A selection of photos from the trip can be seen at https://www.flickr.com/photos/neiljulianthomas/albums
I had lived in Ghana for the first eight years of my life, before four bouts of malaria meant I was banished to the UK, and it was always a place I wanted to revisit, so we arranged a trip with Ashanti African Tours www.ashantiafricantours.com. The cost for each of us was £1495 for the 12 day tour, which is definitely cheaper than booking a tour through a UK based wildlife tour company, except that as we by necessity had to travel over Easter (Jane being a teacher) there was a hike in air fares. The price was less because we were joined by Alex Anderson from Zimbabwe. Alex, who celebrated his 80th birthday on the trip (sadly not on the Picathartes day) was extremely good company and an object lesson in how to keep fit and active at a senior age, apart from, at times, showing a healthy disregard for risk assessment and health and safety. Having such a small group is definitely an advantage both for photography and forest birding. The tour cost is advertised as fully inclusive, and indeed is so, apart from alcoholic drinks and tips for the guides and driver.
We would unreservedly recommend Ashanti African Tours for anyone wishing to travel to Ghana, not just for their friendly service and efficiency, but also for their financial commitment to conservation and responsible tourism. Our guides, William and Philip both had a comprehensive knowledge of West African birds and mammals, with Philip also being an expert on butterflies, but even more impressive than their field skills in identification was their ability to nail birds in forests. I might have liked to consider myself reasonably sharp, but both of them left me trailing in their wake. No other guides have left me feeling so outclassed!
28th March. We left the Errata Hotel at 08.00 into the relative traffic chaos of Accra, which is not for the faint hearted, although the roads substantially improved than what I can remember of 50 years ago. As we travelled through the expanses of chaotic built up areas the first birds were seen – Yellow-billed Kites, which were so numerous one would think there has been little if any decline in numbers, with Lanner Falcon, Common Kestrel, Grey Kestrel and Lizard Buzzard the other raptor representatives, Cattle Egrets, Laughing Dove, Grey Plantain Eaters, an excellent Levaillant’s Cuckoo, with its streaked breast and larger size separating it from Jacobin, Little Swifts, particularly around bridges, White-throated Bee-eater, Broad-billed Roller, Ethiopian Swallows, African Pied Wagtail, Common Bulbuls, African Thrush, Pied Crows, Village Weavers, Grey-headed Sparrows, and a rather gorgeous Purple Glossy Starling. Our first stop at was Winniba Lagoon. The expansive tidal lagoon was fringed by the coconut palm adorned beach on one side, and low hills of Guinea Savannah in the distance, and proved attractive to a range of wader species, although most were fairly distant. Species included Curlew Sandpipers, Common Greenshanks, Marsh Sandpipers, Common Sandpipers, Ruff, Little Stints, Black-winged Stilts, Whimbrels, Turnstones, Collared Pratincoles, Grey Plovers, Spur-winged Lapwing, Ringed Plovers, Redshank and Sanderling. A few Western Reef Egrets stalked the shallows and showy Splendid Sunbirds hovered around bushes. The sandbars held flocks of roosting terns, and a walk along the shoreline and a view with the scope confirmed Common, Sandwich and Royal Terns. After this relaxed introduction to Ghana, and a splendid lunch we dropped in a small lake with the shallows full of water lilies, and thick fringing vegetation. A different suite of water birds was seen here, with a pair of exquisite African Pygmy Geese, Purple Swamp-Hen, African Jacanas, Black Crakes, Common Moorhen and Long-tailed Cormorant. Hooded Vultures, which were also fairly numerous around Jukwa where our very comfortable, but possibly rather mis-named Rainforest Lodge is located. Relaxing in the grounds of the lodge saw Senegal Coucal, Lesser-striped Swallow, Piping Hornbills, Mottled Spinetails and European Bee-eater. In the evening an excursion with the spotlight to the edge of Kakum NP to search for owls and nightjars was completely fruitless, except for hearing several Tree Hyrax screaming.
30th March. Weather was hot, humid and generally overcast, as we set off shortly after first light for Kakum NP. On the drive we stopped to view a pair of Blue-headed Coucals, and here a Red-chested Goshawk (split from African Goshawk) displayed overhead. At the entrance to the park a number of birds were seen. White-throated Bee-eaters crowded the wires and an African Pgymy Kingfisher briefly zoomed in. A Honeyguide Greenbul flirted its white outer tail feathers in a tree that held far more African Green Pigeons than first appeared. The walk through the forest to the canopy walkway was about 500m, through dense forest, but through gaps in the canopy we saw Emerald Cuckoo, Superb Sunbird and the somewhat bizarre Bristle-nosed Barbets, before we climbed the impressive construction. The platforms constructed around forest giants at the end of the walkways gave a panoramic view of the stunning forest and the opportunity to view canopy species without craning ones neck. However, the light was often so poor that little colour could be seen in birds silhouetted against the sky, although the scope was a great help for those birds that remained still long enough for a scope view. There was a steady procession of birds visiting nearby trees and time passed very quickly until we were eventually crowded out by an invasion of tourists. Birds seen included Thick-billed Honeyguide, three species of woodpecker that eventually were all seen well – Gabon, Fire-bellied and Green-backed, Thick-billed Honeyguide, Sabine’s Puffback, the rather striking Blue Cuckooshrike, Purple-throated Cuckooshrike, Western Black-headed and Black-winged Orioles, Velvet-mantled Drongos, a confusion of bulbuls from which Slender-billed, Golden and Ansorge’s were identified, the gorgeous Violet-backed Hyliota, Rufous-crowned Eremomelas, Fraser’s Forest Flycatcher, Pied Hornbills, Forest Wood-Hoopoes, Collared Sunbird, Red-headed Malimbes, Yellow-mantled Weavers, Maxwell’s Black Weaver, Grey-headed Nigrita, Chestnut-breasted Nigrita, White-breasted Nigrita, Grey Longbill, Yellow-browed Camaroptera, Green Hylia, and Chestnut-capped Flycatcher. Bee-eaters are always a favourite, and Rosy Bee-eaters hawked insects above the canopy, while Black Bee-eaters flew sorties from exposed perches. Scanning the airspace above the forest gave views of Sabine’s and Cassin’s Spinetails, Palm-nut Vulture, African Cuckoo-Hawk and an excellent pair of displaying Cassin’s Hawk Eagles. Mammals are a challenge to locate in Ghana but a Red-bellied Squirrel explored a nearby tree, and at least two of the attractive Lesser Spot-nosed Monkeys remained in view long enough for a scope view.
Relaxing around Rainforest Lodge in the early afternoon gave views of Bar-breasted Firefinch, Common Wattle-eye, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Woodland Kingfisher, Northern Fiscal and the possibly mis-named Green-headed Sunbird.
We returned in the late afternoon to the canopy walkway at Kakum and stayed there until evening, when again a search for owls and nightjars proved fruitless. Viewing from the canopy walkway was less productive than the morning session, although Forest Francolin were heard calling the only additional species were Fraser’s Sunbird, Little Green Sunbird and Western Olive Sunbird, although a flock of diminutive Tit-Hylias and a Superb Sunbird performed well at the park HQ.
31st March. The early morning was possibly cooler (relatively speaking) than previous mornings, although with clear skies the temperature quickly shot up. Our first stop was in some lush wet scrub and second growth in the Antwikwaa section of the park, where the musical repetitive whistling of the White-spotted Flufftail could be heard. William soon successfully imitated the call and the Flufftail duly appeared, but although we had very good views of the calling bird (its whole body swelling and deflating with the effort) it remained deep in the stygian gloom of a tangle of tree roots making photography all but impossible. We then birded along the road here, and at two further locations seeing a good selection of forest edge birds, with Lizard Buzzard, 2 Red-necked Buzzards, 3 Harrier Hawks, and 3 African Cuckoo Hawks representing raptors, a selection of cuckoos including Yellowbill, Didric Cuckoo, and Great Spotted Cuckoo, Tambourine Dove, Red-eyed Dove, Blue-breasted and Pygmy Kingfishers, some 20 Piping Hornbills, Naked Faced Barbet, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, Viellot’s Barbet, Red-cheeked Wattle-eye (albeit only a pair flying across the track), Red-bellied Paradise Fkycatcher, Singing and Red-faced Cisticolas, African Yellow White-eyes, Dusky-blue Flycatcher, the Upper Guinea endemic of Usher’s Flycatcatcher, Olive-bellied Sunbird, Vieillot’s Weaver, which were constructing their grass nests at the end of banana leaves by a stream, Red-headed Quelea, Orange-cheeked Waxbills, and Black-and-white Manikins.
We then went to the River Pra, the powerful sediment filled flow forcing its way through a steep sided tree fringed valley, with mid-stream rock outcrops occupied by White-headed Lapwings and Rock Pratincoles. The beautiful White-throated Blue-Swallows were seen perched on the bridge supports, or hawking over the river, and a Striated Heron was seen along the margins.
In the afternoon we explored a trail through second growth forest, which seemed almost lifeless, although Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo could be heard, but when we reached a small clearing surrounded by true forest giants a small selection of interesting species was seen, with the Upper Guinea endemic Copper-tailed Starlings perched in tree tops, as well as Chestnut-winged Forest Starlings, the very smart Buff-throated Sunbird, and Blue-throated Rollers, that joined Velvet-mantled Drongos in pursuit of hatching termites towards evening. Once again, in spite of some effort no owls or nightjars were seen, or indeed heard.
