Ghana____________________________________________________

 

 

Ghana 2012

...with Mark Finn

December 1st-13th

Birdwatching Breaks were the first company to take birding tours to Ghana over a decade ago. This year’s visit to Ghana took place in December when the majority of sought after species are present. Among the highlights were exceptional numbers of Yellow-headed Picathartes at a traditional roost site (first visited by Birdwatching Breaks in 2002). Our group recorded several sought after West African birds which have restricted ranges or are simply difficult to observe including Congo Serpent Eagle, White-headed Vulture, Red-thighed Sparrowhawk, Allen’s Gallinule, Forbes’s Plover, Black-collared Lovebird, Thick-billed Cuckoo, Black-throated Coucal, Akun Eagle Owl, Black Spinetail, White-bellied Kingfisher, Black and Rosy Bee-eaters, Black Dwarf and Red-billed Dwarf Hornbills, Least Honeyguide, African Piculet, White-throated Blue Swallow, Square-tailed Sawwing, Lemon-bellied Crombec, Kemp’s Longbill, Violet-backed Hyliota, Ussher’s Flycatcher, Puvel’s Illadopsis, eighteen species of sunbirds, four species of Malimbe and Preuss’s Weaver. In addition to these fantastic birds we encountered several wintering species from Europe..

My thanks to the incredible birding skills of Robert, especially in the forest habitats. Andrew for his enthusiasm and knowledge of butterflies. Finally Asware for safely driving us around Ghana’s manic road system.

Our next visit to Ghana will be in October 2013.

November 30th/December 1st: London Heathrow, Accra, Shai Hills, Sukomo Lagoon, Winneba Plains, Rainforest Lodge at Jukwa.

Weather: Hot and sunny 35 C.

The group assembled at Heathrow for our direct flight to Accra with British Airways. A slight delay meant a later arrival time in Accra. After passing through passport and luggage formalities we headed east to our base for the night. On December 1st breakfast was arranged for 5am in order for us to be at Shai Hills at first light when bird activity is high. Along the road we recorded Black-shouldered and Yellow-billed Kites, Cattle Egret and Pied Crow. On entering the park we set off on foot along one of the tracks which had views of the forest and rock outcrops. The first sector of forest provided us with views of Blue-spotted Wood-dove, Vinaceous and Red-eyed Doves, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Violet Turaco, Western Grey Plantain-eater, Senegal Coucal, Senegal Batis, Senegal Parrot, Viellot’s and Double-toothed Barbets and migrants namely Spotted Flycatcher and Wood Warbler. On the more shaded rocky side a bare bush attracted Black-crowned Tchagra, Northern Crombec, Northern Black Flycatcher, Brown Babbler and a pair of the uncommon and localised Mocking Cliff Chats. The long grasses proved attractive to Whinchat, Croaking Cisticola and Orange-cheeked Waxbills. In the skies above perfect light allowed excellent views of Shikra, European Honey Buzzard, Red-necked Buzzard and Eurasian Marsh Harrier. Back on the bus and driving for a short distance when a flock of White Helmetshrikes attracted our attention gliding between the trees. We drove to a camp with views of the rocks and large trees. The best plan was to stand and wait for birds to appear with sightings of African Green Pigeon, Tambourine Dove, Senegal Eremomela, Green-headed and Splendid Sunbirds, Bearded Barbet, African Paradise Flycatcher and brief views of Blue-breasted Kingfisher. Back to the hotel for an early lunch and onwards to Sukomo Lagoon which is close to the main container port of Accra. On reaching the lagoons we found several familiar shorebirds with the addition of Collared Pratincole. Several species of herons and egrets were also present although the heat haze restricted the distance we could see. It was getting very hot as we travelled westwards along congested roads to Winneba Plains an area of coastal grassland and trees. A few interesting birds present including Black-billed Wood-dove, White-throated Bee-eater and Bar-breasted Firefinch. We were all flagging due to the heat as we made the final journey to Jukwa via Cape Coast.

December 2nd: Kakum National Park.

Weather: Hot and sunny with early morning mist. Cloudy late morning 35 C.

