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GHANA: Pel's and Picathartes...

1 - 16 March 2008

Leaders: Sam Woods and Iain Campbell

Black Bee-eater, Antikwaa/Sam Woods
BLACK BEE-EATER Antikwaa

Report and all photos by Sam Woods/Tropical Birding
All photos were taken on this tour

West Africa has a long-held reputation for being a 'tricky' birding destination, due to a perception that it has a poorly developed infrastructure and that some of the places that need to be birded are physically tough. People who have avoided the likes of say Cameroon, will be pleased to hear Ghana is NOT one of those West African countries. Ghana has some truly exciting birding, has a well-developed tourist infrastructure, and is an easy going trip that is suitable for birders of all types. It is therefore no surprise that Ghana is a fast-growing birding destination. On top of that it is a well-used phrase that Ghanaians are some of the friendliest peoples in Africa, and this was there for all to see. The Ghanaians we ran into were easy with a smile, and genuinely some of the most openly welcoming and friendly people that many of us had experienced previously on our travels . The recent discovery in 2003, of a reliable population of the extremely highly sort-after Yellow-headed Picathartes has further enhanced Ghana's reputation as one of the latest 'hot' birding countries. This tour's undoubted biggest target was of course the picathartes, and a nail-biting wait overlooking a cave that held thirty nests eventually led to fantastic views of at least 4 of these dream birds, that was never beaten to the title of the top trip bird. The tour visited two large parks - Kakum in the Upper Guinea rainforest belt in the south, and Mole in the Guinea savanna of the north, that brought us a good variety of dry country birds, and cool rainforest species. Aside from the 'rockfowl', the rainforest was notable for the incredible experience of visiting Kakum's canopy walkway, the finest example of its kind in Africa. Top forest birds included a bunch of beautiful bee-eaters such as the exquisite Black Bee-eater, along with several Rosy Bee-eaters; a bounty of hornbills, including Black Dwarf Hornbill and Black-casqued Hornbill both at Kakum, and the superb Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill at Bobiri; Kakum also held a bevy of colorful sunbirds, rollers and kingfishers. The savanna areas were no less exciting, headlined with a magnificent, bright ginger Pel's Fishing-Owl that posed in the mid-morning sun at Mole, along with Oriole Warbler and several extraordinary male Standard-winged Nightjars to name just a few of the stunners that were on offer there. Two separate African Finfoots on a couple of secluded reservoirs were also very highly rated. This tour had an added twist in that two people along on the trip - Alan Davies and Ruth Miller, were chasing the world record for number of bird species seen in a single calendar year for their 'BIGGEST TWITCH', so the pressure was on to get them as many new birds as possible and make sure they both saw all the new ones so they could count them for their world record attempt (see thebiggesttwitch.com for more details).

March 2 ACCRA to EFUTU (HANS COTTAGE)
The tour began with a short ride from our hotel to a large coastal lagoon on the outskirts of Ghana's capital, Accra. The place was packed with waterbirds, form shorebirds to herons, and egrets, while kingfishers and harriers hunted on the fringes of the lake. A bird-packed wetland was the perfect starter for the tour, for a sudden and quick burst of birds. Kittlitz's Plovers were found feeding along the muddy shore, a pair of Collared Pratincoles were watched hawking insects over the marsh, while a pack of Black Herons were seen simultaneously using their strange 'umbrella' fishing method in search of prey in the deeper waters. A quick scout in some lakeside scrub brought us a flash of color, when a pair of Yellow-crowned Gonoleks came out into the open scrub. This vermillion-chested bush-shrike is a real beauty, and though not rare a great west African species to set the pulses racing. The same area also brought us our first massive Western Plantain-eaters, and a bunch of colorful Purple Glossy-Starlings to add to this interesting mix. We then departed for the Cape Coast, where we then headed north to the small town of Efutu, just south of Kakum National Park. As we made our way along the Cape Coast we passed the Cape Coast Castle, a sobering reminder of the colonial era. During that period this building operated as one of the largest slave-holding sites in the world, and where the Ashantes of Ghana traded many of the slaves onto the British. Along the way we picked up some fairly common African bird species, including the delightful African Pygmy-Goose on a small roadside lillipond, Fine-spotted Woodpecker, Lizard Buzzard and Gray Kestrel. We then settled into Hans Cottage Botel, a hotel that is full of character, not least because it has a lake that overlooks an island where a village weaver colony is the center of activity and where Nile Crocodiles loaf on the waters edge while you sip beer and sodas in the bar nearby!

White-crested Hornbill hanging out on Kakum's walkway/Sam Woods
WHITE-CRESTED HORNBILL Kakum NP

March 3 KAKUM NP
Kakum protects the largest tracts of rainforest habitats in Ghana, and as this was our first day within the bird rich Upper Guinea forest, it produced an absolute deluge of birds, most of which came while we hung out on Kakum's legendary 350 meter long canopy walkway. Alan and Ruth were gunning for numbers in their pursuit of the world record, and were stunned to find that by the end of the day they'd added 66 new birds to their all important list, despite having just spent over 3 weeks in Ethiopia amassing over 570 birds there with Chritian Boix. Things were looking good! Kakum's walkway is unusual in that it is built on a ridge so there is almost no climb required to access the 40 meter high walkway, and it is also not high above the trees compared to a number of other walkways, meaning that far less people suffer from vertigo on this well-built structure. Kakum's walkway is just a superb birding experience and we easily whiled away most of the morning up there, eyeballing some colorful canopy fare, that would otherwise have been hard to find from the shadowy confines of the forest floor. Before we could even step onto the walkway our progress was interrupted by a huge White-crested Hornbill that had chosen to perch right on the walkway itself. Soon after getting onto the platform our local guide, Robert, started calling out birds left, right and center as we took in this great scene - the treetops seemed to be alive with birds, and our main problem was getting enough time to absorb them as we were faced with one new bird after another. Before we reached the walkway we picked up a Gray's Malimbe trying to hide itself in a dark vine tangle, and soon after getting onto the walkway itself we added a further three species - Crested, Red-headed and Red-vented Malimbes to complete the set of four malimbes that are found within Kakum. Other finds in the trees around us included a small party of the west African endemic Sharpe's Apalis, and another endemic species in the form of a female Large-billed Puffback. Sunbirds featured heavily on this tour, and up on the walkway was no exception that brought us the diminutive Tiny Sunbird. Cassin's and Sabine's Spinetails hawked for insects in the skies above, and both Cassin's Hawk-Eagle and Black Sparrowhawk also passed low overhead, while a noisy foraging group of Forest Woodhoopoes hung out in the trees below. We closely followed a Congo Serpent-eagle that passed close by the platform, and were rewarded with prolonged perched views of this boldly-marked raptor. A Violet-backed Hyliota appeared right in the tree above our lofty position on one of Kakum's canopy platforms, while several Rosy Bee-eaters hawked insects on the wing above the treetops, and a troop of Mona Monkeys leapt from one tree to another below our platform. As the day heated up we descended to the rainforest cafe for some welcome refreshment during the quieter part of the day. As the day cooled a little we found some relief from the direct sun by walking a shaded forest trail that pulled in first a Finsch's Flycatcher-thrush, another west African endemic; a stunning Forest Robin that came in very close to us; and a little later we chased after a roving party of choice Chestnut-bellied (Red-billed) Helmetshrikes, that are from an endemic African family. However, the afternoon's star find (and indeed the days in general) was found when we targeted a territory of the superb Rufous-sided Broadbill, and the male not only responded by flying in and calling back, but also performing his fantastic (and frankly bizarre) aerial display from a low close branch. This was voted the clear winner when talking through the many highlights for the day during our evening meal at Hans Cottage. We then decided to finish our first Kakum day on their centerpiece canopy walkway again, where we picked up our first Red-fronted and Gray Parrots cruising past at eye level, and were later treated to a group of massive treetop Black-casqued Hornbills stopping off on their way to roost. We then lingered on until after dark, and as most of the other rainforest birds fell silent, one particular bird - a canopy nightjar, piped up and began calling in earnest. A number of sweeps of the spotlight were required before Robert found a Brown Nightjar calling from a guy rope attached to the very platform we were standing on! A great finish to our first day in the Upper Guinea rainforest.

