XVII.Report on the Lowe-Waldron Expeditions to the Ashanti Forests and Northern Territories of the Gold Coast.

Download XVII.Report on the Lowe-Waldron Expeditions to the Ashanti Forests and Northern Territories of the Gold Coast.

Post on 30-Sep-2016




42 download


  • 1937.1 Expeditions to Ashanti Fwrests and Gold Coast. 345

    SCLATER, W. L. 1924-30.-Systerna Avium Athiopicarum. SCLATER, W. L., & MOREAU, R. E. 1932-33.-Taxonomic and Field-

    notes on some Birds of North-East Tanganyika Territory.- Parts I.-V.


    Ibis, ser. 13, vols. ii. and iii. .SHELLEY, G. E. 1905.-The Birds of Africa, vol. iv. London. SJOSTEDT, Y. 1910.-Wissenschaftliohe Ergebnisse der schwedischen

    zoologischen Expedition nach Kilimandjaro . . . 1905-1906. Abt. iii. Stockholm.

    STONEHAM, H. F. 1929. In : A Check-List of the Birds of Trans-Nzoia District of Kenya Colony.-I.

    VAN SOMEREN, V. G . L. 1922 85 1932.-Notcs on the Birds of East Africa. Nov. 2001. vol. xxix. pp. 1-246, and Addenda and Corrigenda thereto.

    VAN SOMEREN, V. G. L. 1931.-Catalogue of the European and Asiatic Migrants to Kenya and Uganda. J. East Afr. Uganda Nat. Hist. SOC., Spec. Supp. no. 4.

    The Birds of Northern Portuguese East Africa . . . Ibis, ser. 13, vol, iii. p. 611, and thereafter quarterly.

    Review of two African Species, Cyanornitra oliweea (Olive Sunbird) and Batis naolitor (Chin-spot Flycatcher). Ibis, ser. 13, vol. iv. pp. 85-94.

    Batelour, vol. i. pp. 115-135.

    Nov. 2001. vol. xxxvii. pp. 252-380.

    VINCENT, J. 1933.

    VINCENT, J. 1934.

    XV1I.-Report on the Lowe- Waldron Expeditions to the Ashmati By Porests and Northern Territories of the Gold Coast.


    (Plahe X.)

    FIRST EXPEDITION : 1933-4. On 29 November, 1933, we left Liverpool for Takordi,

    Gold Coast, by Elder Dempster S.S. Appam, arriving there on 12 December. From here we took a train to Kumasi. This journey was through some beautiful tropical scenery, but practically all the forest-trees have been cut, leaving only a few Bornbax, Cappoc, and palm-trees. The under- ,growth was thick and impenetrable, and no doubt held much that would be of great interest to a naturalist if i t could ever be seen. We passed a number of mines which were not unsightly, as they usually are, for nature soon covers every- thing with vegetation.

  • 346 Mr. W. P. Lowe : Lowe- Waldron Expeditions to [Ibis,

    Major Jackson, the Chief Commissioner of Ashanti, had very kindly invited us to be his guests, and we were met at the station. Next day a British Bedford lorry, an excellent driver, and servants were engaged, provisions bought, and necessary arrangements made for our departure to the vacant house of the District Commissioner a t Goaso. Kurnasi was not excessively hot, the temperature being 78" at. 8 A.M. and 85" at 8 P.M. As the day dawned on 16 December we were awakened by the Plain Bulbul's cheery call-notes of " Be quick, Joey, quirk," which resounded from all sides of the spacious gardens. An early breakfast, and we were soon off in so overcrowded a conveyance that some of the servants had to find their own transport. As yet our cartridges and spirit had not arrived, but that was expected t o follow immediately. Our route lay north-westward to Tepa.

    Soon after leaving Kumasi along an excellent road, we came to evergreen forest, a t times passing through villages and cocoa plantations until reaching Tepa, where we turned south-west. From Tepa the road became worse and worse, baggage was continually falling off, and I doubt if we did more than four miles an hour. Giant trees were everywhere present, with clean, light-roloured trunks with no branches for over a hundred feet, whilst beneath lay an impenetrable growth of smaller trees massed with bushes and creepers. At times we crossed small streams and some undulating country. Of animal life we saw but little, occasionally Allied Hornbills or Doves, and twice a Forest Duiker dashed into the thick cover. After a terrible shaking we arrived at the pleasant little settlement of Goaso, unloaded our lorry, and installed ourselves in comfortable quarters.