1st April. Hazy sunshine for most of the day, with a morning excursion to the area we visited the previous evening. Initially we walked along the track through second growth, cultivations and scattered large trees, which made viewing and locating birds possibly easier before we entered the forest proper. A number of species were heard but not seen, not least a party of Cusimanses ferreting through the undergrowth, while birds that were heard only included Lagden’s Bush Shrike, Yellow-billed Turaco and Rufous-sided Broadbill. There was a fair selection of Ghana’s 1000 species of butterfly on view, which Philip helped with identification.
The only raptor on view was a perched African Cuckoo Hawk, while Blue-spotted Wood Dove and Tambourine Doves were seen well, as was another Emerald Cuckoo. Two additional species of Barbet were located, the neat Hairy-breasted Barbet, and the rather cryptic Speckled Tinkerbird. Once again the Red-cheeked Wattle-eye was seen briefly, but we had much better views of the Chestnut Wattle-eye. Two dark birds on an exposed perch proved to be the Fanti Saw-wing, other birds seen in such situations were Blue-throated Roller, White-throated Bee-eaters and Usher’s Flycatchers. An assortment of Bulbuls offered a challenge, with Golden Greenbul, Honeyguide Greenbul, Swamp Palm Bulbul and Simple Leaflove being seen well, and Yellow-whiskered Greenbul very poorly. Green Crombecs explored the canopy, and noisy Red-vented Malimbes flew over as watched the aforementioned species. We then took time out to visit the castle at Cape Coast, the departure point for slaves. With the buildings an eloquent testimony to past brutality it was a sombre place.
Over an excellent lunch overlooking the sea in the Castle Restaurant saw Reef Heron, Royal and Sandwich Terns and Long-tailed Cormorants fly past. Once ensconced in our guest house we went on an hours drive to Nsutu Forest, a forest reserve which has been logged so the impressive forest giants stood scattered among second growth and tangles of vines. A new road cuts through the forest and we walked along this wide ‘trail’ before diverting down a narrow logging trail. It was at least easy to see birds as they flew across the road, and amongst the many Pied and Piping Hornbills we had one of the Upper Guinea endemic Brown-cheeked Hornbill flap ponderously past. Other flyovers included Red-fronted Parrots. White-headed Wood-hoopoes explored the crown of a large silkcotton and a Finch’s Flycatcher Thrush gave a rather briefer view as it flew over the road.
At dusk the crepuscular Spot-breasted Ibis were calling nearby and two of the bizarre Hammer Bats flew over. Just before we arrived back at the van William’s persistence in searching for owls was rewarded with a splendid Akun Eagle Owl adorning a dead tree trunk.
2nd April. There had been overnight rain and the heat and humidity were slightly reduced from previous days as we returned to Nsutu Forest and once again walked along the road and explored side trails. A pair of African Pygmy Kingfishers which were obviously feeding young gave great views as they posed with crickets in their bills. Along the road we finally had good views of the Upper Guinea endemic of Sharpe’s Apalis, as well as the possibly smarter Black-capped Apalis. Other birds seen here included Crested Malimbes and Forest Penduline Tit. Walking down side trails gave more chance of seeing understory birds and we had reasonable views of Blue-headed Wood-dove, Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher, Rufous-tailed and Icterine Greenbuls, and best of all a Rufous-sided Broadbill gave its bizarre display directly above our heads. Mammals once again proved very difficult, although the tracks of animals such as Brush-tailed Porcupine and African Civet indicated their presence, but three of the attractive Fire-footed Rope Squirrels were seen in the understory.
We then retraced our steps to travel along the road to Ankasa. A brief stop was made by a small creek with lush fringing vegetation where Orange Weavers were nesting with Vieillot’s Weavers, and African Jacanas paddled nearby. A rather longer stop was made at the mangroves adjacent to the estuary of the River Ebi. The hoped for Hartlaub’s Ducks were found with relative ease, with 6 birds on a small lagoon, together with Great Egret, Reef Heron and Giant Kingfisher. Two new sunbird species were also tracked down, the rather more showy Reichenbach’s, and the decidedly dowdy Brown. Nearby to here also we also saw Splendid Glossy Starling and Hooded Vulture.
After endless rubber and oil palm plantations it was a relief to enter the beautiful rainforest at Ankasa, and after a brief rest we headed out in a Landrover to a pool, which was sadly completely desiccated. As we drove along the track a Honey Buzzard was flushed, and in a stop where powerlines gave a view four examples of the extraordinary Great Blue Turaco flew across the clearing, and we could view Johanna’s Sunbird, and numbers of the Square-tailed Saw-wings. As we drove back William pulled out two phenomenal spots in the form of an African Wood Owl, and a roosting Finfoot. A Gambian Giant Rat trundles along the road before sidling into vegetation, the white tipped tail the last part to disappear. Best of all, however, a magnificent Gaboon Viper was found lying across the road and we could admire its intricate camouflage as it slowly inched its way into cover with its rectilinear locomotion. Definitely an encounter in the hoped for, but not expected category.
3rd April. With a clear night and very high humidity the forests at Ankasa were shrouded in mist in the morning. I was out before dawn with the spotlight, but although the Nkulengu Rail could be heard distantly I was only able to view the large and bizarre Hammer Bat flying to and fro along the track. Over breakfast a calling Red-chested Goshawk enlivened proceedings, and the Yellow-billed Turaco was finally seen before we travelled to the same area of forest we visited the previous evening. Great Blue Turacos were again seen flying over the pylon clearing, while in the scrub below the splendid Black-bellied Seedcracker flew between patches of cover. In the forest a selection of rather skulking understory birds were prepared to reveal themselves – Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Dwarf Kingfisher, White-tailed Alethe, Forest Robin, and Green-tailed Bristlebill, but a Dwarf Black Hornbill was more obliging in perching on a branch directly overhead. The pools revealed Hartlaub’s Duck, and I was able to take some close range pictures of African Pygmy Kingfisher. Other birds noted included Crested Malimbe, Tiny Sunbird, Usher’s Flycatcher, Ansorge’s Greenbull and Piping Hornbill. The sole mammal representative was the African Giant Squirrel, with its grey grizzled face.
A shady spot by the stream at Ankasa was a relaxing place to look for the Shining-blue Kingfisher, and I saw it twice, but on both occasions just speeding down-river. However, relaxation was put on hold as foraging flock of birds moved through the forest around the camp and Shining Drongo, Red-tailed Bristlebill, Grey-headed Bristlebill, Western Bearded Greenbul, and Yellow-bearded Greenbul were identified in quick succession.
In the afternoon through to evening we visited the forest around the pylon clearing. As we drove there a Mona Monkey gave a brief view as it bounded across the track, and other mammals were Fire-footed Rope-Squirrel and two African Giant Squirrels, one at an entrance hole at a tree which seemed so small it hardly seemed possible the animal could have squeezed itself in. Hartlaub’s Duck were seen around swampy pools while the only raptor seen was African Harrier-Hawk. Other birds seen included Blue-headed Wood-Dove, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Gabon Woodpecker, White-throated Greenbul, Dusky-blue Flycatcher, Blue-billed (Gray’s) Malimbe, and Orange-cheeked Waxbill. The drive back gave only brief views of Demidorff’s Galago, but another was seen more clearly at the campsite, and Akun Eagle Owl was heard calling.
4th April. At 04.00 I ventured along the track from the camp with the spotlight. As expected it was hard work locating mammals, but two Giant Rats made their seemingly clumsy way across the forest floor, one carrying an enormous seed. Eyeshine from the canopy of a tall tree revealed a slender long tailed carnivore; given the location and the colour (possibly mottled but certainly not blotched like a genet), I am sure this was an African Palm Civet. At 5.45 the Nkulengu Rail called, but only for a minute at most, so although we moved as fast as possible in the direction of the call it was a hopeless task.
Once again we drove along the track to the pylon clearing. There had been a lot of evidence of Forest Elephant activity from previous days, but this morning much of the damage was clearly from the previous night. Even if we did not encounter Forest Elephants on the track we did find a group of five Crested Guineafowl with a large number of chicks, which meant they did not disappear as quickly as expected as the chicks were shepherded away. Yellow-billed Turaco was seen at photographable range, but while I was attempting to track down an uncooperative calling Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, I missed two Brown-cheeked Hornbills flying over. Other birds seen included Little Greenbul and Yellow-whiskered Greenbul on a fruiting tree, Western Black-headed Orioles, Green Crombec, Finch’s Flycatcher-Thrush, and Red-vented Malimbes.
We then said farewell to Ankasa and drove back to Rainforest Lodge at Jukwa. We made a stop again at the mangroves of the River Ebi, where two splendid Lanner Falcons were seen, one carrying prey, as well as Giant Kingfisher and Intermediate Egret, but the White-browed Forest-flycatcher refused to perform. Another mammal species was seen here, in the form of a Slender-tailed Squirrel. On some roadside lily ponds African jacana and African Pygmy Geese were again seen, as well as c20 White-faced Whistling Ducks. A snake seen crossing the road was identified from photos as a Boomslang.
We finished the day in the coastal savannah at Brenu Akyinim, where the birding and photography was rather easier than in the forest. Raptors included Black-shouldered Kite, Harrier-hawk, Grey Kestrel and Lanner Falcon and I was able to approach closely to Senegal Thick-knees and Wattled Lapwings. The neat White-winged Swallow was seen with numbers of Lesser-striped Swallows, while more skulking species that were eventually seen well included the always striking Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Western Bluebill and Singing Cisticola, but the Oriole Warbler and Snowy-crowned Robin-chats refused to show. Other typical savannah species were Little Bee-eater, Copper Sunbird, and Yellow-shouldered Widowbird.
