<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Birdwatching Breaks tour reports
Birdwatching Breaks Home
Leading tours since 1987
Tour availability
GHANA 2003, February 2nd - 14th

...with Richard Cruse

Broad-billed Roller

February 2 - 3: London - Accra. Accra - Sakumo Lagoon - Kakum National Park

Weather: Sun/cloud 33C

Photo: Broad-billed Roller

Our flight to Accra from London went via Zurich, where another member of the group joined us. On arrival in Accra, we transferred to our hotel, where we the last member of the group who had arrived the previous day, and had dinner and prepared for the next morning’s early start. The next morning we awoke to the sound of Common Bulbuls and, outside the hotel, Shikra and Black-shouldered Kite were among the more common species in the area. We took our vehicle and went to the nearby Polo ground where a large area of wasteland offered us an introduction to some of the local birds. Hooded Vultures and Black Kites were very common and a Purple Heron overflew. Several Ethiopian Swallows seemed to be resident on the nearby buildings and some small areas of water held Common and Green Sandpipers. Piapiac, Rufous-chested Swallow, Northern Crombec and Black-crowned Tchagra were all seen well and African Thrush, Yellow-billed Shrike and a small group of Black-rumped Waxbills added to the morning. Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Senegal Coucal, Purple Glossy Starling and Little Bee-eater completed our first couple of hours and we headed back to have breakfast and to check out of our hotel. After making a stop at the GWS headquarters we headed off to the Sakumo Lagoon. Terns were the most obvious groups of birds here and included Royal, Roseate, Common, Sandwich and Black. A small group of White-faced Whistling Ducks and a few African Spoonbills were seen and, among many species of wader present, Marsh Sandpiper and Kittlitz’s Plover were good to see. Several species of heron and egrets included Black-headed Heron. Whilst walking through the surrounding grassland Yellow-throated Longclaws and Red-throated Pipits were not uncommon. We left the area to head back to town for lunch and then left Accra and went eastwards to our next destination, the Cape Coast and Kakum National Park.

Kakum National Park – Brenchu Achenema

Weather: Sun/cloud 33C

In the camp area African Yellow White-eye, Pin-tailed Whydah, Rufous-crowned Roller, Sabine's Spinetail and a small group of Rosy Bee-eaters were all seen. We returned to the hotel mid-morning for brunch and to relax through the heat of the day. The hotel grounds held Malachite Kingfisher, Black Crake, Green-backed Heron and Woodland Kingfisher and a Red-necked Buzzard flew nearby. We headed to an area near the coast, Brenu Achenema. En route we noted Common Fiscal, a rather unexpected Flappet Lark, Yellow-mantled Widowbird and Whinchat. On arrival we left the vehicle and walked into the scrub area. Here, Copper, Green-headed and Splendid Sunbirds, among other more common species, were seen well. We returned to the road at 18:15 and positioned ourselves for the arrival of a flock of Preusse's Swallows. We had come to watch their arrival at their roost and the birds had now started to gather; in small groups at first, then more and more until there were over 1200 birds in the air around us. We watched fascinated as they swirled in clouds, calling in rising crescendos until, at an unseen signal, they swooped as one down into the small culvert where they roost. They had all disappeared from view within thirty seconds. An extraordinary scene! We returned to the hotel with a rather wonderful memory of what was only our first birding day in Ghana.