    This place is merely a 12-acre clearing where the grass is continually cut ; there was a flower garden with roses in full bloom and some ornamental trees, the whole being surrounded with dense forest, and it appeared to be just the place WE were looking for. Formerly it was the hunting ground of the famous King Prempeh, and a better and more interesting one is hard to find. The natives were pleasant, kind, and helpful.

    It was disappointing to be here a whole week without our cartridges. We used traps, and the natives brought in a few

  • 1937.1 the Ashanti Forests and the Cold Coast. 347

    creatures which kept us from idleness. With our complete outfit we were able to work seriously, but how difficult and disappointing work is in real thick and silent forest! One is hemmed in on all sides, the trees are gigantic, in height far beyond the range of any gun, with undergrowth that makes sight and movement, impossible, not to mention deadly and savage insect-life. Some days we were lucky in shooting and picking up birds, whilst, others were almost blank. Fortunately it was not the first time I had tried this kind of work, and experience counts in all occupations of life.

    I have heard people say, What is the use of going to the Gold Coast? So and so have already been there. True, but people who make such remarks little know the vast country and its tremendous difficulties. Our little effort, embracing two winters work of less than six months all told, does not touch the fringe of the subject. There are creatures, perhaps, that will only be seen once in a generation, if a t all, by a white man. After one hundred years incessant hard work a naturalist might say he knows the birds of the Gold Coast, and to do that he would have to have the longevity, health, and hide of a pachyderm, with the combined eyes of a Hawk and an Owl and the agility of an ape. As no one is likely to have these requirements, we must go plodding along, each doing his little bit for generations to come and adding facts to our store of knowledge.

    I shall not speak of trees, because, apart from a few, they have no names. I can only say that I doubt if the tallest tree in the British Isles would reach to the first branch of one of these giants. The forest tops are the homes of birds one can never get, and the foliage and undergrowth hides many never seen.

    This clearing attracted a few non-forest birds, such as Stone-Curlews and Forbess Plovers, and a very few European Swallows occasionally skim the open grassland. Ahanta Francolins scream in the dense cover, seldom to be seen. We laboured here, putting by all the mammals, birds, and fishes we could obtain.

    On 6 January, 1934, we moved northwards to Wenchi, spending the night a t Sunyani, n place also surrounded by

  • 348 Mr. W. P. Lowe Lowe-Waldron Expeditiom to [Ibis, forest, where we received a hospitable welcome by Mr. Maun- derson, D.C. Departing early next day, we reached Wenchi rest-house, which is situated on an escarpment in open bush- country, with a magnificent view overlooking the forest to the borders of the Ivory Coast. Here we were received by Mr. Fuller, who showed us great kindness. What a change of country t o work in! Birds seemed abundant, and the cultivated land easy to walk over. Large Bustards, Choriotis arabs steiberi and Neotis cafra denhami, would rise daily in the corn and yam fields, and Francolins were everywhere present. It was here we made our first acquaintance with the African Tree-Creeper (Xalpornis). As a t Goaso, there were practically no Swallows, European or African, and yet the surroundings looked favourable.

    We now left for Ejura, which lies to the south-east, stopping on our way a t Techiman, where there is a small stream con- taining sacred catfish. As we stood on the bridge, the natives began throwing in food and calling badie, badie. Imme- diately the water became alive with large fish from all directions. Whilst this was going on my companion espied a very rare bird (Apalis nigriceps), the only one we ever obtained. The road once more was extremely bad, and we were thankful to reach the comfortable rest-house situated near the escarpment, which is a dividing line between the forest and savannah country. Here, also, as at Wenchi, grass- and bush-fires, together with the harmattan, filled the whole atmosphere with smoke and dust.