5th April. We went towards Kakum NP shortly after first light, this time birding along the track past the International Stingless Bee Centre, which we subsequently visited to have our eyes opened about the importance of these insects, and view the many live exhibits. Before we left the hotel a flock of Cattle Egrets provided entertainment extracting crickets, stick insects and frogs from cracks in the boundary wall. What was noticeable was there was a clear pecking order, with one bird in full breeding plumage completely dominating the best sites. Along the track Western Nicator teased with constant loud calls before finally revealing itself, an African Cuckoo Hawk soared overhead, the nesting burrow of African Pygmy Kingfisher was found, we also saw Grey Kestrel, Grey Hornbill, Red-fronted Parrots, Simple Greenbul, Olive-green Camaroptera, large numbers of Viellot’s and Village Weavers nesting in oil palms, Blue-billed Firefinch, Black-and white Manikins, Orange-cheeked Waxbills, and after searching the handsome Marsh Tchagra was finally seen well and photographed.
Leaving Kakum and Jukwa we then travelled via Cape Coast to the forest block where the nesting sites of the Yellow-headed Picathartes are located. As we drove down the track to the final village, where a track led into the forest we passed the site of the school construction, hopefully this and other projects by Ashanti Tours will help the local people to benefit from conserving biodiversity and secure a future for this vulnerable species. With Alex’s leg a complicating factor, and the arrival of another tour group we headed for the nearest, but not the largest Picathartes colony, and although there was a steep climb to the massive rock overhang adorned with the mud nests of the Picathartes it was not too arduous. We arrived at 3.45 pm to find a Picathartes at the site, but it only gave the briefest view before it slipped into the forest. Everything I had heard prepared me for a long wait, but it was only a few minutes before first two and then a third Picathartes appeared at the site. I was amazed that the birds were confiding enough to permit close range viewing without a hide, and I could not believe how fortunate we were to be able to photograph and watch the Picathartes preening, fanning their wings and doing the avian equivalent of ‘chilling out’ at such close range and in good light. They are completing bizarre and engaging birds, and needless to say a trip highlight.
Not having to stay until dusk before viewing the birds meant we walked back from the site in daylight, which allowed a view of several Black Spinetails, and we arrived at the Royal Basin Hotel in Kumasi at a reasonable hour in spite of the unbelievable traffic chaos.
6th April. On a rather less humid but still hot (34’C) morning we went to the transitional forest at Offinso. Our time at this site was rather limited because the drive involves crossing Kumasi, so the journey time was 2hr 20 min, and when we reached the track to access the forest a flooded section was judged impassable for our minibus, so we had to walk some distance through rather monotonous teak plantations before we reached the somewhat degraded and in places fire damaged transitional forest. This undoubtedly reduced our chances of locating many target species, although we did have good views of the Guinea Turaco, and saw a number of new species for the trip, which were a sleek African Hobby, Hammerkop, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Northern Puffback, Grey-backed Camaroptera, and Pied Flycatcher. The Red-necked Buzzard gave good photo opportunities as it circled low overhead, and other raptors seen were Lizard Buzzard, Shikra and Harrier-Hawk.
In the late afternoon we headed for Bobiri Butterfly Sanctuary, which was about 30min drive from the hotel. As we drove along the approach road, through thick forest a neat Red-thighed Sparrowhawk was seen perched by the track, but although both Fraser’s Eagle Owl and Red-chested Owlet were heard calling, the latter very close, they refused to reveal themselves. Tree Hyrax and Demidorff’s Galago were also heard but no nocturnal mammals were located with the spotlight.
7th April. We arrived in the early morning at Bobiri and spent a few hours walking the trails. The Long-tailed Hawk was finally seen, with a juvenile first flying over, and then an adult drew attention to itself with calls as it with flew over with steady, deep Goshawk like wingbeats. This impressive species proved easier to see than the Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, which called persistently from below the canopy, but took several long and frustrating minutes before it could be viewed in the scope. One notoriously difficult bird proved unexpectedly easy as a Black-throated Coucal emerged from cover to drink from a road puddle. Other birds seen at Bobiri included African Cuckoo Hawks displaying, a Red-necked Buzzard with its kill of an agama lizard, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Blue-throated Roller, Piping Hornbill, Thick-billed Honeyguide, Blue Cuckoo-shrike, Black-winged Oriole, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, Magpie Manikins and Grosbeak Weaver.
Travelling along the Kumasi-Accra road was not without incident. A forestry team had felled a massive silk-cotton which had fallen across the road creating an impassable obstacle, although the giant was reduced to manageable sections in minutes by frenzied action with chain saws.
One animal I have always wanted to see is a pangolin, and today my wish was granted, although not in the way I wanted, as three Tree Pangolins were offered alive for sale by hunters, together with 2 Maxwell’s Duickers, 4 Royal Antelopes, Brush-tailed Porcupine, large numbers of smoked Cane Rats, and several plucked Francolin species. Many of these species entering the bushmeat market are nominally protected under Ghanian law but clearly enforcement is non-existent.
We eventually arrived along a somewhat difficult road across a savannah covered plain, with scattered Baobabs, a few km from the Shai Hills Resource Reserve, that was William’s ‘local patch’. Unfortunately most of the area appeared scheduled for housing development to accommodate a rapidly expanding Accra, but for the moment it offered a nice range of savannah species, Squacco and Striated Herons in marshy areas, an adult Ovampo Sparrowhawk flying past at close range, Vinaceaous Dove, Black-billed Wood-dove, Blue-bellied Roller, African Grey Hornbills, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Vieillot’s Barbet, Green Wood-hoopoes, Grey Kestrel, Lanner Falcon, Senegal Parrots, Rose-ringed Parakeets, Black-crowned Tchagra, Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Yellow-billed Shrike, Piapiac, Mosque Swallow, Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat, Splendid and Purple Glossy Starlings, Copper and Western Olive Sunbirds, a Heuglin’s Masked Weaver, that was constructing its nest just 1m from a nest of the notorious African Bee, and Black-rumped Waxbills. The tameness of many of these birds suggests that in spite of the relentless and ruthless hunting of mammals, birds are largely ignored in Ghana, something confirmed by Philip to be generally true, except for species such as large hornbills and specifically valuable species such as African Grey Parrot.
The day finished with a dusk visit to the Shai Hills Reserve. A small owl, looking pale in the headlights as it flew across the road was probably African Scops Owl, but there was no mistaking the two splendid Dusky Eagle Owls that posed on granite boulders and dead trees below cliff faces, nor the Plain Nightjar and three Long-tailed Nightjars that allowed close scrutiny as they rested on the road.
8th April. A hot and sunny day, but a breeze and lower humidity made a visit in the morning to the Shai Hills Resource Reserve very pleasant after the long (nearly 2 hour drive) to reach it. The parklike savannah with scattered trees with grass regenerating after fires held numerous Buffon Kob, and we could watch territory holding males chasing away or sparring rivals, with those holding the most desirable territories having access to the largest number of females. The other mammal seen was the Olive Baboon, with one group seen along the main road, and another passed through the reserve headquarter grounds. Even a brief period of observation gives a fascinating insight into baboon life, with the conflicting demands of the need for sociality and competition for status and resources.
We walked from the reserve headquarters with George, who was William’s erstwhile boss, and the advantage of being in a small group was clear, as I could wander off in any direction with George to photograph any particular bird. Lesser Honeyguide was seen near the HQ, but then we had a somewhat quiet patch until Violet Turacos were heard calling, and then seen in the tree canopy, and we then quickly had views of Greater Honeyguide, which actually tried to lure me, Blue-bellied Roller, Spotted Flycatcher, Lanner Falcon, Short-toed Eagle and Long-crested Eagle, except I missed the latter as I tried to photograph the Violet Turacos. A number of other species such as Croaking Cisticola, Helmeted Guineafowl, and Senegal Batis were heard but failed to show.
The final birding site was to the Sakamona Lagoon, just west of Tema Harbour. The extensive lagoon surrounded by marshy grassland was potentially a very attractive site, but massively defiled by unbelieveable quantities of plastic rubbish, so much so that African Jacanas were not lily trotters, but plastic trotters. Several Black Terns hawked distantly over the main lagoon, while waders included Common and Wood Sandpipers, Greenshanks, Spur-winged Plover, Wattled Plover, Ruff and Little Stints. An amazingly tame Shikra perched on a wire gave a great photo opportunity, and almost the last bird of the day was a Levaillant’s Cuckoo, which curiously enough was almost the first bird we saw in Ghana.
Before we left for the airport at dusk we were able to add one more mammal to the list, with several Straw-coloured Fruit Bats flying around the grounds of the Errata Hotel, a welcome and somewhat unexpected end to our Ghanian tour.
Largely because of the continuing bushmeat trade viewing mammals in Ghana is generally very difficult. The bushmeat trade is now hardly a question of poor villagers supplementing their diet, and more a matter of indulging the whims of rich Ghanians and tourists. As bushmeat was offered in a number of tourist restaurants I wonder to what extent this supports the trade, in the same way Icelandic whaling is kept afloat by tourists in Reykjavik sampling whale meat in restaurants. Even in supposedly protected areas there is significant poaching and the surviving mammals are at low density and extremely shy. Spotlight walks in forest require persistence if anything at all is to be seen, and may well prove fruitless. However we did see a reasonable selection of mammals even if some of them were fleeting views.
Olive Baboon Papio anubis. One Ghanian mammal which is not shy, two groups were seen in the Shia Hills Reserve on 8th April, giving the opportunity to watch the always fascinating social interactions.
Mona Monkey Cercopithecus m.mona. One animal was seen crossing the track at Ankasa on the 3rd April, while others were heard calling, but remained unseen.
Lesser Spot-nosed Monkey Cercopithecus c.petaurita. Two examples of this attractive monkey were scoped from the canopy walkway at Kakum NP, but even at 200m distance they quickly moved away.
