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ULTIMATE GHANA

Sunday 3rd February - Friday 22nd February 2013

Nik Borrow

The rarely seen Nkulengu Rail (Nik Borrow)

The rarely seen Nkulengu Rail (Nik Borrow)

This was the eleventh BirdQuest tour to Ghana, once known as the Gold Coast and situated in the very heart of West Africa. The country’s growing tourist industry has much to offer to visitors with its colourful and vibrant culture, a turbulent history and a coast lined with beautiful beaches and numerous slave forts still left standing to remind visitors of a grim past. However we were here to discover its avian riches and this longer tour not only focused on a great selection of Upper Guinea forest endemic birds and one very special species in particular; the strange and bizarre Yellow-headed Picathartes or ‘rockfowl’ but also attempted to see as many birds as possible throughout the entire length of this interesting country. Although we had to wait for several hours for the picathartes to appear, our success at seeing this often elusive and furtive creature was absolute with prolonged views of posing individuals at close range and this event was undoubtedly the highlight of the tour! Our itinerary included Kakum National Park and its famous canopy walkway. We paid a visit to the beautiful forest at Ankasa and visited Mole National Park and the extreme north in search of the sublime Egyptian Plover. We returned south to the butterfly sanctuary at Bobiri, visited the hills of Atewa and finally the savannas and galleries at Kalakpa. It was very hot and humid as this was still the dry season but amazingly we lost two half days because of torrential storms. The birds were generally very quiet and less active, however we still managed to amass a very respectable 454 species of birds of which all but 19 were seen. We also recorded 34 species of mammal.

Specialties such as Nkulengu Rail, Congo Serpent Eagle, Egyptian Plover, Forbes’s Plover, Blue-moustached and Rosy Bee-eaters and Red-cheeked Wattle-eye, were the lead players with a good supporting cast of Ghanaian specialties that included Hartlaub’s Duck, Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle, Red-chested Goshawk, Red-thighed Sparrowhawk, Long-tailed Hawk (heard only), Fox Kestrel, Stone Partridge, Latham’s Forest Francolin, Ahanta Francolin (heard only), Brown-necked Parrot, Black-collared Lovebird, Violet Turaco, Thick-billed, Dusky Long-tailed (heard only) and Yellow-throated Cuckoos, Black-throated Coucal, Fraser’s and Akun Eagle Owls, Chestnut Owlet (heard only), Brown, Black-shouldered and Plain Nightjars, White-bellied Kingfisher, Blue-bellied Roller, Forest Wood-hoopoe, Black Dwarf, Brown-cheeked and Black-casqued and Yellow-casqued (heard only) Hornbills, Bristle-nosed, Hairy-breasted and Bearded Barbets, African Piculet, Fine-spotted, Little Green, Melancholy and Fire-bellied Woodpeckers, Sun Lark, Fanti Saw-wing, West African and Pied-winged Swallows, Preuss’s Cliff Swallow, Leaflove, White-throated, Western Bearded and Yellow-bearded Greenbuls, Green-tailed (heard only) and Grey-headed Bristlebills, Western Forest Robin, White-crowned Robin Chat, White-tailed Alethe, Finsch’s Flycatcher Thrush, White-crowned Cliff Chat, Kemp’s Longbill, Violet-backed Hyliota, Rufous Cisticola, Sharpe’s Apalis, Ussher’s Flycatcher, West African Wattle-eye, Senegal and West African Batises, Rufous-winged and Puvel’s Illadopsises, Capuchin Babbler, Forest Penduline Tit, African Spotted Creeper, Brown, Reichenbach’s, Buff-throated and Carmelite Sunbirds, Lowland Sooty Boubou (heard only), Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Red-billed Helmet-shrike, Copper-tailed Glossy Starling, Chestnut-bellied Starling, Red-vented Malimbe, Maxwell’s Black Weaver, Red-winged Pytilia, Exclamatory Paradise Whydah and Wilson’s Indigobird.

The incredible Standard-winged Nightjar (Nik Borrow)

The incredible Standard-winged Nightjar (Nik Borrow)