Sula dactylatra were tending well-grown young amongst large numbers of breeding Bridled Terns Sterna anaethetus and Sooty Terns S. fuscata. Abdim's Storks Ciconia abdimii were still on the nest in Berbera on 20 September; this is apparently a new locality for the species. A Short-toed Snake Eagle was found at Daalo on 16 September and another on the Ban Cade Plains on 18th (second and third records). A Brown Snake Eagle Circaetus cinereus was seen near Sayla on 21 September. The first modern records of Steppe Buzzard Buteo (buteo) vulpinus were noted in the Daalo area on 14 and 19 September. Two Common Quail Coturnix coturnix, flushed on the Qorladey plains on 21 September, were apparently the first records since 1956. Two Cream-coloured Coursers Cursorius cursor were seen on the Ban Cade Plains on 13 September. Three Black-headed Lapwings Vanellus tectus were seen between Saylac and Hargeysa. About 30 Caspian Plovers were seen on the Qorladey plains on 21 September. Vocalisations and plumage characteristics suggest that a pair of owls observed at 2,100 m in Daalo Forest were more closely related to Arabian Scops Owl Otus (senegalensis) pamelae than to any subspecies of African Scops Owl O. senegalensis; further research is needed to establish the identity of these birds. A pair of Donaldson Smith's Nightjars was found southeast of Burao on 12 September , whilst a European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus was seen flying in off the sea at midday at Maydh on 16 September. Somali Larks Mirafra somalica studied on the Tuuyo Plains and identified by voice showed plumage characteristics of Sharpe's Lark M. africana sharpii suggesting that this form represents a third subspecies of Somali Lark rather than a race of Rufous-naped Lark M. africana. A Collared Lark M. collaris was found in the red sand country south-east of Burao; this represents the first sighting of this species in the area since the 1980s. A Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus was heard flying over the Wajaale Plains on 22 September. Common Nightingales Luscinia megarhynchos were common in Daalo Forest on 14 - 17 September. A male Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus of the eastern race samamisicus was seen at Daalo on 21 September. An immature Sombre Rock Chat Cercomela dubia was photographed on the pass near Sheikh on 19 September there is only one previous historical record for the country.

The following were reported from a pioneering bird tour to Somaliland in February 2010. An adult Archer's Buzzard Buteo augur archeri was seen on the Daallo Escarpment on 15th. Two chestnut winged francolins flushed at the same site appeared to fit the description of Archer's (Orange River) Francolin Francolinus levaillantoides lorti, although it cannot be excluded that they were Yellow-necked Spurfowl F. leucoscepus, which was observed nearby. Three Red-knobbed Coots Fulica cristata were found at Waajale Twon reservoir on 9th; this species is not mentioned for the north of Somalia in Ash& Miskell (1998. Birds of Somalia). Two males and a female Heuglin's Bustard Neotis heuglinii were seen near Inaafmadobe, Qorlilugud, and on the Banade Plains, respectively, on 13th–15th. Little Brown Bustards Eupodotis humilis were common in suitable habitat throughout; they were encountered daily, with a maximum of five on 15th.

Three very tame Somali Larks Mirafra somalica were photographed on the Banade Plains on 15th. Also there were three Foxy Larks M. alopex of the nominate race alopex, whilst the large, rather pipit-like Lesser Hoopoe Lark Alaemon hamertoni was numerous, with up to 15 sighted on 14th, with one performing its characteristic song flight. Two Gillett's Larks Mirafra gilletti of the pale race arorihensis were watched near Qorilugud on 14th. Blanford's Lark Calandrella blanfordi of the distinctive race daroodensis was seen on the Waajale Plains on 9th and on the Banade Plains on 14th; at both localities Somali Short-toed Lark C. somalica was common.

