Ghana: Upper Guinea Forest to The Sahel Set Departure Tour Report, February 2023


26 FEBRUARY – 19 MARCH 2023

By Dylan Vasapolli

White-necked Rockfowl is one of the ultimate species of this tour, and indeed Africa!


Ghana is arguably the best country from which to access West Africa from a birding point of view. Vast tracts of lowland forests still persist, with the wild Ankasa Conservation Area being the best example, housing almost the full contingent of Upper Guinea Forest specials. Further north in the country, the forests are replaced by Guinea woodlands and savannas, where herds of African Elephants still roam around in the vast Mole National Park. Further north still, one reaches the edge of the Sahelian zone – an effective buffer to the Sahara Desert, which hosts typical dry country arid specials.

Our tour largely followed suit, covering all the habitat types found in Ghana. Firstly, various tracts of forests near the coast, including the Kakum Forest and its excellent canopy walkway, and the vast Ankasa Conservation Area wilderness zone were visited. Here we found such desirable birds as Rufous-sided Broadbill, Black and Blue-moustached Bee-eaters, White-bellied Kingfisher, Tit Hylia, Sharpe’s Apalis, and the mega Nkulengu Rail. We also visited the Bonkro forest, where we would stake out one of the country’s premier birds – White-necked Rockfowl.

Blue-moustached Bee-eater is one of Ghana’s more sought-after birds – we did well to find a pair at Ankasa.

We then transitioned into the wooded Guinea savannas of Mole National Park, which were very birdy. Gaudy birds like Violet Turaco, Red-throated Bee-eater, Senegal Parrot and Black-faced Firefinch were seen, along with other specials like Forbes’s Plover and Sun Lark. The group also had close encounters with African Elephants. The arid north, near the Burkina Faso border, was also visited as it hosts the Egyptian Plover – another excellent target species. Various other arid-country species, like Abyssinian Roller and Long-tailed Glossy Starling, were seen in this Sahelian zone. A long trek back down to the more forested coastal region gave us the special Long-tailed Hawk and Black Dwarf Hornbill at Bobiri Butterfly Reserve, along with other excellent species including, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Yellow-footed Honeyguide, Red-cheeked Wattle-eye and Chocolate-backed Kingfisher to round up the tour.

The birding in Ghana, as is typical of the lowland West African forests, is generally difficult and requires lots of time and patience in the appropriate habitats. We did very well by all standards, finding all the major specials of the tour, like White-necked Rockfowl, Nkulengu Rail, and Egyptian Plover, along with a heap of other scarce species restricted to this Upper Guinea section of Africa.

A detailed daily account of the tour can be read below, and complete bird and mammal lists can be found at the end of the report. Well over 400 species of birds were recorded on this tour.

Detailed Report

Day 1, 26th February 2023. Arrival into Accra

Today was set aside as an arrival day, with no formal plans. Some of the guests had arrived the previous day, and the remaining part of the group arrived during the course of the afternoon. After some downtime, the group formally met for dinner and spent the evening running through the many exciting birds that lay ahead over the course of the next few weeks.

Day 2, 27th February 2023. Accra to Kakum, via the Cape Coast Castle

We had an early breakfast and hit the road soon after, negotiating our way through the crazy Accra traffic. Indeed, it was a bit slower than we anticipated, and we eventually arrived at the Winneba Lagoon, our first stop of the day, in the mid-morning. Unfortunately, the tide was up, and water covered the entirety of the mudflats. Fortunately, a few small grassy banks in the distance supported a fair number of shorebirds and terns, and we slowly worked through them in the scope. Numbers of the sought-after West African Crested Tern were present, and some careful scanning also revealed Sandwich and Black Terns among the more numerous Common Terns. Waders were dominated by large numbers of Grey Plovers, with small numbers of Sanderlings, Ruddy Turnstones, Common Whimbrels, Curlew and Common Sandpipers, Common Ringed Plovers and Bar-tailed Godwits all noted. We also enjoyed the antics of the resident Western Reef Herons and Pied Kingfishers. Having worked the area to our satisfaction, we continued on our way once more, now bound for the tragic Cape Coast Castle. Some minor vehicle issues on the way halted us, but we eventually arrived in time for lunch, after which we undertook a tour of the castle. This was an emotional experience for all of us, as we visited various points around the castle, including the dungeons and the ‘Door of no return’.

Following this rather sobering visit, we continued the short distance to our lodge right outside the Kakum National Park, where we would be based for the next three nights. We quickly checked in and dropped our things off before venturing into some nearby farm-brush habitat for a short spell of late afternoon birding. Initially the birding was slow, but soon picked up, and we barely moved for a long period of time as new birds came in thick and fast. A lively Red-winged Prinia called from a nearby tree, while a pair of bright Splendid Sunbirds visited a flowering bush. Both Common and Grey Kestrels graced the skyline before a Mottled Spinetail and several Rosy Bee-eaters crashed the party. A stunning Vieillot’s Barbet perched wonderfully on an exposed snag for us, while a bright Diederik Cuckoo came calling by. We were able to pry out a shy Black-crowned Tchagra from the scrub, along with both Little and Simple Greenbuls. Numbers of Copper Sunbirds also provided regular entertainment, as did several African Pied Hornbills. We tore ourselves away and settled in for the evening, following a long but productive day out –excited for our days ahead in the Kakum area.

Birding from the canopy walkway in Kakum National Park offers unparalleled access to the forest birds of the region.

Day 3, 28th February 2023. Birding the Kakum walkway

One of the many highlights of our Ghana tour is the day we spend on the canopy walkway at the fabulous Kakum National Park. We had an early start to maximize our time on the walkway before it got too warm (and crowded), and soon, we were summiting the steep rocky pathway and making our way onto the walkway. We noted a few birds on the way up, which included a few bright male Buff-throated Sunbirds, along with several greenbuls like Little Grey Greenbul, while numerous calling Forest Robins remained unseen sadly. The canopy walkway itself was a little quiet, and while we added birds as we went along, they were mostly few and far between. A pair of Violet-backed Hyliotas flew in and kicked things off but didn’t hang around for long, while a Red-headed Malimbe gave us more satisfactory views. Both Little Grey and Ussher’s Flycatchers showed well, as did a migratory Wood Warbler. Numbers of barbets and tinkerbirds were heard calling, but we only managed views of Speckled Tinkerbird, along with a very brief Yellow-billed Barbet. Both Black-winged Oriole and Sabine’s Puffback eventually showed well, as did the sought-after Sharpe’s Apalis and a fast-moving party of Spotted Greenbuls. While enjoying the antics of a pair of Collared Sunbirds, we picked up on a fast-moving Tit Hylia. Fortunately, the bird settled close to us and put on quite the show – also joined by several other individuals – before eventually melting back into the forest. Raptors were also sparse, and only an African Cuckoo-Hawk and African Harrier-Hawk were seen, while a calling Congo Serpent Eagle sadly left us frustrated. We eventually called it a morning and made our way back down the hill, where we took a short break over the lunch period.

We resumed in the mid-afternoon back at the Kakum walkway, hoping for more activity than the morning spell had produced. We were partly successful, as although it was still decidedly quiet in the afternoon on the walkway, we did manage to eke out a few more birds. A tiny West African Batis jumped around the tree tops in front of us, and after long and patient scanning, we finally picked up on Brown-cheeked Hornbill, and enjoyed some good scope views! Several Black Bee-eaters made a few flyby passes over us, while a tiny Yellow-throated Tinkerbird posed briefly. We also finally enjoyed good looks at Grey-headed and White-breasted Nigritas – both of which were frequently heard during the day. While watching a Palm-nut Vulture cruising overhead, we also picked up on two distant Red-fronted Parrots flying above the treetops, but we had to be content with somewhat distant views of these. As to be expected we added a few more birds to the heard-only list, such as Grey-headed Bristlebill, White-throated Greenbul, Blue Malkoha and Yellow-billed Turaco. We waited until dark and tried for a few owls around the parking area but came up empty-handed. We headed back to our lodge and settled in for the evening, following another long, but good day out.

Glorious Black Bee-eaters were seen around the Kakum walkway and proved to be a regular sight in most forests we birded in Ghana.