Demidoff’s Galago Galagoides demidoff. A fairly common species to judge from the number heard calling at Kakum, Ankasa and Bobiri, but with its tendency to frequent low dense tangles of vegetation it is much harder to spotlight than Senegal or Greater Galagos, and only two were seen, on the 3rd April at Ankasa.
Straw-Fruit Bat Eidolon helvum. Several examples of this large bat were seen flying around the grounds of the Errata Hotel in Accra on the evening of the 8th April. This species is commonly seen in towns.
Hammer Bat Hypsignahus monstrosus. This bizzare species was seen in Ankasa on the 3rd April, with one flying up and down the track, and could be followed with the spotlight, and two probables in Nsutu Forest on the 5th April.
African Giant Squirrel Protoxerus stangeri. We had three sightings of this large squirrel in Ankasa on the 3rd April, including one inside a tree hole with such a small entrance it seemed barely possible the animal could have squeezed itself in.
Fire-footed Rope Squirrel Funisciurus pyrropus. This handsome small squirrel of the understory was seen in Nsutu forest and at Ankasa, where 1- 3 individuals were seen daily. Its calls were often heard emanating from dense second growth.
Red-legged Sun Squirrel Helioscirurus pufobrachium. This slender squirrel foraged higher in the trees than the Rope Squirrels, with singles seen at Kakum and Ankasa.
Slender-tailed Squirrel Protoerus dubinnii. One was seen briefly in the mangroves at the River Ebi.
Gambian Giant Pouched Rat Cricetomys gambianus. Three individuals of this large rodent with its apparently sluggish gait were seen trundling around the sides of the track in Ankasa, one carrying a very large seed in its jaws.
Common Cusimanse Crossarchus obscurus. A party of this diurnal forest dwelling mongoose could be heard in dense cover in Nsutu Forest, but frustratingly could not be seen.
African Palm Civet Nandinia binotata. A before dawn spotlight walk at Ankasa on the 4th April produced a long tailed carnivore high in a tall tree, with possibly slight mottling but certainly not the spotting of a genet I am sure the animal was this species.
Western Tree Hyrax Dendrohyrax dorsalis. Not seen, but heard calling at Kakum, Bobiri, Ankasa and in the Nsutu Forest.
Buffon Kob Kobus kob. This handsome antelope was seen in good numbers in the Shai Hills Reserve, with c150 seen. One male, his horns adorned with vegetation sparred with another male, elsewhere males could be seen standing in their individual territories, some with herds of females, others disconsolately alone.
White-faced Whistling Duck Dendrocygna viduata. Some 20 birds were seen on roadside lily ponds close to the estuary of the River Ebi on 4th April.
Hartlaub’s Duck Pteronetta hartlaubii. This species was seen in pools amongst mangroves at the River Ebi on 2nd April, with another two in well vegetated pools in the forest as Ankasa.
African Pygmy Goose Nettapus auritus. Pairs of this diminutive and stunning bird were seen in typical habitat of lily ponds on the way to Ankasa on the 29/3, and near the River Ebi on 4/4.
Crested Guineafowl Guttera pucherani. A group of five adults and a number of very small chicks was found on the track in Ankasa Reserve on the 4th April, giving good views because the adults did not leave until the chicks were safely in cover.
Long-tailed Cormorant Phalacrocorax africanus. Small numbers were seen in the mangroves of the River Ebi, at Cape Coast, and in the Sakamona Lagoon.
Hamerkop Scopus umbretta. Not the everpresent it is in some parts of Africa, just one was seen close to a pool in Offinso Forest.
Great Egret Ardea alba. Two examples were seen on mangroves at the River Ebi, with perhaps another 5 birds around the margins of the Sakamona Lagoon.
Intermediate Egret Mesophpyx intermedia. One seen on a pool near the River Ebi Mangroves on the 4th April.
Little Egret Egretta garzetta. Six birds were seen in flooded fields near Cape Coast on 4th April.
Western Reef Heron Egretta gularis. This coastal species was seen in Winneba Lagoon, as well as among the mangroves of the River Ebi. Helpfully, all were of the dark slate-grey plumage.
Cattle Egret Bulbulcus ibis. The most common heron, and seen daily, except for the day spent at Ankasa with 5-40 seen daily. At Rainforest Lodge a small flock arrived at dawn to search for insects and frogs in cracks in the hotel’s boundary wall. There was a distinct pecking order, with one bird in intense breeding plumage chasing all others away from the best spots.
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides. One bird only was seen on a pool in savannah near the Shai Hills on 7/4.
Striated Heron Butroides striatus. The last in a somewhat disappointing list of herons was seen at the River Pra on the 31/3, and in savannah near the Shai Hills, just singles in both cases.
Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus. Two birds were seen in the coastal savannah along the Breanu Beach Road on the 4th April, with another at the Shai Hill. One very approachable bird allowed me to take my best ever photos of this species.
African Harrier Hawk Polyboroides typus. A fairly common raptor, with 1-3 birds seen daily at Kakum, Ankasa, and Bobiri Butterfly Sanctuary.
Palm-nut Vulture Gypohierax angolensis. This striking but seemingly rather clumsy raptor was seen flying over the forest at Kakum and Ankasa, with 1-3 birds seen on most days in these locations.
Eurasian Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus. A probable seen in the forest at Ankasa on the 2nd April.
African Cuckoo Hawk Aviceda cuculoides. This reasonably distinctive broad winged raptor was seen regularly over the forest canopy in several locations, with 4 birds in Kakum, singles in Nsuto Forest and Ankasa, and 2 at Bobiri, which were displaying.
Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus. Although this species was seen on 5 days, with up to 10 birds daily, and so is still reasonably common it has clearly undergone a massive decline. One factor is most nest sites were in coconut palms, which are being wiped out in much of West Africa by a fungal disease.
Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus. One was seen soaring over the Shai Hills on the 8th April, in the company of 2 Lanner Falcons.
Long-crested Eagle Lophaetus occipitalis. One flew past at the Shai Hills on 8/4, I missed this bird as I had sneaked off to attempt to photograph Violet Turaco.
Cassin’s Hawk Eagle Aquila (Spizaetus)africana. Whatever Genus it is currently classified in, this Goshawk like forest eagle made an impressive sight as two birds soared over the canopy at Kakum, coming close enough at times for reasonable photographs.
Lizzard Buzzard Kaupifalco monogrammicus. This small, compact and attractively marked raptor was seen on the drive to Kakum, at Antwikwaa on the 32/3, and a soaring bird at Offinso.
Red-chested Goshawk Accipiter toussenelii. A displaying bird was seen at first light in Kakum, and one perched nicely for scope views above the camp at Ankasa. Now split from A.tachiro.
Shikra Accipiter badius. Three birds were seen around Accra on 29/4, and singles at Offinso and near the Sakamona Lagoon. The latter bird was perched on a wire, far more confiding than any Eurasian Sparrowhawk, and giving really good photo opportunities.
Red-thighed Sparrowhawk Accipiter erythropus. One example of this small forest hawk was seen along the track in Bobiri on the 6th April.
Ovambo Sparrowhawk Accipiter ovampensis. One example of this lean open country Accipiter flew past at reasonably close range in savannah close to the Shai Hills of 7th April.
Long-tailed Hawk Urotriorchis macrourus. After playing the piercing and rather eerie call of this species at every forest location without result I was sure we would dip of this species, but at Bobiri on the 7th April we had views first of a juvenile (which has a shorter tail than the adult), and then a calling adult flying over the canopy. The slow steady wingbeats were reminiscent of Goshawk – this excellent and unmistakeable bird is a fairly large raptor.
Yellow-billed Kite Milvus migrans parasitus. This was easily the most common raptor in Ghana, and it would appear to have not yet undergone any significant decline. Birds were seen daily, except for the day spent in the forest at Ankasa, and day totals might exceed 200 birds.
Red-necked Buzzard Buteo auguralis. This bird was quite commonly seen in agricultural land and degraded forest, around Kakum, Offinso and Ankasa, with 8 in total. One bird was seen carrying a Rainbow Agama.
White-spotted Flufftail Sarothrura pulchra. I had heard this species before but not seen it so I needed no encouragement to crawl into a dark muddy thicket at Antwikwaa so William could lure a calling bird. In a few seconds the Flufftail responded and appeared although it remained in the gloom of deep cover. It called persistently from one spot, the whole body of the bird pulsing with each call. It was also heard calling at Nsutu, Ankasa, and Offinso, but in spite of further efforts this was the only sighting.
Black Crake Amaurornis flavirostra. Some six birds were seen around a lily pond on the way to Kakum on the 29th March.
Purple Swamphen Porphyria porphyria. Two examples seen clambering around in bankside vegetation on the lily pond on the Kakum road on the 29th March.
Common Gallinule Gallinula chloropus. Two seen on the lily pond on the way to Kakum.
African Finfoot Podica senegalensis. William somehow managed to find one roosting on a branch above a forest pool in Ankasa with the spotlight. This was an astonishing spot, given the pool was screened by trees, we were driving past, and not all of us managed to locate the Finfoot with binoculars after we had reversed the Landrover, even when the light was held on it.
Senegal Thick-knee Burhinus senegalensis. A pair was found by a pool in savannah at Brenu Akyinim, and I was able to sneak close enough to take some reasonable photos of the suspicious but reasonably confiding birds.
Spur-winged Plover Vanellus spinosus. Two birds were seen at Winneba Lagoon on 29/3 and one close to Sakamona Lagoon on 8/4.
White-headed Lapwing Vanellus albiceps. Two examples of this striking riverine lapwing were seen on islands in the River Pra on the 31st March.
