Working for birds in Africa



Wed, 02/06/2013 - 12:04 -- abc_admin

from ABC Bulletin 25.1

A Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor (ssp. leucopygos or elegans) photographed on the island of Pecixe, Guinea-Bissau, well south of its known range, on 20 November 2017, is apparently the first for the country (Fig. 21; GC); L. e. leucopygos and L. e. elegans were previously included in Southern Grey Shrike L. meridionalis, but molecular studies suggest that the latter taxon is monotypic and that African taxa belong to the widespread L. excubitor (cf. del Hoyo, J. & Collar, N. J. 2016. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Vol. 2.).

from ABC Bulletin 20.2

During field work conducted in the Boe area, in the south-east, in January - February 2013, some 170 bird species were identified, including three that appear to be new for the country: Chestnut-backed Sparrow Lark Eremopterix leucotis, Lesser Striped Swallow Cecropis abyssinica and Heuglin's Wheatear Oenanthe heuglini. Two more, Flappet Lark Mirafra rufocinnamomea and Dybowski's Twinspot Euschistospiza dybowskii, are not mentioned in the ABC checklist of Guinea-Bissau (Dowsett et al. 2013) either, although they are listed for Vendu Tcham, an Important Bird Area to the east of Boe, in Dodman et al. (2004. Important Bird Areas in Guinea-Bissau). Other noteworthy species observed include Red-thighed Sparrowhawk Accipiter erythropus, Black-throated Coucal Centropus leucogaster, Shining-blue Kingfisher Alcedo quadribrachys, Chestnut-breasted Negrofinch Nigrita bicolor and Red-winged Pytilia Pytilia phoenicoptera. 


A male Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis in full breeding plumage was watched at close range in Bijagos Archipelago National Park, Orango Island, on 27 February 2005. This constitutes the first for the country and also the first definite record west of Nigeria / Niger.

Wetlands International coordinated a number of surveys in Guinea-Bissau between 2000 and 2003, mainly focused on waterbird and IBA surveys. Several new species to the country were added, and these are all included in the country species list (DODMAN, T. et al 2004). Scientific papers will be prepared to document the dates and circumstances of these and other noteworthy sightings in 2005.


Tue, 01/15/2013 - 13:54 -- abc_admin


Tue, 01/15/2013 - 13:53 -- abc_admin

BirdLife International (2000) Threatened Birds of the World. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

DEAN, W.R.J., ADAMS, M., FRAHNERT, S. & MILTON, S.J. (2009) William John Ansorge’s bird collections in Guinea-Bissau: an annotated list. Malimbus 31(2) pp 75-108.

DODMAN, T., BARLOW, C., SÁ, J. & ROBERTSON, P. (2004) Zonas Importantes para as Aves na Guiné-Bissau / Important Bird Areas in Guinea-Bissau. Wetlands International, Dakar.

GUILHERME, J.L. (2013) Birds of the Boé region, south-east Guinea-Bissau, including the first country records of Chestnut-backed Sparrow Lark Eremopterix leucotis, Lesser Striped Swallow Cecropis abyssinica and Heuglin’s Wheatear Oenanthe heuglini. ABC Bulletin 21(2) pp 155-168.

GUILHERME, J.L. and WIT, P. (2015) First records for Guinea-Bissau of Vitelline Masked Weaver Ploceus vitellinus and its nesting association with a paper wasp. ABC BULLETIN pp 200 - 203. 

HAZEVOET, C.J. (1996) Birds observed in Guinea-Bissau, January 1986, with a review of current ornithological knowledge of the country. Malimbus 18 pp 10-24.

ROBERTSON, P. Guinea-Bissau chapter pp 403-409 in FISHPOOL, L.D.C. and EVANS M.I. editors (2001) Important Bird Areas in Africa and Associated Islands: Priority sites for conservation. Newbury and Cambridge, UK. Pisces Publications and BirdLife International (BirdLife Conservation Series No.11).

RODWELL, S.P. (1996) Notes on the distribution and abundance of birds observed in Guinea-Bissau, 21 February to 3 April 1992. Malimbus 18 pp 25-43.

