South-West Mountains: Bamenda Highlands, Mount Cameroon, Mount Kupé
3-17 March 2001
53, New Dover Road
Canterbury, Kent CT1 3DP
This report updates information on some of the birdwatching areas in
south-west Cameroon already covered in several comprehensive trip reports,
including those of
Williams (1991 and 1993), Steve Keen (1993),
Webb (1995), Jon
Hornbuckle (1997) and
Jan Vermuelen (1997).
I visited only three main areas during a two-week trip to the mountains of
south-west Cameroon: the Bamenda Highlands (2 days), Mount Cameroon (1 week) and
Mount Kupé (4 days). Although recording fewer than 125 species, it was possible
for me to see most of the Cameroon mountain specialties, including Cameroon
For general tourist information, I'd recommend
Rough Guide to West Africa (Jim Hudgens and Richard Trillo)
(www.roughguides.com). I found the information generally very accurate,
including most of the prices. Cameroon uses the Central African Franc, which is
fixed at 100 to the French franc. This is probably why the prices had not
diverged from the guide as rapidly as they do in many developing countries.
Bafut-Nguemba Forest Reserve
Bali Safari Lodge
FINDING RARE BIRDS AROUND THE WORLD
BAFUT-NGUEMBA FOREST RESERVE
Getting there: Driving south from Bamenda (towards Douala), take a
left turn onto an un-signposted dirt road about 18km from Bamenda and just
before the town of Santa. Apparently, there is a radio mast on the right just
before the turn but I missed it. I had no trouble finding the reserve by public
transport, though. Just hire a taxi in Bamenda and ask them to take you to Lake
Awing. The trip from Bamenda to the reserve cost me 1,500 CFA and I paid the
same again for the taxi to pick me up in the evening. Like previous visitors, I
started walking at the two metal poles, about 3 km along the dirt track from the
main road. The birds most people are hoping to see – Bannerman's Turaco, Banded
Wattle-eye and Bannerman's Weaver – can be seen anywhere between here and Lake
Awing, which I would estimate is another 3 km on from the metal poles.
Habitat: Mostly eucalyptus plantations -- there was nothing left that
I would even call a forest patch. The only closed canopy area was along the
stream leading up to Lake Awing, but even this was getting a lot of help from
the eucalyptus. On the other hand, quite a few native trees remain, especially
in the more inaccessible valleys away from the road (these were mostly where I
heard the Turaco calling from), and there is quite a lot of native undergrowth,
especially along several gullies crossing the road.
Hotel: Ideal Park Hotel, Bamenda (6,500 CFA per night). This is right
in the middle of the market area and therefore not in the best part of town, but
the restaurant is good.
Equipment requirements: None, apart from sunscreen (its not a forest).
Easily day- or even part-day-trippable from Bamenda.
Birds: Bannerman's Turaco, Tullberg's Woodpecker, Yellow-breasted
Boubou (common), Banded Wattle-eye, Fernando Po Oliveback, Mountain Wagtail,
Bannerman's Weaver (common).
BALI SAFARI LODGE
Getting there: Driving west from Bamenda towards the town of Bali,
stop at the Bali Safari Lodge just before Bali, and about 20km away from
Bamenda. When I visited, there was a police checkpoint right after the entrance
to the lodge. The woodland is a short way (maybe 200m) back towards Bamenda.
Walking from the entrance to the lodge back towards Bamenda, cross a small
stream on the main road; the woodland is just past this on the right. A swampy
area with low palms flanks the road, behind which is some eucalyptus and a few
other trees, possibly native. I took a very small, obscure path off the road,
crossing the ditch running along the road on a plank. I could not find the
abandoned hut referred to in previous reports, but I did see the Bamenda Apalis
and a few other birds after waiting about an hour in the middle of forest,
between the palms and the eucalyptus.
Birds: Red-chested Goshawk, Bamenda Apalis, Grey-headed Oliveback.
Getting there: After hearing about previous bad experiences attempting
to birdwatch on Mount Cameroon, I would have considered just making it up a
success. I decided to give it a try, though, since I'd read in the "Rough Guide
to West Africa" about the
Mount Cameroon Project, a new organization through which tourists could
arrange trips up the mountain. I found them a highly efficient set-up and would
highly recommend them to anyone. I sent them an e-mail in advance letting them
know I was a birdwatcher, and they were expecting me when I turned up and had
already arranged a guide who knew birds, including locations for the Cameroon
Francolin. I would recommend my guide (Jonas Menyoli Ndongo) and porter
(Mmachenry M. Kale), not least because they helped me find a Francolin within
five days, but also because they were good company, which is obviously important
if you are camping. Personally, I was a bit skeptical that anyone I hired would
even know the difference between Cameroon Francolin and Scaly Francolin, but the
guides were quite familiar with the difference between the two species, which
have different calls and different local names. If I remember, the local name
for Cameroon Francolin is "Laim" (or something similar), whereas Scaly Francolin
is locally called "Bushfowl". I have read that Cameroon Francolin is mostly
restricted to forest, whereas Scaly Francolin is less fussy. This certainly fit
with my records of both species (mostly heard) while on the mountain.
