Cameroon Trip Report - March / April 2008 - Part 3 of 4

Subject: Cameroon Trip Report - March / April 2008 - Part 3 of 4
Date: Fri, 29 Aug 2008 17:59:06 +1000
CAMEROON – March / April 2008 - Part 3

The West, again

Bamenda Highlands

So, at 4am on the 8th, we checked into the Ayaba Hotel in Bamenda and went 
to bed.  That morning was the only morning we were allowed a sleep-in on 
the trip.  Later in the morning, we departed for the Bamenda Highlands. In 
fact, these were mostly cleared, with only a few remnant pockets of 
vegetation for the mostly endangered birds to cling to.  We spent the rest 
of the day in one of these pockets.

We were, however, very successful, finding Bannerman’s Turaco, African 
Cuckoo, Blue-headed Cuckoo, Tullberg’s Woodpecker, Black-collared and Grey 
Apalis, Bangwa Scrub Warbler, Banded Wattle-eye, Ruwenzori Hill Babbler, 
Neumann’s Starling and Bannerman’s Weaver.

Next day, we headed south for the fabled Mount Kupe.

Mount Kupe and the Bakossi Mountains

There are lots of endemics and special birds around Mount Kupe.  We didn’t 
find many of them.  The habitat looked terrific, but the birds were few 
and far between.  The birds we did hear calling did not respond to our 
tapes.  In fact, at this point, on reflection, we decided that pretty much 
nothing had come into our calls.  And, here, that was a problem as the 
terrain was very difficult and the trees quite large and tall.  When we 
tried to locate calling birds, we usually failed.  So, after two full 
days, we had quite a small bird list and not many specialities.

We did see Yellowbill, Guinea Turaco, Bar-tailed Trogon, Blue-breasted 
Bee-eater, Speckled Tinkerbird, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Green-backed 
Woodpecker, Grey-headed Broadbill, Preuss’ and Forest Swallows, 
Square-tailed Sawwing, Mountain Wagtail, Grey and Petit’s Cuckoo-shrikes, 
Yellow-whiskered and Grey-headed Bulbuls, Black-capped Apalis, 
Buff-throated Apalis, Yellow Longbill, Black-capped Woodland-Warbler, 
Yellow-footed Flycatcher, White-bellied Robin-Chat, African 
Shrike-flycatcher, Black-necked Wattle-eye, Black-headed and Bate’s 
Paradise-Flycatchers, Red-eyed and Pink-footed Puffbacks, Waller’s 
Starling, Forest Weaver, Red-headed Malimbe and White-breasted and 
Chestnut-breasted Negrofinches.  We heard Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, 
Gabon Woodpecker, Crossley’s Ground-Thrush, White-throated 
Mountain-Babbler and Grey-green, Many-coloured, Mount Kupe and 
Green-breasted Bushshrikes, which was extremely disappointing as many of 
these were highly desirable species that we wanted to see.  We saw no 
mammals in what looked to be excellent forest.

Our accommodation at the Nyasoso Women’s Co-operative (I am not sure how 
we qualified to stay here) was the most basic of the trip.  The lack of 
hot water was very noticeable as the cold water was very cold.  But, the 
food and beer remained presentable.  However, after two days here, we left 
quite disappointed and moved on to our last birding site at Korup.

Getting there, though, was a trial.  It had rained heavily the night 
before and the dirt track, which was marked as a major road on the map, 
was in terrible condition.  An accident held us up for three hours as a 
log truck jack-knifed on a slippery bridge and blocked the road.  And we 
had to be pushed through one village as the road was so slippery with mud 
over 10 centimetres deep.  Driving into Mundemba, where we stayed before 
heading into Korup, was also trying as it took about five hours to drive 
the 140 kilometres.  We did see Pin-tailed Whydah there.

