Working for birds in Africa


Wed, 02/06/2013 - 15:23 -- abc_admin

Pink-footed Puffback Dryoscopus angolensis Nigeria

Image Credit: 
Tasso Leventis

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

from ABC Bulletin 26.2

Noteworthy records from Rennajj Fish Farm, Jos, in January–February 2019 included a Little Crake Zapornia parva, present from 20 January until at least 9 February (Fig. 35)—apparently the first record for Plateau State (JM, SM & MHo), a Great Bittern Botaurus stellaris on 9 February (JM & SM) and a male Cuckoo-finch Anomalospiza imberbis on 14 February (JM & MH).

from ABC Bulletin 26.1

A leucistic male Red-billed Firefinch Lagonosticta senegala was mist-netted in Amurum Forest Reserve, central Nigeria, on 15 February 2018 (Fig. 26; YB). Further discussion of the raptor photographed at Yankari National Park, Bauchi State, on 27 January 2018 and initially identified as a juvenile Cassin’s Hawk Eagle Aquila africana (Bull. ABC 25:244), concluded that it concerned a juvenile African Hawk Eagle A. spilogaster—the latter can indeed be very pale and the bird in question also lacked the dark markings on the underwing-coverts expected in Cassins’s Hawk Eagle (JM & SM).

from ABC Bulletin 22.2

The following species, found on the Okpara River, the boundary between Benin and Nigeria, at 08°16’N, on 12 - 13 April 2015, represent northerly extensions of their known ranges in south-west Nigeria west of the Niger River: Green Turaco Tauraco persa, Red-chested Cuckoo Cuculus solitarius, Yellowbill Ceuthmochares aereus, Black-throated Coucal Centropus leucogaster, Wood Owl Strix woodfordii, Blue-breasted Kingfisher Halcyon malimbica, Baumann’s Greenbul Phyllastrephus baumanni, Grey-headed Bristlebill Bleda canicapillus, Western Nicator Nicator chloris, Green Crombec Sylvietta virens, Yellow White-eye Zosterops senegalensis and Tropical Boubou Laniarius aethiopicus. For most of these species there were previously no records north of Ile-Ife, at 07°29’N. Little Weaver Ploceus luteolus represents a significant extension south from the Niger River at Kainji. 

from ABC Bulletin 22.1

In 2014, breeding was recorded for the first time in Nigeria for Spot-breasted Ibis Bostrychia rara (a nest containing one egg at Abo Ebam, Boki Local Government Area, Cross River State) and African Grass Owl Tyto capensis (a nest with two chicks at 1,500 m in Becheve Nature Reserve, Obudu Plateau; the latter is also the first record for the species in the country.

Records from April 2013–July 2014 from CERCOPAN’s Rhoko Camp, situated within the buffer zone of the Oban Division of Cross River National Park (CRNP), Cross River State, include the following. Black-eared Ground Thrush Geokichla camaronensis, a new species for Nigeria, was encountered on four occasions, including at least one recently fledged juvenile; this species is known from nearby Korup National Park, Cameroon. Brown Nightjar Veles binotatus was found to be resident; the species was previously known from one other site in Nigeria, Erokhut Camp, also in the Oban Division of CRNP, in 2009. A Buff-spotted Flufftail Sarothrura elegans sang almost every night throughout the dry season from mid-December 2013 to early March 2014; there is only one previous record, of a bird taken at Ubiaja in April 1935 (Elgood et al. 1994. The Birds of Nigeria). Yellow-footed Honeyguide Melignomon eisentrauti, known previously only from Erokhut, in the Oban Division of CRNP, was recorded on several occasions in April–July 2014. A Grey Ground Thrush Geokichla princei was observed on 4 June 2013; there are only a handful of records in Nigeria, the most recent in 1997.