The Project was also very flexible. I didn't have enough to pay for a full
week up front and the banks in Buéa wouldn't take my Euro travellers cheques,
but the people were happy to let me pay part in advance and someone accompanied
me to Limbé the Monday after I came back down, where I was able to change the
rest of the money I owed.
The office of the Mount Cameroon Project in Buéa is near the "Mobil" station,
which most taxi drivers (or failing this, their passengers!) will know. Their
e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hiked up the mountain from the village of Bonakanda, using the "radio station
track". According to the tourist map I was given, the track leads from the
village at about 900m up to about 2600m, then descending gradually to an
abandoned radio station at 2500m. The walk seemed to be about 15 km, but it is
not such an easy hike since you gain 1700m in altitude fairly steeply from the
From the radio station, we descended to Nitele, a hunters' camp consisting of
three small huts, at about 1850m altitude. This is perhaps another 7 km from the
My guess is that this trail would now be difficult even with a four-wheel
drive (although I think I have heard of people making it up in a vehicle
following my visit). Even the hunters take short cuts and don't use all of the
radio station trail itself, meaning that sections of it (I tried some of the
unused sections when I was on my own) were quite overgrown. At a minimum, you
would have to leave a lot of time for clearing away the vegetation.
Habitat: The forest and scrub above Bonokanda has plenty of good
birds, but I am pretty confident that there is no longer any primary forest (the
chainsaws were at work when I was hiking up and down this part of the trail).
The best forest was at about 1500m (around the "concrete bridge" referred to in
Jon Hornbuckle's report). The habitat is good enough for birds like Green
Longtail, White-tailed Warbler and Mountain Robin-Chat (which is fairly easy to
see), but there are also plenty of mousebirds.
From about 1750m to the radio station is grassland, although below 2300m or
so it probably used to be montane forest.
Down the north-west slope of the mountain (from the radio station towards
Nitele) you finally reach some primary forest, starting as high as 2300m. But
even here, much of the forest has been burnt to varying degrees, apparently as a
result of fires spreading from the savanna above (they are started to create
fresh new grass that attracts antelope). Some areas are bracken scrub, other
areas are grassland either with scattered charred trees, others have a primary
forest canopy with no understorey – just grass. Lower down, about 1900 to 2000m,
the trail passes through some tall, intact, primary montane forest, then
emerging again into an open area of savanna (Mountain Sawwing) just above
Nitele. Nitele is right on the top edge of what appeared to unbroken forest -- I
spent one afternoon walking downhill from here and did not emerge.
You could probably day-trip the mountain, but (at least the way I went up),
but you might have to camp for a reasonable chance for the Speirops, Pipit and
(especially) the Francolin.
It is possible to hike up to Nitele from the western side of Mount Cameroon.
It may be even a little more difficult than the route I took, but I'd guess the
habitat en-route would be much better quality.
Equipment requirements: Camping supplies for yourself. According to
the people in the Mount Cameroon Project, you are also supposed to bring food
for yourself, but my guide and porter had also brought food for me and cooked
every night. I would recommend this option as long as you like Cameroonian food
(rice or plantain-paste with faintly spicy stews containing goat or fish or
both), since it's a lot less hassle than planning your own menu. Maybe you can
arrange to pay the guide and porter a little bit extra in return, as I did. My
guide and porter expected me to have hired sleeping bags for them, since the
radio station area was cold, although I hadn't. The huts at Nitele, although
they don't look pretty, are well designed with beds of straw right next to a
central fireplace, so there were no complaints there. Water is also a major
problem on Mount Cameroon. The only sources appeared to be a couple of rusty
rainwater barrels at the radio station, as well as a small spring at about
1950m, still quite a trek up from the campsite at Nitele.
Hotel: The nights before and after, I stayed at the Hotel Mermoz in
Buéa, which according to the English person I met there (who had tried
everywhere) was the only place worth staying in Buéa. It was a very friendly
place, in good condition and with very reasonable prices (they will assign you
to a "posh" second floor room for 7,000 CFA, but it is also possible to stay on
the ground floor in a very similar room for 5,000 CFA--although both categories
had shower and TV.)
Prices: My trip on Mount Cameroon cost 12,000 CFA per day, which
included fees for the guide, the porter and the community fee. There is no
longer a requirement to buy a bottle of whisky or to visit the chief of
Bonakanda before going up the mountain. I turned up at the office in Buéa at
9am, and arrived in Bonakanda, met my porter and started my hike up the mountain
the same morning.
Scrub and forest above Bonakanda (to 1750m) on the radio station track:
Cameroon Pigeon, Yellowbill, Purple-throated Cuckoo-shrike, Mountain Robin-chat,
High Montane Savanna (1750-2600m on NE slope along radio station track and
2300-2600m on NW slope below the radio station): Western Green-Tinkerbird,
Cameroon Speirops, Mountain Sawwing, Cameroon Pipit. According to my guide,
Jonas, there are also flufftails in the savanna (Buff-spotted?).
