GABON July 1996: annotated trip list

by Don Roberson
This is an annotated list of 280 native species that I recorded in Gabon in July 1996. Some 179 were life birds (** on list; 63% of total) as my previous African visits had been a month in Kenya and one day in South Africa. As discussed in the companion trip report, I'm actually putting this all together in 2001 from partially completed trip lists done at the time, and from my detailed field notes. The status given is that which I recorded, and does not necessarily match the true status since I did not know vocalizations well (although I did learn some during the trip). Quotes are from my daily field notes compiled each night. More general comments have been added here and there from research done after the trip, including the review of literature not available at the time (e.g., Urban et al. 1998). In Feb 2002, Nik Borrow corrected several mistakes in my initial listings.

I include on my list here only those birds personally seen by me or, if a very few cases, birds heard with which I have prior experience in Africa. I did not count any birds whose vocalizations were pointed pointed out by the leaders but the bird was not seen by me. A short list follows this main report with 27 species recorded by others (many by the leaders on voice alone) that I did not see, although I did hear a number of them.


Ardea purpurea PURPLE HERON
 One west of La Lopé town, and a couple at M'Passa Reserve. We did not visit any true waterbird habitat on this trip.
Bubulcus ibis CATTLE EGRET
 A few daily around Libreville, and one near La Lopé town

Scopus umbretta HAMERKOP
 One or two most days at La Lopé, mostly down by the river

Bostrychia hagedash HADADA IBIS
 One at the Bokoué River crossing, and a few daily at La Lopé were it
Bostrychia rara SPOT-BREASTED IBIS **
 Four came in to roost, calling loudly, on the Limboumba River just outside Makokou. My notes say "they were larger & longer-billed than expected." This is quite a good species with a limited range.

Milvus migrans BLACK KITE
 A single bird at Lekoni was the only one; what a difference real forest makes!
Gypohierax angolensis PALM NUT VULTURE [photo above right from La Lopé]
 The regular & widespread vulture in southern Gabon (La Lopé, Lekoni), often over forest, and a few at M'Passa Reserve, but not more than 5 or so in any one day
Circaetus pectoralis BLACK-CHESTED SNAKE-EAGLE **
 An imm. on one day at Lekoni, and an adult the next day
Terathopius ecaudatus BATELEUR
 One vagrant imm. over Lekoni Canyon was a first record for Gabon; I took photos [one is below right]. We saw it both days we visited the spot.
Dryotriorchis spectabilis CONGO SERPENT-EAGLE **
 One nicely seen perched at the edge of the main clearing at M'Passa Reserve
Polyboroides typus AFRICAN HARRIER-HAWK
 Scattered birds throughout, including 8 our first day driving from the coast inland. The most likely raptor to be encountered enroute but also recorded inside the forest at M'Passa Reserve
Kaupifalco monogrammicus LIZARD BUZZARD
 A single bird seen only briefly on the hike to the rockfowl cave out of Bokaboka
Melierax metabates DARK CHANTING-GOSHAWK
 One imm. in open country on the Batéké Plateau
Accipiter erythropus RED-THIGHED SPARROW-HAWK **
 The only Accipiter of the trip was glimpsed at La Lopé and then seen better on the Batéké Plateau
Spizaetus africanus CASSIN'S HAWK-EAGLE **
 A subadult near Bokaboka, and two along Bélinga Rd., east of Makokou, were identified by the leaders and seen by the group; less certain is an imm. that I saw & sketched at La Lopé
Stephanoaetus coronatus CROWNED HAWK-EAGLE **
 One subadult in flight at La Lopé

Falco ardosacus GRAY KESTREL **
 One in open country on the Batéké Plateau
Falco peregrinus PEREGRINE FALCON
 A single bird over scrub habitat west of La Lopé

Francolinus squamatus SCALY FRANCOLIN
 Heard only in the forest at La Lopé, glimpsed daily at M'Passa, and finally seen at roadside enroute to Bokaboka (~10) and also along Bélinga Road

 We flushed a couple while driving jeeps across short grass prairie on the Batéké Plateau; we actually found that one had just left a nest with two eggs! (and we managed to avoid crushing them....)

Amaurornis falvirostra BLACK CRAKE
 Heard at La Lopé in one of the few swampy spots visited, and one seen in a marsh near Libreville

Eupodotis senegalensis WHITE-BELLIED BUSTARD
 Small groups (2-6 birds) seen in short grassland on Batéké Plateau; these are of the race barrowi that may be split as a separate species "Barrow's Bustard" or "Southern White-bellied Bustard," but so far most authorities do not do so (e.g.,  not split in Handbook of the Birds of the World).

Glareola nuchalis ROCK PRATINCOLE **
 A few (2-8) daily on the rocks in the rushing Ogooué River below La Lopé Lodge

Vanellus albiceps WHITE-HEADED LAPWING (White-crowned Plover) **
 One bird (same?) most days along the Ogooué River below La Lopé Lodge
Vanellus lugubris SENEGAL LAPWING **
 A single bird at forest-edge at La Lopé on 5 July appeared to have been flushed from a nest; several days later we had a flock of 25 in fields near La Lopé Lodge

Rynchops flavirostris AFRICAN SKIMMER
 A single bird seen daily on a sandbar in the Ogooué River below La Lopé Lodge

Columba unicincta AFEP DOVE ** [photo right]
 Twenty or so encountered along Bélinga Road, east of Makokou
Columba iriditorques WESTERN BRONZE-NAPED PIGEON **
 Two in Brachystegia woods on Batéké Plateau
Streptopelia semitorquata RED-EYED DOVE
 Common in open scub around La Lopé and on Batéké Plateau
 The common dove on the forest floor throughout Gabon, seen daily
Turtur tympanistria TAMBOURINE DOVE
 One seen in the clearing at M'Passa, others heard on Batéké Plateau
 The common pigeon in the forest canopy throughout, with numbers seen daily

Psittacus erithacus GRAY PARROT **
 A common forest parrot, often heard, in all forested reserves and throughout eastern Gabon
Poecephalus gulielmi JARDINE'S PARROT
 A pair seen at forest edge at La Lopé

 Several daily around Ivindo Palace Hotel in Makokou

Tauraco persa GREEN TURACO **
 The common forest turaco at La Lopé but only seen once (heard daily); also seen along Bélinga Road
Tauraco macrorhynchus YELLOW-BILLED TURACO **
 One rather poorly seen, and others heard, at M'Passa
Corythaeola cristata GREAT BLUE TURACO
 A few of these big birds encountered irregularly: La Lopé (once), enroute to Franceville, and at M'Passa

Cuculus clamosus BLACK CUCKOO **
 One male seen in savanna woodland on the Batéké Plateau; it had a rusty chest as shown by the race gabonensis and thus looks more similar to Red-chested Cuckoo C. solitarius than the all-black nominate birds of southern Africa. It is possible that the one we saw may someday be split ("Gabon Cuckoo")
Chrysococcyx cupreus AFRICAN EMERALD CUCKOO
 One heard in La Lopé Reserve but not seen was only counted on this list since I had previous experience with the species in Kenya
Chrysococcyx flavigularis YELLOW-THROATED CUCKOO **
 A male watched calling from the canopy of forest edge along the lower part of the trail to the Bokaboka rockfowl cave. Ian & Patrice felt this was the best bird of the trip; it is little known and scarce within its range that extends only from northeast Gabon and through the two Congos in the Congo Basin. It is a small dark cuckoo with golden-yellow stripe from chin through throat to upper breast
Chrysococcyx caprius DIDERIC CUCKOO **
 One in light woods and scrub west of La Lopé
Ceuthmochares aereus YELLOWBILL
 Just one seen at La Lopé but a few daily in M'Passa Reserve

Centropus anselli GABON COUCAL **
 One along the edge of the Limboumba River near Makokou. This is a very large coucal with entirely tawny underparts. Fry, Keith & Urban (1988) state it is a bird of "swampy forest" that is "extremely difficult to see." Its range is limited to the western Congo Basin, so this was a fine observation
Centropus monachus BLUE-HEADED COUCAL **
 One imm. in marshy scrub west of La Lopé, and two adults at M'Passa Reserve. A smaller coucal that likes damp spots.
Centropus senegalensis SENEGAL COUCAL **
 Someone in the group had it daily at La Lopé but I saw only one bird; a few more were seen at M'Passa and along Bélinga Road. This was a bird of thick tangles at forest edge.

