After our usual 5am breakfast we set off into Mole National Park in our coach along the Samole Loop, complete with an armed guard. We drove down from the escarpment our lodge is situated on and into the bush country where bird activity was high – how delightful..!! The first bird of the day was party of three Stone Partridge sitting on the track in front of the coach, and not a bad way to begin. A little further along a female Abyssinian Ground Hornbill was seen perched in a tree, looking rather cumbersome. Our first walk of the morning was fascinating with birds everywhere and right in front of us we saw Bush Petronia, Little Weaver, Northern Puffback, a group of Senegal Eremomela, Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, and a Willow Warbler. We followed a sandy track towards some taller trees where a Brown-throated Wattle-eye performed well, Northern Black Flycatcher was perched at the top of a tree and a pair of Oriole Warblers were seen by everyone. I think we were all amazed at the sheer numbers of Red-throated Bee-eaters here, as they were literally everywhere and we enjoyed great views of them.
A flock of White-throated Bee-eaters were also seen flying overhead. We then drove a little further before walking again and this time we saw a cracking Violet Turaco perched in a bare tree, Beautiful Sunbird, Malachite Kingfisher, Hadada Ibis, and a singing Yellow-fronted Canary. Another short drive and we saw Callithrix Monkey and our first Kob from the coach before spending some time from a viewing platform overlooking a pool and marshy area. Our first Helmeted Guineafowl were seen on the walk in, along with a pair of Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weavers. The trees around the platform held Red-shouldered Cuckoo-Shrike, Brubru, Swamp Flycatcher, brief African Blue Flycatcher, and a bright African Golden Oriole.
We walked around the side of the marsh seeing Senegal Thick-Knee, more Hadada Ibis, African Wattled Lapwings, and flyover Bateleur and White-backed Vultures. Then we drove on to a shady area to look for firefinches, with just a few of the group seeing Black-Bellied Firefinch. There was also Hamerkop, Double-spurred Francolin, Senegal Batis, Wire-tailed Swallow and a Lead-coloured Flycatcher in the surrounding area.
So by now it was almost 10.30am and exceedingly hot so we drove back to the lodge to freshen up and cool down. There’s a great viewpoint at the lodge where you can look down on a large water hole and some scanning from here turned up a nice variety of birds with Grey-headed Kingfisher posing nicely and Anthony spotted a perched White-headed Vulture. There was also a Woolly-necked Stork, Black-headed Weaver, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, and flyover Martial Eagle and African Hawk-Eagle as well.
|The view from our lodge at Mole NP|
The afternoon session proved to be a mixed bag as we headed to an open area to look for Forbes’s Plover, which failed to materialise. We were a bit preoccupied with the Tsetse Flies but our new head nets did prove to be useful. However, there were several Sun Larks present to provide our first tick of the afternoon. It was then that we experienced a freaky tropical storm that came out of nowhere, turned the sky black very quickly, had gale force winds and driving rain, thunder & lightning – the works. So that put paid to any ‘nightjarring’ here and we drove off. Luckily the storm passed and we headed to another open area, arriving at the perfect time as it had just got dark. We found 2 Long-tailed Nightjars, an African Scops-Owl and a Scrub Hare, but the biggest surprise was a Common Buttonquail spotlighted from the coach. Just what it was doing here out in the open I haven’t a clue but we were thankful that our luck was changing! It was just a shame the calling Northern White-faced Scops-Owl failed to show. Driving back to the lodge there were 2 different Greyish Eagle-Owls and a White-tailed Mongoose. Other animals seen today were Common Warthog, Olive Baboon and a Waterbuck.