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Day 7 (Thursday, 13th)

 

Shai Hills Shai Hills Shai Hills

This last session was far from just a time fillerwhile waiting to leave for the airport. Two days ago, Kalu had asked if we wanted to spend two nights near Atiwa, and finish off with more forest birding. But we took the sensible option and chose to stay overnight in the same Accra hotel as our first night (the Crown Plaza) and visit the nearby savannah reserve instead. We only expected some similar birding habitat to the first morning session, but it turns out that this place is really quite a large area of typical African savannah, with seemingly miles of open grassland studded with sparse bushes, and bounded on one side with forested rocky hills. We even had to have a reserve guide with us, attached to our trio as soon as we entered the ramshackle gates.

The first 3 hours or so were spent on foot, wading through savannah and woodland on the rough track. We immediately pinned down Red-shouldered Cuckooshrike and Brown-throated Wattle-eye. Looking for a Senegal Parrot which we eventually found, we also stumbled on to a pair of Violet Touracos nearby. A pair of Northern Puffbacks was back in the open area, with regular Grey Hornbills overhead. Just after luring a Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird into the open, we came across our first critters of the day - a small troupe of Green Monkeys feeding in the greenery. While scanning the rock escarpment above, we were very fortunate to see a pair of Mountain Cliff Chats. They are not always seen, and apparently almost impossible to bring closer using calls. An early Whistling Cisticola preceded many Croaking Cisticolas, and a reminder of Spring soon to come in the UK with Spotted Flycacthcers and Whinchats.

We then called for the car, and spent the rest of the time slowly driving the track and scanning the open savannah. It looked and felt like being on safari, heightened by the regular sighting of Kob antelope. This was as good an experience as any we had had during a superb trip. Blue-throated Rollers were very regular, as opposed to only singles of Purple & Broad-billed Roller. Now in the open rather than the forest, the Drongos we saw were Fork-tailed, with Piapiac foraging in the long grass. We thought we had come across a couple of incoming Flappet Larks, which turned out to be Plain-backed Pipits when we located them. A trio of Yellow-throated Longclaws were instantly obvious on their tree perches. Just before a cave, which I assume is a bit of a tourist attraction, we managed to get half decent views of Black-crowned Tchagra, excellent views of Croaking Cisticola, and horizon only of a static Lanner. The cave itself was uninteresting geologically, but did add a Stone Partridge, and a pair of displaying and then mating Green-backed Cameropteras. Our best bird was also the last new one of the day and of the trip. We had wanted to see White Helmetshrike for 15 years, since our first trip to The Gambia. And finally, a small group were perched for a short time on a dead tree in the open area, and were watched flying on and away in stages. And lastly, back at reception, a troupe of Olive Baboons seemed to be used to the human presence, weaving in and around the reception area, and at the same time offering little threat to us. The alpha male even deigned to strut his way around, which apparently is not an everyday event at this spot.

Blue-bellied Roller Croaking Cisticola Fork-tailed Drongo
Blue-bellied Roller Croaking Cisticola Fork-tailed Drongo
Greater Honeyguide Hooded Vulture Yellow-throated Longlclaw
Greater Honeyguide Hooded Vulture Yellow-throated Longclaw
Piapiac Pygmy Kingfisher
Piapiac African Pygmy Kingfisher
Viellot's Barbet Yellow-throated Tinkerbird
Viellot's Barbet Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird
Green Monkey Kob Olive Baboon
Green Monkey Kob Olive Baboon

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Day 7

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