Other species that are rarely recorded in the country or are at the western edge of their range include the following. White-crested Tiger Heron Tigriornis leucolopha was seen twice at dusk in April–May 2013. Spot-breasted Ibises Bostrychia rara flew in twos or threes over Rhoko Camp at dusk on three dates in February–April 2014. Red-thighed Sparrowhawk Accipiter erythropus was recorded approximately once per month. A pair of Chestnut-flanked Sparrowhawks A. castanilius displayed regularly in April–July 2013. Crowned Eagle Stephanoaetus coronatus was observed singly or in pairs, once four together; most records were in January–February 2014 when birds were often displaying above the forest. Black Guineafowl Agelastes niger was encountered regularly, being more conspicuous and vocal in the dry season. Nkulengu Rail Himantornis haematopus was particularly vocal at night during the late dry season until the start of the rains (February–June 2014) when up to three pairs could be heard duetting. Vermiculated Fishing Owl Scotopelia bouvieri, Akun Eagle Owl Bubo leucostictus and Sjöstedt’s Owlet Glaucidium sjostedti were found regularly throughout the year. One or two Black Spinetails Telacanthura melanopygia were frequent in April– early May 2013 and occasionally thereafter until mid July, with a pair in aerial display on 12 July; in 2014, there was only a single record, of one, on 21 April. Bare-cheeked Trogon Apaloderma aequatoriale was heard singing almost daily, especially during the dry season in late November–mid March. Up to six Blue-moustached Bee-eaters Merops mentalis were observed regularly at Ebontema Tourist Camp in late April–May 2013, with up to three there in October 2013–early April 2014; the species has not previously been recorded in the wet season. Lyre-tailed Honeyguide Melichneutes robustus was heard on 25 and 27 July 2014, whilst Cassin’s Honeybird Prodotiscus insignis was noted on 29 July and 11 September 2013. Forest Swallow Petrochelidon fuliginosa was first recorded on 8 November 2013 and up to three were subsequently observed regularly, with a group of 20 on 14 January; the species was probably previously overlooked. Black Saw-wing Psalidoprocne pristoptera was an unexpected dry-season visitor, frequenting the ecotone between forest and farmland, with five present from 8 October 2013 until mid January and ten on 20 October. Rufous Flycatcher Thrush Stizorhina fraseri was recorded in October 2013–January 2014, whilst Kemp’s Longbill Macrosphenus kempi and Yellow Longbill M. flavicans were found to be scarce residents. Presumably the same Rufous-vented Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone rufocinerea was seen several times in the dry season, between 24 November 2013 and 20 January 2014. A pair of Tiny Sunbirds Cinnyris minullus was observed regularly, whilst Johanna’s Sunbird C. johannae was also present. A Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus was singing on 16 January 2014.

Sjöstedt’s Honeyguide Greenbul Baeopogon clamans, Eastern Bearded Greenbul Criniger chloronotus, Lesser Bristlebill Bleda notatus, Xavier’s Greenbul Phyllastrephus xavieri, Yellow-footed Flycatcher Muscicapa sethsmithi and Rachel’s Malimbe Malimbus racheliae were common, whilst Long-tailed Hawk Urotriorchis macrourus, Cassin’s Hawk Eagle Aquila africana, Yellow-casqued Hornbill Ceratogymna elata (one of eight hornbill species present) and Woodhouse’s Antpecker Parmoptila woodhousei were frequent. The records above were made within a 400-ha core area protected by CERCOPAN, a conservation charity, in community forest. The area provides excellent birding opportunities with numerous trails and a research grid transect system. Rhoko Camp, located at the heart of the core area, offers comfortable tourist accommodation and is easily accessed by motorbike taxi from Iko Esai village. Birders are very welcome: contact or see for details. 

from ABC Bulletin 20.1

A Slender-billed Weaver Ploceus pelzelni was photographed feeding a young Didric Cuckoo Chrysococcyx caprius on Bonny Island, one of Nigeria’s coastal barrier islands, on 7 December 2010; although the weaver is known to parasitise Didric Cuckoo in East Africa, this is the first record for Nigeria.

