Working for birds in Africa

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Sat, 01/12/2013 - 23:29 -- abc_admin
Banded_Wattle_eye_Cameroon

Banded Wattle-eye Platysteira laticincta

Oku Forest, Bamenda Highlands, Cameroon

Image Credit: 
Roger Fotso

The Waza National Park is located in the transition zone between the Sahel and Sudan-Guinea Savanna biomes. The north-eastern corner is flooded annually and this park, together with the contiguous Logone flood-plain harbours some 379 bird species. Several species of particular interest can be observed here including those of global conservation concern such as Marbled Duck Marmaronetta angustirostris, Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni, Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca and Nubian Bustard Neotis nuba. In other grassland areas, easily observed species include populations of Quail-plover Ortyxelos meiffrenii, Arabian Bustard Ardeotis arabs, the last remaining population of Ostrich Struthio camelus in Cameroon with about 100 individuals. You would also enjoy the views of thousands of waterbirds such as White-faced Whistling Duck Dendrocygna viduata, and Black Crowned Crane Balearica pavonina. In general more than 20,000 waterbirds are thought to be present at this site most of the year. The site has a very open habitat with excellent visibility. A good number of raptors can be observed as well as species restricted to the Sahel biome.

Mbam Djerem National Park is located on the southern slope of the Adamawa plateau and is a good site for the Sudan-Guinea Savanna biome species. Birdwatchers here enjoy the diversity of savanna birds with excellent visibility of species such as the beautiful Green Wood-hoopoe Phoeniculus purpureus plus several bee-eater and roller species. Of particular interest is the endemic Bamenda Apalis Apalis bamendae seen along the gallery forests.

Mount Cameroon and Mokoko-Onge. Mount Cameroon is a vast volcanic dome that is still active. The lower slopes are forested and are replaced by montane grassland at 2,300 m and volcanic rock and gravel up to the peak at 4,095 m. The avifauna is diverse with some 370 species recorded including montane endemics such as Mount Cameroon Francolin Francolinus camerunensis and Mount Cameroon Speirops Speirops melanocephalus. This site is also the only Cameroon locality for Mountain Saw-wing Psalidoprocne fuliginosa. Species of global conservation concern to be observed here include Yellow-casqued Hornbill Ceratogymna elata, Cameroon Montane Greenbul Andropadus montanus, Grey-headed Greenbul Phyllastrephus poliocephalus, Green-breasted Bush-Shrike Malaconotus gladiator,  Crossley's Ground-Thrush Zoothera crossleyi, Grey-necked Picathartes Picathartes oreas, and Ursula's Sunbird Cinnyris ursulae. This site holds 19 of the 27 Cameroon mountain endemics and 120 of the 215 species of the Guinea-Congo forests biome as well as 30 of the 44 species restricted to the Afro-tropical Highlands biome.

Mount Kupé. This mountain (2,064 m) is located in the south-west province of the country and apart from small grassy clearings on a rocky outcrop near the summit, it was entirely clothed with forest from the foothills at c300 m. All sides are being gradually encroached upon by cultivation. The total species list for the forest including those of the edges is nearly 270. Until recently, Mount Kupé Bush-Shrike Telophorus kupeensis was thought to be endemic to the mountain, with only a few pairs located in 1990, between 950 and 1,450 m. The forest holds a good number of Western Mountain Greenbul Andropadus tephrolaemus, Cameroon Olive Greenbul Phyllastrephus poensis, Grey-headed Greenbul P. poliocephalus, White-throated Mountain-Babbler Kupeornis gilberti, Green Longtail Urolais epichlorus, and Cameroon Sunbird Cyanomitra oritis. Mountain Robin-Chat Cossypha isabellae is common above 1,400 m. Green-breasted Bush-Shrike Malaconotus gladiator is not uncommon above 1,500 m with a preference for canopy clearings. Bates's Weaver Ploceus batesi occurs on the lower edges of the forest at Nyassosso, White-naped Pigeon Columba albinucha and Zenker's Honeyguide Melignomon zenkeri can also be observed mainly in secondary forest at 1,000 - 1,100 m. Grey-necked Picathartes Picathartes oreas is also present.