Forest (primary and burned) around Nitele (1800-2300m): Cameroon
Francolin, Cameroon Pigeon, Black-shouldered Nightjar, Great Blue Turaco
(common), Elliot's Woodpecker, White-bellied Crested-Flycatcher (common), Grey
Cuckoo-Shrike, Yellow-breasted Boubou (common), Mountain Robin-chat (common),
Cameroon Scrub-warbler, Cameroon Speirops (common), Red-faced Crimson-wing,
Fernando Po Oliveback (abundant), Brown-capped Weaver (common). There were many
elephant tracks in the forest below Nitele and we found fresh dung. Given a few
days of dedicated searching, according to my guide Jonas, it is quite possible
to see a forest elephant in this area, if you are brave (reckless) enough to
actually want this.
[See "The Birds of Mount Kupé, southwest Cameroon", by Christopher G.R.
Bowden. Malimbus 23(1): 13-44 (March 2001).]
Getting there: Go to the town of Nyasoso, which is north of Tumbel via
a poor road (the road was being improved during my visit, although not in time
for me). Since it was getting late when I was on my way there, I just hired my
own taxi all the way from Tumbel (15,000 CFA plus 5,000 CFA for the police). On
the way back, I took a shared taxi to Loum and then jumped on one of the many
buses travelling through here to Douala.
Nyasoso is a small town and anyone can point you in the right direction when
you arrive. There appeared to be several different organizations that each were
responsible for collecting a different fee, but everyone knows what the set-up
is and the prices are fixed, so it isn't your problem.
There are three main trails in the area: Max's trail, Shrike Trail and the
Nature Trail. The Nature Trail is short and goes through some fields into some
forest near the village, ending at an area of large boulders (Grey-necked
Rockfowl), Max's Trail and Shrike Trail both ascend the mountain. I did not take
the Shrike Trail, but according to previous reports it is steep but is the best
trail on which to see Mount Kupé Bushshrike. I stayed two nights at the campsite
at 1500 m on Max's Trail (Nyasoso is at about 800 m). I actually found Max's
Trail plenty steep, although it was much easier going above the campsite; of
course, some of the birds may not be present this high up, but camping does have
the advantage of locating you in the forest at dawn and dusk. The trails and
birds on Mount Kupé are well described in previous reports by people who went
there for longer, with more people, and to more areas on the mountain.
Habitat: Farmbush around Nyasoso. Primary forest is only a short
distance away from the town, reached easily on all three trails.
Equipment requirements: If you plan to camp, you need to have
somewhere for the guide to sleep and also some way of keeping your gear dry. You
don't need cooking supplies, although no one will stop you bringing your own
food. I just arranged for a porter to bring up food every day that I spent on
the mountain. I was under-equipped with only a bivouac bag (after giving my tent
to the guide) and didn't get any sleep one night on which it actually rained
quite heavily (despite it being the dry season).
Hotel: The guesthouse in Nyasoso is 6,000 CFA per night. Camping is
free, although you make up much of the cost by paying for the guide's food.
Prices: The prices appear to be the same as in Jan Vermuelen's (1997)
Community fee – 2,000 CFA per day spent in the forest.
Guesthouse – 6,000 CFA (camping is free).
Guide – 3,500 CFA per day. Now mandatory! I tried really hard to talk them
out of this one with no success, although my guide, Samuel, turned out to be
excellent. He is a very competent birdwatcher and even knew most of the calls as
well as the best locations for many of the birds. On the other hand, you
inevitably see less when there are two of you making twice as much noise.
Porter – 2,500 CFA per day. Optional, although it was handy to have someone
bringing up food when camping out.
Food: lunch or dinner – 2,500 CFA (I was required to pay this per day for
food for both myself and for the guide while camping on mountain); breakfast –
Birds and Mammals (all on Max's Trail unless indicated): White-spotted
Flufftail, African Emerald Cuckoo, Tullberg's Woodpecker, Green-breasted
Bushshrike, Crossley's Ground-Thrush, Alexander's Akalat, Forest Swallow,
Sjostedt's Greenbul (Nature Trail), Cameroon Olive-Greenbul, Grey-headed
Greenbul, White-tailed Warbler, Black-capped Woodland-Warbler, White-throated
Mountain-Babbler, Grey-chested Illadopsis, Grey-necked Rockfowl (heard only,
Nature Trail), Ursula's Sunbird, Allen's Bushbaby, Chimpanzee.
Saturday, 3 March – Sabena Airlines from Vienna to Douala, changing in
Brussels, arriving in Cameroon in the evening. Overnight taxi to Bamenda,
arriving 3 am at the Ideal Park Hotel.
Sunday, 4 March – Spent the entire day at the Bafut-Nguemba Forest
Reserve, near Bamenda, hiring a taxi each way. Night at the Ideal Park Hotel in
Monday, 5 March – Early morning trip to Bali Safari Lodge, arriving at
6 am, just before dawn, after some initial hassle from a policeman (who wanted
to know why I was walking around Bamenda in the dark). Back to Bamenda at 10 am,
catching a direct bus from Bamenda to Buéa leaving at midday and arriving in
Buéa at 7 pm. Night at Hotel Mermoz in Buéa.