Bubo poensis FRASER'S EAGLE-OWL **
 A roosting owl found adjacent to Ivindo Palace Hotel, Makokou, and photographed [right]; this might be one of very few photos of this little-known species taken in the wild
Strix woodfordii AFRICAN WOOD-OWL
 One seen during an evening's owling expedition into La Lopé Reserve

Caprimulgus pectoralis FIERY-NECKED NIGHTJAR **
 One bird flushed during the day at the edge of Brachystegia woods on the Batéké Plateau. At the time we thought this was the recently split Black-shouldered Nightjar C. nigriscapularis  of western Africa. I wrote of the daytime bird that it "was mid-sized, was dark and had much reduced white in wings, and, in flight, looked to be brown with blackish upperwing coverts." It turns out that this was a mistaken belief based on assumptions about the two species ranges after the split; both have dark upperwing coverts. Black-shouldered is a savanna bird precluded from reaching southeast Gabon by the forests of the Congo Basin; Fiery-necked is a Brachystegia species of southern Africa that extends north into southeast Gabon as do many other similar birds. This correction was brought to my attention by Des Jackson in Feb 2002 (he is writing a paper on their distribution for The Ostrich) and was conclusively determined by Nik Borrow and Patrice Christy in 1998 (specimen acquired; found dead on road nearby). Alas, my mistaken claim has now been published by D. T. Holyoak in his recent Nightjars book in the Oxford Press series, and will need to be corrected.
Caprimulgus natalensis SWAMP (Natal) NIGHTJAR **
 Three spotlighted in open country near La Lopé Lodge, and another flushed in the day on Batéké Plateau. Of the daytime bird I wrote that it "is small, has lots of white patches on wing & tail, and (when close in the daytime) has a distinct golden wash on the back."
Caprimulgus tristigma FRECKLED NIGHTJAR **
 A female was found sitting on a rock that she matched closely during the day at La Lopé Reserve. I wrote that it had "a lovely mottled-gray pattern that matched the vocanic-gray rocks."
Caprimulgus batesi BATES' NIGHTJAR **
 One responded to tape and landed nearby after dark in La Lopé Reserve. I wrote that it was "quite large, fairly dark, with reduced white patches in wing (but still prominent), and was watched calling from a stump in a curious potoo-like upright stance. The call was a gruff hoot, like a raspy pygmy-owl."
Caprimulgus climacurus LONG-TAILED NIGHTJAR **
 Six flushed from grass at the edge of Brachystegia woods on Batéké Plateau. I wrote that these "were the size of Gabon Nightjar but quite gray, and several had long tails."
Caprimulgus fossii GABON (Mozambique) NIGHTJAR **
 One flushed during the day in grasslands on Batéké Plateau. I wrote that it "looked like a big version of the Natal, but without the golden wash, being just a medium-brown basal color."

Rhaphidura sabini SABINE'S SPINETAIL **
 The common spinetail over forests at La Lopé and then daily throughout eastern Gabon
Neafrapus cassini CASSIN'S SPINETAIL **
 A few daily over forest at La Lopé, and at M'Passa and along Bélinga Rd., but many fewer than Sabine's
Cypsiurus parvus AFRICAN PALM-SWIFT
 Widespread in open country away from forests, including Batéké Plateau, and over villages and clearings in eastern Gabon
Apus affinis LITTLE SWIFT
 Common over rivers in more open country, with hundreds above Bokoué River and rivers around Makokou, and scattered birds elsewhere; common on Batéké Plateau
Apus horus HORUS SWIFT
 A smattering of swifts over the Batéké Plateau included these, and another over La Lopé Lodge
 A small flock over the forest at La Lopé
Apus batesi BATE'S SWIFT **
 A flock of six foraging over a river near La Lopé the first day of the trip were the only ones

Apaloderma aequatoriale BARE-CHEEKED TROGON **
 Two calling along Bélinga Road, east of Makokou, and after much effort one was poorly seen

Alcedo quadribrachys SHINING BLUE KINGFISHER **
 A single bird enjoyed in the forest at La Lopé
Alcedo leucogaster WHITE-BELLIED KINGFISHER **
 This tiny kingfisher zipped by up a small stream inside the forest at La Lopé Reserve; others saw African Pygy Kingfisher Ispidina picta at La Lopé and on Batéké Plateau, but I missed those
 Singles at La Lopé and M'Passa reserves; quite a fine, striking bird
Halycon senegalensis WOODLAND KINGFISHER
 A bird of scubby habitat seen in the garden at N'djole and near La Lopé
 One along the Ogooué River at La Lopé Lodge, another at M'Passa, and others had more in forests
 A couple in broken woodlands on Batéké Plateau
Halycon chelicuti STRIPED KINGFISHER
 Two in woodlands of Batéké Plateau
Megaceryle maxima GIANT KINGFISHER
 A single bird at the Bokoué River crossing the first day of the trip was it

Merops gularis BLACK BEE-EATER **
 A beautiful bee-eater of the forest, seen irregularly at La Lopé, along the river outside of Makokou, and in forests near N'djole
Merops pusillus LITTLE BEE-EATER
 Common in the open country on Batéké Plateau
Merops variegatus BLUE-BREASTED BEE-EATER **
 Good numbers daily at La Lopé Reserve
Merops malimbicus ROSY BEE-EATER **
 An estimated 500-700 roosted on wires crossing a river in the center of Franceville each evening; a very few others seen over open country on Batéké Plateau and one at a distance at La Lopé

 A single bird in open county at Lekoni
Eurystomus gularis BLUE-THROATED ROLLER **
 A fine bird seen nicely on a bare limb in forest along Bélinga Road, east of Makokou, during the termite "hatch"

Tockus albocristatus WHITE-CRESTED HORNBILL **
 Great views of a single bird in La Lopé Reserve as it perched in primary forest. I liked it so much that I drew a sketch in my field notes. This species is known for following troops of monkeys and, although I did not see any monkeys in the immediate vicinity, there are plenty of monkeys in this forest. Two more were seen in the forest in M'Passa Reserve
Tockus hartlaubi BLACK DWARF HORNBILL **
 Single individuals in La Lopé Reserve, in woodland at Lekoni, and along Bélinga Road, east of Makokou
 Small parties (6-10/day) in deep forest at La Lopé Reserve, and a few each visit to M'Passa Reserve
Tockus fasciatus AFRICAN PIED HORNBILL **
 Widespread and common in woodlands with fair numbers (10-20) seen almost every day. The best experience was photographing one as it went "flycatching" from the canopy along Bélinga Road during a termite swarm (photo right).
Ceratogymna fistulator PIPING HORNBILL **
 Another widespread small hornbill: daily at La Lopé and around Makokou & east, also Lekoni
Ceratogymna atrata BLACK-CASQUED HORNBILL **
 A huge massive hornbill, usually seen heavily flapping between patches of forest, and a few seen most days at La Lopé and M'Passa reserves