Day 4, 1st March 2023. Birding Kakum and surrounds

We started our morning nice and early before it got too warm, birding the farm-brush (and eventually the forests themselves) on the edge of the Kakum National Park. Activity was high, and progress was slow – as there were almost too many birds to look at! A look at a bustling colony of the unique West African race of Vieillot’s Black Weaver also produced a fine African Pygmy Kingfisher and a Guinea Turaco. Nearby thickets held the tiny Green Crombec and a very mobile Brown-throated Wattle-eye. A small flock of Piping Hornbills joined the throngs of African Pied Hornbills, with a few of the sought-after (and bright!) Rosy Bee-eaters mixed into the groupings. Several Blue-throated Rollers perched atop some of the larger trees on the forest edge, eventually showing their blue throats. At the same time, small groups of Orange-cheeked Waxbill and Red-headed Quelea flitted about the rank growth. A flowering tree held masses of sunbirds, with the large Superb Sunbird dominating the numbers. Here, we also picked out Buff-throated and Blue-throated Brown Sunbirds. We tried our best to get into the forest before it was too late in the day, with our final distraction being a flock of scarce Black Spinetails flying low overhead. Once in the forest, the activity, and numbers of birds we saw dropped quickly, but our patience netted us Naked-faced Barbet, Western Oriole, and Golden Greenbul early on. A vocal Chocolate-backed Kingfisher refused to show, despite a long, hard, and dedicated search. Another species we failed to lay eyes on was Rufous-sided Broadbill, we heard a displaying bird not far from us but it was deep in an inaccessible valley. We did manage to bag a few more species, from Fraser’s Sunbird to Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher and Red-vented Malimbe. A vocal Blue-billed Malimbe soon joined the party, but its brief showing left us wanting more. We eventually retired for the morning and headed back to our lodge for a lunch break and siesta, following an excellent few hours out.

Black Spinetail is a scarce species and showed well for the group in the Kakum vicinity!

We resumed in the late afternoon, exploring another tract of forest right next to the Kakum National Park. We enjoyed a productive walk along the roadside here, adding a constant stream of new species. A Sabine’s Spinetail flitted overhead, quickly followed by a lone Preuss’s Cliff Swallow, while both Yellow-billed Barbets and Red-rumped Tinkerbirds showed well in the giant canopies. A mixed flock held the likes of busy Rufous-crowned Eremomelas, Green Crombecs and Tit Hylias. We improved our views of Fraser’s Sunbird while also getting our first looks at Western Bearded and Red-tailed Greenbuls. As the sun began to set, we finally got some excellent views of Yellow-billed Turaco, while our views of Blue-headed Wood Dove and Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo left much to be desired. A few of us returned after dinner to try for some owls, but a large storm rolled in with heavy winds, which meant we had to be content with having Fraser’s Eagle Owl as heard only. Nonetheless, the light show we had with the lighting in the distance was a sight to behold.

We saw our first Preuss’s Cliff Swallow today – we would later go on to see many more at various colonies over the course of the tour (such as these seen near Bonkro in a few days’ time).

Day 5, 2nd March 2023. Birding Kakum surroundings and transfer to Sekondi

We spent the morning birding in the mixed farm-brush/forest edge habitat near Kakum National Park. It was an extremely birdy walk, and we tallied nearly 100 species in a few hours, which, given the lack of waterbirds, was a great achievement. We spent some time early on prying out a shy Western Nicator, which showed well to all; however, a Western Bluebill wasn’t as cooperative, with only a few in the group managing to see it well. Many iconic African bird families showed well on the walk, with species like Little, White-throated and Rosy Bee-eaters, Vieillot’s and Double-toothed Barbets and African Pied Hornbill all commonly seen. We saw an incredible ten sunbird species, with Johanna’s Sunbird being the main highlight, along with the stunning Buff-throated, Splendid and Superb Sunbirds as well. We spent some time slowly birding rank grassy edges, which gave up a large flock of Black-and-white Mannikins, along with Chestnut-breasted Nigrita, Orange-cheeked Waxbill, and the scarce Black-bellied Seedcracker. A vocal White-spotted Flufftail refused to show despite our best efforts. Following a short break that allowed us to gather our things, we had lunch and checked out, bound for Nsuta Forest. We made quick progress and arrived in good time, allowing us to leisurely check-in to our hotel before setting off for the afternoon birding. Unfortunately, it is a fair drive to get to the Nsuta Forest from the hotel, and it is sad to see just how badly the forest has been destroyed in recent years after opening it to logging. The birding was very slow, though kickstarted into life with a Blue Cuckooshrike that came flying in. A few Red-fronted Parrots were seen inspecting a possible nesting hole, and we enjoyed repeat views of Yellow-billed Turaco. The plaintive bubbling calls of Black-throated Coucal rang out from all around us, but we were unable to lure this species out into the open. While enjoying a flock of African Green Pigeons sitting in the open, we had to scramble to get onto the mixed flock of Chestnut-winged and Copper-tailed Starlings that came flying overhead. A fine Yellow-spotted Barbet rounded off the day, and we returned to the hotel, arriving in time for a late dinner.

Day 6, 3rd March 2023. Birding Nsuta Forest, and transfer to Ankasa

Our morning saw us heading back to the Nsuta Forest and exploring a slightly different section of road to the one we had worked yesterday. As hoped, the morning period was more productive, and we enjoyed many great sightings. A noisy flock of Red-fronted Parrots, perched Piping Hornbills and some flight views of Yellow-billed Turacos were early highlights before we enjoyed looks at the shy Blue-headed Wood Dove. A Red-thighed Sparrowhawk dashed overhead before we latched onto an excellent Black Dwarf Hornbill perched in the open. We soaked up our views of this scarce species while also listening to a Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill calling in the distance before pulling out yet more good species like a bright Yellow-browed Camaroptera and a shy Grey Longbill. A pair of minuscule African Piculets were then picked up right next to the road, and put on a stunning show for us! Nearby, both Blue-breasted Kingfisher and Cassin’s Honeybird were seen in flight over us. We naturally enjoyed views of several more widespread species as well during our morning. Still, before long, we found ourselves back in the bus and heading back to our guesthouse, where we enjoyed lunch before checking out and pressing on to Ankasa. We would be spending three nights at the Ankasa Conservation Area, exploring the excellent forests there, and made good progress on the way. A few stops were made where we enjoyed the likes of African Pygmy Goose and Orange Weaver at a lily-covered pan and numbers of the scarce Hartlaub’s Ducks and Reichenbach’s Sunbirds at a mangrove area. We arrived in the late afternoon at the newly built (and extremely comfortable) lodge right outside the entrance to the Ankasa Conservation Area and settled in for the evening.

Days 7 – 8, 4th – 5th March 2023. Birding Ankasa and Nkulengu Rails

We had two full days of birding the incredible Ankasa Conservation Area. Both daily accounts are discussed below together, as similar routes and birds were seen on both days.

While spectacular, this excellent tract of primary lowland forest is challenging to bird, with many species taking long periods of time to see, if they are seen at all. One of our main highlights was an incredible, displaying Rufous-sided Broadbill, which we watched for ages, close by. We also enjoyed familiarizing ourselves with various forest flycatchers. Dusky-blue Flycatchers frequented the edges, while the interior held the scarce Fraser’s Forest Flycatcher; Cassin’s Flycatchers hung out over the forested rivers; and Blue-headed Crested Flycatchers kept to dark thickets, and we were only able to tease out brief views. Nesting Blue-billed Malimbes proved easy to see and showed well, while Red-vented and Crested Malimbes only gave us quick views. Scanning the canopy gave us several birds, from the colorful African Green Pigeon and fast-moving Black-capped Apalis to the more dull-looking Fraser’s Sunbird and Forest Penduline Tit. Bright Black Bee-eaters were seen several times, including at point-blank range at our comfortable accommodation, as were Grey Parrots. A large flock of Red-billed Dwarf Hornbills eventually gave themselves up, while White-crested Hornbill put in a swift appearance.

A male Rufous-sided Broadbill about to launch into its distinct aerial display. We heard these birds on several occasions and finally found one that showed nicely at Ankasa.

We spent a while working several pairs of the furtive Forest Robins – unfortunately only some of the group managed good looks at these shy birds. Icterine Greenbuls showed well while feeding in the dark thickets, as did the similar Western Bearded and Yellow-bearded Greenbuls, while Grey-headed Bristlebills were seen flittering over the track. Distant views of Red-billed Helmetshrikes left us wanting a bit more while we enjoyed our views of Square-tailed Saw-wing as they flitted over a clearing in the forest. A Blackcap Illadopsis gave us surprisingly excellent views, perching motionless for ages, allowing all of us to soak-up prolonged scope views of this calling bird. White-tailed Alethes proved difficult to see, with only the briefest of views, and White-tailed Ant Thrush showed only marginally better. Raptors were generally sparse, but a vocal Long-tailed Hawk (that frustratingly remained out of sight) was our only notable species.