Tuesday, 6 March – Turned up at the office of the Mount Cameroon
Project at 9 am, and almost immediately went to pay the fees at the separate
eco-tourism office, then travelled to Bonakanda via two taxis. Arrived in
Bonakanda and met up with Mmachenry, the porter. The guide was expecting me and
had gone to Buéa, so we must have crossed paths. Set up the mountain at 12 pm.
Got ahead of the porter and lost him at 1750m and 5pm. Although the radio
station track itself was very obvious, I wasn't sure where we were staying so I
decided to go back to the village. Night at the house of the guide, Jonas, which
turned out to be pretty nice. He had set off up the mountain at 5 pm, so we had
crossed paths yet again (there are a lot of short cuts up the mountain)! Watched
Lyon beat Bayern Munich 3-0, eating bananas and honey.
Wednesday, 7 March – Set off up the mountain again at 3 am, finally
meeting the guide, Jonas part way up. He had walked all the way to the radio
station and back, and he then proceeded to do the 15km trek for the third time
that night. Arrived at the abandoned radio station just after dawn. We were all
pretty tired and decided not to go the extra few kilometers to Nitele; instead,
I just walked part of the way down and back up again in the afternoon. Night
inside the radio station – very smoky since they'd lit a fire and the
ventilation wasn't great. Two hunters who had come to find honey roasted a bat
that they'd found dead, but thankfully didn't offer me any.
Thursday, 8 March – Hike down to Nitele on the north-west slope of
Mount Cameroon in the morning. Slow hike through the montane forest downhill
from Nitele on a very rough track in the afternoon. Walked up into the savanna
area above Nitele at dusk, listening for Cameroon Francolin. I was lucky – one
was calling from the forest just below Nitele. A few Black-shouldered Nightjars
calling around the campsite in the evening and early morning.
Friday, 9 March – Spent the day in the forest around Nitele. Used the
tape in the evening, which enabled me to locate the calling francolin more
accurately. It responded only once, not very near by, probably since it had
Saturday, 10 March – Hid in the morning and tried playback for the
francolin again. The male responded once but again didn't come in. Instead, a
female came in (quietly): good views for about five minutes. Afternoon hike back
to the radio station.
Sunday, 11 March – Hike down from the radio station, arriving in
Bonakanda mid afternoon. Drive back to Buéa took about 40 minutes. Night at
Monday, 12 March – Went to Limbé in the morning to change the
remaining money for the Mount Cameroon Project. Bus to Kumba and then taxi north
to Nyasoso/Mt. Kupé. Met up with the folk at the WWF project in Nyasoso and my
Tuesday, 13 March – Hike up to Max's camp at 1500m in the morning,
walking further uphill in the afternoon.
Wednesday, 14 March – In the forest around Max's Camp.
Thursday, 15 March – In the forest around Max's Camp, walking slowly
down to Nyasoso in the afternoon, arriving evening.
Friday, 16 March – Nature Trail and farmbush around Nyasoso. Taxi/bus
back to Douala in the afternoon.
Saturday, 17 March – Flight back to Vienna.
Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia – 2 in Limbé (12 March).
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis – Several from the bus from Bamenda
to Buéa (5 March).
Black Kite Milvus migrans – Commonly seen from the bus, near
towns and villages, etc.
Palm-nut Vulture Gypohierax angolensis – 2 single flyovers on
Mount Cameroon, at 1100m above Bonakanda (6 March) and at 1800m below Nitele (8
African Harrier-Hawk Polyboroides typus – One on Mount Cameroon
at 1300m above Bonakanda (11 March).
Red-chested Goshawk Accipiter toussenelii – One flew past the
entrance to Bali Safari Lodge (5 March).
Red-necked Buzzard Buteo auguralis – One soaring high above
Mount Cameroon, seen from the montane savanna at 2600m (11 March).
Scaly Francolin Francolinus squamatus – Several heard above
Bonakanda, especially in the early morning (6 and 7 March).
Cameroon Francolin Francolinus camerunensis – Five males heard
calling from forest patches around Nitele on 8-10 March. This species called
just one or two times at dusk, right as it was getting dark (6:45pm or later). I
located a calling male, which took two evenings, and then hid and used playback
in the morning. Although the hiding spot was pretty good, well concealed and
with a good view of the forest floor, which is really pretty dense in this area,
it wasn't so easy to see the bird come in, since it wasn't calling. Once seen,
however, the bird stayed in the same place for about five minutes and I got
decent views. According to Jonas, my guide on Mount Cameroon, this species may
be easiest in May or June, when there are apparently some fruiting trees where
the Francolin is regular (and sometimes will return to feed even after being
flushed). Jonas also found a dirt bath with a francolin feather near where the
Cameroon Francolin was calling.
White-spotted Flufftail Sarothrura pulchra – At least 10 heard
calling at all altitudes visited (1100-1600m) on Max's Trail, Mount Kupé. One
whistled in at 1200m (13 March).
Cameroon Pigeon Columba sjoestedti – Groups of 10-15 flying
above the savanna at 1650m above Bonakanda (6 March) and in primary forest above
Nitele at 2000m (8 March).
Tambourine Dove Turtur tympanistria – One seen in scrub above
Bonakanda, Mt. Cameroon, at 1100m (11 March).