Gymnobucco calvus NAKED-FACED BARBET **
 A few daily (1-5/day) at La Lopé and around Franceville & Lekoni
Gymnobucco peli BRISTLE-NOSED BARBET **
 A pair at a lunch stop somewhere between  La Lopé and Franceville, and then singles east of Makokou on Bélinga Road and the hike to the rockfowl spot from Bokaboka
Gymnobucco bonapartei GRAY-THROATED BARBET
 Three enroute La Lopé to Franceville, and four more in a late afternoon visit to forest near Makokou
Pogoniulus scolopaceus SPECKLED TINKERBIRD **
 I had singles on a couple days at La Lopé, and a couple more on Bélinga Road, east of Makokou
Pogoniulus subsulphureus YELLOW-THROATED TINKERBIRD **
 One at La Lopé Reserve and another along the Ogooué River below La Lopé Lodge; others heard M'Passa
Pogoniulus bilineatus YELLOW-RUMPED TINKERBIRD
 Widespread and heard most days in woodland, but I only saw one in the Franceville vicinity
Pogoniulus duchaillui YELLOW-SPOTTED BARBET
 One seen along Bélinga Road, east of Makokou; others heard in eastern Gabon
 One at Lekoni; this is a spectacular bird but I don't remember this one nearly as well as my "lifer" in Kenya back in 1981
Trachyphonus purpuratus YELLOW-BILLED BARBET
 A couple inside the forest one day at La Lopé Reserve

Indicator maculatus SPOTTED HONEYGUIDE **
 One in the forest at La Lopé Reserve
Indicator willcocksi WILLCOCK'S HONEYGUIDE **
 One seen at forest edge at M'Passa Reserve. Another unidentified honeyguide there might have been an imm. Western Least I. exilis but it got away
Melichneutes robustus LYRE-TAILED HONEYGUIDE **
 Heard daily in display flight over the primary forest canopy at La Lopé and M'Passa reserves, and one finally seen in display on 8 July. I described the experience in my notes: "we were on a nearby adjacent cleared ridge [to the forest] and heard the display sound about 6 times, usually 10 minutes apart, although once was 12 minutes apart and the last two only 5 minutes apart. I did pick up the bird high the sky with my bins, and watched it for several minutes as it did short [downward] 'staircase' steps in the sky; it looks like a mid-sized greenbul but fatter/short-necked; dark olive above, paler below, with fairly short tail which had white outer patches to the sides of the tail. The 'stair steps' got larger as the bird neared the canopy and it finally dived back in. The sound gets louder and louder & more intense and quavering. [It is] hard to describe quality: 'vwummp - vwummmp- vwummmmp-vwummmmmp!,' etc."
 This was one of my most-wanted birds on the trip. It is a great experience to actually observe, hear and "feel" the vibrations from the impressive display flight.
Prodotiscus insignis CASSIN'S HONEYGUIDE **
 A single bird along Bélinga Road, east of Makokou. I wrote "in canopy flock -- rather like yesterday's Wilcock's (simply gray-brown with plain face) but bill thin & medium-length."

 A single bird in open country at Lekoni
Campethera caroli BROWN-EARED WOODPECKER **
 Scattered birds singly or in pairs: La Lopé and M'Passa reserves, and near Franceville
Dendropicos fuscescens CARDINAL WOODPECKER
 Single birds both days in open country at Lekoni
Dendropicos gabonensis GABON WOODPECKER **
 Three during a visit to forest near Makokou, and several more in M'Passa Reserve
Mesopicos xantholophus YELLOW-CRESTED WOODPECKER
 A pair on one day in La Lopé Reserve

Smithornis rufolateralis RUFOUS-SIDED BROADBILL **
 A real highlight was watching this little broadbill do display flights inside M'Passa Forest. He sits on a small cross-branch and then leaps into the air, sometimes flipping around, and returning to the branch or nearby in a short elliptical flight, all the while accompanied by a dry mechanical trill. These displays are not unlike manakins in South America. Like them, the bird can be hard to locate. We heard broadbills each day in M'Passa but located just one.

Erythrocercus mccallii CHESTNUT-CAPPED FLYCATCHER **
 A small flycatcher inside the forest; a couple at La Lopé and daily (5-7/day) at M'Passa Reserve
 One at forest edge at a stop enroute La Lopé to Franceville
Trochocercus rufiventer RED-BELLIED PARADISE-FLYCATCHER **
 Two in the forest at La Lopé
Trochocercus batesi BATES' PARADISE-FLYCATCHER **
 A few daily inside the forest at M'Passa Reserve, and a couple more along Bélinga Road, east of Makokou
 A few daily at La Lopé, including white-tailed males, at M'Passa, and also at various roadside stops; sometimes found in mixed flocks foraging in the forest

Dicururus ludwigii SQUARE-TAILED DRONGO
 A couple most days inside the forest at La Lopé, including in mixed foraging flocks, and also at M'Passa
Dicururus atripennis SHINING DRONGO **
 Two at M'Passa Reserve on one visit
Dicururus adsimilis FORK-TAILED DRONGO
 This open country drongo was found on the Batéké Plateau
Dicururus modestus VELVET-MANTLED DRONGO
 This forest drongo was encountered daily at La Lopé, and at M'Passa, and then quite a few (8) were foraging on the termite hatch along Bélinga Road, east of Makokou

Corvus albus PIED CROW
 Just a couple in open country; one near the Libreville and the other on the Batéké Plateau

Oriolus brachyrhynchus WESTERN BLACK-HEADED ORIOLE
 Several daily in M'Passa Reserve, and also most days at La Lopé
Oriolus nigripennis BLACK-WINGED ORIOLE **
 Less common than the preceding species, with just singles irregularly at La Lopé and M'Passa

Coracina azurea BLUE CUCKOO-SHRIKE **
 Heard in the woods at Lekoni, singles were nicely seen in M'Passa Reserve and along Bélinga Road
Campephaga quiscalina PURPLE-THROATED CUCKOO-SHRIKE **
 One male seen well on Bélinga Road, east of Makokou. Petit's Cuckoo-Shrike C. petiti was recorded by others around Lekoni

Lanius collaris COMMON FISCAL
 Common in open country on the Batéké Plateau (8-10/day)

Dryoscopus senegalensis RED-EYED PUFFBACK **
 I saw three males, two at M'Passa and one at La Lopé, but others recorded it more widely in forest
Dryoscopus sabini SABINE'S PUFFBACK **
 One female inside the forest at M'Passa Reserve
 I had one at Lekoni, but others had more on the Batéké Plateau
Laniarius luehderi LUEHDER'S BUSHSHRIKE
 One seen after much effort in a thick patch of scrub on the edge of Lekoni Canyon; I worked my way well inside the thicket to get views. Several others heard in other thickets on the Batéké Plateau and at La Lopé
 Heard daily at La Lopé but only glimpsed there; finally seen adequately in forest along Bélinga Road. Alas, the Gabon Helmetshrike Prionops rufiventris was only heard at La Lopé

 A single bird at La Lopé
 A pair in the garden of La Lopé Lodge, a few daily in the forest of the nearby reserve, and single males both days on the Batéké Plateau
Batis molitor CHINSPOT BATIS
 One or two of this open country batis were found daily on the Batéké Plateau
 One male inside the forest at La Lopé Reserve
Batis occulta WEST AFRICAN BATIS **
 Two nice males around La Lopé Reserve
 One male in scrubby thickets several miles west of La Lopé
Platysteira castanea CHESTNUT WATTLE-EYE **
 Fabulous pairs were in the forests at La Lopé and M'Passa
Platysteira tonsa WHITE-SPOTTED WATTLE-EYE **
 A pair at La Lopé, and then 4 each day inside the forest at M'Passa
Platysteira chalybea BLACK-NECKED WATTLE-EYE **
 A pair of this striking wattle-eye were in the huge mixed foraging flock our last day at La Lopé
Platysteira concreta YELLOW-BELLIED WATTLE-EYE
 One of these bright neon little birds was in the huge mixed foraging flock our last day at La Lopé

