Orange Weaver near nest on Sanaga River

KönigsweberThe sun was already up and shining. The mighty Sanaga River laid in beautiful light in front of us. A small wooden boat was hired for this morning to pick us up at a sand pit at the shore of the river for a morning trip on the water. When we arrived, nobody was there. But some more minutes later we saw two guys heavily paddling a small canoe down river. We embarked the canoe only minutes later and started the trip. Large sandbanks in the middle of the river were our first stop. Eventually we made our way down the river to some more matured sandbank, which has become well vegetated islands. The banks of these islands were quite steep and the water in front so deep that the driver of the canoe could not fix the boat with his long wooden stick. Maneuvering the boat with the paddles against the currents, I saw a typical weaver nest hanging less than half a meter above water level on reed. I tried to tape the Orange Weaver (Ploceus aurantius) with its call. Only a fraction of time, a small yellow bird with an orange wash on the head and breast appeared: the male of the Orange Weaver. What a bird!

The Orange Weaver was one of the highlights on a Rockjumper trip in April 2017. But at that time we saw 3 birds on our final birding session at the Sanaga River only at a far distance. Now the bird could be perfectly photographed almost on arm’s length. Suddenly a different kind of weaver appeared. But this was not the female – which showed up later as well – but another species. It was a Slender-billed Weaver (Ploceus pelzelni),

This hot morning along the great Sanaga River did produce so much, because we did find flocks of African Skimmers (Rynchops flavirostris), the highly thought-after Grey Pratincoles (Glareola cinerea), Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia), Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos), Little Stint (Calidris minuta), Senegal Thick-knee (Burhinus senegalensis), several Kentish (Snowy) Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) and lots of Preuss’s Cliff Swallows (Hirundo preussi).

Besides the Orange Weaver (Ploceus aurantius aurantius) I was also looking for the surprise bird of the trip in April 2017. It was a Black Coucal (Centropus grillii). But – as to be expected – there was no sighting.

The Orange Weaver is not uncommon in West Africa and usually found in the tall grasses along the sandbars of large rivers. The bird is found along the rivers of Mali to Cameroon, western Zaire and northwestern Angola. Mainly a bird of a riparian habitat it can also be found on sandy patches in savanna and even airstrips.

The excursion to the Sanaga River in the South Province, Cameroon was the 3rd part of my last birding trip to Cameroon. We departed from the nice Hostelerie de la Sangha in Edea. At least close to Douala it is easiest here to pick up Grey Pratincole and the African Skimmer. Coming from Douala we just passed the center of Edea and just after the second large bridge over the river we took the first tarmac road left which goes to Dizangue. Soon it becomes a dirt road and after about 10 km from the turnoff the road comes so close to the river, that you can see on the river from the banks.

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 you can find in the western palearctic.  Beside the image above you can find a nice selection of birds in the gallery or in the “Pictures Shop” very soon. Just give a message, if Bird-Lens could serve you with an image needed before the new pictures are online.


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