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A birding trip in Ghana with Ashanti African Tours (1 Viewer)

Adare

Active member
November 4th - 16th 2018

I was interested in a trip to Ghana and was advised to contact Ashanti African Tours having looked at the offerings of some UK based birding tour operators. I was impressed by the itinerary and the price of a private tour for two and went ahead. The administration of the tour was very good and my emails were answered with despatch throughout. As we found out on the trip, Ashanti seem to be the sub-contractor of choice for many of the established bird tour outfits, and it's not a surprise as they are very good.

Our BA flight was met by our excellent guide, Philip Senyo, and our driver Ben. We immediately drove to Tema for the night, eager to get up and start birding the next day.

Day 1. Shai Hills, Sekomona Lagoon, Winneba Plains.

We had 88 species on day one, although I only had six life ticks as these are savannah sites in the Dahomy gap and many of the species were familiar to me. Highlights were White-crowned Cliffchat (now split from Mocking Cliffchat), Violet Turaco, Green (Guinea) Turaco at Winneba, Common Wattle-eye, Bar-breasted Firefinch, Green-headed Sunbird, African Goshawk, Yellow-mantled Widowbird, Oriole Warbler and Lanner. The lagoon was a bit noisome but I did pick up my first Winding Cisticola and a lot of familiar herons and waders.

Day 2 Abrafo forest and sites around Kakum

Finally in the upper Guinea rain forest, the lifers really began to mount up. Top birds included Rock Pratincole and White-throated Blue Swallow at a busy river site in a small town, Cassin's Spinetail overhead, Rufous-sided Broadbill, Chestnut Wattle-eye, Red-cheeked Wattle-eye, Western Nicator, Puvel's Illadopsis and White-spotted Flufftail. A host of other birds included 35 lifers for the day.

Day 3 Kakum Canopies

The day kicked off with an excellent view of a perched Cassin's Hawk Eagle to be quickly followed by great birds such as White-crested Hornbill, Blue-throated Roller, White-headed Wood-hoopoe, Fire-bellied Woodpecker, Rufous-crowned Eremomela, Violet-backed Hyliota, African Piculet, Golden Greenbul, Honeyguide Greenbul, Lemon-Bellied Crombec and Red-billed Helmet-shrike in a day total of 41 new life species.

Day 4 Abrafo forest

We taped Ahanta Francolin, only to be investigated by a puzzled looking Slender Mongoose, before the birds finally broke cover. Philip is a superb guide with fantastic eye-sight and hearing. He was a also a skilled user of playback; he didn't overdo it and cleverly moderated the volume. Amongst the day's superb birds were Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Rosy and Black Bee-eater, Yellow-billed Barbet, Purple-throated Cuckooshrike and Congo Serpent Eagle.

In the afternoon our journey to Brenu beach road produced Grosbeak Weaver, Double-toothed Barbet, Black and Brown-crowned Tchagra and Sulphur-breasted Bush-shrike. It was marvellous to see Bush-shrikes, Tchagras and African Hobby flycatching in the balmy evening light.

Day 5 Ankasa

We had really been looking forward to Ankasa and we weren't disappointed.
Top birds were White-crested Tiger Heron, Cuckoo Hawk, Great Blue Turaco, Akun Eagle Owl, Yellow-throated Cuckoo and Cassin's Flycatcher. We were amazed to see Potto in the evening.

Day 6 Ankasa

After an extremely humid night at the Ankasa camp we were glad to get out and about. I was overjoyed to see African Finfoot, and Philip worked hard to get us stunningly close views of Hartlaub's Duck. Further excitement was provided by the sight of a Forest Robin dropping onto the path to be chased off by White-tailed Alethe, the best two for the price of one ever! In the same area we had really good views of Green-tailed Bristlebill, followed by Red-tailed Bristlebill.

Day 7 Ankasa

Highlights of the day were Olive and Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo, Shining blue Kingfisher and Finsch's Flycatcher Thrush Our long search for African Dwarf Kingfisher was extremely frustrating. We could hear its high pitched calls and occasionally saw a tiny black dot shoot across the track, but not enough to count it.

