ABUKO NATIONAL PARK - LAMIN RICE FIELDS
Abuko is a place that is rapidly growing on me, the more I visit it the more I like it. You can be very disappointed with the number of species that you see if you walk round too quickly, but a slow amble along the well trodden forest tracks with plenty of stops should provided a mouth watering list.
It was a Sunday so many people were in the park and we also bumped into a couple of large English bird-watching parties, too large in my opinion, 14 people plus two-three guides, how many species does the last person in the long line get to see?
Anyway, back to birding! The Giant Kingfisher is a formidable beast and no match for any fish in the pools at Abuko, we saw a female sitting with a fish in her bill, she had already chased off the male and she sat waiting to dive into the nest hole to feed the chicks. We left her to it after taking some superb pictures. At the Darwin centre we watched a Crocodile as it snaked its’ way through the main pool, a Squacco Heron jumped from the water as it approached. The pretty little Malachite Kingfisher posed nicely for us on the fishing posts provided, as did a Forked-tailed Drongo, which spent its’ time fly-catching from overhanging branches above the pool.
After the Darwin Centre the next part of the trail takes you through some dense forest where it is possible to see the skulking Grey-headed Bristlebill and the Western Bluebill, we had good views of the former a fleeting view of the latter. The Little Greenbul sang beautifully and the Yellow-breasted Apalis drove us mad with its monotonous pulsing call, both showed well for us.
A little further on a few more mature trees appear and it was in the canopy of these that we searched for the beautiful Turacos. The Violet Turaco showed very well, we saw a few of those but the Green version was much harder to find and we had to wait until later for that one.
At the ‘Animal Orphanage’ we rested for a while and drank cold drinks then we sat in the photographic hide for an hour so, it was wonderful a whole host of species were coming down to a drinking pool. We quickly added: Lavender Waxbill, Orange-cheeked Waxbill, Brown Babbler, African Thrush, Red-billed Firefinch, Black-necked and Village Weaver, Common Bubul, Blue-spotted and Black-billed Wood Dove to our day list. Two little gems appeared and stole the show, the first was an African Flycatcher and the second was the minute Pygmy Kingfisher. A huge, menacing looking, Nile Monitor Lizard came down to drink a couple times which scattered all the birds.
We went back the way we came and the reverse route was just as good as it was on the way in, we watched Common Wattle-eye, Collared Sunbird (a family), Beautiful Sunbird, Green Turaco, Fanti Saw-wing, Palm-nut Vulture and many of the species we had seen on the way in.
We ate lunch sitting in the shade of a make-shift hut where we drank cold drinks and ate bread, cheese, fish and bananas, not altogether I hasten to add! At 3:30pm we took a walk into the rice fields at Lamin which just across the road from Abuko. Our first birds were Lesser-blue Eared and Long-tailed Glossy Starlings, then we found a Northern Black Flycatcher, which led us onto another delightful Pygmy Kingfisher, this one sat out in the open for us. It was very busy with workers out in the rice fields and so there was a lot of disturbance, consequently there were fewer birds than last week when we visited.
However we did manage to see quite a few: Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Black Heron, Black Crake, Hammerkop, Wattle & Spur-winged Plover, African Mourning Dove, Senegal Thick-knee, Great White Egret, Grey Heron, Grey Kestrel, Senegal Parrot, Rose-ringed Parakeet, to name but a few. We did see some predatory action when a Blue-breasted kingfisher was taken by a Lanner Falcon, ouch! Such a thing of beauty destroyed in seconds!
The large Splendid Sunbird was seen several times as many of them visited the palm trees to steal the palm oil that was being collected in bottles by the locals. Gangs of Piapiacs also roamed the palms as did the very common Green Wood-hoopoe.
After 2 hours of very hot and humid conditions we decided to call it a day and headed off back to the hotel as the sun began to go down.