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Scot Harvarth
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Pied Kingfisher                       Ceryle rudis

Strangely, just two all trip, on a river near Freetown.

 

Little Bee-eater                       Merops pusillus

Two near Zimmi.

 

White-throated Bee-eater                   Merops albicollis

Widespread, we had up to 20 on several days.

 

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater                      Merops persicus

8 seen near Guma then 5 next day and 6 on Dec 29.

 

Broad-billed Roller                 Eurystomus glaucurus

Seen on 5 days, the first near the East Freetown shanty, max 4 on Jan 5.

 

White-crested Hornbill                       Tockus albocristatus

One flew across the Moa R. as we were on the boat, and luckily I was able to call it back for a super perched view, what a strange bird this is and what a great voice. I only had a brief flight view in Semliki before.

 

Black Dwarf Hornbill                       Tockus hartlaubi

My penultimate African hornbill, a perched bird by a small mixed flock on Tiwai on Jan 5 gave super looks and was one of my birds of the trip. What a shame that we dipped on Brown-cheeked.

 

Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill                 Tockus camurus

I taped one in on Tiwai, a nice lifer for Joan and a favourite of mine, with fantastic voice and weird colouration.

 

African Pied Hornbill             Tockus fasciatus

The commonest hornbill, seen throughout, sometimes in small flocks of 6-10 birds.

 

Piping Hornbill                        Ceratogymna fistulator

Fairly common in forest, max. 10 on Tiwai.

 

Yellow-casqued Hornbill                  Ceratogymna elata

This big hornbill was a major want of mine and it was fairly widespread in forest. The first were 6 scoped and flying up at Guma Dam on Dec. 28, then 2 at Kambui North, and pairs on Tiwai.

 

Naked-faced Barbet              Gymnobucco calvus

One by Guma Village on Dec 28, then 3 at Kambui South Dec. 31 and a flock of 11 in a fruiting tree at Kambui North on Jan. 1. Where oh where was the supposedly common Bristle-nosed Barbet?

 

Speckled Tinkerbird                         Pogoniulus scolopaceus

Widespread in small numbers, we saw 4 birds on 3 days

 

Yellow-throated Tinkerbird                Pogoniulus subsulphureus

Two at Kambui North on Jan. 1.

 

Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird                 P. bilineatus

One seen at Guma Dam and one on the peninsula.

 

Hairy-breasted Barbet             Tricholaema hirsuta

One at Tiwai on Jan. 3.

 

Little Green Woodpecker                 Campethera maculosa

One at Guma Dam on Dec 28 and a male at Bumbuna Dec. 30, a West African endemic.

 

Melancholy Woodpecker      Dendropicos lugubris

A pair gave great looks by the entrance to the chimp sanctuary on Dec. 29, and there was a pair at Kambui North.

 

 

Fire-bellied Woodpecker      Dendropicos pyrrhogaster

One was seen nicely and taped back at Tiwai on Jan 5.

 

Sand Martin                Hirundo riparia

A few around Tiwai.

 

Barn Swallow             H. rustica

Small nos. of this migrant were seen in the more open habitats. Still need H. lucida!

 

Red-chested Swallow             H. semirufa

Just one seen on the very first day near Freetown.

 

White-throated Blue Swallow                        Hirundo nigrita

Two by the girder bridge on the river near Kenema en route to Zimmi, and a couple around Tiwai, all seen on rocks in the river. I walked 22 km for this one in Semliki!

 

Pied-winged Swallow                        Hirundo leucosoma

It reminded me of Pearl-breasted Swallow but with big white patches on the secondaries, a very striking species that seems very scarce; we only saw 3 on Dec 29 at a site near Regent Town.

 

Lesser-striped Swallow                       Cecropis abyssinica

Fairly common around Freetown area, max. 30 in one day.

 

Preuss's Cliff Swallow                      Petrochelidon preussi

Two over the savanna by the Pied-winged Swallows, with a probable seen the day before en route to Guma, and then one near Kenema.

 

Common House Martin                      Delichon urbica

Forty near Bumbuna on Dec. 30.

 

Square-tailed Saw-wing                    Psalidoprocne nitens

Two at Guma Dam on Dec 28 and 2 at Gola East.

