It’s tough being a pied kingfisher in Ghana. These striking black and white birds were the first sighting on our morning bird walk. But the ten or so perched proudly on a wooden frame were quickly usurped by a showier relative. A burst of brilliant blue, with a flash of bright orange from its beak: a malachite kingfisher, darting across the water, quickly drew the focus of cameras and binoculars.
|Sorting the morning catch|
Samuel and David, our guides from Birdlife International and the Ghana Wildlife Society respectively, had arranged permission to explore the private grounds of Pambros salt ponds, in Accra’s western suburbs. Security was still tight, though, leading to the unusual sight of a birdwatching group having an armed guard.
Even this failed to perturb the women who were sorting and gutting fish caught in the salt ponds. They smiled as we walked past, with the familiar Ghanaian expression of amusement at what these foreigners think passes for fun at 7.00am on a Saturday.
As we headed slowly along the path, discussions typical of a birdwatching group took place. A debate on the different Dutch and English names for the whimbrel; a bit of lens-envy at some of the impressive camera equipment on show; a discussion of whether that hornbill was actually a cormorant.
|Fishing on the delta|
The salt ponds have undoubtedly changed the landscape here, with vast areas of the wetland bordered off and cleared of vegetation. But this has apparently had little impact on the populations or diversity of birds. Behind the salt ponds lies the Densu Delta, which enters the sea near Bojo Beach, and this provides a rich source of food and shelter.
The day’s tick-list filled quickly as we neared the end of the path. Reef herons sat in the delta bushes, while cormorants dried their wings in the sun. Black-winged stilts waded gracefully through the shallow water, fishing alongside sandpipers and redshanks. And on the sandbank just before us, the pied kingfishers dived back and forth, hoping to finally get their moment of glory.
|Pambros salt ponds|