The following are largely unconfirmed records which have been published in Bulletins of the African Bird Club for information only.
from ABC Bulletin 22.2
A Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos was found at Sakumono Lagoon on 13 March 2015; there are eight previous records for Ghana, all of them from this site (cf. Dowsett- Lemaire, F. & Dowsett, R. J. 2014. The Birds of Ghana).
from ABC Bulletin 21.2
An Ovambo Sparrowhawk Accipiter ovampensis at Shai Hills on 17 April 2014 was apparently only the second record for the reserve. Both an American Pluvialis dominica and a Pacific Golden Plover P. fulva were photographed at Muni Lagoon, near Winneba, in February; the former species appears to be a quite regular visitor to the country’s lagoons. A Red-necked Nightjar Caprimulgus ruficollis photographed in Mole National Park on 28 November 2013 is the third record for Ghana; the first was a specimen collected at Gambaga on 28 March 1901 and the second one photographed at Nsuatre on 16 February 2013. A Northern Red-billed Hornbill Tockus erythrorhynchus flew over Bobiri Forest on 24 April. A male Vitelline Masked Weaver Ploceus vitellinus in breeding plumage was observed at Winneba Plains on 17 April.
from ABC Bulletin 21.1
Records from the period November 2013 - January 2014 include the following. The most remarkable report was that of a first-winter Audouin’s Gull Ichthyaetus audouinii observed in a flock of Royal Thalasseus maximus and Sandwich Terns T. sandvicensis at Muni Lagoon, near Winneba, on 13 January this is a quite unexpected first for Ghana, as the species has not previously been reported south of Senegambia.
A White-crested Tiger Heron Tigriornis leucolopha appeared to be displaying to a second bird in Nsuta Forest on 2 December. At Sakumono Lagoon, 17 Glossy Ibises Plegadis falcinellus were present on 28 November. Also there, on 14 January, were a female Knob-billed Duck Sarkidiornis melanotos (apparently just the second coastal report in recent years; and a female Common Teal Anas crecca (only the fifth report). A subadult African Fish Eagle Haliaeetus vocifer and three Rüppell’s Vultures Gyps rueppelli were in Mole National Park (=NP) on 10 - 11 December. Excellent views of a Eurasian Hobby Falco Subbuteo were obtained from the canopy walkway at Kakum NP on 8 January; this species occurs mostly on passage through Ghana, especially on its spring migration. Another was observed at Shai Hills on 26 November. An adult and two juvenile Lesser Moorhens Gallinula angulata were at a wetland near the Nasia River on 14 December. On 29 December, three Eurasian Oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus were photographed at Winneba Lagoon. An Egyptian Plover Pluvianus aegyptius chick and at least five adults were observed on the Volta River on 29 November; this is the first breeding record for the country (CT). A Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus was photographed at Tono Dam on 13 December. Three Rosy Bee-eaters Merops malimbicus were seen in degraded farmland near Kakum NP on 9 November, whilst a Northern Red-billed Hornbill Tockus erythrorhynchus was at Pepease, near Abetifi, in the Mampongtin Range, on 17 November. A Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla was observed near Opro River Forest Reserve, north of Kumasi, on 5 January. At Odwenanoma Mountain, north of Nkawkaw, two Brown-chested Alethes Alethe poliocephala were mist-netted in November. Two or three Rufous Scrub Robins Cercothrichas galactotes were noted in Acacia scrub near the White Volta in the north-east and two Western Bonelli’s Warblers Phylloscopus bonelli in thickets at Tono Dam on 13 December. A Gambaga Flycatcher Muscicapa gambagae was photographed on Brugbani road, Mole NP, on 11 December. At least 50 Pied Flycatchers Ficedula hypoleuca were counted along a 4km transect at Mole NP on 7 November. At Pepease, a pair of Western Violet-backed Sunbirds Anthreptes longuemarei was seen on 17 November, with at least five pairs of Variable Sunbirds Cinnyris venustus breeding there on 16 December; a male was also seen at Shai Hills on 26 November. Two Forest Penduline Tits Anthoscopus flavifrons were recorded at Nsuta Forest on 4 December. Also in December, a group of ten Magpie Mannikins Lonchura fringilloides were again seen feeding on the seeds of Chinese Bamboo Bambusa vulgaris at the same place in Bobiri as in 2012, when this behaviour was first reported.
from ABC Bulletin 20.2
A Wahlberg's Honeybird Prodotiscus regulus was trapped and photographed in Damongo Scarp Forest on 28 January 2013. A Greyish Eagle Owl Bubo (africanus) cinerascens bred successfully near a study site at Pepease, Kwahu East district, Eastern Region, with two young ringed on 11 March; the nest, containing three eggs, was discovered on 27 January. Also near Pepease, a female woodpecker exhibiting the features of Green-backed Woodpecker Campethera cailliautii was seen well near secondary forest at 06°39'37"N 00°42'33"W on 11 January; this is an unusually western record. A Rufous-rumped Lark Pinacorys erythropygia seen on burnt grassland at Pepease (06°41'28"N 00°42'33"W) on 10 January constitutes a southward extension of its previously known range. In the same area, a Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita was observed on 27 January. Several Magpie Mannikins Lonchura fringilloides were seen feeding on seeds of the exotic Chinese Bamboo Bambusa vulgaris at Bobiri on 16 December 2012; this appears to be the first report of this behaviour - Chinese Bamboo flowers very rarely and it is interesting to know that the species can be utilised by at least one bird species.
from ABC Bulletin 20.1
A Bat Hawk Machieramphus alcinus flew over Hohoe, between Lake Volta and the Togolese border, on 12 November 2012. Two immature Rüppell’s Griffon Vultures Gyps rueppellii were photographed in Mole National Park on 18 December; this may well represent the first certain evidence of the species’ occurrence in the park. At Sakumono Lagoon, a Common Teal Anas crecca, an American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica and a White-rumped Sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis were observed on 5 December, with five Pied Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta also there on 25th. At least three Forest Chestnut-winged Starlings Onychognathus fulgidus, recorded at Wii (Agumatsa) Falls near Hohoe on 13 November, represent the first report for the Volta Region.
