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Day 4 (Monday, 10th March

 

Antwikwa

Antwikwa

Ranger station at Antwikwa

Track through opne forest edge

Before leaving the area for further West, a furthermorning was spent mopping up birds of the forest edge. This could have been seeing many of the same birds as before, and adding a few misfits to the list, but the mix of species seemed different yet again. This was doubly surprising since the location was on the Western edge of the Kakum Forest, where we spent the day yesterday. The format was similar to the first morning in the area. We turned off the road some way after the Kakum canopy entrance, and then drove along a rough track for a couple of miles, passing a few small villages on the way. We parked at what was apparently a ranger station for the forest - in effect a couple of buildings with photos of birds on. We then walked the track for a few hours, passing initially through open sparse forest on either side, and turning back at a more enclosed area next to cocoa plantations.

The birding was slowish early morning, rising in variety as time went on, and on return along the track, with the heat rising, the birding slowed down again. There seemed to be a higher percentage of skulkers as compared with the first morning, so thanks to Kalu's expertise in recognising the calls and using playback of calls to make them more visible. Early birds to show were two Longbills - Grey first then Kemp's, with a couple of Palm Swamp Warblers initially keeping to the interior of the palm fronds before showing. One of the higher trees next to the track was a magnet for a few species, including a trio of Fire-bellied Woodpeckers and Naked-faced & Bristle-nosed Barbets. Red-rumped Tinkerbird responded well to hearing its own call, but a pair of Chestnut Wattle-eyes passed slowly through. A Dusky Grey Flycatcher initially looked lighter and so more confusing initially, but the darkish front could be seen better out of the harsh light. It also showed a lot more obviously than a Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher steadfastly refused to appear in the open, limiting views to within the thick bushes hosting it. Just before a Cassin's Hawk Eagle passed over, we slipped into the forest next to a stream, but stopped only about 10 metres in. Kalu then successfully managed to lure in two Spotted Fluffltails, with one being seen. Despite the lure, it had to be worked for, since they are incredibly shy, but we did manage to get good glimpses as it tried its hardest to evade our gaze. Before turning back again at the cocoa plants, we peered out at the other side, but only after checking the woodpiles and ground cover optimistically for snakes - a country apparently alive with them and still no sign. We did pick up a pair of Blue-throated Rollers however. As mentioned, the walk back again was a lot hotter and much quieter. When we neared the car again, a pair of Olive-bellied Sunbirds were in the company of the less likely Johanna's Sunbirds.

Fire-bellied Woodpecker Dusky Grey Flycatcher Red-rumped Tinkerbird
Fire-bellied Woodpecker Dusky Grey Flycatcher Red-rumped Tinkerbird

 

Next on the agenda was a long drive on both "good" roads and very uneven, bumpy tracks, broken by a couple of stops before the lunch break. On the outskirts of a small village with cocoa beans drying in the shade, we stopped next to a small stream, which had two narrowish tunnels under the road. One of these was humming with Preuss's Cliff Swallows, and Little Swifts trying to intermingle. We stepped down to the stream to view the seeming mayhem of the nesting colony. On the opposite side of the road, a Little Bee-eater tempted a closer look, which also resulted in a black form Senegel Coucal perched nearby.

Shortly after this stop, we managed to evade a gridlock in the centre of Twifo Praso town (which was all caused by a truck broken down in the centre of a T junction), to turn left to the bridge. In order to avoid paying the toll for the car, we parked just before the barrier, and walked the short distance to the combined road and rail bridge over the river. This is a more or less guaranteed spot for Rock Pratincole, and the duly guaranteed bird was immediately picked up on a rock in the centre of the river below us. When we checked further up on the other side, another 6 birds were again predictably perched on rocks. The other speciality here is White-throated Blue Swallow. These rather smart birds actually took a little more time, since they showed only occasionally. They seemingly have a nest site in the central columns of the bridge, but patience was eventually rewarded by good flight views.

Bridge Preuss's Cave Swallow Little Bee-eater
Road bridge containing Swallow colony Preuss's Cave Swallow Little Bee-eater
Senegal Coucal Bridge River
Senegal Coucal (black form) Bridge over the River Pra River Pra

Rock Pratincole

Grey-headed Sparrow

Rock Pratincole (distant shot)

Northern Grey-headed Sparrow

 

It took us a couple of hours to travel here from the restaurant, at one time seeming to bounce on poor potholed tracks for ages. We arrived at a small village, where the kids swarmed around the car and we were allocated a "keeper" of the birds, or in other words, a lad from the village who could make some money from taking us to the site. The walk to the rocks where the birds are found is about 35 minutes at medium pace, and can get very hot and sweaty, beginning in open land, and then mainly meandering through the forest, with one or two small climbs on the way. The plan was to be at the site for 5pm, which usually means no stopping, but we did manage to eke out a few species on the way at one stop off - Buff-spotted Woodpecker, Dusky Crested-flycatcher, and Blue-billed Malimbe. Near to the site, the keeper suggested a newer site, where he reckoned the birds came in a little earlier. Kalu was unsure, but we decided to give it a go. This was where we had the misfortune to come across a grumpy and ignorant old goat of a British birdwatcher, who unfortunately let the side down. Passing him with a smile, he kept his face like a slapped buttock, and when we were deciding where to sit, he muttered something about cameras. I challenged him on this, and he had the view that all bird photographers think only of themselves - I think he missed the irony of this. We decided to go to the other site, when I told him to enjoy "his own" birds, but not bother then to come to where we were. The established site is quite a little hike away, but when we arrived, Kalu was asked to stop the buffoon and his Ashanti Tours crew from joining us - Rockfowl wars had begun. Suffice to say that we were left to our own devices until we left at near dark. Some rough seats are placed below the small rock under which the nests are placed, and the Picathartes are reputed to usually wander in after 5pm. We waited patiently, eventually being rewarded with a single bird for some time below us before it retreated, and then a couple together, which also departed prematurely. None attempted to enter the nests when we were there, so presumably outside the breeding season their presence isn't always guaranteed.

One more incident on the way back - the lights on the car failed as we were driving along a potholed track, only about 20 minutes into the journey. Luckily, Kalu had put his searchlight into the car that morning, so we managed to scrape to the next town, where also fortunately, we found an auto electrician. No hassles in mending the fuse, although it was interesting seeing this done under mobile phone light. Then the price haggling began, with him wanting to charge more than the driver wanted, due to their being white (rich?) passengers. He was eventually paid the equivalent of 5. I mentioned to Kalu that this was a pittence compared to costs of repair time in the UK, with the cool response of "pity for him that he works in Ghana, then!"

Nests Picathartes Picathartes
Picathartes nest site under rock outcrop

Yelllow-headed Picathartes / White-necked Rockfowl

Home

Paintings gallery

Video clips

Images

DVD

Contact

Site map

Links

Content

Introduction

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Species list

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