Birding Africa












Trip Report

Complete Cameroon

- Summary and Highlights-

1 - 24 February 2004

- A report by Cliff Dorse -

Trip Leaders:

Callan Cohen and Michael Mills

Mt Kupe Bush-Shrike
Quail Plover

Next scheduled departure February 2005
(exact dates to be announced soon)


Summary and Highlights:

Cameroon is an essential destination for any birder serious about sampling Africa's best birds. Its mind-boggling diversity of habitats stretches from lowland equatorial forests, through highland forests, grasslands and Guinea woodlands, to the arid Saharan edge. Most notable of these habitats are the highland forests, which form the core of one of Africa's most significant Endemic Bird Areas, the Cameroon Mountains EBA. This region harbours a staggering 25 endemics, including the critically endangered Mount Kupe Bush-shrike (described in 1952 and only 25 individuals recorded since then) and mythical Bannerman's Turaco. Other key African species that are best searched for in Cameroon include African Piculet, Crossley's Ground Thrush, Quail Plover, Egyptian Plover, Spotted Thrush Babbler, Schlegel's Francolin and Cricket Warbler.

This tour is centred on the endemic-filled highlands, with the primary aim of finding all the Cameroon Mountains endemics (excluding Mount Cameroon Francolin, which requires three days of single-minded dedication). To complement this, and to record a representative cross-section of Cameroon's tremendous bird diversity, we also visit the more arid north and the lowland forest of Korup National Park.

For the third year running we successfully located all range-restricted species confined to the Cameroon Mountains, including Mount Kupe Bush-shrike, Banded Wattle-eye and Bannerman's Turaco. A further two taxa, Cameroon Pipit and Alexander's Akalat, usually regarded as species endemic to the Cameroon Mountains EBA, were also recorded. All but one of the EBA species were seen by all members of our party. This year we also succeeded in breaking the 600 species mark.

Who could forget the flock of Hartlaub's Duck at the roadside of the very first morning, elegant African Swallow-tailed Kites circling low overhead, a pair of Schlegel's Francolin quietly stalking by, saturation views of the bizarre Quail-plover, the deep, booming call of Nkulengu Rail ringing through camp at night, an Erythrina tree abuzz with 10 sunbird species, including Johanna's Sunbird, and the joy of a pair of Mount Cameroon Speirops after a long, hard slog up West Africa's highest mountain. Other highlights included repeated perch-views of the tricky Cameroon Olive Pigeon, a Beaudouin's Snake Eagle soaring nearby, dainty Grey Pratincoles chasing insects along sandbars, the localized Adamawa Turtle Dove cooing from the gallery forest, a pair of immaculate Rose-ringed Parakeet at their nest, Bannerman's Turaco swooping through mossy montane forests, a gorgeous Vermiculated Fishing Owl scoped in the spotlight, a male Standard-winged Nightjar silhouetted against the pale dawn sky, a male Bare-cheeked Trogon swallowing air before calling, a gaudy Blue-headed bee-eater hunting in a small forest glade, a pair of Blue-bellied Roller, a Black Dwarf Hornbill sitting silently in the rainforest canopy, a raucous party of White-crested Hornbills, the swooshing of colossal Black-casqued and Yellow-casqued Hornbill wings overhead, a pair of minuscule African Piculet feeding young, a pair of rare Rufous-rumped Lark and little-known Bannerman's Pipit, scolding calls from Sjostedt's Honeyguide Greenbul, the delicate Alexander's Akalat in the dark, moist forest under-storey, a crisp male White-fronted Black Chat calling from its prominent perch, the sweet, fluty call of Crossley's Ground Thrush, an agitated White-tailed Warbler flitting her stump-tail and a pair of Banded Wattle-eye.

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

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