from ABC Bulletin 19.2
Records from November 2011 - April 2012 include the following. Three Cory’s Shearwaters Calonectris diomedea flew east off Sakumono lagoon on 9 April. A Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos was observed at the lagoon on 4 and 14 February; also there, on the latter date, an American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica was photographed, whilst two were seen on 19 April; these Holarctic vagrants apparently remained in the area for quite some time. At least one Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle Circaetus beaudouini was seen well in the Shai Hills on 9 April; this appears to be a significant extension to the species’ known range, but old records of Short-toed Snake Eagle C. gallicus probably reflect misidentifications or at least did not distinguish between the two taxa. Also there, a pair of Brown Snake Eagles C. cinereus was observed on the same date; they may have been the same birds recorded here in 2011. Rosy Bee-eaters Merops malimbicus were late leaving the country this year, as some were still noted on 20 April, flying over Kakum National Park. A Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla was seen at Pepease, near Abetifi, in the Mampongtin Range, on 22 January. Six Grasshopper Warblers Locustella naevia and a few Common Whitethroats Sylvia communis were mist-netted at Nsuatre, west of Sunyani, in November - February. Puvel’s Illadopsis Illadopsis puveli was encountered in farmbush just outside Atewa Range Forest Reserve on 27 April; this is a new species for the site. A Lagden’s Bush-Shrike Malaconotus lagdeni was seen well in an overgrown valley near Aduamoa, Mampongtin Range, on 4 February. Two Bronze-tailed Glossy Starlings Lamprotornis chalcurus found at the Alexis Hotel on the Tema - Akosombo road, near Shai, on 19 April, represent a new record for that area. Compact Weavers Pachyphantes superciliosus were observed at Nsuatre and Pepease. A male Togo Paradise Whydah Vidua togoensis and three female-types were seen at Dedeso, on the south shore of Lake Volta, on 27 January.
from ABC Bulletin 19.1
A Wahlberg’s Honeyguide Prodotiscus regulus was photographed 1 km south of Tono Dam, near Bolgatanga, on 20 January 2011.
Records from November - December 2011 include the following. A Black Stork Ciconia nigra flew over the Mole River at Mognori on 15 December. Six Glossy Ibises Plegadis falcinellus were seen at Sakumono Lagoon on 24 December. More than 4,000 White-faced Whistling Ducks Dendrocygna viduata were at Tono Dam on 22 November. At Ankasa, a pair of Hartlaub’s Ducks Pteronetta hartlaubi with eight chicks was seen on 10 December. At Sakumono Lagoon, a Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope was observed on 24 December - this would be the first record for the coast; a Garganey A. querquedula was also at this site on 2 December, with two on there 24th. Three Ferruginous Ducks Aythya nyroca were noted at Tono Dam on 17 December. Noteworthy raptors included a Bat Hawk Macheiramphus alcinus at Atewa on 24 November and another over Nsuta Forest on 7 December, a grey-morph Long-tailed Hawk Urotriorchis marcrourus in Bonkro Forest on 23rd, and two Booted Eagles Hieraaetus pennatus over the Tongo Hills on 16th. A flock of five White-breasted Guineafowl Agelastes meleagrides was encountered in Ankasa on 10 December; this species is known from this site but is rarely seen there. At Winneba Lagoon, three Eurasian Oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus and six Kentish Plovers Charadrius alexandrinus were seen on 10 November. Two American Golden Plovers Pluvialis dominica were found at Sakumono Lagoon on 9 November. with one still present on 24 December. Two Pectoral Sandpipers Calidris melanotos were photographed at the lagoon on 2 November. Also there was a Buff-breasted Sandpiper Tryngites subruficollis on 2–24 December (photographed on 11th) and a Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus on 24th.
At Nsuta Forest, a Yellow-throated Cuckoo Chrysococcyx flavigularis was recorded on 8 December and an African Piculet Sasia africana the previous day; the latter species appears to be rather easy to see in Ghana. Eurasian Wrynecks Jynx torquilla were seen in Mole National Park on 15 December (one) and in the Tongo Hills next day (two). A White Wagtail Motacilla alba at the White Volta, en route to Bawku, on 17 December would be the second for Ghana if accepted; the first was recorded in February 1997. Other December records include a Western Wattled Cuckooshrike Lobotos lobatus in Bonkro Forest on 23rd; a male Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius in the Tongo Hills on 16th; a Western Bonelli’s Warbler Phylloscopus bonelli at Tono Dam on 17th; daily sightings of Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla in farmbush at Atewa on 19th–21st; several Narrow-tailed Starlings Poeoptera lugubris at nest holes in Bonkro Forest on 23rd; and a pair of Red-fronted Antpeckers Parmoptila rubrifrons nesting near the Kakum canopy entrance on 12th. A pair of Yellow-winged Pytilias Pylia hypogrammica on Brenu beach road on 11th is a large range extension. A Golden-breasted Bunting Emberiza flaviventris was observed en route to Bawku on 17 December; this species was discovered in the area in April 2010 and seen again there in September, making the latest record the third for the country.
