I have just returned from an eleven day birding trip in Ghana with Ashanti African Tours (www.ashantiafricantours.com).  The eleven days were fully packed with birding and travelling the significant distances between the main birding sites.  On arrival on Saturday night at Kotoka International Airport in Accra I was met by my two guides for the 11 days and transferred to our hotel at around 11pm.  After checking in, the guides informed me that breakfast the next day was at 4.30am, leaving the hotel at 5am; this was the case for the remainder of the trip except for a couple of days where we had a long lie, with breakfast at 5am! The first morning was spent in the dry savannah of Shai Hills Reserve, where  a number of good species were spotted including Flappet Lark, Croaking Cisticola, Vieillot’s Barbet, Gabar Goshawk and Bearded Barbet.  After lunch we headed for some coastal lagoons where numerous waders were observed.  The highlight of this visit, being a Lanner Falcon feeding on an unfortunate Black Winged Stilt, and good views of three Double Toothed Barbets. Three nights were spent close to Kakum National Park.  The first day at the park was spent with an early morning and afternoon trip to the canopy walkway which is suspended from trees some 40m above ground level.  The walkway is the only one if it’s kind in Africa and is an extremely impressive construction consisting of a number of aluminium ladders bolted together, wooden planks, cargo nets, ropes and steel wires.  The walkway allows fantastic views of birds that spend their time in the canopy and are otherwise extremely difficult to see.  An extremely enjoyable few hours were had in the canopy where I had some good views of more than 50 new species including Pied Hornbill, Blue Cuckooshrike and Sharpe’s Apalis. Days 3 and 4 were spent on different walks within the forest in and around the Kakum National Park with many more new species viewed including Speckled Tinkerbird, White Throated Bee-eater, Tit Hylia and Rosy Bee-eater. After Kakum we moved further west stopping at Nsuta forest for evening and early morning walk enjoying good views of Vieillot’s Black Weaver, White Headed Woodhoopoe, Bristle Nosed Barbet , Long Tailed Hawk and Hairy Breasted Barbet.  As darkness fell on the evening walk we tried for the Akun Eagle Owl but to no avail. Onwards to Ankasa rainforest, again for an evening and early morning walk with further new species added to the triplist; Blue Breasted Kingfisher, White Breasted Kingfisher and African Cuckoohawk were notable.  The elusive Nkulengu Rail was heard but was unfortunately did not show; the Akun Eagle Owl also proved elusive at Ankasa. We headed back east and spent another night at Kakum.  An early morning walk at the north of the park gave good views of African Harrier Hawk, Blue Billed Malimbe, Blue Headed Crested Flycatcher and Congo Serpent Eagle. Northwards, we headed to Kasumi, Ghana’s second largest city and spent the night on the outskirts.  An early start and off to the Bobiri Forest Reserve (a butterfly sanctuary).  The afternoon was dedicated to a visit to a site where the Yellow Headed Picathartes roosts.  The site is an hour walk into the rainforest to a rocky outcrop that these birds favour as a nest and roost site.  As we arrived the mud nests were evident on the rock face.  The plan to see these very elusive birds was to sit quietly at one side of the rock outcrop and await the return of the birds to roost; this is the only way to see these birds – our very experienced guides had never seen these birds anywhere other than at the roost.  We waited from 3pm and then at approx 5.15pm a single bird flew in and perched within 5m of our spot seemingly unperturbed by our presence.  The bird stayed for a few minutes and then flew into the canopy above; this was our signal to leave the roost site to allow the others to return in peace. On from the Pacathartes site we spent an evening and morning at Atewa, following which we headed east over the Volta river to our final birding location, the Kalapa Resource Reserve ( a dry savannah habitat).  As with each of the sites that we had visited, we had some fantastic views of great birds.  Good views at this site included African Wood Owl, African Scops Owl, Long Tailed Nightjar and Black Shouldered Nightjar on the evening walk.  The following morning, our last birding, gave good views of 25+European Bee-eaters and Yellow Rumped Tinkerbird, amongst many.  After lunch we headed back to the airport where we had our final group meal and did a final count; a total of 290 species for the trip with in excess of 160 new species for me.  A very packed trip but all round enjoyable.

One Response to “Ghana Birding”

  1. Ian December 21, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    Gees Neil, when did you eat and sleep? great pics as ever I particularly like the “keeking” scops owl, the only birds I could identify positively were little green bee eater from my time in Oman where they nested, and Vieillots black weaver that I am sure were nesting above my RE’s residence in Liberia. I did get very excited about them and will have slides. Did you take the guides identifications and or corroborate them?

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