Working for birds in Africa


Wed, 02/06/2013 - 13:34 -- abc_admin

The following largely unconfirmed records have appeared in recent Bulletins of the African Bird Club and are for information only.

from ABC Bulletin 26.2

A Piapiac Ptilostomus afer was seen several times at Robertsport between 21 November 2018 and 11 January 2019 on a small playing field, often in the company of a few sheep (Fig. 29); the only record mentioned by Gatter (1997. Birds of Liberia) is of one (an escape?) in gardens in Monrovia on 19 May–15 June 1988. House Sparrow Passer domesticus, previously reported from Monrovia (in 2011), Robertsport (in 2013) and Cape Mount alone, was also seen at Buchanan at or near the old LAMCO quay in 2012–14 and c.20 km inland at Pleebo, Maryland, on 22 March 2017. At Robertsport, at least a few were still present in November 2018–March 2019 (AMa).

from ABC Bulletin 26.1

Records from Lofa county, in the north-west, in October–November 2018, include the following. A Longcrested Eagle Lophaetus occipitalis was near cattle fields at Foya on 17 November. In the same fields, three Red-headed Lovebirds Agapornis pullarius and four Yellow-bellied Hyliotas Hyliota flavigaster were observed on 23 November (the latter species is mentioned as possible in the north by Gatter 1997. Birds of Liberia), c.12 Lesser Blue-eared Starlings Lamprotornis chloropterus on 23–25 November (‘may be expected in northern Lofa County’: Gatter 1997) and a Yellow-billed Oxpecker Buphagus africanus on cattle on 28–30 November (not mentioned in Gatter 1997 and appears to be new for Liberia). A Red-winged Warbler Prinia erythroptera was mist-netted at Alabama Camp, near Voinjama, on 21 October (Fig. 22); Gatter (1997) mentions just two records, from Wologizi.

Also at Alabama Camp, c.150 Red-collared Widowbirds Euplectes ardens, mainly males, were roosting on 17 October. Four House Sparrows Passer domesticus were noted at Zorzor on 9 October; the species is known from Monrovia, but this appears to be the first record in the north. A dozen Ruff Calidris pugnax were present near A la Lagune Hotel, Monrovia, on 8 October; this Palearctic migrant is rarely recorded in Liberia. Ethiopian Swallows Hirundo aethiopica are now common in Monrovia, with at least 60, mostly juveniles, counted on 9 October (RS).

from ABC Bulletin 23.1

The following records are from the period late May–August 2015. An adult Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus was observed near Duazon, east of Monrovia, on 14 June and 18 August, and an immature Shikra Accipiter badius in Monrovia on 26 August; both species are rarely recorded on the coast. An Ayres’s Eagle Hieraaetus ayresii near Careysburg, c.24 km northeast of Monrovia, on 23 August is a new locality. Also near Careysburg on 23–24 August, i.e. in the rainy season, a group of 5–6 Long-tailed Nightjars Caprimulgus climacurus, including at least two juveniles, was found; Gatter (1997. Birds of Liberia) considers the species to be a dry season visitor and possible resident, but there are no breeding records. Senegal Parrots Poicephalus senegalus are still present in Monrovia, but in much smaller numbers than Rose-ringed Parakeets Psittacula krameri: they were seen only twice in c.20 days between May and late August 2015, with max. five on 27 August, whereas Rose-ringed Parakeets were seen quite regularly; both species are thought to have been introduced and have established local populations. Up to five Ethiopian Swallows Hirundo aethiopica were at Libassa Lodge, Margibi County, east of Monrovia, on 30–31 May. At least one pair of Sharpe’s Apalises Apalis sharpii at Wulki Farm, near Careysburg, on 23–24 August, is a new locality, a considerable distance from the species’ known range. 

from ABC Bulletin 22.1

A colony of Preuss’s Cliff Swallows Pterochelidon preussi was found at the St. Paul River bridge, in northern Monrovia, on 2 June, west of the previously reported colony at Harbel, near the airport. 

from ABC Bulletin 21.2

A short survey in Grand Cape Mount County, in the south-west, in June 2014, confirmed the presence of 62 species new for the relevant square in Gatter (1997. Birds of Liberia). Records of Lead-coloured Flycatcher (=Grey Tit-flycatcher) Myioparus plumbeus and Bioko Batis Batis poensis represent considerable range extensions, although the former has now been recorded both in the east and the west of the country. Additional new square records include those of Crowned Eagle Stephanoaetus coronatus, Willcocks’s Honeyguide Indicator willcocksi, Green-tailed Bristlebill Bleda eximius, Yellow-bearded Greenbul Criniger olivaceus, Rufous-winged Illadopsis Illadopsis rufescens and Copper-tailed Glossy Starling Lamprotornis cupreicauda.

