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WEATHER:  all day sunshine, not a drop of rain!!!

We left the hotel at our usual time of 7:30am and headed out to the aiprort and beyond to Abuko National Park. We parked the bus near the Reserve but went into the rice fields first, before the visiting Abuko.

Three hours went by very quickly, we followed narrow tracks around the rice paddy’s stopping every few meters to watch a bird, a dragonfly or a colourful Butterfly. Last night we had discussed the prospects of seeing Painted Snipe, Black Heron and the Dark Blue Pansy Butterfly, one of the first butterflies we stopped to look was a Dark Blue Pansy, what a stunning species.

Dark Blue Pansy

The dragonflies were quite spectacular too, but without a field guide we could not name them! The birds were a different story, we were constantly looking this way and that, as Modou called out the species. I can't name them all, there isn’t time, but here are a few of our favourites: Bearded Barbets (Olivaceous Warbler seen whilst watching the barbets), Black Crake, Striated Heron, Little Bittern, Lizard Buzzard, Blue-bellied Roller, Northern Red Bishop, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Senegal Parrot, Violet Turaco and our first Piapiacs (a group of 15).

strange looking? Bearded Barbet

We got great views of many other species before we turned around and headed back to the bus. A short trip along the main road found us at the entrance to the National Park. After the hot and humid rice fields it was a relief in the much cooler forest and we had a very pleasant visit.

Lamin rice fields

There was very little on show until we reached the visitor's centre, where a raised viewing area overlooks a large pool. We saw nothing on the water, but over the water we saw a few 'black swallows' called Fanti Sawings, they were diving down to drink. 

male Red-bellied Flycatcher

A fruiting tree held quite a few Plantain Eaters, a few Long-tailed Glossy Starlings and two Violet Turacos, which promptly flew off before we even got to the top of the stairs!

From the viewing platform we saw Black-headed Heron and apart from more Plantain Eaters we saw little else. Moving onto to the main track we worked our way around the lake looking for woodland species and it wasn’t long before Modou found us a few.

African Paradise Flycatcher showed fairly well, but Little Greenbul, Wattle-eye and Yellow-breasted Apalis we hard to get onto in the canopy.

Wattle-eye taken by Tony Moore

The same went for more sightings of Violet Turaco, fleeting glimpses was all we had. The best birds we found on this expedition was the Western Bluebill, after several attempts of tracking them down we finally got good views of two them. The uncommon Collared Sunbird was another sighting of note and whilst we were watching it a Melodious Warbler appeared.

this is all we got of the Western Bluebill - Tony's record shot.

At one pot we heard wood doves calling and Modous spotted a couple through the leaf foliage, it was a wonderful bit of skilled guiding. We watched the pair of Blue-spotted Wood Doves for while, they were so hard to see, I don’t know how he found them!

Lesser Honeyguide - by Tony Moore

The butterflies were amazing too, lots of them flitting about in the late morning sunshine, swallowtails, acreas, orange and scarlet-tips, African Tiger, Painted Lady and lots of Common Dotted Borders.

For lunch we drove to Lamin Lodge, I am sure quite a few of you will remember this place. Of wooden construction it looks as though it could fall down at any moment!! It was great there, we had a buffet lunch and enjoyed the views of the river and welcomed the cooling breeze.

I bet many of you will remember walking across a rickety old wooden bridge to the Lamin Lodge

Lamin Lodge from the back door - nothing is perpendicular

A short walk after lunch near the lodge produced several new sightings, Modou led us to a tree with several species found in it. Mouse-brown and Beautiful Sunbirds, Yellow-fronted Canary and Northern Puffbird were identified. Along the approach track to the lodge we found Black-winged Bishop and a red-billed Quelea with Village Weavers.

Mouse-brown Sunbird - by Tony Moore

For the final part of the day we drove back to the Abuko National Park and visited the photographer’s hide found at the far side of the reserve. It was wonderful sitting there in the cool, the bird movement was constant and prolific.

Black-Winged Bishop

Black-necked Weaver’s were the most numerous species along with Bronze Mannikin and of course the doves. we added Black-billed Wood Dove to the list along with Lavender Waxbill. Other species seen well were: Blue-breasted and Pygmy Kingfishers, Snowy-capped Robin-chat, Little Greenbul, Red-bellied and a hybrid Paradise Flycatcher, Wattle-eye, Red-billed Firefinch and several more species. It was the Western Bluebill that we most wanted to see and it never showed up.

This Blue-breasted Kingfisher came very close to the hide

Just before we left a pair of Violet Turacos were seen outside of the hide but they came down to drink. It was after 5pm now and we needed to get back to the hotel intime for dinner at 7pm.

a huge Monitor Lizard taken from the hide by Tony Moore