Working for birds in Africa


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.

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