Working for birds in Africa


Wed, 02/06/2013 - 15:52 -- abc_admin

The following largely unconfirmed records have been published in recent Bulletins of the African Bird Club for information only.

from ABC Bulletin 26.1

Three Black-faced Qualfinches Ortygospiza atricollis were observed on the southern shore of Lake Togo on 1 July 2018; the species is known only at a few locations in the south, but is commoner in the north. Also there were least five Wilson’s Indigobirds Vidua wilsoni (BP).

from ABC Bulletin 24.2

During a brief visit to the north on 3–8 January 2017, three new species for the country were recorded: a Great Bittern Botaurus stellaris was photographed flying over a Typha bed at Tantigou marsh (Talwag dam near Dapaong); a few Ferruginous Ducks Aythya nyroca were also observed at Tantigou; and an African Spoonbill Platalea alba—a species recently discovered in adjacent northern Benin—flew over the road near Naboulgou (probably disturbed from a pan to the north). The large population of Purple Swamphens Porphyrio porphyrio, discovered in July 2016 at Tantigou, had produced numerous juveniles, which were (almost) full grown, rather tame and feeding in the open. Also there, some Lesser Moorhens Gallinula angulata were still present, with juveniles, as well as several Allen’s Gallinules P. alleni (RD & FD-L).

from ABC Bulletin 24.1

Field work carried out in March– April and July 2016, produced the following records of interest. Two new species for Togo were found: Congo Serpent Eagle Dryotriorchis spectabilis (in Togodo Faunal Reserve, in the south-east, on 28 March) and Long-billed Pipit Anthus similis (singing at Yikpa-Djigbé on the Danyi Plateau). On the Amou River near Atakpamé, at Koutchatcha, a Willcocks’s Honeyguide Indicator willcocksi was singing in a Ceiba tree and a Cameroon Indigobird Vidua camerunensis, still in nonbreeding plumage, next to others in partial dress, was imitating the songs and calls of Blue-billed Firefinch Lagonosticta rubricata (30 March). At the edge of Lac Nangbéto, Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius, Black-rumped Waxbill Estrilda troglodytes, Zebra Waxbill Amandava subflava and Black-faced Quailfinch Ortygospiza atricollis were all new records for the area. The dry forests of Kpessi and Samaï in the east produced new records of African Barred Owlet Glaucidium capense, Puvel’s Illadopsis Illadopsis puveli and Forest Robin Stiphrornis erythrothorax. Also there were a Willcocks’s Honeyguide and a Golden-tailed Woodpecker Campethera abingoni (at Kpessi) and a family of Black Sparrowhawks Accipiter melanoleucus (at Samaï), while Brown-backed Woodpecker Ipophilus obsoletus and White-fronted Black Chat Myrmecocichla albifrons appear to reach their southern range limits at Samaï. To the north, Blue-throated Roller Eurystomus gularis and Puvel’s Illadopsis were among the species added to the list of Abdoulaye Faunal Reserve. Still at Kpessi, Brown Sunbird Anthreptes gabonicus was recorded on the Mono River on 31 March (and also on the lower Mono opposite Monoto in March 2015)—the first record of this species in Togo involved one photographed (by MC) in mangrove near Aného in October 2014. While revisiting parts of the high plateau of western Togo, the second record of Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo Cercococcys olivinus for the country was obtained (cf. Bull. ABC 18: 241) in Assoukoko forest west of Diguengué. A Yellow-throated Cuckoo Chrysococcyx flavigularis and a Least Honeyguide Indicator exilis, two very local species, were singing at Aka, while at least two Blueshouldered Robin Chats Cossypha cyanocampter singing at Diguengué represent a slight northward range extension. Fazao-Malfakassa National Park was closed following a poaching scandal (involving officials), but a five-day visit to the edges at Malfakassa (north), Kouidah (southwest) and Fazao (east), produced c.50 additions to the list published in Bull. ABC 15: 203–213. Additions include many forest birds, such as White-spotted Flufftail Sarothrura pulchra, Black-throated Coucal Centropus leucogaster, Blue-throated Roller, Cassin’s Honeybird Prodotiscus insignis, Buff-spotted Woodpecker Campethera nivosa, Purple-throated Cuckooshrike Campephaga quiscalina, Little Grey Greenbul Eurillas gracilis, Cameroon Sombre Greenbul E. curvirostris, Yellow-whiskered Greenbul E. latirostris, Slender-billed Greenbul Stelgidillas gracilirostris, Baumann’s Greenbul Phyllastrephus baumanni, White-throated Greenbul P. albigularis, Grey-headed Bristlebill Bleda canicapillus, Forest Robin, Green Hylia Hylia prasina, Redcheeked Wattle-eye Dyaphorophyia blissetti and Puvel’s Illadopsis. Brown-headed Tchagra Tchagra australis and Blue-billed Firefinch were common in second growth. Of woodland species, the very local Spotted Creeper Salpornis spilonotus was found inside the park (Fazao gate) as well as near Fazao village, and two families of the rare Gambaga Flycatcher Muscicapa gambagae had near- or recently independent young at Fazao on 9 April. The future of the park is uncertain, as the Weber Foundation that managed it for 25 years was asked to leave in December 2015 and a tarmac road is planned to bisect the park from Fazao to the west. In the north, the first Streakybreasted Flufftail Sarothrura boehmi of the season was heard near Naboulgou on 13 July, and a substantial population of Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio was discovered in the Typha reedbeds of the large Talwag dam near Dapaong. White-bellied Bustard Eupodotis senegalensis was still common, even in woodland regrowth near villages (e.g. Tami). Near Natchitikpi, dense riparian forest on the Niantin, a tributary of the Kara River, was being cut but still held some African Goshawks Accipiter tachiro, Leafloves Pyrrhurus (Phyllastrephus) scandens, Tropical Boubous Laniarius aethiopicus and, more surprisingly, a pair of Marsh Tchagras Bocagia minuta in thickets on the edges, at 09°42’N. Leaflove was also confirmed from rank riparian forest on the Koumongou River at Naboulgou (in the former Kéran National Park), its northern limit in Togo (RD & FD-L). Speckle-fronted Weaver Sporopipes frontalis, of which two were observed several times near Tami, Savanes, in the extreme northeast, between 29 September and 9 October 2016, was another addition to the Togo list (IO, node/1291567).