The evening period brought about our chances for one of Ghana’s lesser-known (and appreciated) specials – Nkulengu Rail. These shy forest rails were a somewhat mythical species for a long time, with only exceptionally random sightings to go around. However, the local guides in Ghana have perfected the art of finding these mega birds. After a few unsuccessful attempts, listening to family groups give out their strange calls in the darkness, our guides expertly found a family group of five birds, giving us incredible views. We also had a few owling attempts but came up empty-handed on all accounts.

A group of Nkulengu Rails – expertly found by our local guides – roosting in the darkness of the Ankasa forests at night; seeing these special birds is quite the experience.

Day 9, 6th March 2023. Birding Ankasa and transfer to Kakum

We had a final morning to spend within the Ankasa Forest and ventured deep into the ponds, where we spent the bulk of our time. We started off well, immediately finding a stunning Western Bronze-naped Pigeon perched up on a dead snag. Red-billed Helmetshrikes then gave off a few calls and showed briefly before continuing on their way. At the ponds, a high-pitched whistle led us to a quietly perched White-bellied Kingfisher, which sadly didn’t hang around for too long. We had to distract ourselves with the nesting Blue-billed Malimbes, along with several West African Wattle-eyes and Swamp Palm Bulbuls which were knocking around as well. Shining Blue Kingfisher was heard several times, but we just couldn’t see it. As it so often happens, we were busy talking about Blue-moustached Bee-eater and how great it would be to get this bird when, as if right on cue, a pair of these supremely stunning birdsflew right in. The pair couldn’t have landed any closer to us, and we spent the next 15 minutes watching them as they preened, bathed, and preened again. Brimming from ear to ear, we made our way back to the lodge. After lunch, we hit the road, heading back to the Kakum area, where we arrived in the early evening. A few short stops were made along the way, and the only birds of interest went to African Pygmy Goose and Allen’s Gallinule at our familiar roadside pond.

Day 10, 7th March 2023. Transfer to Bonkro, and White-necked Rockfowl!

A busy day lay ahead of us as we transited up to the village of Bonkro, from which you can access one of the only reliable White-necked Rockfowl colonies in the world. Formerly known as Yellow-headed Picathartes, this strange-looking bird, along with its sister species (Grey-necked Rockfowl/Red-headed Picathartes), is highly sought-after by world listers as they are in their own taxonomic family. We still had a bit of a drive to get there, and sadly, our morning was marred with heavy rain, which meant we had to bird opportunistically whenever conditions allowed. We squeezed in a successful stop on the Pra River for the unique race of Rock Pratincole and White-bibbed Swallow, while some forest edge habitat produced species like White-crested Hornbill, Naked-faced Barbet, Red-fronted Parrot, and Red-vented Malimbe. A fine European Honey Buzzard gave us good flyby views, and we enjoyed stops at several Preuss’s Cliff Swallow colonies, which provided us with excellent looks. Nearby farm scrub gave us the likes of both Blue-headed and Senegal Coucals, providing for good comparative views of these similar species, amongst others.

It’s safe to say we enjoyed close-up and personal views of the mega White-necked Rockfowl.

We arrived at the wonderfully appointed new guesthouse in the Bonkro village, where we had a short break. Soon, however, we found ourselves heading into the surrounding forest, where we would have our appointment with this most-wanted bird. The forest edge was extremely birdy, and it took a little while for us to work through the throngs of birds. A pair of Purple-throated Cuckooshrikes gave us somewhat distant views, and whilst trying for better views, we stumbled upon a calling Lemon-bellied Crombec, before another small bird morphed into an excellent Forest Penduline Tit. Scanning the bare branches of some of the trees produced both Yellow-mantled and Maxwell’s Black Weavers. We eventually put blinkers on, and headed up to the massive rock, where the White-necked Rockfowl breed and gather to roost. We settled in and waited until the birds arrived. They were a little on the late side, but soon enough, a yellow and white head popped into view, and we all breathed a heavy sigh of relief, having seen another of Africa’s mega birds, White-necked Rockfowl. Just a single bird showed during our time, and it showed wonderfully, hopping along the ground right in front of us, no more than two meters away, before settling on some nearby branches for a long preen. We were thrilled with our views, and after having had our fill, we set off back down the forest track. A few birding stops gave up brief views of Finsch’s Rufous Thrush, and a calling Narina Trogon, but little else. The day wasn’t done just yet, as after an excellent dinner, we headed off to try for some owls nearby. It was slow initially, but after having heard Frasers’s Eagle-Owl calling for ages, we finally found the bird and enjoyed good views! Sadly, we could not repeat the feat with a calling Akun Eagle-Owl, or any of the many Western Tree Hyraxes. A fine Long-tailed Nightjar rounded off a superb day!

After a long search, we finally found the vocal Fraser’s Eagle-Owl outside Bonkro.

Day 11, 8th March 2023. Transfer to Mole National Park

A long day of traveling lay ahead of us, as we transited up to Mole National Park. Shortly after breakfast, a quick birding spell yielded a calling Puvel’s Illadopsis and a fidgety Red-cheeked Wattle-eye. We then settled in for the long drive, with the only other bird of note coming in the form of Grasshopper Buzzards, later in the day once we neared Mole. We arrived in the early evening and called it a day, with two exciting days of birding Ghana’s most famous national park lying ahead.

Days 12 – 13, 9th – 10th March 2023. Birding Mole National Park

Our two full days birding around Mole National Park are covered below as one account due to the similar nature of the days and birds we encountered.

We spent some time walking around the hotel, which proved birdy. Flocks of seedeaters adorned the bare ground, and we carefully sifted through them and found the likes of Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, Red-billed Firefinch and Sahel Bush Sparrow. Numbers of indigobirds were present, but in a wide array of juvenile and female-type plumages, and with no calling going on, we were left to ponder their identification. Busy Senegal Eremomelas flitted about the canopies and were joined by the likes of Grey Tit-Flycatcher, Brubru, and Senegal Batis, while Northern Black Flycatcher kept to the lower parts of the trees. Flashy Yellow-crowned Gonoleks gave us great views, and we also marveled at both Beautiful and Pygmy Sunbirds.

We spent some time exploring the network of small pools and waterbodies below the hotel, which proved extremely productive. Oriole Warblers called from the thickets but sadly couldn’t be pried out. We waited at the small pools as they pulled in numbers of seedeaters coming down to drink. Bulky Yellow-mantled Widowbirds dominated the numbers, but careful scanning revealed Northern Red Bishops and Red-billed Queleas. The smaller finches were comprised mostly of Red-billed Firefinches, but we enjoyed separating out the similar Bar-breasted Firefinches. We struck gold with the likes of the Orange-cheeked and Lavender Waxbills also coming down, along with the sought-after Black-faced Firefinch and Red-winged Pytilia. A bright White-crowned Robin-Chat also showed here.

A delightful Black-faced Firefinch was one of many colorful seedeaters coming in to drink at the small pools near our lodge in Mole.

Trips were made out into the plains sections, where we tracked down the likes of the tricky Sun Lark and the scarce Forbes’s Plover without much difficulty. Birding the woodlands was tricky, with long, quiet stretches in between bouts of activity, but after paying our dues, we came up trumps with a number of the expected species. Both Fine-spotted and African Grey Woodpeckers were crowd favorites, and it took some careful searching to find the scarce White-fronted Black Chat and Rufous Cisticola. Colorful Bearded Barbets were spotted perched on the bare branches, and tiny Yellow-fronted Tinkerbirds were also pried out. Black and African Cuckoos showed well, as did White-shouldered Black Tit. Brown-rumped Buntings perched up and sang from exposed perches, as did the beautifully plumaged Grey-headed Kingfisher. After a few flyby views, we finally tracked down Senegal Parrots for some good perched views, along with both Purple and Lesser Blue-eared Starlings. A wide range of other species were found, from orioles and bushshrikes to flycatchers, sunbirds, white-eyes, and many others. We also kept an eye to the skies and added several new raptor species to our burgeoning list. Hooded Vulture and Yellow-billed Kite made up the bulk of the numbers, but we also did well adding Bateleur, White-backed and White-headed Vultures, Black Kite, African Cuckoo-Hawk, Lizard Buzzard, Gabar Goshawk and Lanner Falcon. African Woolly-necked Storks were often seen soaring with the raptors, while other waterbirds were generally a bit scarce, with only common and widespread species being noted. Sadly, a night-time search for Standard-winged Nightjar was fruitless, with only multiple Long-tailed Nightjars and a stunning North African Crested Porcupine showing themselves.