Wattled Lapwing Vanellus senegallus. Three seen around pools in savannah at Brenu Akyinim, and another two near Sakamona Lagoon.
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola. About 30 birds were seen on the mudflats at Winniba Lagoon, some in the smart breeding plumage.
Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula. About 20 birds seen on the mudflats of Winniba Lagoon.
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus. Some 10 birds seen wading in Winniba Lagoon.
African Jacana Actophilornis africanus. Small numbers seen on lily ponds on three days, with 5 birds amongst the plastic bottles and debris of Sakamona Lagoon.
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos. About 5 birds seen both at Winniba and Sakamona Lagoons.
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia. C10 birds seen at Winniba and Sakamona Lagoons, and 7 calling high overhead at Brenu Akyinim.
Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnalis. Two birds were picked out amongst the Greenshanks at Winneba Lagoon on the 29th April.
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola. Not seen at Winneba, but one of the more common waders at Sakamona, with c20 birds seen.
Common Redshank Tringa tetanus. Four birds were seen at Winneba Lagoon on 29/3.
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus. Some 20 birds seen at Winneba, and one in the River Ebi mangroves.
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres. Eight birds seen along a stony shore at Winneba Lagoon.
Sanderling Calidris alba. One seen amongst Little Stints at Winneba Lagoon.
Little Stint Calidris minuta. About 20 were seen on the mudflats of Winneba Lagoon.
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea. About 30, mostly summer plumaged birds were a nice sight in the shallow waters of Winneba Lagoon.
Ruff Philomachus pugnax. About 20 birds seen at Winneba, and 5 at Sakamona Lagoons.
Collared Pratincole Glareola nordmani. Three roosting birds gave distant scope views at Winneba Lagoon on 29/3.
Rock Pratincole Glareola nuchalis. Three pairs of this neat, dark pratincole were seen on rocky islands in the fast flowing River Pra on the 3rd March, also seen hawking insects over the river.
Black Tern Chlidonias niger. About 10 summer plumaged birds gave somewhat distant scope views as they hawked over Winneba Lagoon on the 8th April.
Common Tern Sterna hirundo. At least 10 birds were present in a roosting flock of terns at Winneba Lagoon on 29/3.
Royal Tern Thalasseus maxima. About 20 birds counted in a roosting flock in Winneba Lagoon.
Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis. The most numerous tern in a roosting flock at Winneba Lagoon on 29th March, and a few birds seen along the coast at Cape Coast.
Red-eyed Dove Streptopelia semitorquata. A fairly common bird in degraded forest and open woodland, with 2-10 seen on 7 days.
Vinaceous Dove Streptopelia vinacea. A bird of drier savannahs, three were seen around the Shai Hills.
Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis. A common species in cultivations, towns and villages, seen most days.
Black-billed Wood Dove Turtur abyssinicus. Three examples seen poddling around on the ground near the Shai Hills T– a very confiding bird.
Blue-spotted Wood Dove Turtur afer. More a bird of forest and forest edge than the preceding species, the birds was seen daily in small numbers at Ankasa and Bobiri.
Tambourine Dove Turtur tympanistria. This somewhat retiring dove of forest and woodland was seen in small numbers at Kakum, Ankasa and Bobiri. Often heard calling.
African Green Pigeon Treron calvus. This species was quite commonly seen in all forest habitats visited, seen on 8 days, with up to 20 seen daily.
Great Blue Turaco Corythaeola cristata. In spite of its spectacular appearance and noisy calls this species is not always easy to see, but birds feeding in trees around the edge of the power line clearing at Ankasa would oblige by flying across the clearing at regular intervals, so we saw 4 birds daily.
Guinea Turaco Tauraco persa. This was one of the target species we did catch up with at Offinso Fprest, with 2 birds giving reasonable views on the 6th April.
Yellow-billed Turaco Tauraco macrorhynchus. This species was very often heard calling at Ankasa, but it took quite a lot of searching before we had decent views. A few birds could be seen feeding on trees close to the campsite at Ankasa.
Violet Turaco Musophaga violacea. A pair of calling birds were seen in the Shai Hills on the 8th April, although I failed to get decent photos after a lengthy stalk of this spectacular bird.
Western Plantain Eater Crinifer piscator. A few birds were seen on the drive to Kakum, and it was quite numerous around the coastal savannahs at Brenu Akyinim, with c30 seen.
Levaillant’s Cuckoo Clamator levaillantii. I had not seen this species before, so it was nice to record this as almost the first bird of the trip, just outside the Errata Hotel, and curiously enough it was almost the last bird of the trip at Sakamona Lagoon.
Great-spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius. I was surprised to discover that this species is a resident as well as a Palearctic migrant, one was seen in typical fast direct flight the degraded forest at Antikwaa at Kakum.
Black Cuckoo Cuculus clamosus. One example of this generally elusive and retiring species was seen perched on the ropes of the canopy walkway at Kakum NP.
African Emerald Cuckoo Chrysococcyx cupreus. Two examples of this rather gorgeous bird were seen in Kakum NP, with one bird perched close to the walkway giving really good photo opportunities.
Didric Cuckoo Chrysococcyx caprius. One scoped in the top of a forest tree in the Antikwaa section of Kakum NP.
Yellowbill Ceuthmochares aereus. This rather skulking bird is hard to see as it moves through dense tangles of vines, but birds were seen in the Antikwaa section of Kakum NP.
Black-throated Coucal Centropus leucogaster. This forest coucal is normally a very difficult bird to see, although it was heard calling quite frequently at Ankasa, but as we left Bobiri on 10/3 one was found bathing in a road puddle, giving great close views before it retreated into the forest.
Blue-headed Coucal Centropus monachus. Two examples of this large coucal were seen perched in a bush as we drove along a track in the Antikwaa section of Kakum NP on the 30th March.
Senegal Coucal Centropus senegalensis. Small numbers were seen most days in savannah and in villages.
Grayish Eagle Owl Bubo cinerascens. This species has been split from
Spotted Eagle Owl, the main distinguishing feature is the dark, not yellow eyes. Two birds were spotlighted on rocks below cliffs in the Shai Hills reserve on the 7th April, one giving a display with open wings on the ground.
Akun Eagle Owl Bubo lecostictus. As we drove out from Nsutu Forest on the evening of 1st April, William spotlighted one of this species on a tree stump, staring at us with bright yellow eyes. The owl then flew a little further away but I was able to take some record shots of the illuminated bird. We also heard the plaintive wail of this bird at Ankasa. In spite of its size it is said to predate mainly insects.
African Wood Owl Strix woodfordii. This species was heard at Bobiri, Nsutu and Ankasa, but we also had excellent views of one posing nicely by the track in Ankasa on 2nd April.
Plain Nightjar Caprimulgus inornatus. It actually proved a struggle to locate any kind of nightjar, and it was not until the last evening that one of this species was spotlighted along a track in the Shai Hills Reserve.
Long-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus climacurus. Two males and a female were found close together on a track in the Shai Hills Reserve, allowing close scrutiny with the spotlight.
Mottled Spinetail Telecanthura ussheri. Superficially resembling Little Swift, but with a very different profile birds over Rainforest Lodge gave very good views, with 10-20 seen overhead daily.
Black Spinetail Telecanthura melanopygia. About 6 birds flew over the forest as we hiked back from the Picathartes nesting site on 5th April.
Sabine’s Spinetail Rhaphidura sabini. Three examples of this tiny bat-like swift were seen over the forest canopy at Kakum on the 30th March.
Cassin’s Spinetail Neafrapus cassini. Some 10 examples of this larger, but very short tailed spinetailed swift were seen over the forest canopy at Kakum, with the Sabine’s Spinetails. A few other birds were seen at Bobiri on 6th April.
Common Swift Apus apus. Assuming all dark Apus swifts were of this species, it was fairly widespread in Ghana, with up to 50 seen most days.
Little Swift Apus affinis. This species was quite common in Ghana, with aggregations around nesting sites in places such as bridges. It was seen virtually daily, 5-200 birds.
African Palm Swift Cypsiurus parvus. Seen most days, but in small numbers, 2-5 birds around forest edges and degraded forest.
Shining-blue Kingfisher Alcedo quadribrachys. It took quite a bit of waiting by the stream close to the camp in Ankasa to see this bird, and then I only had two views of one speeding downstream.
Malachite Kingfisher Corythornis cristatus. One seen at the River Ebi mangroves on 2nd April.
African Pygmy Kingfisher Ceyx pictus. This tiny insect and frog hunting kingfisher was seen in small numbers daily at Kakum, Nsustu Forest, Ankasa and Bobiri, and three active nest sites were located, the adult birds seen close by with crickets in their bills. Took very nice photos of one perched over a pool.
African Dwarf Kingfisher Ceyx lecontei. One example of Africa’s smallest kingfisher was scoped, perched just inside the forest edge in Ankasa.
Chocolate-backed Kingfisher Halcyon badia. One example of this smart, but secretive forest kingfisher was seen in flight only in Ankasa on 3rd April, other birds heard calling here, and at Bobiri proved elusive.
Woodland Kingfisher Halcyon senegalensis. A fairly common and conspicuous species of farmland and forest edge, and seen most days, 1-6 birds daily.
Blue-breasted Kingfisher Halcyon malimbica. This larger and more brilliantly coloured edition of the preceding species was seen in a cocoa plantation at Antikwaa in Kakum, and in flight above the forest canopy at Bobiri, which surprised me as I had always thought of this being a bird of the shady forest understory.
Striped Kingfisher Halcyon chelicuti. One calling bird in the Shai Hills Reserve on 8th April gave very good views.