from ABC Bulletin 19.1

During a visit to Anwase, Kwande, in Benue State, near the border with Cameroon, on 6 - 8 January 2012, a flufftail observed at dusk at the Kwande River with a telescope was identified as a female Chestnut-headed Flufftail Sarothrura lugens; this would be the first record for Nigeria. A Cardinal Woodpecker Dendropicos fuscescens with heavily streaked underparts suggests it belonged to the subspecies sharpii, known to occur from Cameroon eastwards. A paradise flycatcher Terpsiphone sp. was seen with dark grey underparts, similar to Bates’s T. batesi and Rufous-vented Paradise Flycatchers T. rufocinerea, but with the upperparts dark grey as well (not rufous); the vent was dark rufous and the eye-ring was the usual bright blue. A male Tiny Sunbird Cinnyris minullus was found at the edge of regenerating forest. 

from ABC Bulletin 18.2

A male Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus visited a garden in Jos on 26 April 2011; according to Elgood et al. (1994. The Birds of Nigeria) the species is uncommon to rare and possibly only a vagrant in the country.


A huge roost of Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica, possibly comprising millions of birds, was reported for the first time from the vicinity of Butatong, near the headquarters of the Okwangwo Division of Cross River National Park, in late December 2007; according to a local farmer, the roost has been in use for over five years.

Among the Subalpine Warblers Sylvia cantillans mist-netted in Dagona Bird Sanctuary, northern Nigeria, in February 2007, the great majority proved to be of the subspecies moltoni (sometimes proposed as a separate species, Moltoni’s Warbler), with the rest being of the nominate race. Whereas the latter were very fat and not in moult, the former lacked any fat and were moulting their wing feathers. Adult S. c. cantillans and S. c. albistriata undergo a complete moult in their breeding quarters and the juveniles a partial one, whereas the moult of moltoni is very complex, with adults undergoing a complete moult either in their breeding or winter quarters, and the juveniles a complete moult in Africa. Previously, nothing was known concerning the wintering range of moltoni.

A belated record from 2006 concerns a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos photographed c.10 km inshore from the Imo River estuary at Ikot Abasi, Akwa Ibom State, south-east Nigeria, on 22 October; this apparently represents the first record for Nigeria.

During a birding trip in October 2005, a Red-chested Flufftail Sarothrura rufa was heard calling in the grounds of the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) at Ibadan on 13-14th; this species is very rare in Nigeria, with only two previously published records. Bocage's Bush-shrike Malaconotus bocagei, for which there are no previously published records, was found at Belekiti on the Obudu Plateau, near the border with Cross River National Park, on 21st.

