Bustards or Bust

While Ethiopia is a world-class birding destination, it's not nearly as well-known for its mammal-watching. This is mostly because it lacks the huge safari parks found elsewhere in East Africa like Maasai Mara or Serengeti (and, to be fair, the massive displacement of pastoralists by colonial powers necessary to create them). Most of the charismatic big five game animals are absent or extremely rare, some because their natural ranges don't reach this far north, and others because of habitat loss from an expanding population and overgrazing of livestock. Still, Ethiopia is host to a huge variety of mammals, many of which can be seen if one goes to the right place. 
This was part of my reason for visiting Awash National Park, one of Ethiopia's better-maintained national parks and a popular wildlife-watching destination. The other reason, of course, was the birds–one type of bird in particular in fact. In addition to mammals, Awash is probably the best place to see bustards,…