from ABC Bulletin 23.1

In five weeks spent in the north, east and south-east in late April, September–October and December 2015, the following records appear to be of interest. In the north, Stripe-breasted Flufftail Sarothrura boehmi was found not uncommonly in moist grassland, with two singing in the Oti floodplain, south of Mango, on 18 September (one tape-recorded) and three at two sites 1–2 km south-west of Naboulgou on 19 September; the first records for the country were from Landa-Pozanda in the Kara Valley in 2009. Lesser Moorhen Gallinula angulata, previously considered as a probable passage migrant, was proven to breed in Togo, as small dependent chicks were observed at two places in the Oti floodplain near Mandouri on 16 September. A juvenile Levaillant’s Cuckoo Clamator levaillantii was begging from a group of Brown Babblers Turdoides plebejus on 1 December near the Kéran River; another juvenile was begging from a group of the same babbler species on the Oti River near Mandouri, and was joined momentarily by an older juvenile, which was chased by a babbler. Yellowbill Ceuthmochares aereus was found to breed in luxuriant riparian forest on the Kéran River near Naboulgou, a new locality and the northernmost to date—a pair was alarm-calling persistently and carrying small prey on 13 and 18 September. Rock-loving Cisticola Cisticola aberrans was encountered frequently in all rocky areas near and west of Dapaong (new localities). Yellow Penduline Tit Anthoscopus parvulus—not previously recorded in northern Togo—was discovered in several remnants of fairly dense woodland from near Naboulgou, in Galangachi and Barkoissi Forest Reserves north to near Mandouri. Red-billed Quelea Quelea quelea— apparently unrecorded from Togo until January 2010—was locally numerous north of 10°N, with hundreds feeding in flood plains and coming to drink in rivers and ponds from Mandouri to Dapaong, Mango and Koumongou on 2–7 December, including many still moulting out of breeding dress. Still in the north, the first Jambandu Indigobird Vidua raricola for Togo was identified on 6 December near Koumongou: its song included clear imitations of the calls of Zebra Waxbill Amandava subflava.

