Welcome to Birdquest
Sunday 2nd March - Saturday 29th March 2014
Cameroon may not be a tour for those who like their creature comforts but it certainly produces a huge bird list and if one intends to only ever visit one western African country then this is surely an essential destination. Our comprehensive itinerary covers a superb and wide range of the varied habitats that this sprawling country has to offer. We started our tour at the end of the dry season but the rains had arrived early this year and even in the usually arid north we had a little rain. This year we nailed Red-headed Picathartes (or Grey-necked Rockfowl) on our very first day at an easily accessible site and watched them over two afternoons with a count of at least 10 individuals hopping all around us. A Long-tailed Hawk on our return journey was a real bonus! In the far north we relished incredible views of Quail-plover and Cricket Warbler. Once again we found the restricted range Rock Firefinch (first discovered in the country in 2005 by BirdQuest) and the recently rediscovered Chad Firefinch. In Bénoué National Park as always the sublime Egyptian Plover enchanted and Adamawa Turtle Dove was found. The dark forested gullies at Ngaoundaba surrendered Spotted Thrush-babblers and Bamenda Apalis whilst breeding plumaged Standard-winged Nightjars amazed. The Bamenda Highlands gave us the expected Bannerman’s Turaco, Banded Wattle-eye, Bannerman’s Weaver and Bangwa Forest Warbler. For the long climb up to the treeline on Mount Cameroon we were rewarded with fine views of the Mount Cameroon Speirops. Struggling with rain in Korup National Park both Sjöstedt’s Owlet and Bare-cheeked Trogon brightened our days with a Congo Serpent Eagle as a reward as we left. Finally at Mount Kupe and in the Bakossi Mountains the tour peaked with views of Mount Kupe Bushshrike. Of the other regional endemics we also recorded Cameroon Olive Pigeon, Green-breasted Bushshrike (heard only), Yellow-breasted Boubou, Cameroon Montane, Western Mountain, Cameroon Olive and Grey-headed Greenbuls, Mountain Saw-wing, Black-capped Woodland Warbler, Cameroon and Bangwa Forest Warblers, Brown-backed Cisticola, Green Longtail, White-tailed Warbler, White-throated Mountain Babbler, Alexander’s (split from Bocage’s) Akalat (heard only), Mountain Robin-chat, Cameroon and Ursula’s Sunbirds and Shelley’s Oliveback. Many other specialities were recorded including much-wanted species such as Black Guineafowl (heard only), Latham’s, White-throated and Clapperton’s Francolins, Hartlaub’s Duck, Scissor-tailed Kite, Fox Kestrel, Arabian Bustard, Red-chested Flufftail, Nkulengu Rail (heard only), Black Crowned Crane, Bronze-winged Courser, Grey Pratincole, Four-banded Sandgrouse, Violet Turaco, Black-throated Coucal, Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo (heard only), Fraser’s Eagle Owl and Pel’s Fishing Owl (both heard only), Black-shouldered Nightjar, Black Spinetail, Bates’s Swift, Blue-bellied Roller, White-bellied Kingfisher, Blue-moustached Bee-eater, Yellow-casqued Hornbill, Western Tinkerbird, Bristle-nosed, Vieillot’s and Bearded Barbets, Lyre-tailed Honeyguide (heard only), African Piculet, Tullberg’s, Gabon and Elliot’s Woodpeckers, Grey-headed Broadbill, West African Batis, Black-necked Wattle-eye, Rufous-bellied Helmetshrike, Fiery-breasted Bushshrike, Sabine’s Puffback, Mountain Sooty Boubou, Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Rufous-vented and Bates’s Paradise Flycatchers, Dusky Crested Flycatcher, Sennar Penduline Tit, Yellow-throated Nicator (heard only), Sun Lark, Golden, Xavier’s, Eastern Bearded and White Bearded Greenbuls, Sjöstedt’s Greenbul (heard only), Yellow-lored Bristlebill, Square-tailed and Petit’s Saw-wings, West African and Forest Swallows, Preuss’s Cliff Swallow, Chattering, Rock-loving, Red-pate, Dorst’s and Rufous Cisticolas, River and Banded Prinias, Black-collared Apalis, Red-winged Grey Warbler, Lowland Masked Apalis, Oriole Warbler, Ruwenzori Hill Babbler, Forest White-eye, Grey-chested Babbler, African Spotted Creeper, Purple-headed, Chestnut-bellied, Neumann’s and White-collared Starlings, Crossley’s Ground Thrush (heard only), Western Forest Robin, White-bellied, Grey-winged and White-crowned Robin-chats, African Scrub Robin, Heuglin’s Wheatear, White-fronted Black Chat, White-crowned Cliff Chat, Yellow-footed Flycatcher, Reichenbach’s, Carmelite and Orange-tufted Sunbirds, Cassin’s, Red-vented and Blue-billed Malimbes, Pale-fronted Nigrita, Grey-headed Oliveback, Yellow-winged Pytilia, Black-bellied Seedcracker, Brown and Dybowski’s Twinspots, Black-faced Firefinch, Black-headed Waxbill, Sahel Paradise Whydah, Cameroon and Long-legged Pipits and White-rumped and West African Seedeaters. The problems of hunting and poaching mean that mammals are scarce or very shy. Frustratingly we only heard Drill in Korup National Park but saw small numbers of Kordofan Giraffe, Loder’s Kob, Red-fronted Gazelle and Korrigum in Waza National Park. Four Forest Buffalo in Bénoué were a surprise and here we saw our only solitary Roan Antelope of the trip and plenty of Hippopotamus.