Rufous-sided Broadbill, Kakum/Sam Woods
This fantastic RUFOUS-SIDED BROADBILL displayed within feet of us
for well over ten minutes at Kakum NP, a definite tour highlight
Rufous-sided Broadbill, Kakum/Sam Woods

March 4 ANTIKWAA (KAKUM area)
This rainforest area on the western side of Kakum has experienced some logging, that leads to an open nature to the forest that can provide easier viewing opportunities for some forest species. The birding was surprisingly slow compared to our first flurry the previous day. However, the morning did bring one of the tour favorites in the form of a fantastic Black Bee-eater that hung out on a dead snag above us for over 5 minutes. Not surprisingly early on, this had been a clearly stated top target bird for the trip so was very pleasing to not only see, but see very well. Other notable additions that morning included our only African Cuckoo-Hawk of the trip; a massive Crowned Eagle that over flew us in the late morning; a highly elusive White-spotted Flufftail that showed for a few of us at least; and both Buff-throated Sunbird and Blue-throated Rollers perched up on high dead snags. In the afternoon we went after another top target, and one of the world's oddities - African Finfoot. A secluded reservoir just a short drive from our hotel brought us a fantastic female finfoot standing out on a dead log at the edge of the water, revealing its characteristic bright orange oversized feet in the process. A relaxing end to the day was provided by the sight of 50 or so Preuss' Swallows coming into roost close to Brenu Beach, where we also picked up a couple of Shining-blue Kingfishers.

Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Kakum NP/Sam Woods
CHOCOLATE-BACKED KINGFISHER viewable from Kakum's canopy walkway

March 5 KAKUM NP and ASSIN FOSU (KAKUM area)
We began this landmark day with a final visit to Kakum's fabulous canopy walkway. En route there we came upon a Plain Nightjar sitting on the road in our car headlights. Unfortunately this day was not anywhere near as birdy as our first time on the walkway, although this day was more about top quality birds not quantity. Despite being fairly quiet Kakum did produce a highly-desired bird that we had been chasing on and off for the last few days, when several attempts to lure out calling birds had failed completely. Finally, Mark put us out of our misery by finding a cracking Chocolate-backed Kingfisher sitting in full view of the canopy platform that amazingly remained there for well over 10 minutes, giving just rewards for our earlier efforts to find one of these superb forest kingfishers. Ghana's best looking woodpecker also made an appearance in the same area, when the flashy Fire-bellied Woodpecker was found climbing a nearby trunk. Fraser's Sunbird, Honeyguide Greenbul, Chestnut Wattle-eye, Buff-spotted Woodpecker were all also new additions from our lofty platform, as was a passing party of Lesser Spot-nosed Monkeys. However, this day was more about our afternoon activity that what went on in the morning, as were heading for the recently discovered colony of Yellow-headed Picathartes to the north of Kakum. Long thought to be extinct within Ghana this globally-threatened west African endemic has fallen off the radar in recent years, as much of this species range is within politically unstable countries that are currently considered 'out of bounds'. So the rediscovery of this species in the politically stable, well-developed country of Ghana in 2003 was indeed big news, and it now provides the most easily accessible colony of this species. Aside from the birds obvious rarity, its appeal is that it is one of the world's true avian oddities, from an endemic west African family that comprises just two rare species that are not closely related to any other bird families. These secretive forest birds are not only odd looking but strange in their habits also, nesting communally in caves within the Upper Guinea forest. This dependence on such caves leads to their rarity. Although the birds are often not considered shy, they are very, very rarely seen away from these caves which they habitually use year round, for both nesting and also to roost outside their breeding period in the wet season. With such an interesting history this bird has massive appeal, and is therefore a huge target species for world listers. On top of that with its striking bare black-and-yellow head it is a fantastic looking bird. We were all well hyped up for this top target bird, as it was everyone's main motivation for coming to Ghana in the first place. It was therefore suitable that a little sweat and physical effort was required to get it. A hike through the humid forest was necessary to put us in position in mid-afternoon, overlooking a cave deep within the rainforest that held 30 or so Picarthartes nests, (all of which were empty, as they were not yet nesting). Arriving at three in the afternoon we positioned ourselves on a large rock that overlooked the picathartes approach route to the caves. A little physical discomfort was accepted without question at the chance of getting this amazing African bird, although when we had been waiting for an hour and a half without the slightest movement and just the sound of mosquitoes buzzing in the humid forest air, hope was fading a little. Then suddenly there it was - a bright yellow-headed 'rockfowl' was perched on top of the rock opposite us, and then quickly vanished into the wall of rainforest vines to our left and quickly lost from view. A good but brief look, extremely tantalizing that left us desperate for more of this superb bird. Then over the next half hour or so we watched as one Picathartes after another came hopping on the rocks in front of us, or climbing the vines around us, one even remaining for a number of minutes while it preened it's immaculate plumage. A truly unique African experience that makes the Ghana trip worth it alone. When we had soaked up these incredible rainforest creatures we ensured we moved off early enough so that we could allow them sufficient time to settle into their mud nests for the night. An incredible birding experience that was talked about as most people's life birding highlight, not just of this trip alone.

Yellow-headed Picathartes nest/Sam Woods
One of the thirty active nests of YELLOW-HEADED PICATHARTES

March 6 ABOABO (KAKUM area) to KUMASI
Aboabo was to be our last foray in the wonderful rainforest of Kakum, before we headed north into the hot, dry Guinea savanna. As with Antikwaa this area is nowhere near as pristine as the forests around the walkway in the heart of the park. Although Aboabo provides some superb forest birding that more than justifies its inclusion. We left after an extremely birdy morning there regretting not having a little more time at this top birding site. Both Red-thighed Sparrowhawk and Red-chested (African) Goshawk were seen on the way in. Soon after we alighted from our van we were picking up some cool rainforest species. The frequently skulking Kemp's Longbill, came down from the canopy into some low vines giving us great looks at this west African specialty (a relief after we had chased one in vein while at Antikwaa just a few days before); Black-capped Apalis was found calling endlessly from its hideout in the canopy of an open tree; two flycatchers - Fraser's Forest Flycatcher and the distinctly martin-like Ussher's Flycatcher both also showed up in the canopy; while a Brown Illadopsis was lured out from the dense understorey to give at least one of us a good close up look; and a Blue-headed Crested-Flycatcher also popped out of the understorey to give us all a good eyeful. One of the best of the mornings birds though was a highly distinctive raptor, the Long-tailed Hawk. On reaching a known territory for this 'well-endowed' hawk we tried a quick bit of playback and almost immediately received a loud clear reply a little further back from the road. A little further use of the tape bought this handsome hawk screaming into the trees right in slap bang in front of us, almost daring us to take a photo of him as he posed on an open branch. Unfortunately, the mobbing horde of drongos soon put paid to that idea, relentlessly hassling this beautiful hawk and unfortunately quickly drove it from the scene. A short time later bought a burst of cool birds for the trip. Firstly, Robert excitedly announced that he could hear a Golden-backed (Preuss') Weaver calling unobtrusively from the treetops. Some frantic searching eventually led us to this striking black-and-gold weaver crawling, nuthatch fashion, along the large branch of a rainforest tree. Then a Black Cuckoo was found calling non-stop from a near canopy tangle; a pair of Africa's smallest bird, Tit-Hylias came down into a low tangle; and finally a group of White-headed Woodhoopoes landed on some open roadside dead snags for us to admire. We then headed off northwards to the city of Kumasi, making a brief stop on the outskirts of the city at a tranquil reservoir, where our second African Finfoot of the trip was watched swimming furtively in the shade of some overhanging bank side vegetation, another African Pygmy-goose showed up, and we also added Africa's largest kingfisher, the aptly named Giant Kingfisher, at the same site. As we made our way through the chaotic rush hour of Kumasi, we watched incredulously as literally thousands of flying fox bats over flew us as they set out from their daytime roost in the city, and headed out into the surrounding forest on the look out for fruiting trees.