Records from October 2004-January 2005 include the following. Surveys of Cross River National Park (CRNP) and adjacent areas in south-east Nigeria between 16 November and 21 December 2004 revealed three new species for the country: Yellow-footed Honeyguide Melignomon eisentrauti at Erokut in western CRNP, Oban Division, Mount Kupe Bush-Shrike Telophorus kupeensis in the north-eastern CRNP, Okwangwo Division, in the former Boshi Extension Forest Reserve, and Ursula’s Sunbird Cinnyris ursulae in the proposed extension in eastern CRNP, Oban Division, and in Okwangwo Division. The latter two were known previously only from Cameroon. The sought-after Mount Kupe Bush-Shrike is listed as Endangered and was known from three sites in an area of 200 km2; this Nigerian record extends the previously known range by c150 km. Other species rarely recorded in Nigeria included the following: Olive Ibis Bostrychia olivacea, Spot-breasted Ibis B. rara, Long-tailed Hawk Urotriorchis macrourus, Latham’s Forest Francolin Francolinus lathami, Nkulengu Rail Himantornis haematopus, Lemon Dove Columba larvata, Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo Cercococcyx olivinus, Sjöstedt's Owlet Glaucidium sjostedti, Black Spinetail Telacanthura melanopygia, Bates’s Swift Apus batesi, Bare-cheeked Trogon Apaloderma aequatoriale, Blue-headed Bee-eater Merops muelleri, Spotted Honeyguide Indicator  maculatus, Green-backed Woodpecker Campethera cailliautii, Yellow-crested Woodpecker Dendropicos xantholophus, Grey-headed Broadbill Smithornis sharpei, Forest Swallow Hirundo fuliginosa, Golden Greenbul Calyptocichla serina, Sjöstedt’s Honeyguide Greenbul Baeopogon clamans, Xavier’s Greenbul Phyllastrephus xavieri, Bocage’s Akalat Sheppardia bocagei, Crossley’s Ground Thrush Zoothera crossleyi (this species is common on Obudu and in Okwangwo but is new to Oban), Lemon-bellied Crombec Sylvietta denti, Olivaceous Flycatcher Muscicapa olivascens, Yellow-footed Flycatcher M. sethsmithi, Grey-throated Tit-Flycatcher Myioparus griseigularis, Forest Penduline Tit Anthoscopus flavifrons, Green-throated Sunbird Chalcomitra rubescens crossensis, Johanna’s Sunbird Cinnyris johannae, Bates’s Sunbird C. batesi, Green-breasted Bush-Shrike Malaconotus gladiator, Pink-footed Puffback Dryoscopus angolensis and Woodhouse's (Red-headed) Antpecker Parmoptila woodhousei. In addition, there was a possible sighting of a Black Guineafowl Agelastes niger and two independent reports from reliable local observers of the continued presence of this species in Nigeria


At Okomu National Park, a pair of Cassin's Hawk Eagles Spizaetus africanus was sighted on 23 October. A Cassin's Honeybird Prodotiscus insignis and a female Johanna's Sunbird were also recorded, and a pair of Bioko Batis Batis poensis was photographed on 30 January.

On the Jos Plateau, a Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca was seen on 9 December and a Red-capped Lark Calandrella cinerea had returned to the site. On 29 October an amazing 48 Golden Nightjars Caprimulgus eximius were found dead on the road from Maiduguri to Mongonu on the shores of Lake Chad. On 16 December, a Yellow-footed Flycatcher was feeding young at Buanchor, Cross River State. On the Obudu Plateau, a Pink-footed Puffback was observed on 11-12 December. A pair of Red-bellied Malimbe Malimbus erythrogaster on 13 December in Bashu village, just north of CRNP, Okwangwo Division, appears to be the first report for many years from Nigeria. A large owl, seen in Afi River Forest Reserve on 10 February, appears to have been a Shelley's Eagle Owl Bubo shelleyi; the roosting bird, found in the middle of the day and observed at close quarters, was described as being significantly larger than African Wood Owl Strix woodfordii and having broad dark brown and white bars on the underparts, from the throat down, which rules out Fraser's Eagle Owl Bubo poensis. This is the first report of this rare and spectacular owl in Nigeria. Also there, African Piculet Sasia africana was another first for the country; the very short tail, bare red skin around the eye, reddish legs, dark grey underparts and olive-green upperparts were all noted.

Despite not having been seen in 2003, Locust-Finches Paludipasser locustella have reappeared in 2004 at Rock Water Fish Farm on the Jos Plateau in central Nigeria. This suggests that their occurrence there in 2002 was part of a western range expansion rather than a case of vagrancy.

Interesting records by Phil Hall (PH) in 2004 include a Johanna’s Sunbird Cinnyris johannae at Okomu National Park on 24 January. This constituted only the 4th record for Nigeria. The Cameroon race of African Finfoot Podica senegalensis camerunensis was seen in Okomu on 25 January. A pair of Red-capped Larks Calandrella cinerea was seen at Amurum, Jos, on 16 February. These had been recorded throughout the previous month but prior to this, there had only been a few records in the last 30 years. At least 6 Crossley’s Ground-Thrushes Zoothera crossleyi were singing on Obudu Plateau from 2 to 4 May. A record of a Blue-bellied Roller Coracias cyanogaster from Abeokuta on 10 July was a considerable southern extension to its known range.