On the mammal front, African Elephants were seen around the waterholes, along with Western Bushbuck, Kob, and even some of the scarce Roan Antelope. Common Warthogs were dime a dozen and some habituated ones even hung around the lodge, along with the ever present (and pesky) Green Monkeys and Olive Baboons. Common Patas Monkeys were seen on the plains.

A scarce White-fronted Black Chat was found in the mixed woodlands of Mole.

Day 14, 11th March 2023. Transfer to Bolgatanga, birding the Tongo Hills en-route

Another long day of driving lay ahead as we transitioned to our northernmost point on this Ghana tour, Bolgatanga. We made a few birding stops along the way, mostly at roadside wetlands and ponds. Several waterbirds like African Jacana, Hamerkop, Squacco Heron, Malachite Kingfisher, and Blue-headed Coucal were all noted. Small seedeaters, including Black-rumped Waxbill, Quailfinch, Northern Red Bishop, Red-billed Firefinch, Sahel Bush Sparrow, Red-billed Quelea, and Black-headed Weaver were seen flitting about the edges, waiting for opportune moments to come and drink. With limited water in these drier parts of the north, many raptors also hang around the water bodies – we found Grasshopper Buzzard and Red-necked Falcon, amongst others. We were also able to finally entice a group of Stone Partridges out into the open, and we started to encounter more arid species such as Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark, Namaqua Dove, and Long-tailed Glossy Starling.

We eventually arrived at the Tongo Hills in the afternoon, which were our main focal point of birding for the day. These interesting mountains are home to some good birds, and we did extremely well to find our targets: Fox Kestrel, Rock-loving Cisticola, White-crowned Cliff Chat, and Gosling’s Bunting in no time! Bearded Barbets showed well, perched in the tree tops, while gangs of Piapiacs roamed the plains below and bright Abyssinian Rollers perched on the roadside wires. We checked into our comfortable hotel in the late afternoon and settled in for the evening.

Day 15, 12th March 2023. Egyptian Plover and birding the arid north

This was another highly anticipated day of the tour, as we journeyed up to the White Volta River on the Burkina Faso border to search for Egyptian Plover. This unique wader is a monotypic species, and as such, is a highly sought-after species for world birders – not to mention its dapper plumage, adding to the attraction. Before arriving at the White Volta River, we spent some time birding the arid Sahelian plains. A group of Black-headed Lapwings were picked up quickly, and we bettered our views of Abyssinian Roller and Long-tailed Glossy Starling. Others like Northern Red-billed Hornbill, Purple Roller and Greater Blue-eared Starling were also found, while some scrubby thornveld habitat produced further species like charming parties of White-crested Helmetshrikes, small groups of Chestnut-bellied Starlings and a few colonies of White-billed Buffalo Weavers, along with favorites like Pygmy and Beautiful Sunbirds. We arrived at the river and almost immediately picked up our target – an Egyptian Plover walking along a sandbar on the opposite bank. We enjoyed some distant scope views before wandering further down – looking for a closer individual. Mourning Collared Dove cooed from the riverine trees and showed well, while Northern Carmine Bee-eaters hawked insects from above. A short way down, we picked up several more Egyptian Plovers, this time on our side of the river, and enjoyed superb views of these mega birds as they wandered up and down, largely unperturbed by us.

After having had our fill, we focused our attention on a nearby wetland. Vast numbers of Squacco Herons, numbering well into the hundreds, covered the area, and a few more widespread species, such as Grey Heron, Intermediate Egret, and African Wattled Lapwing were seen. Farther away from the river, a smaller dam in the dry arid scrub was extremely productive. A lone Dark Chanting Goshawk sat sentinel over the dam. At the same time, some careful scanning of the many Spur-winged Lapwings littered on the shoreline revealed a few waders, such as Green and Wood Sandpipers, before we struck gold and found a lovely Greater Pained-snipe. Malachite and Pied Kingfishers moved up and down the reedy edges while the surrounding trees held various seedeaters all coming down to drink. Dainty African Silverbills moved in and were soon replaced by Cut-throat Finches followed by White-rumped Seedeaters. A herd of cows also brought about a flock of Yellow-billed Oxpeckers.

An Egyptian Plover surveys its sandbar on the White Volta River in far northern Ghana.

We had a break over the hot midday period and resumed our birding in the late afternoon, with a visit to the Tono Dam and surrounds. The birding was a little slow, with several more widespread waterbirds present on the massive dam’s edge. We concentrated the bulk of our time and effort on the scrubby woods surrounding the dam. Favorites like Senegal Parrot, Vieillot’s Barbet, Northern Crombec, and Purple Starling were all obvious. Bruce’s Green Pigeons gave us brief flyby views, and we did well to pick up a Common Whitethroat in a large thicket. Exploring some of the grassier regions gave us the localized Black-backed Cisticola, along with Singing Cisticola and Black-rumped Waxbill, before a surprise Small Buttonquail flushed out of the grass. Despite our best efforts, the hoped-for African Green Bee-eaters were nowhere to be seen.

Day 16, 13th March 2023. Travel to Kumasi

Arguably our longest travel day lay ahead as we transitioned away from the dry north back down to the lush, forested southern regions of Ghana. We would be heading to Kumasi today, and the entire day was spent driving, bar a few birding stops, and we arrived at our comfortable hotel in the late afternoon. We enjoyed birds like White-faced Whistling Duck, Senegal Coucal, Western Marsh Harrier, Red-necked Falcon, Winding Cisticola and Quailfinch along the route.

Day 17, 14th March 2023. Birding Bobiri, and transfer to the Atewa Range

Up and out early, we soon rolled into the Bobiri Butterfly Reserve on the outskirts of Kumasi, where we would spend the morning birding. This site is another of Ghana’s birding gems and hosts a wide range of scarce and sought-after forest birds that can be easy to miss in other parts of the country, such as Long-tailed Hawk, Black Dwarf Hornbill, and Preuss’s Weaver. As soon as we hopped off the bus, we found ourselves in a flurry of bird activity. A large shake of some leaves revealed a stunning White-crested Hornbill collecting fruit before two of the scarce Black Dwarf Hornbills flew in and took its place. While we had seen this species earlier on in the trip, the views were distant and backlit – however, the views we were treated to here were sublime, with one of the birds remaining perched for the entire duration of our birding here (~20 minutes). The unique bill snaps of helmetshrikes led us to a party of Red-billed Helmetshrikes that also finally showed well for all. As if that wasn’t enough, a loud piercing call gave away the presence of Long-tailed Hawk, and some careful scanning revealed the bird perched high up in the canopy of a nearby tree. We couldn’t believe our luck! We slowly continued on our way, birding as we went, and enjoyed a productive morning, though nothing quite matched the first portion. Preuss’s Weaver frustrated us by calling out of sight, and we did well bettering our views of a wide range of other sought-after birds like Blue-throated Roller, Blue Cuckooshrike, Sharpe’s Apalis, West African Wattle-eye, Grey-headed Bristlebill, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher and Finsch’s Rufous Thrush. The omnipresent Black-throated Coucals continually frustrated us, refusing to be seen.

A scarce Black Dwarf Hornbill refuses to budge whilst we were birding at Bobiri.

Content, we rolled back out of Bobiri and pressed onwards to our next destination, the Atewa Range. Pausing for lunch on the way, we arrived at our hotel in good time, with a bit of time to rest, before venturing out for the afternoon’s birding. We spent the afternoon exploring the scrubby farmland habitat on the edge of the Atewa Range’s forests, and a sharp rain shower livened things up dramatically – though it made the tracks all very wet and muddy. A noisy group of Compact Weavers flitted about alongside other seedeaters like Orange-cheeked Waxbill and Black-and-white Mannikin,while several bright African Pygmy Kingfishers zipped around flashing their bright colors. A flowering tree held several sunbirds, with Collared, Blue-throated Brown, Buff-throated, and Superb Sunbirds all vying for attention. A Western Bluebill played hide and seek with the group before the rain started to set in again, and we called it a day.