Somali Thrush Turdus (olivaceus) ludoviciae was observed at Ga'an Libah on 11th–12th (several) and was the commonest bird on the upper Daallo Escarpment with up to 20 seen per day; this endemic blackbird is often lumped with the widespread but dissimilar (both in appearance and habitat choice) Olive Thrush T. olivaceus of East Africa. It is now increasingly recognised as a Somali endemic restricted to the few patches of highland juniper forest in the north of Somaliland. Somali Wheatear Oenanthe phillipsi was common in all rocky habitats, whilst Philippa's Crombec Sylvietta philippae appeared to be frequent in Acacia bush north of Inaafmadobe and near Qorilugud, with up to ten seen. Six Pale Rockfinches Carpospiza brachydactyla at a watering hole near Wajaale town on 9th was an unexpected find; this species has previously been recorded in Djibouti, Eritrea and Ethiopia but apparently not in Somalia. A young male Somali Golden-winged Grosbeak Rhynchostruthus louisae was observed on the Maydh road on 16th. A single Warsangli Linnet Carduelis johannis was seen along the Daallo – Maydh road at c.1,800 m; this species is endemic to the mountains of north Somaliland and Daallo is in the far west of its range.

The following details have been received from John Miskell. "From 13 through 17 April 2005 I made a brief visit to "Puntland", an area I had not visited since I was there with John Ash in April / May 1980. I was mostly working at our office in Garoowe while I was there, but was able to get out bird watching a couple of times. The following are the more interesting records from my trip:

A. Along the Rabable tog, SW of Garoowe, 15 April, Somalia square 30c:

1. Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax - 1 adult & 2 subadults
2. Bruce's Green Pigeon Treron waalia - common
3. Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus - 1
4. Isabelline Shrike Lanius isabellinus -1

B. In Garoowe town, 14 April, Somalia square 30c:

1. Ethiopian Swallow Hirundo aethiopica - pair with two young in nest, fledged 14 April
2. Somali Chestnut-winged Starling Onychognathus blythii - pair with 2 chicks, c. 5 days old, in nest
3. Swainson's Sparrow Passer swainsonii - two pairs with just fledged, dependent young - a considerable range extension

C. Galgalo village & spring, Somalia square 15a, and a few kms NW in square 5c, 17 April:

1. Orange River Francolin Francolinus levaillantoides - 1 seen and 2 or 3 heard - 5c
2. Bruce's Green Pigeon Treron waalia - common - 15a
3. Speckled Pigeon Columba guinea - 1 - in Galgalo village - 15a
4. Somali Pigeon Columba oliviae - 18 total, on both sides of Galgalo village - 15a
5. Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris - 1 - 5c
6. Little Rock Thrush Monticola rufocinereus - 2 - 5c
7. Masked Shrike Lanius nubicus - 1 - 15a
8. Nile Valley Sunbird Hedydipna metallica - 8 - 15a
9. African Silverbill Euodice cantans - 10 - 15a
10. Cinnamon-breasted Bunting Emberiza tahapisi - 2 in 15a, and 1 in 5c."

Three new species were added to the Somalia list in October 2002 by John Ash, Gerhard Nikolaus and John Miskell. These are: Saker Falcon Falco cherrug; Temminck’s Courser Cursorius temminckii; and Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica. They also found Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis resident in the north-west for the first time. Temminck’s Courser Cursorius temminckii was later found breeding in north-west Somalia in June 2004 by John Miskell, who also found Black-winged Lapwings Vanellus melanopterus nesting in the same area. In April 2004, John Miskell found Purple Swamphens Porphyrio porphyrio (2 adults and a sub-adult) in a swamp bordering the Shabeelle river near Qoryooley; this is the second record for Somalia and the first record in the south of the country. JM also saw Collared Lark Mirafra collaris at Yasooman in March 2004.

The following records were published in the Bulletin of the African Bird Club.

These records are from December 2003 in Somaliland (the region in northern Somalia which wants to break away from the rest of the country), en route from Hargeysa to Ceerigaabo, and also in the Daalo area. A Steppe Buzzard Buteo (buteo) vulpinus was seen at 10°45’N 47°18’E on 26th; this is apparently only the second record for Somalia (see Ash & Miskell 1998. Birds of Somalia). Archer’s Buzzard Buteo archeri was observed several times on the escarpment at 10°47’N 47°17’E on 26th (possibly the same individual). A male Little Brown Bustard Eupodotis humilis was calling (a high-pitched rattle we-we-we given with head thrown backwards) at dusk at 9°24’N 46°46’E on 25th, with a female close by. Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse Pterocles lichtensteinii was noted at 9°41’N 44°22’E on 25th, and the endemic Somali Pigeon Columba oliviae at 10°48’N 47°19’E the next day. European Scops Owl Otus scops was heard at 10°57’N 47°13’E on 26th; there is only one previous record, from 1919. The following lark species were seen on 25th: Rufous-naped Lark Mirafra africana sharpei at 9°10’N 46°00’E, the endemic Somali Lark Mirafra somalica at 9°19’N 46°38’E and Fawn-coloured Lark Mirafra africanoides alopex at 9°55’N 45°11’E. A probable Archer’s Lark Heteromirafra archeri, a rare and very localised endemic which has not been seen since 1955, was found at 9°39’N 43°26’E on 29th; unfortunately the diagnostic pale median crown stripe was not noted. Brown-tailed Rock-Chat Cercomela scotocerca was observed at 9°58’N 45°09’E and Desert Warbler Sylvia nana at 9°57’N 44°41’E on 25th. The very local endemic Warsangli Linnet Carduelis johannis was at 10°45’N 47°18’E on 26th and Arabian Golden-winged Grosbeak Rhynchostruthus socotranus at 10°47’N 47°18’E the next day.