from ABC Bulletin 21.1

An expedition to eastern Liberia conducted in February - March 2013 to search for the mysterious Liberian Greenbul Phyllastrephus leucolepis, sponsored by the ABC and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (BirdLife UK partner), was unsuccessful in locating the species, but recorded some others of interest. Eight species were new for the two quarter-degree grid cells targeted by the expedition (that containing Zwedru and the one north of it; cf. Gatter 1997. Birds of Liberia), including Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus, Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis and Plain-backed Pipit Anthus leucophrys, all in Zwedru town. Brown Nightjars Veles binotatus were heard and recorded in Cavalla Forest, north-west of Zwedru (sound-recordings have been uploaded to xeno-canto. org). Other new grid-cell records from the Cavalla Forest were Yellow-footed Honeyguide Melignomon eisentrauti, White-throated Greenbul Phyllastrephus albigularis, Black-capped Apalis Apalis nigriceps and Grey-throated Flycatcher Myioparus griseigularis.

Five globally threatened species were observed. Groups of White-breasted Guineafowl Agelastes meleagrides, including a flock of c.8, were seen in three well-separated locations. Timneh Parrots Psittacus (erithacus) timneh were seen daily, but in small numbers (largest count was of ten on 22 February); they are reportedly trapped to be sold across the border in Côte d’Ivoire. Brown-cheeked Hornbill Bycanistes cylindricus and Yellow-casqued Hornbill Ceratogymna elata were reasonably common in Cavalla Forest, the latter being observed on most days. Yellow-bearded Greenbul Criniger olivaceus was not uncommon in closed-canopy forest. Five Near Threatened species were also observed: Crowned Eagle Stephanoaetus coronatus, Green-tailed Bristlebill Bleda eximius, Rufous-winged Illadopsis Illadopsis rufescens, Copper-tailed Glossy Starling Lamprotornis cupreocauda and Red-fronted Antpecker Parmoptila rubrifrons.

Other records of interest from Cavalla Forest included Hadada Ibis Bostrychia hagedash, Spot-breasted Ibis B. olivacea, Hartlaub’s Duck Pteronetta hartlaubii, Bat Hawk Macheiramphus alcinus, Long-tailed Hawk Urotriorchis macrourus, Forest Wood-hoopoe Phoeniculus castaneiceps, Black Dwarf Hornbill Tockus hartlaubi, African Piculet Sasia africana and Brown-chested Alethe Alethe poliocephala.  Elsewhere in Liberia, House Sparrows Passer domesticus were observed in small numbers at Roberts International Airport, Monrovia, and at Robertsport. Ethiopian Swallows Hirundo aethiopica were also seen at Roberts International Airport and were common in Monrovia.

from ABC Bulletin 19.2

A Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus was observed in Monrovia harbour on 16 - 17 April 2012; this species is only occasionally seen along the country’s coast.

from ABC Bulletin 19.1

Exploration of East Nimba Nature Reserve in April - May 2010 and October - November 2011 produced the following records of interest. A Brown Snake Eagle Circaetus cinereus on 6 April 2010 is a first record for the Nimba region, as is a Blue Quail Coturnix adansonii flushed at 1,190 m on 2 May. A Brown Nightjar Veles binotatus was heard at 860 m on 17 November - the first Nimba record since it was collected at Grassfield in 1971. Flocks of African Black Swifts Apus barbatus migrated south over the mountain on 17 November (up to 50 together), as well as over Yekepa (c.50 on 5 November). A few Black-and-white-casqued Hornbills Bycanistes subcylindricus were seen in 2010 - 11, representing a new species for the area (first noted in 2008–9). A Lyre-tailed Honeyguide Melichneutes robustus displayed near Grassfield on 28 October; this is the first record in decades. An African Broadbill Smithornis capensis was heard in forest at 1,330 m, well above the altitude occupied by Rufous-sided Broadbill S. rufolaterialis. The first breeding record for Liberia of Fanti Saw-wing Psalidoprocne obscura was obtained on 6 May (one bringing lichen to a hole in a bank, at 1,330 m). Several Rock-loving Cisticolas Cisticola aberrans were discovered in rocky grassland in the old mine area (October 2011), this being the first record for the Liberian side of Nimba. An immature White Wagtail Motacilla alba at Yekepa on 27 - 28 October is a new species for Liberia. Sierra Leone Prinia Schistolais leontica was found to be rather local (five locations only), at 1,170–1,350 m, and does not seem to have colonised all forest-edge habitats created by the former mining operations. Nimba Flycatcher Melaenornis annamarulae was encountered at four locations, all along the altitudinal gradient to 1,170 m, with one observation at 1,330 m in 2009 - thus well above the previous upper limit of 600 m. At least three territories of African Blue Flycatcher Elminia longicauda were located at forest edge above 1,170 m, a new species for Liberia. Square-tailed Drongo Dicrurus ludwigii was very common above 780 m, replacing Shining Drongo D. atripennis altitudinally. A male indigobird at Grassfield in October 2011 could only be Cameroon Indigobird Vidua camerunensis, given the only firefinch host present is Blue-billed Firefinch Lagonosticta rubricata; this confirms the species for the Liberian list.

