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Day 3 (Saturday, 20th February)

     Tongo Hills

Tongo Hills Tongo Hills

The first stop of the day, and onthe way to Mole, was Tongo Hills. Two welcome surprises were that it was only a short hop from the hotel, which we had just checked out of, and also on relatively even roads. The small area is bisected by a local road well used by the local villagers, but we covered what in effect was a very small area just off the road. The habitat here is very slightly elevated rocky terrain, with small hills alongside. There looks to have been some collecting of the rocks in the past, judging by the drill marks on some of the larger split ones. Specialities here are unsurprisingly the rock loving birds, as evidenced by the numerous Cinammon-breasted Rock Buntings which are seemingly everywhere, while remaining quite skittish and not too approachable. The now expected finch flocks were also almost constant, but sifting through the common Cordon-bleus, Pin-tailed Wydahs, Black-rumped Waxbills and Red-billed Firefinches did uncover Lavender Waxbill, Village Indigobird, Bar-breasted Firefinch, and one or two Bush Petronias overhead. Two of the birds which this location is good for are Fox Kestrel and Rock-loving Cisticola. The latter came first, with a single bird quietly making its way along the ground in the shade of the rocks. The Fox Kestrel landed in a bush favoured by other birds – I had been creeping closer to a pair of Bearded Barbets in it when the falcon landed alongside. It unfortunately didn’t seek out a favoured perch on the nearby rocks, but was joined in the air by a further two later. The same tree then hosted a Western Grey Plantain-eater for quite some time, and while here, a pair of Rock-loving Cisticolas had a sing off in front of us, with the backdrop of a Klaas’s Cuckoo just beyond.

Bearded Barbet Black-rumped Waxbill
Bearded Barbet Black-rumped Waxbill
Cinammon-breasted Bunting Fox Kestrel Klaas's Cuckoo
Cinnamon-breasted Bunting Fox Kestrel Klaas's Cuckoo
Red-billed Firefinch Rock-loving Cisticola
Red-billed Firefinch Rock-loving Cisticola

     Nasia Bridge

On the first stage of the journey to Mole, we stopped off again for a shorter time at Nasia Bridge, overlooking the smallish lagoon and reedbed. The usual crowd was here again – Abyssinian Rollers on the wires, Marsh Harrier, at least 6 Grasshopper Buzzards, and the small finch flock. This time the aforementioned flock also contained a couple of African Silverbills, a new addition to the trip. On the opposite side of the road, a Winding Cisticola obliged by perching just in front of the bridge for a short time. Back to the other side, and only a short wait relocated the African Moustached Warbler again, just as secretive this time, but with what looked like a second bird in tow. While waiting for it to show better (didn’t happen!) a Singing Cisticola returned to the bush just in front a few times, albeit finding comfort within the branches rather than on the outer ones.

Abyssinian Roller Winding Cisticola
Abyssinian Roller Winding Cisticola

     Bridge over the White Volta near Yiabie

Yiabie Yiabie

After a filling lunch in Tamale,we got back on the road again and turned off East after crossing the River Volta here. We thought we were going to do some birding along the banks of the river, but were wrong. First order of business, however, was to tick off 2 overflying Northern Carmine Bee-eaters, another of those mythical birds from my youth which was a lifetime dream. After they had gone, we continued down the dirt track for a short way, and parked next to a very small pool. Kalu had been here a couple of days ago, and sadly said it was alive with small birds then, but admitted, while we were under the baking heat, that this didn’t seem to be the case anymore. Spirits lifted when we found a couple of Chestnut-backed Sparrow Larks, and then Winding Cisticola. Then the fun started, with small collections of finches breaking from what seemed nowhere – in truth hidden amongst the cut vegetation stems. After the expected Cordon-bleu, a group of Orange-bellied Waxbills included a couple of stunning males. Quailfinch were much harder to pin down, breaking at the last second from unseen hiding places, until a pair were pinned down happily squatting under a grass tussock. The almost regular Grasshopper Buzzard put in an appearance, along with Grey Kestrel, and a Malachite Kingfisher spent a short time in the centre of the pool.

Chestnut-backed Sparrow Lark Malachite Kingfisher Quailfinch
Chestnut-backed Sparrow Lark Malachite Kingfisher Quailfinch

     Mole

We finally reached Mole National Park by late afternoon, and rather than enter the gates, we diverted just before and took a short track to an old disused airfield. It was here, and in fact on immediately leaving the car, that we were introduced to the dark experience that is the Sweat Bee. Mole is well known for these, since they have a tendency to flit around you in some numbers – no stings, just annoyance. Kalu and Jonathan the driver were not at ease with these, while we stuck on a bit of insect repellent which certainly helped, although the larger flies were more of a nuisance. We walked the length of the old runway, where the birding was slow. Highlights were to be saved until the light started to go later on. Stone Partridge across the entrance track (confounding Kalu’s efforts to lure out White-throated Francolin!) and Senegal Parrots over were the preface to a surprise appearance – a pair of Grey-headed Bristlebills in a nearby tree, uttering a very distinctive call. The main reason for being here at this time was to search for Standard-winged Nightjar. They have been known to make their entrance in full light, but we were made to wait until well past dusk for the first of two to land a stone’s throw away. The second bird was located by driving a short way down the airfield – the bird didn’t see to mind being the centre of attention in the vehicle headlights.

Airfield Standard-winged Nightjar
  Standard-winged Nightjar

Home

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Introduction

Day 1

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Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7 Day 8

Species list

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