Neocossyphus fraseri RUFOUS FLYCATCHER-THRUSH **
 Singles inside the forest on two days at La Lopé, and another at M'Passa Reserve
Neocossyphus rufus RED-TAILED ANT-THRUSH **
 One skulking about the undergrowth inside the forest at M'Passa Reserve
Turdus pelios AFRICAN THRUSH
 Widespread in small numbers, including in hotel gardens at Libreville and Makokou, at La Lopé, and on the Batéké Plateau
Alethe policephala BROWN-CHESTED ALETHE
 A very hard bird to see with but a brief glimpse at La Lopé; heard daily at M'Passa
Alethe castanea FIRE-CRESTED ALETHE **
 Another very difficult bird to observe, but seen briefly daily at M'Passa and also Bokaboka trail

Onychognathus fulgidus CHESTNUT-WINGED STARLING **
 One at Lekoni
Lamprotornis purpureiceps PURPLE-HEADED GLOSSY-STARLING **
 One at M'Passa Reserve, two more along Bélinga Road, and glimpsed on Batéké Plateau
Lamprotornis splendidus SPLENDID STARLING **
 Irregular small flocks at La Lopé and M'Passa reserves
Cinnyricinclus leucogaster VIOLET-BACKED STARLING **
 A group of six on the Batéké Plateau
 A very few birds around La Lopé Reserve where there are Forest Buffalo

Bradornis pallidus PALE FLYCATCHER
 A flycatcher of open woodlands found on the Batéké Plateau
 This is a really neat little flycatcher; two found along ravines deep inside La Lopé Reserve
 A pair feeding a fledging at La Lopé Reserve
Muscicapa infuscata SOOTY FLYCATCHER **
 A forest flycatcher with a couple at La Lopé, in M'Passa, and along Bélinga Road
Muscicapa comitata DUSKY-BLUE FLYCATCHER **
 Single birds in the forest at La Lopé and at M'Passa reserves
Muscicapa cassini CASSIN'S FLYCATCHER **
 One over the sluggish river near town at La Lopé
Muscicapa caerulescens ASHY (Blue-gray) FLYCATCHER **
 One at a roadside stop in eastern Gabon enroute from Franceville to Makokou
Myioparus plumbeus GREY (Fan-tailed) TIT-FLYCATCHER **
 Singles at La Lopé and M'Passa reserves  were it
Stiphrornis erythrothorax FOREST ROBIN ** [photo above right]
 One taped in by Ian deep inside the forest at La Lopé where we worked with it long enough for flash photos, and two more at M'Passa
Saxicola torquata COMMON STONECHAT
 Scattered birds in open country on Batéké Plateau, and some of the group saw birds around La Lopé (and found a nest there)
Myrmecocichla tholloni CONGO MOORCHAT **
 This enigmatic chat sat on termite mounds in grasslands on the Batéké Plateau (8-12/day); photo on my Thrush Family page
Myrmecocichla nigra SOOTY CHAT
 Common in open plains on the Batéké Plateau

Pseudochelidon curystomina AFRICAN RIVER-MARTIN **
 One of the best birds of the trip a half-dozen among a swarm of swallows & swifts over the Lolo River between La Lopé and Franceville. I tried to take photos [one is below right] and drew a sketch, and my notes read: "Big broad-winged brutes, fly like starlings [but like little rollers in shape], with red bills, red eyes, and orange feet." They eventually settled in the top branches of a dead riverside tree. This is a mythical bird whose breeding grounds were unknown until recently and which "disappears" into the Congo Basin after nesting on the Gabon coast. Our birds were migrants, and a lucky find.
Riparia cincta BANDED MARTIN **
 Fair numbers (8-10/day) around Lekoni
Hirundo griseopyga GRAY-RUMPED SWALLOW **
 Just a couple at La Lopé
Hirundo lucida RED-CHESTED SWALLOW **
 A single bird near La Lopé was only the 3rd record for Gabon. My notes read: "At the log yard ~15 km north of La Lopé we saw a Hirundo swallow, rather like a Barn Swallow, with dark blue back and forked tail (like Barn) but no streamers, and lots of white in the tail. Underparts showed much red red in the chest, but I failed to note the exact pattern. It was foraging Barn Swallow-like over the Ogooué River."
 I admit this is a species that I would not have identified on this description but for the expertise of Patrice & Ian. This swallow has an odd distribution: west Africa and then isolated populations in Ethiopia and two disjunct areas in the Congo Basin
 Single individuals over the Bokoué River enroute to La Lopé, over the Lolo River between La Lopé and Franceville, and over a stream on Bélinga Road, east of Makokou
 This is the common swallow throughout interior Gabon; 50-100 birds on some days and usually present over any body of water
Hirundo semirufa RUFOUS-CHESTED (Red-breasted) SWALLOW **
 A couple at the same spot on two days around La Lopé, and then 50 or more on the long drive in eastern Gabon from Franceville to Makokou. These are big fork-tailed swallows like Red-rumped Swallow of Eurasia
Hirundo rufigula RED-THROATED SWALLOW **
 Two over the Bokoué River enroute to La Lopé; this species (sometimes called "Angola Cliff Swallow") has only recently expanded into southwestern Gabon
Hirundo fuliginosa FOREST SWALLOW **
 Two of these all-brown swallows were foraging over the forest (and not seen all that well) on our final day in Gabon somewhere between Makokou and Libreville in northern Gabon. It was a regular stake-out spot.
Psalidoprocne occulta SQUARE-TAILED SAWWING **
 A very few around La Lopé but then fair numbers daily in eastern Gabon (M'Passa, Bokaboka, etc.)
Psalidoprocne petiti PETIT'S SAWWING **
 A few in or around La Lopé, including over the Ogooué River below the lodge