    This dry, burnt country held chiefly Doves, Guineafowls, Standard-winged Nightjars, and Weavers. Fortunately, with the aid of the lorry we could vary our ground by going to the Afram River, where a gallery forest existed, and so could get forest birds too. It was only a small stream at this spot, but held many interesting creatures, even Bongo antelopes. The undergrowth was very thick, and the ground covered with Costus, a wild ginger, whose large leaves make excellent cover for birds that never intend to be seen. Our men, who were wonderful a t retrieving shot birds, used to try and drive specimens across a narrow footpath for a snapshot. Occasionally this was successful, and a party of Hayness

  • 1937.1 the Ashanti Forests and the Gold Coast. 349

    Babbling Thrushes would be seen. This was the only spot where the rare Pigeon Columba ur~icincta might occasionally be heard in the tree-tops. Hornbills were often in family parties in the tall trees, whilst above the forest grey and green Parrots screamed daily.

    As collecting seemed so slow, we wisely decided to move to Mampong, about twenty-five miles distant, to finish our last weeks work amongst the forest birds. Here, as everywhere else in dense forest, they were most difficult to obtain, but we were now accustomed to disappointments. There were many cocoa plantations, which seldom held anything of interest. Our greatest prize lay in the discovery of Glaucidium t. tephro- notum.

    We were anxious to see Lake Bosomtwi, lying to the south-east of Kumasi, which is a large lake said to have been formed by the falling of a huge meteorite. Owing to fallen trees and indifferent roads our progress was slow. The rest-house water- supply had failed, so we were strictly rationed with what we carried. The scenery of the distant lake was wonderful and the place attractive, having the appearance of a huge crater surrounded with woods. In only two days little couId be done, but we were pleased to get a pair of Grey Parrots and our familiar European Blackcap. A final pack-up and we gladly said good-bye to beautiful scenery and hosts of tormenting tsetse-flies and other insects.

    For the information of West African ornithological students I might explain that many old Gold Coast specimens are labelled Denkera. This implies that they were obtained in the country south of Kumasi inhabited by the Denkera tribe, and corresponds with Masai in Kenya.

    SECOND EXPEDITION : 1934-5. We decided, contrary to our original intentions, to revisit the

    Gold Coast and obtain more examples of the rare creatures we already had, and to search for others we had failed to find, as well as to secure blood-samples from the specimens for Tropical Medical Research work.

    Our old servants and the very efficient lorry driver, called Sunday, whom I had taught to skin and who was now proficient,

  • 350 Mr. W. P. Lowe : Lowe-Waldron Expeditions to [Ibis,

    were available, so we left Liverpool on 28 November, 1934, reaching Takoradi on 11 December. Thanks to the kind attention of the Gold Coast Government, we were met a t the landing and piloted,with all our baggage and equipment, through the Customs to the train waiting to carry us to Kumasi, where Major Jackson kindly met us and made us his guests until we started on the second expedition. He had, further- more, planned an interesting journey for us as far north as the Northern Provinces of the Gold Coast Territory.

    As there were a number of creatures from Goaso of which more specimens were urgently needed, it was imperative that we should start operations there, after which we travelled northwards, via Sunyani and Wenchi, to Bole, crossing by ferry the Black Volta River a t Bamboi. It was here I first met in West Africa the Egyptian Plovers along the river banks. The roads were far better than we had hitherto experienced. The country was flat, with the usual African bush, and an odd Baobab tree was occasionally seen. As we neared Bole it became more hilly.

    The commonest Birds of Prey were Butastur rujipennis, as many as six often being seen in close proximity, whilst the Lesser Augur-Buzzard was the commonest of all, and is generally distributed throughout the whole country where trees are to be found. The people were now becoming more primitive, bows and arrows taking the place of double-barrelled guns.

    On 6 January, 1935, we were kindly welcomed by the District Commissioner, Mr. Guthrie Hall, and as the rest- house was under repair he insisted on OM being his guests for a few days until he went on trek, when he kindly placed his house at our disposal. Being very interested in birds, he had made his garden a sanctuary, and a water-trough that was provided attracted throughout the day many species in this dry country. He also told and showed me likely places to find certain birds we required. Here, as in all Commissioners' houses, we found a copy of 'The Birds of Tropical West Africa,' which work is undoubtedly stimulating an interest in the birds of the country.