February 5: Kakum National Park

Weather: Sun/cloud 33C

This morning we returned to the walkway, arriving at first light. The forest was more productive today with far more birds in the area of the walkway than on the previous morning. New for us were Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, White-crested Hornbill, Yellow-billed Turaco, Tambourine Dove, Sabine's Puffback, Blue Cuckoo-shrike, Sharpes Apalis and Rufous-crowned Eremomela. Red-fronted Parrot was heard calling nearby. An Anhanta Francolin was seen as the group descended. Returning to the base camp a pair of Levaillant's Cuckoos were seen by some and African Yellow White-eyes and Red-chested Swallows were in the area. We walked down the track to the entrance to the park and starting walking along the road checking the woodland on either side. Some low rank vegetation held a calling White-spotted Flufftail which, not surprisingly, remained unseen. A little further on a small flycatcher caused a few minutes discussion before being identified by call, from CD, as Dusky-blue Flycatcher. We returned slowly to the hotel for brunch and a few hours’ rest. We left again at 15:30 and headed back towards Kakum NP, stopping before the park and starting to walk, checking the bamboo stands and nearby woodland. Swallows seen in all the local villages were Barn Swallows but little else was seen from the vehicle. We parked the bus and moved into a large bamboo stand near the road. Here we found Yellow-whiskered Greenbul, which was seen well, before moving back to the road and taking a small track a little further on that led into the bush. Overhead was a small group of White-rumped Swifts and a Green Hylia was heard nearby. Little Greenbul was in the area and a small warbler caught our attention perched in a nearby tree. The bird was a Willow Warbler and just near to it we found a pair of Violet-backed Starlings. Over the forest edge we noted a pair of Cassin's Hawk-eagles that stayed in the area all afternoon. A Simple Leaflove was calling and a Red-eyed Dove was perched in a small tree. Vieillot's Barbet was seen and we had a long-range view of a Red-fronted Parrot. A Northern Crombec was seen and the last bird to be found before getting back into the vehicle was an African Hobby that was hunting within a group of Lesser Striped Swallows. We returned to the hotel for cold showers and drinks ready for our last visit to the canopy the next morning.

February 6: Kakum National Park - Kumasi

Weather: Sun/cloud 33C

Our last morning on the walkway before heading north. A displaying African Goshawk was our first bird this morning: it was circling overhead calling as we made our way up the hill. Several of the more common species were seen from the walkway but new for us were Black Cuckoo, Black-casqued Hornbill and Yellowbill. The area was fairly quiet today and we spent some time trying to see a calling Green Hylia, as we headed down, but without success. Olive Sunbird was new for us down at the camp, as well as Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher. A pair of Yellow-browed Camaropteras showed well and a Didrik Cuckoo was also seen. A quick flypast of a Crowned Eagle left some wanting. We returned to the hotel to eat and pack our bags. We left Kakum after midday and headed north to Kumasi. There were few birds en route and nothing new was added before we arrived at our hotel.

February 7: Bobiri forest reserve

Weather: Sun/cloud 38C

This morning we left before dawn and headed to the Bobiri reserve. Our vehicle left us on a logging track in the forest and we took a two and a half-hour walk through this superb forest. As on our previous morning, West African Goshawk was our first bird of the day. There were many now familiar species in the area including Red-fronted Parrot and Dusky Tit. Afep Pigeon was our first new species and was soon followed by excellent views of Long-tailed Hawk, both flying and perched. A small flock of Red-billed Helmetshrikes and Klaas's Cuckoo were next and a female Superb Sunbird was perched in a tree next to a pair of Naked-faced Barbets. Cassin's Spinetails overflew a couple of times and a Western Nicator was heard. Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill was heard on two occasions but unfortunately could not be found. Blue-billed Malimbe, Black-winged Oriole and Red-vented Malimbe were all added before we returned to the camp area. Brown Illadopsis and Swamp Palm Greenbul were both heard but could not be located. Just before we boarded our vehicle a Red-thighed Sparrowhawk flew overhead but vanished as fast as it had appeared. A large group of Black Spinetails was overhead just before we left the area. We returned to the hotel for brunch and then took a short walk in the local area. Bar-breasted Firefinch, a single Mosque Swallow and a Red-faced Cisticola were all added before we returned to the hotel to escape the now fast-rising temperature. We headed out again at two o'clock. Purple, Striated and Black-crowned Night Herons were all in the area as we scanned for our target bird, finfoot. Woodland, Malachite and Giant Kingfishers were all seen well but still no finfoot. We stayed on the in the area for several hours and were rewarded with an African Cuckoo Hawk that flew directly in front of us giving excellent views for us all. Eventually, after around two and a half hours, the African Finfoot appeared: a female that was followed a little later on by a male. A success, after much scanning and waiting and both birds were seen well by us all. We returned to the hotel through the heat and fumes of rush hour Kumasi to showers and cold drinks. A good day for us all.

