TUJERENG WOODLANDS – BRUTFUT WOODS – TANJI BIRD RESERVE
WEATHER: very hot, humid all day. Temp mid 30’s.
Tujereng used to be a favourite of mine, once a dense woodland it was cleared for logging and then just left. The few remaining trees stood like defunct sentinels overlooking a large area of scrub, it was packed with birds, including woodpeckers, despite the lack of trees. But now, there is a lot of development on the land, the scrub has grown and it is difficult to see many species. The White-fronted Black-chat was our main target species and was always easy to see, today we hoped to find it again.
Modou found two new species for our list within a few minutes of stepping down from the bus! First a Singing Cisticola was tracked down by its song, it showed well and then a pair of Yellow Penduline Tits were seen feeding in tall stems behind the cisticola, wow! A nice start to the day. We then had a close encounter with a pair of Northern Crombecs.
Walking further along the track we noted several other species already on our list but always nice to see. Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, Bronze Mannikin and a beautiful male Splendid Sunbird to name but a few. Raptors began to appear, we saw an Osprey sitting in tree with its catch of the day, Yellow-billed Kites and Pied Crows were lingering hoping to steal the catch. Hooded Vultures we ever present in the sky above us and lower down there was always a criss-crossing of Plantain-eaters, Hornbills and starlings.
Splendid Sunbird taken by Tony Moore
A Black-winged Kite was a nice find by Steve and a little later a pair of Lanner Falcons circled above us. We spent some time in a field of Melons looking for the Black-chat, we did find Whinchat, Woodchat Shrike and a Common Whitethroat, as well as a Black-crowned Tchagra, Little Bee-eaters and our first Pied-winged Swallows of the trip. Scanning the distant trees from the melon field we found a Chestnut-bellied Starling, another first for the trip.
Lanner Falcon taken by Tony Moore
Walking further along the tracks we found a second Woodchat Shrike, some very close Little Bee-eaters and many sunbirds, Beautiful, Variable and more Splendid Sunbirds. Modou called out Cardinal and fine Spotted Woodpeckers which we got glimpses but we never had a sniff of White-fronted Black-chat, perhaps they have moved on as the habitat has changed so much?
Fine-spotted Woodpecker - taken by Tony later in the day at Brufut.
Around 11:30am it was starting to get hot so we made our way back to the bus, we then drove into Brufut town to buy lunch supplies. It was 1pm when we pulled up at the bird-watching centre at Brufut. When I say centre I mean a straw and wood hut, with a covered concrete seating area and a cleared area with drinking water for birds.
Yellow-throated Leaf-love - by Tony Moore
We sat drinking cold drinks and alter eating our picnic lunch whilst many species came down to drink, we spent 3 hours there. Some of the best sightings included both species of Turacos, Green and Violet (unfortunately for me I missed the Green Turaco whilst I visited the facilities, yes, they do have a toilet there).
The Green Turaco, the bird I wanted to see the most - it appear when I had popped out of the room. Taken by Tony Moore
Violet Turaco - I did see this one - taken by Tony Moore
Other goodies included Greater Honey Guide, Grey-headed Bristlebill, Yellow-throated Leaf-love, Snowy-crowned Robin-chat, Lavender Waxbills and both Blue-spotted and black-billed Wood Doves. A shikra came down and sat near the main drinking bowls for a while.
a great shot of the Shrikra by Tony Moore, look at those eyes!
It was around 4pm when we left and before we went back to the hotel we spent an hour over at Tanji Bird reserve. The open woodland dune-system lies next to the huge Tangi Beach and shoreline and can be full of birds.
Red-billed Hornbill at Tanji
In perfect late-afternoon sunlight and a gentle sea-breeze we enjoyed an hour-long walk finding many species. The sky was always busy with raptors, gulls, terns, swifts, swallows and bee-eaters. The only new species for our list was Pallid Swift, but we enjoyed the other sights and sounds. Blue-cheeked, Swallowtail and Little Bee-eaters were ever present, as were Hornbills, sunbirds, Caspian Terns and Grey-headed Gulls. An Osprey flew over a couple of times too.
We finished up at 5pm and drove back to hotel in good time for our 7pm dinner and bird-log. Our species count now is around 260, the usual count for this trip is between 280 - 290 so we have a little way still to go in the next three days.