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BEST OF GHANA

Wednesday 7th March - Wednesday 21st March 2018

Nik Borrow

White-necked Rockfowl (Nik Borrow)

White-necked Rockfowl (Nik Borrow)

Ghana, once known as the ‘Gold Coast’ is situated in the very heart of West Africa and the country’s growing tourist industry has much to offer visitors through the country’s colourful and vibrant culture, turbulent history and a coast lined with beautiful beaches and numerous slave forts that are still left standing to remind visitors of a grim past. However, the aim of our ‘Best of’ tour was to discover the cream of Ghana’s avian riches and our focus was on an exciting selection of Upper Guinea Forest endemic birds and one very special species in particular; the strange and bizarre White-necked Rockfowl (aka Yellow-headed Picathartes). Our success with this charismatic species was total and absolute with close views of at least four individuals at close range and this event was voted the highlight of the trip! Our tour started at Shai Hills where, birding in the thickets that surround the base of the rocky outcrops that are frequented by White-crowned Cliff Chats and colourful Double-toothed and Bearded Barbets, we managed to hear the scarce local form of African Barred Owlet sometimes split as Etchécopar’s Owlet. Sadly the Winneba Plains grasslands have recently been largely destroyed and turned into a solar energy plant but even so we enjoyed great views of an African Hobby here. Spending time at Kakum National Park with its famous canopy walkway and in the surrounding farmbush we were introduced to a mind-boggling array of forest zone species that included Upper Guinea endemics such as Fire-bellied and Melancholy Woodpeckers, West African and Red-cheeked Wattle-eyes, Sharpe’s Apalis, Ussher’s Flycatcher, Buff-throated Sunbird and other mouth-watering species like Rosy Bee-eater, Brown, Long-tailed and Plain Nightjars, and Puvel’s Illadopsis as well as some mammals that included the wonderful and strange Pel’s Anomalure. Rock Pratincoles and White-throated Blue Swallows showed well on the Pra River and then travelling westwards, stops along the coastal strip gave us Allen’s Gallinule, a pair of Hartlaub’s Ducks and Mangrove and Reichenbach’s Sunbirds. As usual, the superb evergreen forest at Ankasa was hard work and often frustrating but we had successes with views of the Upper Guinea endemic Yellow-bearded Greenbul, Red-billed Helmetshrike, Finsch’s Rufous Thrush, White-tailed Alethe, Rufous-winged Illadopsis and Red-fronted Antpecker as well as Long-tailed Hawk, Akun and Fraser’s Eagle-Owls, Shining-blue and White-bellied Kingfisher, Lowland Akalat and a terrific sighting of a pair of Nkulengu Rail on their roost site. Heading up to the north we managed sightings of a group of Capuchin Babblers and the visit to Mole National Park was a great success with close up views of the desirable Forbes’s Plover, Greater Painted-snipe, Denham’s Bustard, Greyish Eagle-Owl, Northern White-faced Owl, Standard-winged Nightjar, several Sun Larks, Brown-rumped Bunting and a pair of showy White-throated Francolins. Even further north we searched out Fox Kestrel, Rock-loving Cisticolas and Gosling’s Buntings in the boulder-strewn Tongo Hills. A Lesser Jacana we found at Nasia Swamp was the first record of this species for Ghana and on the borders of Burkina Faso, sublime Egyptian Plovers obliged along the banks of the White Volta River whilst nearby we also discovered a pair of Yellow Penduline Tit which was a great find and a male Golden-breasted Bunting. Several Green Bee-eaters (a species only added to the Ghanaian list two years ago) were seen at Tono Dam before we returned south to visit the butterfly sanctuary at Bobiri where both Black and Red-billed Dwarf Hornbills showed themselves well. Amongst the many other wonderful specialties encountered during this tour were Stone Partridge, Latham’s Francolin, Spot-breasted Ibis (heard only), Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle, Congo Serpent Eagle (heard only), Red-chested Goshawk, Red-thighed Sparrowhawk, Violet Turaco, Black-throated Coucal, Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo (heard only), Black Spinetail, Blue-bellied Roller, Brown-cheeked and Yellow-casqued Hornbills, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Least Honeyguide, African Piculet (heard only), Fine-spotted and Little Green Woodpeckers, Brown-necked Parrot, Senegal Batis, Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Dusky Crested Flycatcher, Yellow Penduline Tit, White-throated Greenbul, Grey-headed Bristlebill, Western Bearded Greenbul, Fanti Saw-wing, West African Swallow, Preuss’s Cliff Swallow, Kemp’s Longbill, Rufous and Black-backed Cisticolas, Oriole Warbler, African Spotted Creeper, Chestnut-bellied Starling, Olivaceous and Little Grey Flycatchers, White-crowned Robin-Chat, ‘Western’ and ‘Ghana’ Forest Robins, White-fronted Black Chat, Pygmy Sunbird, Orange, Heuglin’s Masked and Maxwell’s Black Weavers, Red-vented Malimbe, Red-winged Pytilia, Black-faced Firefinch, Wilson’s Indigobird and Exclamatory Paradise Whydah.

Nkulengu Rail (Nik Borrow)

Nkulengu Rail (Nik Borrow)