At Ngel Nyaki, the forest on the Mambilla Plateau near Gembu, noteworthy species observed in December 2003 include Naked-faced Gymnobucco calvus and Yellow-billed Barbet Trachyphonus purpuratus (both at the edge of their range), Brown-backed Honeybird Prodotiscus regulus (a juvenile seen several times on two consecutive days; apparently only the 5th record in Nigeria, at a new site), Slender-billed Greenbul Andropadus gracilirostris, Pink-footed Puffback Dryoscopus angolensis, Dark-backed Weaver Ploceus bicolor, Pale-fronted Negrofinch Nigrita luteifrons (one seen briefly) and Western Bluebill Spermophaga haematina.

A biological survey in the Oban Hills area of Cross River State in November 2003 by Mary Gartshore produced several interesting records. A pair or small party of Olive Ibis Bostrychia olivacea were heard on 3 occasions flying overhead near Old Aking Hill on 12, 15 and 17th. A pair of Nkulengu Rails Himantornis haematopus was heard duetting at Old Aking on 10th. Crowned Eagles Stephanoaetus coronatus were observed regularly at both Old Aking and Old Ndebiji. Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo Cercococcyx olivinus was heard in Oban on 18 and 19th. PH had earlier observations of this species at Bashu in the north of Cross River State on 10 and 19 October. Red-fronted Parrots Poicephalus gulielmi were observed or heard on at least 3 occasions at Old Aking on 8th and at Old Ndebiji on 27 and 30th when a flock of 15 flew overhead. Sjostedt’s Owlet Glaucidium sjostedti was heard on 7th on the way to Old Aking Hill and 1 was seen at Aking on the way out. At Old Ndebiji, 1 was heard on 24th and another was seen on 25th. A Bare-cheeked Trogon Apaloderma aequatoriale was heard on the way into Old Aking on 7th. Another was heard at Old Ndebiji on 27th and 1 was seen on 28th. A further bird was seen by PH at Aking on 30th. Three African Pittas Pitta angolensis were heard calling at dawn at Old Ndebiji on 28th by A. P. Leventis. Grey-headed Broadbill Smithornis sharpei was heard and subsequently mist-netted at Old Aking Hill and later observed at Old Ndebiji. Prior to these records, there was only one previous record.

Several views of Pink-footed Puffback Dryoscopus angolensis were had at Old Ndebiji. PH saw a pair at Obudu Plateau on 4 May 2004. Bocage’s Akalat Sheppardia bocagei was seen and mist-netted at Old Aking on 10th and another was heard at Old Ndebiji. Prior to these records, there was only 1 other observation of this species at Obudu Plateau. Grey-throated Tit-Flycatcher Myioparus griseigularis was observed at Old Ndebiji on 26 and 27th. There are only 4 previous records of this species all from the east. Yellow-bellied Wattle-eyes Dyaphorophyia concreta were found to be relatively common in the Oban Hills. Chestnut-capped Flycatcher Erythrocercus mccallii was not uncommon in good forest. Previously apart from 1 record from the south-east, it had only been recorded on another occasion north of Oban. Lesser Bristlebills Bleda eximius notata, formally considered to occur only in East Africa, were seen on several occasions at both Old Aking and Old Ndebiji. Xavier’s Greenbul Phyllastrephus xavieri was heard and seen frequently in both Old Aking and Old Ndebiji. This species was only confirmed to occur in Nigeria in 1997. Three or four pairs of Yellow-footed Flycatchers Muscicapa sethsmithi were seen at both Old Aking and Old Ndebiji.

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