As per normal in sub-Saharan Africa we took breakfast early and travelled to Kakum National Park home to one of the few canopy walkways in Africa. The track up towards the walkway is steep in places and passes through secondary forest habitats. On entering the walkway there are several viewing points along the way and for the first two hours plus we concentrated on the first one. Forest Penduline Tits were seen flitting between the tall trees along with Honeyguide Greenbul and a pair of African Grey Parrots. A White-crested Hornbill perched on the side of the walkway allowing close views. Two particular tree attracted many birds one of which we called ‘woody’ because of the high numbers of Wood Warblers. This tree also attracted Western Black-headed Oriole, Violet-backed Hyliota, Ansorge’s Greenbul, White-breasted, Grey-headed and Chestnut-breasted Negrofinches, Red-headed Malimbe, Klaas’s Cuckoo and Speckled Tinkerbird. Nearby a vine-strangled tree attracted more skulking species; Sharpe’s Apalis, Bioko Batis, Lemon-bellied Crombec and Rufous-crowned Eremomela. Robert attracted the rare and localised Thick-billed Cuckoo into view and it perched (unusually) in a tree top allowing excellent views. Raptors were scarce but included Black Sparrowhawk and African Harrier Hawk. In the other tree which we called ‘basil’ we located African Pied Hornbill, Yellow-billed Turaco, Splendid Glossy Starling and dozens of Common Bulbuls. The hanging vines lured the recently split Blue Malkoha (from Yellowbill), Sabine’s Puffback and a Little Green Sunbird. At 0930 we proceeded to viewing platform two recording the attractive Spotted Bulbul and Collared Sunbird. Platform three is the highest and furthest viewpoint. A bare tree here was a good place to view birds. Interesting species included Black and White-throated Bee-eaters, Forest Chestnut-winged and Violet-backed Starlings, Slender-billed Greenbul and Red-rumped Tinkerbirds. A few arboreal species were noted; Common Swift, Cassin’s Spinetail, Barn Swallow and Yellow-billed Kite. Returned to the park headquarters where the vine tangles held Blue-billed Malimbe, the skulking and shy Grey Longbill, Blue-throated Roller and a pair of showy Chestnut Wattle-eyes. Back at the car park a lone Pin-tailed Whyda and Grey-headed Sparrow. At 1530 hours we set off back to Kakum for another session of birding in Ghana’s lowland rainforest. The afternoon session was dominated by the weather which was rather unsettled with rain showers. Along the road Woodland Kingfishers perching on wires and an African Pied Wagtail, flying up the road. We were soon on the walkway with birdlife being particularly quiet due to the weather. Notable sightings included Red-thighed Sparrowhawk perched in a dead trees and a pair of Ussher’s Flycatchers sallying for insects over the forest. We called it a day just after 1730 hours as the light had started to fail.

December 3rd: Antwikwa, Ntafriwaso, River Pra, Abrafo Forest.

Weather: Rather overcast and humid 36 C.