Giant Kingfisher Megaceryle maximus. Single examples of this noisy and rather spectacular species were seen on 2nd and 4th April in the River Ebi mangroves.
Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis. About 6 birds were seen at both Winneba and Sakamona lagoons.
Black Bee-eater Merops gularis. This was one bird that really needed a scope view to fully appreciate the brilliant colours when perched high in the canopy. Three were seen from the canopy walkway in Kakum NP, and another in Ankasa. A dead bird was found outside a nesting burrow at Nsutu – snakebite a possible explanation?
Little Bee-eater Merops pusillus. Six examples of this neat bee-eater of open savannahs were seen at Brenu Akyinim on the 4th April.
White-thoated Bee-eater Merops albicollis. The most numerous and widespread bee-eater, with 1-20 seen daily, typically in small parties on wires or branches above forest clearings in places like Kakum and Ankasa, but also hawking insects high overhead in aerial pursuit.
Rosy Bee-eater Merops malimbicus. This species was only seen from the canopy walkway at Kakum on 31st March, with 5 birds hunting overhead in similar style to European Bee-eater.
Blue-bellied Roller Coracius cyanogaster. A very striking bird in flight with azure blue wingbar against the deep violet blue wings, some four were seen in the Shai Hills and I was able to get reasonable flight pictures.
Broad-billed Roller Eurystomus glaucurus. One bird seen on the drive to Kakum, and another in the drier forest at Offinso.
Blue-throated Roller Eurystomus gularis. This bird was typically seen perched above the forest canopy at Kakum, Ankasa, Nsutu and Bobiri, or chasing insects in elegant flight, often towards dusk. It usually needed scope views to see the blue throat. 1-6 birds were seen daily in these locations.
Green Wood-hoopoe Phoeniculus purpureus. A party of 4 of these very elegant birds flew into a baobab tree in the savannah near the Shai Hills on the 6th April.
White-headed Wood-hoopoe Phoeniculus bollei. A party of three birds could be seen probing the bark of a silk-cotton tree along the road through the forest at Nsutu on 1st April.
Forest Wood-hoopoe Phoeniculus castaneiceps. A pair of these forest birds obligingly flew in to feed in trees above our heads at the canopy walkway at Kakum NP.
Black Dwarf Hornbill Tockus hartlaubi. One bird was seen in the forest at Ankasa, obligingly perching on a branch low overhead allowing a photo opportunity.
Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill Tockus camurus. This species was seen at Bobiri – eventually, as the calling bird proved very difficult to see. It generally remained deep in the foliage, and was quite inconspicuous when it flew from tree to tree, but finally I had scope views of this bird.
African Pied Hornbill Tockus fasciatus. This was the most common and widespread hornbill, seen both in forest and cultivations, with up to 12 seen on 7 days.
African Grey Hornbill Tockus nasutus. One of this open woodland hornbills was seen near Bobiri, and another 2 in the savannahs of the Shai Hills.
Piping Hornbill Ceratigymna fistulator. This species was seen at Kakum and Ankasa, typically in flight in small parties, although at Nsutu Forest a group of 20 came past.
Brown-cheeked Hornbill Bycanistes cylindricus. One example of this near-threatened upper Guinea endemic was seen on flight over Nsutu Forest on the 1st April, it was very conspicuous with ponderous flight and obvious white on the upper wings.
Bristle-nosed Barbet Gymnobucco peli. Three birds were seen in a leafless tree as we hiked up to the canopy walkway at Kakum NP on the 30th March.
Naked-faced Barbet Gymnobucco calvus. Single birds were seen in the degraded forest at Antwikwaa, and another in Nsutu Forest.
Speckled Tinkerbird Pogoniulus scolopaceus. Single examples of this rather plain barbet were seen in the Antwikwaa section of Kakum NP.
Red-rumped Tinkerbird Pogoniulus atroflavus. We had very good views of a calling bird in the degraded forest at Antwikwaa in Kakum NP.
Yellow-throated Tinkerbird Pogoniulus subsulphureus. Heard calling on a number of occasions from forest, but only one was seen in Kakum on the 31st March.
Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird Pogoniulus chrysoconus. Two examples of this barbet of open savannah were seen in the Shai Hills.
Yellow-spotted Barbet Buccanodon duchaillui. Three examples of this rather handsome barbet were scoped in the canopy at Ankasa.
Hairy-breasted Barbet Tricholaema hirsute. One bird was scoped in a clearing at the edge of Nsutu Forest on the 1st April.
Vieillot’s Barbet Lybius vieilloti. This crimson faced barbet of open habitats was seen at Antwikwaa on the 31/3, and we had very close views of confiding birds in the savannahs of the Shai Hills.
Thick-billed Honeyguide Indicator conirostris. One was seen from the canopy walkway at Kakum, and another showed briefly in the forest at Bobiri.
Lesser Honeyguide Indicator minor. One bird was seen in the trees close to the reserve HQ at the Shai Hills.
Greater Honeyguide Indicator indicator. I had only seen this species once before, and nothing like the views this time, with a calling bird just yards away, presumably trying to entice me by flying off a short distance and then returning.
Little Green Woodpecker Campethera maculosa. Two examples of this Upper Guinea endemic were seen foraging in the branches above us at the canopy walkway at Kakum.
Gabon Woodpecker Dendropicus lugubris. Birds were seen from the canopy walkway at Kakum, and also at Ankasa.
Fire-bellied Woodpecker Dendropicus pyrrhogaster. Two examples of this large and rather strikingly marked woodpecker were seen from the canopy walkway at Kakum NP.
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus. A few birds were seen as we drove from Accra, and also around Rainforest Lodge; one would suspect they would predate Rainbow Agamas.
Grey Kestrel Falco ardosiaceus. Singles or pairs of this sleek raptor were seen on 8 days in savannah or degraded forest, often perched on electricity wires.
African Hobby Falco cuvierii. One bird was seen gliding over the forest at Offinso, in pursuit of the numerous dragonflies in the airspace above us.
Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus. Seen quite regularly, with 7 birds seen over 5 days, including a bird with a kill flying over the mangroves at the River Ebi, and a pair soaring with a Short-toed Eagle over the Shai Hills.
Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri. A flock of 10 were typically noisy and unmissable in savannah close to the Shai Hills on the 7th April.
Red-fronted Parrot Poicephalus gulielmi. Pairs were seen in flight, high above the forest canopy at Kakum, Nsutu, and Ankasa. We only heard the
African Grey Parrot at Bobiri, which is close to extirpation in Ghana.
Senegal Parrot Poicephalus senegalus. Some 15 examples of the colourful parrot were seen in baobabs in savannah close to the Shai Hills on the 7th April.
Rufous-sided Broadbill Smithornis rufolateralis. The whirring non-vocal sound of this bird was heard at Nsutu and in Ankasa, and it was in the former site where we had excellent views of a displaying bird just above our heads. Definitely one of the characters of the bird world.
Black-and-white Flycatcher Bias musicus. I was paying a bar bill so missed seeing this bird in the grounds of the Royal Basin hotel in Kumasi, which was seen by everyone else.
Common Wattle-eye Platysteira cyanea. One bird was seen on the grounds of Rainforest Lodge on the 31st March.
Chestnut Wattle-eye Dyaphorophyia castanea. Pairs of this bird, showing marked sexual dimorphism were seen in scrub and second growth in Nsutu Forest.
Red-cheeked Wattle-eye Platysteira blissetti. This species was heard singing in Antwikwaa and Nsutu, but was fairly unco-operative, remaining in dense tangles of vines, and only seen in flight as they zoomed to a new calling position.
Red-billed Helmetshrike Prionops caniceps. This striking and sociable bird was heard at Kakum and Nsutu, and it was at a clearing at the latter location where a party of 4 arrived to investigate a tree, showing the typical helmetshrike foraging behaviour of sitting quietly, while scrutinising all around in search of prey.
Northern Puffback Dryoscopus gambensis. Just one example was seen, in the transitional forest at Offinso.
Sabine’s Puffback Dryoscopus sabini. Two pairs of this forest dwelling bush shrike were seen from the canopy walkway at Kakum. The sexes show marked colour dimorphism, but both share the long, heavy bill.
Marsh Tchagra Tchagra minutus. This inhabitant of wet savannah was fairly skulking, but with patience one bird along the track from the Stingless Bee centre at Kakum was seen well and photographed.
Black-crowned Tchagra Tchagra senegalus. Only one was seen, in savannah close to the Shai Hills, but it did give very good views, showing its crisp plumage to advantage.
Brown-crowned Tchagra Tchagra australis. One bird was seen in the transitional forest at Offinso of the 6th April. Photos showed this bird to have a deformed bill, although it otherwise appeared fit and healthy.
Yellow-crowned Gonolek Laniarius barbarous. A pair of this beautiful but skulking bird was seen well in the coastal savannah at Breanu Akyinim, and another foraging on the ground near the Shai Hills.
Purple-throated Cuckooshrike Campephaga quiscalina. Three examples of this forest canopy species were seen from the canopy walkway at Kakum on the 30th March.
Blue Cuckooshrike Cyanograucalus azureus. Some 10 examples of this beautiful species were seen in the forest canopy at Kakum on 30th March, with the only other sighting being a single at Bobiri. This is a good example of a bird where a scope view was needed to fully appreciate the bird; with bins they generally just looked black.
Northern Fiscal Lanius smithii. Eight birds seen over 4 days, generally around villages or in cultivations
Yellow-billed Shrike Corvinella corvina. Two examples of this large shrike were seen in savannah near the Shai Hills.
Western Black-headed Oriole Oriolus brachyrhynchus. It needed fairly good views to note the white edge to the primary coverts that separate it from Black-winged Oriole, but 2 were seen in Ankasa on the 4th April.