from ABC Bulletin 18.2
In December 2010 - May 2011 the following were reported. A Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata was at Sakumo lagoon, Tema, on 19 February. In the Shai Hills, a Brown Snake Eagle Circaetus cinereus was seen on 21 April and a Wahlberg’s Eagle Aquila wahlbergi on 11 April; there are few records of either species in the country. A group of five White-breasted Guineafowl Agelastes meleagrides was encountered at Ankasa National Park (=NP) on 15 April. American Golden Plovers Pluvialis dominica were found at Keta lagoon on 18 February (six) and at Sakumono lagoon the next day (three). A Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus was seen at Muni lagoon on 14 March. An adult Franklin’s Gull Larus pipixcan in full breeding plumage, with a slight pink flush to the breast, was discovered at Sakumono lagoon on 8 May. A Little Gull L. minutus was at Keta lagoon on 18 February. A female Western Bronze-naped Pigeon Columba iriditorques at Antwikwaa on 13 April is an unusual record for this locality. A male Yellow-throated Cuckoo Chrysococcyx flavigularis was seen at Aboabo on 7 May. In December, a Thick-billed Cuckoo Pachycoccyx audeberti was observed at Kalakpa, and African Piculets Sasia africana at Aboabo and Bobiri. A Sandy Scops Owl Otus icterorhynchus was heard in early May. In Ankasa NP, a Lowland Akalat Sheppardia cyornithopsis was observed at an ant swarm on 15 April; previously the species was known only from Atewa and Tano Offin. Ashy Flycatchers Muscicapa caerulescens were found in Ankasa NP, Kakum NP, and Atewa and Bobiri Forests in April - May; this species appears to have been under-recorded in Ghana. Tessmann’s Flycatchers Muscicapa tessmanni were seen at Bonkro and in Bobiri Forest. A Lagden’s Bushshrike Malaconotus lagdeni was noted at Pra Sushin Forest on 11 May.
During eight months of field work (mid November 2009 - early May 2010, mid August - early November 2010), coverage of the country for the Atlas was completed, and over two-thirds of the squares revisited during the wet seasons. Six species were found for the first time in Ghana: Black-rumped Buttonquail Turnix hottentottus was heard (and tape-recorded) in mature rice fields in several floodplains of the north (October), from Dalun (northwest of Tamale) east to Wenchiki; Streaky-breasted Flufftail Sarothrura boehmi was heard in dense, muddy Hyparrhenia grassland near Walewale (15 September); a Marsh Owl Asio capensis was observed in the Amansuri wetlands at Beyin in the extreme south-west (August) and in the Volta floodplain near Yeji; a population of Rufous Scrub Robins Erythropygia galactotes was found in thicket-clump savanna near Sapeliga (Bawku) in late April (almost certainly the African race, given the late date and the numbers involved), a habitat which also held the first Green-winged Pytilias Pytilia melba and Golden-breasted Buntings Emberiza flaviventris for the country.
Among resident species, the known range of many was extended: White-bellied Bustard Eupodotis senegalensis was locally common in dry woodland in six new squares (nine in all), south to Pong Tamale and Gurugu (09°35'N); Black-headed Lapwing Vanellus tectus was found in eight new squares (11 in all) south to 09°45'N; the range of Swamp Nightjar Caprimulgus natalensis was extended west to the Amansuri wetlands; Horus Swift Apus horus (previously known only from Mole) was encountered at three new localities in the north-west, including on the Kulpawn River; and Black-headed Weaver Ploceus melanocephalus has been noted in riparian situations in 26 squares in the north, from the Black Volta east to the Oti River.
In the forest zone new records of interest include Black-collared Lovebird Agapornis swindernianus (a group of c.15) and Grey Ground Thrush Zoothera princei (one heard and glimpsed, calling at close range) at Atewa in August; Yellow-footed Honeyguide Melignomon eisentrauti seen as far north as 07°06'N in Mpameso Forest (Dormaa); high densities of Forest Scrub Robin Erythropygia leucosticta, Puvel's Illadopsis Illadopsis puveli and Rufous-winged Illadopsis I. rufescens (side by side in separate territories) in the semi-evergreen forests of the Afram headwaters and Opro River, Ofinso District, where a Bates's Sunbird Cinnyris batesi was also mist-netted. A Hartlaub's Duck Pteronetta hartlaubi disappearing into a hole halfway up the trunk of a dead tree in a swamp at Ankasa on 20 August was presumably breeding there.
Among Palearctic species, dated records of arrivals include the first European Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus on 14 September (Navrongo), Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus on 5 September (near Salaga), Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus on 11 September (Navrongo), European Bee-eaters Merops apiaster on 11 September (Navrongo), Common Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos on 21 October (eastern Ghana), Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus on 28 September (Dabo, Black Volta), Eurasian Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus on 7 October (Nabogo), Sedge Warblers A. schoenobaenus and Willow Warblers Phylloscopus trochilus on 10 October (Yapei, White Volta), Melodious Warbler Hippolais polyglotta on 29 September (Lawra) and Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca on 5 October (Buipe). Singles and groups of 15–17 Red-footed Falcons Falco vespertinus flew north across western Ghana between 27 March and 5 April. The rare Common Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis was found (a male) in pebbly grassland at Likpe Todome (on the Togo border) on 25 February.
Among intra-African migrants, Grasshopper Buzzards Butastur rufipennis were common in the north until early May, and the first returned on 16 October (Wenchiki). Two individuals of the rare Swallow-tailed Kite Chelictinia riocourii were seen near Wenchiki on 29 January. Four-banded Sandgrouse Pterocles quadricinctus left the northern woodlands en masse on 26–28 April, but some may be resident in short grass in the far north (common in September at Sapeliga). Jacobin Cuckoo Clamator jacobinus was found 'wintering' in several dry semi-evergreen forests of the west (in the Sunyani-Dormaa-Wenchi area), with passage through the woodlands of the north commencing in the second half of April. White-throated Bee-eaters Merops albicollis started crossing the northern savannas northbound on 30 April and the first return (south) was noted on 29 October (Kalakpa). Several African Pittas Pitta angolensis were displaying within impenetrable thickets in three localities of dry semi-evergreen forest in the west (from the Afram headwaters to Tain tributaries) with the first heavy rains in March; unfortunately all of these forests are being destroyed rapidly to be replaced by teak plantations. Pittas were also reported displaying in thick forest in Kalakpa in the rains.
A frigatebird soared for several minutes over the beach c.1 km east of the Ankobra River mouth on 26 August 2010, before heading towards the open sea. A photograph shows the white of the breast and belly extending onto the axillaries, which suggests the bird was a pale morph female Ascension Frigatebird Fregata aquila. This is the first record of a frigatebird for Ghana.