Unlike Kéran National Park, which is now almost totally converted to farmland, the Faunal Reserve of Abdoulaye, south-east of Sokode, is still extant, albeit degraded by fires, and some large patches of semi-evergreen forest hold an interesting avifauna, so far undescribed, including African Barred Owlet Glaucidium capense (found also near Bagou, south of the reserve, and in adjacent western Benin only days earlier—all first records east of the Mono River) and other forest species such as Ahanta Francolin Francolinus ahantensis, Black-throated Coucal Centropus leucogaster, Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill Bycanistes subcylindricus (apparently the only population of this species left in Togo), Piping Hornbill B. fistulator, Baumann’s Greenbul Phyllastrephus baumanni, Grey-headed Bristlebill Bleda canicapillus, Forest Robin Stiphrornis erythrothorax and Black-winged Oriole Oriolus nigripennis (19–20 October). Noteworthy species from adjacent woodland include Black-shouldered Nightjar Caprimulgus (pectoralis) nigriscapularis, Golden-tailed Woodpecker Campethera abingoni (only discovered in Togo in 2010, on the Kéran River), Yellow-winged Pytilia Pytilia hypogrammica and Togo Paradise Whydah Vidua togoensis. The most unexpected record was a pair of Brown-necked Parrots Poicephalus robustus on 20 October— the first observation in the country since a specimen was collected at Bismarckburg in the 19th century.

Togodo-Sud Faunal Reserve, in the south-east, left unexplored until recently, was visited on its eastern border from Benin (Mono River) on 22–24 March and western border (near Dévé) on 23–26 April. Despite much illegal logging, forest remnants still support a rich avifauna, including Ahanta Francolin, Western Bronze-naped Pigeon Columba iriditorques, Black-throated Coucal, Blue-throated Roller Eurystomus gularis, Piping Hornbill (numerous and breeding), Buff-spotted Woodpecker Campethera nivosa, nine forest greenbuls including Baumann’s and White-throated Phyllastrephus albigularis, Violet-backed Hyliota Hyliota violacea, Tit-hylia Pholidornis rushiae, Shrike Flycatcher Megabyas flammulatus, Red-cheeked Wattle-eye Dyaphorophyia blissetti, Brown Illadopsis Illadopsis fulvescens, Puvel’s Illadopsis I. puveli, and the only viable population in the country of Sabine’s Puffback Dryoscopus sabini. Several Guineo-Congolian forest species were also found in forest remnants between Abdoulaye and Togodo, e.g. on the Mono at Kpessi, on the Ogou River near Elavagnon and the Khra River east of Wahala, such as Ahanta Francolin, Black-throated Coucal (everywhere except Khra River) and various greenbuls including Baumann’s. Still in the south, a Willcocks’s Honeyguide Indicator willcocksi was observed at close range in a small patch of riparian forest on the Haho River near Lomé on 28 October—a range extension from the western hills. A pair of Long-legged Pipits Anthus pallidiventris was photographed at Adamé, on the lower Mono River; this is a new species for Togo, which is locally common on the coast on the Benin side of the border. The large Typha marsh north-east of Aného holds a large population of Little Rush Warblers Bradypterus baboecala, estimated at hundreds of singing birds/pairs; the species was discovered in Togo as recently as 2002, on the Zio River. Black-faced Quailfinches Ortygospiza atricollis were found on the nearly bare shores of Anié dam, a new locality. A population of Cameroon Indigobirds Vidua camerunensis was observed on the Ogou River at Elavagnon, in association with Blue-billed Firefinch Lagonosticta rubricata, both species singing in the same trees, with the indigobirds imitating songs and calls of the firefinch, on 22–23 October; this indigobird had been previously recorded only from the Kara region.

from ABC Bulletin 18.2

Forest patches on the Togo plateau visited in February 2010 (Klouto / Misahöhe) and elsewhere (Forêt Classée d’Assoukoko at 08° - 08°13’N along the Ghana border, south to Djodji, Bénali, Kougnohou, Kpété Béna, and Dzogbégan on the Danyi Plateau) in March - May 2011 for four weeks, produced many records of interest. Four days were also spent in Keran National Park in January 2010 and March 2011, and one day on the lower Mono River (Avévé) on 29 - 30 April 2011. With forest destruction increasing, Assoukoko is now the single largest block of rain forest in the country, at over 150 km², with c.100 km2 officially protected.