Black-winged Oriole Oriolus nigripennis. Single birds were seen from the canopy walkway at Kakum, and at Bobiri, although it was quite often heard calling.
Shining Drongo Dicrurus atripennis. Two examples of this species were seen in a mixed party of greenbuls and other birds of the mid-story at Ankasa on the 3rd April.
Velvet-mantled Drongo Dicrurus modestus. This was the most common forest Drongo, and small numbers (1-5 birds) were seen daily in Kakum, Nsutu, Ankasa and Bobiri.
Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher Trochocercus nitens. One bird eventually gave views in response to taped calls in Nsutu Forest.
Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone rufiventer. This is a bird typically found in second growth and forest edges, and singles were seen at Antwikwaa, Nsutu and Offinso Forests.
Piapiac Ptilostomus afer. Although this is normally a very sociable bird, just one was seen in the savannah hear the Shai Hills on the 7th April.
Pied Crow Corvus albus. William was not receptive to my suggestion that this should be the national bird of Ghana. Ubiquitous except in closed forest at Ankasa, and clearly a very successful species.
Yellow-headed Picathartes Picathartes gymnocephalus. Obviously the highlight of the trip, we had fantastic views of three birds at their nesting sites on a massive boulder on the 5th April. I was very pleased and surprised that the birds arrived so early, as everything had prepared me for a wait until dusk, and we could watch them bounding around on rocks, preening and interacting in good light. I was also amazed how confiding they were – the stakeout reminded me of waiting for Birds-of-paradise to appear, but in those cases the bird could only be viewed from the confines of a hide.
Western Nicator Nicator chloris. This was a smart and vocal, but quite elusive bird, the Nicators now promoted out of the Bulbuls to a family of their own. One was scoped by Philip at Antwikwaa, and we had longer views of one foraging in a bamboo along the track past the Stingless Bee centre at Kakum on the 5th April.
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica. Seen most days in moderate numbers, up to 50 birds per day.
Ethiopian Swallow Hirundo aethipica. This appeared to be the common breeding swallow in towns and villages, and was seen in many urban locations.
White-throated Blue Swallow Hirundo nigrita. This rather lovely riverine swallow was seen at the River Pra on the 31st March, with 2 birds perched on a bridge stanchion, and several others harking over the river.
Pied-winged Swallow Hirundo leucosoma. A few birds were seen with the more numerous Lesser-striped Swallows in the savannah at Brenu Akyinim, and I was able to take nice photos of perched birds.
Lesser-striped Swallow Cecropis abyssinica. A fairly common species around villages, with birds regularly around Rainforest Lodge, and also several in the savannah at Brenu Akyinim.
Rufous-chested Swallow Cecropis semirufa. Two were seen flying with Lesser-striped Swallows at Rainforest Lodge on the 29th March.
Mosque Swallow Cecropis senegalensis. Two examples of this large swallow were seen on wires at Antwikwaa on the 31st March, and in the savannah near the Shai Hills on the 7th April.
Preus’s Swallow Pterochelidon preussi. We stopped by a road culvert on the drive back from the River Pra to Kakum to view a nesting colony of this species and it was quite an impressive sight. There were hundreds of mud nests fastened to the concrete roof of the culvert, and a stream of swallows entering and leaving the site along the line of the creek.
Square-tailed Saw-wing Psalidoprocne nitens. 5-10 birds were seen around the power lines in Ankasa, each time we visited the site.
Fanti Saw-wing Psalidoprocne obscura. Two birds were seen launching sallies after insects from perches in Nsutu Forest on the 1st April.
Forest Penduline Tit Anthoscopus flavifrons. Precisely the sort of canopy dweller one would never find without a guide like William, a pair were seen in the canopy of forest at Nsutu Forest.
Tit-hylia Pholidornis rushiae. Even smaller than the preceding species, a party of 4 gave good views as they foraged in an orange tree at the HQ at Kakum NP.
Slender-billed Greenbul Stelgidillas gracilirostris. In total we saw 16 species of Bulbul, many of which present an identification challenge, with their retiring habits and pastel shades of plumage, although W and P were able to identify many by call. This species was seen from the canopy walkway at Kakum.
Golden Greenbul Calyptocichla serinus. Probably named in desperation as it is vaguely yellow, rather than showing the brilliant colours of Golden Pipit and Golden Bowerbird ! Singles were seen from the canopy walkway at Kakum, and at Nsutu Forest.
Red-tailed Bristlebill Bleda syndactylus. This is quite a distinctive bulbul, even in flight, and one was seen crossing the track in Ankasa on the 3rd April.
Grey-headed Bristlebill Bleda canicapillus. One bird was located in the mixed flock of birds around the campsite at Ankasa on the 3rd April.
Simple Greenbul (Leaflove) Chlorocichla simplex. A reasonably distinctive bird with its clear white throat, singles were seen in Ankasa and in Nsutu Forest.
Honeyguide Greenbul Baeopogon indicator. This species does show a remarkable resemblance to a honeyguide, with its white outer tail feathers, birds were seen near the HQ at Kakum on the 30th March, and in Nsutu Forest.
Swamp Palm Bulbul Thescelocichla leucopleura. This noisy and rather extrovert bulbul did indeed frequent swampy areas with palms, and pairs were seen at Nsutu Forest and Ankasa.
Red-tailed Greenbul Criniger calurus. Two birds were seen in Nsutu Forest on the 2nd April.
Western Bearded Greenbul Criniger barbatus. Two birds were seen in the mixed species flock around the camp at Ankasa on the 3rd April.
Yellow Bearded Greenbul Criniger olivaceus. Two birds provided yet another ID challenge in the mixed species flock around the camp at Ankasa on the 3rd April.
Little Grey Greenbul Andropadus gracilis. The Andropadus greenbuls probably presented the greatest ID challenge, this species was seen from the canopy walkway at Kakum on the 30th March.
Ansorge’s Greenbul Andropadus ansorgei. This species was seen well and photographed from the canopy walkway at kakum, with other birds seen at Ankasa.
Yellow-whiskered Greenbul Andropadus latirostris. Singles of this subtle bird were seen in Nsutu Forest, and at Ankasa, heard calling at most forest locations.
Little Greenbul Andropadus virens. This bulbul of low dense cover was often heard calling, but only seen feeding in a fruiting tree at Ankasa.
Icterine Greenbul Phyllastrephus icterinus. A few birds were seen in the mid-story of forest at Nsutu and Ankasa.
Common Bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus. As expected a common species of cultivation, villages and degraded forest, and seen most days.
Green Crombec Sylvietta virens. A pair were watched foraging in branches in acrobatic style in Nsutu Forest on the 1st April.
Grey Longbill Macrosphenus concolor. Two were seen foraging in a tangle of vines and foliage from the canopy walkway at Kakum, with others seen at Nsutu Forest.
Chestnut-capped Flycatcher Erythrocercus mccallii. Pairs of this lively and active bird were seen from the canopy walkway at Kakum, and also at Bobiri.
Black-capped Apalis Apalis nigiceps. This smart warbler was seen along the road in Nsutu Forest.
Sharpe’s Apalis Apalis sharpii. This Upper Guinea endemic was heard but not seen at Kakum, but we eventually has good views of a pair at Nsutu Forest, foraging both high in the canopy and at lower levels.
Grey-backed Camaroptera Camaroptera brachyura. This rather vocal warbler was frequently heard, and seen foraging in dense cover at Bobiri and in the Shai Hills.
Yellow-browed Camaroptera Camaroptera superciliaris. A pair of this very smart warbler gave very good views from the canopy walkway at Kakum NP.
Olive-green Camaroptera Camaroptera chloronota. One example was seen along the track from the Stingless Bee centre at Kakum on the 5th April.
Red-faced Cisticola Cisticola erythrops. Two singing birds were seen in the degraded forest at Antwikwaa on the 31st March.
Singing Cisticola Cisticola cantans. Two birds were seen in the coastal savannah at Brenu Akyinim.
Whistling Cisticola Cisticola lateralis. Two birds were seen in the cultivations and degraded forest at Antwikwaa.
Tawny-flanked Prinia Prinia subflava. A few birds were seen around the grounds of Rainforest Lodge, and also at Antwikwaa in Kakum.
Rufous-crowned Eremomela Eremomela badiceps. A flock of c10 birds foraged in the canopy close to the canopy walkway in Kakum NP.
Green Hylia Hylia prasina. This unobtrusive forest species was seen at Kakum and Ankasa, four birds in total.
African Yellow White-eye Zosterops senegalensis. Surprisingly only 2 birds seen in the Antwikwaa section on Kakum NP.
Violet-backed Hyliota Hyliota violacea. This rather beautiful bird was seen in the forest canopy from the walkway at Kakum on the 31st March.
Northern Black Flycatcher Melaenornis edolioides. One bird seen in the open savannah at the Shai Hills on the 8th April.
Fraser’s Forest Flycatcher Fraseria ocreata. Two birds, looking a little like a female Red-backed Shrike with their crescentic scaling on the breast were seen at Kakum and Nsutu Forest.
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata. A bird seen in the Shai Hills was one of very few Palearctic migrants seen during the trip.
Ussher’s Flycatcher Muscicapa ussheri. This forest flycatcher perches prominently on exposed branches, 3 birds were seen in the forest at Nsutu.
Dusky-blue Flycatcher Muscicapa comitata. This small, unobtrusive flycatcher was seen at Antwikwaa, and in Ankasa.
Cassin’s Flycatcher Muscicapa cassini. One bird seen flycatching from a stump in the stream at Ankasa.
