Thursday, October 18, 2012

Day 31--Nyungwe Forest Redux

We started our day with a so-so breakfast, and picked up our bag lunch that we found out at mid day we might as well not have bothered.  Our birding day was all about retracing our steps in the forest to find more new birds and hopefully see a few species that were on our heard only list.  Narcisse, a local guide, joined us for the day as well. 

Our first stop was to walk further down the side gravel road that we had spent a little time checking out yesterday afternoon.  It was a bit overcast which made it very comfortable for walking and birding.  Our first new trip bird was the yellow-eyed black flycatcher (all photos in today's post are by Bob except for the very last one--click on any photo to enlarge). We then heard the black-billed turaco calling, and this time one flew out in the open.

We walked by the spot from yesterday where we had seen a purple-breasted sunbird, and soon after we saw another one plus a beautiful blue-headed sunbird perched out in the open for us.  There was a lot of bird activity over the 4 hours that we traversed the road including 3 fly over Cassin's hawk-eagles, and several black kites. We kept hearing Doherty's bushshrike calling, but could not get it to come out in the open.  We did manage better views of the Grauer's warbler.

We finally pulled ourselves away from the road and drove to the visitor center to walk a trail which led eventually to a dirt road.  We found Elliot's and olive woodpeckers--both new trip birds--plus a blue yellowbill.

A little further along we picked up a white-browed crombec (photo just below) and chestnut throated apalis.  We also saw white-bellied crested-flycatcher, and gray-chested iladopsis.  Several stripe-breasted tits were working the top of a very large tree, but in the end we got good diagnostic looks at this small bird.

It took us about 3 hours to walk the trail and road.  All along the way we kept finding small feeding flocks.  We came across strange weavers (photo just above), and a dwarf honeyguide was a special pick up.  At the same spot we flushed a lemon dove off the road--another hard to find bird.  We had nice looks at white-headed woodhoopoes also.

It was getting pretty late in the day when we finished the hike, so we began driving back towards our evening lodging spot--the Top Hill View Hotel.  We stopped at the side road briefly to see if anything else was around, but found nothing new.

We arrived at dusk to find that thru some kind of misunderstanding with our ground operators in Rwanda, we only had 2 rooms reserved for the night instead of 3, and the hotel was full.  After some frustration being voiced, and some wrangling, the hotel put another bed in one of the rooms to solve the problem.  We then walked back down the hill in front of the hotel to listen for Rwenzori nightjars.  It was a windy evening and we came up short.

The dinner buffet was pretty good.  I had a very nice tomato and tuna salad, roasted potatoes, and curried beef over rice.  Dessert was fresh pineapple chunks and crepes.  The bird list update took our trip total past 830 different species seen and/or heard.  We would be birding our way back to Kigali tomorrow, arriving early evening for our flight back to Nairobi.  Stay tuned!

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