VAN DER WINDEN, J. & MONTEIRO, H. (2008) First record of Brown Noddy Anous stolidus for Guinea-Bissau. ABC Bulletin 15(1) pp. 106-107.


Tue, 01/15/2013 - 13:52 -- abc_admin

African Bird Club representative

Hamilton Monteiro


Wetlands International has a small office in Bissau, headed by Joãozinho Sá, who can be contacted at GPC, 1031 Codex Bissau, Guinea-Bissau, This office is within the Gabinete de Planificação Costeira (GPC, or coastal planning office). This is also the centre for the new NGO ODZH, headed by Meio Dia Có and the bird monitoring unit (CESAG).

The Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation has provided support for bird surveys in Guinea-Bissau, notably in the Bijagós and Lagoas da Cufada. WIWO has conducted 2 surveys in Guinea Bissau: Contact address: Working Group on International Wader and Waterfowl Research, c/o Driebergse weg 16c, 3708 JB Zeist, Netherlands.


There are no bird-watching clubs as such, but the NGO ODZH (Organização para a Defesa e o Desenvolvimento das Zonas Húmidas na Guiné-Bissau) is regularly involved in bird surveys. Contact: There are also local community groups involved in monitoring Black Crowned Cranes Balearica pavonina.


Tue, 01/15/2013 - 13:51 -- abc_admin

Guinea-Bissau is party to conventions on Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea and Wetlands. There are significant environmental issues including deforestation, soil erosion, overgrazing and overfishing. However, much of the country’s coastal area and inland forests are still in relatively good condition, and development has not affected the country as much as in other areas of West Africa. IUCN has led several conservation programmes in recent years, and still has an office in Bissau. Many of these programmes have resulted in awareness output and reports. Wetlands International has been working here on wetlands conservation issues since 2000, including a conservation programme for the Black Crowned Crane Balearica pavonina and waterbird surveys in the Bijagós. Of particular note, Guinea-Bissau is a member of sub-regional networks involved in the wise use management of coastal areas.

Guinea-Bissau has one Biosphere Reserve (the Bijagós Archipelago), two National Parks (Ilhas de Orango and João Vieira e Poilão Marine National Park) and two Natural Parks (Rio Cacheu and Lagoa de Cufada). Cufada is also the country’s only Ramsar Site, although several other sites easily meet Ramsar criteria, especially the Bijagós Archipelago.

The Bijagós Archipelago. The Arquipélago dos Bijagós (including the Bolama area) is composed of some 88 islands and islets and a large intertidal area of mudflats and mangroves. The archipelago is situated just off the coast, opposite the mouth of the Rio Gêba. The land area of the archipelago is some 90,000 ha, while a further 100,000 ha or so are uncovered twice daily by the retreating tide, of which at least 76,000 ha are mudflats and 35,000 ha mangroves. The islands also support forests, savannah and floodplains, as well as temporary and permanent agricultural areas.

There are two National Parks in the archipelago. The Ilhas de Orango National Park includes the most southerly group of islands, of which the main ones are Orango, Canogo, Imbone, Meneque and Orangozinho, with a combined land area of 27,000 ha. The boundary of the park extends to 10 km offshore, and the park includes forest, coastal wooded savanna, mangroves (17,400 ha), channels and shallow seas. The João Vieira e Poilão Marine National Park includes four small islands in the south-east of the archipelago and a large area (495 km2) of ocean (mostly excluded from the IBA). North-east of the Orango complex are the islands of Bubaque, Rubane, Soga and Canhabaque, with Galinhas lying between Rubane and Bolama. Bubaque is the main commercial and logistical centre of the Bijagós. The northernmost islands of Caravela, Carache, Formosa, Nago and Maio can almost be considered as an extension of the Canal do Gêba. In between this complex and the Orango group lie several smaller islands, including Enú, Uracane and Uno, west of which lie the more isolated Unhocomo and Unhocomozino.