Red-throated Bee-eater, Mole NP/Sam Woods
RED-THROATED BEE-EATER Mole NP
This beautiful bee-eater is very common in the savanna at Mole,
this one being photographed at a colorful colony within the park

March 7 KUMASI to MOLE NP
This was a long driving day as we drove north out of the rainforest zone that stretches across the southern parts of Ghana into the heart of the Guinea savanna west of Tamale. As we made this journey we ventured north of the Black Volta River into a culturally distinctive area, moving away from the Akan-dominated areas of south and central Ghana, into a region where the Mole-Dagbani are the dominant peoples. This was not a day without avian rewards as the stark change in habitat from rainforest to savanna led to a bunch of exciting new birds along the way, and on our arrival in Mole NP, that is Ghana's largest wildlife sanctuary. Not long out of Kumasi we found ourselves flanked by savanna on both sides of the road, and our first new birds began to roll in, beginning with a resplendent Blue-bellied Roller on the lookout from a gnarled snag. A couple of Bearded Barbets were picked up further along the roadside, a bird that replaces the Double-toothed Barbets of the south in northern Ghana. A small flock of Green Woodhoopoes by the road had us out of the car, and we soon realized there was a small bird party in the area. A little strategic use of a Pearl-spotted Owlet tape brought out some of these passerines, including our first Senegal Eromomelas (another west African specialty), and also the well-marked owlet itself. On arrival at Mole we admired the wonderful setting of our resort, on the edge of an escarpment overlooking a couple of waterholes on the flat plains below. Mole is famed in Ghana for its large population of African Elephants, and these particular large pools are a regular hangout for them. However, at this time none of these African giants were around, although some other notable savanna mammals were in evidence, including Kob and Bushbuck. Dotted on the flat open plains below were various parties of Helmeted Guineafowl, that is very common within this fantastic park. Better still was our second new roller of the day, with the electric blue, fork-tailed, Abyssinian Roller that was visible right from our hotel terrace, a good area to relax with a cool drink and watch the birds and wildlife coming into the pools below as the sun sets over the park. The trees on the fringes of the waterholes held a pair of yellow-breasted Bruce's Green-Pigeons, and scurrying around the edge of the pools were several family parties of Double-spurred Francolins, a bird that like the guineafowl is absurdly common within Mole. Just before dusk an African Hobby scythed through the air above us on the hunt for early-emerging bats or late-flying swallows. Having settled down for dinner we all positioned ourselves so we could look out on the resort's swimming pool, as just after dark the regular Freckled Nightjar came in quietly, dipping low over the glassy water to pick off insects on the water's surface. With such little time in Mole we were already getting a feel of how great the birding is and were eagerly awaiting our first real foray into the park the following day.

Elephant, Mole NP/Sam Woods
ELEPHANT Mole NP

March 8 MOLE NP
We began this morning much as we did every morning in Mole, by meeting just before sunrise on the resort's terrace, looking out for wildlife activity around the waterholes below in this water-starved park. The pools held Hadada Ibis and a monotypic endemic African family in the form of a number of the strange Hamerkops patrolling the water's edge. Although the most impressive visitor was one that originally was almost overlooked as a large gray island in the lake, until it moved and revealed its huge trunk - as the sun rose above the plains and the day brightened a large African Elephant was found cooling itself in the center of the waterhole. One of the great spectacles in African birding is visiting such pools and watching the variety of birds coming and going as they are drawn to these vital lifelines within the dry, parched savannas. A couple of tiny pools on the edge of the resort were filled with finches and weavers, including Orange-cheeked Waxbills, Black-rumped Waxbills, and Red-winged Pytilias; and another pool held African, Red-billed and Black-faced Firefinches to name a few. A bright flash of crimson wings led us straight to our first Violet Turacos, a superb purple turaco (an endemic African family) that is confined to the savannas of west Africa, where it is a much-admired 'common' bird. We badgered our local guide Zac to get us the enigmatic Oriole Warbler, a huge flashy African warbler that possesses a lightly frosted black head and golden-yellow body. On reaching a fairly unimpressive area of low open scrub he assured us one would be in the area, and fair to his work within literally minutes of his assurance, someone first picked up this skulking bird, that we stuck with for some time until all of us had enjoyed fantastic looks of this wonderfully unique warbler. One of the undoubted highlights of Mole is the literally hordes of Red-headed Bee-eaters around the park. We visited a colony of this vividly multi-colored birds, although at Mole it is not necessary to visit such a colony as it seems that everywhere you look one of these immaculate birds can be found gliding over the treetops on the prowl for insects on the wing. Bumping into this beautiful bee-eater time and again during our stay in Mole, was certainly a much appreciated privileged for everyone in the group. Good stuff! Aside form those two crackers we bumped into our first 'tailless' Northern Crombecs, beady-eyed White-shouldered Black-Tits, red-wattled Brown-throated Wattle-eyes, striking Striped and Gray-headed Kingfishers, and dazzling white-morph male African Paradise-Flycatchers. A variety of mammals were also encountered both within the park during our morning walk, and from the resort terrace, proving Mole's reputation as Ghana's premier game reserve, including Yellow-flanked Duiker, Waterbuck, Bushbuck, Kob, Patas Monkey, Vervet Monkey and Olive Baboon.