This morning we set off in a northerly direction to visit the village of Antwikwa which is at the north-western edge of Kakum. On arrival we set off on a walk adjacent to a habitat of secondary forest, maize fields and palm oil plantations. Literally fifty metres from the village a stand of trees and bushes were alive with birds. The larger trees attracted Grey Kestrel, Woodland Kingfisher, Dideric Cuckoo, Black and White Shrike Flycatcher, Swamp Palm Bulbul, Red-vented Malimbe and a host of sunbirds including; Buff-throated, Little Green, Superb and Olive. Another bonus came in the form of a Willcock’s Honeyguide which perched on a dead snag for several minutes. Further along the track we located Viellot’s Black and Black-naped Weavers, Little Grey and Little Greenbuls, Olive-bellied and Blue-throated Brown Sunbirds, Yellow-browed Camaroptera and African Pygmy Kingfisher. The habitat changed slightly with many large isolated trees dotting the landscape. The area proved to be productive for Cassin’s Hawk Eagle, African Emerald Cuckoo, Simple Leaflove, Copper-tailed Starling, Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher, Preuss’s Weaver, and Cassin’s Honeyguide. On the return walk a dark morph Senegal Coucal, calling Black Cuckoo and a party of Naked-faced Barbets. It was starting to get hot as we left Antwikwa and rejoined the main road north with Crowned Eagle and Lesser Striped Swallows being added to the list. In the village of Ntafriwaso a mixed colony of Little Swifts and Preuss’s Cliff Swallows the latter a localised West African endemic. On the river bank our first African Jacana of the tour. Further north a visit to the River Pra added Rock Pratincole, Striated Heron, Common Sandpiper and the uncommon White-throated Blue Swallow. Mid-afternoon was spent exploring the Abrafo Forest another excellent area for forest birds. The open clearings adjacent to the main forest attracted Piping Hornbill, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Red-fronted Parrot, Lead-coloured Flycatcher, Frasers Forest Flycatcher, Yellow-billed Turaco and a pair of Johanna’s Sunbirds. Overcast conditions forced Common Swifts down to lower levels and a party of Fanti Sawwings feeding over the forest canopy. A walk along the forest trails produced a few birds including African Harrier Hawk, Red-headed Malimbe, Maxwell’s Black Weaver and Copper-tailed Starlings. Just before we left the area a calling Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo a very shy and secretive forest bird.

December 4th: Abrafo Forest, Cape Coast, Shama, Nsutu Forest.

Weather: Hot and sunny 35 C.

After breakfast we headed back to Abrafo Forest. Before leaving we watched a Barn owl coming into roost above the hotel restaurant. The first stop along the road produced a calling Red-cheeked Wattle-eye. In the more open habitats African Pied and Piping Hornbills, African Pygmy Kingfisher, White-throated Bee-eater, Collared, Copper and Superb Sunbirds. The best stop was an area overlooking a cassava field dotted with large trees and bushes. During the next thirty minutes or so we located Pale Flycatcher, Red-winged Warbler, Red-faced and Whistling Cisticolas, Brown-crowned Tchagra, African Firefinch, Black-winged Red Bishop and Black-and-White Mannikins. We walked further along the road with the briefest of views of the skulking and shy Kemp’s Longbill. Nearby, African Yellow White-eye, African Dusky Blue Flycatcher, Yellow-fronted Canary, Orange-cheeked Waxbills and a pair of Magpie Mannikins. By far the best species of the morning was the beautiful Rosy Bee-eater which we studied for sometime perched in a leafy tree. This bee-eater occurs in Ghana at the westerly edge of its ‘winter’ range from its breeding grounds in Eastern Nigeria, southern Gabon and parts of the Congo. A Palmnut Vulture flew past as we headed back to the hotel. After loading our luggage up a Common Fiscal perched on the roadside wires. It did not take long to reach Cape Coast with a Eurasian Kestrel en route. The town of Cape Coast had reasonable numbers of Yellow-billed Kites and Hood Vultures the latter a declining species in much of West Africa. Brunch was taken in a restaurant with views over the Atlantic Ocean. Royal Terns passed offshore whilst the sandy beach attracted Cattle Egret, Pied Kingfishers and African Pied Wagtail. Later in the morning we travelled westwards to the town of Shama with a stop at coastal lagoons. The latter had White-faced Whistling Duck, Little Grebe, Western Reef Egret and two Ruddy Turnstones. Checked in at Shama and left at 1430 hours for Nsutu Forest which is northwest from the hotel. The road is rough in parts and passes through several small villages with nesting Ethiopian Swallows. The forest is badly degraded in places and suffers from illegal logging a major problem in most of West Africa. A walk down the road was rather quiet for birdlife to start with until we located a large tree with fruits. This attracted among others the scarce Brown-necked Parrot, hornbills and Blue-throated Brown Sunbirds. Other birds using the area included Black Bee-eater, Ussher’s Flycatcher and the commoner birds of Ghana’s lowland forests. Luck was with us as Tiny Sunbird was found on the edge of a tree. A group of three Fire-bellied Woodpeckers flew past and a party of Black-collared Lovebirds flew away from us into the distant forest. A Black Spinetail showed well along with a wintering European Honey Buzzard and Golden Greenbuls in a large tree. We ended the day with fantastic views of Akun Eagle Owl perched on a low stick. The journey back to Shama took time with views of Long-tailed Nightjar on the dirt road.

