Ghana, Day 7, 30 November 2023 - Ankasa NP, Brenu Akyinim and Kakum NP

A very long day started off with our last morning at Ankasa. We walked the trails near the river just across from the lodge. It was pretty hard and slow going with an hour an 45 minutes spent trying to get a glimpse of a calling Rufous-winged Illadopsis which eventually gave some brief views! A flock of greenbuls included Red-tailed Geenbul, Icterine Greenbul, Yellow-bearded Greenbul and the Upper Guinea endemic Western Bearded Greenbul. A Brown-eared Woodpecker was new with Blue-billed Malimbe, Shining Drongo and White-crested Hornbill also being seen. On the river itself we located a pair of Cassin's Fycatchers after some searching. Back at the lodge over the lunch break we got some great views of Red-vented Malimbe plus 3 Swamp Bulbuls, Olive-bellied Sunbird and Black Bee-eater.


Then it was time to make our way back along the horrendous entrance track and back to the minibus and a comfortable drive eastwards. 2 Lanners by the road near Beahu livened up the journey before we pulled up at Brenu Akyinim, a site of coastal savannah scrub and sandy tracks. This proved to be a good antidote to forest birding with some birds that showed without too much trouble for a change! Sulphur-breasted Bush-shrike was the star bird but 2 Western Bluebills, Guinea Turaco, Piping Hornbill, Red-winged Warbler, African Grey Woodpecker, Red-faced Cisticola, Singing Cisticola, Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, Black-crowned Tchagra, Bar-breasted Firefinch, Black-naped Weaver, Green-headed Sunbird and 3 Snowy-crowned Robin-chats were a fantastic supporting cast. 


Dragging ourselves away we then made our way back to Kakum arriving just after dark for a go at some owls before a much delayed dinner at the Rainforest Lodge. This time we struck it lucky at long last with views of both Fraser's Eagle Owl and Akun Eagle Owl close to the road. The latter in particular gave prolonged and excellent views. Perseverance had finally paid off and top marks to Foster!  


Ghana, Day 6, 29 November 2023 - Ankasa NP

What a start to the day we had! Up at the ungodly hour of 04.00 and out onto the rainforest track in the dark. A little while later our guide emerged from the undergrowth, beckoned us and we began a hurried crash through the trees and over/through a stream to eventually arrived panting at 2 Nkulengu Rails sat on branch - wow! The hurry (including Jus landing on me in mid-stream!) was because the birds were about to leave their roost after which we'd have stood no chance. Somehow in the scramble Foster dropped his speaker in the stream as well but luckily it survived!


Breakfast certainly tasted better after that and pretty soon we were off back into the forest for the morning session. As we were leaving the lodge 3 Sabine's Spinetails cruised overhead, an African Pygmy Kingfisher posed on wires and a Cassin's Honeyguide showed briefly in trees by the restaurant.


The birds seen on the morning and afternoon sessions included Yellow-casqued Hornbill (our final hornbill), Yellow-billed Turaco, Blue-headed Wood Dove, a mega Long-tailed Hawk that flopped across the track at low level, West Africn Wattle-eye, Yellow-throated Cuckoo again, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Icterine Greenbul, a couple of gorgeous Forest Robins, Finsch's Flycatcher-thrush, Grey-throated Tit-flycatcher, Ussher's Flycatcher, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Speckled Tinkerbird, Sabine's Puffback and Shining Drongo. A real surprise at the 2nd pond as we waited for dusk were 2 Dwarf Bitterns one of which posed for ages in the fading light.


Back at the lodge 2 Black Bee-eaters showed amazingly well (and gave me probably the best photos of the trip) and a Green Hylia gave itself up.

Owls once again eluded us that night with just a Brown Wood Owl heard.


