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Day 6 (Wednesday, 12th)

 

Atiwa Atiwa Atiwa

When Kalu had mentioned we were going to climb thehill which overlooked our sedate yet noisy evening birding the night before, we thought it was that wacky old sense of humour shining through - the thought of an upward trek in this heat? Then when we pulled up at the same spot, and he said to take extra water on this one, our fears were founded. And if we had been told that to reach the terminus of the walk would take 5 hours, we might have just jacked it in and found a nice sunbathing pool somewhere instead. All right, not that severe, and in fairness, we were always happy to follow his decisions and the resulting birds. As is turned out, there was a point to the exercise, and the uphill climb wasn't in the least bit severe. Even the heat wasn't quite as sapping, since the generally dense forest offered a certain amount of shade.

The bit of track we already knew, which was more like 400m to the barred gate than the 100m I had the impression of the previous evening, was a lot more lively this morning, and we had also beaten the lorries with the early start. A group of Orange-billed Waxbills were feeding on the ground only metres from where we parked, with a Whistling Cisticola singing over their heads. Hairy-breasted Barbet was in a tree with Naked-faced Barbets, and Red-headed Malimbes nearby. As we neared the gate, Kalu pulled out the bank of bird calls and played for a maestro of the undergrowth huggers. In fact, shortly after we managed to get fleeting flight views of Puvel's Illadopsis, he managed the same trick again with Brown Illadopsis. Don't get excited by the hunt for either, they take a lot of time and patience for a very brief and limited reward. Passing through the gate, the track narrowed and started its gentle ascent, with birds that were much more obliging. A female Emerald Cuckoo was almost directly above us, and a Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher perched for a short time. A group of busy Black Weavers were first thought to be more Viellot's, but this initial bird was the only one amongst Maxwell's. The track narrowed even further after this, with close in vegetation and few birds. The only ones of note were Olive Sunbird and a trio of smart White-throated Bee-eaters, and a Cassin's Hawk Eagle high overhead. The path was narrow and enclosed for some time, but then broadened, and the trees became more dense. Birding was difficult here, being generally quiet both sight and sound wise. The momentary glimpse of another skulker, the White-tailed Alethe, helped a little, but morale was raised when we managed to pin down a Chocolate-backed Kingfisher high up. It had been calling for some time, but managed to evade positioning too well. We continued on, skirting a fallen tree which had blocked the path by trudging through the adjacent forest (Kalu evidently didn't have a chosen path here evidenced by him searching for a way out on our return!), and were wondering just why we were expending all this effort and time with no reward. Then paydirt. After Kalu had been disappointed at finding a seemingly destroyed nest, a hundred metres on we found a pair of Blue-headed Bee-eaters, which are well worth the trek for them alone. Vying for bird of the trip with Black Bee-eater, they are a similar shape and size, with equally stunning plumage. And for a forest bird, they actuallysit in the same place for some time! We gorged on this pair of beauties for quite a while, then used them as an excuse to head back. Within a few metres, Kalu pulled bananas, biscuits, and energy drink from his bag. Relief! Couldn't see the next time we might have seen and smelled food.

The walk back down predictably took a lot less time - 2 hours including the snack break. Despite the time and heat, there were a few additions to the list for the day and the trip. Shining Drongos are one of the forest dwelling drongos, and we managed to pick out a pair in amongst the trees. Square-tailed Saw-wings were an aweful lot easier, with a small group overhead further down. The only other birds of note were when we stopped to try to tease out one of the skulkers, and instead spotted Honeyguide Bulbul and White-breasted Negrofinch. Last treat was a Western Nicator which was calling from an open branch within the forest - the best look at this species we had had.

Orange-cheeked Waxbill Velvet-mantled Drongo
Orange-cheeked Waxbill Velvet-mantled Drongo
Slender-billed Greenbul Emerald Cuckoo Western Nicator
Slender-billed Greenbul African Emerald Cuckoo (female) Western Nicator
White-throated Bee-eater Maxwell's Black Weaver Pied Hornbill
White-throated Bee-eater Maxwell's Black Weaver African Pied Hornbill

Chocolate-backed Kingfisher

Blue-headed Bee-eater

Chocolate-backed Kingfisher

Blue-headed Bee-eater

Home

Paintings gallery

Video clips

Images

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Contact

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Content

Introduction

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Species list

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