Guided by Christian Boix.
This trip report describes both the mainland portions of our 2010 Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe Islands Tour, as well as the Loango NP extension to the southern coastal portions of this amazing country. Gabon was again an unforgettable experience, thanks to the riches offered by all the enclaves visited. The main aim of the Gabon mainland sectors visited (Libreville, Lope National Park, Makokou, Ivindo River basin, the Bateke Plateau at Lekoni, as well as Loango NP) was to sample a gamut of enigmatic forest species, difficult to see elsewhere in Africa, which in Gabon can be seen with greater regularity. The dry weather encountered during our trip did not help much, bird parties were few and breeding was somewhat stalled and birding was slow. We were indeed at mercy of all the demands and rigors that birding tropical rainforests necessitate, but despite this fact the list of pickings was rewardingly impressive, and certainly of the highest quality, throughout the trip. We had a unique chance to visit some of the best lowland forests in Africa, traipsed endlessly through healthy rainforests, cruised some of the continent’s most remote areas and glided down the most evocative waterways in Central Africa.
The main highlights included: White-crested Bittern, Hartlaub’s Duck, African Finfoot, Bat Hawk, Congo Serpent Eagle, Long-tailed Hawk, Ayre’s and Cassin’s Hawk Eagle, Pel’s and Vermiculated Fishing Owls, Hottentot Buttonquail, Finsch’s and Latham’s Forest Francolin, Black and Plumed Guineafowl, Forbes’s Plover, African Skimmer, Rock Pratincole, Gabon Coucal, Thick-billed Cuckoo, Bates’s, Brown, Swamp and Long-tailed Nightjars, Black Spinetail, Mottled and Bates’s Swift, Rosy, Black-headed, and Black Bee-eaters, Blue-throated Roller, White-crested, Black-casqued and Black Dwarf Hornbills, Bare-cheeked Trogon, Blue-breasted, White-bellied, African Dwarf, Shinning and Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Damara Tern, Bristle-nosed, Naked-faced, Yellow-billed and Black-backed Barbets, Spotted, Thickbilled, Willcock’s and Lyre-tailed Honeyguides, Malbrant’s Lark, Long-legged, Woodland and Short-tailed Pipits, African and Rufous-sided Broadbill, Gray-necked Rockfowl, Red-throated Cliff Swallow, Red-chested and White-throated Blue Swallow, African River Martin, Blue Cuckooshrike, Gray Ground Thrush, Black-collared Neolestes (Bulbul), Congo Moor Chat, Dja River Warbler, Fan-tailed Grassbird, Teke and Dambo Cisticola, Gosling’s Apalis, Lowland Masked Apalis, Salvadori’s Eremomela, Violet-backed Hyliota, Yellow-footed Flycatcher, Rufous-vented and Bates’s Paradise Flycatchers, White-spotted and Yellow-bellied Wattle-eyes, Dusky Tit, West African and Angola Batis, Red-capped Crombec, Violet-tailed, Mouse-brown and Johanna’s Sunbird, Souza’s Shrike, Fiery-breasted and Perrin’s Bush-Shrike, Rufous-bellied Helmetshrike, Cassin’s and Rachel’s Malimbe, Black-chinned and Loango Weaver, Black-chinned Quailfinch, Locust Finch, Magpie Mannikin, Black-headed Waxbill, Black-bellied Seedcracker and Black-faced Canary. Mammal highlights included Humpback Whales, Dugong, African Forest Elephant, Hippopotamus, African Forest Buffalo, Sitatunga, Chimpanzee, Black Colobus, Grey-cheeked and Red-capped Mangabey, Crowned, Putty-nosed and Moustached Monkeys, Swamp Otter, Giant Squirrel, Beecroft’s Anomalure to mention some,
All in all we logged an impressive 400 bird species tally. Supported by a 31 mammal cast over a 20-day trip. Add to this our extremely successful Sao Tome and Principe portion of the tour and you will understand how Gabon 2010 will be a tour hard to forget by all who partook on the adventure. Check the STP trip report to see how we did on that sector.