Monday, 18 February 2019

Back in Blighty

Been writing up my Ghana trip since I got back last week as life went on back here. Luckily it's been a quiet week so not too much to report on. The main developments have been plenty of restoration action occurring at the farmlands including some good lake edge profiling carried out on the Southern Lake and a decent bit of meadow management work on the Southern Mound. Work seems to have stopped on the wet grassland (because it is too wet apparently) but planning permission has also gone in for hides and the cycle path. So it could be forgiven for actually thinking that there is some real progress being made by Viridor (just waiting for the negative bomb shell to hit!) . 

On the birding front at the farmlands the best of the dead spell was a Greylag and a Great Crested Grebe last week (NFYs) and a couple of moths included a Buttoned Snout (a local scarcity).

Have been at the Oxford base this weekend and visited Otmoor a couple of times. Ebird list HERE. Nothing particularly rare but a pretty incredible spectacle of migratory restless flocks of Golden Plovers , good numbers of waterfowl and some first signs of Spring including singing Skylarks , a displaying Curlew and a couple of Redshanks in the starting blocks. Unfortunately despite a scattering of summer migrants (and moth migrants) across the country in the recent southerly airflow and annual 'Fools Spring' - I couldn't find any migrants in our searches. 

Back in Olde Engerland 
 Great Spotted Woodpecker at Otmoor 
 Restless flocks of Golden Plover and Lapwing circling over Otmoor- presumably preparing to migrate back 
 Still good numbers of Wigeon- also 4 Pintail on Big Otmoor 
 Part of the Greylag x Barnacle Goose family (also 4 pure Barnacle Geese) 
 Greylag x Canada Goose (second from left). There's always an odd mix of Cat C Geese on Otmoor, in fact there is some serious Cat C Waterfowl phenomenon in Oxfordshire overall with 60 Snow Geese on the loose, Barnacle Geese, fields full of Canada Geese,  feral White-fronts and Pink-feet at Port Meadow, stacks of Red-crested Pochards at Standlake Pits and loads of hybrid Geese and genetically mutated 'farmyard-type' Greyalgs chucked into the mix also with a dollop of hybrid Aythya ducks and a leucisitc Pochard. Also least we forget that Greylag Goose originally occurred over Southern England before it was hunted out so the re-introduced birds now are arguably Cat A birds that have been returned to their natural range. All adds up to create a rather bizarre wildfowl landscape with flocks of overhead V-formations and geese feeding in stubble echoing wild and romantic scenes from the past but instead of the players being wild pedigree Arctic wanderers - they are plastic and mongrel counterfeits of the Anthropocene. 

Meanwhile Back in the Crack 
 Lake edge profiling has involved removal of brambles, grubbing out of willot and gentle grading of the edge- it is already attracting grazing waterfowl including the odd Wigeon. 
 Oak Beauty and Buttoned Snout from the Beddington trap (nothing at all in the Oxford trap) 

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Ghana 2019 People pics

Final post for Ghana 2019, here's a few holiday snaps. 

 This is how all airlines should be! 

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Ghana 2019 Sounds

Here's a few enigmatic sounds of the Ghanian Rain Forest.  The Soundscape is a 2 minute sample of the incredible forest chorus (how many species can you identify- I'm still working on it) .

An out of range indiviudal which we picked up on call 

In order Little Green Bulbul, Tambourine Dove, Common Bulbul, Blue-spotted Wood Dove, Green Hylia, Grey-backed Camaroptera, Yellow-throated Tinkerbird, Deidric Cuckoo, Pied Crow, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, 

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Ghana 2019 Moths

We did a bit of moth trapping on this trip but mainly concentrated on birds and butterflies, mainly because we don't have many resources to identify the moths. However got a few here to try and identify to get us started. I've been recommended this website by Martin Honey AFRICAN MOTHS so will try and make a start. 
 Oleander Hawkmoth 
 Tiger moth sp 
 Silk moth sp 

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Ghana 2019 Butterflies

We had approx 110 species of butterfly in the week. Here's a few of the most photogenic ones and most of the other species are in the album (below).  Some great names in there - Policemans, Playboys, Pansys, Jokers and Wagglewings. 