Fri, 01/25/2013 - 15:16 -- abc_admin


Fri, 01/25/2013 - 15:16 -- abc_admin

ASH, J., MISKELL, J. and WOODCOCK, M. (Illustrator) (1998) Birds of Somalia. Hardcover - 304 pages. The Pica Press ISBN: 1-8734-0358-5. This guide to the birds of Somalia features extensive introductory chapters, some contributed by invited specialists, covering such topics as vegetation and soils, geology, climate, conservation, bird migration, breeding seasons and a historical review of the ornithology of Somalia.

BirdLife International (2000) Threatened Birds of the World. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

COHEN, C., MILLS, M.S.L. and FRANCIS, J. (2011) Photospot: Endemic and special birds of Somaliland. ABC Bulletin 18(1) pp 86-92.

COHEN, C., MILLS, M.S.L. and FRANCIS, J. (2015) First records for Somalia of Bonelli’s Eagle Aquila fasciataShort-toed Snake Eagle Circaetus gallicus and Red-breasted
Wheatear Oenanthe bottae. ABC Bulletin 22(2) pp 225 - 228.

FISHPOOL, L.D.C. and EVANS M.I. editors (2001) Important Bird Areas in Africa and Associated Islands: Priority sites for conservation. Newbury and Cambridge, UK. Pisces Publications and BirdLife International (BirdLife Conservation Series No.11). Somalia chapter on pages 779-792.

SMITH, E.F.G. et al., (1991) Ibis 133 pp 227-235.


Fri, 01/25/2013 - 15:15 -- abc_admin

African Bird Club representative

The African Bird Club is seeking to appoint a representative in this region. If you are interested in supporting and promoting the Club, have any queries or require further information relating to the ABC representatives scheme, please contact the Membership Secretary at

Feb 2012 report from Abdi Jama

Feb 2011 report from Abdi Jama

Feb 2010 report from Abdi Jama

Feb 2009 report from Abdi Jama

Bird recorder and checklist compiler

John Miskell


Somaliland Ecological Society,
Contact: Mohamed Egge Kile.


Fri, 01/25/2013 - 15:14 -- abc_admin

Sacaada Diin Islands overfishing


Image Credit: 
Abdi Jama

Sacaada Diin Islands harvesting sea cucumbers


Image Credit: 
Abdi Jama

Maydh Island fishermen preparing to scrape up guano


Image Credit: 
Abdi Jama

Sheepherders overgrazing Boorame Plains


Image Credit: 
Abdi Jama

"Somalia has suffered from many years of civil unrest so it is not perhaps surprising that according to a late May 2002 news item, a new report prepared by an environmental group known as Natural Resource Management and Environmental Protection, warns that Somalia will be a country without trees within the next few years if trees continue to be cut down at the present rate. It is understood that deforestation has been most severe in Middle Jubba, Lower Jubba, Middle Shabeelle and Lower Shabeelle - according to the news item, substantial shipments of charcoal are passing through Kismaayo and Mogadishu on a daily basis.

The Important Bird Areas which may be seriously affected are: 8, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 - see IBA section. It is further understood the report claims that Somalia's wildlife is now almost non-existent following widespread poaching." In addition, the dumping of toxic wastes off the central eastern coast presents a serious environmental hazard.

Even in Somaliland, most of the IBAs are overexploited and degraded as follows:

So001, Sacaada Diin Islands are severely overfished by foreign fleets.