February 8: Kumasi - Mole National Park.
Weather: Sun 38C

We left Kumasi straight after breakfast but very soon had to divert to the garage to replace a broken fan belt. We lost nearly three hours of our day but with no consequence as the day was dedicated to travelling. We headed north out of the city and soon were in open country, where a short stop gave us Melodious Warbler. We made another stop for drinks before crossing the Black Volta. The road from here was excellent and we made good time. Grasshopper Buzzards were now common in the changed habitat. The Guinea savannah held many new species for us and birds such as Abyssinian and Rufous-crowned Rollers, Long-tailed Glossy Starlings, Hamerkop and Vinaceous Doves became evident. We turned off the tarmac road and started the long dust road that would lead us to the park. We made a stop after about an hour as the vehicle needed to cool down a little and the shock absorbers needed a rest as well! Red-throated Bee-eater and Bush Petronia were new and we then found a male Red-necked Falcon perched nearby: a very unusual sighting in Ghana. Double-spurred Francolin was the last new species before night fell and we arrived at the lodge somewhat dusty and rather weary, in time for dinner.

February 9: Mole National Park

Weather: Sun 41C

Our day started at dawn as usual and we took up a viewpoint on the terrace overlooking the savannah and the large water hole beneath the escarpment. Here birds came thick and fast: Helmeted Guineafowl, Pygmy Sunbird, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Grey-backed Camaroptera, Senegal Eremomela, Red-cheeked Cordonbleu, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-lark, Lavender Waxbill, Hadada Ibis, Familiar Chat, Senegal Batis, Northern Puffback, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting and Violet Turaco were all new for us in the first hour. Our park guide, James, joined us and we started to descend from the escarpment. Several African Elephants heading to the water hole blocked our first path, so we turned and headed down towards a small stream in the bush. Yellow-fronted Canary and Bearded Barbet were added before we completed the descent. Village Indigobird soon followed Northern Black Flycatcher and several Senegal Parrots overflew. Pied Flycatcher, a Palearctic visitor, was seen and a male Bateleur circled low over our heads. A single Wire-tailed Swallow flew past and a Lizard Buzzard was perched in a tree. Red-throated Bee-eaters led us towards the streambed where we saw Black-faced Firefinch. Red-billed Firefinch showed briefly, as well as Blue-breasted Kingfisher, before we diverted to watch a Pearl-spotted Owlet. Beautiful Sunbird, Grey-headed Kingfisher and Northern Black Tit were all seen before we started to head back for brunch. A Yellow-crowned Gonolek showed briefly for some as we watched a herd of elephants in the water hole. On returning to the terrace, Common House Martin and Lanner Falcon passed by as we started to eat. An excellent start to our three full days in Mole. We headed out on another walk at 15:30 with the temperature hovering around forty-one degrees. Bird life, obviously, was fairly quiet. Familiar Chats and several small birds such as Bush Petronia were the only birds in evidence as we started to descend the escarpment. We spent a little time with a bird that was only seen briefly and which showed the characteristics of Rufous Scrub Robin but, with only having had brief views and with that species seeming to be way out of range for northern Ghana, we left and continued down. Several Green Woodhoopoes were seen, as well as Fork-tailed Drongos. We saw Black Cuckoo in the woodland and the only other bird of note, before we returned to the lodge where we collapsed with cold beers, was a Northern Puffback. A Freckled Nightjar flew low over the pool several times during dinner and was confirmed by call.