African Green-Pigeon Treron calva – One at Bafut-Nguemba Forest
Reserve (4 March), one by Nitele campsite on Mt. Cameroon (8 March), 4 in forest
near the end of the Nature Trail at Mt. Kupé (16 March).
Speckled Mousebird Colius striatus – Common in farmbush and
forest edge at all sites visited.
Bannerman's Turaco Tauraco bannermani – Five heard, including
two seen, at Bafut-Nguemba Forest Reserve (4 March). Most were calling from
valleys that were rather inaccessible from the road. The two seen were on the
other site of valley from the road leading up to Lake Awing. Birds were heard
almost as far back as the metal poles.
Yellow-billed Turaco Tauraco macrorhynchus – Commonly heard
calling, and one or two seen daily, on Mount Cameroon and at Mount Kupé.
Great Blue Turaco Corythaeola cristata – Common in forest at
1800-1850m below Nitele on Mt. Cameroon (9 seen on 8 March, 6 seen on 9 March,
and many heard 8-10 March).
Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo Cercococcyx olivinus – Singles calling
in forest around Max's Trail (14 and 15 March) and around the Nature Trail (16
African Emerald Cuckoo
Chrysococcyx cupreus – Single females (possibly the same individual) seen on
14 and 15 March just above and just below Max's Camp.
Yellowbill Ceuthmochares aereus – 2 seen separately in
scrub/secondary forest above Bonakanda, Mt. Cameroon (6 March).
African Wood-Owl Strix woodfordi – Based on listening to
recordings, I guess the owl calling around Max's Camp (three long hoots followed
by five quicker ones) was this species, but at the time it sounded so deep that
I assumed it was a type of eagle owl. It still sounded much deeper than the
recordings I have of African Wood-Owl, but nothing remotely like any of the
recordings I have of the forest eagle owls.
Black-shouldered Nightjar Caprimulgus nigriscapularis – At
least three calling immediately around the campsite at Nitele, Mt. Cameroon
(1840m), and easily seen.
African Palm-Swift Cypsiurus parvus – Several seen from the bus
en-route from Bamenda to Buéa (5 March).
Little Swift Apus affinis – Common around towns and villages;
also in savanna on Mount Cameroon.
African Pygmy-Kingfisher Ispidina picta – One seen at the start
of Max's Trail, Mount Kupé (16 March).
Woodland Kingfisher Halcyon senegalensis – One in the
schoolgrounds at Nyasoso, Mt. Kupé (16 March).
European Bee-eater Merops apiaster – Two in farmbush near the
start of the Nature Trail, Mt. Kupé (16 March).
African Pied Hornbill Tockus fasciatus – One in scrub above
Bonakanda, Mt. Cameroon, at 950 m (6 March). 2 in farmbush on Max's Trail, Mt.
Kupé (13 March), and 3 on Nature Trail, Mt. Kupé (16 March).
Naked-faced Barbet Gymnobucco calvus – Abundant in farmbush and
forest on Max's Trail, Mt. Kupé. Two barbets seen poorly in scrub above
Bonakanda, Mt. Cameroon (11 March) may have been this species or Bristle-nosed
Grey-throated Barbet Gymnobucco bonapartei– Two in the small
woodland near Bali Safari Lodge (5 March).
Western Green-Tinkerbird Pogoniulus coryphaeus – One to two
seen daily in higher altitude and burned montane forest and savanna (2100-2600
m) on Mount Cameroon.
Red-rumped Tinkerbird Pogoniulus atroflavus – One seen along
the road just north of Nyasoso (13 March).
Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird Pogoniulus bilineatus – Two in the
small woodland near Bali Safari Lodge (5 March). 2 along the road just north of
Nyasoso (13 March). One in the forest by Max's Camp, Mt. Kupé (14 March). 2 in
the farmbush on the Nature Trail, Mt. Kupé (16 March).
Honeyguide, sp. Good views of two small honeyguides at 1000 m above
Bonakanda, Mt. Cameroon (6 March). Probably Least, but I need more practice with
Tullberg's Woodpecker Campethera tullbergi – One at
Bafut-Nguemba Forest Reserve (4 March). One in primary forest above Max's Cap,
Mt. Kupé (15 March).
Eliot's Woodpecker Dendropicos elliotii – Daily above Nitele on
Mt. Cameroon, especially in stunted montane forest with grassy understorey. I
originally misidentified this as Speckle-breasted Woodpecker. I think a
comparison of the plates in the Pica Press Handbook of Woodpeckers of the
World vs. the new
Guide to Birds of
Western Africa (Borrow and Demey 2002) will explain my mistake!
Cardinal Woodpecker Dendropicos fuscescens – 3 at the
Bafut-Nguemba Forest Reserve. One in farmbush on the Nature Trail, Mt. Kupé (16
Grey Woodpecker Dendropicos goertae – 2 at Bafut-Nguemba Forest
Chestnut-capped Flycatcher Erythrocercus mccallii – One in
forest along the Nature Trail, Mt. Kupé (16 March).
African Blue-Flycatcher Elminia longicauda – 2 in scrub at 900m
above Bonakanda, Mt. Cameroon (6 March). One in farmbush near the start of Max's
Trail, Mt. Kupé (16 March).