 

Fanti Saw-wing                       Psalidoprocne obscura

A common bird, far more so than P. nitens, we saw 6 at Guma dam, 30 next day there, 10 at Bumbuna and 10 near Bo.

 

Blue Cuckoo-shrike              Coracina azurea

A male at Gola East in poor light on Jan. 4, sat up for ages atop a tree.

 

African Pied Wagtail              Motacilla aguimp

Just a few on river rocks around Tiwai.

 

Yellow Wagtail                       M. flava

Singles at Bumbuna and Kenema.

 

Yellow-throated Longclaw                 Macronyx croceus

Two were at the Pied-winged Swallow site at Regent Town.

 

Plain-backed Pipit                   Anthus leucophrys

One near Guma Village and 4 near Bo.

 

Common Bulbul                      Pycnonotus barbatus

Widespread.

 

Little Greenbul                        Andropadus virens

One at the prinia-site at Bumbuna and one at Tiwai, but often heard.

 

Little Grey Greenbul               Andropadus gracilis

Greenbuls were the most numerous forest birds, especially Little A. virens, but were difficult to i.d. unless seen or heard well. This species was seen at Guma Dam, Bumbuna and Tiwai.

 

Ansorge's Greenbul     Andropadus ansorgei

One was at Kambui North.

 

Slender-billed Greenbul                      Andropadus gracilirostris

Seen at Guma Dam, Gola East, and Tiwai.

 

Yellow-whiskered Bulbul       Andropadus latirostris

Seen at Guma Dam and Kambui North, with a juv. being fed at the former site.

 

[Golden Greenbul                   Calyptocichla serina]

A single with a pinkish bill seen briefly at Kambui South was almost certainly this species.

 

Honeyguide Greenbul                         Baeopogon indicator

Two very responsive at Kambui South and one on Tiwai.

 

Spotted Greenbul                    Ixonotus guttatus

A single on Jan. 2, then 3 next day at Gola East.

 

Simple Greenbul/Leaflove                Chlorocichla simplex

The first were two at Guma Dam on Dec. 28, then two birds were seen at Bumbuna and Tiwai and it was heard at Gola East.

 

Swamp Palm Greenbul                       Thescelocichla leucopleura

One from the boat on the Guma River, then 3 at Gola East.

 

Icterine Greenbul                  Phyllastrephus icterinus

Two at Kambui South on Dec. 31. I’ve seen the very similar Xavier’s Greenbul in Semliki.

 

Common (Red-tailed) Bristlebill                    Bleda syndactyla

One on Tiwai Is.

 

Green-tailed Bristlebill *                     Bleda eximia

Heard at Guma and Kambui South. If the Ugandan subspecies is split this becomes a tick.

 

Grey-headed Bristlebill                     Bleda canicapilla

The last tick of the trip was this West African endemic, at the chimp sanctuary woodland before we got evicted on Jan 7. Seen well as it foraged among the leaf litter.

 

Red-tailed Greenbul               Criniger calurus

One seen nicely at Gola East.

 

Yellow-bearded Greenbul                Criniger olivaceus

A single was at Guma Dam on Dec 28 with a feeding flock.

 

Western (Yellow-spotted) Nicator *              Nicator chloris

Heard at Guma Dam.

 

Finsch's Flycatcher-Thrush             Neocossyphus finschii

One at Guma Dam Dec. 28, then singles on two dates on Tiwai.

 

African Thrush                        Turdus pelios

One at Guma Dam and 4 near Regent Town, with two there later.

 

White-tailed Alethe               Alethe  diademata

Fantastic close views of two of this split from Fire-crested Alethe (A. castanea) at Guma Dam on Dec 28, the white in the tail being quite striking.

 

Brown-chested Alethe                        Alethe poliocephala

Two at Guma Dam, where sympatric with White-tailed Alethe, and one there Jan 7.

 

Tawny-flanked Prinia             Prinia subflava

One at Bumbuna was it for the trip!

 

Sharpe's Apalis                      Apalis sharpii

Common by voice but only a few sightings as mostly high in canopy. My first were at Kambui North on Jan 1 when we saw 3 very well, and I saw males on Tiwai too.