Pycnonotus barbatus COMMON BULBUL
 Abundant roadside and garden bird throughout Gabon
Andropadus virens LITTLE GREENBUL **
 A common species in scrub and edge thickets; numbers recorded virtually daily once the calls were learned. Much more difficult to see and I saw it only three times (La Lopé and M'Passa); it is "small & dull."
Andropadus gracilis GRAY (Little Grey) GREENBUL **
 This is the common "blah-greenbul" in canopy flocks in the forests. At La Lopé, I wrote that we had "lots of mixed bird parties, dominated by, it seemed, the very dull Gray Greenbul." Also dominant in flocks at M'Passa and on Bélinga Road
Andropadus ansorgei ANSORGE'S GREENBUL
 Only one seen well in a huge flock at La Lopé; looks rather like Gray Greenbul but distinctly buffy flanks
Andropadus curvirostris PLAIN GREENBUL **
 Called "Cameron Sombre Greenbul" by some books (and by Ian Sinclair), it is bigger & slower than Gray Greenbul and is usually at mid-canopy. At La Lopé, I wrote that it was "very plain with paler throat, pale yellow belly."
Andropadus gracilirostis SLENDER-BILLED GREENBUL
 Long-tailed, long-and-thin billed, and only in the canopy. Several at La Lopé, also M'Passa & Bélinga Rd.
Andropadus latirostris YELLOW-WHISKERED GREENBUL
 For a bird that dominated flocks in Kakamega Forest, Kenya, there were surprisingly few. Just a few scattered birds at La Lopé, in forest edge enroute several places, and at M'Passa
Calyptochichla serina GOLDEN GREENBUL **
 A striking greenbul: one at M'Passa and two along Bélinga Road
Baeopogon indicator HONEYGUIDE GREENBUL
 Common in eastern Gabon, and a few at La Lopé, but mostly just heard. Only a few were nicely seen in the canopy.
Baeopogon clamans SJOSTEDT'S GREENBUL **
 At La Lopé, I wrote about a couple "larger, wonderfully accomodating, white-tailed, dark-eyed" birds in a canopy flock; heard only at M'Passa
Ixonotus guttatus SPOTTED GREENBUL **
 Daily at M'Passa and other eastern Gabon forests, but mostly heard. Only a few well seen.
Chlorocichla simplex SIMPLE GREENBUL **
 One in the scrubby edge habitat near M'Passa Reserve
Chlorocichla flavicollis YELLOW-THROATED GREENBUL **
 The race at La Lopé is C. f. soror with white throat (so very misnamed); it is in the hotel garden and in tangles along the river, not in the forest flocks. One at Ivindo Palace Hotel, Makokou
Chlorocichla falkenstenini YELLOW-NECKED GREENBUL **
 A single bird at M'Passa in second-growth plantation on the road into the reserve; the leaders know a stakeout spot
Thescelocichla leucopleura SWAMP GREENBUL **
 Loud & noisy & very active -- hard to actually see -- at M'Passa and along Bélinga Road
Phyllastrephus albigularis WHITE-THROATED GREENBUL **
 Singles in the forest at La Lopé and M'Passa reserves
Phyllastrephus icterinus ICTERINE GREENBUL **
 Fairly common (up to 10/day) at M'Passa; another on Bélinga Road and heard daily (but not seen) at La Lopé
Phyllastrephus xavieri XAVIER'S GREENBUL **
 Rather scarce at M'Passa Reserve where two seen in the forest on the final day there
 We chased a noisy pair with the group the first day at La Lopé, two more were in our big undergrowth flock there, and another two were in M'Passa Reserve; all inside the forest, near the ground
Nicator chloris WESTERN NICATOR **
 Heard daily in thickets at La Lopé in the forest, but never seen there. Rita & I finally had nice views of a couple when alone inside forest at M'Passa Reserve
Criniger chloronotus EASTERN BEARDED GREENBUL **
 "Huge with big puffy white throat & reddish tail" and "forages near ground"
Criniger calurus RED-TAILED GREENBUL **
 In comparison with Eastern Bearded, this species is "smaller & darker, with much smaller white throat" and is in the mixed flocks
Criniger ndussumensis WHITE-BEARDED GREENBUL **
 At M'Passa two were called in with tape, and another found feeding a youngster
Neolestes torquatus BLACK-COLLARED BULBUL **
 Two in stunted Brachystegia woods on Batéké Plateau

Cisticola lateralis WHISTLING CISTICOLA **
 I saw only one in a forest clearing at La Lopé Reserve. I presume Patrice helped me with this one, although I don't have a written description.
Cisticola anonymus CHATTERING CISTICOLA **
 This is a bird of second-growth and scrubby habitat. Our first was in the garden in back of our lunch stop restaurant in N'djole; more were at other roadside stops and in scrubby edge around Makokou. It is an inquisitive cock-tailed dull bird, but ranges only through west central Africa.
Cisticola rufilatus GRAY CISTICOLA **
 A couple daily on Batéké Plateau. My notes say: "What is called 'Tinkling Cisticola' looks nothing like the birds pictured in the South Africa book. These are quite pale; medium-sized with long tail; pattern is rufous crown, pale grayish-brown dull back, rufous tail; dull whitish-buff below. The face is marked with a black line through lores to eye, an indistinct whitish supercilium, and the rufous crown, producing a very 'Chipping Sparrow'-like facial pattern. Song is also somewhat like Chipping Sparrow -- a flat dry trill, although sweeter "chip" notes may precede the trill"
    This was a case of confusing English names. This is actually not "Tinkling Cisticola C. tinniens" as I had on my prepared checklist but Gray Cisticola C. rufilatus. To further confuse matters, Urban et al. (1997) call C. rufilatus "Tinkling Cisticola" and C. tinniens "Levaillant's Cisticola." And they show neither ranging to Gabon! My details nicely match the description and painting of C. rufilatus which obviously does occur in southeast Gabon, by whatever name it is called.
Cisticola natalensis CROAKING CISTICOLA **
 This was the regular Cisticola in small numbers in scrubby grasslands on the road into La Lopé Lodge. It is a large, bill-billed streaked Cisticola with pale tail tips.
Cisticola brachyptera SIFFLING CISTICOLA
 I got only glimpses of this dingy bird, mostly from the back of the moving jeep, in grassy patches enroute daily to La Lopé Reserve. This was okay since I had seen a fair number in Kenya previously.
Cisticola brunnescens PECTORAL-PATCH CISTICOLA
 One or two in grasslands around La Lopé, and several daily on Batéké Plateau.
Cisticola dambo DAMBO CISTICOLA [distant photo right]
  One of the small 'cloud-scraper' Cisticolas was on territory on the Batéké Plateau on a hilltop that had a radio tower. The habitat is short grass among small rocks with isolated bushes. It is presumably the bird called "Cloud-scraping Cisticola C. dambo" by Sargeant (1993) who says it is known only from this one spot, found by Patrice Christy in 1991. Ian Sinclair did some playback experiments with tapes of C. dambo from Zambia. The bird responded vigorously to a playback of its own just-recorded song, but did not respond at all to the dambo tapes. The bird sang from both scrub tops and in a long, towering flight. The song was just "chip - chip - chip;" sometimes run together very fast and other times just single sweet "chip" notes.
    My description says "A small, pale Cisticola in the Pectoral-patch/Ayres'/etc. group but, for that group, quite long-tailed. The tail is black and lacks any pale tips. Face is plain: crown rufous which fades into face; underparts pale whitish; back & wing-coverts streak black-and-white (e.g., "Pectoral-patch" pattern). Bill small, short, dark; eye dark; legs pale yellowish." I took some distant photos.
    At the time we thought C. dambo was ruled out by song, and that this was likely a new species undescribed to science. Urban et al. (1997) explain that there is much taxonomic confusion about the status of this group in southeast Gabon. We saw Pectoral-patch [Patrice Christy is credited in BofA with stating that the songs given are like those from tapes of birds in Cameron of race C. b. lynesi] but whether Wing-snapping (Ayres') P. ayresii occurs is problematic [there still are no records as of 2002]. Subsequent work by Nik Borrow, Patrice Christy, and others has since confirmed that our bird was, indeed, C. dambo. There is simply variation in songs from Zambian populations.
    Nik Borrow says there is an undescribed species on the Batéké Plateau, but it is a very dull one and not colorful like our 'sky-scraper.' I very much appreciate the comments of Nik Borrow, lead author of a new field guide for west Africa, for sorting this all out for me. So this is a 'mystery Cisticola' no longer....
 One glimpsed in grassy scrub near Lekoni. This species is very widespread in Africa and I didn't sweat it
Prinia leucopogon WHITE-CHINNED PRINIA
 A couple in scrub west of La Lopé that I tried to photograph; others had more near M'Passa
Prinia bairdii BANDED PRINIA
 Pairs seen at La Lopé and along the Bélinga Road east of Makokou. This is a striking bird that I'd previously encountered in the Kakamega Forest of Kenya
Apalis nigriceps BLACK-CAPPED APALIS **
 One in a canopy flock in the forest at M'Passa Reserve
Apalis rufogularis BUFF-THROATED APALIS
 One in a forested patch on the Batéké Plateau near Lekoni
Apalis goslingi GOSLING'S APALIS **
 A pair seen at the closed end of Bélinga Road in riverine vegetation. Although it is rather nondescript, it is a fine bird to get since its range is limited to central Africa. Urban et al. (1997) details its habitat well: "Occurs principally along river and streams in lowland forest; in Gabon each pair occupies 400-800 m of river frontage." Other saw another pair on the Ivindo River at Makokou.
Camaroptera brevicaudata GRAY-BACKED CAMAROPTERA
 A bird of edges and scrub found along the Ogooué River and La Lopé and M'Passa edges
Camaroptera superciliaris YELLOW-BROWED CAMAROPTERA **
 Single birds in flocks inside the forest at M'Passa
Camaroptera chloronota OLIVE-GREEN CAMAROPTERA
 An elusive bird heard daily at La Lopé and M'Passa, and also on Batéké Plateau, but not seen until one taped in along Bélinga Road