The mudflats of the Bijagós Archipelago are very extensive, there being a tidal difference of about 4m between high and low water. The mudflats are of mixed sediment, whilst sandbars appear at low tide in the many channels between the islands. This area is second only in importance in West Africa to the Banc d’Arguin in Mauritania for the numbers of Palearctic waders present during the northern winter. It has been estimated that close to 900,000 birds occur in the archipelago at this time. Five species of marine turtle breed in the archipelago - Green Turtle Chelonia mydas, Loggerhead Turtle Caretta caretta, Olive Ridley Turtle Lepidochelys olivacea, Hawksbill Turtle Eretmochelys imbricata and Leatherback Turtle Dermochelys coriacea. The Ilhéu do Poilão is the most important nesting area for C. mydas in the eastern Atlantic. One of the largest West African Manatee Trichechus senegalensis populations in West Africa is found within the archipelago, whilst Hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius, (West) African Dwarf Crocodile Osteolaemus tetrapsis and Atlantic Hump-backed Dolphin Sousa teuszii also occur here. Mangrove species include the rare Laguncularia racemosa. 282 bird species have been recorded here (DODMAN, T. et al 2004).

21 of the islands are permanently inhabited by a total population of some 25,000, as are a further 20 islands temporarily. The main ethnic group is the Bijagós, though there has been an influx of other groups, including fishing communities of Senegalese origin.

Lagoa de Cufada. This protected area at 11º43’N 15º02’W is designated as a Wetland of International Importance, Ramsar site no. 469, with a surface area of 39,098 ha. It is a large, permanent, freshwater lake, with abundant aquatic vegetation and adjoining river floodplain. It includes two smaller lakes, seasonally flooded marshes, fringing mangroves and extensive mudflats. A dozen small villages of several hundred people live within the site practising traditional fishing and rice production. The site also supports crocodiles and hippopotamus. Surrounding areas have been cleared for banana and cashew production or exploited for wood. Large expanses of vegetation are burned annually to facilitate hunting and shifting rice cultivation. We have heard from a recent visitor (March 2005) that the site is now practically inaccessible and the camp abandoned.

Parque Natural dos Tarrefes do Rio Cacheu (Rio Cacheu Mangroves Natural Park). This protected area is located on the northernmost of the rivers which dissect Guinea-Bissau. The area of the park includes land on both banks of the river. On the southern side, the site includes stretches from the town of Cacheu eastwards to opposite the village of Apilho, on the northern bank. The northern part of the park is situated nearer the coast and so overlaps only partially with the southern half. It extends from a point some 10 km east of Cacheu on the opposite bank to the Rio de Elia, near the estuary mouth, and inland almost as far as the town of São Domingos.

The area includes some 54,400 ha of mangroves and tanne, of which about 30,000 ha are mangroves, whilst semi-dry woodland and savanna extend to about 10,400 ha, and palm forest and agricultural land to about 9,600 ha. Areas occupied by riverine habitats extend to about 5,600ha. Large areas of mud and sandbanks are exposed at low tide. The park, especially the northern sector, includes one of the most extensive areas of mangroves in the country. The mangroves are very important as breeding areas for fish, crustaceans and molluscs, and also provide refuge for a large number of birds, many of them migratory. At least 180 bird species have been recorded here (DODMAN, T. et al 2004). West African Manatee Trichechus senegalensis occurs in the Cacheu river and its tributaries.

There are over 20 villages in the northern sector, and a population of over 7,000 belonging to six ethnic groups: Baiote, Ballante, Bahum, Cobiana, Felupe and Manjaque. The southern sector has 14 villages and over 800 inhabitants, comprising Cobiana and Manjaque ethnic groups. There are several sacred forests in the park, which are well preserved, representing ‘islands’ of high biodiversity. The most important agricultural activity is rice growing. In the northern sector, the rice is grown in flooded fields behind the mangroves (bolanhas), and some maize, nuts and manioc are also grown. Much agriculture is temporary, following the pampam system, which entails regular clearing of new agricultual land.

Books & Sounds

Tue, 01/15/2013 - 13:50 -- abc_admin

The western and central parts of Africa now have an excellent guide in the Birds of Western Africa by Borrow and Demey. It is a fantastic reference work and thoroughly recommended. It covers 23 countries south of the Sahara, from Mauritania in the northwest, to Chad and Central African Republic in the east, and Congo Brazzaville in the southeast, include the Cape Verde and Gulf of Guinea Islands. The paperback version is much more portable than the hard cover edition and it is ideal for the field, although there is less detail.