 

Oriole Warbler                      Hypergerus atriceps

A great bird, one of the stars of the trip, the first time I’ve been in its range. It was singing like a thrush in bamboo by the stream at the East Freetown shanty. The white scaling on the bluish black head was quite well marked and it is a surprisingly large species.

 

Green-backed Camaroptera                Camaroptera brachyura

One at Kambui North.

 

Moustached Grass Warbler                 Melocichla mentalis

One on the track near Bumbuna on Dec 30.

 

Senegal Eremomela                 Eremomela pusilla

A very nice look at this fairly striking Eremomela at Bumbuna on Dec 30. My first sighting since 1980.

 

Green Crombec                       Sylvietta virens

One at Kambui North on Jan. 1.

 

Green Hylia                 Hylia prasina

Commonly heard, and seen at Tiwai, Gola East and Guma Dam.

 

Willow Warbler                       Phylloscopus trochilus

Small numbers seen around Regent Town and Bumbuna, also at Tiwai.

 

Garden Warbler                      Sylvia borin

One at Regent Town was a nice find of a species I’d not seen for ages.

 

Northern Black Flycatcher                  Melaenornis edolioides

One was at Bumbuna.

 

African Forest-Flycatcher                   Fraseria ocreata

One at Guma Dam was the only record.

 

White-browed Forest-Flycatcher                 Fraseria cinerascens

One from the boat on the Moa River in riparian fringing bushes gave good looks, an unexpected pick-up.

 

Ussher's Flycatcher               Muscicapa ussheri

Two of this West African endemic at Guma Dam on Dec 28, perched high on dead snags, then two more on Jan. 2 at Gola East.

 

Cassin's Flycatcher                  Muscicapa Cassini

One on riverine rocks at the Kenema girder bridge and one at the Moa River.

 

Pied Flycatcher                       Ficedula hypoleuca

One at Bumbuna and 1 at Kambui North, were both female plumaged.

 

Snowy-crowned Robin-chat               Cossypha niveicapilla

Two along the stream by the East Freetown shanty were our only record.

 

Whinchat                     Saxicola rubetra

Two at the Regent Town savanna scrub, one at Bumbuna and one near Kenema.

 

(Western) Forest Robin                       Stiphrornis erythrothorax

A nice view of one in the forest on Tiwai, taped in. Sinclair splits this from S. xanthogaster of Congo and Uganda, so might be a tick at some point.

 

African Shrike-flycatcher                   Megabyas flammulatus

A pair in forest, Western Peninsula on Jan. 7.

 

Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher (Vanga Fly.)                    Bias musicus

A male on the way to Kambui South on Dec 31.

 

Chestnut Wattle-eye               Platysteira castanea

One at Kambui North, 1 at Tiwai and a pair on the Freetown Peninsula.

 

Chestnut-capped Flycatcher               Erythrocercus mccallii

2 at Kambui North on Jan. 1.

 

 

Blue-headed Crested-Flycatcher                    Trochocercus nitens

One male at Gola East.

 

Black-headed Paradise-Flycatcher                 Terpsiphone rufiventer

Singles at Guma Dam on two dates, one on Tiwai and 3 at Kambui North.

 

African Paradise-Flycatcher               Terpsiphone viridis

Two at Kambui North.

 

White-necked Rockfowl                   Picathartes gymnocephalus

The reason we did the Sierra Leone trip, we saw 3 of this iconic species at about 1730 on the very first afternoon, after a 10-minute wait, at a nest site at Guma Dam. There were 3 old nests on the overhang walls, clay-mud cups attached to the rock face. The birds came hopping through and one sat preening in good view for some time, a bizarre large creature with a quite stout bill and yellow face patches on the white neck. I’d wanted to see one ever since I read “The Bafut Beagles” by Gerald Durrell, when I was aged about twelve. This was Joan’s final family, # 204 of 204 and we’d got 8 of the last ten on my trips, so the celebratory champagne was well deserved, the # 1 bird nabbed on day one. It was a great shame that we dipped at the very atmospheric Kambui hills site, very unlucky there I think. I wonder how long these birds will withstand this much pressure from visitors though? The protocols need to be carefully defined, especially as the nest sites seem to be where you have to go to see the birds.

