Birding in Ghana

One of the morning routines in a typical village day can include a walk along the red dirt roads leading away from the village centre. This is the coolest most peaceful time of the day. The people of Dagbamete rise early to take advantage of the cool morning, and we often awake to the sound of sweeping and the roosters announcing the start of the day. 

As we walk out of the village the children are getting ready for school, waiting by the roadside for a motorcycle ride. The young men who operate the motorcycles are waiting by the bamboo grove to ferry people back and forth to  work, or on errands. It is not unusual to see two or three passengers on a bike, carrying bundles and packages. I’ve seen women  wearing their bright Ghana fabric dresses and fuzzy mules as they ride by. That’s Ghana motorcycle style!

I have done a little bird watching at home, so I was looking forward to finding some new birds in Ghana as I take a morning walk. I brought a copy of the birds of Ghana to help me out. 

At home I can tell what birds are around me just by the sounds, and I don’t always need to see them. Here the bird sound scape is rich and varied. Hooting, cooing, chirping and glugging sounds come from the cassava fields and trees that line the road side. I have heard so many birds, but haven’t managed to spot many of them. 

Crows here are easy to spot, and bigger than ours at home, more the size of a Raven. They look like they are wearing white sweater vests, and caw loudly like ours. The bigger trees along the roadside are the best spots for new bird discoveries. I spotted a pair of Yellow-billed Shrikes and  a Blue-headed Flycatcher. Their silhouettes are similar to birds we have in Ontario. 

The Baobab trees are a favourite perch, and the birds seem to be communal enough that they don’t mind mixed company in these giant trees. I saw a Senegal Coucal, and some Green Parrots, and a pair of Hornbills. They look a little like collapsed umbrellas, and seem to be unaware of their own weight as they land on small branches and bob up and down trying to centre their weight. 

One morning I was thrilled to see a pair of Falcons keeping watch over a cornfield. They must have had their fill of rodents, because they were dozing, and not bothered by the little sunbirds that flew past them. 

I’ve really enjoyed my hunt for Ghanaian birds that speak a different language, and wear brighter clothes than the birds at home.

– Eloise

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