In February 2010, a Spot-breasted Ibis Bostrychia rara was seen and heard flying over the canopy walkway in Kakum National Park at dusk on 25th. An American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica was photographed at Cape Coast Lagoon on 26th and a Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos at Sakumono Lagoon two days later, at almost exactly the same spot where one was found a year previously.
Records from April–May 2010 include the following. A Spot-breasted Ibis was flushed from the forest floor in Ankasa in early May. A juvenile Ayres's Hawk Eagle Hieraaetus ayresii was seen in Kakum National Park on 4 May; there appear to be few documented records for the park. At Ankasa, a Sandy Scops Owl Otus icterorhynchus was heard at dusk on 26 April. Six Black Spinetails Telacanthura melanopygia flying over the White-necked Picathartes Picathartes gymnocephalus site at Bonkro had been presumably forced down by the impending storm. A Yellow-footed Honeyguide Melignomon eisentrauti was observed at Atewa, whilst an African Piculet Sasia africana was found in Bobiri Forest in May.
A pair of Nimba Flycatchers Melaenornis annamarulae was observed high up in a large tree at Atewa in May; this Upper Guinea forest endemic has only recently been discovered in Ghana. Tessmann's Flycatchers Muscicapa tessmanni were seen in Kakum National Park (one singing) and at Aboabo (a pair feeding two recently fledged young); a photograph of these birds appears to be the first of the juveniles of this little-known species. A Lagden's Bush-shrike Malaconotus lagdeni in Bobiri Forest on 29 April was making a previously undescribed call almost identical to that of Fiery-breasted Bush-shrike M. cruentus; the first-named species is very rare in Ghana. In May, Red-fronted Antpeckers Parmoptila rubrifrons were observed at Abrafo (a pair), Ankasa (a pair) and Aboabo (a family group).
The following records are from late November–early December 2009. A Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris was photographed at a flooded pan near the White Volta on 4 December. At Sakumo Lagoon, an American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica was observed on 21 November. A male Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius was found in the Tongon Hills on 6 December and a Western Bonelli’s Warbler Phylloscopus bonelli was near Tono Dam on 5th; subsequently four were seen there. Nimba Flycatcher Melaenornis annamarulae was seen again in Atewa Forest (where it was discovered in 2006) on 8 December. Two White-billed Buffalo Weavers Bubalornis albirostris were east of Bolgatanga on 5 December, whilst two Ortolan Buntings Emberiza hortulana were in the Tongon Hills on 6th.
Work on the Atlas progressed as planned, with nearly two months spent in the forest zone from late November 2008 to mid-January 2009, and also two months (March–April 2009) in the transition zone of the central east (from Digya National Park to the Togo border) and the savanna habitats of the north-east (from Salaga, Tamale and Walewale to the Togo border). By now 66 squares of the country’s total of 94 have been visited. Highlights include two species new for Ghana: Crested Lark Galerida cristata (watched at close range in sandy farmland near the Togo border, near Wenchiki, 10°15’N) and Quailfinch Indigobird Vidua nigeriae (birds singing in non-breeding dress in April, with clear imitations of African Quailfinch Ortygospiza atricollis) at two localities (Sung at 09°58’N, and Yombabvau River at 09°40’N near the Togo border). As Quailfinches are widespread in the north, the indigobird is also likely to be one of the commonest in Ghana; other species of floodplains which can be numerous locally include Black-backed Cisticola Cisticola eximius. A pair of Black-headed Bee-eaters Merops breweri feeding nestlings in riparian forest on the Sumi River in Digya National Park on 16 March constitutes an outstanding breeding record; the range of this rare bee-eater is thus extended eastwards in the Afram plains, all of which is protected within Digya National Park.
A pair of Emin’s Shrikes Lanius gubernator feeding nestlings in a small Terminalia tree in woodland at the same locality and on the same date, is another noteworthy record. Also of interest are two Gambaga Flycatchers Muscicapa gambagae seen at close range in low-stature, rocky woodland near Gushiegu. Many species previously considered rather local were found throughout the north-east, e.g. Dorst’s Cisticola Cisticola guinea and Rufous Cisticola C. rufus, the former being one of the first colonisers of coppice woodland following cultivation. Notable southward range extensions of savanna birds include Yellow Penduline Tit Anthoscopus parvulus found nesting near Donkorkrom (06°50’N) and Swamp Flycatcher Muscicapa aquatica reaching the Obosum River in Digya (07°12’N). In the forest region of the southwest, many species considered as rare or local by previous publications appeared widespread, being found in virtually every square, e.g. Congo Serpent Eagle Dryotriorchis spectabilis, Fraser’s Eagle Owl Bubo poensis, Akun Eagle Owl B leucostictus, Brown Nightjar Veles binotatus, Bates’s Swift Apus batesi, Olivaceous Flycatcher Muscicapa olivascens, Grey-throated Flycatcher Myioparus griseigularis, Tit-hylia Pholidornis rushiae, Little Green Sunbird Anthreptes seimundi, Tiny Sunbird Cinnyris minullus, Johanna’s Sunbird C. johannae and White-breasted Negrofinch Nigrita fusconotus.
Of more localized species, Black-collared Lovebird Agapornis swindernianus was discovered in Subri River FR (=Forest Reserve), Takoradi District, and in Fure Headwaters FR, Asankrangua District, Yellow-throated Cuckoo Chrysococcyx flavigularis was found to be locally common from Dadieso and the Boin River near Côte d’Ivoire to Bobiri FR near Kumasi, especially in logged forest, Yellow-footed Honeyguide Melignomon zenkeri was located by its afternoon song in three new squares (Opon Mansi FR in Dunkwa District, Boin River FR in Enchi District, and Sui River FR in Sefwi Wiawso District), African Piculet Sasia africana was added to two squares (Opon Mansi FR and Sui River FR) at forest edges or in overgrown cassava, whilst Tessmann’s Flycatcher Muscicapa tessmanni was found to be locally common in open-canopy forest, from the Boin River and Opon Mansi to Tano Ofin and Bobiri FRs.