Eight species appear to be new for Togo: Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo Cercococcyx olivinus (one singing in Assoukoko forest on 25 March 2011); Willcocks’s Honeyguide Indicator willcocksi (singles singing near Agomé-Tomwé, Kpalimé, on 23 February 2010, at Assoukoko forest, Diguingué, on 22 March 2011, and near Kpété Béna on 1 April 2011); Golden-tailed Woodpecker Campethera abingoni (observed in riparian forest on both visits to Keran National Park); Kemp’s Longbill Macrosphenus kempi (common in thickets in Assoukoko forest, Djodji, Bénali and Klouto); Green Sunbird Anthreptes rectirostris (a male in forest near Klouto on 21 February 2010); Tiny Sunbird Cinnyris minullus (one singing and well seen at Klouto on 22 February 2010; also a few near Kpété Béna on 30 March and 1 April 2011: tape-recorded); Sooty Boubou Laniarius leucorhynchus (two pairs duetting near Klouto on 22 February 2010 and two pairs heard near Dzogbégan on 4 May 2011; one previous record considered unlikely and Red-billed Quelea Quelea quelea (flocks drinking in the Kéran River on 29 - 30 January 2010).

Other records of interest include the following. Nkulengu Rail Himantornis haematopus was heard from Assoukoko south to Kpété Béna (known from one old specimen). White-spotted Flufftail Sarothrura pulchra was heard commonly throughout the forest zone (three specimens). Yellow-throated Cuckoo Chrysococcyx flavigularis was heard and seen near Assoukoko and also tape-recorded 10 km east of Kougnohou (two specimens). A Barred Owlet Glaucidium capense was singing in ‘cocoa forest’ at Djodji, Kpété Béna. Black-shouldered Nightjar Caprimulgus nigriscapularis, previously known only from two specimens and a sight report, was heard at Assoukoko and Klouto. A White-bellied Kingfisher Alcedo leucogaster was observed in Assoukoko forest (collected once before). A small population of Yellow-throated Tinkerbird Pogoniulus subsulphureus was discovered around Kpété Béna and at Klouto (one aural record). A Rufous-sided Broadbill Smithornis rufolateralis was seen and tape-recorded in Assoukoko forest (two specimens). Western Bearded Greenbul Criniger barbatus was seen and heard near Klouto and at Dzogbégan (one specimen). Finsch’s Flycatcher Thrush Stizorhina finschi was found near Dikpéléou (north of Assoukoko), Kpété Béna and Klouto (one sight record). Forest Robin Stiphrornis erythrothorax, previously known from two specimens, was found commonly at all localities. Playback of its tape-recorded song brought a Blue-shouldered Robin Chat Cossypha cyanocampter into full view near Djodji; the species was also singing near Kpété Béna and Bénali (one specimen). Sharpe’s Apalis Apalis sharpii, previously known from a single sight record, was found commonly in Assoukoko forest and also at Djodji, Bénali, Dzogbégan and Klouto. White-browed Forest Flycatcher Fraseria cinerascens, discovered in Togo in 2005 was singing and seen along the Assoukoko River in Assoukoko forest. A pair of Little Grey Flycatchers Muscicapa epulata was seen near Kpété Béna (two sight records). Red-cheeked Wattle-eye Dyaphorophyia blissetti was found commonly in thickets (three records), whilst Puvel’s Illadopsis Illadopsis puveli was common throughout, with several tape-recorded (two records, one a specimen). Blue-throated Brown Sunbird Nectarinia cyanolaema was observed near Assoukoko and Kpété Béna, on mistletoes (one sight record). Birds sounding like Fiery-breasted Bush-shrikes Malaconotus  cruentus (collected once before) were heard commonly in Assoukoko forest, and also at Djodji, Bénali, Dzogbégan and Klouto. All four birds seen (at the latter two localities) had yellow underparts, with one and probably two, looking like Lagden’s Bush-shrike M. lagdeni (with spots on the wing-coverts, and an all-grey head respectively). More research is needed. Forest Chestnut-winged Starling Onychognathus fulgidus, previously known only from Misahohe, was found further north, with one at Dzogbégan and a pair at Assoukoko.