December 5th: Nsutu Forest, Sekondi, Ankasa, Half Assint.

Weather: Overcast and humid 35 C

We started today be going back to the forest at Nsutu. On arrival birdlife was rather quiet apart from hundreds of Common and Little Swifts feeding over the forest canopy. A careful study produced at least four Pallid Swifts a scarce (and probably overlooked) bird in southern Ghana. In the forest edge we could hear the distinctive song of a Yellow-spotted Nicator but failed to show. A slow walk along the road produced sightings of Crested Malimbe, Black-throated Coucal, White-crested Hornbill and a pair of African Emerald Cuckoos. A fruiting tree attracted several sunbirds and a Lemon-bellied Crombec. It was time to head west towards the border with the Ivory Coast. Our journey took us through the coastal city of Sekondi where we stopped for lunch. Late afternoon we arrived at the reserve of Ankasa which protects one of the few remaining tracts of lowland rainforest in Ghana. We transferred to a 4x4 for the journey into the reserve as the tracks are narrow, muddied and deep. Our main interest was two pools within the forest environment. At the first one we located the scarce White-bellied Kingfisher, Blue-billed Malimbe and Chestnut-breasted Negrofinch. We also had views of Maxwell’s Duiker a poorly known forest antelope. At the next pool brief views of African Finfoot and nearby calling Rufous-sided Broadbills. Walked back to the 4x4 stopping at the power lines for; flocks of White-throated Bee-eaters, Square-tailed Sawwing and a Great Blue Turaco calling from the forest. In the evening we had an enjoyable meal at the camp followed by a journey to Half Assint our home for the night.

December 6th: Half Assint, Ankasa, Ampain, Sekondi, Cape Coast.

Weather: Sunny with occasional heavy rain showers in the afternoon 35 C.

First birding stop today was the forest of Ankasa. We basically followed yesterday’s route with the addition of a further pool around a kilometre further away. Past the power lines we could hear the distinctive songs of a Western Bluebill and Forest Robin with both deciding to stay in thick cover. Not to be downbeat the area around the first pool attracted Red-billed Helmetshrikes, African Emerald and Black Cuckoos. The second pool had a Striated Heron which flew into cover. Further along the track a bird party contained a pair of Red-bellied Paradise Flycatchers, Grey Longbill, Green Hylia and Maxwell’s Weaver. The path then went into an open area with pylons. This was an excellent spot for birds on the forest edge with sightings of Black Bee-eater, African Forest Flycatchers, Sabine’s Spinetails and a Great Blue Turaco jumping around in a large tree. The last pond produced little of note apart from calling Black Crake, White-spotted Flufftail and a perched up Woodland Kingfisher. Back to the 4x4 with Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Swamp Bulbul and Tit Hylia observed on the way. Near the camp entrance Marilyn had found Shining Blue Kingfisher and Cassin’s Flycatcher. It was then time to head east towards Cape Coast. A short stop at the mangrove stands of Ampain produced White-faced Whistling Duck, Black-headed Heron, African Pygmy Goose, Common Greenshank, Little Bee-eater, White-throated Blue Swallows, Orange and Village Weavers and at least two Brown Sunbirds the latter being a mangrove specialist. Poor weather then started to dominate the remainder of the day with heavy showers. A late lunch at Sekondi was most enjoyable. Along the coast and city we recorded the commoner birds of the area before heading up to Hans Cottage base for the night.

December 7th: Cape Coast, Aboabo, Rockfowl Reserve, Kumasi.

Weather: Sunny and hot 37 C.