Birds of Africa south of the Sahara also covers the same countries except the Cape Verde Islands

Book image: 
Book info: 
Birds of Western Africa, Nik Borrow & Ron Demey, Helm, Hardback.
Book description: 

Helm Identification Guide. 147 plates depicting over 1280 species in 2800 individual figures. Covers Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Rio Muni, Gabon, Congo, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, part of Mauritania and the islands of Sao Tome, Principe and Bioko (Fernando Po). All the species described are illustrated in colour apart from a few vagrants, which are depicted in black-and-white in the text. Distribution maps are provided for the majority of species (except vagrants). 832 pages.

Book image: 
Book info: 
Field Guide to the Birds of Western Africa, Nik Borrow & Ron Demey, Helm, Softback.
Book description: 

Helm Field Guide. Utilises all the plates from the Helm ID Guide by the same authors, with a concise, authoritative text on facing pages, to create a guide covering all 1,304 species found in the region. The guide also contains an updated colour distribution map for each species and a number of new images have been painted just for this guide. Covers Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Rio Muni, Gabon, Congo, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, part of Mauritania and the islands of Sao Tome, Principe and Bioko (Fernando Po). 512 pages.

Book image: 
Book info: 
Birds of Africa South of the Sahara, Ian Sinclair & Peter Ryan, New Holland, Softback.
Book description: 

Second edition, including 500 new images and 400 updated distribution maps. Unrivalled coverage of African birds in a single volume. 2129+ species covered with an additional 101 vagrants briefly described. Revised to reflect the latest changes in taxonomy. Species descriptions give precise identification features highlighting differences between similar species as well as briefly reporting habitat, status and call. Annotated illustrations portray distinctive plumages as well as diagnostic flight patterns and major geographic variants where applicable.


Tue, 01/15/2013 - 13:48 -- abc_admin

Birding tours

We know of no organised tours to Guinea-Bissau.


We do not know of any guides in Guinea-Bissau.

Trip reports

There are two ornithological trip reports in the journal Malimbus, from 1992 and 1986: RODWELL, S.P. (1996) and HAZEVOET, C.J. (1996).


There are infrequent flights from Europe to Bissau and internal flights which include the outlying islands. There are regular flights to Bissau from Dakar, Senegal. Public transport consists of mini buses and bush taxis on most main routes and pick ups on the lesser used routes. Most towns are accessible by ship or riverboat and ferries are available from Bissau to Bolama, Bubaque Island, Bafatá, Catio and Enxudé. Road conditions are relatively good but during the wet season unsealed roads can become impassable. Car Hire is very limited and expensive and generally only available in Bissau.


Safety and health issues are no different from those in many African countries. Guidebooks, travel companies and websites provide much of the advice one needs, but key points warrant repetition here: (1) be aware of the risk of malaria and seek current advice, sleep in a sealed tent or under a net and take prophylaxis as recommended; (2) always ensure you have sufficient water and some method of purification (even if this comprises a pot and a campfire for boiling); (3) do not underestimate the danger of being in the sun for too long, ensure you use sun-block, drink plenty of water and wear a hat; (4) be aware of the risk of AIDS; (5) ensure that you take a reasonably-equipped first-aid pack with you including supplies of hypodermic and suturing needles. See the following 2 websites or your own local embassy for the latest safety and travel information: US Travel and UK FCO.


Tue, 01/15/2013 - 13:47 -- abc_admin

Guinea-Bissau is a rewarding destination for birding, as there is undoubtedly much that remains to be discovered. The Bijagós Archipelago is an outstanding destination for observing large numbers of waders and a host of other waterbirds, whilst its mangroves and other habitats on the islands, including forest, provide additional interest. There are many potential islands to visit, including the Orango National Park.

Closer to Bissau is the tiny island Ilhéu dos Pássaros (11º45’N 15º35’W), an islet, which lies just opposite one of the small ports. It supports roosting colonies of several waterbirds.

