Category Archives: Birds of Ghana

Forbes’s Plover in Mole National Park

ForbesregenpfeiferIt is incredibly hot. If you would leave the air-conditioned bus, you will be attacked by extremely annoying bees. But: we are looking for the Forbes’s Plover (Charadrius forbesi).

The Forbes’s Plover has to be found now. We drive to a flat area in the middle of the dry savannah of northern Ghana, which is probably flooded during the rainy season. As the guide explains, these places are not overgrown in the dry season. We are lucky. Just when we appear in the area we recognize a Forbes’s Plover. The excitement is great.

Two black breastbands and a red eyering are the key features of the Forbes’s Plover. On first sight it only slightly resembles a Three -banded Plover or Three-banded Sandplover (Charadrius tricollaris). The habit is definitely different. Additionally the Forbes’s Plover is larger, with darker upperparts; darker, browner head and a dark brown bill with red at base of lower mandible.

Our guides mention that we should take pictures from the bus. The Plovers would otherwise disappear. So everyone gets up and tears open the windows or pull them aside with force. With some it remains with the attempt. Since the windows overlap, an open window for one is a double-closed window for the other. So, after a while, all travelers have to see that they can shoot their photos from just a few windows. The Forbes’s Plovers, however, prove to be quite frugal. We see at least 4 specimens, although it is not clear whether they are pairs or individuals defending their territories. As sexes are alike, you do not see the gender. In any case, it is interesting that we had already visited the area the day before, and Continue reading Forbes’s Plover in Mole National Park

Common Whitethroat at Brenu Beach Grasslands near Cape Coast

DorngrasmückeAfter a long journey from Ankasa, we – a Birdquest-Group – stranded for an afternoon birding at Brenu Beach Grasslands near Cape Coast / Ghana. We had just seen a male Marsh Tchagra (Tchagra minuta) a bird in a spiny bush reminded me of an old friend from Germany. It looked like a Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis). I called, but obviously nobody of the group was interested. So made some shots with my camera and had to rely on my photos to help me to identify the bird. Reviewing the photos, the bird in the bush look very much like this common European warbler. I consult birdforum.net. The experts confirmed ID to me. In the meanwhile, another Palearctic migrant was detected. It was a Great Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus). Attempts to get the Great Reed Warbler out of the bush failed. When excitement ceased, the Common Whitethroat had gone.

The bird reminded me of a young male already on the spot. The wing pattern seemed quite convincing to me at the time. On the images I saw a hint of a pale white eye ring. The “problem was, that books, as „Birds of Western Africa“ (Helm Identification Guides) von Nick Borrow und Ron Demey, mention this bird only as a vagrant in the south (pictured as a red cross) and see their wintering distribution more for the north. This in contrast to the Garden Warbler (Sylvia borin), which is shown for the north of Ghana and the coastal strip.

As the Common Whitethroat is a common warbler in the Western Palearctic, there seems to be a lack in information concerning its distribution in Western Africa. The same what happened in March 2019 in Ghana happened in the littoral province of southern Cameroon 2 years ago. On a way back from a successful hike on Mount Cameroon, we were lucky to observe this Western Palearctic visitor near the Continue reading Common Whitethroat at Brenu Beach Grasslands near Cape Coast

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 Continue reading Birds in Kakum NP from Canopy Walkway

Photographing Shining Blue Kingfisher at perch in Ghana

SchillereisvogelA blue twitch in the shadow of an overhanging bush directly near the path along the water. A Shining Blue Kingfisher (Alcedo quadribrachys) has established a perch just on a quite busy trail on an overhanging branch. The Shining Blue Kingfisher sits just 1m above water level – ie at eye level for us. A perfect photographic situation. The beautiful bird is sitting in a distance of not more than 8 meters in front of us. From time to time the head makes a jerky upward movement. The neck gets longer. Sometimes the angle of the downward bill is slightly changed. The bird’s tail, which is also blue, twitches irregularly. We admire the kingfisher for a while. Eventually, the Shining Blue Kingfisher begins to shrug his wings excitedly and raise them high above his center of gravity. The time of the booty kick is obviously imminent. Maybe he has already spotted his potential prey. In the perspective we are on the narrow path at this extensive waterhole, we cannot see any fish in the water. The water is too murky for that. The Shining Blue Kingfisher is so busy Continue reading Photographing Shining Blue Kingfisher at perch in Ghana

Yellow-headed Picathartes: a mystical bird

Gelbkopf-FelshüpferIn March 2019 I visited Ghana with Birdquest specifically to search for the White-necked Rockfowl – or Yellow-headed Picathartes – (Picathartes gymnocephalus). Previously, colonies of this bird sought by many avian enthusiasts had been recorded throughout the rainforest zone of western Africa. Ceaseless deforestation destroyed all known populations, and the bird was considered extinct in Ghana a few decades ago.

However, scientists suspected that they still existed in hard-to-reach places and tried to look for suitable spots in the interior of West Africa. The hope was confirmed when several indigenous hunters responded on appropriate questions that they knew the bird and claimed that they still existed. Then a few years ago the news broke that picathartes had been rediscovered in Ghana at a community forest reserve.

Researchers studied the environment and discovered several more colonies. Some of these colonies were opened to tourism after researchers found that responsible birdwatchers are perceived by the birds to be of little disturbance.

The White-necked Rockfowl is somewhat misnamed as it has both a yellow neck and head but the name is presumably inspired by the Continue reading Yellow-headed Picathartes: a mystical bird

Etchécopar’s Owlet in Shai Hills Resource Reserve

Kapkauz, Etchécopar’s OwletThe target area of the morning is the Shai Hills Resource Reserve. We try to manage to see the scarce local form of African Barred Owlet sometimes split as Etchécopar’s Owlet (Glaucidium etchecopari). While the morning was still fresh we left the van to search for the bird in the dense thickets at Bat Cave. After a while, we realized that we would be unlucky. We returned to another “Cave”-spot, left the van again and tried to lure into view the local form of African Barred Owlet that is sometimes treated as a separate species; Etchécopar’s Owlet.

The imitation of the voice of the Etchécopar’s Owlet should lure him out. And indeed, the bird called back. At first, at some distance. But finally it entered a nearby dense forest. But there was nothing to see yet. The owl could not be far away. The voice was good to hear. Our local guide was finally able to make out the Etchécopar’s Owlet. It was hiding on a big branch of a big tree. Sitting quite in the open, nevertheless the owl was hidden by leaves and twigs. Fortunately the African Barred Owlet was not nervous and staid long enough for some excessive photographic opportunities which were more than necessary because camera-autofocus was distracted from the bird several times.

The African Barred Owlet was first discovered in 2005; in the dry forest at Bat Cave in Shai Hills Resource Reserve. The Shai Hills Resource Reserve is located in the north-east sector of the Accra Continue reading Etchécopar’s Owlet in Shai Hills Resource Reserve