Day 8 Abrafo and the Bronku Picathartes site

At last the day came when we were to see Picathartes. First a return to Abrafo near Kakum, where we saw Yellow-footed Honeyguide, Maxwell's Black Weaver and Lead-coloured Flycatcher. A stop at the Ashanti Office got us Magpie Mannikin before the long drive North. After a tense wait at the Picathartes site, Philip was ready to decamp to an alternative location when the local guide said the birds were coming in. Almost immediately I saw one perched near by. After a few minutes birds came close, offering excellent views despite the low light, before entering the mud nest glued to the understand of an enormous boulder. The excitement wasn't over as we located Fraser's Eagle Owl later that evening.

Day 9 Bobiri butterfly sanctuary and Atewa farm-bush.

Bobiri was a revelation – full of fabulous butterflies, but also the place where we saw Narina Trogon. We also saw Red-thighed Sparrowhawk, Black Dwarf Hornbill and Blue-headed Coucal. Philip excitedly pointed out a long-tailed Pangolin which gave us great views. In the afternoon we arrived at Atewa and explored the farm-bush in high temperatures. Here we saw the first Broad-billed Rollers of the trip as well as Malachite Kingfisher and Western Bluebill.

Day 10 Atewa forest.

The law of diminishing returns had been reducing the lifer count and I only expected a handful of new birds. As it happened I got ten lives including some stunning birds and second looks at birds like Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Long-tailed Hawk and Western Nicator. We took a long trek through the forest on a gentle up hill track. On the way I spotted a Green bush viper and we had another view of Black Bee-eater. We had nearly given up on Blue-headed Bee-eater, when Philip lead us down an overgrown side path. Then, stunningly close, we saw two of these beautiful birds. Also seen were Yellow-throated Tinkerbird to complete the Barbets, Bioko Batis and good views of Blackcap Illadopsis, certainly the best Illadopsis!

Day 11 Atewa Farm bush

We had one more morning of birding to go and I was still short of 300 species for the trip. Straight away Philip spotted Red-headed Quelea. Another life! Then he skilfully produced not one but a pair of Sooty Boubou – impressive birds. We had been looking for Bristle-nosed Barbet since day one. Naked-faced Barbet had been everywhere. We checked every Naked-faced Barbet – and yes, definitely Bristle-nosed, we didn't see another Naked-faced that morning but spotted several more Bristle-nosed! We had seen every possible raptor bar one – and a couple of unlikely raptors too. Then we heard a raptor calling and displaying above our heads. Lizard Buzard, not one but three. Our last new bird for the trip was Rufous-chested Swallow. I was going for a last life – Seedcracker – when I decided not to get greedy, and we headed back to the hotel to make preparations for our departure. I saw 301 species with 170 lives, and four new bird families – Patterned Broadbills, Hyliota, Nicator and Picathartes.

Pictures can be viewed at

https://www.flickr.com/photos/adam_dare/albums/72157675980455068

Systematic list of birds SEEN. Birds heard only not included.