Large groups of young divers over-harvest sea cucumbers and an endangered turtle.

So 002, Maydh Island is exploited for its guano deposits by fishermen.

So003 & So006, Daallo & Gacan Libaax IBAs are suffering from overgrazing and tree-chopping for livestock. The juniper forests in both IBAs are degrading gradually going the way of Djibouti's Foret Du Day.

So007, Boorame Plains IBA, the home of the endangered Archer's Lark Heteromirafra archeri is degraded from homesteading communities who migrate back and forth between these plains and Oogo high country as well as the coastal zone to the north.

WIWO has conducted 18 surveys in Africa. The WIWO Forward Plan includes censuses of waders along the coast of Somalia. Contact address: Working Group on International Wader and Waterfowl Research (WIWO), c/o Driebergse weg 16c, 3708 JB Zeist, Netherlands.

Books & Sounds

Fri, 01/25/2013 - 15:10 -- abc_admin

Birds of the Horn of Africa is an extremely useful field guide which covers Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Socotra and Somalia. The first edition was published in 2009 and the second edition in 2011.

Birds of Africa south of the Sahara also covers all the species found in the Horn of Africa region.

It may also be possible to use a combination of east African and Palearctic field guides. These will cover many of the species found in this region but will miss those which are endemic to the region.

You can purchase these and other books from WildSounds, one of the largest specialist UK mail-order companies, via our book and media sales page. Many birdwatchers are not only interested in birds, so we have added the most useful books for other taxa on this page.

*** Wildsounds donates 5% of each order generated via these links to the ABC Conservation Fund. Please order here, get a good price and support ABC! ***

Book image: 
Book info: 
Birds of the Horn of Africa (2nd edition 2011), Nigel Redman, Terry Stevenson & John Fanshawe, A&C Black, Softback.
Book description: 

This is the first field guide to the birds of this fascinating region, and a companion to Birds of East Africa by two of the same authors. Over 200 magnificent plates by John Gale and Brian Small illustrate every species that has ever occurred in the five countries covered by the guide (Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Socotra), and the succinct text covers the key identification criteria. Special attention is paid to the voices of the species, and over 1000 up-to-date colour distribution maps are included. This long-awaited guide is a much-needed addition to the literature on African birds and an essential companion for birders visiting the region.

Media type: 
Book image: 
Book info: 
Birds of Africa South of the Sahara, Ian Sinclair & Peter Ryan, New Holland, Softback.
Book description: 

Second edition, including 500 new images and 400 updated distribution maps. Unrivalled coverage of African birds in a single volume. 2129+ species covered with an additional 101 vagrants briefly described. Revised to reflect the latest changes in taxonomy. Species descriptions give precise identification features highlighting differences between similar species as well as briefly reporting habitat, status and call. Annotated illustrations portray distinctive plumages as well as diagnostic flight patterns and major geographic variants where applicable.

Media type: 


Fri, 01/25/2013 - 15:07 -- abc_admin

A beautiful sunrise in Somalia

Image Credit: 
Abdi Jama

Birding tours

Birding AfricaBirdquest and Rockjumper organise bird tours to Somaliland.


NatureSomaliland can offer guiding services in Somaliland.

Contact ‘Abdi A. Jama, Tel: 00-252-2-4138813’

Trip reports

Bram Piot sent this trip report* and bird list of a day's birding around the Hargeisa area of Somaliland in April 2014.

Charles Davies has written this very comprehensive and interesting trip report * following his visit to Somaliland in June 2012.

Richard Fleming has written a very interesting and entertaining blog of a trip to Somaliland in 2011.

Bram Piot provided this trip report Birding in and around Hargeisa,Somaliland, December 2010. It contains details, maps and species seen in a day's birding around Hargeisa.

Hugh Buck of Buckbirds sent us this trip report in 2010 of one of the first trips in recent years to explore Djibouti and Somalia. A number of unusual and rarely seen endemic and near endemic species were found on this tour.