Preliminary surveys of the Gba Community Forest in West Nimba in November 2011 revealed the presence of a population of Gola Malimbes Malimbus ballmanni, a new record for Nimba County. Also of interest there were Brown-cheeked Bycanistes cylindricus and Yellow-casqued Hornbills Ceratogymna elata (singles), Yellow-footed Honeyguide Melignomon eisentrauti (one singing at 800 m, on Mount Beeton), Yellow-bearded Greenbul Criniger olivaceus, Green-tailed Bristlebill Bleda eximius, Rufous-winged Illadopsis Illadopsis rufescens and Copper-tailed Starling Lamprotornis cupreocauda, all of which were widespread.

A Long-crested Eagle Lophaetus occipitalis was photographed between Tweh Town and Popoph Mission, c.5 km from the coast and 20 km east-south-east of Greenville, on 30 June 2011; the species is considered an uncommon and irregular visitor to Liberia, and this seems to be the first record for Sinoe County. A colony of Preuss’s Cliff Swallows Petrochelidon preussi was found under a bridge near Greenville Port in June, representing a further range extension for this species. Ethiopian Swallow Hirundo aethiopica was found in small numbers at Buchanan, on the coast, on 20 November and probably at the international airport on 21 October; the species was first discovered in eastern Liberia in February 2011, but could have been overlooked in the past - the presence of the commensal Red-chested Swallow Hirundo lucida in Liberia is very doubtful, as the male supposedly collected by Büttikofer (cf. Gatter 1997. Birds of Liberia) was later corrected by him to Barn Swallow H. rustica, and his nest with three chicks was not preserved. A Grey Ground Thrush Zoothera princei was observed in Sapo National Park, near Chimp Camp, on 3 July. House Sparrows Passer domesticus were seen in Monrovia: one male in town on 22 October and one at West Point on 21 November, with four or five near the National Port Authority office on 22 November; Northern Grey-headed Sparrow P. griseus remains the common sparrow in Monrovia.

from ABC Bulletin 18.2

In January - March 2011 the following were reported. An Ethiopian Swallow Hirundo aethiopica at Putu camp, north of Sapo National Park, on 17 February constitutes an addition to the country list. Chattering Cisticola Cisticola anonymus, found in a clearing within Gola Forest, near the border with Sierra Leone, on 20 March is another first for Liberia.

Also in Gola Forest, a flock of c.10 Black-collared Lovebirds Agapornis swindernianus was seen on 3 March, a Brown Nightjar Veles binotatus was singing on 21–22 March, and a silent Yellow-footed Honeyguide Melignomon eisentrauti was observed at forest edge on 19 March, whilst another was heard on 20th. Preuss’s Cliff Swallow Petrochelidon preussi was found breeding again under the Du River bridge linking Roberts International Airport to the Firestone Plantation: 80–100 were present on 17 April and >120 on 25 April, including several recently fledged juveniles. This species is spreading west and south and was first found at this site in February 2005. A flock was also observed further west along the coast, at the bridge at the border crossing to Sierra Leone, in March. In Monrovia, a male House Sparrow Passer domesticus was seen on 8 February (AMa), with another on 20 April; there are only two previous records from 20 years ago, plus a recent report from Cape Mount.