1 White-faced Whistling Duck
2 Hartlaub's Duck
3 Double-spurred Francolin
4 Ahanta Francolin
5 Little Grebe
6 Long-tailed Cormorant
7 African Darter
8 White-crested Tiger Heron
9 Great White Egret
10 Intermediate Egret
11 Little Egret
12 Western Reef Heron
13 Western Cattle Egret
14 Squacco Heron
15 Striated (little) Heron
16 Black Shouldered Kite
17 African Harrier Hawk
18 Palm-nut vulture
19 Egyptian Vulture
20 European Honey Buzzard
21 Hooded Vulture
22 Marsh Harrier
23 Yellow-billed Kite
24 African Cuckoo Hawk
25 Lizard Buzzard
26 Congo Serpent Eagle
27 Crowned Hawk-eagle
28 Ayres Hawk-eagle
29 Cassin's Hawk-eagle
30 Shikra
31 Red-chested (African) Goshawk
32 Red-thighed Sparrowhawk
33 Black Sparrowhawk
34 Long-tailed Hawk
35 Red-necked Buzzard
36 White-spotted Flufftail
37 Common Moorhen
38 Nkulengu Rail
39 African Finfoot
40 Spur-winged Plover/Lapwing
41 African Wattled Lapwing
42 Ringed Plover
43 Black-winged Stilt
44 African Jacana
45 Common Sandpiper
46 Green Sandpiper
47 Wood Sandpiper
48 Collared Pratincole
49 Royal Tern
50 Rock Pratincole
51 Tambourine Dove
52 Rock Dove/Feral Pigeon
53 Squacco Heron
54 Striated (little) Heron
55 Laughing (palm) Dove
56 Black-billed Wood Dove
57 Blue-spotted Wood Dove
58 African Green Pigeon
59 Blue-headed Wood Dove
60 Violet Turaco
61 Great Blue Turaco
62 Green (Guinea) Turaco
63 Yellow-billed Turaco
64 Western Grey Plantain-eater
65 Black Cuckoo
66 Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo
67 Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo
68 Yellow-throated Cuckoo
69 Squacco Heron
70 Striated (little) Heron
71 Black Shouldered Kite
72 African Harrier Hawk
73 Palm-nut vulture
74 Egyptian Vulture
75 European Honey Buzzard
76 Hooded Vulture
77 Marsh Harrier
78 Yellow-billed Kite
79 African Cuckoo Hawk
80 Lizard Buzzard
81 Sabine's Spinetail
82 Cassin's Spinetail
83 Common Swift
84 Little Swift
85 African Palm Swift
86 Narina Trogon
87 Shining Blue Kingfisher
88 White-bellied Kingfisher
89 Chocolate-backed Kingfisher
90 Malachite Kingfisher
91 African Pygmy Kingfisher
92 Woodland Kingfisher
93 Blue-breasted Kingfisher
94 Pied Kingfisher
95 Little Bee-eater
96 White-throated Bee-eater
97 Black Bee-eater
98 Blue-moustached Bee-eater
99 Rosy Bee-eater
100 Blue-bellied Roller
101 Rufous-crowned Roller
102 Broad-billed Roller
103 Blue-throated Roller
104 White-headed Wood-Hoopoe
105 Forest Wood-Hoopoe
106 Black Scimitarbill
107 African Pied Hornbill
108 African Grey Hornbill
109 White-crested Hornbill
110 Black Dwarf Hornbill
111 Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill
112 Piping Hornbill
113 Black-casqued Hornbill
114 Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird
115 Viellot's Barbet
116 Bearded Barbet
117 Yellow-billed Barbet
118 Bristle-nosed Barbet
119 Naked-faced Barbet
120 Speckled Tinkerbird
121 Red-rumped Tinkerbird
122 Yellow-throated Tinkerbird
123 Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird
124 Yellow-spotted Barbet
125 Hairy-breasted Barbet
126 Double-toothed Barbet
127 Cassin's Honeybird
128 Greater Honeyguide
129 Yellow-footed Honeyguide
130 African Piculet
131 Little-green Woodpecker
132 Melancholy (Gabon) Woodpecker
133 Buff-spotted Woodpecker
134 Cardinal Woodpecker
135 Fire-bellied Woodpecker
136 Common Kestrel
137 Grey Kestrel
138 Eurasian Hobby
139 African Hobby
140 Lanner Falcon
141 Senegal Parrot
142 Black-collared Lovebird
143 Red-fronted Parrot
144 Rufous-sided Broadbill
145 Black and White Shrike Flycatcher
146 African Shrike Flycatcher
147 Common Wattle-eye
148 Chestnut Wattle-eye
149 Red-cheeked Wattle-eye
150 West African (Bioko) Batis
151 White-crested Helmet Shrike
152 Chestnut-bellied (Red-billed) Helmetshrike
153 Sabine's Puffback
154 Northern Puffback
155 Black-crowned Tchagra
156 Brown-crowned Tchagra
157 Marsh Tchagra
158 Sulphur-breasted Bush-shrike
159 Gonolek
160 Sooty Boubou
161 Purple-throated Cuckooshrike
162 Blue Cuckooshrike
163 Yellow-billed Shrike
164 Northern Fiscal
165 Black-winged Oriole
166 Western Black-headed Oriole
167 Fork-tailed Drongo
168 Shining Drongo
169 Velvet-mantled Drongo