Day 18, 15th March 2023. Birding and hiking the Atewa Range forests

This is one of the more challenging days of the tour, as we headed out to hike up the Atewa Range and into the mature forest at the top – which usually takes the bulk of the day. The access road was still very muddy, so we had to park much farther away from the usual beginning point. We passed through the same patch of scrubby habitat we birded in the previous afternoon and enjoyed the Compact Weavers once more, this time along with several Red-headed Queleas. We also tracked down a calling Lowland Sooty Boubou nearby before we progressed onto the regular trail. The entire first section up the hill passes through more disturbed forests and forest edge habitats, and we spent some time in this section as it was incredibly birdy. A highly vocal Puvel’s Illadopsis showed uncharacteristically well and with little effort (for those that don’t know, illadopsises are very shy birds), while the stunning Black Bee-eaters were a regular presence. Yellow-throated Cuckoo piped up and showed off before we spent some time trying to track down the scarce Kemp’s Longbill, which unfortunately refused to come out of its massive thicket.

A Yellow-throated Cuckoo calls from the treetops.

The birding was by all accounts excellent, and wave after wave of new birds came through. We did well to spot a shy Chocolate-backed Kingfisher perched quietly in the leaves, and both Naked-faced and Bristle-nosed Barbets competed for space in the massive dead trees. The sought-after Yellow-footed Honeyguide was found after some concerted effort, and the mega-shy White-tailed Alethe gave us brief views flitting about. Roving parties of Maxwell’s Black Weavers were seen here and there, while a stunning pair of Violet-backed Hyliotas put on a great show. We also enjoyed now familiar forest birds like Tambourine Dove, Yellow-billed Turaco, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, Purple-throated Cuckooshrike, Black-winged Oriole, Red-billed Helmetshrike, Red-tailed Greenbul, Red-headed Malimbe, heaps of sunbirds and Chestnut-breasted Nigrita. As we had enjoyed superb views of Blue-moustached Bee-eaters earlier on at Ankasa, we didn’t focus any time and effort on this species as many others do here. Unfortunately for us, the hoped-for Nimba Flycatcher was conspicuous only by its absence. Vocal Cassin’s Hawk-Eagles, several Ayres’s Hawk-Eagles,and African Cuckoo-Hawks were seen in flight over the forest. Tired, we made our way back down the mountain in the mid-afternoon and settled in for a relaxing afternoon with a cold beer or two, celebrating a good day of birding with a bird list of well over 100 species for the day!

After being heard-only for several days, we finally laid eyes on a Chocolate-backed Kingfisher.

Day 19, 16th March 2023. Transfer to Kalakpa

Our birding for the day was largely restricted to the morning – which we spent on the first part of the Atewa Range trail and in the forest edge habitat that was very birdy the previous day. A good range of now familiar bee-eaters, kingfishers, hornbills, barbets, sunbirds, and weavers eased our way into the morning before some subtle notes led us to a Red-cheeked Wattle-eye. We had excellent views of this attractive bird, as not everyone had seen it earlier on, before it melted back into the undergrowth. White-throated Greenbul was another species that had played hide and seek with us previously but finally showed well this morning. Kemp’s Longbill, however, only gave us brief views and left us wanting a little more. Finsch’s Rufous Thrush, Red-vented Malimbe, and Magpie Mannikin were all seen as well as we went along. Before long, our time was up, and we transitioned back to the hotel to collect our things and have an early lunch, before settling in for the drive up to Ho. Ho would be our last destination on the tour and our base for exploring the Kalakpa Reserve. We made good progress, arriving in the late afternoon, and settled in for the evening.

Day 20, 17th March 2023. Birding the Kalakpa Resource Reserve

The morning saw us arriving at the Kalakpa Resource Reserve. Here, we moved into the strange, dense lowland forests that run through this otherwise primarily savanna and woodland-dominated reserve. The peculiar Capuchin Babbler is one of the main specials of the forests here, and indeed, it would be our main target for the morning. It was unfortunately one of those slow days, and we battled for birds all round. We heard Capuchin Babblers off in the distance but frustratingly didn’t get anywhere near seeing them, while the unique race of Brown Illadopsis occurring here likewise frustrated us by being heard only. An Ahanta Spurfowl in the track was a bonus, as were several Guinea Turacos bouncing above us, while another Red-cheeked Wattle-eye showed for the group. A calling Narina Trogon disappeared before we could find it, and we had to console ourselves with Little Grey Greenbul. The surrounding woodland and mixed savanna produced a few Brown-necked Parrot flybys. At the same time, a group of White-crested Helmetshrikes showed well, and both Striped Kingfisher and the delightful Blue-bellied Roller were also enjoyed. We were able to entice a party of Stone Partridges out into the open, but try as we might, the forests were very quiet, and we decided to try again the following morning.

Yellow-crowned Gonoleks were common in scrubby vegetation on the tour.

Our customary midday break and siesta broke the day up, before we returned in the late afternoon for some birding and an owling session on the reserve edges. The afternoon was again very quiet, though a vocal Moustached Grass Warbler with its explosive calls and a bright Splendid Sunbird gave us something to look at. Double-banded Spurfowls scuttled about the roadside edges while comical Western Plantain-eaters jumped about the trees, but little else was out that we hadn’t seen before. Eventually, as night approached, we set about looking for nightjars, and we were more successful finding several Long-tailed Nightjars, along with singletons of both Fiery-necked and Plain Nightjars, while the eerie cries of Benin Tree Hyraxes rang out. We eventually called it a night, and returned to our comfortable hotel for the evening. 

Day 21, 18th March 2023. Final Kalakpa birding, and transfer to Accra

This was to be our final full day of the tour, and an early start saw us heading off into the strange forests in the Kalakpa Resource Reserve, searching for our main target, Capuchin Babbler, once more. The area was much birdier today, and a wealth of bird song greeted us. Try as we might, we just could not find any Capuchin Babblers and right as we were out of time, and about to make our way back out of the forest, we finally heard one. It was all in vain, however, as it quickly disappeared before any of us could get views. Bright Forest Robins showed exceptionally well for all of us during the morning, and we were all able to enjoy this species in the scope, which is quite something for this shy bird. The unique local race of Brown Illadopsis was seen to a greater or lesser extent, and we couldn’t believe our good fortune when we lucked onto a roost of three African Wood Owls. Various others like Guinea Turaco, Grey-headed Bristlebill, Grey Longbill, and Blue-breasted Kingfisher were seen as we went along. The woodlands on the forest outskirts also yielded Senegal Batis, Black-crowned Tchagra, Senegal Eremomela, and new species like European Pied Flycatcher, Whinchat, and Tree Pipit. Slightly behind schedule, we scrambled out and back to the bus before settling in for the long drive back to Accra. A stop for lunch on the Volta River was pleasant enough, producing Mangrove Sunbird for some, but the bulk of the afternoon was spent fighting the traffic getting back into Accra. RT was departing this evening, so we had to ensure we were back in good time, and all worked out well with us arriving back to our comfortable Accra hotel in good time for a final meal together.

Day 22, 19th March 2023. Birding the University Botanical Gardens and departure

With the first group departures for the day only in the late afternoon, we headed out to the nearby University Botanical Gardens for a few hours of birding in the morning. This was an excellent area to wind down our birding, as we enjoyed our last looks at some iconic species like Violet Turaco and Western Plantain-eater. Green Wood Hoopoes foraged along the trunks of trees and the likes of Brown Babblers, African Thrushes, and Long-tailed Glossy Starlings foraged on the ground. We also enjoyed our last kingfishers, with Woodland, Malachite, and African Pygmy Kingfishers being seen, while a small dam produced a host of Senegal Thick-knees, along with the likes of African Jacana and Striated and Squacco Herons. After a good few hours of birding, we concluded the tour with lunch before going our separate ways.

I would like to thank all the participants who joined this set departure tour for contributing to making this tour the success it was.

Bird ListFollowing IOC 12.2

Birds ‘heard only’ are marked with (H) after the common name, all other species were seen.

The following notation after species names is used to show conservation status following the IUCN Red List:
CR = Critically Endangered, EN = Endangered, VU = Vulnerable.