In the south-west Pale-fronted Negrofinch Nigrita luteifrons was located only at Sui River FR (feeding on seeds of Sterculia), whereas it is more characteristic of the transition zone in eastern Ghana. Although White-breasted Guineafowl Agelastes meleagrides has been reported by hunters from three new localities (Subri River FR, Sui River FR and Tano Ofin FR), its status is extremely precarious, as is also that of the two Ceratogymna hornbills, on the verge of extinction through hunting. Tano Ofin, west of Kumasi, one of only two highland forests in Ghana (the other being Atewa Range), is seriously degraded by illegal logging (up to 500 m altitude), but produced many ‘new’ records on 5–8 January, especially on the plateau at 700 m, among them: Blue-headed Bee-eater Merops muelleri, Brown-cheeked Hornbill Bycanistes cylindricus, Yellow-spotted Barbet Buccanodon duchaillui and Ansorge’s Greenbul Andropadus ansorgei at their northern limit of range, Brown-chested Alethe Alethe poliocephala, Forest Scrub Robin Erythropygia leucosticta, Black-capped Apalis Apalis nigriceps, Pale-breasted Illadopsis Illadopsis rufipennis, Rufous-winged Illadopsis I. rufescens, Dusky Tit Parus funereus and Copper-tailed Glossy Starling Lamprotornis cupreocauda, whilst Preuss’s Weaver Ploceus preussi was found feeding juveniles in a nest at a height of 45 m in a Ceiba tree.
Of the forest reserves listed above, Tano Ofin was the only site where Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo Cercococcyx mechowi was heard. A first complete exploration of the drier forests of the transition zone, between Ho and Kyabobo near the Togo border, produced consistent lists which include the following characteristic species, all common: Cassin’s Hawk Eagle Hieraaetus africanus (more common here than in the south-west), Barred Owlet Glaucidium capense, Purple-throated Cuckooshrike Campephaga quiscalina, Leaflove Pyrrhurus scandens, Baumann’s Greenbul Phyllastrephus baumanni, Blue-shouldered Robin Chat Cossypha cyanocampter, Red-cheeked Wattle-eye Dyaphorophyia blissetti, Shrike-Flycatcher Megabyas flammulatus, Brown Illadopsis Illadopsis fulvescens, Puvel’s Illadopsis I. puveli, Black-winged Oriole Oriolus nigripennis and Square-tailed Drongo Dicrurus ludwigii. Grey-headed Bristlebill Bleda canicapilla was the only bristlebill found. Western Bearded Greenbul Criniger barbatus and Finsch’s Flycatcher Thrush Stizorhina finschi are some of several species confined to sheltered, riverine conditions.
The only Sooty Boubous Laniarius leucorhynchus of the trip were found in Kabo River FR, near Kadjebi. Fiery-breasted Bush-Shrike Malaconotus cruentus apparently occurred in every square, but most of the birds seen were yellow, posing the problem of separation between this species and Lagden’s Bush-Shrike M. lagdeni. Black-shouldered Nightjar Caprimulgus nigriscapularis is the most common nightjar of the transition zone. A Buff-spotted Flufftail Sarothrura elegans was singing in the rain on 29 March in Apepesu FR, near the Togo border, and another was heard in Fure Headwaters FR in the south-west on 16 December (end of the rains); these are only the second and third records of a species discovered in Ghana as recently as 1995.
Many Palearctic passerines crossed the country on a broad front, in two waves. The first came to an end just after the first week of April and probably included locally wintering birds, the second appeared after mid April and petered out by the end of the month. Species included Whinchat Saxicola rubetra, Melodious Warbler Hippolais polyglotta, Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus, Wood Warbler P. sibilatrix and Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca. Some species appear to leave the country early, by mid March, e.g. Common Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos (last record on 10 March, near Mpraeso) and Garden Warbler Sylvia borin (last record on 14 March, at Digya). Last dates for Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis (28 April) and Willow Warbler (24 April) are much later than previously recorded. There was sustained passage of Palearctic Red-rumped Swallows Hirundo daurica in small numbers in the second half of April throughout the north-east.
Noteworthy records from May 2008 include the following. A Bat Hawk Macheiramphus alcinus flew over the canopy walkway in Kakum National Park on 13 May. A white-headed Ayres’s Hawk Eagle Hieraaetus ayresii was observed at Atewa; there are few records from this locality. A calling Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius was also seen at Atewa, with another about halfway between Atewa and Cape Coast; both localities appear to be on the edge of the species’ known range. A male Yellow-throated Cuckoo Chrysococcyx flavigularis was observed at Aboabo and another north of Assin Fosu; this species is rarely seen in West Africa. In the Shai Hills, an African Barred Owlet Glaucidium capense was found; this species was first observed at this site in 2005. A Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes was photographed at Sakumo Lagoon on 16 October 2008.