We have received a species list from Abdi Jama which resulted from a day-long birding trip south of Hargeisa on May 25, 2009 with John Miskell. Abdi comments as follows: "as it happenned we lost three hours to a rainstorm in the late afternoon. We basically stayed within the 19c quarter-degree of the Somalia grid  even though we did enter square 26c a tiny bit ( N092802 / E440559 to N090000 / E440000). We recorded 79 species; the most interesting being an African Cuckoo and a Blue-Capped Cordon-Bleu. We enjoyed every stop we made along the way but the most interesting, at least to me, was the huge Quoladay Plain, about 60 km south of Hargeisa. The first showers of the rainy season had already arrived and the crescendo of displaying lark and pipit species was almost deafening. There were interesting species everywhere we looked. We wished we could get closer to a dark-grey 'pipit' we encountered on this plain. It just would not let us get closer for inspection. We are still wondering what it was. I have to thank John Miskell for his expertise and patience pointing out important sights and sounds. I am going to copy his recording methodology every time I get out birding from now on. Please take a look at our list and do give us feedback."

We understand that Giles Mulholland visited "Somaliland" in December 2003 and produced a trip report but we do not have a reference for it at this time.

The following Somali Ecological Society publications are available from John Leefe, The Spinney, Clipsham Road, Stretton, Oakham, Leicestershire LE15 7QS. All are photocopies except the first: Birdwatching in Southern Somalia; Checklist of the Birds of Somalia; Checklist of the Mammals of Somalia; Birds of the Balcad NR; Checklist of the Birds of the Balcad NR; A Guide to the Mammals of the Balcad NR; Nature Trail Guide of the Balcad NR; SES Newsletters 1-5.


Because of great security concerns in Somalia, only the breakaway entity of Somaliland is accessible for birding tours at present. Normally, tourists arrive in Somaliland from Djibouti or Ethiopia.

If one is coming from Djibouti, Daallo Airlines has a daily flight to Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland. If coming from Addis Ababa, there are quite a few regional airlines making daily connections to Hargeisa: Air Ethiopia, Suhura and Osob.

Daallo Airlines has a Sunday flight between Hargeisa and Addis. An alternative route for visitors is to travel overland from Djibouti City to Hargeisa.

The following notes admittedly plagiarised from the internet demonstrate that Somalia is a country which can be visited by the determined traveller. "I went to Northern Somalia in Summer 2000 travelling from New York to Addis Ababa on Ethiopian Airlines, then on to Hargeisa. Daallo Airlines now has flights from Amsterdam / Paris / London to the Horn of Africa. I stayed at local hotels in Hargeisa. I also travelled by rental car to the cities of Berbera, Amoud and Burao which were all very beautiful. I flew to Calmadow in Sanaag Region known for its beautiful green mountains and scenery. I travelled to the port of Bosaso in the north-east, and LaasCanood. All in all an incredible trip. I would suggest against going to Southern Somalia because it is still too dangerous for tourists but I would recommend Northern Somalia."


Other safety and health issues are no different from those in many African countries. Guidebooks, travel companies and websites provide much of the advice one needs, but key points warrant repetition here: (1) be aware of the risk of malaria and seek current advice, sleep in a sealed tent or under a net and take prophylaxis as recommended; (2) always ensure you have sufficient water and some method of purification (even if this comprises a pot and a campfire for boiling); (3) do not underestimate the danger of being in the sun for too long, ensure you use sun-block, drink plenty of water and wear a hat; (4) be aware of the risk of AIDS; (5) ensure that you take a reasonably-equipped first-aid pack with you including supplies of hypodermic and suturing needles. See the following 2 websites for safety and travel information: US Travel and UK FCO.

* In order to view and print these papers, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader.


Fri, 01/25/2013 - 15:06 -- abc_admin

Greater Hoopoe-Lark Alaemon alaudipes


Image Credit: 
Abdi Jama

Somali Ostrich Struthio camelus molybdophanes


Image Credit: 
Abdi Jama

Buff-crested Bustard Lophotis gindiana


Image Credit: 
Abdi Jama

Speke's Gazelle herd


Image Credit: 
Abdi Jama

Dodson's Bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus dodsoni


Image Credit: 
Abdi Jama

There is so little recent ornithological information that it is difficult to define the current hotspots though the list of IBAs or along the coast would seem to be good places to start birdwatching.

The Sa’ada Ad- Din / Eebaad Islands cluster near Zeila town has magnificient gull, tern, wader and raptor populations.

The expansive Giriyaad Plains between Zeila and Hargeisa towns in the Awdal / Salaal regions are famous for Arabian Bustard Ardeotis arabs and Kori Bustard A. kori as well as a great variety raptors. Two species of gazelle, Soemmerring’s and Pelzeln’s as well as Somali Ostritch Struthio camelus molybdophanes are easily seen.

