Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Cameroon 2009. Part 1 'finally'

Well, it finally happened in early March 2009...........I set foot on Cameroonian soil and it was a trip I will never forget. Cameroon had been high on my list of priorities for many years and this was my 3rd attempt at getting there and amazingly despite currency, personal, group and logistical problems we got there courtesy of Air France and a few films seen on the way. Cameroon has a bird list in excess of 900 species and as I'd only visited Gambia in West Africa before was a must visit destination full of lifers and mega birds. The first full day in the field found us making an assault on Mount Cameroon a short distance out of Douala and a steep climb to the 'Spierops' zone. We set off just after first light slowly, step by step up the well marked Guinness trail up the mountain a popular running track with the locals. Not acclimatised or of peak fighting fitness we made reasonable progress and the birds fell slowly but surely one by one.
Mountain Saw wing, Brown-backed Cisticola 'what a corker' as seen below, a good reason on it's own to visit this mega country, Little Oliveback' what a bird' as depicted in all it's finery, African Dusky Fly and much more. Following a well deserved rest/collapse at a hut we set off on the next section through the forest up a narrow steep slippery trail until we reached a viewpoint and fantastic forest slopes below. A short wait and there it was, Mount Cameroon Spierops, an aberrant White eye and endemic feeding in the trees below us. This was followed by Yellow-breasted Boubou, mega, and Yellow-billed Turaco showing well in the trees.
The walk down was slow and steady but at least it was all down hill flushed with success and a bag full of goodies plus a few sweat sodden clothes and pocket full of crunch bar wrappers.

Brown-backed Cisticola (Chubby to you and me) a 'split' from Chubb's.

Shelley's (Little Oliveback)

Yellow-billed Turaco 'noisy and nice'
Day one was a tiring but resounding success and with 22 other days birding to come, spirits were high. The stroll back down the hill was un-eventful apart from Andy D being accused of photographing near the 'prison' whilst in hot pursuit of Cattle Egret photos!!

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