Birds in Kakum NP from Canopy Walkway

BorstenbartvogelA strange bird is looking through the leaves like a dwarf Gnom. The Bristle-nosed Barbet (Gymnobucco peli) is the bird which welcomed us during a visit in the early morning. Fog and mist in the first light of dawn makes the rain forest look like a Chinese drawing. In the humid lowland rainforest of Ghana we are standing since dawn up to 45 meters above ground on the so-called Canopy Walkway. It takes a while to climb the hiking path from the Visitor Center. But after about 20 minutes we stand in a shelter hut in front of the suspension bridges. Each suspension bridge connects a platform, which is attached to a thick jungle tree. The first platforms are located in the slope area and are therefore more protected by the foliage of the canopy of the trees nearby. Despite the cloudy morning we enjoy a great view of the rainforest. It is hazy to say not really foggy. First we think, it is a pity that there is always a drizzle today. But quickly we realize how birdy this morning will be. First we see 2 African Forest Flycatcher or Fraser’s Forest Flycatcher (Fraseria ocreata) near the platform that we had used so productively in March with Birdquest in the morning. A little later, (Forest) Chestnut-winged Starling (Onychognathus fulgidus) can be seen. The White-crested Hornbill (Tockus albocristatus) announces itself with his calls. Also on the hillside are Plain Greenbul (Andropadus curvirostris) and White-throated Greenbul (Phyllastrephus albigularis) to be heard. Close by must be the Splendid Glossy-Starling (Lamprotornis splendidus), for his calls are loud and clear. At first he is only heard. We also run to the platform, which we had used so productively in the morning in March. The view is much more open here. A hit is then the Forest Woodhoopoe (Phoeniculus castaneiceps), which romps not far above us on and around the thick branches of a jungle giant. I had missed that bird in March. Now it is very nice to see. Of course, the endemic Sharpe’s Apalis (Apalis sharpii) can also be seen a little later between leaves and thin twigs. The bird drifts very inconspicuously between the branches and leaves. The same is true for a Green Hylia (Hylia prasina) feeding below our platform. A Blue Cuckooshrike (Coracina azurea) is initially only heard. The Bristle-nosed Barbet are abundant and also very active and beautiful today. Those are otherwise – as well as the likewise (albeit less) observed Naked-faced Barbet (Gymnobucco calvus) – only to be seen high in a treetop. But now they are to admire almost at eye level. These birds are surprisingly small. The Bristle-nosed Barbets seems to be a family group. Some Bristle-nosed Barbet stand side by side on a dead, thin tree below the suspension bridge. In the distance, a Blue-spotted Wood-Dove (Turtur afer) is unfortunately only heard. Finally, an African Green-Pigeon (Treron calva) is seen high on a tree top. More birds seen from the canopy walkway in Kakum NP you see in the gallery of Kakum birds.

Later we see a small yellow-black bird quickly and purposefully examine the thick side branch of “our” tree. Once it runs on the light bark, then again the mossy bottom is inspected. It is a rather small weaver bird, but it can score with its intense colors. It is a Preuss’s Weaver (Ploceus preussi).

Like most other small passerine birds, the Preuss’s Weaver – sometimes referred to as Golden-backed Weaver – examines the leaves, twigs and the bark of tree trunks in the rainforest of Lower Guinea forest, where Kakum NP in Ghana is an excellent example. Images of the Golden-backed Weaver you see in the gallery.

The photos were taken in Kakum National Park in central Ghana. This park is one of the most famous national parks in Ghana. The park is located north of Cape Coast and Elmina near the town of Abrafo and is therefore quite well developed on a partly bad road. From Elmina you should calculate about 1.5 hours driving time. Almost the entire park area is covered by tropical rainforest. Kakum National Park is related to the Assin Attandanso Resource Reserve. The two sites together protect some 36,600 ha of moist evergreen forest. The terrain is generally flat with some hills in the south-western corner. The greater part of the site has been selectively logged. Kakum was logged from at least 1975 to 1989. The recently logged areas currently support a thick undergrowth, vine tangles and regenerating secondary forest, but primary forest still remains in other areas, with a well-developed canopy and a comparatively open understorey. The site is one of the best-studied in Ghana with more than 260 species of birds known to occur. As an example 9 species of hornbill have been recorded and many also big birds are commonly seen especially in mornings and evenings flying overhead between roosting and feeding sites.

A special feature of the Kakum National Park is the unique Canopy Walkway – a trail in mid-level height between trees. There are suspension bridges between the jungle giants. The walk on the canopy is a lovely experience as you soar above the tops of trees about 45 meters from the ground. The Canopy Walkway offers good views of the middle and upper canopy. On the Canopy Walkway birdwatchers can take a closer look at the birds in an otherwise inaccessible habitat. The Canopy Walkway consists of seven bridges made of wood, ropes and metal frames and extends over a length of 330 meters. The Canopy Walkway for sure is the main attraction, but the Kakum Park offers much more with its rich and diverse offering of flora and fauna for lovers of nature. The trek to the start of the canopy walk is steep and will test the unfit visitor. Not for the faint hearted persons.

Many upper Guinean endemics can be seen in the park and – as said – 9 species of hornbill occur. White-breasted Guineafowl (Agelastes meleagrides) occurs but is very difficult to see. The Kakum NP is probably the easiest place in Ghana to see Congo Serpent-Eagle or Congo Serpent Eagle (Dryotriorchis spectabilis). The White-breasted Guineafowl is still recorded but in very small numbers.  But the large frugivorous hornbills like Brown-cheeked Hornbill (Ceratogymna cylindricus), Black-casqued Hornbill (Ceratogymna atrata) and Yellow-casqued Hornbill (Ceratogymna elata) are still fairly common but very threatened in south-west Ghana generally.

We relied to Ashanti African Tours which is highly recommended. They will take great efforts to ensure our first visit to Ghana will be an excellent experience. They put together a very varied and interesting program. My guide was Jackson Owusu and our driver, Ben, was perfect in all aspects.

To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic Bird-Lens is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds not only in the western Palearctic. Trips to remote places like this one to capture images were very successful. The nice image of the blog is only a first impression, what you will find in the gallery in the “Picture Shop” very soon. Just give bird-lens.com a message, if www.bird-lens.com could serve you with an image needed before the new pictures are online.

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