Abena

Birds of Ghana

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I've had a look through the topics but I don't see anything specific to West Africa or Ghana so I thought I'd start one. I'm not familiar with tropical birds but I want to learn! I'm also not an expert photographer but I'm happy to share what I have. Grateful for feedback!

 

 

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Black and White Mannikin (Lonchura bicolor) male and female

(thank you @@Tom Kellie for sharing the name!)

 

 

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Village Weaver (Ploceus cucullatus)

 

 

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I've had a look through the topics but I don't see anything specific to West Africa or Ghana so I thought I'd start one. I'm not familiar with tropical birds but I want to learn! I'm also not an expert photographer but I'm happy to share what I have. Grateful for feedback!

 

 

 

~ Hi, @@Abena!

 

WOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The bird photos you've posted are SUPER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Whatever camera and lens you're using — mobile phone? — it's more than good.

What do I know about Ghana's birds? Nothing. Therefore you're posts are a blessing.

Offering this topic for West African birds is such a nice contribution to Safaritalk.

Many, many THANKS!

Tom K.

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post-49296-0-77936800-1429982181_thumb.jpg

~ @Abena:

 

Such a detailed, vibrant image is as good as it gets.

I really love the bird's energy!

Where are these images taken? Around where you live? In Aburi's Botanical Gardens?

Anything you post of this caliber will be highly welcomed by bird lovers.

Tom K.

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Thanks @@Tom K! These were taken with a Nikon D5200 with a Nikkor 55-300 mm lens but really I just aim and hope it's focused right. And I am wishing for a longer telephoto lens :rolleyes:

 

I have some more photos to post but I want to make an attempt to identify the birds first.

 

The article that I cited above states that Ghana is a great place for birding, and I know one of our ST members @@ovenbird did a tour with the tour company (Rockjumper Tours) in Ghana so maybe she will join the conversation.

 

I appreciate the positive comments, really I am a rank beginner as a photographer. I so admire the expertise of others in this community.

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The mannikins live in the tree outside my little house - the weavers are also pretty common, but these photos were taken at Hans Cottage Botel (strange name huh...) - a sort of guest house/wildlife refuge/crocodile pond...

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Posted (edited)

@ Abena

 

Thanks for posting this. I've been using the D5200 with the 55-300mm lens also, and had some good results. I did start getting frustrated with my bird photography in some situations, and, of course, some birds are just so small and shy anyway!

 

I just upped to the D7100 and 80-400mm lens, and, for what it's worth, I've noticed a big difference. I think it's the lens more than the body, but my images are crisper and the birds' eyes are more in focus. The lens took my breath away for a minute cost-wise, but I've been really happy. Nevertheless, the combination you have now is good -- and very lightweight and portable (always important to me).

 

I look forward to seeing more of your images.

Edited by Alexander33
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Thanks @@Tom K! These were taken with a Nikon D5200 with a Nikkor 55-300 mm lens but really I just aim and hope it's focused right. And I am wishing for a longer telephoto lens :rolleyes:

 

I have some more photos to post but I want to make an attempt to identify the birds first.

 

The article that I cited above states that Ghana is a great place for birding, and I know one of our ST members @@ovenbird did a tour with the tour company (Rockjumper Tours) in Ghana so maybe she will join the conversation.

 

I appreciate the positive comments, really I am a rank beginner as a photographer. I so admire the expertise of others in this community.

 

~ Hi, @Abena:

 

The focus and clarity of your bird photos seen fine to me.

It's really nice of you to identify species, in order to enrich our appreciation of your photos.

From my perspective, you're performing a major service to the entire Safaritalk community by regularly providing us with glimpses of Ghana's rich birdlife.

In so doing, it raises overall appreciation of Ghana's wildlife, underscoring that West Africa also has bird species of high interest.

Many, many thanks for your photos! I'm looking forward to more, whenever it's convenient to post them.

Tom K.

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I'm pretty sure this one is the Great Egret - Ardea alba - but there's a more pronounced greenish patch around the eye than the photos I was looking at online. There was a whole large colony of these birds on an island in the middle of a large pond - same place I went to with the crocodile ponds - near Cape Coast in south-central Ghana. According to the article I read, they nest in colonies and have a fluffy breeding plummage. See second photo which shows this.