We left Cape Coast and travelled in a northerly direction to visit an area of Kakum National Park. On arrival we birded around an agricultural area with several large trees. One in particular was riddled with holes attracting Bristle-nosed and Yellow-billed Barbets. Adjacent to this tree was a flowering one which in turn was attractive to Chestnut-winged and Splendid Starlings, Olive Sunbird, Yellow-throated and Red-rumped Tinkerbirds. In low bushes Village and Viellot’s Weavers were starting to build nests and a Blue-headed Coucal showed in a coffee bush. White-spotted Flufftail was calling from a wet area but it did not come into view. A walk along the road suddenly saw us in mature forest with a low understory of vegetation. This area was alive with birds including the rare Congo Serpent Eagle which called in flight and flew above our heads. Other species included; Red-headed, Red-vented and Crested Malimbe, Yellow-mantled Weaver, African Forest Flycatcher, Fire-bellied Woodpecker and a good find by Robert an African Piculet which is unobtrusive and easily missed. A party of White-headed Woodhoopoes flew past whilst Yellow-billed Turaco, Black-winged Oriole and Dusky Blue Flycatcher were seen in mature trees. In was time to move on and travel further north towards the regional city of Kumasi. A stop for lunch and then we travelled to the rock-fowl reserve in a distinctly remote region. On arriving in the village we walked through areas of vegetable production recording Forest Penduline Tit and Wood Warblers from Northern Europe. The walk through the forest towards the viewing area for the picathartes took around ninety minutes in duration. Along the path the forest is thick and sometimes enclosed despite this we found Fraser’s Sunbird, Western Bearded Greenbul and calling Honeyguide Greenbuls. At 1545 hours we sat and waited for the picathartes show to start. The first one arrived just after 1600 hours but it was almost an hour later before seven birds showed well on the rocks or jumped around in the tree and vines (surprisingly quickly). This was a wonderful experience of one of the most sought after African birds. Walked back to the village where we gave a lift to four people involved in the national elections to the main road. From here we headed north to the ever expanding city of Kumasi for the night.

December 8th: Kumasi to Mole National Park.

Weather: Hot and sunny 40 C.

A later start this morning as today was a travelling one north to Mole National Park. Along the road the commoner birds of Ghana and in the savannah our first Rufous-crowned and Blue-bellied Rollers. Numerous grass fires take place at this time of the year attracting Black-headed Heron, Yellow-billed Kite and Grasshopper Buzzards. Eventually we reached the turn off to Mole along a 90km rutted road. Interestingly the junction village held two Speckled Pigeons an uncommon bird in this area. Before reaching the park entrance a Dark Chanting Goshawk and a wintering Pied Flycatcher were added to the trip list. Mole Motel was our base with views down to a waterhole and scrub. From our elevated position we found Hadada Ibis, Spur-winged Lapwing, Senegal Thick-knee, Double-spurred Francolin and Helmeted Guineafowl. Mammals included West African Kob, Waterbuck, Bushbuck and Warthog.

December 9th: Mole National Park including Magnori, Mole Waterhole.

Weather: Hot and sunny 40 C.