Hamerkop, Mole NP/Sam Woods
HAMERKOP Mole NP, from a monotypic, endemic African bird family


March 9 MOLE NP
This day produced some fantastic birds all round, although perhaps is best remembered for the fantastic nightbirds that showed up for us, both by day and night. It all began when Ruth hurried back to her room to pick up something she had left behind, only to run into a Grayish Eagle-Owl perched on the ground right outside her room! Thankfully it was still hanging around behind our rooms when she dragged us back there a short time later. The 'usual' Freckled Nightjar was again seen swooping low over the swimming pool a short time before first light. We then went in pursuit of what is arguably Mole's top bird during our morning's walk. We combed dense foliage along the edge of the few small remaining pools to no avail, assured by our local guide that i it was there it would definitely emerge out of the foliage pretty quickly on our approach. As the morning wore on and there was still no sign, one of our guides Robert decided to hang back and check the foliage more closely in case for once the so-called 'Big Ginger Owl' was staying put and letting us walk right past him without taking flight. Not long after, we all (a little embarrassingly) were called back by Robert, as in our attempt to chase after a couple of calling babblers we had all walked right underneath a priceless Pel's Fishing-Owl. This huge rich rufous owl is one of the most highly-prized owls in the world, and one of Africa's most sought-after birds. We hurried back to Robert and came face to face with this awesome owl, that at this point (realizing the game was up), then took flight and alighted in another close by tree where it remained so that we could absorb it thoroughly over the next thirty minutes or so. If it was not for the picathartes, and indeed on almost all other trips where there isn't a rockfowl for competition, this phenomenal owl would have been the top trip bird, but on this trip was narrowly pipped into second place.The nightbird theme continued later in the day too, when we picked up our first male Standard-winged Nightjars of the trip just after dusk, complete with a set of ridiculous standards; and in the same area some low muffled sounds led us to a brilliant Northern White-faced Owl glaring at us with huge orange eyes. We then finished with our second Grayish Eagle-Owl of the day with another perched up on our ride back for dinner. It was not solely about nightbirding though, and our morning session produced a superb Blue-breasted Kingfisher, a couple of stonking Snowy-crowned Robin-Chats, along with our first Red-billed Hornbills, Senegal Batis and a Sulphury-breasted Bush-shrike, (although the Pel's overshadowed all of this!); while we almost missed out on the standard-wingeds as we were delayed in our successful pursuit of re-finding a White-bellied Bustard that had over flown the car.

Pel's Fishing-Owl, Mole NP/Sam Woods
The 'Big Ginger Owl', PEL'S FISHING-OWL Mole NP

Northern White-faced Owl, Mole NP/Sam Woods
NORTHERN WHITE-FACED OWL Mole NP

March 10 MOLE NP
The day almost ended with a bustard the day before, and so the next morning it was pleasing to be chasing another bustard that had been seen in flight, this time the huge Denham's (Stanley) Bustard. Unfortunately this time the bird managed to creep away before everyone saw it and it would not (yet) count towards their world record as both Ruth and Alan must both record the bird for it to count-frustrating! It was not all bad though, as while we were searching for the bustard a pair of superb Northern Carmine Bee-eaters sailed in and began hawking for insects on the wing overhead. A small creek in the same area played host to a fine pair of White-crowned Robin-Chats, to complete a cool brace of chats with yesterdays Snowy-crowned; and a male Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike, Yellow Penduline-Tit, Square-tailed Drongo were also in the same area along with an excellent White-breasted Cuckoo-shrike. The afternoon birding was equally exciting with a pair of hulking Gray-headed Bush-shrikes, a Black Scimitarbill perched up for us, and we also enjoyed our best views yet of three different male Standard-winged Nightjars displaying their flashy standards within feet of us on a deserted airport runway for a great finish to our time in Mole.

Female Standard-winged Nightjar, Mole NP/Sam Woods
First we had to handle the disappointment of 'only' a female STANDARD-WINGED NIGHTJAR at Mole...

Before we finally saw three separate displaying males on our final night there.
Male Standard-winged Nightjar, Mole NP/Sam Woods

March 11 MOLE NP to BOLGATANGA (TONGO HILLS)
Today we headed right into the Upper East region in the very north of Ghana, not far from the southern border of Burkina Faso, to the hill country around Tongo. However, before we reached the rocky hills we needed to make a fairly long drive. However the drive was not without rewards, and as we made our way out of Mole we passed through some rich savanna areas that pulled in a few more species, like a number of roadside Grasshopper Buzzards; a single, stately Dark-chanting Goshawk standing sentry; a rowdy rabble of Piapiacs; a Rufous-crowned Roller on a roadside wire, and a fantastic group of marauding White Helmetshrikes, a few of which sported ridiculously long snow-white crests and vibrant yellow eye wattles. A real cracker. As most of Ghana is almost flat, nearing sea-level for the most part, it was a little strange to suddenly notice hills emerge on the horizon in front of us. These isolated rocky hills are not pumping with birds, although hold some specialties of the this hill country, that is known more for the sacred Talensi ancestral shrines that dot the landscape, than the birds. Shortly after arriving we checked a few soaring falcons and hit the jackpot with the second one which turned out to be the Fox Kestrel we were hoping for. This rusty red kestrel is only found in such hilly savannas in Ghana. Next we ran into a Sun Lark perched up on a boulder; then we found another rocky-country specialist in the form of a Rock-loving Cisticola, appropriately enough perched up on a rock. Just below a pair of striking Chestnut-backed Sparrow-larks shuffled in the dirt, while a pair of Mottled Swifts hawked the skies above.


Rock-loving Cisticola, Tongo Hills/Sam Woods
ROCK-LOVING CISTICOLA perched on the object of his affection, Tongo Hills

March 12 TONO DAM
A short drive from our base in Bolgatanga brought us into some light wooded areas on the edge of a large reservoir that feeds the city of Bolgatanga. This produced an interesting mix of woodland birds and wetland species. The open waters of the lake and the wet paddies produced a Ghana rarity in the form of a Black-winged Pratincole in amongst the more expected Collared Pratincoles; the open waters held both Comb Ducks and Spur-winged Geese; and hanging out with a group of the common Senegal Thick-knees was the scarcer and more strikingly-marked Spotted Thick-knee. In the woods we came upon our first Viellot's Barbets, along with further Bearded Barbets for the trip. As we made our way through the brush in pursuit of a localized starling we kicked some finches up from the dust that quickly buried themselves in some thick grass. With a little patience these bull-headed finches turned out to be Black-faced Quailfinches feeding furtively in the dirt. A short time later we found our main quarry when we came upon a pair of nesting Chestnut-bellied Starlings. An afternoon jaunt in the same area was a little quieter, although we did come upon a White-rumped Seedeater, and a roaving flock of Long-tailed Glossy Starlings. As we lingered after dark we ran into some superb Long-tailed Nightjars, that were a welcome 'upgrade' for Alan and Ruth on their 'Biggest Twitch', as we had only previously heard them during our time around Mole.

Long-tailed Glossy Starling, Tono Dam/Sam Woods
The dazzling LONG-TAILED GLOSSY STARLING Tono Dam

March 13 BOLGATANGA to KUMASI
This was essentially a travel day as we headed back south towards the rainforest belt in the south, for the close of our tour of Ghana. However, we did come across some handsome species we had run into earlier (although always good to see time and again), like Rufous-crowned Roller along with 'killer looks' again of Blue-bellied and Abyssinian Rollers, and a fine Giant Kingfisher.