Korup National Park

Korup is lowland rainforest, which looked brilliant.  It was coolish but 
very humid in the forest.  We were to camp in Korup and you had to walk in 
as there is a major river at the entrance to the Park with only a 
pedestrian bridge for access and, therefore, no roads.  So, quite early, 
we set off on the eight-odd kilometre walk to Rengo Camp.  We had about 15 
porters carrying in all our gear, including luggage, tents, cooking 
utensils and food and drinks (some of which were beer and wine).

There should have been lots of birds and other animals in this park but, 
unfortunately, it was very quiet, like Kupe.  I am not sure why, but I 
have to presume it is, at least partly, because of hunting and poaching.

We were only a few kilometres from the border with Nigeria and we met 
quite a few people on the forest tracks who were obviously moving through 
the border. 

The major target for this site, in fact for the whole trip, was 
Grey-necked Rockfowl.  It is truly iconic among African birds.  It is a 
quite large passerine which nests in mud nests on large rocky outcrops in 
the forest during the rainy season.  It is almost impossible to find away 
from its nests and access in the wet season is extremely difficult.  It 
looks brilliant and you should have a look at its photos in any references 
you have or on the Internet.  For all the birders on the trip, including 
the two guides, it was to be the bird of the trip – if we saw it. 

This bird is very shy and anyone looking for it at the nest is quite 
exposed.  The 12 of us had to sit immovable and silent on a small rocky 
outcrop near a nesting site for up to three hours, hoping a Rockfowl would 
visit its nest in the evening to inspect it or perhaps refurbish it.  This 
was only a possibility as it was not yet the wet season.

So, on our first evening, we sat on a rock in the rain waiting ……  In 
fact, we were extremely lucky as, after only an hour or so, a Rockfowl 
flew in, inspected its nest, hopped on the ground and gave us a good, but 
brief, view for about 10 seconds before flying off.  We decided to wait 
longer to see if it came back and, after another hour, it duly returned 
for another 10 or 15 seconds in a second showing.  The whole group was 
elated as the major birding highlight had been achieved.

In our two days in Korup, we did see some very nice birds, including 
White-spotted Flufftail, Rock Pratincole, Black Cuckoo, Bare-cheeked 
Trogon, African Pied, Piping and Yellow-casqued Hornbills, Buff-spotted 
Woodpecker, Rufous-sided Broadbill, Ansorge’s, Spotted, White-throated, 
Icterine, Xavier’s and White-bearded Greenbuls, Green-tailed Bristlebill, 
Eastern Bearded-Greenbul, Fire-crested Alethe, African Forest-Flycatcher, 
White-spotted and Yellow-bellied Wattle-eyes, Blue-headed 
Crested-Flycatcher, Pale-breasted Illadopsis, Brown Illadopsis, 
Scarlet-tufted and Tiny Sunbirds, Western Black-headed Oriole, Shining 
Drongo and Rachel’s, Red-vented, Grey’s and Crested Malimbes.  We also 
heard Sjostedt’s Owlet and Red-billed Dwarf and Black-casqued Hornbills. 
But, despite this list, it was very hard to find any birds with any 
regularity and the number of species seen was quite low.  We found no 
mammals, which was quite surprising.  We did hear some monkeys but they 
moved away very quickly, indicating that mammals might be hunted in this 

We also had close encounters with African bees here as they congregated in 
quite high numbers in the clearings, particularly at our camp.  If you 
managed to annoy one, it stung quite quickly.  Luckily, I got on better 
with the bees than some of the others.  Jan thinks I have understated the 
bee problem.  This is possibly because more of them made friends with him 
than me and at least one bit him in a quite sensitive area.

I was quite keenly taking photos of birds, mammals, people and scenery on 
this trip.  In the first half of the trip in the north, I amassed quite a 
good number of photos, including many of the birds.  However, in the 
second part in the west, the number of bird photos went down considerably 
as the number of birds dried up and the rainforest habitat prevented me 
from getting near any birds in any reasonable light.  In fact, in Korup, 
it was impossible to keep the camera gear dry and, when I was trying to 
take photos, the lens was invariably fogged.


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