Well I survived the first night’s camping! Have to say the set up here is as good as it can be with large walk-in tents, a shower & toilet block, excellent food etc. If I could only just stop sweating! But to be woken by raindrops on canvas wasn’t what I wanted to hear and in fact we had light rain for the first couple of hours of daylight.
|Ankasa Forest from below the campsite|
|Birding from the jeep track at Ankasa Forest|
But that didn’t stop us and we drove along the jeep track and then walked down to the first pond where our patience was rewarded with some views of a cracking White-bellied Kingfisher perched on a dead snag. What a bird, but no photos as I chose to soak up the views in my bins. There was also a pair of Chestnut-breasted Negrita, several Blue-billed Malimbe and a pair of Blue-breasted Kingfishers present. The second pool was quiet so we walked on to the third pool and turned up Olive-green Cameroptera and had seconds of the delightful Yellow-browed Cameroptera. A cracking Black-bellied Seedcracker was startlingly bright, and a Great Blue Turaco was, well great! Leaving here, I scoped a Copper-tailed Starling as it sat on electricity pylons calling away.
The next couple of hours were rather frustrating, as is often the way with forest birding and we walked our socks off (well I would have if they weren’t fused to my skin with damp and sweat!) until we found a nice mixed flock. Pride of place went to a Shrike Flycatcher, Fraser’s and Western Olive Sunbirds, Shining Drongo and several Icterine Greenbuls in a mixed flock. So then, having already spent the best part of an hour trying to locate a constantly calling Chocolate-backed Kingfisher (in vain) another began calling nearby.
This one also played cat-and-mouse and somehow circled us unseen before it flew in and landed overhead and took pride of place on my life list. What a cool bird but it was a pity it didn’t hang around longer. Next up was a calling Rufous-sided Broadbill we tracked down to its display branch and I then spent an enjoyable half an hour scoping it and taking photos. A real privilege to watch such behaviour at leisure.
During lunch back at the lodge, after another excellent meal, I sat around camp and enjoyed watching a nice little flock passing by that included Western Bearded Bulbul, another Fraser’s Sunbird and had really nice looks at a Yellow-billed Turaco. Then Victor and I walked some nearby trails and found the forest to be really quiet, but a family of Cassin’s Flycatchers were seen along the river, before we trudged on further into the forest.
You just never know what is around the corner and I can only describe the forest as dead – until a Long-tailed Hawk began calling and thanks to Victor, it flew in right above our heads in response to the tape. Well it was maybe 200 feet above us in the tallest tree this side of the Sahara, in a small gap in the canopy but there it was. In fact we had several views of it, best of all when it was flying as you could really appreciate the extraordinarily long tail. It does what it says on the tin after all!
|Long-tailed Hawk - honest!|
And that was our day. I probably haven’t done Ankasa justice as I spent far too long waiting for kingfishers today and watching the broadbill. Just to note, we also heard Shining-blue Kingfisher, Green-tailed Bristlebill, Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo and Black-Casqued Hornbill today. So this forest is home to some real gems and I’m very happy with what I’ve seen.
If you like the whole camping experience and can put up with the humid environment and don’t mind some mild discomfort then you are going to love it here. If you like your creature comforts, well… Stay well away..! Personally, I love it here.