 

Pale-breasted Illadopsis                      Illadopsis rufipennis

Two skulking birds on Tiwai came in to tape eventually.

 

Blackcap Babbler                  Turdoides reinwardtii

Two birds seen very nicely in scrub at Bumbuna.

 

Brown Babbler *                     Turdoides plebejus

One party heard at Bumbuna.

 

Tit-Hylia                     Pholidornis rushiae

Joan saw one at Guma but I never got a clear look, so finding one feeding quite high in a tree at Gola East on Jan 3 was great. I was surprised at how bright the yellow underparts and rump appeared on such a tiny short-tailed species. This was one of my birds of the trip for sure.

 

Scarlet-tufted Sunbird                      Deleornis fraseri

One at Guma Dam on Dec. 27 and two there next day.

 

Mouse-brown Sunbird                     Anthreptes gabonicus

One in mangroves on the boat trip from Guma #1 River resort, the only one of the entire trip.

 

Green Sunbird             Anthreptes rectirostris

One at Gola East, and two probables at Guma on the last day.

 

Collared Sunbird                     Hedydipna collaris

These were quite common, seen at Guma Dam, Kambui North and Tiwai most days.

 

Blue-throated Brown Sunbird            Cyanomitra cyanolaema

One male at Tiwai.

 

(Western) Olive Sunbird         Cyanomitra (olivacea) obscura

Common in the understorey of forest throughout. A dubious split.

 

Buff-throated Sunbird                     Chalcomitra adelberti

A male at a flowering tree at the Kenema Pastoral Centre was the only one we saw!

 

Olive-bellied Sunbird              Cinnyris chloropygius

One at a flowering tree on the Regent Town chimp track on Dec 29.

 

Johanna's Sunbird                Cinnyris johannae

A male at Guma Dam Dec 27, and males at Gola East each day, with a female at Guma on the last day. A fine, striking and quite large sunbird

 

Variable Sunbird                                 Cinnyris venustus

Seen at the Hotel Mariam, Guma, Regent Town and Bumbuna. The commonest sunbird.

 

African Yellow White-eye                  Zosterops senegalensis

Seen at Regent Town and Kambui North.

 

Western Black-headed Oriole             Oriolus brachyrhynchus         

A couple of sightings at Guma Dam, and one at Kambui North.

 

Common Fiscal                       Lanius collaris

Three single sightings only.

 

Black-crowned Tchagra *       Tchagra senegala

Heard at a couple of sites.

 

Turati's Boubou                    Laniarius turatii

At least 2 seen and others heard at Bumbuna.

 

Sooty Boubou *                      Laniarius leucorhynchus

Heard in farmbush at Gola East.

 

Sulphur-breasted Bush-shrike                         Telophorus sulfureopectus

Two seen well at Bumbuna.

 

Chestnut-bellied Helmet-shrike                    Prionops caniceps

Parties of 6 seen well at Kambui North on Jan. 1 and 4 at Gola East on Jan. 3, a striking bird. Sinclair splits West African P. caniceps from P. rufiventris the Rufous-bellied Helmet-shrike, which is the one we hoped for in Semliki last year.

 

Shining Drongo                     Dicrurus atripennis

Seen well at Guma Dam Dec. 28 and very vocal there, again also on Jan 7. In good light the very shiny plumage was visible and tail has only a shallow fork.

 

 

Fork-tailed Drongo                 D. adsimilis

Just two in Gola East.

 

Velvet-mantled Drongo                      D. modestus

I thought I saw one at Guma on Dec. 27; the tail seemed too well forked for Shining Drongo.

 

Pied Crow                   Corvus albus

Common, and seen almost very day.

 

Emerald Starling       Lamprotornis iris

Scope views of one of this beautiful dark eyed and emerald green Upper Guinea endemic at Bumbuna on Dec 30, but just one bird only.

 

Copper-tailed Glossy-Starling          Lamprotornis cupreocauda

Just three of this Upper Guinea endemic seen at Kambui South in a fruiting tree on Dec. 31.

 

Violet-backed (Amethyst) Starling                 Cinnyricinclus leucogaster

Two females at Bumbuna.