An ornithological survey of the Putu Range, adjacent to Sapo National Park in south-east Liberia, in January - February 2011, produced 13 species of global conservation concern, among them White-breasted Guineafowl Agelastes meleagrides, Black-headed Rufous Warbler Bathmocercus cerviniventris, Nimba Flycatcher Melaenornis annamarulae (previously known only from four other locations in Liberia) and Gola Malimbe Malimbus ballmanni (seen in three mixed-species flocks). The three large hornbill species of the forest zone, Brown-cheeked Bycanistes cylindricus, Black-casqued Ceratogymna atrata and Yellow-casqued Hornbill C. elata, were still remarkably common, with the globally Near Threatened Yellow-casqued even being abundant. Four Yellow-footed Honeyguides were encountered; there are very few records in Liberia and these are the first for the south-east.

Range extensions or new localities were noted for 57 species, including the following. A male Red-chested Flufftail Sarothrura rufa and a duetting pair were heard at a small swamp; this species is rarely recorded in West Africa and Gatter (1997. Birds of Liberia) mentions only two records, from north-west Liberia. A Brown Nightjar was singing at dawn and dusk on 22 January. Up to four Bates’s Swifts Apus batesi were seen on Mount Jideh; in Liberia, this species was previously known only from the Nimba area and over forests at higher altitudes in northern Lofa County. A Willcocks’s Honeyguide Indicator willcocksi was observed once, whilst single African Piculets Sasia africana were encountered at three widely scattered locations; for the latter species, only two previous records are mentioned for Liberia. A pair of Plain-backed Pipits Anthus leucophrys foraged on a football field at Geeblo village on 29 January; this species penetrates the forest zone through large clearings. Blue-shouldered Robin Chat Cossypha cyanocampter was found at three locations in farmbush at forest edge, whilst singing Grey-throated Flycatchers Myioparus griseigularis were regularly recorded throughout the forest. Lead-coloured Flycatchers M. plumbeus were observed at three locations; curiously, the only records mentioned by Gatter (1997) are of two collected in 1891 near Monrovia, but recently the species was recorded in North Lorma and Gola National Forests, and in the Nimba area.


In Sapo National Park, White-breasted Guineafowl Agelastes meleagrides appeared in a remarkably high proportion of photographs taken by camera traps in 2009; this Upper Guinea forest endemic is considered rare at the site.

During field work at Mts Tokadeh and Gangra and the East Nimba Nature Reserve (ENNR), in the Nimba Mountains, in June - July 2008 and January 2009 the following were recorded. The most interesting find was perhaps that of two pairs of Sierra Leone Prinias Schistolais leontica at the old LAMCO mine site. Other species of conservation concern included Yellow-casqued Hornbill Ceratogymna elata (rare; only one location), Western Wattled Cuckooshrike Lobotos lobatus (a male at ENNR), Green-tailed Bristlebill Bleda eximius (all three sites), Yellow-bearded Greenbul Criniger olivaceus (all three sites), Black-headed Rufous Warbler Bathmocercus cerviniventris (six singing males), Nimba Flycatcher Melaenornis annamarulae (three locations), Rufous-winged Illadopsis Illadopsis rufescens and Copper-tailed Glossy Starling Lamprotornis cupreocauda. Other noteworthy species included Hartlaub’s Duck Pteronetta hartlaubii (a pair in a swamp at Tokadeh), Bates’s Swift Apus batesi (two sites), Blue-headed Bee-eater Merops muelleri (at all three sites), Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla (one in a patch of savanna at Tokadeh on 22 January; this Palearctic migrant is rarely recorded in Liberia), Red-shouldered Cuckooshrike Campephaga phoenicea (an independent juvenile at Mt Gangra on 13 January; this partial intra-African migrant is a rare visitor to the north), Baumann’s Greenbul Phyllastrephus baumanni (all three sites), Common Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis (at least two at the old LAMCO mine; a rare and local winter visitor), Grey Tit-Flycatcher Myioparus  plumbeus (three at Tokadeh; first record for Nimba, representing a southward range extension) and Fiery-breasted Bushshrike Malaconotus cruentus (at all three sites).