    Our great difficulty from now on was petrol, and without it real work is hardly possible, for rest-houses are often badly

  • 1937.1 the Ashnti Forests and the Qold Coast. 351

    placed so far as birds are concerned. However, we did all that was possible by walking, which, however, does not take one far. There were here low hills covered with grass and rocks, and open woodland, whilst the valleys produced millet, maize, and grass, with an occasional tree here and there. Stone-Partridges and White-throated Francolins mixed together on the hilly ground, whilst Shrikes and Drongos were common in the trees.

    On 13 January we moved farther north to Wa, the country travelled being dry-bush and grass having recently been burnt-and there being practically no bird-life. As we neared Wa there were some teak plantations, which neither in Africa nor the Far East seem attractive to birds. Some old cultivated ground supported a few Larks, Weavers, and Namaqua Doves, and over the town vast numbers of Swifts (Micropus nfinis), which were nesting in the buildings by hundreds. The small quantity of irrigated gardens contained numbers of Senegal Coucals ; a t times I counted as many as eight ZO- gether, whilst in the small ponds numerous crocodiles and humans mixed on friendly terms, for which Wa is famed.

    At this time of year the country is very birdless and held no ahtractions, so on 16 January we again moved northward, for Lawra. The road was good but the country dry and charred with fire, and consequently birdless; our one hope lay in visiting the Volta River, where, no doubt, many of the creatures congregate a t this time.

    Here there was no accommodation for visitors, but Mr. Ellison, D.C. very kindly allowed us to share his house. This country had more birds but was terribly barren, with no trees, merely here and there little bushes about five feet high. We found Larks, Francolins, Guineafowls, Bustards, Warblers, and Wrynecks.

    The river work was prohibited on account of sleeping sickness, which is SO bad that even natives do not venture there. We made the acquaintance of the indefatigable Dr. Saunders, who is studying tropical diseases. The hospital was well managed and full of sleeping sickness patients. His great interest lay in studying the fly (Mr. 0. F. H. Atkey, C.M.G., F.R.C.S., late of the Sudan Service, informs me

  • 352 Mr. W. P. Lowe : Lowe- Waldron Expeditions to [Ibis,

    that it is probably Simulium damnoszlm) whose bite causes blindness.

    As no petrol was available for getting about the country, and such as we carried in tins was continually leaking, wc decided to rush through this dry country.

    On 18 January, having got a sample of what we could find, me hurried on to Tumu, another dry, birdless place. No white people live here, and the only sign of occupation is the lonely grave of a District Commissioner who died of yellow fever a few years previously. One night was sufficient in the gloomy house, tenanted by thousands of bats.

    Our next move was to Navarongo. In about an hours run a-e passed through the one attractive looking piece of country, and game was now plentiful. Hartebeest and small buck were continually seen, but we were in the wilds and, our petrol supply leaking so, we had to hurry on to the next white settle- ment. We stopped for a hurried meal on the Sisili River, a spot we should much like to have explored, as game, lions and leopards, occurred, as indicated by their spoor. Birds, too, were numerous, but we only had time to get a few, and some fishes. As we neared our destination the vegetation became very scanty ; trees were conspicuous by their absence, and the prospect for getting birds looked remote. We were soon in a comfortable home and able to preserve the specimens obtained en route.

    This country supports quite a large population of nude people, with a church and convent in charge of the White Fathers. The surroundings were flat and cultivated. There were dry water-courses and outcrops of rock, with occasional small water-holes. Birds a t this season were scarce, Finch-Larks, Tawny Pipits, Wheatears, Woodchat-Shrikes, and Black Magpies predominating. One days work here brought us all we seemed likely to get, so we moved on to Tamale, the, capital of the Northern Territories. We passed over flat, arid, and uninteresting ground, apart from crossing a rocky escarp- ment near Zumungu, after which we went due south to Tamale, seeing nothing of interest on the newly burnt land.

    We spent one day here and got some mammals, and next day crossed the Black Volta River, spending the night at

  • 1937.1 the Ashanti Forests ajnd the Gold Coast. 353

    Yeji. Vegetation was now increasing, and Nubian Bee-eaters and Abyssinian Rollers were moderately common, but other birds were scarce. The following day, 27 Januarv, we arrived at our old quarters at Ejura, where we spent a profitable week, and then to Mampong on 2 February, where we stayed until 26 February.