Bradypterus grandis DJA RIVER SCRUB-WARBLER **
 Patrice Christy & local guides took us to the only known locale for this species in the world, newly discovered by Patrice last year in La Lopé Reserve. It is a swampy area in cut-over forest filled with thick sedge-like grasses. The warblers responded to Patrice's tape after much effort.  My notes read: "A very, very hard bird to see; finally responded to tape of its song. It sang vigorously for the next hour, but views were very brief. The song called the pattern of Song Sparrow [in North America]: 'chip-chip-chip-trillllll'. Brief flights [showed] a big, long-tailed, floppy marsh-warbler which was tawny-brown above, whitish below. Got one binocular look at face: gray-brown crown, grayer face & line thru lores, setting off a pale whitish supercilium. I could barely see the blackish streak which allegedly outline the throat."
 The final song was delivered by flying up a couple feet and fluttering down into the marsh, a much more dramatic maneuver than its quiet stalking & singing from unseen perches in dense rank vegetation. I drew a quick pencil sketch.
Eremomela salvadorii SALVADORI'S EREMOMELA **
 One in savanna brush near Lekoni; this species has a limited range from southeast Gabon & Congo to Angola and northwest Zambia
Eremomela scotops GREEN-CAPPED EREMOMELA **
 A tight flock in stunted Brachystegia woodland on the Batéké Plateau
Eremomela badiceps RUFOUS-CROWNED EREMOMELA **
 A few scattered about the La Lopé area, including one in the huge flock encountered in the forest on the final day there, and another along the Ogooué River in tree tops
Sylvietta virens GREEN CROMBEC **
 One in La Lopé Reserve and another in riverine vegetation below the Lodge on the Ogooué River; others had more at M'Passa
Sylvietta denti LEMON-BELLIED CROMBEC **
 One around the clearing at M'Passa Reserve
Macrosphenus concolor GRAY LONGBILL **
 One in a flock at forest's edge at the lunchstop half-way between La Lopé and Franceville; others heard in woods near Lekoni and daily in forest of e. Gabon, plus another seen on the trail out of Bokaboka
Hylia prasina GREEN HYLIA **
 Three seen in mid-level flocks in M'Passa Reserve, then heard daily thereafter in forest of e. Gabon
Hyliota flavigaster YELLOW-BELLIED HYLIOTA **
 One in stunted scrubby habitat on the Batéké Plateau
Schoenicola brevirostris FAN-TAILED (Broad-tailed Warbler) GRASSBIRD **
 One in a grassy marsh at La Lopé Reserve. Urban et al. (1997) lump this with S. platyura of India but it is split by Sibley & Monroe (1990), Clements (1991).

Illadopsis cleaveri BLACKCAP ILLADOPSIS **
 One with the big flock that I followed through the forest undergrowth on our final day at La Lopé where it was skulking but tame. A cool bird at limited in range to west and central Africa
Illadopsis fulvescens BROWN ILLADOPSIS **
 One seen in thickets at La Lopé but not as well as the previous species

Picathartes oreas GREY-NECKED (Red-headed) ROCKFOWL **
 Two birds flushed from the cave outside Bokaboka were obviously the highlight of the trip, even if seen only very briefly. The all-day experience to just get to the site was memorable, but the quick view just made we desperately to want more. I feel like I need to go back after this prize some day in the future.... More details and photos of the trek on my Rockfowl page

Parus leucomelas WHITE-WINGED BLACK TIT **
 A small flock of four in stunted Brachystegia on Batéké Plateau
Parus funereus DUSKY TIT
 Scarce in eastern Gabon but three at M'Passa, and others had more on Bélinga Road

Pholidornis rushiae TIT-HYLIA **
 A few daily in the canopy flocks at M'Passa Reserve; a neat little bird

Mirafra africana RUFOUS-NAPED LARK
 A few daily in grassland on Batéké Plateau. My notes say it had "short crest, fairly warm buffy plumage with lightly streaked breast." The race collected in southeast Gabon is M. r. schoutedeni, said to be "rather pale brown, lightly marked" (Urban et al. 1997). My notes quote Ian as saying the song is unlike other Rufous-naped Larks, and that he felt it looked as much like Angola Lark M. angolensis as anything else. My transcription of the song is of short phrases, with long pauses between, vaguely like a very slow Solitary Vireo, and each phrase in a three-note pattern recalling Eastern Phoebe (but pitch is lark-like, not nasal): 'fee-be-ah';" this song is very unlike that described for Angola Lark in Urban et al. (1997).
Mirafra rufocinnamomea FLAPPET LARK
 The common grassland lark on the Batéké Plateau; usually flushed by the jeeps and seen in flight

 Common around the hotel in Libreville, and a few in open country on Batéké Plateau
Petronia superciliaris YELLOW-THROATED PETRONIA **
 One near Lekoni on Batéké Plateau
 One in stunted Brachystegia woods on Batéké Plateau; others had another near Bokaboka
 A single bird at forest edge at La Lopé was the only one
Negrita luteifrons PALE-FRONTED NEGROFINCH **
 A pair nicely seen along Bélinga Road
Negrita canicapilla GRAY-HEADED NEGROFINCH
 A few widely scattered birds: La Lopé, Batéké Plateau, and near Makokou
Pyrenestes ostrinus BLACK-BELLIED SEEDCRACKER **
 Only small numbers (1-6/day) but widely scattered from La Lopé to Batéké Plateau to M'Passa and other points in eastern Gabon
Spermophaga haematina WESTERN BLUEBILL **
 One was with the huge undergrowth flock at La Lopé, and another was glimpsed elsewhere in that Reserve
Estrilda paludicola FAWN-BREASTED WAXBILL **
 A small flock in open woodland on Batéké Plateau
Estrilda melpoda ORANGE-CHEEKED WAXBILL **
 A flock of 50 frequented the grasslands along the entrance road to La Lopé Lodge, and were seen daily
Estrilda astrild COMMON WAXBILL
 A small flock around the Ivindo Palace Hotel in Makokou, and a couple in scrub near M'Passa
Estrilda atricapilla BLACK-HEADED WAXBILL
 A small flock somewhere enroute from La Lopé to Franceville
Orthygospiza gabonenesis BLACK-CHINNED QUAIL-FINCH **
 Somebody saw saw daily on the drive to La Lopé Reserve; I saw four when we actually stopped and took a brief walk through grasslands on the final morning
Lonchura cucullata BRONZE MANNIKIN
 Very common roadside and forest edge bird throughout the interior of Gabon
 Small flock in the garden of the Tropicana Hotel in Libreville
Lonchura fringilloides MAGPIE MANNIKIN
 A small group in roadside edge at the Bokouké River crossing between Libreville and La Lopé
Vidua macroura PIN-TAILED WHYDAH
 Basic-plumaged birds were patchily common in grassland and scrub at La Lopé