Isaac Ntakor is the butterfly tour leader and expert for GHANA BIRDING TOUR ADVENTURES so thanks a lot to Isaac for the identifications. GHANA BUTTERFLIES FACEBOOK PAGE HERE

Western Blue Beauty 
Western Yellow-banded Swallowtail 
Citrus Swallowtail
Blue Leaf Pansy
Common Red Glider
Tentyris Forrester
Large Fairy Hairstreak
White-banded Red-eye 
Waggle wings (Tiny Grass Blue)
Hebes Forrester
Large Orange Playboy
Common Brown Playboy
Bouvier's Elfin 
Peter's Demon Charaxes
African Joker

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Ghana 2019

Just back from an epic week in Ghana. We concentrated on two sites, Bobiri Forest for two days and four days at Manso Nkwanta forest with a quick look at Shai Hills en route.

Ebird list from Manso Nkwanta  HERE  . This is a relatively unexplored area so the main aim of the trip was to set up an Ebird recording area and start recording the birds of the area. We also recorded the butterflies and did a bit of moth trapping at Bobiri too. Hope to return to this target area on a regular basis to carry out further recording. 

The team this year was Robert and Isaac Ntakor as our guides ( GHANA BIRDING TOUR ADVENTURES)  , Sue Healey, Roger Payne and myself.


 White-throated Bee-eater- up to 150 of these in the Wetland (Mine workings) 
 Black Bee-eater 
 Little Bee-eaters 
 Chestnut Wattle-eye 
 African Piculet 
 Brown-crowned Tchagra 
 Marsh Tchagra 
 Vieillot's Barbets 
 Speckled Tinkerbird 
 Blue-headed Coucal
 Honey Buzzard 
Immature Cassin's Hawk Eagle 
 Plain-backed Pipit 
 Greater Swamp Warbler- mainly confined to the south east coast but there have been several records from the forest/transition zone border areas 
 Common Red Glider 
 Blue Leaf Pansy 
 Black Mamba- we also had Green Mamba, Green Leaf Snake, Spitting Cobra and the unidentified snakes at Bobiri (see below) 
 Gambian Sun Squirrel 
Red-legged Sun Squirrel 
 View looking north over farm bush mosiac from the miner's road ridge 
 View over the wetland from the ridge 
The Jungle Ice Cream Man- this track was the main track to farm communities across the range complete with a regular flow of bush motorbike taxis and the jungle ice cream man who walks along the forest tracks sounding his horn (visible in his hand in this pic) and selling ice cream to the local cocoa farmers who are isolated miles away from the nearest village. A most welcomed surprise!  


 Black Dwarf Hornbill 
 Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill 
 Grey Parrot - still a small population at Bobiri despite widespread persecution (trapped for the bird trade) 
 Brown Nightjar 
 Male Narina Trogon 
 African Emerald Cuckoo 
 Western Blue Beauty 
 Western Yellow-banded Swallowtail 
 Citrus Swallowtail 
 Drinkers- several hundred of these along the paths 
 Oleander Hawkmoth
 Silk moth sp
 Tiger moth sp
 Hawk moth sp 
Moth sp 
 Snake sp 
Roger and Sue at Bobiri
Setting a butterfly trap up with Isaac (Sue Healey) 


 Yellow-throated Longclaw 
 Greater Honeyguide
 Olive Baboon 
Callithrix Monkey 
Another great trip to Ghana (more to follow on the 110+ Butterfly species we recorded next and also some sound recordings). Looking forward to the next one where we plan to get deeper into the Manso Nkwanta forest so need to return with machetes and a Land rover next year. (Sue Healey) 

Previous Trip Reports