Ghana, Day 5, 28 November 2023 - Ankasa NP

We awoke at the Ankasa Lodge which is right in the thick of the action in the national park. To prove the point we had a shout just after breakfast for a singing Yellow-throated Cuckoo that had us running (and some quickly pulling trousers up!) to the entrance gate for some great views. Around the lodge grounds during the day we also recorded Reichenbach's Sunbird, Olive-bellied Sunbird, 5 Black Bee-eaters and a male Pin-tailed Whydah

The majority of the day was spent exploring the main track up through the rainforest in our (not so) trusty landrover. On the way up first thing we scored with both Tambourine Dove and Blue-headed Wood Dove together with a pale Honey Buzzard perched at close range by the track. The main site visited was 2 forest ponds close to each other at the far end of the track. The brding here was superb and a little easier than the thick forest. The first small pond held a fantastic selection of normally difficult to see kingfishers - White-bellied Kingfisher, 3 Shining Blue Kingfishers, African Pygmy Kingfisher, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher and Blue-bellied Kingfisher. Not bad for a pond no more than 30 meters across! Also there were some nesting Blue-billed Malimbes and 4 basking Dwarf Crocodiles. At the other larger but more grown-up pond Red-fronted Antpecker was the star bird with views also of Black Dwarf Hornbill, Dusky Blue Flycatcher and Crested Malimbe.

Along the track at various points on both the morning and afternoon sessions we had Square-tailed Saw-wing, Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, Brown-cheeked Hornbill, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, Shining Drongo, Sabine's Puffback, African Forest Flycatcher, Tiny Sunbird and Johanna's Sunbird amongst the more regular stuff. Sadly the evening session was cut short by torrential rain which made birding impossible. Even the drive back along the rapidly deteriorating track involved our driver having to clear 2 trees that had fallen across the track! Nevertheless a couple of nice mammals were seen on the way back - Demidoff's Galago and Hammer Bat.

With a chunk of our time (and 2 out of 3 evenings) at Ankasa gone we were now getting worried about our chances of seeing a certain rail as well as owls. Clearly explaining this to Foster had him making alternative plans for the morning. More of that in the next instalment...



Ghana, Day 4, 27 November 2023 - Kakum area, Bokoro Lily Pond & Ankobra River

Our last morning in the Kakum area was back at the scene of the previous evenings soaking.

On the way a flock of Preuss's Cliff Swallows and Barn Swallows was by the bridge in Bremang before we set off for a long walk along yesterdays logging track. During our exploration we found a few of our most sought after birds - Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Chestnut-breasted Nigrita, Rufous-crowned Erememola, Ansorge's Greenbul, African Emerald Cuckoo, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher, Tiny Sunbird and a showy Red-chested Goshawk being the pick of the bunch. A brief African Pygmy Kingfisher flashed across the track while Spotted Greenbul, Velvet-manted Drongo, Ussher's Flycatcher, Buff-throated Sunbird, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Yellow-mantled Weaver, Red-headed Malimbe, Green Sunbird, Chestnut-winged Starling and Blue Cuckooshrike provided a splendid back-up cast. 


After lunch and a freshed up back at the Rainforest Lodge (plus Mottled Spinetail and Diderik Cuckoo) we hit the road again as we made our way towards the next main phase of the trip - at Ankasa. The first of 2 stops along the way was at the charmingly named Bokoro Lily Pond. He we struck lucky with 2 Allen's Gallinules which nobody had imagined we would see on the trip. Also ticked there was Orange Weaver nest building on an island plus 7 Cotton Pygmy Geese, 8 White-faced Whistling Ducks, Woodland Kingfisher, Little Bee-eater, Copper Sunbird, African Jacana, Northern Fiscal, Spur-winged Plover and Purple Heron of note.        

The other stop was at a roadside wetland/river Ankobra. Here the star birds were Mouse-brown Sunbird feeding hidden young in the nest, Reichenbach's Sunbird, a fly-over Black-bellied Seedcracker, Swamp Greenbul, Malacite Kingfisher and Black-headed Paradise Flycatcher

Arriving at the start of the entrance track to Ankasa we tranfserred into a beaten up Landrover which was to be our transport for our stay there. An extremely bumpy, muddy and uncomfortable rise later we were at the lovely lodge just as it got dark. After dark a quick spotlight walk gave us some lovely views of West African Potto near our rooms.