The rice fields and bolanhas around Bissau are worthwhile birding destinations, whilst perhaps the best freshwater floodplain wetlands can be seen near Mansôa and the Rio Olom. This is a good site to see flocks of Black Crowned Crane Balearica pavonina, especially between December and March.

The Rio Cacheu is a diverse site, good for waterbirds and forest species. However, for forest birds, it is better to head south of Bissau to Cantanhez and Cacine. These superb forests are seriously under-recorded. Turati’s Boubou Laniarius turatii and Yellow-casqued Hornbill Ceratogymna elata are found in these (and other) forests.

A fairly accessible inland site is along the Bafatá river, where African Finfoot Podica senegalensis has been seen.

The Lagoa de Cufadá currently has the highest bird list for any site in the country (326), but we have heard from a recent visitor (March 2005) that the site is now practically inaccessible and the camp abandoned. The forest areas around the lagoon however are still worth visiting. These are best accessed around the village of Buba and birding along the road from Buba to Falacunda passing near to Cantanha produced African Goshawk Accipiter tachiro, Stone Partridge Ptilopachus petrosus, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater Merops hirundineus, Little Green Woodpecker Campethera maculosa, Brown-backed Woodpecker Picoides obsoletus, Yellow-bellied Hyliota Hyliota flavigaster, Red-winged Warbler Heliolais erythropterus, Capuchin Babbler Phyllanthus atripennis, Western Violet-backed Sunbird Anthreptes longuemarei, Turati's Boubou Laniarius turatii (easy to find by call and is fairly common), African Golden Oriole Oriolus auratus and Violet-backed Starling Cinnyricinclus leucogaster.

It is worth stopping at the bridge over the Rio Corrubal (en route to Buba / Cufadá) to look for Rock Pratincole Glareola nuchalis, Egyptian Plover Pluvianus aegyptius and a colony of Preuss's Cliff Swallow Hirundo preussi. This same road also has the possibility of Long-crested Eagle Lophaetus occipitalis.

The Orango National Park is some 80 km off the coast and a fast boat and an overnight stay are necessary. Species seen during a recent visit include White-throated Bee-eater Merops albicollis, Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat Cossypha niveicapilla, African Thrush Turdus pelios, African Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone viridis, Western Violet-backed Sunbird Anthreptes longuemarei, Collared Sunbird Hedydipna collaris and Violet-backed Starling Cinnyricinclus leucogaster.


Tue, 01/15/2013 - 13:43 -- abc_admin

Country checklist and status


We are delighted that our Corporate Sponsor iGoTerra has made its country checklists, including subspecies (IOC or Clements) as well as all other species groups like mammals, butterflies etc. available through the ABC website. The only thing required is a Basic membership / registration which is free of charge. Go to Guinea-Bissau checklists. If you are already a member of iGoTerra, you will be taken directly to the country page. In case you are not a member, you will be redirected automatically to the registration form and from there can go straight to the country page..

A checklist of 518 species for Guinea-Bissau is provided in the Important Bird Areas in Guinea-Bissau (DODMAN, T. et al 2004).

The country checklist for Guinea-Bissau can also be downloaded in a spreadsheet from this link: Guinea-Bissau checklist

Endemic species

There are no endemic species in Guinea-Bissau.

Near endemic species (found in 3 or less African countries)

Turati’s Boubou Laniarius turatii

Threatened species

No threatened species are recorded in Guinea-Bissau although the country checklist includes several near-threatened species.

Important Bird Areas

Tue, 01/15/2013 - 13:42 -- abc_admin

Information on Guinea-Bissau’s Important Bird Areas (IBAs) can be found in DODMAN, T., BARLOW, C., SÁ, J. & ROBERTSON, P. (2004).

The country checklist which includes a checklist for each IBA can be downloaded in a spreadsheet from this link: Guinea-Bissau checklist.

The 8 IBAs are as follows.

Arquipélago dos Bijagós
Cantanhez forests
Ilha de Bolama - Rio Grande de Buba
Lagoas de Cufada
Rio Cacheu
Rio Mansôa and Gêba estuary
Rio Tombali, Rio Cumbijã and Ilha de Melo
Vendu Tcham

For further details, download the country IBAs from BirdLife International.


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