White-tailed Alethe Alethe diademata. After a great deal of peering into the understory of the forest at Ankasa I had a few glimpses of this elusive and shy species.
Snowy-crowned Robin Chat Cossypha niveicapilla. This beautiful species was seen in savannah scrub near the Shai Hills, and also heard singing at Brenu Akyinim.
Forest Robin Stiphrornis erthyrothorax. This species was regularly heard singing at Nsutu and Ankasa, but it took several unsuccessful attempts with the tape before I had poor views of one on the forest floor in Ankasa.
European Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca. A male bird was seen in the transitional forest at Offinso.
Finsch’s Flycatcher Thrush Neocossyphus finschii. One flew across the road in Nsutu Forest, and another was seen and heard calling in Ankasa.
African Thrush Turdus pelios. A few birds were seen in Accra, in the coastal savannah at Brenu Akyinim and around the Shai Hills.
Splendid Glossy Starling Lamprotornis splendidus. A flock of about 100 birds was seen on the drive to Kumasi on the 5th April, with another 20 birds in savannah close to the Shai Hills on the 7th April.
Purple Glossy Starling Lamprotornis purpureus. One example of this distinctively short-tailed iridescent bird was seen in Accra, with two others in savannah near the Shai Hills on the 7th April.
Copper-tailed Glossy Starling Lamprotornis cupreocauda. Four examples of this near-threatened Upper Guinea endemic were seen perched high in the canopy of rainforest trees in Nsutu Forest.
Chestnut-winged Starling Lamprotornis fulgidus. A few examples of this forest starling were seen in tall rainforest trees at Nsutu and in Ankasa.
Fraser’s Sunbird Delaeornis fraseri. Two birds, of this straight billed sombre sunbird were seen from the canopy walkway at Kakum.
Brown Sunbird Anthreptes gabonicus. One example of this non-descript sunbird, (except for the white ring around the eye), was seen in the mangroves around the River Ebi.
Little Green Sunbird Anthreptes seimundi. This tiny uniformly green sunbird was seen around the flowering shrubs at the HQ at Kakum.
Collared Sunbird Hedydipna collaris. One bird was seen in the forest edge at Kakum.
Reichenbach’s Sunbird Anabathmis reichenbachii. Three birds were seen in scrub around the mangroves at the River Ebi, within the very restricted range of this species in Ghana.
Green-headed Sunbird Cyanomitra verticalis. Two birds, whose head appeared more blue than green, were seen around the grounds of Rainforest Lodge.
Blue-throated Brown Sunbird Cyanomitra cyanolaema. Just one bird was seen in forest near kakum on the 1st April.
Western Olive Sunbird Cyanomitra obscura guineensis. Often heard calling, birds seen in scrub at Kakum, Bobiri and near the Shai Hills.
Buff-throated Sunbird Chalcomitra adelberti. This rather exquisite sunbird was scoped high in a forest tree in Kakum on the 31st March.
Olive-bellied Sunbird Cinnyris chloropygius. Just one bird was seen in the second growth forest in the Antwikwaa section of Kakum NP.
Tiny Sunbird Cinnyris minullus. We had two sightings of this minute colourful sunbird around the campsite at Ankasa.
Splendid Sunbird Cinnyris coccinigastrus. Certainly lives up to its name when illuminated by the sun, a pair were seen in bushes at Winneba Lagoon.
Johanna’s Sunbird Cinnyris johannae. This forest dweller, with its very strongly decurved bill was seen at Kakum and Nsutu.
Superb Sunbird Cinnyris superbus. A few examples of this large sunbird of forest edges were seen at Kakum, often around the park HQ.
Copper Sunbird Cinnyris cupreus. A few examples of this savannah species were seen at Brenu Akyinim and near the Shai Hills.
African Pied Wagtail Motacilla agui mp. Seen daily in towns and villages.
Northern Grey-headed Sparrow Passer griseus. Seen commonly around towns and villages, with the largest numbers drinking from roadside puddles along the Brenu Beach Road on the 4th April.
Red-vented Malimbe Malimbus scutatus. We saw all four Ghanian species of these distinctive crimson and black forest weavers. A flock of 4 was seen in the forest canopy at Kakum on the 1st April, and another 2 were seen at Ankasa on the 4th April.
Gray’s (Blue-billed) Malimbe Malimbus nitens. This appeared to be a more secretive Malimbe of the forest understory, but pairs were seen on 2 days at Ankasa, on one occasion while looking for a Flufftail in swamp forest.
Crested Malimbe Malimbus malimbicus. Two birds were seen along the forest edge in Nsutu Forest on the 2nd April.
Red-headed Malimbe Malimbus rubricollis. Some 5 birds were seen very well from the canopy walkway at Kakum on the 30th March. The birds spent much time clinging like a nuthatch to the trunk of a massive silkcotton tree, but even with a scope I was unable to determine exactly what they were trying to feed on while they did this.
Orange Weaver Ploceus aurantius. We saw some 10 birds nesting in palms overhanging a creek during a roadside stop on the way to Ankasa, together with Vieillot’s Masked Weavers.
Heuglin’s Masked Weaver Ploceus heuglini. One bird was watched constructing its nest in a Baobab, within 1m of the nest of African Bees, which cannot have been a coincidence, this was in savannah close to the Shai Hills.
Vieillot’s Weaver Ploceus nigerrimus. This was a fairly numerous species, and several breeding colonies were seen, typically over water, but also in Oil Palms. Birds were seen at Kakum, Nsutu, Ankasa and Bobiri.
Village Weaver Ploceus cucullatus. A common species, with nesting colonies often seen in isolated trees around villages and towns.
Yellow-mantled Weaver Ploceus tricolor. Some 15 examples of this forest weaver were watched building their nests in rainforest trees from the canopy walkway at Kakum.
Maxwell’s Black Weaver Ploceus albinucha. Small flocks of this rather acrobatic forest weaver could be seen searching the canopy branches from the walkway in Kakum NP, totalling about 20 birds, with a few others seen in Nsutu Forest.
Red-headed Quelea Quelea erythrops. Flocks of c30 birds were seen feeding on grass seeds in forest edges at Antwikwaa in Kakum. A few birds were beginning to adopt breeding plumage.
Yellow-crowned Bishop Euplectes afer. A small flock of 15 was seen in the reed beds around the Sakamona Lagoon.
Yellow-shouldered(mantled) Widowbird Euplectes macroura. One non-breeding male was seen in cultivations at Brenu Akyinim on the 4th April.
Grosbeak Weaver Amblyospiza albifrons. One example of this bulky weaver was seen in flight at Bobiri on the 7th April.
Grey-headed Negrofinch Nigrita canicapillus. Some 5 birds were seen from the canopy walkway at Kakum on the 30th March.
Chestnut-breasted Negrofinch Nigrita bicolor. Just 2 birds were seen from the canopy walkway at Kakum on the 30th March.
White-breasted Negrofinch Nigrita fusconotus. One example of this slender, rather warbler like finch was seen from the canopy walkway at Kakum, with another at Nsutu Forest.
Orange-cheeked Waxbill Estrilda melpoda. Small flocks of 5-10 birds were seen feeding in grassland close to forest at Antwikwaa, and Brenu Akyinim.
Black-rumped Waxbill Estrilda troglodytes. A flock of 10 birds was seen in the savannahs near the Shai Hills on the 7th April.
Western Bluebill Spermophaga haematina. One example of this spectacular finch was seen several times at Brenu Akyinim, but unfortunately only in flight as it flew across the track between patches of cover.
Black-bellied Seedcracker Pyrenestes ostrinus. This is another impressive finch, with a bill that would make a Hawfinch feel inadequate, but again was only seen in flight, between bushes under the power lines at Ankasa.
Bar-breasted Firefinch Lagonosticta rufopicta. This very tame species was quite common in Jukwa and in the grounds of Rainforest Lodge.
African (Blue-billed) Firefinch Lagonosticta rubricata. Just two birds were seen in scrub at Offinso Forest.
Bronze Manikin Spermestes cucullatus. A common species in villages, cultivation and forest edges.
Black-and-white Manikin Spermestes bicolor. Much less numerous than the preceding species, but small numbers were seen at Antwikwaa and in the secondary forest along the track from the stingless bee centre at kakum.
Magpie Manikin Spermestes fringilloides. Some 20 birds were seen in bamboos at Bobiri on the 7th April.
Pin-tailed Whydah Vidua macroura. Breeding males were often seen perched conspicuously on wires in villages or open country, 1-4 birds seen on 6 days.
Heard only birds
Helmeted Guineafowl, Spot-breasted Ibis, Nkulengu Rail, African Cuckoo, Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Red-chested Owlet, Fraser’s Eagle Owl, White-crested Hornbill, Sulphur-breasted Bush-shrike, Fiery-breasted Bush-shrike, Lagden’s Bush-shrike, Croaking Cisticola, Puvel’s Illadopsis, Forest Scrub-Robin.
Nile Monitor. One small specimen seen at the River Pra.
Rainbow Agama. Very common and conspicuous in towns and villages.
Boomslang. A snake seen crossing the road through forest on the drive from Ankasa was considered to be this species – it was very dark, but this species is extremely variable in colour. The head shape, large eye, neat vertically arranged scale rows, and what looked like folds which would allow it to inflate the anterior end all fit with Boomslang.
Gaboon Viper. This is a snake of superlatives – it has the longest fangs and largest venom output of any snake, and is possibly the most massive venomous snake in the world (ignoring the recent research that informs us all snakes, including constrictors, produce venom!). It was a real thrill to find one of these astonishingly beautiful vipers crossing the road in Ankasa, but a pity that in my excitement I failed to get a single acceptable photo of this slowest moving of all snakes.