We had breakfast at 0530. We then went into an area of Mole National Park with a habitat of trees, grasses and the slow-moving Mole River. Before we arrived an African Golden Oriole flew across the track and into cover. Parked up before the river and waited for birds to appear in the surrounding trees and bush. Before 0800 hours the group had observed Hamerkop, Red-throated Bee-eater, Giant Kingfisher, Grey Woodpecker, Square-tailed Drongo, Red-headed Lovebird, Rose-ringed Parakeet and Yellow-throated Leaflove. Other species of interest included Red-necked Buzzard, Shikra, Western Plantain-eater and Senegal Parrot. As we walked towards the bridge over the river a Giant Kingfisher was seen along with a Palm-nut Vulture. The bridge was an excellent spot for birding with views of African Green and Bruce’s Green Pigeons, Brown Babbler, African Paradise Flycatcher and European Pied Flycatcher. The real excitement came when a Pearl-spotted Owlet appeared in a tree followed by several mobbing birds. Species of interest included Willow Warbler, Red-shouldered Cuckooshrike, Northern Puffback, Blackcap Babblers and Scarlet-chested Sunbird. Overhead we watched a Woolly-necked Stork, Bateleur and a soaring Wahlberg’s Eagle. The group had a bonus when an Ahanta Francolin flew across the track into cover. On the river and adjacent vegetation we located Shining Blue and Malachite Kingfishers, Common Wattle-eye, African Blue Flycatcher, Common Gonolek, African Yellow White-eye and Yellow-breasted Apalis. Just before leaving the area a White-breasted Cuckooshrike showed well in a tree and a White-crowned Robin Chat gave us the run-around in the riverside vegetation. Returned to the Mole Motel where we had lunch. A look from the terrace produced sightings of White-headed, African White-backed and Hooded Vultures, Eurasian Marsh Harrier, Saddle-billed Stork, Black-headed Heron, Wattled and Spur-winged Lapwings and a calling African Fish Eagle. Whilst we consumed lunch a male Red-cheeked Cordon-bleau appeared in front of us within a prickly pear bush. At 1530 hours a visit to another sector of this huge national park. Our main aim was to find birds using the savannah habitat. In a few minutes the group located Long-tailed Starling, Yellow-billed Shrike, Bush Petronia and a Greater Honeyguide calling and flitting between old trees. Further down the track we had a manic period of bush birding with another Pearl-spotted Owlet, Bearded Barbet, Northern Black Flycatcher, Sulphur-breasted Bushshrike, Senegal Eremomela, Melodious Warbler, European Pied Flycatcher and Grey Woodpecker all being present. Time was starting to drift by when a group of Blue-bellied Rollers were seen perching on tree tops. Close by Abyssinian and Rufous-crowned Rollers and a pair of very noisy Green Woodhoopoes. Walked back to the main camp after a great day’s birding at Mole.

December 10th: Mole National Park.

Weather: Hot and sunny 41 C.

Today we set off on foot to bird watch around the park headquarters and village. Flowering trees were attractive to sunbirds as the group recorded Pygmy, Beautiful, Scarlet-chested, Copper and Superb. Bush Petronia was also observed in addition to Little Weaver, Lavender Waxbill and Singing Cisticola. Good numbers of European Pied Flycatchers were flitting between the trees. A large tree with no leaves attracted Lesser Blue-eared Starling, African Golden Oriole, Northern Black Flycatcher, Green Woodhoopoe and a perched Senegal Parrot. By 0830 hours it was starting to get hot and bird activity lessened. Despite this a Grey Kestrel perched on top of a tree looking for prey. In the surrounding area African White-backed Vultures, Abyssinian, Rufous-crowned and Blue-breasted Rollers and superb views of a Red-necked Buzzard before it dropped down onto prey. Hooded Vultures were around the village searching for scraps. Back at the viewing terrace a careful scan of the wetland added two Squacco Herons, White-headed Vulture, Grasshopper Buzzard and tens of migrating House Martins. At 1600 hours we set off to another part of this vast national park. Our main aim was to visit a habitat of gravel plains surrounded by wooded savannah. En route an African Hawk Eagle perched in the top of a tree. On arrival at the gravel plains we encountered Hamerkop, Yellow-billed Shrike, White-winged Black Tit and Four-banded Sandgrouse. Careful searching of the gravel revealed the uncommon Sun Lark and up to three Forbes’s Plovers the latter being a scarce and localised species in West Africa. As dusk fell we finally caught up with a covey of Stone Partridge, Bruce’s Green Pigeon and a male White-fronted Black Chat. As we walked back to the bus a Long-tailed Nightjar was seen on the ground. The journey back to the Mole Motel added Scrub Hare and Blotched Genet along the sandy tracks.

December 11th: Mole National Park, Kumasi.

Weather: Hot and sunny with evening thunderstorms 34 C.

Breakfast was taken at 0630 hours. The trees around the swimming pool attracted Grey Woodpecker and Chestnut-crowned Sparrow Weavers and a pair of Wire-tailed Swallows flew past. After breakfast a fruiting tree added Brubru, Variable and Pygmy Sunbirds and the commoner garden birds of Mole. At 0730 hours we started the journey to Kumasi with the first sector of 90km taking around three hours in time. A few birds were noted en route; Lizard and Grasshopper Buzzards, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Fork-tailed Drongo, Piapiac, doves and rollers. On reaching the main highway a Long-crested Eagle was seen in flight and Black-billed Wood-doves kept to the shade area of a tree. On reaching Kumasi the city was as manic as ever with congested traffic and a plethora of businesses ranging from scrap metal dealers to electronics.