Common nameScientific name
Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)
White-faced Whistling DuckDendrocygna viduata
Hartlaub’s DuckPteronetta hartlaubii
African Pygmy GooseNettapus auritus
Guineafowl (Numididae)
Helmeted GuineafowlNumida meleagris
New World Quail (Odontophoridae)
Stone PartridgePtilopachus petrosus
Pheasants & Allies (Phasianidae)
White-throated Francolin (H)Campocolinus albogularis
Ahanta SpurfowlPternistis ahantensis
Double-spurred SpurfowlPternistis bicalcaratus
Nightjars (Caprimulgidae)
Black-shouldered NightjarCaprimulgus nigriscapularis
Plain NightjarCaprimulgus inornatus
Long-tailed NightjarCaprimulgus climacurus
Swifts (Apodidae)
Mottled SpinetailTelacanthura ussheri
Black SpinetailTelacanthura melanopygia
Sabine’s SpinetailRhaphidura sabini
African Palm SwiftCypsiurus parvus
Common SwiftApus apus
Little SwiftApus affinis
Turacos (Musophagidae)
Great Blue Turaco (H)Corythaeola cristata
Western Plantain-eaterCrinifer piscator
Violet TuracoTauraco violaceus
Yellow-billed TuracoTauraco macrorhynchus
Guinea TuracoTauraco persa
Cuckoos (Cuculidae)
Black-throated CoucalCentropus leucogaster
Senegal CoucalCentropus senegalensis
Blue-headed CoucalCentropus monachus
Blue MalkohaCeuthmochares aereus
Levaillant’s CuckooClamator levaillantii
Diederik CuckooChrysococcyx caprius
Klaas’s CuckooChrysococcyx klaas
Yellow-throated CuckooChrysococcyx flavigularis
African Emerald CuckooChrysococcyx cupreus
Olive Long-tailed CuckooCercococcyx olivinus
Black CuckooCuculus clamosus
Red-chested Cuckoo (H)Cuculus solitarius
African CuckooCuculus gularis
Sandgrouse (Pteroclidae)
Four-banded SandgrousePterocles quadricinctus
Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)
Rock DoveColumba livia
Speckled PigeonColumba guinea
Afep Pigeon (H)Columba unicincta
Western Bronze-naped PigeonColumba iriditorques
Mourning Collared DoveStreptopelia decipiens
Red-eyed DoveStreptopelia semitorquata
Vinaceous DoveStreptopelia vinacea
Laughing DoveSpilopelia senegalensis
Black-billed Wood DoveTurtur abyssinicus
Blue-spotted Wood DoveTurtur afer
Tambourine DoveTurtur tympanistria
Blue-headed Wood DoveTurtur brehmeri
Namaqua DoveOena capensis
Bruce’s Green PigeonTreron waalia
African Green PigeonTreron calvus
Flufftails (Sarothruridae)
White-spotted Flufftail (H)Sarothrura pulchra
Rails, Crakes & Coots (Rallidae)
Common MoorhenGallinula chloropus
Allen’s GallinulePorphyrio alleni
African SwamphenPorphyrio madagascariensis
Black CrakeZapornia flavirostra
Nkulengu RailHimantornis haematopus
Grebes (Podicipedidae)
Little GrebeTachybaptus ruficollis
Buttonquail (Turnicidae)
Common ButtonquailTurnix sylvaticus
Stone-curlews, Thick-knees (Burhinidae)
Senegal Thick-kneeBurhinus senegalensis
Plovers (Charadriidae)
Spur-winged LapwingVanellus spinosus
Black-headed LapwingVanellus tectus
African Wattled LapwingVanellus senegallus
Grey PloverPluvialis squatarola
Common Ringed PloverCharadrius hiaticula
Forbes’s PloverCharadrius forbesi
Egyptian Plover (Pluvianidae)
Egyptian PloverPluvianus aegyptius
Painted-snipes (Rostratulidae)
Greater Painted-snipeRostratula benghalensis
Jacanas (Jacanidae)
African JacanaActophilornis africanus
Sandpipers, Snipes (Scolopacidae)
Eurasian WhimbrelNumenius phaeopus
Bar-tailed GodwitLimosa lapponica
Ruddy TurnstoneArenaria interpres
Curlew SandpiperCalidris ferruginea
SanderlingCalidris alba
Common SandpiperActitis hypoleucos
Green SandpiperTringa ochropus
Wood SandpiperTringa glareola
Common GreenshankTringa nebularia
Coursers, Pratincoles (Glareolidae)
Rock PratincoleGlareola nuchalis
Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)
West African Crested TernThalasseus albididorsalis
Sandwich TernThalasseus sandvicensis
Common TernSterna hirundo
Black TernChlidonias niger
Storks (Ciconiidae)
Woolly-necked StorkCiconia episcopus
Cormorants, Shags (Phalacrocoracidae)
Reed CormorantMicrocarbo africanus
Ibises, Spoonbills (Threskiornithidae)
Hadada IbisBostrychia hagedash
Herons, Bitterns (Ardeidae)
Striated HeronButorides striata
Squacco HeronArdeola ralloides
Western Cattle EgretBubulcus ibis
Grey HeronArdea cinerea
Black-headed HeronArdea melanocephala
Great EgretArdea alba
Intermediate EgretArdea intermedia
Little EgretEgretta garzetta
Western Reef HeronEgretta gularis
Hamerkop (Scopidae)
HamerkopScopus umbretta
Kites, Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)
Black-winged KiteElanus caeruleus
African Harrier-HawkPolyboroides typus
Palm-nut VultureGypohierax angolensis
European Honey BuzzardPernis apivorus
African Cuckoo-HawkAviceda cuculoides
Hooded Vulture – CRNecrosyrtes monachus
White-backed Vulture – CRGyps africanus
White-headed Vulture – CRTrigonoceps occipitalis
Congo Serpent Eagle (H)Dryotriorchis spectabilis
Bateleur – ENTerathopius ecaudatus
Ayres’s Hawk-EagleHieraaetus ayresii
Cassin’s Hawk-EagleAquila africana
Lizard BuzzardKaupifalco monogrammicus
Gabar GoshawkMicronisus gabar
Dark Chanting GoshawkMelierax metabates
Long-tailed HawkUrotriorchis macrourus
Red-chested GoshawkAccipiter toussenelii
ShikraAccipiter badius
Red-thighed SparrowhawkAccipiter erythropus
Ovambo SparrowhawkAccipiter ovampensis
Western Marsh HarrierCircus aeruginosus
Black KiteMilvus migrans
Yellow-billed KiteMilvus aegyptius
African Fish EagleHaliaeetus vocifer
Grasshopper BuzzardButastur rufipennis
Red-necked BuzzardButeo auguralis
Owls (Strigidae)
Pearl-spotted Owlet (H)Glaucidium perlatum
Red-chested Owlet (H)Glaucidium tephronotum
African Scops Owl (H)Otus senegalensis
Fraser’s Eagle-OwlBubo poensis
Akun Eagle-Owl (H)Bubo leucostictus
African Wood OwlStrix woodfordii
Trogons (Trogonidae)
Narina Trogon (H)Apaloderma narina
Wood Hoopoes (Phoeniculidae)
Green Wood HoopoePhoeniculus purpureus
Hornbills (Bucerotidae)
Northern Red-billed HornbillTockus erythrorhynchus
African Pied HornbillLophoceros fasciatus
African Grey HornbillLophoceros nasutus
Red-billed Dwarf HornbillLophoceros camurus
Piping HornbillBycanistes fistulator
Brown-cheeked Hornbill – VUBycanistes cylindricus
Black-casqued Hornbill (H)Ceratogymna atrata
Yellow-casqued Hornbill – VUCeratogymna elata
Black Dwarf HornbillHorizocerus hartlaubi
White-crested HornbillHorizocerus albocristatus
Rollers (Coraciidae)
Purple RollerCoracias naevius
Abyssinian RollerCoracias abyssinicus
Blue-bellied RollerCoracias cyanogaster
Blue-throated RollerEurystomus gularis
Broad-billed RollerEurystomus glaucurus
Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)
Chocolate-backed KingfisherHalcyon badia
Grey-headed KingfisherHalcyon leucocephala
Striped KingfisherHalcyon chelicuti
Blue-breasted KingfisherHalcyon malimbica
Woodland KingfisherHalcyon senegalensis
African Dwarf Kingfisher (H)Ispidina lecontei
African Pygmy KingfisherIspidina picta
White-bellied KingfisherCorythornis leucogaster
Malachite KingfisherCorythornis cristatus
Shining-blue KingfisherAlcedo quadribrachys
Pied KingfisherCeryle rudis
Bee-eaters (Meropidae)
Blue-moustached Bee-eaterMerops mentalis
Black Bee-eaterMerops gularis
Little Bee-eaterMerops pusillus
Red-throated Bee-eaterMerops bulocki
White-throated Bee-eaterMerops albicollis
European Bee-eaterMerops apiaster
Rosy Bee-eaterMerops malimbicus
Northern Carmine Bee-eaterMerops nubicus
African Barbets (Lybiidae)
Bristle-nosed BarbetGymnobucco peli
Naked-faced BarbetGymnobucco calvus
Speckled TinkerbirdPogoniulus scolopaceus
Red-rumped TinkerbirdPogoniulus atroflavus
Yellow-throated TinkerbirdPogoniulus subsulphureus
Yellow-rumped TinkerbirdPogoniulus bilineatus
Yellow-fronted TinkerbirdPogoniulus chrysoconus
Yellow-spotted BarbetBuccanodon duchaillui
Hairy-breasted BarbetTricholaema hirsuta
Vieillot’s BarbetLybius vieilloti
Double-toothed BarbetLybius bidentatus
Bearded BarbetLybius dubius
Yellow-billed BarbetTrachyphonus purpuratus
Honeyguides (Indicatoridae)
Cassin’s HoneybirdProdotiscus insignis
Yellow-footed HoneyguideMelignomon eisentrauti
Lesser HoneyguideIndicator minor
Spotted HoneyguideIndicator maculatus
Greater HoneyguideIndicator indicator
Woodpeckers (Picidae)
African PiculetSasia africana
Buff-spotted WoodpeckerPardipicus nivosus
Brown-eared WoodpeckerPardipicus caroli
Fine-spotted WoodpeckerCampethera punctuligera
Fire-bellied WoodpeckerChloropicus pyrrhogaster
Cardinal WoodpeckerDendropicos fuscescens
African Grey WoodpeckerDendropicos goertae
Caracaras, Falcons (Falconidae)
Common KestrelFalco tinnunculus
Fox KestrelFalco alopex
Grey KestrelFalco ardosiaceus
Red-necked FalconFalco chicquera
Lanner FalconFalco biarmicus
African & New World Parrots (Psittacidae)
Grey Parrot – ENPsittacus erithacus
Red-fronted ParrotPoicephalus gulielmi
Brown-necked ParrotPoicephalus fuscicollis
Senegal ParrotPoicephalus senegalus
Old World Parrots (Psittaculidae)
Rose-ringed ParakeetPsittacula krameri
African & Green Broadbills (Calyptomenidae)
Rufous-sided BroadbillSmithornis rufolateralis
Wattle-eyes, Batises (Platysteiridae)
Senegal BatisBatis senegalensis
West African BatisBatis occulta
West African Wattle-eyePlatysteira hormophora
Brown-throated Wattle-eyePlatysteira cyanea
Red-cheeked Wattle-eyePlatysteira blissetti
Bushshrikes (Malaconotidae)
Grey-headed Bushshrike (H)Malaconotus blanchoti
Orange-breasted BushshrikeChlorophoneus sulfureopectus
Marsh Tchagra (H)Bocagia minuta
Brown-crowned TchagraTchagra australis
Black-crowned TchagraTchagra senegalus
Sabine’s PuffbackDryoscopus sabini
Northern PuffbackDryoscopus gambensis
Lowland Sooty BoubouLaniarius leucorhynchus
Yellow-crowned GonolekLaniarius barbarus
BrubruNilaus afer
Vangas & Allies (Vangidae)