The known range of many species was extended north to Assoukoko forest, such as Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo Cercococcyx mechowi, Black-throated Coucal Centropus leucogaster, Blue-headed Coucal C. monachus, White-crested Hornbill Tropicranus albocristatus, Little Grey Andropadus gracilis, Cameroon Sombre A. curvirostris and Slender-billed Greenbuls A. gracilirostris, Simple Leaflove Chlorocichla simplex, Baumann’s Greenbul Phyllastrephus baumanni, Grey Longbill Macrosphenus concolor, Yellow-browed Camaroptera Camaroptera superciliaris, Many-coloured Bush-shrike Malaconotus multicolor, Red-billed Helmetshrike Prionops caniceps, Yellow-mantled Weaver Ploceus tricolor, Crested Malimbe Malimbus malimbicus and Chestnut-breasted Negrofinch Nigrita bicolor.

The lower Mono River (Avévé) is a new locality for several species, including Ahanta Francolin Francolinus ahantensis, Red-headed Lovebird Agapornis pullarius, Black-throated Coucal, Green-backed Woodpecker Campethera cailliautii, Cameroon Sombre Greenbul and Western Nicator Nicator chloris, despite the original forest having been almost entirely replaced with Elaeis palm plantations interspersed with small thickets. Square-tailed Drongo Dicrurus ludwigii, found commonly at all forest localities on the western plateau, was also observed in riparian forest in Keran National Park, a northerly extension. A few Fork-tailed Drongos D. adsimilis (sensu lato) occur very locally in the forest zone (e.g. Tomegbé to Kpété Béna, Klouto / Misahöhe), in farmbush with scattered large trees; the Berlin Museum holds specimens from Misahöhe and surroundings, some initially misidentified as Shining Drongo D. atripennis - the latter was not found.


On 18 October 2009, at least 245 African Openbills Anastomus lamelligerus flew south-west in small groups along the Zio River north of Lomé. The same day, a mixed flock of >800 terns was observed at the beach near Lomé harbour. The flock consisted of c.500 Common Terns Sterna hirundo, c.200 Royal Terns S. maxima and c.100 Sandwich Terns S. sandvicensis, with a few Black Terns Chlidonias niger.

Records from January - February 2007 include the following. Several single African Openbill Storks Anastomus lamelligerus were in the Haho River floodplain, south of Hahatoe, with a group of eight near a pond on 4 February, of which two were still present on 11th. Also there were a group of seven and another of four Lesser Black-winged Lapwings Vanellus lugubris. An adult Thick-billed Cuckoo Pachycoccyx audeberti was observed in gallery forest near Dzogbégan, on 2 February. In the north, two groups of about six Chestnut-bellied Starlings Lamprotornis pulcher were found along the road east of Gando, near the border with Benin, on 9 January.

White-browed Forest Flycatcher Fraseria cinerascens, observed in Fazao-Malfakassa National Park on 11 November 2005, constitutes an addition to the Togo list.

Another species (Little Rush-Warbler Bradypterus baboecala) additional to those listed by Cheke & Walsh (1996) has been reported for Togo (Bulletin of the African Bird Club Volume 10 Number 1 March 2003). A second record of Cut-throat Finch Amadina fasciata, the first for the wet season, was reported from the Kéran National Park (Malimbus Volume 20 Number 2 October 1998). Records of unusual species such as Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus, Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus and Ashy Flycatcher Muscicapa caerulescens have been reported (Bulletin of the African Bird Club Volume 9 Number 1 March 2002) and an immature Kurrichane Buttonquail Turnix sylvaticus lepuranus was killed at Atakpamé in December 2003, the first record for the south of Togo.

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