170 Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher
171 Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher
172 Piapiac
173 Pied Crow
174 White-necked Rockfowl
175 Western Nicator
176 Rock Martin
177 Barn Swallow
178 Pied-winged Swallow
179 Lesser Striped Swallow
180 Rufous chested Swallow
181 Ethiopian Swallow
182 White-throated Blue Swallow
183 Preuss's Cliff Swallow
184 Fanti Saw-wing
185 Square-tailed Saw-wing
186 Forest Penduline Tit
187 Tit-Hylia
188 Slender-billed Greenbul
189 Golden Greenbul
190 Red-tailed Bristlebill
191 Green-tailed Bristlebill
192 Grey-headed Bristlebill
193 Little Greenbul
194 Simple Leaflove
195 Honeyguide Greenbul
196 Spotted Greenbul
197 Swamp Palm Bulbul
198 Red-tailed Greenbul
199 Western Bearded Greenbul
200 Yellow-bearded Greenbul
201 (Little) Grey Greenbul
202 Ansorges Greenbul
203 Plain (Sombre) Greenbul
204 Black-winged Oriole
205 Western Black-headed Oriole
206 White-throated Greenbul
207 Common Bulbul
208 Green Crombec
209 Lemon-bellied Crombec
210 Willow Warbler
211 Kemp's Longbill
212 Grey Longbill
213 Chestnut-capped Flycatcher
214 Black-capped Apalis
215 Sharpe's Apalis
216 Grey-backed Camaroptera
217 Yellow-browed Camaroptera
218 Spotted Greenbul
219 Swamp Palm Bulbul
220 Black-winged Oriole
221 Western Black-headed Oriole
222 Fork-tailed Drongo
223 Shining Drongo
224 Velvet-mantled Drongo
225 Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher
226 Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher
227 Piapiac
228 Pied Crow
229 White-necked Rockfowl
230 Western Nicator
231 Rock Martin
232 Plain (Sombre) Greenbul
233 Yellow-whiskered Greenbul
234 Icterine Greenbul
235 White-throated Greenbul
236 Common Bulbul
237 Spotted Greenbul
238 Swamp Palm Bulbul
239 Red-tailed Greenbul
240 Western Bearded Greenbul
241 Cassin's Flycatcher
242 Ashy Flycatcher
243 Grey-throated Tit-Flycatcher
244 Lead-coloured Flycatcher
245 White-tailed Alethe
246 Snowy-crowned Robin Chat
247 White-crowned Cliffchat
248 Forest Robin
249 Finsch's Flycatcher Thrush
250 White-tailed Ant Thrush
251 African Thrush
252 Violet-backed Starling
253 Splendid Glossy Starling
254 Copper-tailed Glossy Starling
255 Chestnut-winged Starling
256 Fraser's Sunbird
257 Brown Sunbird
258 Collared Sunbird
259 Splendid Sunbird
260 Copper Sunbird
261 Little Green Sunbird
262 Green Sunbird
263 Green-headed Sunbird
264 Blue-throated Brown Sunbird
265 Western Olive Sunbird
266 Buff-throated Sunbird
267 Olive-bellied Sunbird
268 Tiny Sunbird
269 Johanna's Sunbird
270 Superb Sunbird
271 African Pied Wagtail
272 Yellow Wagtail
273 Plain-backed Pipit
274 Northern Grey-headed Sparrow
275 Red-vented Malimbe
276 Blue-billed Malimbe
277 Crested Malimbe
278 Red-headed Malimbe
279 Slender-billed Weaver
280 Black-necked Weaver
281 Village Weaver
282 Orange Weaver
283 Viellot's Weaver
284 Yellow-mantled Weaver
285 Maxwell's Black Weaver
286 Red-headed Quelea
287 Black-winged Bishop
288 Yellow Shouldered Widowbird
289 Grosbeak Weaver
290 Grey-headed Negrita
291 Chestnut-breasted Negrita
292 White-breasted Negrita
293 Orange-cheeked Waxbill
294 Western Bluebill
295 Red-billed Firefinch
296 Blue-billed (African) Firefinch
297 Bar-breasted Firefinch
298 Black and White Mannikin
299 Magpie Mannikin
300 Bronze Mannikin
301 Pin-tailed Whydah
 

foresttwitcher

Virtually unknown member
United Kingdom
Sounds like a good trip & you got some nice photos.

You may want to check your bird list as there are a couple of repetitions!
 

Steve Lister

Senior Birder, ex County Recorder, Garden Moths.
United Kingdom
Some great birds on your list - several that I still need after two trips to Ghana.


Ashanti really are a top company and keep on producing quality guides - I had not heard of Philip before.


Steve
 

Adare

Active member
Some great birds on your list - several that I still need after two trips to Ghana.


Ashanti really are a top company and keep on producing quality guides - I had not heard of Philip before.


Steve

Philip was excellent - but it was tough birding with very little downtime and lots of trekking in the forests.
 

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