White-crested HelmetshrikePrionops plumatus
Red-billed HelmetshrikePrionops caniceps
African Shrike-flycatcherMegabyas flammulatus
Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcherBias musicus
Cuckooshrikes (Campephagidae)
Purple-throated CuckooshrikeCampephaga quiscalina
Blue CuckooshrikeCyanograucalus azureus
Shrikes (Laniidae)
Yellow-billed ShrikeCorvinella corvina
Northern FiscalLanius humeralis
Figbirds, Old World Orioles, Piopios (Oriolidae)
Western OrioleOriolus brachyrynchus
Black-winged OrioleOriolus nigripennis
African Golden OrioleOriolus auratus
Drongos (Dicruridae)
Fanti DrongoDicrurus atactus
Glossy-backed DrongoDicrurus divaricatus
Shining DrongoDicrurus atripennis
Monarchs (Monarchidae)
Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher (H)Trochocercus nitens
Red-bellied Paradise FlycatcherTerpsiphone rufiventer
African Paradise FlycatcherTerpsiphone viridis
Crows, Jays (Corvidae)
PiapiacPtilostomus afer
Pied CrowCorvus albus
Rockfowl (Picathartidae)
White-necked Rockfowl – VUPicathartes gymnocephalus
Fairy Flycatchers (Stenostiridae)
African Blue FlycatcherElminia longicauda
Tits, Chickadees (Paridae)
White-shouldered Black TitMelaniparus guineensis
Penduline Tits (Remizidae)
Forest Penduline TitAnthoscopus flavifrons
Nicators (Nicatoridae)
Western NicatorNicator chloris
Larks (Alaudidae)
Chestnut-backed Sparrow-LarkEremopterix leucotis
Sun LarkGalerida modesta
Bulbuls (Pycnonotidae)
Slender-billed GreenbulStelgidillas gracilirostris
Golden GreenbulCalyptocichla serinus
Red-tailed Bristlebill (H)Bleda syndactylus
Green-tailed Bristlebill (H)Bleda eximius
Grey-headed BristlebillBleda canicapillus
Yellow-throated LeafloveAtimastillas flavicollis
Spotted GreenbulIxonotus guttatus
Swamp Palm BulbulThescelocichla leucopleura
Simple GreenbulChlorocichla simplex
Honeyguide Greenbul (H)Baeopogon indicator
Western Bearded GreenbulCriniger barbatus
Red-tailed GreenbulCriniger calurus
Yellow-bearded Greenbul – VUCriniger olivaceus
Little GreenbulEurillas virens
Yellow-whiskered GreenbulEurillas latirostris
Plain GreenbulEurillas curvirostris
Little Grey GreenbulEurillas gracilis
Ansorge’s GreenbulEurillas ansorgei
White-throated GreenbulPhyllastrephus albigularis
Icterine GreenbulPhyllastrephus icterinus
Common BulbulPycnonotus barbatus
Swallows, Martins (Hirundinidae)
Square-tailed Saw-wingPsalidoprocne nitens
Fanti Saw-wingPsalidoprocne obscura
Wire-tailed SwallowHirundo smithii
White-bibbed SwallowHirundo nigrita
Barn SwallowHirundo rustica
Red-chested SwallowHirundo lucida
Ethiopian SwallowHirundo aethiopica
Red-breasted SwallowCecropis semirufa
Mosque SwallowCecropis senegalensis
Lesser Striped SwallowCecropis abyssinica
West African SwallowCecropis domicella
Preuss’s Cliff SwallowPetrochelidon preussi
Crombecs, African Warblers (Macrosphenidae)
Moustached Grass WarblerMelocichla mentalis
Kemp’s LongbillMacrosphenus kempi
Grey LongbillMacrosphenus concolor
Northern CrombecSylvietta brachyura
Green CrombecSylvietta virens
Lemon-bellied CrombecSylvietta denti
Yellow Flycatchers (Erythrocercidae)
Chestnut-capped FlycatcherErythrocercus mccallii
Hylias (Hyliidae)
Green HyliaHylia prasina
Tit HyliaPholidornis rushiae
Leaf Warblers (Phylloscopidae)
Wood WarblerPhylloscopus sibilatrix
Willow WarblerPhylloscopus trochilus
Reed Warblers & Allies (Acrocephalidae)
Western Olivaceous WarblerIduna opaca
Cisticolas & Allies (Cisticolidae)
Red-faced CisticolaCisticola erythrops
Singing CisticolaCisticola cantans
Whistling CisticolaCisticola lateralis
Rock-loving CisticolaCisticola emini
Winding CisticolaCisticola marginatus
Short-winged CisticolaCisticola brachypterus
Rufous CisticolaCisticola rufus
Zitting CisticolaCisticola juncidis
Black-backed CisticolaCisticola eximius
Tawny-flanked PriniaPrinia subflava
Red-winged PriniaPrinia erythroptera
Yellow-breasted ApalisApalis flavida
Black-capped ApalisApalis nigriceps
Sharpe’s ApalisApalis sharpii
Oriole Warbler (H)Hypergerus atriceps
Grey-backed CamaropteraCamaroptera brevicaudata
Yellow-browed CamaropteraCamaroptera superciliaris
Olive-green CamaropteraCamaroptera chloronota
Senegal EremomelaEremomela pusilla
Rufous-crowned EremomelaEremomela badiceps
Sylviid Babblers (Sylviidae)
Garden WarblerSylvia borin
Common WhitethroatCurruca communis
White-eyes (Zosteropidae)
Northern Yellow White-eyeZosterops senegalensis
Ground Babblers (Pellorneidae)
Brown IlladopsisIlladopsis fulvescens
Pale-breasted Illadopsis (H)Illadopsis rufipennis
Blackcap IlladopsisIlladopsis cleaveri
Puvel’s IlladopsisIlladopsis puveli
Laughingthrushes & Allies (Leiothrichidae)
Capuchin Babbler (H)Turdoides atripennis
Brown BabblerTurdoides plebejus
Blackcap Babbler (H)Turdoides reinwardtii
Hyliotas (Hyliotidae)
Violet-backed HyliotaHyliota violacea
Treecreepers (Certhiidae)
African Spotted Creeper (H)Salpornis salvadori
Starlings, Rhabdornises (Sturnidae)
Copper-tailed StarlingHylopsar cupreocauda
Greater Blue-eared StarlingLamprotornis chalybaeus
Lesser Blue-eared StarlingLamprotornis chloropterus
Splendid StarlingLamprotornis splendidus
Purple StarlingLamprotornis purpureus
Long-tailed Glossy StarlingLamprotornis caudatus
Chestnut-bellied StarlingLamprotornis pulcher
Violet-backed StarlingCinnyricinclus leucogaster
Chestnut-winged StarlingOnychognathus fulgidus
Narrow-tailed StarlingPoeoptera lugubris
Oxpeckers (Buphagidae)
Yellow-billed OxpeckerBuphagus africanus
Thrushes (Turdidae)
Finsch’s Rufous ThrushStizorhina finschi
White-tailed Ant ThrushNeocossyphus poensis
African ThrushTurdus pelios
Chats, Old World Flycatchers (Muscicapidae)
White-tailed AletheAlethe diademata
Fraser’s Forest FlycatcherFraseria ocreata
Grey-throated Tit-Flycatcher (H)Myioparus griseigularis
Grey Tit-FlycatcherMyioparus plumbeus
Northern Black FlycatcherMelaenornis edolioides
Spotted FlycatcherMuscicapa striata
Ashy FlycatcherMuscicapa caerulescens
Swamp FlycatcherMuscicapa aquatica
Cassin’s FlycatcherMuscicapa cassini
Little Grey FlycatcherMuscicapa epulata
Dusky-blue FlycatcherMuscicapa comitata
Tessmann’s Flycatcher (H)Muscicapa tessmanni
Ussher’s FlycatcherMuscicapa ussheri
Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat (H)Cossypha niveicapilla
White-crowned Robin-ChatCossypha albicapillus
Forest RobinStiphrornis erythrothorax
European Pied FlycatcherFicedula hypoleuca
WhinchatSaxicola rubetra
White-crowned Cliff ChatThamnolaea coronata
White-fronted Black ChatOenanthe albifrons
Sunbirds (Nectariniidae)
Fraser’s SunbirdDeleornis fraseri
Little Green SunbirdAnthreptes seimundi
Yellow-chinned SunbirdAnthreptes rectirostris
Collared SunbirdHedydipna collaris
Pygmy SunbirdHedydipna platura
Reichenbach’s SunbirdAnabathmis reichenbachii
Green-headed SunbirdCyanomitra verticalis
Blue-throated Brown SunbirdCyanomitra cyanolaema
Olive SunbirdCyanomitra olivacea
Buff-throated SunbirdChalcomitra adelberti
Scarlet-chested SunbirdChalcomitra senegalensis
Olive-bellied SunbirdCinnyris chloropygius
Tiny SunbirdCinnyris minullus
Beautiful SunbirdCinnyris pulchellus
Splendid SunbirdCinnyris coccinigastrus
Johanna’s SunbirdCinnyris johannae
Superb SunbirdCinnyris superbus
Copper SunbirdCinnyris cupreus
Old World Sparrows, Snowfinches (Passeridae)
Sahel Bush SparrowGymnoris dentata
Northern Grey-headed SparrowPasser griseus
House SparrowPasser domesticus
Weavers, Widowbirds (Ploceidae)
White-billed Buffalo WeaverBubalornis albirostris
Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-WeaverPlocepasser superciliosus
Thick-billed WeaverAmblyospiza albifrons
Little WeaverPloceus luteolus
Black-necked WeaverPloceus nigricollis
Orange WeaverPloceus aurantius
Vitelline Masked WeaverPloceus vitellinus
Village WeaverPloceus cucullatus
Vieillot’s Black WeaverPloceus nigerrimus
Black-headed WeaverPloceus melanocephalus
Yellow-mantled WeaverPloceus tricolor
Maxwell’s Black WeaverPloceus albinucha
Compact WeaverPloceus superciliosus
Preuss’s Weaver (H)Ploceus preussi
Red-vented MalimbeMalimbus scutatus
Blue-billed MalimbeMalimbus nitens
Red-headed MalimbeMalimbus rubricollis
Crested MalimbeMalimbus malimbicus
Red-headed QueleaQuelea erythrops
Red-billed QueleaQuelea quelea
Black-winged Red BishopEuplectes hordeaceus
Northern Red BishopEuplectes franciscanus
Yellow-mantled WidowbirdEuplectes macroura
Waxbills, Munias & Allies (Estrildidae)
Bronze MannikinSpermestes cucullata
Magpie MannikinSpermestes fringilloides
Black-and-white MannikinSpermestes bicolor
African SilverbillEuodice cantans
White-breasted NigritaNigrita fusconotus
Chestnut-breasted NigritaNigrita bicolor
Grey-headed NigritaNigrita canicapillus
Lavender WaxbillGlaucestrilda caerulescens
Orange-cheeked WaxbillEstrilda melpoda
Black-rumped WaxbillEstrilda troglodytes
QuailfinchOrtygospiza atricollis
Cut-throat FinchAmadina fasciata
Red-cheeked Cordon-bleuUraeginthus bengalus
Western BluebillSpermophaga haematina
Black-bellied SeedcrackerPyrenestes ostrinus
Red-winged PytiliaPytilia phoenicoptera
Red-billed FirefinchLagonosticta senegala
African FirefinchLagonosticta rubricata
Bar-breasted FirefinchLagonosticta rufopicta
Black-faced FirefinchLagonosticta larvata
Indigobirds, Whydahs (Viduidae)
Pin-tailed WhydahVidua macroura
Wagtails, Pipits (Motacillidae)
African Pied WagtailMotacilla aguimp
Plain-backed PipitAnthus leucophrys
Tree PipitAnthus trivialis
Finches, Euphonias (Fringillidae)
White-rumped SeedeaterCrithagra leucopygia
Yellow-fronted CanaryCrithagra mozambica
Buntings (Emberizidae)
Gosling’s BuntingEmberiza goslingi
Brown-rumped BuntingEmberiza affinis
Species seen:396
Species heard:28
Total recorded:424