White-bellied Crested-Flycatcher Trochocercus albiventris –
5-10 daily in forest around Nitele (1800-2100m). 3-4 daily in forest around
Max's Camp, Mt. Kupé (1500m).
Square-tailed Drongo Dicrurus ludwigii – 2 in forest along the
Nature Trail, Mt. Kupé (16 March).
Shining Drongo Dicrurus atripennis – 2 in a mixed flock in
forest on Max's Trail, Mt. Kupé at 1200m (15 March), and one in forest on the
Nature Trail, Mt. Kupé (16 March).
Pied Crow Corvus albus – Common around towns and villages.
Black-winged Oriole Oriolus nigripennis – One in a mixed flock
in forest on Max's Trail at 1200m (15 March).
Grey Cuckoo-shrike Coracina caesia – One in forest below
Nitele, Mt. Cameroon, at 1800m (8 March).
Purple-throated Cuckoo-shrike Campephaga quiscalina – One
female in secondary forest around the concrete bridge, 1500m, above Bonakanda,
Mt. Cameroon (11 March).
Mackinnon's Shrike Lanius mackinnoni – 8 at Bafut-Nguemba
Forest Reserve (4 March). 3 in scrub above Bonakanda, Mt. Cameroon (6 March).
Red-eyed Puffback Dryoscopus senegalensis – Two separate
females, one along the road just north of Nyasoso, and one in farmbush at the
start of Max's Trail, Mt. Kupé (both 13 March).
Pink-footed Puffback Dryoscopus angolensis – One male in forest
at 1350m on Max's Trail, Mt. Kupé (14 March).
Yellow-breasted Boubou Laniarius atroflavus – Common at
Bafut-Nguemba Forest Reserve and in higher burned montane forest (2000-2300m)
above Nitele on Mount Cameroon. Much more commonly heard than seen; I found this
species easiest to see in the evening.
Mountain Boubou Laniarius poensis – 5 in secondary forest at
about 1500m above Bonakanda, Mt. Cameroon (one on 6 March and 4 on 11 March).
One or two seen daily in forest around Max's Camp, Mt. Kupé.
Green-breasted Bushshrike Malaconotus gladiator – Singles
(possibly the same individual) heard in forest just below Max's Camp, Mt. Kupé,
on 13, 14 and 15 March. I had the same experience as many other observers; this
species responds when you imitate the call but stays above the canopy and is
therefore difficult to see. The only sighting was in a small clearing at about
1400m on Max's Trail (15March).
Brown-throated (Common) Wattle-eye Platysteira cyanea – A pair
in the small woodland near Bali Safari Lodge (5 March). About 5 daily in primary
forest just below Nitele on Mt. Cameroon at 1800-1850m.
Banded Wattle-eye Platysteira laticincta – 3 at Bafut-Nguemba
Forest Reserve (4 March), 2 by a small stream about one-third of the way from
the metal poles to Lake Awing, the third right by the lake.
Crossley's Ground-Thrush Zoothera crossleyi – Frequently heard
calling in forest at all altitudes visited (1100-1600m) on Max's Trail, Mt.
Kupé. Good views of one taped in at 1600m (13 March).
African Thrush Turdus pelios – Common in all habitats on Mt.
Cameroon and in farmbush around Nyasoso/Mt. Kupé.
Dusky Flycatcher Muscicapa adusta – Common at Bafut-Nguemba
Forest Reserve and around Nitele on Mount Cameroon.
Yellow-footed Flycatcher Muscicapa sethsmithi – 3-5 daily in
forest along Max's Trail, Mt. Kupé.
Alexander's Akalat Sheppardia poensis – One in forest at 1200m
on Max's Trail, Mt. Kupé (15 March).
Mountain Robin-Chat Cossypha isabellae – Average of three daily
(up to 5) from 1400 to 2100m on both slopes of Mt. Cameroon. Seen in primary,
secondary and burned montane forest, although I missed this at Bafut-Nguemba
Common Stonechat Saxicola torquata – Abundant at Bafut-Nguemba
Forest Reserve and in grassy clearings and montane savanna on Mt. Cameroon.
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica – 2 above the radio station
(2500m) on Mt. Cameroon (10 March). One in Nyasoso on 16 March.
Lesser Striped-Swallow Hirundo abyssinica – The common swallow
Forest Swallow Hirundo fuliginosa – Common at the edge of the
forest on Mt. Kupé.
Mountain Sawwing Psalidoprocne fuliginosa – 2 in the savanna
area at 1900m above Nitele, Mt. Cameroon (8 March). 10-15 above 2000m over the
montane savanna on Mt. Cameroon (11 March).
Common Bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus – Encountered in all habitats
at all sites visited. Common in secondary forest and scrub.
Little Greenbul Andropadus virens – 3 in farmbush on Max's
Trail, Mt. Kupé, at 850-1100m.
Mountain Greenbul Andropadus tephrolaemus – 8 at Bafut-Nguemba
Forest Reserve (4 March). 10-25 daily in primary, secondary and burned forest on
Mt. Cameroon. 8-10 daily in forest on Max's Trail, Mt. Kupé.