 A few daily in open habitats at La Lopé, M'Passa, and enroute to various spots
 A few daily in grasslands at La Lopé, and common on Batéké Plateau
Antus leucophrys PLAIN-BACKED PIPIT
 A couple on Batéké Plateau
Anthus pallidiventris LONG-LEGGED PIPIT **
 Fair numbers daily around La Lopé, including birds walking on the grass around our bungalows, and one bird each visit to M'Passa
Anthus nyassae WOODLAND PIPIT **
 One watched in song on Batéké Plateau
Anthus brachyrus SHORT-TAILED PIPIT **
 A couple on Batéké Plateau

Ploceus nigromentum BLACK-CHINNED WEAVER **
 Two males & an immature of this striking weaver were feeding on fruit in very open, short-grass, stunted Brachystega woodland on the Batéké Plateau (photo of male, right). This is endemic to se. Gabon, sw. Congo, n. Angola and highly prized, although it rather resembles its near-relative Baglafecht Weaver P. baglafecht, which is common in east Africa. My notes say that the male was "a very flashy black-and-yellow chunky weaver with orangey overtones on crown & breast. Face/throat black; back black; wings black edged broadly with yellow."
Ploceus nigricollis BLACK-NECKED WEAVER
 I saw a few at La Lopé Reserve and a nice male at the M'Passa Reserve; others had more.
Ploceus cucullatus VILLAGE WEAVER
 Common & widespread around habitation; its huge conspicuous nests and the colonies of weavers were  a dominant feature of many small towns. I recorded 50 or more each day.
Ploceus igerrimus VIELLOT'S BLACK WEAVER
 Common around towns, often in mixed colonies with Village Weavers, but in smaller numbers.
Ploceus tricolor YELLOW-MANTLED WEAVER **
 A pair on primary forest edge at La Lopé Reserve, and another flycatching for termites at the "hatch" along the Bélinga Road, 40 km E of Makokou .
Ploceus bicolor FOREST WEAVER
 The fantastic randomly-assorted tonal notes were heard almost daily at La Lopé Reserve, but I only saw one during my visit (others saw more).
Ploceus preussi PREUSS' WEAVER **
 One, spotted by Rita, was creeping up the limbs of a huge forest tree out the Bélinga Road, 40 km E of Makokou; these deep-forest weavers are great -- strange, unweaverlike, "nuthatches"
Ploceus insignus BROWN-CAPPED WEAVER **
 Another scarce deep-forest weaver, inhabitating tall trees out the Bélinga Road, 40 km E of Makokou, where we saw one or two.
Malimbus cassini BLACK-THROATED (Cassin's) MALIMBE **
 One with a mixed flock in the M'Passa Reserve, and then 8 more in a flock on the Bélinga Road; ya gotta love malimbes, with their bright colors and odd name....
Malimbus nitens GRAY'S (Blue-billed) MALIMBE **
 This does have a striking big blue bill; it is more solitary than other malimbes. I saw one at La Lopé Reserve, a couple more at a mid-day stop in forest between La Lopé & Franceville, and  a few more at M'Passa, usually in the undergrowth.
Malimbus malimbicus CRESTED MALIMBE **
 One in a mixed flock at M'Passa Reserve; would have liked longer views.
Malimbus rubricollis RED-HEADED MALIMBE **
 Singles in mixed flocks at M'Passa and along the Bélinga Road, 40 km E of Makokou.
Euplectes macrourus YELLOW-SHOULDERED (Yellow-mantled) WIDOWBIRD **
 A dozen or so daily in open grassland near the La Lopé lodge, there were in non-breeding plumage but one male was fairly well along into alternate plumage out the road toward Lekoni in the southeast.

Anthreptes fraseri SCARLET-TUFTED (Fraser's) SUNBIRD **
 At La Lopé Reserve, I wrote notes on the 14 sunbirds seen to that point. The quotes scattered through the discussion of sunbirds here are taken from those original notes, to wit, "Fraser's (Scarlet-tufted) is yellow below & looks warlber-like in canopy flocks -- fortunately I did see red tufs on one of them." I saw half-a-dozen at La Lopé and several more at M'Passa Reserve. This is an interior forest species.
Anthreptes longuemarei WESTERN VIOLET-BACKED SUNBIRD **
 Male & female in stunted Brachystaga woodland near Lekoni were easy to identify.
Anthreptes aurantium VIOLET-TAILED SUNBIRD **
 "Violet-tailed was along Ogooué River," essentially on river "islands" or peninsulas; it is "size of Collared & lemony below, but [has] rich violet reflections to crown & upperparts." We saw pair at La Lopé Reserve and along river at end of the Bélinga Road, 40 km E of Makokou. Must be very restricted to immediate riverine vegetation.
Anthreptes rectirostris GREEN SUNBIRD **
 "Green is tiny, very short-billed, lime-green above and [on] head; thin band on chest (looked grayish) and white belly -- in garden at Libreville." Beside the one at the Hotel Tropicana, Libreville, a singing male was out near Lekoni in the southeast, and a couple more at the Ibinda "Palace" hotel, Makokou.
Anthreptes collaris COLLARED SUNBIRD
 "Male Collared is short-billed" and has "lime green back & head, with blackish band on chest above yellow belly." This was probably the commonest sunbird at forest edge at La Lopé & M'Passa reserves.
Nectarinia batesi BATES' SUNBIRD **
 "Bates' is similar [to Olive] but is smaller & shorter-billed in canopy flocks."  I was only satisfied with a single bird at La Lopé in a canopy flock, but others had it daily there.
Nectarinia olivacea OLIVE SUNBIRD **
 "Olive is common in canopy flocks" where it is "large, dull, long-billed" and "sometimes shows yellow [pectoral] tufts." Probably the commonest sunbird inside the forest at La Lopé & M'Passa reserves.
Nectarinia reichenbachii REICHENBACH'S SUNBIRD **
 "Reichenbach's is big & heavy & olive with blue-purple patches to crown & chest, only narrowly connected at throat." About 6 were in garden at Tropicana Hotel, Libreville; a few more were along the Ogooué River at La Lopé and at river at end of the Bélinga Road, 40 km E of Makokou. It must be fairly restricted to riverine and shore habitats.
Nectarinia verticalis GREEN-HEADED SUNBIRD [photo right]
 At La Lopé, this mid-sized sunbird "is in the garden; it is blue-headed in Gabon race with flat mat-olive back" (series of photos). The only ones I saw were in the lodge garden.
Nectarinia cyanolaema BLUE-THROATED BROWN SUNBIRD **
 This "is big & rangy & long-billed & territorial on flowers in canopy of forest." Fairly common inside the forest (up to 8/day on day spent inside forest at La Lopé, and a few daily at M'Passa.
Nectarinia fuliginosa CARMELITE SUNBIRD **
 "Male Carmelite is the really dark one at Libréville hotel & in river scrub inland;" I saw it only there.
Nectarinia rubescens GREEN-THROATED SUNBIRD **
 "I've only seen a female Green-throated (id'd by Patrice) but it was medium in all aspects, yellowish below with distinct streaks, and thin prominent supercilium." Later, at Lekoni and M'Passa, nice males were also seen.
Nectarinia amethystina AMETHYST SUNBIRD
 The common sunbird (4-5/day) in Brachystaga woodland on Batéké Plateau near Lekoni.
Nectarinia chloropygia OLIVE-BELLIED SUNBIRD
 "Olive-bellied is in gardens & forest edge;" it is "small, short-billed, and green with red belly;" seen at N'djole and a few around Makokou.
Nectarinia cuprea COPPER SUNBIRD **
 The "dark coppery one at La Lopé" in the garden (photo). Seen daily at La Lopé (up to 4/day) and elsewhere in edge or gardens in southern Gabon.
Nectarinia johannae JOHANNA'S SUNBIRD **
 One male in the Brachystaga woodland near Lekoni.
Nectarinia superba SUPERB SUNBIRD **
 "Suberb is along river and is black with violet crown/breast/rump & dark chestnut belly." Several along the Ogooué River, La Lopé, and around various riverine habitats at Makokou.