Mammal List

Mammals ‘heard only’ are marked with (H) after the common name, all other species were seen.

The following notation after species names is used to show conservation status following the IUCN Red List:
CR = Critically Endangered, EN = Endangered, VU = Vulnerable, NT = Near Threatened.

Common nameScientific name
Hyraxes (Procaviidae)
Western Tree Hyrax (H)Dendrohyrax dorsalis
Benin Tree Hyrax (H)Dendrohyrax interfluvialis
Elephants (Elephantidae)
African Elephant – ENLoxodonta africana
Rabbits and Hares (Leporidae)
African Savanna HareLepus victoriae
Old World Porcupine (Hystricidae)
North African Crested PorcupineHystrix cristata
Cane Rats (Thryonomyidae)
Greater Cane RatThryonomys swinderianus
Squirrels and Relatives (Sciuridae)
Striped Ground SquirrelEuxerus erythropus
Small Sun Squirrel – DDHeliosciurus punctatus
Isabelline Red-legged Sun Squirrel (H)Heliosciurus rufobrachium
African Giant SquirrelProtoxerus stangeri
Fire-footed Rope Squirrel (H)Funisciurus pyrropus
Green Bush SquirrelParaxerus poensis
Bushbabies (Galagidae)
Demidoff’s Dwarf Galago (H)Galagoides demidoff
Old World Monkeys (Cercopithecidae)
Olive BaboonPapio anubis
Common Patas MonkeyErythrocebus patas
Green MonkeyChlorocebus sabaeus
Bats (Chiroptera)
African Straw-coloured Fruit-batEidolon helvum
Hogs and Pigs (Suidae)
Common WarthogPhacochoerus africanus
Bovids (Bovidae)
Western BushbuckTragelaphus scriptus
KobKobus kob
Roan AntelopeHippotragus equinus
Species seen:16
Species heard: 5
Total recorded:21


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