Ghana: Picathartes and forest birding
11 day tour
Leader: Michael Mills together
with an expert Ghanaian guide
All inclusive tour in air-conditioned vehicle.
Day 1: Our Ghana tour kicks off in the country’s bustling
capital city, Accra. We’ll meet you off your plane at Accra’s
Kotoka International Airport and transfer you to our comfortable
hotel. In the evening, we'll met at 7 pm for dinner, and discuss
the bird-filled week that lies ahead.
Day 2: Before first light we make our way to the productive Shai
Hills, not far from the Ghanaian capital, for some introductory
birding. Here we should find a rich diversity of species in the
grassland, woodlands and savannas. These should include many species
we won’t stand a chance of seeing later in the trip, once
we start to focus on the forests, such as the colourful Violet
Turaco and Senegal Parrot, Double-spurred
Francolin, Black-billed Wood Dove, comical
Western Grey Plaintain-eater, Long-crested
Eagle, bright Splendid Sunbird, Piapiac,
Senegal Eremomela and perhaps Blue-bellied
Roller and Red-shouldered Cuckooshrike.
From the Shai Hills we’ll make our way back to Accra and then
on towards Cape Coast, where we’ll base ourselves during our
visits to the nearby Kakum National Park. En route we’ll stop
to bird in the coastal wetlands and grasslands, looking for species
such as Short-winged Cisticola, Flappet Lark, Red-winged
Warbler, Common Gonolek, Orange-cheeked
Waxbill, Black-bellied Bustard and African
Pygmy Goose. We arrive at Hans Cottage in the evening,
our base for the next three nights, with comfortable air-conditioned
Day 3-4: The famous Kakum National Park, renowned for its spectacular
canopy walkway, holds a rich variety of forest birds, including
several Upper Guinea endemics. We allow ourselves two full days
to immerse in this rich birdlife. The canopy walkway will be the
focus of much of our attention, and we hope to enjoy close-up views
of canopy species such as Violet-backed Hyliota,
Lemon-bellied Crombec, White-breasted Nigrita,
Chestnut-breasted Nigrita, White-headed
Woodhoopoe, West African Batis, Blue
Cuckooshrike, Chestnut-bellied Helmetshrike,
Sabine’s Puffback, Sharpe’s
Apalis and a handful of spectacular hornbill, including
the Upper Guinea endemic Brown-cheeked Hornbill.
The potential species list is impressive. It includes scarce species
such as Long-tailed Hawk, Congo Serpent
Eagle, Preuss’s Golden-backed Weaver,
Forest Woodhoopoe and after dark, Brown
Nightjar. Understorey species are best tackled from ground
level and the rest of our time will be spent scouring the various
forest trails, where we aim to find the Upper Guinea endemics White-tailed
Alethe, Grey-headed Bristlebill, Finsch’s
Flycatcher Thrush and Fire-bellied Woodpecker,
alongside a host of more widespread forest species such as Red-rumped
Tinkerbird, Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill,
Red-tailed Bristlebill, Forest Robin,
Blue-headed Wood Dove, Pale-breasted Illadopsis,
and perhaps the skulking Black-throated Coucal or
shy Latham’s Forest Francolin. Nights at
Day 5-6: An early morning start from Hans Cottage sees us visit
the productive northern part of Kakum National Park at Aboabo over
the morning, where we continue adding to our list of forest birds
and stand a chance to see the diminutive African Piculet.
In the afternoon we set off for a remote village and its nearby
Yellow-headed Picathartes nest sites, where we
hope to watch these remarkable birds coming into roost. Tonight
we overnight at a nearby guest house, close enough to the forest
to revisit these areas the following day. On the second day we bird
again in the northern section of Kakum National Park during the
morning, and in the afternoon go for our final dose of Picathartes,
before continuing to the town of Kumasi for the evening.
Day 7: The morning will be spent at the nearby Bobiri Butterfly
Sanctuary, where the forests hold Swamp Palm Bulbul,
White-crested Hornbill, Brown Illadopsis,
Western Nicator and Western Bronze-naped
Pigeon, amongst many others. The afternoon will be spent
at Atewa Forest, where additional forest species may include Rufous-winged
Illadopsis, Narina Trogon, Dusky
Crested Flycatcher and Olivaceous Flycatcher.
We overnight at a nearby guest house.
Day 8 (3 January 2010) (this is
Day 1 of the Atewa Forest Extension): We'll enjoy our final morning
birding at Atewa Forest, where we hope to nail down any of the more
common forest species that may have evaded us, and perhaps find
some of the rarer forest species such as Nimba Flycatcher
or Baumann’s Greenbul. Those of
us who are returning home tonight will return to Accra in the afternoon
and enjoy a final meal before catching our home-bound flights. Those
of us who are joining the Atewa Forest extension stay on for another
3 nights nearby Atewa Forest.
Extension Day 1: This starts the
afternoon of day 8 of the main tour at Atewa Forest.
Extension Day 2: Atewa Forest.
Extension Day 3: Atewa Forest.
Extension Day 4: Atewa Forest
and return to Accra, with a final meal before catching our home-bound