Serinus capistratus BLACK-FACED CANARY **
 A couple in open scrub west of La Lopé Reserve.
 Flock of 100+ in grassland on the Batéké Plateau out near Lekoni Canyon.
Serinus mozambicus YELLOW-FRONTED CANARY
 Small flocks in grassland on the Batéké Plateau out near Lekoni Canyon.

Emberiza tahapisi CINNAMON-BREASTED (Rock) BUNTING **
 One seen well in open scrub west of La Lopé Reserve.
Emberiza cabanisi CABANIS' BUNTING **
 One singing male on the Batéké Plateau near Lekoni.

APPENDIX Birds recorded by others:

I missed two species that I very much wanted to see:

As I often went the opposite direction as the group, or, on Batéké Plateau, we had two vehicles, it was inevitable that I would miss quite a few birds. Other birds recorded by others on the trip, but missed by me, included African Fish-Eagle Haliaeetus vocifer (during a drive), Red-necked Buzzard Buteo auguralis (Lekoni), Plumed Guineafowl Guttera plumifera (crossed road during an all-day drive), Forest Francolin Francolinus lathami (La Lopé), White-spotted Flufftail Sarothrura pulchra (heard at M'Passa), Temminck's Courser Cursorius temminchii (Batéké Plateau), Blue-headed Wood-Dove Turtur brehmeri (heard at M'Passa), African Pygmy Kingfisher Ispidina picta (La Lopé), White-fronted Bee-eater Merops bullockoides (Batéké Plateau), Hairy-breasted Barbet Tricholaema hirsuta (La Lopé and heard at M'Passa), Black-backed Barbet Lybius minor (Batéké Plateau), Red-rumped Tinkerbird Pogoniulus atroflavus (heard at M'Passa), African Piculet Sasia africana (M'Passa), Petit's Cuckoo-Shrike Campephaga petiti (Batéké Plateau), Brown-crowned Tchagra Tchagra australis (La Lopé), Gabon Helmetshrike Prionops rufiventris (heard at La Lopé), Angola Batis Batis minulla (Batéké Plateau), Red-tailed Ant-thrush Neocossyphus rufus (La Lopé), Equatorial Akalat Sheppardia aequatorialis (heard at M'Passa), Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat Cossypha niveicapilla (La Lopé), Yellow-throated Nicator Nicator vireo (heard at M'Passa), African Yellow White-eye Zosterops seneglensis (La Lopé), Yellow Longbill Macrosphenus flavicans (heard at M'Passa), Pale-breasted Illadopsis Illadopsis rufipennis (M'Passa), and Compact Weaver Pachyphantes superciliosus (La Lopé).
    Many of these would not have been new for me, but the guineafowl, flufftail, wood-dove, both barbets, tinkerbird, piculet, helmetshrike, batis, robin-chat, longbill, illadopsis, and Compact Weaver would have been lifers.


The taxonomic order follows Macdonald (1985); identification is from Haltenorth & Diller (1977) and Kingdom (1997).

Aonyx congica CONGO CLAWLESS OTTER (Swamp Otter)
 One swimming in the Limboumba River, just outside Makokou, near dusk. We watched it from the bridge.
Herpesites sanguineus SLENDER MONGOOSE
 Two at La Lopé Reserve
Galago demidovii DWARF GALAGO
 Three found huddled together deep in the forest at La Lopé Reserve [photo right].
Cercocebus albigena GRAY-CHEEKED MANGABY
 A troop of 30 passed overhead one day in La Lopé Reserve, and several others seen on other days there
Cercopithecus cephus MOUSTACHED GUENON
 One seen, more heard, in M'Passa Reserve
Cercopithecus nictitans GREATER WHITE-NOSED GUENON
 A couple family groups (3-5/day) in the forest at La Lopé Reserve
Colobus satanas BLACK COLOBUS
 A troop of 15 in the canopy enroute to Dja River Warbler marsh, La Lopé Reserve; others heard there
Gorilla gorilla LOWLAND GORILLA
 Well into the thick rainforest at La Lopé Reserve, "about mid-morning, we heard a loud scream-roar behind us. It turned out that when Bob was walking back to pick up his scope, he had a large shape jump down from a tree and run away. We heard it roar every so often." Rita & I and a couple others (Bill, Harold, Diane) wanted to try to see them, so Ian sent us with a local guide, Joachim, to try to find them. Ian had been filling our heads with how dangerous gorillas were, so we had a high level of excitement and fear. "As we approached through the more open woods, suddenly we had a roar from the thicket right in front of us, just 20 m away." We had gotten very close -- too close for the big male who stayed behind to protect his family, and we heard them moving off and away. The big male "ran back and forth in the deep thickets, shaking foliage, and once we heard it beat its chest. I saw glimpses of the huge black-haired beast in the densest thicket." All the while our guide was giving low placating groans to the gorilla, and we stood still, only slowly moving back when he roared or beat his chest. Once his family was well away, he broke off and disappeared into the dark woods.
[Pan troglodytes CHIMPANZEE
 Several heard but never seen inside La Lopé Reserve]
Loxodonta cyclotis FOREST ELEPHANT
 Seven in one meadow, and two in another, at dawn or dusk in La Lopé Reserve. Recent biochemical work shows that this is a distinct species from Savanna Elephant L. africana. I've heard tell that they are as distantly related as are tigers to lions
Dendrohyrax sp? TREE HYRAX
 heard in forest on Limboumba River, just outside Makokou, at dusk
Synceros caffer nanus RED FOREST BUFFALO
 Daily in small numbers (2-8/day) in forest clearings at La Lopé Reserve, esp. early or late
 A couple in La Lopé Reserve; identification tentative, worked out years later
Paraxerus poensis GREEN SQUIRREL
 Several daily in M'Passa Reserve; another on Bélinga Road. Identification tentative only, mostly on range and habitat

Others, including Rita, saw an African Brush-tailed Porcupine Atherurus africanus at La Lopé Reserve, but it had run away by the time I arrived at the spot. We also had a variety of unidentified free-tailed and fruit bats.

HERPS (Amphibians & Reptiles)

Agamid lizards sunned on the porches at La Lopé Lodge, and a small green grass snake was at M'Passa.

PHOTOS: All photos on this page are © 1996, 2002 Don Roberson; all rights reserved.

Literature cited:

Christy, P., and W. Clarke. 1994. Guide des Oiseaux de la Réserve de la Lopé. Ecofac Gabon, Libreville.

Fry, C. H., S. Keith, and E. K. Urban. 1988. The Birds of Africa. Vol. 3. Academic Press, London.

Haltenorth, T., and H. Diller. 1977, English translation 1980. A Field Guide to the Mammals of Africa, including Madagascar. Collins, London.

Kingdon, J. 1997. The Kingdon Guide to African Mammals. Academic Press, London.

Macdonald, D., ed. 1985. The Encyclopedia of Mammals, 1st ed. Facts on File, New York.

Mackworth-Praed, C. W., and C. H. S. Grant. 1970-1973. African Handbook of Birds. Series III. Birds of West Central and Western Africa. Vol. 1 and 2. Longmans, Edinburgh.

Sargeant, D. 1993. A Birders Guide to Gabon, West Africa. Privately published by D. E. Sargeant.

Urban, E. K., C. H. Fry, and S. Keith. 1997. The Birds of Africa. Vol. 5. Academic Press, London.







Page created 22 Nov- 8 Dec 2001, updated 6 Mar 2002