Surveying the Northern bald ibis wintering grounds in Ethiopia (2006-09)
A preliminary survey (National Geographic, RSPB, Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society), conducted in the Ethiopian wintering grounds in November 2006 (Serra et al. 2007), found only the four adults in place, evidencing that 1st year young and sub-adults winter separately in a still unknown site. Another two expeditions were carried out in November 2008 and January 2009 (in the framework of an IUCN/DGCS NBI project, Serra et al. 2009).
These three field visits showed that the adult Northern Bald Ibis entirely rely on pastureland and that no immediate threat is present at the wintering site. Surveys on the Ethiopian plateau were made possible thanks to the cooperation of Mengistu Wondafrash, the director of EWNHS. A survey was carried out on the Djibouti coast in January 2009 thanks to the cooperation of Houssein Rayaleh from Djibouti Nature.
Sightings of Northern Bald Ibis on the Ethiopian highlands were not uncommon in the past: Some of these records are from as early as the nineteenth century (Welch and Welch 2004). Interestingly, the two most recent records of Northern Bald Ibis in the region (Eritrea in 1994, and Ethiopia highlands in 1977) are from sites where the tagged birds have passed by during their monitored migration.