Grasshopper Buzzard,  Tono Dam/Sam Woods
GRASSHOPPER BUZZARD Tono Dam

March 14 BOBIRI FOREST to ATEWA
Today we were back in the humid rainforest zone, firstly to go after some birds we were missing from before, and secondly by visiting these new, slightly different rainforest sites to go after some key new species. We began our day with a short drive from Kumasi to the forest sanctuary of Bobiri, famous for its clouds of butterflies, as much as for the many avian delights in the area. Our top target for the morning was Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, that believe it or not was quite devious for a hornbill, and took a little time to give in and finally show to us all in the 'scope. Just minutes after the thrill of the hornbill a flock of one of our favorite Ghanaian birds flew in and gave us some of our best looks yet, when a rowdy group of Red-billed Helmetshrikes came by. An 'easy' Blue-breasted Kingfisher that perched up in clear view for us made a bit of a mockery of our earlier desperate efforts to get it for the 'Biggest Twitch' year list with Alan and Ruth, when the bird had proved much more devious and elusive. A couple of new pigeons were found early on, with first a Western Bronze-naped Pigeon, and then an Afep Pigeon. Other 'pick-ups' for Alan and Ruth's 'Biggest Twitch' that day included Fraser's Forest-Flycatcher Tit-Hylia, and the superb nuthatch-like Golden-backed Weaver, all of which they had been forced to miss through illness during our time at Aboabo. The day turned out pretty well for woodpeckers, with the smallest Ghanaian woodpecker, the dinky African Piculet (that is smaller than most of their warblers), being picked up in a passing mixed species feeding flock. A Melancholy Woodpecker further on down the track had us scanning the treetops for this small west African endemic, where we found it probing for insects buried in the bark. That wrapped it up for our time in Bobiri, so we headed further south on our loop back towards Ghana's capital Accra, with one more rainforest stop planned for the journey back, in the Atewa Mountains. We spent the afternoon at the base of the mountains, and in our short time there added some good new birds. At the start of the road we came upon a large raucous colony of Viellot's Black Weaver, here sporting the rufous saddle of the distinctive castaneofuscus west African race. The same spot held some chattering parties of Black-and-white Manakins feeding on the seeding grasses on the forest edge. In fact this edge habitat while not looking anything special, turned out pretty good, with a number of large flocks of the hulking, massive-billed Grosbeak Weavers that over flew us several times before we finally found a sizeable party holed up in a dead tree; a Brown-crowned Tchagra emerged from a track side thicket; although the unquestionable bird of the afternoon at Atewa was a gorgeous male Western Bluebill, with his heavy powder blue bill, jet-black plumage and crimson chest band. Simply superb. A really great spectacle to finish the day were the huge swirling flocks of White-throated Bee-eaters streaming overhead on their way to roost, with the fluty, mournful whistles of a Fire-crested Alethe emanating from the thick forest understorey beside us.

Gray-headed Kingfisher, Mole NP/Sam Woods
GRAY-HEADED KINGFISHER Mole NP

March 15 ATEWA
For our final push for rainforest birds, before we headed back into the 'big smoke', we made our way up to the top of the Atewa Mountains (770m). This little visited Atewa Range Forest Reserve protects one of only two examples of upland evergreen forests in Ghana, and is an important area for both butterflies and birds, holding over 200 bird species and 400 types of butterflies. Although we spent some time at the 'summit' of the mountain, it was far from cold here and we were still very much in t-shirts and slacks to keep cool in the humidity of the Ghanaian rainforest. On our way up the mountain we heard a Red-cheeked Wattle-eye calling right up close, and frustratingly the bird remained stubbornly within his thick tangled hideout, not affording any of us a look at this cool west African specialty. A little further on we found some compensation in a pair of Golden Greenbuls, feeding low in the understorey. One of the more handsome of the greenbuls, and strangely distinctive for that usually tough and challenging African group. As we ascended the mountain road an enforced stop was made when a flash of scarlet wings pronounced the arrival of a Yellow-billed Turaco in the trees above our car, and we all piled out to enjoy this fabulous bird, that belongs to this uniquely African family. Up on the mountain top we ran into a bunch of barbets, including Yellow-spotted and Hairy-breasted Barbets, and Red-rumped and Speckled Tinkerbirds. A distinctive song in the canopy led us to a couple of striking Black-capped Apalises; while Black Cuckoo and Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo were heard calling close by. While we took a break on the hilltop a movement caught our eye and led us to a nesting Chestnut Wattle-eye, that came to-and-fro from his mountain top nesting site. When we paused during our time on the mountain top we found the soot-colored Dusky Tit visiting the same tree as the swallow-like Ussher's Flycatcher that hawked for insects from a high perch, while Copper-tailed Glossy-starlings called from a hidden perch behind. Even as we descended this almost deserted mountain (abandoned except for us, a couple of researchers and a few illegal loggers!) we were picking up new rainforest species, including a pair of Lemon-bellied Crombecs, a pair of Western Black-headed Orioles, and a Shining Drongo that gave itself away when it began calling in a passing understorey flock that very nearly sneaked past us through the thick undergrowth, until these calls led us to it. We then returned to Accra for our final night of superb Ghanaian cuisine, that included a spicy plate of Red-red ( a tasty mix of red beans, plantain and rice cooked in red palm oil) and a bowl of steaming Fu-fu for the more adventurous among us (i.e. Iain!)

Violet Turaco, Mole NP/Sam Woods
This VIOLET TURACO was one of a pair coming down to drink at a small waterhole in the parched savanna at Mole.
The same vital water source held lots of finches, including Red-winged Pytillias and Bar-breasted, Black-faced &
Black-bellied Firefinches, as well as several Cabanis' & Cinnamon-breasted Rock Buntings.

March 16 SHAI HILLS, SUKUMONO LAGOON and DEPARTURE
We began our final day of our Ghana tour in some low hills to the east of Accra. Shai Hills is a mixture of rocky outcrops surrounded by flat savanna-cloaked plains, generally similar in avifauna to Mole NP (with a few notable extras). One of our main targets was another rock-loving species so we positioned ourselves at the bas of the red sandstone escarpment and scanned the bare rocks above for signs of movement. A flash of white and a glimpse of red had us training our bins and 'scope on an excellent Mocking Cliff-chat. In the thick grass near the base of the cliff we found the hoped for Croaking Cisticola, an in the dead gnarled trees on the plains we found a group of Double-toothed Barbets. This species is closely related to the Bearded Barbet that we had encountered earlier on the tour in the savannas of Mole, and interestingly in Ghana the two species seem to have a north-south segregation, with Bearded Barbets occurring in the north and Double-toothed Barbets being confined to the savannas in the south of the country. A chattering family of babblers heard in some of the scrub there had us wondering which species it belonged to as both the Brown Babblers we had recorded earlier at Mole occur within Shai Hills, as does the less common Blackcap Babbler. Both species have very similar chattering calls that are often hard to differentiate. A little playing of the scarcer Blackcap Babbler soon brought a pair of these beady-eyed babblers in to check us out and join our list. The low scrub in this area also held a beautiful male Senegal Batis. We then enjoyed some final Ghanaian birding down at the same lagoon where we had started our tour of Ghana two weeks before, racking up tons of waders, terns and waterbirds in the process. Once again Black Heron was in attendance, although this time not in 'umbrella mode', just loafing along the lake shore. A few Senegal Thick-knees stood sentry on the lagoon edge and a huge band of jumpy terns regularly took flight, on one occasion revealing a Roseate Tern amongst them that ended up being the final addition to our trip list, and the final Ghanaian bird to be added to Alan and Ruth's list for the 'Biggest Twitch'.