From six weeks of field work in the centre and south-east of the country in late February early April 2008, the following records can be selected. A Spot- breasted Ibis Bostrychia rara was heard on the Sene River at Seneso (07°30’N) on 5 and 13 March, the northernmost record in Ghana. Yellow-throated Cuckoos Chrysococcyx flavigularis and Spotted Honeyguides Indicator maculatus appeared particularly common in Kalakpa Reserve, in dry semievergreen forest, on 22-31 March, with four and seven singing birds respectively. On 2 April, African Black Swifts Apus barbatus (new for Ghana) were seen at two localities, including Aduadu Mountain near Afadjato on the Togo border, where the species could breed. Black-headed Bee-eaters Merops breweri were found breeding in small numbers in a narrow riparian forest at Apapasu, in the west of Digya National Park, with pairs feeding nestlings or females brooding, on 7-12 March; this species was reported only once before in Ghana, in 1952, from the ‘Afram River’. A Yellow-footed Honeyguide Melignomon eisentrauti was watched for a prolonged period feeding on scale insects in a tall Ceiba tree in degraded semi-evergreen forest near Begoro (06°26’N 00°27’W) on 17 March. Also noteworthy are further range extensions of Baumann’s Greenbul Phyllastrephus baumanni, which was found commonly in low thickets in the coastal plain of Kalakpa Reserve and throughout the eastern highlands of Afadjato and Amedzofe. Several Brown Sunbirds Anthreptes gabonicus were feeding on Quisqualis flowers on the Pru River (07°45’N 01°09’W) on 14 March, a range extension. Of Palearctic migrants, Common Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita were last seen on 4 March, at Dome, Digya National Park, with European Bee-eaters Merops apiaster and Melodious Warblers Hippolais polyglotta passing commonly in Kalakpa until the end of March. A Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla was seen in woodland at Kalakpa on 24 March and a male Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus at Apapasu, Digya National Park, on 8 March. Tree Pipits Anthus trivialis, Willow Warblers Phylloscopus trochilus, Wood Warblers P. sibilatrix, Spotted Flycatchers Muscicapa striata and Pied Flycatchers Ficedula hypoleuca were still common until the first week of April in the eastern highlands.
Noteworthy records from the period November 2007 - April 2008 include the following. A male Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata was seen in the Sakumo / Prampram area, near Accra, on 25 January. Of up to four American Golden Plovers Pluvialis dominica at the same site since 3 November, one was digiscoped on 24 January and two were last seen on 28 February. Also there were a Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos on 28 February and 1 March and a Buff-breasted Sandpiper Tryngites subruficollis on 24 January. A Thick- billed Cuckoo Pachycoccyx audeberti was seen in flight at Atewa on 1 April and heard there the next day. A few Pallid Swifts Apus pallidus were identified at Kakum on 26 March and at Aboabo Camp, near Assin Faso, on 30 March. At the latter locality, a group of eight Rosy Bee-eaters Merops malimbicus was briefly observed on the same day.
Excellent views of a Spot-breasted Ibis Bostrychia rara feeding in swampy forest were obtained at Kalakpa on 19 August 2007. Three American Golden Plovers Pluvialis dominica were recorded at Sakumo Lagoon near Accra on 3 November. In August, up to four Cuckoo Finches (Parasitic Weavers) Anomalospiza imberbis were found near Pram Pram, east of Accra; also there, a Swamp Nightjar Caprimulgus natalensis was flushed. A Yellow-footed Honeyguide Melignomon eisentrauti was heard in Atewa Range Forest Reserve on 18 December.
In early February 2007, a White-rumped Sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis was claimed near Elmina (apparently only the second for Ghana, if accepted) and several Arctic Skuas Stercorarius parasiticus were observed off Cape Coast. In Atewa Range Forest Reserve, the presence of Nimba Flycatcher Melaenornis annamarulae, which was heard singing briefly on 18 June 2006, was confirmed by excellent views of two individuals in the canopy on 27 May; this remarkable find constitutes a new species for Ghana and the easternmost record to date, extending the known range by c.500 km, the previous easternmost locality being Mopri Forest Reserve in Côte d’Ivoire. Apart from the latter country, this local forest resident was previously known only from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Noteworthy records from August 2006 include a Brown Nightjar Caprimulgus binotatus at Kakum on 12th, a Yellow-footed Honeyguide Melignomon eisentrauti also there on two consecutive mornings on 9–10th, a Forest Scrub Robin Cercotrichas leucosticta at Atewa on 20th, and an adult and juvenile Emin’s Shrike Lanius gubernator in Mole National Park on 16th.
Records from March 2006 include a pair of African Piculets Sasia africana seen well at Aboabo, near Kakum National Park, on 18th, and a pair of Forest Penduline Tits Anthoscopus flavifrons at Antikwaa, also near Kakum, 20th. An Ortolan Bunting Embriza hortulana was claimed from Mole National Park on 23rd; this would be a new species for Ghana, if accepted.
Two American Golden Plovers Pluvialis dominica were in rice fields c.50 km east of Accra on 12-13 November 2005. A Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus was at the Panbros Salt Works, outside Accra, on 15 January 2006. At Sakumo Lagoon, a Black Noddy Anous minutus was discovered in a roost of a few thousand terns Sterna spp. and three African Skimmers Rynchops flavirostris on 9 July 2005, and was still there on 11th. A Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita was seen in Mole National Park on 16 January 2006 and three Common Waxbills Estrilda astrild were observed in Accra on 9th.
A belated and intriguing report was received of an adult male Wattled Starling Creatophora cinerea in non-breeding plumage, seen at Dansoman, Accra, from a distance of 15-20 m, around 1 July 2003.
There have been few reports of pelagic trips starting from the Ghanaian coast so the following information from 24th April 2005 is of great interest. The trip on a fishing boat started from Ada Foah on the Volta river and headed south-west towards the shelf and preferred fishing grounds. Black Tern Chlidonias niger were seen about 4 km from the coast, a possible Madeiran Storm-petrel Oceanodroma castro at 10km and the first Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea at 15 km.
Birds seen in deeper water included more Black Terns Chlidonias niger and Cory's Shearwaters Calonectris diomedea, Common Terns Sterna hirundo, single Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus, Brown Noddy Anous stolidus, dark phase Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus, Sabine's Gull Larus sabini, Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis, Wilson's Storm-petrel Oceanites oceanicus, a pair of Red Phalaropes Phalaropus fulicarius and small numbers of Arctic Terns Sterna paradisaea and Royal Terns S. maxima.
