Par for the Course...
In the old world there is a small tribe of shorebirds called Coursers. Many live in Africa, but some also in the Middle East and south-central Asia. On our trip we saw three species in Ethiopia and another (Cream-coloured) whilst in UAE. Mostly they live in deserts or savannah and many are crepuscular or noctunal in their habits, passing the heat of the day under the shade of an acacia tree or something similar.
The species above is the Three-banded or Heuglin's Courser. It is a beautifully plumaged bird, very cryptic when at rest in the daytime. We got lucky when Darrell flushed a pair by accident in the acacia woodland north of Yabello whilst looking for other birds. They were very wary and I was fortunate to get these photos.
Another view of the Three-banded Courser showing the remarkably bulbous head shape that is typical of these birds. Note also the complex scaly plumage that helps to break down the outline of the bird thus affording even greater camouflage - well, okay, admittedly not so great when the bird is in a ditch!
This is a Somali Courser. A plain customer that lives in more open desert-like savannah. This bird was part of a flock of nine that we found on the outskirts of a town called Bogol Manyo in the extreme south of the country - not too far from the home of the Somali Wheatear. Indeed we went on to see many of these delightful birds in the surrounding area - 40 plus one day I think?
This species is a recent split from the more northerly Cream-coloured Courser, though not all authorities agree on this point. It is mostly slight plumage differences that set them apart, notably the amount of black on the underwing - more extensive in Cream-coloured.
Lastly a rather distant Temminck's Courser. We found a pair on the Liben Plains near Negelle where we were looking for larks. Good job because they were the only ones we clapped eyes on throughout the whole trip. Too bad I could get closer for a better series of photos because it's a beauty to be sure. Generally similar to both Cream-coloured and Somali but is a little darker on the upperparts and has that lovely rust-and-black combination on the belly.
For our next workshop we'll tackle the Thick-knees!