December 12th: Kumasi, Bobiri, Atewa, Koforidua.

Weather: Hot and sunny with late afternoon showers 34 C.

After breakfast we left the manic city of Kumasi and visited Bobiri an important reserve to the south. We stopped almost immediately on entering this remnant lowland rainforest. Our first bird was a Finsch’s Flycatcher Thrush which showed and sang on an exposed horizontal branch. An open area was reached where sunbirds fed in flowering trees including Fraser’s, Collared, Olive, Olive-bellied and Little Green. Above us in trackside trees a foraging party of Chestnut-capped Flycatchers, Yellow-browed Camaroptera and Grey Longbill. In the highest trees the group located the attractive Blue Cuckooshrike, Red-fronted, Grey and Senegal Parrots, Red-billed Helmetshrike, Red-headed and Crested Malimbes, Preuss’s and Yellow-mantled Weavers and Hairy-breasted Barbet. In the thicker understory of the forest brief views of the shy and retiring Black-throated Coucal. The best birds however were Black Dwarf Hornbill (a pair with one well grown young) and two Red-billed Dwarf Hornbills which eventually showed in the open branches. On reaching the park headquarters and gardens the taller trees had a colony of Malimbes and a Least Honeyguide nearby a rather scarce bird which tends to keep to the canopy area of forests. Other species present included Little Green Woodpecker, Johanna’s Sunbird and several species of Greenbuls. On exiting the park an African Goshawk was flushed from trackside trees. We rejoined the main Kumasi to Accra road and had an enjoyable lunch near Atewa. Along the route we found Hooded Vulture, Ethiopian Swallow and Common Fiscal. After lunch we visited the lower end of the Atewa range which is dominated by tall trees, scrub and out of control agricultural fields. The section had Black-winged Bishops in breeding plumage, Senegal Coucal, Viellot’s Barbet and Simple Greenbul. The weather had started to build with heavy rain so we retreated to the bus until it passed over. Bird activity was high after this with a maize field attracting Red-faced and Whistling Cisticolas, Bronze and Black and White Mannikins, Orange-cheeked Waxbills and the briefest views of Western Bluebill. In the larger trees we found Naked-faced Barbet, Klaas’s and Dideric Cuckoos, Black and White Shrike Flycatcher, Grey-crowned Negrofinch, African Thrush and Black-naped Weaver. One bush in particular was attractive to Greenbuls with Yellow-whiskered, Little, Grey and Simple being present. A Buff-spotted Woodpecker was also observed plus Spotted Flycatcher, Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher, African Yellow White-eye and literally hordes of African Green Pigeons. The weather started to close in again as an African Hawk Eagle flew overhead. Back in the bus and to the town of Koforidua our final stop in Ghana.

December 13th: Atewa, Accra.

Final species total: 335

Weather: Sunny with afternoon showers 36 C.

Our last day in Ghana and a return visit to Atewa. On arrival the area was still drying out from yesterday’s thunderstorms. The usual birds were around until we scanned a large tree with an African Cuckoo Hawk sitting on the highest point. Further up the track a Puvel’s Illadopsis gave us the run-around until it eventually showed in a tangle. From this point the track climbs steeply in places through secondary forest. Birds were a challenge to find until a Yellow-spotted Nicator showed on a branch. The best bird was a Chocolate-backed Kingfisher calling in the open on a horizontal branch. A search for the rare Blue-headed Bee-eater ended in failure despite a lot of searching. We retraced our journey back to the main road and went to lunch. At the hotel we repacked for the long journey back to Europe. However the tour had one final twist as we stopped at a degraded marsh. To our surprise we added Little Bittern, Lesser Moorhen, Allen’s Gallinule, African Black Crake and Grosbeak Weavers. Arrived at the international airport and checked in with British Airways for our flight home.

For details of the full species list or to request further information about the next time we will be offering this trip. Contact us at enquiries@birdwatchingbreaks.com.


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