See the ABC feature article and the first photographs of Mount Kupe Bush-Shrike in the wild.

The Bamenda Highlands encompass overall patches of forest which include Mbi Crater Faunal Reserve-Mbingo Forest, Bambili Hills and the largest and highest patches of montane forest left in West / Central Africa, the Kilum and Ijim Mountain Forests. These patches support 15 of the 27 endemics of the Mount Cameroon area. Key species include Yellow-breasted Boubou Laniarius atroflavus, Cameroon Olive Pigeon Columba sjostedti, Green Longtail Urolais epichlorus, Cameroon Montane Greenbul Andropadus montanus, Western Mountain Greenbul A. tephrolaemus, Cameroon Sunbird Cyanomitra oritis, Shelley's Oliveback Nesocharis shelleyi, Mountain Robin-Chat Cossypha isabellae, Bangwa Forest Warbler Bradypterus bangwaensis, with Bannerman's Turaco Tauraco bannermani and Banded Wattle-eye Platysteira laticincta restricted to the Bamenda Highlands. This is the heart of the area for endemics in Cameroon. A total of about 185 birds species has been recorded in this area.

Banyang Mbo Wildlife Sanctuary. With coastal evergreen rainforest and a mix of mid altitude and montane forest, this area will reveal species such as malimbes, hornbills and Great-blue Turaco Corythaeola cristata, Superb Sunbird Cinnyris superbus, Splendid Sunbird C. coccinigaster and Collared Sunbird Hedydipna collaris. Parrots, barbets, and bee-eaters are well represented and overall the avifauna is rich with a present total of 322 species.

Dja Faunal Reserve is located in the south central part of the country, generally flat and the vegetation comprises evergreen and semi-evergreen rainforest and some riparian swamp forest. The highly sought-after Grey-necked Picathartes Picathartes oreas can be seen in this forest alongside the attractive Turacos such as the Great Blue Turaco Corythaeola cristata, Yellow-billed Turaco Tauraco macrorhynchus and several species of hornbills and parrots including Grey Parrot Psittacus erithacus. The total list for this site is about 310 species.

Lake Maga is an artificial wetland resulting from the construction of the Maga dam in 1979, located upstream of the Logone flood plain. It is an important dry season refuge for waterbirds. Bird species include Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus, a common winter visitor, thousands of White-faced Whistling Duck Dendrocygna viduata, Spur-winged Goose Plectropterus gambensis, Northern Pintail Anas acuta and Long-tailed Comorant Phalacrocorax africanus.

Ngaoundaba Ranch situated 35 km from the Adamawa provincial capital Ngaoundere, is a working cattle ranch which also offers comfortable accommodation for visitors. (As of May 2006, it seems that the owner has dismissed the previous managers and the ranch will be reopened under new European management from October 2006.) The vegetation is a mixture of savanna, gallery forest and grassland; there are also two lakes. Over 300 species have been recorded. Among rarely seen species that have been recorded at the ranch are Schlegel's Francolin Francolinus schlegelii, Brown-chested Lapwing Vanellus superciliosus, Bronze-winged Courser Rhinoptilus chalcopterus, Horus Swift Apus horus and Bamenda Apalis Apalis bamendae. The ranch is famous for its huge mixed roost of heron, weaver and starling species including during the months of February and March, up to 100 Wattled Starlings Creatophora cinerea - the only known roost of this East African species in Cameroon.

Korup National Park in south-west Cameroon on the Nigerian border (and contiguous with Cross River National Park in Nigeria) is an area of unbroken coastal evergreen rainforest and one of the most ornithologically diverse lowland forest sites in Africa. Over 320 species have been recorded in the forest and a further 70 or so in the surrounding area. Of particular interest are the forest hornbills, Black-casqued Hornbill Ceratogymna atrata, Yellow-casqued Hornbill C. elata and Brown-cheeked Hornbill Bycanistes cylindricus, and also Black-eared Ground-Thrush Zoothera cameronensis, Grey-necked Picathartes Picathartes oreas and Rachel's Malimbe Malimbus racheliae. From the Korup entrance at Mundemba, it is also possible to arrange travel by river to the Rio del Rey estuary where huge numbers of waders and seabirds gather on the exposed mudflats at low tide.

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