 

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Here's the photo showing the breeding plummage:

 

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One more of the Great Egret - the island was full of the nests of egrets and weavers - they were making quite a lot of noise too :P

 

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I'm pretty sure this one is the Great Egret - Ardea alba - but there's a more pronounced greenish patch around the eye than the photos I was looking at online. There was a whole large colony of these birds on an island in the middle of a large pond - same place I went to with the crocodile ponds - near Cape Coast in south-central Ghana. According to the article I read, they nest in colonies and have a fluffy breeding plummage. See second photo which shows this.

 

 

~ Hi, @@Abena!

 

I love these newly posted egret images!

They're luminescent, clear and pull me into the pond scene.

Your photography consistently has a cinéma vérité feeling, in that I feel that I'm also there, watching the birds.

******************************************************************************

What follows is nothing more than the musings of an inexperienced, amateur would-be birder.

If you feel otherwise, you're very likely right. If any of Safaritalk's experienced birders have another interpretation, by all means listen to them not to me.

As to the weavers in your images, they appear to be Ploceus cucullatus, Black-headed Weaver. After consulting several field guides and on-line resources, it seems that there are a number of Ploceus cucullatus sub-species spread over Africa, including in Ghana. The plumage morph in your images has most indications of being Ploceus cucullatus, unless anyone else notes differentiation that I overlooked.

******************************************************************************

As to the egrets, may I please toss out the possibility that your photos might show two separate species, rather than one?

Because I'm greatly enjoying your ongoing Ghanaian bird images, I looked at these most recent images, appreciating the details shown in their environmental context.

While doing so, the notion that the nesting birds and the other birds might be two separate species settled into my thinking.

Specifically, the two solitary birds do appear to be non-breeding Ardea alba, Great Egret, as black legs are shown and the greenish lores — the skin patch between the eyes and upper beak — which you noted.

However, I'm wondering if the nesting birds might possibly be Bubulcus ibis, Cattle Egret.

Here's why I feel that might be possible.

The nesting birds aren't breeding — which occurred a couple of months before when the eggs were fertilized — but rather are nesting.

They have black legs, lack the greenish lores, and have buff-orange-ish head and back plumage, all of which are consistent with Bubulcus ibis, rather than with Ardea alba.

What struck me with greater force was the relative lengths of the bills.

I compared the relative lengths of the bills to skulls of all birds in your photos, concluding that all of the nesting birds have a shorter overall bill length, unlike the longer dagger-like bill of the other egrets. The bill length differentiation strongly suggests different species.

Nonetheless, please follow your own interpretation, or that of more experienced Safaritalk members.

******************************************************************************

You've kindled an interest in Ghana's bird life in me, for which I'm highly grateful.

With Much Appreciation,

Tom K.

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Hi @@Tom K!

 

I'm sure you're correct on both accounts. I found a very short survey of birds of Ghana showing the most common species which showed Ploceus cucullatus and called it "village weaver" rather than "black headed weaver" - I'm sure it is one in the same bird with different common names. I have another weaver species photo that I'll post soon. I haven't found its name yet.

 

As to the egrets - I also noted the different plumage, and the green eye patch on the solitary bird and not the ones sitting on the nests. I wondered if they were different species too. I couldn't get a really clear image of the nesting birds - they were too active!

 

As a comical side note - at the end of this largish pond, there was a very tall crane-looking bird perched on a horizontal pole. It was standing very still. I duly photographed it. And then realized it was a statue :P

 

Thanks for your positive comments on my photos - I really appreciate your interest!

 

Can you post links to your online resources? I've found either names and no accompanying photos, or photos with no names attached....

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Hi @@Tom K!

 

I'm sure you're correct on both accounts. I found a very short survey of birds of Ghana showing the most common species which showed Ploceus cucullatus and called it "village weaver" rather than "black headed weaver" - I'm sure it is one in the same bird with different common names. I have another weaver species photo that I'll post soon. I haven't found its name yet.