The flat Saraar Plains of eastern Somaliland on the way to Erigavo, we have three rare species of bustard Heuglin’s Neotis heuglinii, Buff-crested Lophotis gindiana and Little Brown Eupodotis humilis as well as at least a dozen lark species. Here also ranges the endemic Speke’s gazelle.

Daallo Forest Reserve on the Golis Range escarpment is a special location for Dodson's Bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus dodsoni, Brown-tailed Rock Chat Cercomela scotocerca and Sombre Rock Chat C. dubia as well as Warsangli Linnet Carduelis johannis, Somali Pigeon Columba oliviae, Somali Thrush Turdus olivaceus ludovicae and Somali Golden-winged Grosbeak Rhynchostruthus louisae.

With a large species list including several endemics and near endemics and with a coastline of 3,200 km, one might be tempted to say that birdwatching can start anywhere.

Except for Somaliland in the north-west, few people are likely to venture to Somalia until the safety situation improves considerably.


Fri, 01/25/2013 - 14:58 -- abc_admin

Somali Wheatear Oenanthe phillipsi


Image Credit: 
Abdi Jama

Lesser Hoopoe-Lark Alaemon hamertoni - a Somalian endemic species

Bancade' Plain; Sanaag Region, Somalia

Image Credit: 
Abdi Jama

Archer's Buzzard Buteo archeri


* Some authorities consider this to be a separate species and others subsume it into B. rufofuscus or B. augur.

Image Credit: 
Abdi Jama

Somali Thrush Turdus ludoviciae


Some authorities raise the endemic and endangered subspecies of Olive Thrush Turdus olivaceus to Somali Thrush Turdus ludoviciae to species level.

Image Credit: 
Abdi Jama

Little Brown Bustard Eupodotis humilis


Image Credit: 
Abdi Jama

Blanford’s Lark Calandrella blanfordi


Image Credit: 
Abdi Jama

Somali Chestnut-winged Starling Onychognathus blythii


Image Credit: 
Abdi Jama

Country checklist and status

You can download and print a checklist for Somalia.

Somalia has an avifauna of 660 or so species of which 302 species are resident, 89 are intra-Africa migrants, 153 are Palearctic migrants and there are several species of global conservation concern (FISHPOOL, L.D.C. and EVANS M.I. editors 2001).

Endemic species

*Archer’s Buzzard Buteo archeri
Somali Pigeon Columba oliviae
Ash’s Lark Mirafra ashi
Somali Lark Mirafra somalica
Archer’s Lark Heteromirafra archeri
Lesser Hoopoe-Lark Alaemon hamertoni
Obbia Lark Spizocorys obbiensis
**Bulo Burti Bush-Shrike Laniarius liberatus
Somali Golden-winged Grosbeak Rhynchostruthus louisae
Warsangli Linnet Carduelis johannis

** Bulo Burti Bush-Shrike Laniarius liberatus is not part of the accepted national list at this time and is included in List C - species requiring confirmation. A single specimen was captured in an isolated patch of disturbed acacia scrub at Bulo Burti, central Somalia in January 1989, taken to Germany for study in captivity, and returned to Somalia and released at a different site in March 1990. It was described as a new species on the basis of DNA studies of its blood and a few feathers - see reference (iii).

John Miskell (in correspondence) states that the reason it is not yet accepted on the national list is that the DNA of the only existing specimen was not compared to the all black "morph" of the Tropical Boubou Laniarius aethiopicus. JM further states "the all black bird was originally described as Laniarius erlangeri from Erlanger’s specimens from the Juba valley. A black and white subspecies Laniarius aethiopicus somaliensis was described from Erlanger’s specimens from the same area. Later, museum workers lumped both forms as L. aethiopicus erlangeri. Only the all black bird occurs along the Shabeelle river, including just south of the type locality of L. liberatus. John Ash, Joseph Mwaki, and I have all seen and heard the black bird along the Shabeelle, and noted that it does not sound anything like a typical Tropical Boubou Laniarius aethiopicus. When Joseph Mwaki first heard it he immediately said ‘Gonolek!’. It will probably eventually prove to be a full species." Anyone who actually goes looking for it is more likely to find Red-naped Bush Shrike Laniarius ruficeps which is common on the red sand areas once one is away from the clay soils along the river.