In the end we had tallied up over 400 species for our Ghana tour, over 390 of which were seen, that included over 200 new ones for The Biggest Twitch, so all in all a great haul for the tour and a high number for a Ghana trip. Debate usually rages over the top bird of the trip, although on this trip there was only ever one winner, from the moment that bald, black-and-yellow headed bird hopped up on the rock beside its rainforest cave. The Yellow-headed Picathartes is a lifetime want for many birders and it is easy to see why. A bizarre cave-dwelling, semi-crepuscular bird, that almost never gets seen away from these caves deep within the Upper Guinea Rainforest, that is found nowhere else, it is easy to understand the massive appeal of this very cool forest species. We were truly mesmerized to be in the presence of this amazing and peculiar bird, as one after another came in to their cave in the late afternoon, and clung to vines on the cave edge just meters away from us, just fantastic. It is an easy expression to say with so many birds, although for those who have seen this one it carries some weight, this is truly one of the world's top birds. The rest of the top five broke down as follows - the bright ginger, hulking Pel's Fishing-Owl found roosting during the day at Mole (very much at a point where we were losing hope fast as the 'usual' spots had drawn a blank) would often have won top trip bird, when there is not a rockfowl for competition. Besides the owl, the choice Chocolate-backed Kingfisher that remained viewable from the canopy walkway for well over 10 minutes definitely deserved a worthy mention, along with the trio of displaying male Standard-winged Nightjars we watched on a deserted airport runway in the bush at Mole. Finally, no one can leave Africa without being thrilled by one bee-eater or another, and on this trip we had a few to chose from, although the Black Bee-eater, with his vermillion throat patch and flecks of electric blue all down the front is hard to beat and surely rates as one of the top bee-eaters on offer, and was a top target that lived up to the hype for all concerned.

BIRD LIST
Taxonomic order and nomenclature follow Clements, 6th edition updated 2007. 
Birds that are marked with GO were seen by the guide only.
Birds that are marked with H were only heard.
 
GREBES: Podicipedidae
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
CORMORANTS: Phalacrocoracidae
Long-tailed Cormorant Phalacrocorax africanus
ANHINGAS: Anhingidae
Darter Anhinga melanogaster
HERONS, BITTERNS AND EGRETS: Ardeidae
Gray Heron Ardea cinerea
Black-headed Heron Ardea melanocephala
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
Great Egret Ardea alba
Black Heron Egretta ardesiaca
Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Western Reef-Heron Egretta gularis
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Striated Heron Butorides striata
Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
HAMERKOP: Scopidae
Hamerkop Scopus umbretta
STORKS: Ciconiidae
Woolly-necked Stork Ciconia episcopus
Marabou Stork Leptoptilos crumeniferus
IBIS AND SPOONBILLS: Threskiornithidae
Hadada Ibis Bostrychia hagedash
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus
DUCKS, GEESE AND SWANS: Anatidae
White-faced Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna viduata
Spur-winged Goose Plectropterus gambensis
Comb Duck Sarkidiornis melanotos
African Pygmy-goose Nettapus auritus
Northern Pintail Anas acuta
Garganey Anas querquedula
HAWKS, EAGLES AND KITES: Accipitridae
African Cuckoo-Hawk Aviceda cuculoides
European Honey-buzzard Pernis apivorus
Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus
Black Kite Milvus migrans
Palm-nut Vulture Gypohierax angolensis
Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus
White-backed Vulture Gyps africanus
White-headed Vulture Trigonoceps occipitalis
Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus
Bateleur Terathopius ecaudatus
Congo Serpent-Eagle Dryotriorchis spectabilis
Western Marsh-Harrier Circus aeruginosus
Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus
African Harrier-Hawk (Gymnogene) Polyboroides typus
Lizard Buzzard Kaupifalco monogrammicus
Dark Chanting-Goshawk Melierax metabates
Gabar Goshawk Micronisus gabar
Red-chested (African) Goshawk Accipiter toussenelii
Shikra Accipiter badius
Red-thighed Sparrowhawk Accipiter erythropus
Black Goshawk Accipiter melanoleucus
Long-tailed Hawk Urotriorchis macrourus
Grasshopper Buzzard Butastur rufipennis
Red-necked Buzzard Buteo auguralis
Tawny Eagle Aquila rapax
Booted Eagle Aquila pennata
Cassin's Hawk-Eagle Spizaetus africanus
Crowned Hawk-Eagle Stephanoaetus coronatus
FALCONS: Falconidae
Eurasian Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Fox Kestrel Falco alopex
Gray Kestrel Falco ardosiaceus
Red-necked Falcon Falco chicquera
African Hobby Falco cuvierii
Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus
PHEASANTS AND PARTRIDGES: Phasianidae
White-throated Francolin Francolinus albogularis H
Forest Francolin Francolinus lathami H
Ahanta Francolin Francolinus ahantensis H
Double-spurred Francolin Francolinus bicalcaratus
Stone Partridge Ptilopachus petrosus
GUINEAFOWL: Numididae
Helmeted Guineafowl Numida meleagris
RAILS, GALLINULES AND COOTS: Rallidae
White-spotted Flufftail Sarothrura pulchra
Black Crake Amaurornis flavirostra
Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
FINFOOTS: Heliornithidae
African Finfoot Podica senegalensis
BUSTARDS: Otididae
Stanley (Denham's) Bustard Neotis denhami
White-bellied Bustard Eupodotis senegalensis
JACANAS: Jacanidae
African Jacana Actophilornis africanus
AVOCETS AND STILTS: Recurvirostridae
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
THICK-KNEES: Burhinidae
Senegal Thick-knee Burhinus senegalensis
Spotted Thick-knee Burhinus capensis
COURSERS AND PRATINCOLES: Glareolidae
Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola
Black-winged Pratincole Glareola nordmanni
PLOVERS AND LAPWINGS: Charadriidae
Spur-winged Plover Vanellus spinosus
Wattled Lapwing Vanellus senegallus
Black-bellied Plover Pluvialis squatarola
Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula
Kittlitz's Plover Charadrius pecuarius
SANDPIPERS: Scolopacidae
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
Common Redshank Tringa totanus
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
Sanderling Calidris alba
Little Stint Calidris minuta
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
Ruff Philomachus pugnax
TERNS: Sternidae
Black Tern Chlidonias niger
White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus
Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii
Common Tern Sterna hirundo
Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis
Royal Tern Thalasseus maximus
SANDGROUSE: Pteroclidae
Four-banded Sandgrouse Pterocles quadricinctus
PIGEONS AND DOVES: Columbidae
Rock Pigeon Columba livia
Speckled Pigeon Columba guinea
Afep Pigeon Columba unicincta
Bronze-naped Pigeon Columba iriditorques
Eurasian Turtle-Dove Streptopelia turtur
Red-eyed Dove Streptopelia semitorquata
Vinaceous Dove Streptopelia vinacea
Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis
Black-billed Wood-Dove Turtur abyssinicus
Blue-spotted Wood-Dove Turtur afer
Tambourine Dove Turtur tympanistria
Blue-headed Wood-Dove Turtur brehmeri
Bruce's Green-Pigeon Treron waalia
African Green-Pigeon Treron calvus
PARROTS: Psittacidae
Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri
Red-headed Lovebird Agapornis pullarius
Gray Parrot Psittacus erithacus
Red-fronted Parrot Poicephalus gulielmi
Senegal Parrot Poicephalus senegalus
TURACOS: Musophagidae
Yellow-billed Turaco Tauraco macrorhynchus
Violet Turaco Musophaga violacea
Western Plantain-eater Crinifer piscator
CUCKOOS: Cuculidae
Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius
Black Cuckoo Cuculus clamosus
African Cuckoo Cuculus gularis
Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo Cercococcyx olivinus H
Klaas' Cuckoo Chrysococcyx klaas
African Emerald Cuckoo Chrysococcyx cupreus
Dideric Cuckoo Chrysococcyx caprius
Yellowbill Ceuthmochares aereus
Black-throated Coucal Centropus leucogaster
Senegal Coucal Centropus senegalensis
BARN-OWLS: Tytonidae
Barn Owl Tyto alba
OWLS: Strigidae
Northern White-faced Owl Ptilopsis leucotis
Grayish Eagle-Owl Bubo cinerascens
Pel's Fishing-Owl Scotopelia peli
Pearl-spotted Owlet Glaucidium perlatum
NIGHTJARS: Caprimulgidae
Brown Nightjar Caprimulgus binotatus
Plain Nightjar Caprimulgus inornatus
Freckled Nightjar Caprimulgus tristigma
Long-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus climacurus
Standard-winged Nightjar Macrodipteryx longipennis
SWIFTS: Apodidae
Sabine's Spinetail Rhaphidura sabini
Cassin's Spinetail Neafrapus cassini
African Palm-Swift Cypsiurus parvus
Mottled Swift Tachymarptis aequatorialis
Common Swift Apus apus
Little Swift Apus affinis
White-rumped Swift Apus caffer
KINGFISHERS: Alcedinidae
Shining-blue Kingfisher Alcedo quadribrachys
   