 

As to the egrets - I also noted the different plumage, and the green eye patch on the solitary bird and not the ones sitting on the nests. I wondered if they were different species too. I couldn't get a really clear image of the nesting birds - they were too active!

 

As a comical side note - at the end of this largish pond, there was a very tall crane-looking bird perched on a horizontal pole. It was standing very still. I duly photographed it. And then realized it was a statue :P

 

Thanks for your positive comments on my photos - I really appreciate your interest!

 

Can you post links to your online resources? I've found either names and no accompanying photos, or photos with no names attached....

 

~ @Abena:

 

Ha Ha! I've done likewise more times than I'd like to admit — solemnly photographed what I took to be a rare species which turned out to have sprung from a craftsperson's imagination.

As to the online resources, there is no single resource or set of resources of which I'm aware.

Rather, my methodology is to initially look through the field guides I've collected which are in the bookcase to the left of my computer desk. Those field guides are shown in a photo at the beginning of my current trip report, “Tsavo West, Amboseli, Meru & Samburu — January, 2015”, as well as a couple purchased last week in Nairobi.

After making a tentative identification, I go to a search engine — Google is not available where I live so it's Yahoo or Bing — enter the tentative ID, click on ‘Images’ and one-by-one look at the visual results. There are typically dozens of results from a variety of sources. By looking at many of them, I gradually decide whether the tentative identification was accurate or not.

Each species has a different set of resources, depending on the frequency with which it has been photographed and posted on-line.

Your Ghanian images fill in a gap in my gestating interest in African birds. As busy as you are with Batiks for Life, it's so thoughtful of you to post the images for all Safaritalk members to enjoy.

With Appreciation,

Tom K.

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I need to search out a field guide - I didn't come prepared :unsure: There has to be a decent bookstore on the University campus - I haven't had time to check yet. I'm also determined to eventually locate some group of people who are interested in wildlife viewing, bird watching, and the like - I get the feeling that for most citizens, wildlife is not a great interest. Busy, yes - but I need to get away and out in nature more often. I'm sure you can appreciate that being in a huge city....

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I need to search out a field guide - I didn't come prepared :unsure: There has to be a decent bookstore on the University campus - I haven't had time to check yet. I'm also determined to eventually locate some group of people who are interested in wildlife viewing, bird watching, and the like - I get the feeling that for most citizens, wildlife is not a great interest. Busy, yes - but I need to get away and out in nature more often. I'm sure you can appreciate that being in a huge city....

 

~ @Abena:

 

I know what it's like to be in a location where plants and wildlife abound but there's a dearth of available field guides and the local residents are otherwise occupied.

If ever you're ever blessed with a chance encounter with someone who shares your love of nature, it will be a joy, as they'll no doubt know others.

The ongoing struggle to wrest a living tends to pull local residents away from full appreciation of the heritage around them.

Getting out and about, eyes open, ears attuned, breathing scents and feeling the breeze — that's real living for me!

Tom K.

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Tockus fasciatus - African Pied Hornbill

 

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A huge thank you to @@Tom Kellie - we are tag-teaming on this thread - he's helping me out with identifying the birds I photograph! Thanks Tom!

 

The African Pied Hornbill photo was taken at the Aburi Botanic Gardens in Aburi, Ghana.

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A huge thank you to @@Tom Kellie - we are tag-teaming on this thread - he's helping me out with identifying the birds I photograph! Thanks Tom!

 

The African Pied Hornbill photo was taken at the Aburi Botanic Gardens in Aburi, Ghana.

 

~ @Abena:

 

Your kindness in sharing glimpses of Ghanaian wildlife is surely appreciated by other Safaritalk members.

West Africa richly deserves equal treatment, which you're making possible.

Thank you very much!

Tom K.

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@@Abena and @@Tom Kellie, sorry for taking so long to chime in...I was traveling all of May and am finally catching up.