Near endemic species (found in 3 or less countries)

Little Brown Bustard Eupodotis humilis
Chestnut-naped Francolin Francolinus castaneicollis
African White-winged Dove Streptopelia reichenowi
Fischer’s Turaco Tauraco fischeri
*Forbes-Watson’s Swift Apus berliozi
Mombasa Woodpecker Campethera mombassica
Collared Lark Mirafra collaris
Gillett’s Lark Mirafra gilletti
Blanford’s Lark Calandrella blanfordi
Rufous Short-toed Lark Calandrella somalica
Malindi Pipit Anthus melindae
Pangani Longclaw Macronyx aurantiigula
Somali Wheatear Oenanthe phillipsi
Sombre Rock-Chat Cercomela dubia

Somali Short-billed Crombec

Sylvietta philippae
Somali Long-billed Crombec Sylvietta isabellina
Little Yellow Flycatcher Erythrocercus holochlorus
Violet-breasted Sunbird Cinnyris chalcomelas
Long-tailed Fiscal Lanius cabanisi
Red-naped Bush-Shrike Laniarius ruficeps
Somali Chestnut-winged Starling Onychognathus blythii
Swainson’s Sparrow Passer swainsonii
Arabian Golden Sparrow Passer euchlorus
Juba Weaver Ploceus dichrocephalus
Fire-fronted Bishop Euplectes diadematus
Donaldson-Smith’s Sparrow-Weaver Plocepasser donaldsoni
Northern Grosbeak-Canary Serinus donaldsoni
Brown-rumped Seedeater Serinus tristriatus

* possibly the only country in Africa for this species.

Threatened species

Lesser Kestrel

Falco naumanni Vulnerable
White-eyed Gull Larus leucophthalmus Vulnerable
Somali Pigeon Columba oliviae Vulnerable
Ash’s Lark Mirafra ashi Endangered
Archer’s Lark Heteromirafra archeri Endangered
Bulo Burti Bush-Shrike Laniarius liberatus Critical
Warsangli Linnet Carduelis johannis Endangered

The lists of endemic, near endemic and threatened species have been compiled from a number of sources including the African Bird Club, BirdLife International, and Birds of the World Version 2.0 ® 1994-1996, Dr. Charles Sibley and Thayer Birding Software, Ltd. For further information on Somalia’s threatened species, see BirdLife International.

Important Bird Areas

Fri, 01/25/2013 - 14:51 -- abc_admin

Gulls at Cel Island, Somalia

Image Credit: 
Abdi Jama

Daallo Mt. lookout, Somalia

Image Credit: 
Abdi Jama

Sacaada Diin, Somalia

Image Credit: 
Abdi Jama

Arabian Bustard Ardeotis arabs

Saylac, Somalia

Image Credit: 
Abdi Jama

Heuglin's Bustard Neotis heuglinii

Gacan Libaax, Somalia

Image Credit: 
Abdi Jama

Maydh Island, Somalia

Image Credit: 
Abdi Jama

Lesser Hoopoe-Lark Alaemon hamertoni

Bancade Plain; Sanaag Region, Somalia

Image Credit: 
Abdi Jama

Somali Short-toed Lark Calandrella somalica

Wajaalle Plains, Somalia

Image Credit: 
Abdi Jama

Three endemic bird areas fall entirely within Somalia: the Central Somali coast; the North Somali mountains; the north-west Somalia secondary area. In addition, parts of the East African coastal forests, the Jubba and Shabeelle valleys and the Northern Ethiopia secondary area lie within Somalia.

The whole country lies within the Somali-Masai biome and 99 of the 129 species restricted to this biome are found in Somalia. The East African coast biome just extends into the southern parts of Somalia and 13 of its 38 species have been recorded. There are a number of significant concentrations of waterbirds including breeding populations of terns.

24 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) have been identified covering 47,689 km2 or some 7.4% of the land area. These sites contain almost all the restricted range species and good selections of waterbirds. However, many of the sites have not been surveyed in recent years and there is a need to carry out survey work when the political situation allows this.

