Sunday, October 14, 2012

Day 29--Ruhengere to Butare

We were on the road by 8 AM to make the 6 hour drive down to Butare, passing back thru Kigali on the way. Bob got a nice photo of a cape robin-chat before we left the lodge.

On the other side of Kigali we would stop when Brian saw some habitat that might be promising.  Our first site was along a river where we spent about an hour looking and listening.  It was a nice morning, and even though we did not pick up any new trip birds there was a fair amount of bird activity to whet our appetite including a yellow bishop (photo taken by Bob--click on any photo to enlarge).

As we made our way south, it became apparent that Rwanda was the cleanest of the 4 countries we had visited in E. Africa.  Isaac told us that after the genocide in the mid 90's, the president passed a law that had all Rwandans on the same day each month clean up the trash.  Today it is a voluntary program, but you can clearly see the results. The land also is heavily cultivated, even the hillsides which is necessary since there is so little flat valley areas.

At another spot we wandered around in the grassy, reedy brush where we found a marsh tchagra (new trip bird), and had our best views of the trip of a black-capped yellow warbler.  Several different types of waxbills were feeding as well including fawn-breasted, black-crowned, common, Kandt's and black-faced (a new trip bird).  We heard but could not see a white-collared oliveback.

At a third spot we found wattled lapwing (photo just above) plus African firefinches, and black and white manikins--both new trip birds.

As we continued on our way we kept marveling at how much of the hillsides were in production in order for Rwanda to grow enough food.  Since I have a shortage of bird photos for this day, I have added just below a gray-headed negrofinch taken by Bob a few days earlier.

We arrived in Butare about 5 PM, and Isaac found our lodging, the Petite Prince Hotel, which was the best place available in Butare.  Unfortunately for us it was a huge let down after the quality we had experienced at the Gorilla Mountain View Lodge.  We sat down to eat at 7:30, and our food finally arrived at the table at 9:15 even though there was practically no one else eating.  And the quality was very poor.  While waiting for our dinner to arrive we drank beer, and chatted about what we might find over the last few days of birding in the Nyungwe forest.  Stay tuned!

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