Ghana

horn
African pied hornbill

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything on here, but after a bird watching trip to Ghana I have some nice photos that I’d like to share with you. Also, nesting season has already begun so this post will be shortly followed by many more.

I am very fortunate to share my birding obsession with my Dad. There is always something to do together or talk about, and he is always on hand with answers to my many questions. Another of the many benefits is that every now and again he invites me to join him on an amazing bird watching holiday. The research and planning my father does before one of our trips is incredibly thorough. He read over 100 trip reports written by other birders and made many lists of what birds we could expect to see at different locations. This year we went to Ghana. We were there for 10 days and managed to see 160 species, 130-ish of them being new birds for me!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t photograph all 160 species… And the few photos that I have deemed good enough to share are a bit of a random selection of what we saw. For this reason I will not be giving a very full account of our trip or putting much of a narrative to the photos. But feel free to hit me up for stories whenevs.

We spent the first three days around Accra, mostly in Sakumono for it’s lagoons, but also went for a day trip North to Shai Hills for some savanna habitat. Here is some of what we saw.

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Some of the first birds we saw were these Plantain-eaters. They are quite a common sight, but always seemed bit comical.

These two starlings were also quite common-place, but never got boring.

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The Splendid glossy-starling. Shaded by the tree so not at full splendor.
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The Purple glossy-starling. Mid-day sun made him shine, but also made my photo over-exposed.
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The Collared pratincole looking very smart.

The next bird made a very loud call, like a whip crack, but always from the middle of a very thick bush. We heard it almost everywhere we went but could never see what bird was making the very distinctive call. It was beginning to wind me up a bit. It wasn’t until the last day that we saw the bird calling, the Yellow-crowned gonolek, a bird that we had in fact already seen and photographed on our first day…

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Yellow-crowned gonolek, I will never forget your call.
manakin
Magpie mannikins.
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Little bee-eaters.
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Yellow-billed shrike, I would have called him the Long-tailed shrike, but there’s already one of them.
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The Yellow-billed kite was the most common bird of prey, we saw many.
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Also made some friends in Accra. They liked our rolled cigarettes.

After Accra we traveled west and stayed at Hans Cottage Botel, just south of Kakum National Park. On our way we had a very nice driver called Ernest, he turned out to be quite interested in birds and a very good spotter. At one point he stopped the car and said there was a bird on the road just ahead of us, we got out but couldn’t see what he was talking about. Turns out we were looking in the wrong place and it wasn’t till he threw a stone near to it that the very well camouflaged Long-tailed nightjar revealed itself to us.

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Was very lucky to catch this whilst there was still some daylight left, as all nightjars are crepuscular or nocturnal.
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I miss Ernest.

The hotel (or botel) itself was very good for birds. It was surrounded by a crocodile infested lake, which had a few small islands on it that were busy with nesting weaver colonies, egrets, cormorants and kingfishers. Here is the view from the bar, where I spent most afternoons whilst Dad rested. There’s a treat for anyone who watches it to the end.

The weavers were very busy throughout most of the day building their nests. They would fly from their island to the tall bamboo trees that surrounded the lake, harvest a long strip of bamboo leaf, and fly back with the long green grass streaming behind them.

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The Village weaver collecting the bamboo grass.
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These flight pics were very hard to take as my lens only has manual focus.
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A fine nest! Good weaving!
orngweaver
As well as the Village weaver there was this, the Orange weaver. There was also Viellot’s black weaver but I didn’t get any good pics of them.
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Woodand kingfishers were easily seen around the hotel.
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The African pied wagtail looks a bit smarter than ours, in my opinion.
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The Red-headed rock agama.
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Zonocerus elegans, can’t find a common name.
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Distant pic of the Black bee-eater, name doesn’t really do it justice.

After Hans Cottage we traveled south to Brenu Beach, Cape Coast. The beach was very picturesque, with white sands and palm trees (no pics soz), but we spent most of our time walking up and down the dusty, pot-holed road that led to it, which was particularly good for birds. The palm trees around the beach did allow for some nice views of the Splendid sunbird though.

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Along the track we added many new species during the final days of our trip. We also got a lift home from a friendly ambulance driver one day, I had to hold the back door shut as we went.

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It was very hot but I didn’t want to get caught without appropriate optics.

The Green turaco is a very pretty bird, we had seen it a couple of times during our holiday, but only fleeting glimpses of it in flight. Dad kept on saying that I really needed to see it perched to appreciate it fully. On our final day of birding I did get to see it perched, and I was so awestruck that I didn’t have enough of my wits about me to take a decent photo. Got a half decent photo of it flying away though.

greentura
Thanks for stopping by!

On the same day, our last full day of birding, we also managed to track down one of the best birds of the trip, the African crake. Like many crakes and rails, the African crake can be difficult to spot as it likes to skulk among tall grasses and reeds. The habitat along the track seemed perfect for the bird, but as it was such a vast area we knew that we to be pretty lucky to be in the right place at the right time. Out of the very many trip reports Dad had read for this area, only one group had been lucky enough to chance upon the crake. But when we wandered off the track a little way into the savanna and happened upon the elusive bird we surely did feel like were in the right place at the right time. And that feeling is one of the regular rewards of bird watching, which brings me great joy and peace.

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As with the turaco, I was so taken with the bird that I didn’t spend much time fiddling with my camera.
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But I feel like the haziness and imperfections of the photos add to the elusive character of the bird.

Thank you for an amazing trip Dad! Now get on with your nesting…

 

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