Sjostedt's Greenbul Baeopogon clamans – One in forest near the
end of the Nature Trail, Mt. Kupé (16 March).
Cameroon Olive-Greenbul Phyllastrephus poensis – Small parties
of about 5 birds at 1400m (13 March) and 1200m (15 March) on Max's Trail, Mt.
Grey-headed Greenbul Phyllastrephus poliocephalus – 12 in
forest at 1450-1600m on Max's Trail, Mt. Kupé (14 and 15 March).
Red-tailed/White-bearded Greenbul Criniger sp. One in forest on
the Nature Trail, Mt. Kupé (16 March).
Cameroon Speirops Speirops melanocephalus – 4-25 all days but
one in montane forest and savanna (1800m upwards) on Mt. Cameroon.
African Yellow White-eye Zosterops senegalensis – 7 in the
small woodland near Bali Safari Lodge (5 March). 8 in scrub above Bonakanda, Mt.
Cameroon (6 March).
Chattering Cisticola Cisticola anonymus – 5 in farmbush around
Nyasoso/Mt. Kupé (16 March).
Brown-backed (Chubb's) Cisticola Cisticola discolor – 30 at
Bafut-Nguemba Forest Reserve. Abundant in degraded habitat on Mt. Cameroon.
Especially common in rich bracken-scrub (which presumably used to be montane
forest). I did not see this bird in the true montane savanna.
White-chinned Prinia Prinia leucopogon – One group of 4 along
road just north of Nyasoso/Mt. Kupé (13 March).
Banded Prinia Prinia bairdii – A group of 4 in farmbush on
Max's Trail, Mt. Kupé at 1000m (13 March). 2 in the same area on 16 March.
Green Longtail Urolais epichlora – Up to 8 most days on Mt.
Cameroon, and only one of these records on the NE slope above Bonakanda (about
1500m), the rest in the montane forest around Nitele (1800-1850m). 3-10 daily in
forest along Max's Trail, Mt. Kupé, all above 1300m.
Black-capped Apalis Apalis nigriceps – A single at about 1050m
in forest edge on Max's Trail, Mt. Kupé (13 March).
Bamenda Apalis Apalis bamendae – One female in the small
woodland near Bali Safari Lodge (5 March).
Grey Apalis Apalis cinerea – 2 at Bafut-Nguemba Forest Reserve
(4 March). 1-10 (average of about 5) daily in forest around Nitele, Mt. Cameroon
Olive-Green Camaroptera Camaroptera chloronota – One heard in
forest around the Nature Trail, Mt. Kupé (16 March).
Cameroon Scrub-Warbler Bradypterus lopesi – 2 most days in
primary and secondary forest on Mount Cameroon (1500-2000m).
Cinnamon Bracken-Warbler (Bangwa Forest-Warbler) Bradypterus
cinnamomeus – 3 at Bafut-Nguemba Forest Reserve (4 March).
Black-faced Rufous Warbler Bathmocercus rufus – Group of 4 at
Bafut-Nguemba Forest Reserve (4 March). 1 in forest edge on Max's Trail, Mt.
Kupé, at 1000m (13 March).
Hippolais sp. – Poor views of one each on 7 and 8 March in
bracken scrub below the radio station on Mount Cameroon at 2400m.
White-tailed Warbler Poliolais lopezi– One female at about
1500m above Bonakanda, Mt. Cameroon (6 March). 2-4 daily in the forest above
Max's Camp, Mt. Kupé, at 1500-1600m.
Green Hylia Hylia prasina – 4 in scrub above Bonakanda, Mt.
Cameroon (6 March).
Black-capped Woodland-Warbler Phylloscopus herberti – 5-10
daily in forest just below Max's Camp, Mt. Kupé at 1300-1500m.
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus – 3 on each of 7 and 8
March in burned montane forest at 2100-2300m above Nitele on Mount Cameroon.
Ruwenzori Hill-Babbler Illadopsis atriceps – 1-8 all days but
one on Mt. Cameroon in forest and scrub, commonest in primary forest at
1800-1850m below Nitele.
Grey-chested Illadopsis Kakamega poliothorax – One each day
(13-15 March) in forest on Max's Trail, Mt Kupé, one at 1300 m and two (possibly
the same individual) just above Max's Camp at 1500m.
White-throated Mountain-Babbler Kupeornis gilberti – Only 5
birds in two flocks, all on 15 March in forest at 1600m above Max's Camp, Mt.
Grey-necked Rockfowl Picathartes oreas – One heard in the rocky
area at the end of the Nature Trail, Mt. Kupé (16 March). My guide, Samuel,
thought this bird was easier at Mt. Kupé in the wet season.
Grey-headed Sparrow Passer griseus – Common in towns and
villages, including Nyasoso.
Fernando Po Oliveback Nesocharis shelleyi – One at
Bafut-Nguemba Forest Reserve around the (relatively!) "forested" gully about
half way between the metal poles and Lake Awing. 1-35 daily in forest (primary
and burned) around Nitele on Mount Cameroon, between 1800m (the lowest altitude
visited) and 2250m. A group of 10 seen around the water barrel at Max's Camp,
Mt. Kupé, on 13 and 14 March.
