Monday, 28 September 2015

Ghana - Going Solo....

So i've been home far too long and after the summer break i've hopped on a British Airways direct flight to Accra in Ghana. It's only a little over 6 hours to get here and you are in a whole new world of superb west African birds. I'm travelling on my own with the excellent Victor Owusu from Ashanti African Tours as my local guide.

So breakfast was at 5.15am and we were soon off on the 20 minute drive to Shai Hills where we spent a pleasant morning’s easy birding, following a track through grassland and dense bushes with some taller trees interspersed as well. I was feeling very relaxed and enjoyed getting nice scope views of species such as African Grey Hornbill, Viellot’s Barbet, Senegal Parrot, Splendid Sunbird and Violet-backed Starlings. A little nearer was a pair of Northern Puffbacks, although I much preferred a Yellowbill that came in quite close to us and posed out in the open briefly. Just around the corner in an area of dense bushes with some rocks below we had a mad little session with several Yellow-throated Leafloves moving around us, followed by my first lifer – Simple Leaflove. Then a Grey-headed Bristlebill appeared for a short while, with Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat, Cardinal Woodpecker, Blue-spotted Wood-Dove, Grey-backed Cameroptera, an African Thrush and a pair of Oriole Warblers as well. It was a very exciting 20 minutes and in the end everything showed really nicely.

Simple Leaflove

Further on we scanned some cliffs in the hope of seeing White-crowned Cliff-Chat, but nothing was showing except a Lead-coloured Flycatcher and a superb Violet Turaco that flew a long way over the grassland to land in a nearby tree. 

Violet Turaco

Then a Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird began calling and I eventually managed to get the scope on it, and a little further on a Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird showed well, along with a Black-necked Weaver

Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird

We walked further and on reaching some more open grassland habitat managed to sort out both Croaking and Siffling Cisticolas. Further scanning revealed the first of 3 Blue-bellied Rollers seen this morning, along with Tawny-flanked Prinia and a pair of Yellow-throated Longclaws. So by now it was 9am and was starting to get hot although we had some nice cloud cover that certainly kept the temperature bearable. 

Black-bellied Bustard

Then we drove quite a long way along the dirt track towards a cave and along the way we saw White-shouldered Black Tit, Gabar Goshawk, Flappet Lark, Black-bellied Bustard and a family of Lesser Black-winged Lapwings. I was very pleased with the latter species and a new bird for me, and it was nice to watch them from the minibus as they didn’t seem to mind our presence and I fired off a nice sequence of shots…

Lesser Black-winged Lapwing

Up at the cave there was nothing happening but we did get a reply to the African Barred Owlet, which seems to be the standard thing according to other trip reports. So we drove back to the cliffs and this time truly nailed White-crowned Cliff Chat with a pair flying in and landing high above us – another lifer as this is now split from Mocking Cliff Chat. The same area also had a pair of Lanner, and incredibly both Double-toothed and Bearded Barbets to round off a very enjoyable morning. We also saw a Rufous-crowned Roller and several Woodland Kingfishers on telegraph wires as we drove back to the hotel.

After lunch we set off to Sakumono Lagoon where Kittlitz’s Plover, a flock of Collared Pratincoles and a few Black Herons were the highlight. It was really hazy, but it was 1pm and rather hot. There were lots of other species present but viewing in these conditions wasn't nice, so for the record there was also: Eurasian Wigeon, White-faced Whistling-Duck, Squacco Heron, Western Reef Egret, Ethiopian Swallow, Little Swift, African Palm Swift and others….

The drive through Accra wasn’t fun and I dozed off to the melodic strains of Nirvana from my iphone! Luckily I woke just in time for our arrival at Winneba Lagoon and its flock of 40+ Royal Terns and a few common waders, which did include a White-fronted Plover. The nearby Winneba Plains was our last stop in the late afternoon and although we didn’t spend long here the views of two different African Moustached Warblers were great, whilst there was also Yellow-mantled Widowbird and Red-faced Cisticola to entertain us as well. Glad we saw the lapwing and bustard earlier today as the grass was really tall here and there’s no chance of seeing them here at present.

So that was our day and all that remained was a two hour drive to the Rainforest Lodge, my base for the next 2 nights to explore Kakum. Can’t wait…

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