As with our last trip, the lastmorning was again spent at Shai Hills. Last time it came as something of a surprise, since we weren’t really aware of it’s presence or proximity to Accra. This time the surprise had gone, but the birding was at least as good if not better than the previous visit. Kalu had intended to miss it out this time, with his view that no birds could be added to those seen elsewhere, and instead bird some of the forest near to the Picathartes site, then travel on to Accra for departure. This was scuppered by the hotel he had booked for this giving our room to someone else, so we made the 3 hour journey to Accra that evening instead, arriving at 1.10am. The birding at Shai Hills necessitated leaving again at 5.30am. The theory that this location would turn up nothing was also misleading – I notched up 3 new lifers and quite a few new birds for the trip as well.
We were supposed to pick up a guide from the park to accompany us, but he probably slept in a bit, since he caught up a little later. First bit of the open bush area started well, with feeding Violet Turaco, Senegal Batis on the ground, Northern Black Flycatcher, Black-crowned Tchagra, and a perched Eurasian Hobby. The birds slowed down a little as we approached and walked between the wooded edges, but the cliffs were also above us now – time to look for Mocking Cliff Chat. This took a while, with close-ish views of the pair, but the interim paid dividends with Greyish Eagle Owl perched on a rock ledge, and Cuckoo Hawk over. Splendid Sunburn ushered our departure from this greenery, when the habitat changes to more open bush. This quickly provided Red-necked Buzzard soaring (then to be found perched) and small numbers of White-throated Bee-eaters. The van then picked us up to drive around the tracks of the bush. We had heard Kalu and the guide whisper about Bustard, but didn’t ask the question. A short way in, I called for the van to stop at a distant Blue-bellied Roller, and on getting out of the car the guide spotted – Black–bellied Bustard. It was also a little distance away, and in and out of the long grass. One bird which had been spotted a couple of times through the week but which I hadn’t seen before or had good enough views of this time was Flappet Lark, so enter the last bird of the morning, and a new one for me to boot! Good finish.