February 10: Mole

Weather: Sun 41C

We started this morning in our vehicle. It took us down to the eastern side of the escarpment from where we walked, noting a female White-fronted Black Chat en route, to an area that had a small stream and several pools. At 07:00 this area was alive with birds and new species came thick and fast. Just before arriving at the stream an Abyssinian Ground Hornbill flew up from in front of us and headed away to our left and several Rose-ringed Parakeets overflew. Some bushes beside the stream held Blackcap Babblers, Snowy-crowned Robin Chat, Yellow-crowned Gonolek and Stone Partridge. Further into the wooded area we found Purple Glossy Starling, Blue-breasted and Malachite Kingfishers and Swamp Flycatcher. African Yellow White-eye, Orange-cheeked Waxbills and Yellow Mantled Widowbirds were everywhere here. African Moustached Warbler came next with Red-faced Cisticola and Blue-spotted Wood Dove soon afterwards. From this area we started to walk, following the tree-lined stream in search of our next target. After only five hundred yards a pair of Pel's Fishing Owls took off from a nearby tree and moved a little further away. We followed them and were rewarded with excellent views of one of these birds as it returned near to its original perch. Feeling somewhat elated we started back towards the lodge seeing three Grey Kestrels on the walk back. On the terrace during breakfast a probable Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle passed close by, followed a little while later by a white-headed form of Ayre's Hawk Eagle. An excellent morning! We settled down during the heat of the day and would head out again in late afternoon. At 16:00 we wended our way down the escarpment to another area of natural springs; the temperature was a little over 40 degrees. Wire-tailed Swallows and Senegal Thick-knees were in the area. Along the marshy stream area a Tree Pipit was drinking from a small pool. A little further on a Brown Snake-eagle was perched and another Bateleur sailed lazily overhead. Shikra and Lizard Buzzard were soon followed by another perched raptor, this time a Western Banded Snake Eagle. A flock of Brown Babblers flew across our path deep into some bushes and Grey Kestrels were seen again. Returning slowly towards the water hole a group of Bar-breasted Firefinches and other more common species were feeding on the ground. Overhead a flock of House Martins were joined by a large flock of Plain Martins. Thick undergrowth around the water’s edge gave us African Blue Flycatcher soon followed by Oriole Warbler and then Pale Flycatcher. Several species of kingfisher were in the area and we sat beside the pool for a short while taking in the evening atmosphere before we returned to the bar, extremely hot but satisfied with a very good day.

February 11: Mole

Weather: Sun 41C

The first bird seen from the terrace today was Lead-coloured Flycatcher; a good start to the morning. A Willow Warbler also showed briefly. We then headed back to the same area of the previous evening hoping that, in the morning, the area may hold even more birds than before. There was a good number of species present as we walked through the bush, with Senegal Parrots overhead and flocks of Orange-cheeked Waxbills in the scrub around us. A fair distance out into the bush we found our first "new" bird, a white morph African Paradise Flycatcher, a beautiful bird that put on a good show for us all. Striped Kingfishers were calling but, as on previous walks, we were unable to see them. A Grey-headed Bush Shrike was seen and a Sulphur-breasted Bush Shrike also showed well. A Greater Honeyguide was heard calling before we turned and started back towards the lodge. Although many good birds were seen the general area was fairly quiet so we climbed back up the escarpment to the terrace and consumed several litres of water before starting an earlier breakfast than usual. A Short-toed Eagle passed by and several Bateleur were in the air as we ate. During the heat of the day on the terrace four Woolly-necked Storks flew down to the water hole and a juvenile Martial Eagle was in the area for several hours. In late afternoon we went out to try to see Pel's Fishing Owl for the last time but with no luck. We searched the area of the previous day and, in spite of seeing many now familiar species, we started our return to the lodge having only the memory of the previous sighting.

Saddle-billed Stork
As we passed through the bush a magnificent Saddle-billed Stork flew low over the tree tops and we then started the climb back up the escarpment to the lodge.

