Despite being politically stable and possessing large tracts of undisturbed habitat, Gabon is far from realising its potential as a premier birding destination. Perhaps the paucity of information on travelling in Gabon, the cost of travelling with no official campsites in the entire country and being Francophone, is a deterrent to many English-only speaking birders.
Gabon plays host to the best lowland forest birding in Africa. The Ivindo River Basin in the north-east of the country holds the most species-rich lowland forests in Africa. Widespread species include Congo Serpent Eagle, Vermiculated Fishing-owl, Bates's Nightjar, Fiery-breasted Bush-Shrike, Forest Swallow and Grey-necked Picathartes.
Dja River Warbler, known from only a handful of sites in southern Cameroon and northern Gabon, is found in some of the marshes in Lopé National Park. Other forest specials that occur, but that are rarely seen, include Sandy Scops Owl, Maned Owl and Shelleys Eagle Owl.
Perhaps unexpectedly, grasslands are also a prominent feature of Gabon with a rich diversity of bird species. The regal Black-headed Bee-eater favours the interface of forest edge and adjacent grasslands, where one may find also Forbes's Plover and Black-chinned Quailfinch. Larks, pipits and cisticolas form a conspicuous component of the grassland avifauna, especially at Gabon's most important grassland site, the Batéké plateau. Here one may find Dambo Cisticola as well as Short-tailed Pipit.
Perhaps the most varied part of Gabon is along its coast, where coastal lagoons, mangroves, sandy shorelines and thickets occur. Here, watch for Damara Tern, many millions of over-wintering shorebirds and, in palm thickets, Loanga Weaver and Rufous-tailed Palm-Thrush. African Finfoot may be common in the quiet lagoon backwaters. Most notable, however, is that this area is an important breeding site for African River Martin and Rosy Bee-eater.
The islands of São Tomé and Príncipe, straddling the equator in the Gulf of Guinea, are home to a similar number of endemic species as the Galapagos Islands. These range from the incredible Giant Sunbird, São Tomé Short-tail, as well as the rare and little seen São Tomé Grosbeak and São Tomé Fiscal.
Text supplied by the African Bird Club
Rosy Bee-eater © Nik Borrow
Showing the 3 Most Recent Trip Reports Posted
Gabon, São Tomé & Príncipe, August - September 2005, author Keith Barnes / Tropical Birding (added March 16, 2007)
(Loango, Lekoni, Lope, Sao Tome, Principe, African River Martin, Vermiculated Fishing-Owl)
No Sightings Have Been Posted for this Region Yet.