 

Black-necked Weaver             Ploceus nigricollis

A pair at Regent Town at a flowering tree in the chimp sanctuary scrub.

 

Village Weaver                       Ploceus cucullatus

Common, and seen most days.

 

Yellow-mantled Weaver                     Ploceus tricolor

A single was with the feeding flock on Tiwai.

 

Vieillot's Weaver                     Ploceus nigerrimus

Four sightings of single birds, one at Bumbuna appeared to be the regular black form with the yellow eye, but the one at Gola east was of the chestnut and black race castaneofuscus which was amazingly distinctive. This same subspecies was also seen at Regent Town.

 

Maxwell's Black Weaver                  Ploceus albinucha

A single male was in forest at Tiwai with the Black Dwarf Hornbill feeding party, the rather small size, white eye and grey nape being distinctive. Pleasing as I had an almost tickable one in the scope in Congo on the Semliki R. but the view was just too brief.

 

Red-vented Malimbe                         Malimbus scutatus

Three males and a female seen in the Bumbuna area.

 

Gray's (Blue-billed) Malimbe              Malimbus nitens

Three sightings of two birds each time, the first in mangroves along the Guma R. where old nests of this species were frequent. Also seen at Regent Town and Kambui North.

 

Red-headed Quelea                Quelea erythrops

A male in breeding dress in the savanna scrub at Regent Town was unexpected.

 

Chestnut-breasted Negrofinch                        Nigrita bicolor

One at Kambui North was rather unobliging.

 

Grey-headed Negrofinch                    Nigrita canicapilla

Seen at 4 sites, including Guma Dam, Gola East and Tiwai.

 

Crimson Seedcracker                       Pyrenestes sanguineus

A pair and a juv. at the stream by the shanty town in East Freetown and one male at the Regent Town chimp scrub, feeding on the track.

 

Red-billed Firefinch                Lagonosticta senegala

Four seen at the East Freetown shanty site.

 

Common Waxbill                    Estrilda astrild

Two seen at the Bumbuna prinia site. Orange-cheeked Waxbill is supposedly common in SL, yet we saw none and this species still eludes me.

 

Bronze Mannikin                    Spermestes cucullatus

Small flocks at Bumbuna and Tiwai.

 

Black and White Mannikin                 Spermestes bicolor

Four at Bumbuna and 2 at Gola East.

 

Village Indigobird                  Vidua chalybeata

A pale-billed male indigobird at Bumbuna was presumably this species? I did not note the leg colour.

 

Pin-tailed Whydah                  Vidua macroura

Two males at Bumbuna.

 

Yellow-fronted Canary                       Serinus mozambicus

Two at Regent Town.

 

Grey-headed Sparrow             Passer griseus

Widespread in small numbers.

 

  

Mammals

 

I had hoped for Pygmy Hippo on Tiwai, but the night boat trip got unilaterally

cancelled by Kenneth as one of his money saving schemes, much to my annoyance. Chances of seeing the hippo are small but it would be worth a try.

 

Green Vervet Monkey                      Chlorocebus (aethiops) sabaeus

One in mangroves at Guma River, a split from Vervet Monkey C. aethiops.

 

Sooty Mangabey                    Cercocebus atys

One on Tiwai on Jan. 5.

 

Diana Monkey                       Cercopithecus diana

This was a rather beautiful species that I saw on Tiwai, with a buffy-white chest and red hind thigh. Endangered.

 

Western Red Colobus                       Piliocolobus badius

12 seen on Tiwai on Jan. 5, and quite vocal there, this is a different species to the Ugandan Red Colobus Ptephrosceles. Endangered.

 

Western Black and White Colobus *              Colobus polykomos

Noisy on Tiwai but stayed out of sight, a different species to the Ugandan and Kenyan ones.

 

Genet sp.

A strange sandy linsang-type beast was spotlit in the trees one night on Tiwai, identity still a mystery.

 

Bush Squirrel sp.

A species with a barred tail was at Guma, and one with an unbarred tail was quite common around Bumbuna, Kenema and Gola East.

 

© Phil Gregory, Kuranda March 07.

 

 

 

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