Birding Africa
    BIRDING TOURS FROM CAPE TOWN TO CAMEROON

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trip Report

Birding Cameroon
(In Pursuit of Highland Endemics)26 February - 30 March 2002- Summarized Trip Report -


By Michael Mills and Callan Cohen
michael@birdingafrica.com and callan@birdingafrica.com


VIEW THE TRIP REPORT FROM OUR 2003 TOUR

Mount Kupe Bush-shrike is an icon species for bird conservation and the most endangered of the 25 Cameroon highland endemics.
 


The highlands of Cameroon form one of Africa's most important Endemic Bird Areas, harbouring 25 endemic bird species. These include many elusive and charismatic species such as Mount Kupe Bushshrike, Mount Cameroon Francolin and White-throated Mountain Babbler.

But Cameroon holds far more. Stretching all the way from the Atlantic Ocean to Lake Chad, Cameroon encompasses a plethora of habitats. In addition to endemic-filled highland forests and grasslands, dry Sahelian landscapes, moist woodlands, forest-grassland mosaics of the Adamawa Plateau and tropical lowland forests are squeezed into Cameroon's borders. Cameroon's combined uniqueness and diversity make it a top priority for African birders.


Mount Kupe Bush-shrike in full song - note the throat spot!

Standard-winged Nightjar -
The elongated feathers make it one of Africa's most spectacular species

The primary aim of our March 2002 trip was to see all the Cameroon Mountain endemics (except for those confined to offshore Bioko). This is reflected in our itinerary: 5 days at Mount Kupe, 3 days on Mount Cameroon, 2 days in the Bakossi Mountains and 1 day in the Bamenda highlands. Our secondary aim was to sample the full cross-section of habitats in Cameroon: our northern loop included Waza National Park, Benoue NP and Ngaondaba Ranch.



View of the looming Mount Kupe - a promise of superb birding to come...

White-crested Turaco, a striking member of one of Africa's most attractive endemic families

The primary aim of our March 2002 trip was to see all the Cameroon Mountain endemics (except for those confined to offshore Bioko). This is reflected in our itinerary: 5 days at Mount Kupe, 3 days on Mount Cameroon, 2 days in the Bakossi Mountains and 1 day in the Bamenda highlands. Our secondary aim was to sample the full cross-section of habitats in Cameroon: our northern loop included Waza National Park, Benoue NP and Ngaondaba Ranch.

Some of the highlights of our trip included:

- Finding, after dedicated searching, all 25 species of birds endemic to the Cameroon Mountains, including Mt Cameroon Francolin (a single male on the forest floor was the culmination of two day's searching), Bannerman's Turaco and White-throated Mountain Babbler - the famous "Kupeornis" of the central highlands and possibly the bird in Cameroon with the most character!

- Obtaining video footage of Mount Kupe Bushshrike. We invested a lot of time trekking along slippery mountain paths for this bird, which eventually rewarded us with over three hours viewing and video footage of a total of 4 birds.

- Obtaining over 600 sound recordings of bird vocalisations on minidisc, including most of the highland endemics.

- Testing the excellent new fieldguide to the region by Nik Borrow and Ron Demey, and the set of Chappuis CDs, which both added tremendously to our trip.

- Exploring the Bakossi Mountains, a truly spectacular wilderness area complete with Chimpanzees, Drill and a host of mountain endemics.

- Videoing, in the central woodlands, the elusive Spotted Thrush Babbler and Standard-winged Nightjar, as well as seeing the spectacular Oriole Warbler, White-collared Starling and Adamawa Turtle Dove.

- Five Quail Plovers, the first confirmed records of River Prinia for Cameroon (which Nik Borrow also later confirmed to be common) and an obliging pair of Cricket Longtails in the far North.

- A final species tally of 530 birds, which could probably have been boosted a bit with concentrated lowland forest birding.


Reichenbach's Sunbird - one of Cameroon's coastal specials

Mountain Robin-chat, a dapper little endemic of the highland forests

•For our detailed itinerary in March 2002, CLICK HERE
•For an annotated checklist of bird species that we recorded
in March 2002, CLICK HERE (MS Word Document)

•For a list of mammals that we recorded in March 2002, CLICK HERE (MS Word Document)
•For information on Conservation Organisations and ecotourism programs
in Cameroon, CLICK HERE

We would like to thank Gus, Margie and Peter for their fantastic company
during the first 14 days of the trip!

Considering a visit to Cameroon?
Budget Travellers: Cameroon is a logistically challenging country for the independent traveler but if you are prepared to rough it,
click here for our 19-page travel guide "Birding Cameroon: a budget guide for independent travellers".


If you don't have time to browse the finer points just remember - don't be fooled by second class on the overnight trains! We're also considering compiling a CD of our calls of the highland endemics and specials if time allows - please contact us for further details
.

 

The first photograph of Mount Kupe Bush-shrike in the wild, a critically endangered species of which only 25 individuals have ever been recorded

Birding Tour:
We've put together a modular birding tour that takes in the highland endemics, with a focus on Mount Kupe Bushshrike, as well as the northern arid lands. If you're looking for a more efficient approach to tackling the Cameroon specials, you might consider CLICKING HERE for info on future itineraries

About Birding Africa

Birding Africa is a specialist birding tour company customising tours for both world listers and more relaxed holiday birders, and combining interests in mammals, butterflies, dragonflies, plants and other natural history. Our guides know the continents birds like few others; we've written two acclaimed guide books on where to find Southern Africa's and Madagascar's best birds and will guide you to Africa's and Madagascar's most diverse birding destinations. Birding is more than our passion, it's our lifestyle and we are dedicated to making professional best value trips filled with endemic species and unique wildlife experiences. Since 1997, we've run bird watching tours in South Africa and further into Africa for individual birders, small birding groups and top international tour companies. We've run Conservation Tours in association with the African Bird Club and work with and consult for a number of other top international tour companies and the BBC Natural History Unit
.

For feedback from our guests, please see our tour information pages. For trip reports, please see our Trip Reports page.


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Black Harrier photograph courtesy of Keith Offord.
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