Malachite Kingfisher Alcedo cristata
African Pygmy-Kingfisher Ispidina picta
Dwarf Kingfisher Ispidina lecontei
Chocolate-backed Kingfisher Halcyon badia
Gray-headed Kingfisher Halcyon leucocephala
Woodland Kingfisher Halcyon senegalensis
Blue-breasted Kingfisher Halcyon malimbica
Striped Kingfisher Halcyon chelicuti
Giant Kingfisher Megaceryle maximus
Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis
BEE-EATERS: Meropidae
Black Bee-eater Merops gularis
Red-throated Bee-eater Merops bulocki
Little Bee-eater Merops pusillus
White-throated Bee-eater Merops albicollis
Rosy Bee-eater Merops malimbicus
Northern Carmine Bee-eater Merops nubicus
ROLLERS: Coraciidae
Abyssinian Roller Coracias abyssinicus
Rufous-crowned Roller Coracias noevius
Blue-bellied Roller Coracias cyanogaster
Broad-billed Roller Eurystomus glaucurus
Blue-throated Roller Eurystomus gularis
WOODHOOPOES AND SCIMITAR-BILLS: Phoeniculidae
Green Woodhoopoe Phoeniculus purpureus
White-headed Woodhoopoe Phoeniculus bollei
Forest Woodhoopoe Phoeniculus castaneiceps
Black Scimitar-bill (Woodhoopoe) Rhinopomastus aterrimus
HORNBILLS: Bucerotidae
White-crested Hornbill Tockus albocristatus
Black Dwarf Hornbill Tockus hartlaubi
Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill Tockus camurus
Red-billed Hornbill Tockus erythrorhynchus
African Pied Hornbill Tockus fasciatus
African Gray Hornbill Tockus nasutus
Piping Hornbill Ceratogymna fistulator
Black-casqued Hornbill Ceratogymna atrata
BARBETS: Capitonidae
Yellow-billed Barbet Trachyphonus purpuratus
Naked-faced Barbet Gymnobucco calvus
Speckled Tinkerbird Pogoniulus scolopaceus
Red-rumped Tinkerbird Pogoniulus atroflavus
Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird Pogoniulus bilineatus
Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird Pogoniulus chrysoconus
Yellow-spotted Barbet Buccanodon duchaillui
Hairy-breasted Barbet Tricholaema hirsuta
Vieillot's Barbet Lybius vieilloti
Double-toothed Barbet Lybius bidentatus
Bearded Barbet Lybius dubius
HONEYGUIDES: Indicatoridae
Cassin's Honeyguide Prodotiscus insignis
Greater Honeyguide Indicator indicator
WOODPECKERS: Picidae
African Piculet Sasia africana
Fine-spotted Woodpecker Campethera punctuligera
Little Green Woodpecker Campethera maculosa
Green-backed Woodpecker Campethera cailliautii
Buff-spotted Woodpecker Campethera nivosa
Gabon Woodpecker Dendropicos gabonensis
Fire-bellied Woodpecker Dendropicos pyrrhogaster
Gray Woodpecker Dendropicos goertae
Brown-backed Woodpecker Dendropicos obsoletus
BROADBILLS: Eurylaimidae
Rufous-sided Broadbill Smithornis rufolateralis
LARKS: Alaudidae
Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark Eremopterix leucotis
Sun Lark Galerida modesta
SWALLOWS: Hirundinidae
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Wire-tailed Swallow Hirundo smithii
Rock Martin Ptyonoprogne fuligula
Lesser Striped-Swallow Cecropis abyssinica
Rufous-chested Swallow Cecropis semirufa
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica
Preuss' Swallow Petrochelidon preussi
WAGTAILS AND PIPITS: Motacillidae
Plain-backed Pipit Anthus leucophrys
Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis
Yellow-throated Longclaw Macronyx croceus
African Pied Wagtail Motacilla aguimp
Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
CUCKOO-SHRIKES: Campephagidae
White-breasted Cuckoo-shrike Coracina pectoralis
Blue Cuckoo-shrike Coracina azurea
Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike Campephaga phoenicea
Purple-throated Cuckoo-shrike Campephaga quiscalina
BULBULS: Pycnonotidae
Common Bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus
Little Greenbul Andropadus virens
(Little) Gray Greenbul Andropadus gracilis
Plain (Cameroon Sombre) Greenbul Andropadus curvirostris
Slender-billed Greenbul Andropadus gracilirostris
Honeyguide Greenbul Baeopogon indicator
Simple (Leaflove) Greenbul Chlorocichla simplex
Swamp Greenbul  Thescelocichla leucopleura
White-throated Greenbul Phyllastrephus albigularis
Icterine Greenbul Phyllastrephus icterinus
Common (Red-tailed) Bristlebill Bleda syndactylus
Green-tailed Bristlebill Bleda eximius
Gray-headed Bristlebill Bleda canicapillus
Yellow-spotted Nicator Nicator chloris
Red-tailed Greenbul Criniger calurus
THRUSHES: Turdidae
Finsch's Flycatcher-Thrush Neocossyphus finschii
African Thrush Turdus pelios
Fire-crested Alethe Alethe diademata GO
CISTICOLAS AND ALLIES: Cisticolidae
Red-faced Cisticola Cisticola erythrops
Singing Cisticola Cisticola cantans
Whistling Cisticola Cisticola lateralis
Rock-loving Cisticola Cisticola aberrans
Winding Cisticola Cisticola galactotes
Croaking Cisticola Cisticola natalensis
Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis
Tawny-flanked Prinia Prinia subflava
Red-winged Prinia (Warbler)  
Black-capped Apalis Apalis nigriceps
Yellow-breasted Apalis Apalis flavida
Sharpe's Apalis Apalis sharpii
Oriole Warbler Hypergerus atriceps
Green-backed Camaroptera Camaroptera brachyura
Yellow-browed Camaroptera Camaroptera superciliaris
Olive-green Camaroptera Camaroptera chloronota
OLD WORLD WARBLERS: Sylviidae
Moustached Grass-Warbler Melocichla mentalis
Senegal Eremomela Eremomela pusilla
Rufous-crowned Eremomela Eremomela badiceps
Green Crombec Sylvietta virens
Lemon-bellied Crombec Sylvietta denti
Northern Crombec Sylvietta brachyura
Kemp's Longbill Macrosphenus kempi
Gray Longbill Macrosphenus concolor
Green Hylia Hylia prasina
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus 
Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix
Violet-backed Hyliota Hyliota violacea
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
Greater Whitethroat Sylvia communis
OLD WORLD FLYCATCHERS: Muscicapidae
Northern Black-Flycatcher Melaenornis edolioides
African (Fraser's) Forest-Flycatcher Fraseria ocreata
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata
Gambaga Flycatcher Muscicapa gambagae
Ussher's Flycatcher Muscicapa ussheri
Swamp Flycatcher Muscicapa aquatica
Little Gray Flycatcher Muscicapa epulata
Dusky-blue Flycatcher Muscicapa comitata
Gray-throated Tit-Flycatcher Myioparus griseigularis
Gray Tit-Flycatcher Myioparus plumbeus H
European Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca
Forest Robin Stiphrornis erythrothorax
Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat Cossypha niveicapilla
White-crowned Robin-Chat Cossypha albicapilla
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra
Mocking Cliff-Chat Thamnolaea cinnamomeiventris
WATTLE-EYES: Platysteiridae
Brown-throated (Common) Wattle-eye Platysteira cyanea
Chestnut Wattle-eye Platysteira castanea
Red-cheeked Wattle-eye Platysteira blissetti H
Senegal Batis Batis senegalensis
MONARCH FLYCATCHERS: Monarchidae
Chestnut-capped Flycatcher Erythrocercus mccallii
African Blue-Flycatcher Elminia longicauda
Blue-headed Crested-Flycatcher Trochocercus nitens
Black-headed (Red-bellied) Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone rufiventer
African Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone viridis
ROCKFOWL: Picathartidae
White-necked Rockfowl (Yellow-headed Picathartes) Picathartes gymnocephalus
*BIRD OF THE TRIP *
BABBLERS: Timaliidae
Blackap Illadopsis Illadopsis cleaveri H
Brown Illadopsis Illadopsis fulvescens
Blackcap Babbler Turdoides reinwardtii
Brown Babbler Turdoides plebejus
TITS: Paridae
White-shouldered Black-Tit Melaniparus guineensis
Dusky Tit Melaniparus funereus
PENDULINE-TITS: Remizidae
Yellow (-bellied) Penduline-Tit Anthoscopus parvulus GO
Tit-hylia Pholidornis rushiae
SUNBIRDS: Nectariniidae
Scarlet-tufted (Fraser's) Sunbird Deleornis fraseri
Western Violet-backed Sunbird Anthreptes longuemarei
Little Green Sunbird Anthreptes seimundi
Green Sunbird Anthreptes rectirostris
Collared Sunbird Hedydipna collaris
Pygmy Sunbird Hedydipna platura
Green-headed Sunbird Cyanomitra verticalis
Blue-throated Brown Sunbird Cyanomitra cyanolaema
Western Olive Sunbird Cyanomitra olivacea
Buff-throated Sunbird Chalcomitra adelberti
Scarlet-chested Sunbird Chalcomitra senegalensis
Olive-bellied Sunbird Cinnyris chloropygius
Tiny Sunbird Cinnyris minullus
Beautiful Sunbird Cinnyris pulchellus
Splendid Sunbird Cinnyris coccinigastrus
Johanna's Sunbird Cinnyris johannae
Superb Sunbird Cinnyris superbus
Copper Sunbird Cinnyris cupreus
WHITE-EYES: Zosteropidae
African Yellow White-eye Zosterops senegalensis
ORIOLES: Oriolidae
African Golden Oriole Oriolus auratus
Western Black-headed Oriole Oriolus brachyrhynchus
Black-winged Oriole Oriolus nigripennis
SHRIKES: Laniidae
Common Fiscal Lanius collaris
Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator
Yellow-billed Shrike Corvinella corvina
BUSHSHRIKES AND ALLIES: Malaconotidae
Brubru Nilaus afer
Northern Puffback Dryoscopus gambensis
Large-billed (Sabin's) Puffback Dryoscopus sabini
Black-crowned (-headed) Tchagra Tchagra senegalus
Brown-crowned Tchagra Tchagra australis
Common (Yellow-crowned) Gonolek Laniarius barbarus
Sulphur-breasted Bushshrike Telophorus sulfureopectus
Gray-headed Bushshrike Malaconotus blanchoti
HELMETSHRIKES AND ALLIES: Prionopidae
White Helmetshrike Prionops plumatus
Chestnut-bellied (Red-billed) Helmetshrike Prionops caniceps
DRONGOS: Dicruridae
Square-tailed Drongo Dicrurus ludwigii
Shining Drongo Dicrurus atripennis
Fork-tailed (Glossy-backed) Drongo Dicrurus adsimilis
Velvet-mantled Drongo Dicrurus modestus
CROWS: Corvidae
Piapiac Ptilostomus afer
Pied Crow Corvus albus
STARLINGS: Sturnidae
Lesser Blue-eared Glossy-Starling Lamprotornis chloropterus
Splendid Glossy-Starling Lamprotornis splendidus
Purple Glossy-Starling Lamprotornis purpureus
Long-tailed Glossy-Starling Lamprotornis caudatus
Chestnut-bellied Starling Lamprotornis pulcher
Copper-tailed Glossy-Starling Lamprotornis cupreocauda
Violet-backed Starling Cinnyricinclus leucogaster
Chestnut-winged Starling Onychognathus fulgidus
OLD WORLD SPARROWS: Passeridae
Gray-headed Sparrow Passer griseus
Bush Petronia Petronia dentata
WEAVERS: Ploceidae
Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver Plocepasser superciliosus
Red-vented Malimbe Malimbus scutatus
Gray's (Blue-billed) Malimbe Malimbus nitens
Crested Malimbe Malimbus malimbicus
Red-headed Malimbe Malimbus rubricollis
Little Weaver Ploceus luteolus
Black-necked Weaver Ploceus nigricollis
Vieillot's (Black) Weaver Ploceus nigerrimus
Village Weaver Ploceus cucullatus
Yellow-mantled Weaver Ploceus tricolor
Maxwell's Black (White-naped) Weaver Ploceus albinucha
Preuss' (Golden-backed) Weaver Ploceus preussi
Compact Weaver Pachyphantes superciliosus
Black-winged Bishop Euplectes hordeaceus
Yellow-shouldered (-mantled) Widowbird Euplectes macroura
WAXBILLS AND ALLIES: Estrildidae
Pale-fronted Negrofinch Nigrita luteifrons
Gray-headed Negrofinch Nigrita canicapillus
Chestnut-breasted Negrofinch Nigrita bicolor
White-breasted Negrofinch Nigrita fusconotus
Lavender Waxbill Estrilda caerulescens
Orange-cheeked Waxbill Estrilda melpoda
Black-rumped Waxbill Estrilda troglodytes
Western Bluebill Spermophaga haematina
Red-cheeked Cordonbleu Uraeginthus bengalus
Red-winged Pytilia Pytilia phoenicoptera
Red-billed Firefinch Lagonosticta senegala
Bar-breasted Firefinch Lagonosticta rufopicta
Black-faced Firefinch Lagonosticta larvata
Black-bellied Firefinch Lagonosticta rara
African (Blue-billed) Firefinch Lagonosticta rubricata
Black-faced (African) Quailfinch Ortygospiza atricollis
Bronze Mannikin Spermestes cucullatus
Black-and-white Mannikin Spermestes bicolor
INDIGOBIRDS: Viduidae
Pin-tailed Whydah Vidua macroura
SEEDEATERS: Fringillidae
Yellow-fronted Canary Serinus mozambicus
BUNTINGS: Emberizidae
Cinnamon-breasted (Rock) Bunting Emberiza tahapisi
Cabanis' Bunting Emberiza cabanisi