    I wish to thank His Excellency the Governor, Sir Arnold Hodson, K.C.M.G., for his help and kindness.

    To the Chief Commissioner of Ashanti, Major F. W. F. Jackson, C.M.G., D.S.O., we owe an especial debt of gratitude for his unfailing interest, help, and kindness, and also to his District Commissioriors, a ho always made our path easy.

    To Mr. W. J. A. Jones, Chief Commissioner, we are like- wise indebted for much kindness, help, and assistance whilst travelling in his vast area of the Northern Territories.

    I must also thank Dr. David Bannerman for so kindly naming the two collections and looking over this paper. My thanks are wlso due to Mr. Kinnear, of the British Museum, for facilities granted to me in the Bird Room, as well as to Coiint Nils Gyldenstolpe, of the Royal Natural History Museum. Stockholni.

    E'inally, I must express my gratitude to my companion, Miss Fanny Waldron, without whose interest and assistance these natural history collections could never have been made.

    The whole of the bird collection of my first expedition was retained by the British Museum. Of the collection made during the second expedition Dr. Bannerman made a selection for the British Museum of species which were not represented in the first collection, or of which additional material was required for study. The remainder of the second collection, by far the greater number of specimens, was handed over to the Royal Natural History Museum a t Stockholm. Dr. Bannerman tells me that the collections we were able to make, all of which passed through his hands, have enabled him to fill in many gaps in his knowledge of the birds of Ashanti for incorporation in the remaining volumes of ' The Birds of Tropical West Africa.' Many species are here recorded for the first time from the Gold Coast, but as SER. XIV.-VOL. I. 2 A

  • 354 Mr. W. P. Lowe : Lowe-Wnldron Expeditions to [Ibis,

    no papers have appeared on the ornithology of that country since Boyd Alexanders report of his collections (1900-1901), that is hardly surprising. No complete list of the birds of bhe Gold Coast has ever been compiled, so that without reference to Reichenows Vogel Mrikas, which was completed in 1905, it is impossible to state exactly which species in the present list are new to the fauna of the country. Birds marked in brackets were only seen, whilst those with an asterisk are now in the Royal Natural History Museum, Stockholm.

    The following is a dated itinerary, giving thc localities where birds were collected :-

    ITINERARY. Dec. 6, 1933, to Jan. 6, 1934. Dee. 14, 1934, ,, Dec. 29, 1935. Jan. 7, 1934, ,, Jan. 21, 1934. Dee. 31, 1934, ,, Jan. 3, 1935. Jan. 21, 1934, ,, Feb. 19, 1934. Jan. 25, 1935, ,, Feb. 1, 1935. Feb. 19, 1934, ,, Feb. 26, 1934.

    Feb. 27, 1934, ,, Feb. 28. 1934. Lake Bosomtwi. Jan. 3, 1935. ,. Jan. 13, 1935. Bola, N.T., Gold Coast. Jan. 13, 1935, ,, Jan. 16, 1935. Wa, N.T., Gold Coast. Jan. 16, 1935, ,, Jan. 19, 1935. Jan. 19, 1935, ,, Jan. 20, 1935. Tumu, N.T., Gold Coast. Jan. 20, 1935, ,, Jan. 22, 1935. Navtarongo, N.T., Gold Coast. Jan. 24, 1935, ,, Jan. 35, 1935. Yeji, N.T., Gold Coast.

    }Ejuca, Ashanti.

    Mampong, Feb. 2, 1935, ,, Feb. 26, 193.5. }

    Lawra, N.T., Cold Coast..

    [Ardea mdanocephala.] The Black-headed Heron was seen daily a t Wenchi, usually

    in pairs, feeding on locusts or perched in trees.

    Bubulcus ibis. Coll. no. 235, 8, Ejura, Ashanti, 26. i. 34. The Buff-backed Heron is commonly called the Harmattan-

    bird, so Major Robertson of Wenchi told me, as they arrive about two days before this starts, and leave just as it finishes.