The following sites are in the north of Somalia: Jasiira Ceebaad and Jasiira Sacaada Diin for breeding Crab-plover Dromas ardeola and White-eyed Gull Larus leucophthalmus; Jasiira Maydh where Socotra Cormorant Phalacrocorax nigrogularis has been recorded; Daalo which has Little Brown Bustard Eupodotis humilis, Somali Pigeon Columba oliviae, Somali Thrush Turdus (olivaceus) ludoviciae, Warsangli Linnet Carduelis johannis and Arabian Golden-winged Grosbeak Rhynchostruthus socotranus; Saylac for Hemprich’s Hornbill Tockus hemprichii, Gillett’s Lark Mirafra gilletti, Brown-tailed Rock-Chat Cercomela scotocerca, Ruppell’s Weaver Ploceus galbula and Black-cheeked Waxbill Estrilda charmosyna; Raas Xaafuun-Raas Gumbax for Somali Pigeon Columba oliviae and breeding Saunders’s Tern Sterna saundersi; Gacan Libaax is the only known locality in Somalia for Sombre Rock-Chat Cercomela dubia and Gambaga Flycatcher Muscicapa gambagae; Boorama plains is the only known locality for Archer’s Lark Heteromirafra archeri and one of only a few for Bristle-crowned Starling Onychognathus salvadorii; Lascaanod-Taleex-Ceel Kebet for Red-and-yellow Barbet Trachyphonus erythrocephalus, Lesser Hoopoe-Lark Alaemon hamertoni, Somali Short-toed Lark Calandrella somalica, Short-tailed Lark Pseudalaemon fremantlii and Somali Chestnut-winged Starling Onychognathus blythii.

The following sites are further south on or between the Indian Ocean and Ethiopia and hold key species of the Somali-Masai biome: Ceel Hammure for Collared Lark Mirafra colllaris, Lesser Hoopoe-Lark Alaemon hamertoni and Northern Grosbeak-Canary Serinus donaldsoni which have been recorded from few other sites; Hobyo for Obbia Lark Spizocorys obbiensis; Xarardheere-Awale Rugno for Pygmy Batis Batis perkeo, Mouse-coloured Penduline Tit Anthoscopus musculus and Speke’s Weaver Ploceus spekei; Buulobarde is the only known site for Bulo Burti Bush-Shrike Laniarius liberatus; War Harqaan-isha Dolondole for Bristle-crowned Starling Onychognathus salvadorii; Jowhar–Warshiikh is the only known site for Ash’s Lark Mirafra ashi while Red-winged Bush Lark M. hypermetra, Pink-breasted Lark M. poecilosterna and Ashy Cisticola Cisticola cinereolus are known from only a few other sites; Balcad Nature Reserve where the only known individual Bulo Burti Bush-Shrike Laniarius liberatus was released as well as Bare-eyed Thrush Turdus tephronotus, Blue-capped Cordon-bleu Uraeginthus cyanocephalus and Juba Weaver Ploceus dichrocephalus known from few other locations; Arbowerow for Red-winged Bush Lark Mirafra hypermetra, Pangani Longclaw Macronyx aurantiigula and Bare-eyed Thrush Turdus tephronotus known from few other locations as well as waterbirds on the banks of the Shabeelle; Boja swamps with Fire-fronted Bishop Euplectes diadematus recorded from few other locations; Laag Dheere with Shelley’s Starling Lamprotornis shelleyi, Speckle-fronted Weaver Sporopipes frontalis and Grey-headed Silverbill Odontospiza griseicapilla; Laag Badaana for Steel-blue Whydah Vidua hypocherina as well as coastal species.

The following sites hold concentrations of waterbirds as well as other species; Xawaadley reservoir with a count of 1,000 Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides; Jasiira lagoon and Muqdisho islets with terns, Palearctic migrant waders and sea caves for important breeding colonies of Forbes-Watson’s Swift Apus berliozi; Ceel Munye-Ceel Torre for migratory waders including Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus; Aangole-Farbiito is within one of Somalia’s important wetland areas although quantitative data are not available; Far Waamo with counts of some 25,000 waterbirds in 1984 including Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus, Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula, Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis, Common Greenshank T. nebularia and Wood Sandpiper T.glareola as well as being the only locality in Somalia for Donaldson-Smith’s Sparrow-Weaver Plocepasser donaldsoni, Grey-headed Social Weaver Pseudonigritta arnaudi and Chestnut Sparrow Passer eminibey.

For further details, download the country IBAs from BirdLife International.


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