Records from July 2004-May 2005 include the following. On 20 February, Common Shelducks Tadorna tadorna were sighted at Panbros salt works, Densu Delta (one) and Sakumo Lagoon (five); there are apparently only two or three previous records for Ghana, also near Accra. A Bat Hawk Macheiramphus alcinus was seen from the canopy walkway, Kakum National Park, on 11 December. A Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus was at Pram Estuary on 20 July, with a Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus also there that day and on 22 February, and another two at the Densu Delta on 3 April; this species is usually reported as a vagrant, but may well occur annually in small numbers. A Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus at Sakumo Lagoon, on 5 December, constitutes the second for the country; the first was at the same locality on 22 July. Two Thick-billed Cuckoos Pachycoccyx audeberti were seen on Mt Afadjato, Volta Region, on 20 November, with another calling there on 2 May. Brown Nightjar Caprimulgus binotatus was recorded at Kakum NP's main entrance gate on 12 November. An Akun Eagle Owl Bubo leucostictus was flushed in secondary forest at Atewa Forest on 17 April; this is a new species for the Atewa Hills Important Bird Area, where a Green-tailed Bristlebill Bleda eximius was also noted on 21 February.
Fourteen weeks of field work, from December 2004 until March 2005, surveying all wildlife reserves and some forest reserves of Ghana, produced numerous new distribution records. African Reed Warbler Acrocephalus baeticatus, previously unknown from the country, was found breeding on the shores of Lake Volta in Digya NP, where several were mist-netted in January, with many Eurasian Reed Warblers A. scirpaceus. The first Little Rush-Warbler Bradypterus baboecala for Ghana was heard in a Typha marsh on the edge of the lake at Owabi Wildlife Sanctuary, Kumasi (an earlier tape-recording supposedly from Ghana is actually from Cameroon: L. G. Grimes in litt.). African Barred Owlet Glaucidium capense, reported for the first time in Ghana, at Kyabobo, in 2004 (Bull. ABC 12: 67) was found in transition woodland or riparian thickets and forest in a further six localities, from Shai Hills near Accra north to Bui and Digya NP. Verreaux's Eagle Owl Bubo lacteus, previously known from just two records in the north, has been found at a further three localities, from the White Volta at Gambaga south to Bui and Digya NP. Black-shouldered Nightjar Caprimulgus nigriscapularis, almost unknown previously, now appears widespread, from Kakum (outside forest) and Shai Hills northwards. Plain Nightjar C. inornatus, whose status in Ghana is unclear, was well seen by day and heard singing in Bui NP, the first indication that it might breed in the country. Freckled Nightjar C. tristigma, previously known only from the north, including Mole, was found to be common around rocks much further south, including Bui, Kyabobo NP and even Shai Hills, near Accra. Red-billed Hornbill Tockus erythrorhynchus, previously known only from the far north, was common in the Acacia woodlands of Bui NP, with fewer in Mole and even Shai Hills in the far south. Golden-tailed Woodpecker Campethera abingoni, previously known only from Mole, has been found at four new localities, north to Gambaga, south to Bui, Kogyae and Digya NP. Other notable range extensions of savanna species include Fox Kestrel Falco alopex (south to Kogyae); Sun Lark Galerida modesta (south to Digya); White-crowned Robin-Chat Cossypha albicapillus (from Gbele in the north-west south to Digya and Kogyae); Rufous and Dorst's Cisticolas Cisticola rufus and C. dorsti (from Gbele south to Bui, Rufous also in Digya). The normally rare Yellow Penduline Tit Anthoscopus parvulus was found to be common around flowering Vitellaria paradoxa in Gbele reserve and Gambaga scarp, singing and nest-building in late February to early March.
Many of the forest species have also seen their known range extended: the rare Lagden's Bush Shrike Malaconotus lagdeni was discovered in the hill forests of Kyabobo on the Togo border, the first observation in Ghana since the type was collected, near Kumasi, in the 19th century. Congo Serpent Eagle Dryotriorchis spectabilis, very noisy in the dry season, saw its range extended from Bia NP, where it is particularly common, north and east to Kogyae (Afram River), Kalakpa and Kyabobo. Willcocks's Honeyguide Indicator willcocksi was seen and heard at several new localities, including riparian thicket or forest in the far north (Gbele on the Kulpawn River, Konkori scarp in Mole), which might seem an unusual habitat except that it was first tape-recorded in this vegetation type in Chad by C. Chappuis. The Data Deficient Baumann's Greenbul Phyllastrephus baumanni, found commonly in Kyabobo (Bull. ABC 12: 67), was also confirmed from forest clearings and Chromolaena farmbush in Bia and Digya NP and below Atewa Range. Puvel's Illadopsis Illadopsis puveli, previously under-recorded as confused with the much rarer Rufous-winged Illadopsis I. rufescens, appears to be the most widespread of the genus in Ghana, found all the way from coastal thickets (Cape Three Points and Shai Hills) north to Bui and Kyabobo. Brown Sunbird Anthreptes gabonicus was found nest building on 22 March in thickets on the edge of the Black Volta in Bui (08°37'N). Fraser's Eagle Owl Bubo poensis, Spotted Honeyguide Indicator maculatus, Pale-fronted Negrofinch Nigrita luteifrons and many others saw their range extended north to Kyabobo (08°20'–08°25'N).
Interesting new records from Bia NP and adjacent Krokosua Hills Forest Reserve include Akun Eagle Owl Bubo leucostictus, Brown Nightjar Caprimulgus binotatus, Tessmann's Flycatcher Muscicapa tessmanni (several in song in open forest), Bioko Batis Batis poensis and Forest Penduline Tit Anthoscopus flavifrons. Bates's Sunbird Cinnyris batesi, previously known from only two sites, was discovered in Bia NP and Atewa Range. A visit to Atewa Range in early February also produced many other new records, including Congo Serpent Eagle Dryotriorchis spectabilis, Yellow-throated Cuckoo Chrysococcyx flavigularis, Brown Nightjar, the near-threatened Brown-cheeked Hornbill Bycanistes cylindricus, Lowland Akalat Sheppardia cyornithopsis (a female mist-netted in breeding condition; an earlier specimen from here, erroneously claimed as Equatorial Akalat S. aequatorialis was undoubtedly this species) and Bioko Batis; whilst a Yellow-footed Honeyguide Melignomon eisentrauti (cf. Bull. ABC 10: 59) was in song and well seen. The near-threatened Yellow-casqued Hornbill Ceratogymna elata was discovered in Bomfobiri Wildlife Sanctuary, next to the much rarer (in Ghana) Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill Bycanistes subcylindricus. Cape Three Points was a new locality for Spot-breasted Ibis Bostrychia rara and Ansorge's Greenbul Andropadus ansorgei, among others. Of Palearctic species, large numbers of Alpine Swifts Tachymarptis melba were seen over the Kyabobo hills in February, associating with numerous Mottled Swifts T. aequatorialis.