 

The birds in Ghana were very special, especially the White-necked Picathartes, Standard-winged Nightjar and Egyptian Plover. We also saw quite a few mammals. But the most exciting wildlife sighting was from the Kakum NP canopy walkway...a Long-tailed Pangolin slithering through the treetops! Yes, it really did look like a snake!

 

Unfortunately photo ops were not good nor plentiful so our gallery is pretty sparse, but here is the link in case you're interested: https://www.flickr.com/photos/21542171@N04/sets/72157643638493795

 

We were on a birding tour so there were only a few non-birding experiences. But they were educational and emotionally powerful to me...Cape Coast Castle which was built for the slave trade and Larabanga Mosque, the oldest mosque in Ghana.

 

We drove from the bottom of Ghana (Accra) to the top (Bolgatanga) so we also got to see life in the cities, villages and rural areas.

 

The article to which @@Abena linked is a good description of our tour. If you have questions let me know and I'll try to answer them. Ghana is a beautiful country with friendly people and lots to see. Would love to make a return trip to Ghana but there are lots of first time places we still need to get to!

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@@Abena and @@Tom Kellie, sorry for taking so long to chime in...I was traveling all of May and am finally catching up.

 

The birds in Ghana were very special, especially the White-necked Picathartes, Standard-winged Nightjar and Egyptian Plover. We also saw quite a few mammals. But the most exciting wildlife sighting was from the Kakum NP canopy walkway...a Long-tailed Pangolin slithering through the treetops! Yes, it really did look like a snake!

 

Unfortunately photo ops were not good nor plentiful so our gallery is pretty sparse, but here is the link in case you're interested: https://www.flickr.com/photos/21542171@N04/sets/72157643638493795

 

We were on a birding tour so there were only a few non-birding experiences. But they were educational and emotionally powerful to me...Cape Coast Castle which was built for the slave trade and Larabanga Mosque, the oldest mosque in Ghana.

 

We drove from the bottom of Ghana (Accra) to the top (Bolgatanga) so we also got to see life in the cities, villages and rural areas.

 

The article to which @@Abena linked is a good description of our tour. If you have questions let me know and I'll try to answer them. Ghana is a beautiful country with friendly people and lots to see. Would love to make a return trip to Ghana but there are lots of first time places we still need to get to!

 

~ @@ovenbird

 

TERRIFIC !!!!!!!!!

I'd been wondering how your trip was — this post tells me what a success it was!

As it happens, where I live Flickr has not been accessible for one year, otherwise I'd have eagerly looked at your bird images. I'm definitely 100% very interested!

You SAW a Long-tailed Pangolin ?!?!?! INCREDIBLE !!!!!!!!!

The field guide beside my desk states that Long-tailed Pangolins are “extremely wary and difficult to spot”.

Consider yourselves blessed. There didn't happen to be a photo of the pangolin, was there?

You've added fuel to the fire in me blazing about a possible Ghanaian visit. A birding tour sounds delightful.

I can't thank you enough for posting this so that all of us who are interested in West African birds might know about your experience.

This is such positive news to read!

Thank you!

Tom K.

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@@Tom Kellie,

 

This is the photo Dave took of the Long-tailed Pangolin...it was very distant. Everyone including the guide was excited to see it. Let me know if you are unable to view this image and I'll try another way to post it for you. I tried to embed my flickr video of the pangolin but got frustrated when I couldn't figure out how to do it.

 

 

original.jpg

 

 

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@@Tom Kellie,

 

This is the photo Dave took of the Long-tailed Pangolin...it was very distant. Everyone including the guide was excited to see it. Let me know if you are unable to view this image and I'll try another way to post it for you. I tried to embed my flickr video of the pangolin but got frustrated when I couldn't figure out how to do it.

 

 

original.jpg

 

 

 

~ @@ovenbird

 

WOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That image FAR, FAR, FAR EXCEEDS my puny expectations !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As it happens, nearly all forms of “foreign” videos, including Flickr videos, aren't available here, so I wouldn't have been able to view it.

This Long-tailed Pangolin image is BEYOND GORGEOUS!

Many, many HEARTY THANKS for uploading this exceptional image for all Safaritalk members to enjoy!

With Much Appreciation,

Tom K.

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