Grey-headed Oliveback Nesocharis capistrata – One in the small
woodland near Bali Safari Lodge (5 March).
Red-faced Crimson-wing Cryptospiza reichenovii – 4 in burned
forest (2200-2300m) above Nitele, Mt. Cameroon (all in the early morning of 8
Orange-cheeked Waxbill Estrilda melpoda – A group of 4 along
the road just north of Nyasoso/Mt. Kupé (13 March).
Black-headed Waxbill Estrilda atricapilla – Common, especially
in degraded and burned areas, at all sites apart from Bali Safari Lodge.
Bronze Mannikin Lonchura cucullata – Groups of 10-15 in scrub
above Bonakanda at about 1000m on 6 and 11 March.
Mountain Wagtail Motacilla clara – A pair by Lake Awing at
Bafut-Nguemba Forest Reserve (4 March).
Cameroon Pipit Anthus cameroonensis – A group of about 10 seen
in the same location, about 10 minutes walk before the radio station on Mount
Cameroon (coming from Bonakanda) on 7 and 11 March. Two others seen further
towards Bonakanda on 11 March. Why they liked these particular patches of burned
savanna rather than all the rest is anyone's guess.
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis – 15 at Bafut-Nguemba Forest
Reserve (4 March).
Bannerman's Weaver Ploceus bannermani – 15 at Bafut-Nguemba
Forest Reserve (4 March). The new
Guide to Birds of
Western Africa (Borrow and Demey 2002) indicates that there is no sexual
dimorphism in this species. However, about half the individuals I saw lacked the
black mask, giving an all-yellow impression. I would guess that these were
Bannerman's Weavers, since they were associating with Bannerman's Weavers and
appeared to have exactly the same shape. Am I making an obvious
Spectacled Weaver Ploceus ocularis – Two in the small woodland
near Bali Safari Lodge (5 March). 4 in farmbush on Max's Trail, Mt. Kupé (13
Black-necked Weaver Ploceus nigricollis – A pair just above
Bonakanda, Mt. Cameroon (6 March).
Black-billed Weaver Ploceus melanogaster – 4 at Bafut-Nguemba
Forest Reserve (4 March). 1-5 most days on both slopes of Mount Cameroon. Two
each day in forest just above Max's Camp at 1500m on Mt. Kupé.
Village Weaver Ploceus cucullatus – Towns and villages,
including Nyasoso/Mt. Kupé.
Viellot's Black Weaver Ploceus nigerrimus – Seen in farmland,
for instance around Nyasoso/Mt. Kupé and from the bus between Bamenda to Buéa.
Forest Weaver Ploceus bicolor – 8 on 14 March and 6 on 15 March
at 1300-1550m on Max's Trail, Mt. Kupé.
Brown-capped Weaver Ploceus insignis – 4-5 seen every day
except one in forest edge and burned forest, including the trees right around
Nitele campsite on Mt. Cameron, 1850-2300m.
Yellow Bishop Euplectes capensis – Two at Bafut-Nguemba Forest
Reserve (4 March). Abundant in savanna (1700m upwards) on Mt. Cameroon. I
suspect there were also other bishop/widowbird species in the savanna on Mt.
Cameroon, but if so I didn't get very far identifying them in non-breeding
Collared Sunbird Anthreptes collaris – One at 1600m in forest
above Max's Camp, Mt. Kupé (15 March).
Cameroon Sunbird Nectarinia oritis – 20 at Bafut-Nguemba Forest
Reserve (4 March). 1-3 daily in forest on Mt. Cameroon. 5 daily in forest (1200m
upwards) on Max's Trail, Mt. Kupé.
Green-headed Sunbird Nectarinia verticalis – One in farmbush at
the start of Max's Trail, Mt. Kupé (16 March).
Ursula's Sunbird Nectarinia ursulae – One on 14 and 15 March at
about 1350m on Max's Trail, Mt. Kupé.
Northern Double-collared Sunbird Nectarinia preussi – 7 at
Bafut-Nguemba Forest Reserve (4 March). 10-30 daily in burned and primary forest
around Nite (1800-2350m) on Mount Cameroon; none recorded on the north-east
slope, above Bonakanda.
Thick-billed Seedeater Serinus burtoni – 6 at Bafut-Nguemba
Forest Reserve (4 March). 1-10 daily in burned forest above Nitele (2000-2350m),
Mt. Cameroon, but none on the north-east slope above Bonakanda.
Oriole Finch Linurgus olivaceus – 3 at Bafut-Nguemba Forest
Reserve (4 March). 7-20 daily in burned and secondary forest above Nitele and
Bonakanda on Mt. Cameroon (1500m upwards).
Chimpanzee A troupe of at least 6 at 1600m above Max's Camp, Mt. Kupé
in the late afternoon on 14 March.
Bushbaby sp. A single just above Max's Camp (1500m) at 7 am (during
the daytime) on 15 March.
Honeybee. These filled the "annoying pest" niche at both campsites
(radio station and Nitele) on Mount Cameroon and at Max's Camp on Mt. Kupé. If
you come at the same time of year I did, be prepared to share your tent/mosquito
net and food.