During field work in three National Forests, North Lorma in the north-west, Gola in the west and Grebo in the east, from 19 November to 11 December 2005, some noteworthy records were made. Olive Ibis Bostrychia olivacea was found in North Lorma; the species is not mentioned for the Wologizi area by Gatter (1997, Birds of Liberia). A Spot-breasted Ibis Bostrychia rara flew over the village of Jalipo, Grebo, on 7 and 11 December. A melanistic Black Sparrowhawk Accipiter melanoleucus was seen in Gola; although this is a widespread forest resident in Liberia, it had not previously been recorded in at this site. A Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus was seen at Monrovia on 14 December; this species is mapped only for the north of the country by Gatter (1997). Two groups of White-breasted Guineafowl Agelastes meleagrides were encountered in Grebo Forest. Also in Grebo, Black-collared Lovebird Agapornis swindernianus was observed at two locations; Gatter (1997) mentions that it is a very rare or extinct resident in Liberia. Gola and Grebo constituted new localities for Cassin’s Honeybird Prodotiscus insignis, whereas Yellow-footed Honeyguide Melignomon eisentrauti was recorded at North Lorma. A male Cardinal Woodpecker Dendropicos fuscescens was seen well at Voinjama on 26 November; only one previous record, from 1984 near Bawomai, is mentioned by Gatter (1997).

Up to 25 Fanti Saw-wings Psalidoprocne obscura, four Lesser Striped Swallows Hirundo abyssinica, a pair of Plain-backed Pipits Anthus leucophrys and a Black-winged Oriole Oriolus nigripennis were observed at Fishtown, near Grebo, on 11-12 December; these species were not previously mapped for the area. A colony of Preuss’s Cliff Swallows Hirundo preussi numbering c.100 nests was found at Voinjama; this species is said to be a rare (dry-season?) visitor by Gatter (1997). A Western Wattled Cuckoo-Shrike Lobotos lobatus was seen within a mixed-species flock in Grebo. A singing Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat Cossypha cyanocampter observed near Jalipo, Grebo, on 11 December, with another at Fishtown the next day, were not previously mapped for the area. A pair of Black-headed Rufous Warblers Bathmocercus cerviniventris was found near a small stream at Luyema, North Lorma. Up to three Western Olivaceous Warblers Hippolais (pallida) opaca were observed in detail in a clearing in Gola, on 27 November-3 December; this is a new locality for this Palearctic migrant, for which there are apparently only two previous records. In the same clearing, a pair of Short-winged Cisticolas Cisticola brachypterus was singing; this species was apparently known only from coastal and northern savannas. Black-capped Apalis Apalis nigriceps was common in Grebo, which constitutes a new locality, and five singing Nimba Flycatchers Melaenornis annamarulae were also found there. A singing Grey-throated Tit-Flycatcher Myioparus griseigularis was seen at Gola and another at Jalipo, Grebo; this species was previously recorded only from Yekapa / Nimba. Grey Tit-Flycatcher M. plumbeus was found singing at Luyema and in a nearby clearing, North Lorma, on 19 November, and in a clearing in Gola on 27 November-3 December; the only records mentioned by Gatter (1997) are two collected in 1891 near Monrovia. In Gola, a pair of Bioko Batis Batis poensis was observed at their nest, which contained two feathered nestlings on 3 December; this is a new locality for this species, of which very few nests have ever been found. A large rock with 20 nests of White-necked Picathartes Picathartes gymnocephalus was located inside Grebo Forest. A single and a pair of Lagden’s Bush-Shrikes Malaconotus lagdeni were observed in mixed bird parties in Grebo. Two pairs of the endangered Gola Malimbe Malimbus ballmanni, each with a juvenile, were foraging with mixed-species flocks in Gola Forest.

On March 5, 2005, an estimated 2,100 Black Terns Chlidonias niger and 1,100 Royal Terns Sterna maxima were sighted at the Lofa river mouth in Bomi County about 20 km west of Monrovia. These were the highest counts of the species at a single site.

On March 4, 2005, an Egyptian Plover Pluvianus aegyptius, a vagrant to Liberia, was sighted along a coastal lagoon near Robertsport, a coastal town about 72 km west of Monrovia.

For the first time in Liberia on February 24, 2005, Preuss's Cliff Swallow Hirundo preussi was sighted on the coast, breeding under the Du River Bridge that links Roberts International Airport to the Firestone Plantation Company. The only record of the species by Wulf Gatter was in Voinjama in the north-west and Mt. Nimba in the north of the country.

In December 2004, the endangered species Gola Malimbe Malimbus ballmanni was sighted at the north-east end of the Sapo National Park in Sinoe County. The two birds were seen nesting in a mature secondary forest about 1km away from the boundary line of the park. As a mark of appreciation and guarantee that the site will be protected, the head of the Site Support Group in the area who guided the assessment team named his boy child Malimbe after the bird. The child was born on the same day the birds were sighted.

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