Noteworthy records from March 2004 include Yellow-footed Honeyguide Melignomon eisentrauti seen on four occasions at various sites in Kakum National Park on 12–15th, and Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita, found at Tono Dam on 20th. In July, the first Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus for Ghana, a female in almost full breeding condition, was found at the Sakumo Lagoon near Accra on 22nd.
A visit to the proposed Kyabobo National Park on the Togo border in July 2004 produced many interesting records, amongst which over 50 (near-)endemic Guineo-Congolian forest species, which at 08°20–08°30'N all represent northward range extensions. These included White-crested Tiger Heron Tigriornis leucolopha, Cassin's Hawk Eagle Spizaetus africanus, Blue-throated Roller Eurystomus gularis (adult feeding a fledgling), Sharpe's Apalis Apalis sharpii, White-browed Forest-Flycatcher Fraseria cinerascens, Shrike-Flycatcher Megabyas flammulatus and Puvel's Illadopsis Illadopsis puveli. The Data Deficient Baumann's Greenbul Phyllastrephus baumanni was found commonly in large forest clearings and especially in farmbush; it appeared remarkably tolerant of the invasive exotic Chromolaena odorata and one singing male was even in a field of maize. Also of interest were Thick-billed Cuckoo Pachycoccyx audeberti (one in song near Koue; only the 4th locality for Ghana), several African Barred Owlets Glaucidium capense heard in forest in several locations (a new species for Ghana, but to be expected), and Black-shouldered Nightjars Caprimulgus nigriscapularis (the first record of this species away from the coast and the first tape-recorded proof for Ghana).
A month long visit to Mole National Park in August–September 2004 also produced a new species for the country – Horus Swift Apus horus, a considerable extension westwards – and yet another record of Black-shouldered Nightjar Caprimulgus nigriscapularis. Other species of interest included Red-chested Cuckoo Cuculus solitarius (common, and yet these are the first records north of the forest zone), Thick-billed Cuckoo Pachycoccyx audeberti (5th locality), Yellowbill Ceuthmochares aereus (local; northward extension), Narina's Trogon Apaloderma narina (five localities; the first records north of the forest zone), Black-faced Quailfinch Ortygospiza atricollis (small southward extension). Of nine Cisticola species, Rufous Cisticola C. rufus was common throughout dry woodland, whereas Dorst's Cisticola C. dorsti was locally common in open, short woodland especially in water-logged areas. Yellow-breasted Apalis Apalis flavida was confirmed as quite common in all riparian forest and thicket (contra Grimes 1987, Birds of Ghana). Forbes's Plovers Charadrius forbesi and Sun Larks Galerida modesta were common on laterite bowals; the latter had previously been confused with Crested Lark G. cristata (which thus does not occur in Ghana). Black-headed Weavers Ploceus melanocephalus were found at three localities; there is only one previous record, and this remains the only known site in Ghana. Small groups of displaying Barka Indigobirds Vidua larvaticola imitating Black-faced Firefinch Lagonosticta larvata were found in three places; Wilson's Indigobirds V. wilsoni were associating with Bar-breasted Firefinches L. rufopicta at Mognori, and a group of displaying Cameroon Indigobirds V. camerunensis imitating Black-bellied Firefinch L. rara were found near Kananto. Exclamatory Paradise-Whydah Vidua interjecta and its host Red-winged Pytilia Pytilia phoenicoptera were quite widespread whereas only one Togo Paradise-Whydah V. togoensis and one Yellow-winged Pytilia P. hypogrammica, its host, were recorded.
A Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo was at Tono Dam on 3 March. In Mole National Park, a Black Stork Ciconia nigra and an adult Saddle-billed Stork Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis with two juveniles were seen on 27 February. A melanistic Ovambo Sparrowhawk Accipiter ovampensis, also there on 16 March, is one of very few records from Ghana. Single Red-necked Falcons Falco chicquera were seen at Tono Dam on 2 March and in Mole National Park on 16 March. At Tono Dam, rare inland records were obtained of Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa (one in breeding plumage on 17 March) and Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica (one during the period 2 to 17 March). Four African Mourning Doves Streptopelia decipiens were seen in riparian woodland near Tono Dam on 3 March; there are few records of this species in Ghana. Yellow-throated Cuckoo Chrysococcyx flavigularis was heard and seen at Aboabo, Kakum National Park on 12 March, at the same location as in May 2002. Brown Nightjar Caprimulgus binotatus was not uncommon at several sites in Kakum National Park, being vocal and tape-responsive in February and March; it was also heard at Bobiri Nature Reserve on 25 February. A Black-shouldered Nightjar C. nigriscapularis was seen at Brimsu Reservoir, near Cape Coast, on 9 March. Flocks of Bates’s Swifts Apus batesi were seen over several locations in Kakum National Park in February and March. A Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita was seen well at Tono Dam on 18 March. Puvel’s Illadopsis Illadopsis puveli was recorded on 26 February at Baobeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary, a considerable distance from the other known site at Abokobi. Speckle-fronted Weavers Sporopipes frontalis were not uncommon in the vicinity of Tono Dam during February and March; it now seems to be resident in the far north.