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WINGS Birding Tours – Photo Gallery

Ghana

On the drive from Accra to Kakum, we stop at Winneba where Black-bellied Bustard is sometimes seen, but Pin-tailed Whydah is more common and widespread. The world famous canopy walkway in Kakum National Park is a wonderful feat of engineering, enabling us to walk among the branches 40m above the forest floor. Seven platforms are linked by rope and ladder walkways, all of which are stabilised and secured. Into the trees! where species like Congo Serpent Eagle can be seen, often at eye level. The unique Long-tailed Hawk is also possible here, as well as at all the forest sites we visit, although it is nowhere easy. Sabine’s Puffback is more regular, and can often be found travelling in pairs and inspecting tangled vines for food. Maxwell’s Black Weavers often perch on the support ropes of the walkway, their piecing pale yellow eyes standing out in the forest gloom. Below us, White-throated Bee-eaters hawk from exposed perches, and Black Bee-eaters can be seen in several spots during the tour, Kakum being the first. The gorgeous Rosy Bee-eaters that spend the winter here form large flocks that all perch in traditional trees in the morning before embarking on solitary feeding forays over the forest. This morning social is a real delight to watch! Yellow-billed Turacos are the most common of the turacos on this tour, their raucous calls being a regular feature of forest birding, but we need a small slice of luck to catch up with the Black Dwarf Hornbill. The canopy walkway is as good as anywhere. All the malimbes are striking, and this Red-vented Malimbe is no exception. Occuring in mixed flocks with Village Weavers, the Vieillot’s Black Weaver is slightly misnamed, and Preuss’s Cliff Swallow isn’t really found on cliffs! However, the Rock Pratincole is definitely a big fan of rocks! If we are very lucky, we may even be treated to a swim-by from an African Finfoot, although it might be distant! It’s a good idea to keep one eye on the ground around the forests, as not only this gorgeous (and green!) Emperor Scorpion could be lurking, but ants are a regular feature of the trails. The delightful Zebra Mouse may also entertain us, as this one did while having various cameras poked at it. Our small group-size allows us to get onto birds quickly, especially useful in dense forest. Moving away from the Kakum area, we eventually arrive at Ankasa. The forest and secluded pools here can hold a variety of quality species including, the White-bellied Kingfisher. While in the trees above, Great Blue Turacos lumber through the branches in small flocks,  before gliding across clearings and repeating the process. Groups of Piping Hornbills can be a feature of Ankasa, and the delightful Blue-headed Wood-dove can be found on the trails just after dawn. Cassin’s Flycatcher hunts over the river by the camp, and the bizarre wing whirrs of Rufous-sided Broadbill can be a regular sound of the forest, along with the calls of Chocolate-backed Kingfisher. Nearer the ground, White-tailed Alethe is an inveterate skulker, keeping low and mostly out of site, but Dusky-blue Flycatcher should be easier to see. The seldom seen Olivaceous Flycatcher is a much bigger prize however, and we would be lucky indeed to get views like this again. The diminutive, but loud, Yellow-browed Camaroptera often makes its presence known, while Yellowbill is a fairly regular sight as it clambers around the mid-storey. The Yellow-bearded Greenbul is an Upper Guinea endemic, and Ankasa is a great place to look for them. The Red-tailed Bristlebill is more common, but its highly skulking nature makes it a prize worth looking for. Once learnt, its call gives it away surprisingly often. The diversity of butterflies in Ghana is incredible.  All the forests feature many stunning, cryptic and sometimes downright weird species. On the drive back from Ankasa, we may visit the local car salesroom, mainly because it is next to a large colony of Village Weavers, that also harbour a few pairs of Orange Weaver, - a really stunning species! From here, we head up to see one of the avian highlights of this tour, the bizarre, unique, and highly threatened Yellow-headed Picathartes. Here one is showing off its outrageous legs to their full effect. Rockfowl or Picathartes, whatever you want to call it, this Upper Guinea endemic is a must-see and iconic bird. The Yellow-headed Picathartes nests only on rock-faces in closed canopy rainforest, and they come back and forth throughout the day, although more regularly towards dusk. On our way to Mole National Park, we will stop to look for one of Africa’s other iconic and unique birds, the Egyptian Plover. With a striking wing pattern, it’s an amazing bird to see, especially in flocks! The view from the lodge, overlooking the water holes, is best appreciated with a cold beer, especially as the sun sets over the African bush. At night the hotel comes alive with mammals. This warthog is feeding around the lodge grounds. Elephants are scarce in November but we can hope to see one or two coming to drink, whereas the Olive Baboons are a constant and mischievous presence, as are the angelic-looking Patas monkeys. Not quite so angelic, this crocodile resides in the water holes. Out in the bush, Forbes’s Plover can be difficult to locate. Searching burnt areas is likely to produce dividends though. A whole lot easier to see are the flocks of Red-throated Bee-eaters. And we may get lucky with an Abyssinian Ground Hornbill too. This one obviously not having read the books! Violet Turaco is a rather unique looking turaco. Scarlet-chested Sunbird may be widespread and always appreciated. Less gaudy but with a fascinating life-history, Wilson’s Indigobird is fairly common here, and Bateleur rock their way across the skyline, surely one of Africa’s finest raptors. Almost as distinctive, but lacking a certain amount of the Bateleur’s charm and grace, this Palm-nut Vulture may never have actually eaten a palm-nut. A chameleon. Lost, perhaps? Down in the Atewa forest range, one of our major targets will be Blue-moustached Bee-eater, with its red throat patch setting off a stunning little bird. We have another chance of Chocolate-backed Kingfisher here, and Crowned Eagle may feature as they soar overhead. Red-chested Owlet is not often seen, so getting views like this is special, and the nocturnal king of the forest is the Fraser’s Eagle-owl. Above all, Ghana in one of Africa’s friendliest countries, full of beaming smiles, and where even the roadside sellers are entertaining.