February 12: Mole - Kumasi

Weather: Sun 41C

This morning the only new bird seen at dawn was a female Northern Puffback. We took breakfast at seven and left the hotel at eight. We then headed towards Larabanga where we stopped briefly to see the fifteenth century mosque that is located in the village. We continued on, passing through the village of Damango, noting a small flock of White-crested Helmet-shrikes before the driver stopped the vehicle due to an overheating problem. We made the decision to return to Damango to try to get a repair done as the radiator appeared to be leaking and we still had 65 kilometres of rough dirt road to do before reaching civilisation again. We took up station in a local bar and waited. The work progressed very slowly and by early afternoon it became apparent that it would not be possible to effect a repair. We made enquiries about hiring a vehicle, difficult sixty kilometres from nowhere, but eventually saw a government Wildlife Department vehicle that had arrived in the village. With some expert negotiation on the part of David, our guide, we managed to leave Damango at 5pm in a government Toyota Landcruiser complete with driver!

February 13

From nowhere a pair of Black-rumped Flamebacks looked for food on a palm tree and nearby a male Lesser Yellownape perched on a thin pto the Bobiri forest just after dawn and started a walk along the forest trail. Green Hylia was at last seen by some this morning but little else was visible. Black, Red-chested and Emerald Cuckoos were all calling in the area but could not be found in spite of a good search. Narina Trogon remained elusive although calling from nearby. The area was quiet and failed to add any new birds to our list but we did get good views of Red-vented Malimbe and Blue-throated Roller and also found a perched African Cuckoo Hawk. We returned to the hotel at nine forty-five for a late breakfast and then spent some time in the local area before getting into our newly hired transport and heading south for Accra just after midday. There was little to see en route apart from the ubiquitous Black Kites and we arrived in Accra at 17:30 and checked into our hotel.

February 14: Accra - Shai Hills - Sakumo Lagoon - Europe

Weather: Cloud/Sun 35C

An early start was not possible this morning as David had to arrange more new transport for the day. He arrived at the hotel at eight-twenty and we left immediately for the Shai Hills reserve. Black -shouldered Kites were more common in this area and Yellow-billed Shrikes were now in most areas. We entered the reserve and took a walk near to the entrance to the park. White-crested Helmet Shrike, Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike, Senegal Eremomela and Splendid Sunbird were soon all seen. Stone Partridges were calling and Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Northern Puffback and Northern Crombec were added to the day. A weaver was seen by some, the identity of which is still being debated, and a pair of Vieillot’s Barbets was dueting as we returned to the vehicle to enter the main park by another entrance. Once inside, African Goshawk and Brown Babblers were seen and we searched for better views of a flock of African Quail Finches that landed near to us. Further on a small bird that landed almost beside the vehicle was identified as Small Buttonquail before it disappeared without trace, just as they always do! A juvenile Bateleur overflew and many Croaking Cisticolas were seen in the grasslands. Senegal Parrots were seen and a Greater Honeyguide was calling nearby. We stopped at a small pond and checked the surrounding trees. Here, among others, Simple Leaflove, Common Wattle-eye and Broad-billed Roller were all seen. We slowly returned to the main road, without finding any other new birds, and left the park. We headed to a restaurant for cold drinks and snacks before heading back to our hotel to change and have dinner. We then checked out of the hotel and headed to the airport where we said our goodbyes to David.

It had been a memorable and very enjoyable tour for us all. It had been particularly memorable for Alastair and Penny who, during a midday siesta in Mole, had awoken to find three male Olive Baboons sitting at the end of their beds! The birds were less numerous than had been expected based on previous tours but we had seen many sought after species during the tour, particularly the African Finfoot and the magnificent Pel’s Fishing Owls. Ghana had again proved to be a very friendly and welcoming country with a superb road network and good standard hotels and food. David Dharamani had worked wonders in obtaining vehicles from nowhere after our breakdown and thanks to him our tour was little affected. Our thanks must also go to David for his invaluable knowledge of bird song during our time spent in the forests.

For details of the full species list or to request further information about the next time we will be offering this trip. Contact us at enquiries@birdwatchingbreaks.com.

Birdwatching Breaks Home
Website by Birdtours.co.uk
Booking Form