  • V

    X -




    nd L




    . V



    m M


    ng (



  • 1937.1 the Ashanti Forests and the @old Coast. 355

    [EphippiorNnchus senegalensis.] Only a single individual was seen, flying over the road

    between Tumu and Navarongo on 19 January, 1935.

    Hagedashia hagedashia brevirostris. Coll. no. 372, Ejura, Ashanti, 6. ii. 34 ; no. "678, Q, Bole,

    N.T., Gold Coast,, 6. i. 35. The West African Hadada was nowhere common, We

    found occasional birds along small &reams and swampy places. Dr. Bannerman mentions that it has not been recorded from the Gold Coast.

    Lampribis rara. Coll. no. 526, !?, Mampong, Ashanti, 25 ii. 34. As Mr. Bates remarks, the Spotted-breasted Ibis is not

    misnamed " rara." We succeeded in obtaining only a single specimen, along a small forest-stream where it was feeding on grubs and beetles. I fully expect that Lampribis 0. oliuacea will also be found when the birds of the country are properly known. Native hunters declared they knew the bird Erom a coloured picture I had. This specimen showed no indica- tions of breeding.

    Soft parts.-Face black, with turquoise-blue spots in front and behind the eye ; bare skin behind lower mandible with similar coloration. Bill red, olive-red at base. Feet dusky pink ; joints and above flesh, with dark scale-marks.

    [Pseudogyps africanus.] We saw a solitary female specimen of the African White-

    backed Vulture a t Bole on 10 January, 1935.

    [Trigonoceps occipitalii.] The White-headed Vulture is also a very rare bird. A single

    specimen was seen in the open country between Wenchi and Bole, near the road, on 3 January, 1935.

    It might seem strange that Hooded Vultures should abound to the exclusion of other species. It must, however, be borne in mind that the latter are scavengers, and can subsist on human excrement, whereas the former require flesh. Over

    2 A 2

  • 356 Mr. W. P. Lowe : Lowe-Waldron Expeditions to [Ibis,

    most of the country travelled cattle cannot exist on account of fly. I believe neither of these Vultures has previously been recorded from the Gold Coast.

    [Necrosyrtes monachus monachus.] The Hooded Vulture was very plentiful wherever human

    habitation existed. At Goaso they were in numbers amongst the oil-palms. I was surprised to find these large birds feasting on the palm-fruit, of which they must consume a large quantity.

    Falco biarmieus abyssinbus. Coll. no. 181, 8, Wenchi, 19. i. 34; no. 339, 8, Ejura,

    Ashanti, 5 . ii. 34. The Abyssinian Lanner was noted throughout the entire

    journey. No. 181 was striking down a Pied Crow, which passed with great speed within a'few feet of my head whilst waiting for Green Pigeons. They prefer to live near villages, where an easy living can be obtained from poultry and Pigeons.

    [Falco cuvieri.] I did not obtain a specimen of the African Hobby, though

    Falco tinuculus rufescens. Coll. no. 829, sex 8, Ejura, ashanti, 29. i. 35. Only a single specimen of the West African Kestrel was seen

    in open bush country.

    Falco ardosiaceus. Coll. no. 1058, sex 1 , Mampong, Ashanti, 19. ii. 35. The only specimen of the Grey Kestrel which was seen

    darted under the verandah during lunch and seized a bird's body from the skinning table, carrying it to the top of a tree, where I shot it.

    single birds were seen a t Ejura and Mampong.

    It is evidently a rare bird here.

    Aviceda cuculoides cuculoides. b, Ejura, Ashanti, 31.i. 34; no. '852, $2, Mampong, Ashanti,

    5. ii. 35. The West African Cuckoo-Falcon seems to prefer the forest.

    Both specimens are in blue plumage. The female is the first really adult bird I ever obtained, She was nesting, and would

  • 1937.1 the Ashanti Forests aid the Gold Coast. 357

    have laid four more eggs. In flight these birds, when seen from below, are easily distinguished by the profuse barring of the wings. Though I watched several hours I never saw the male or nest.

    Chelictinia riocourii. Coll. no. 194, ?, Wenchi, Ashanti, 21. i. 34. The African Swallow-tailed Kite was not observed in the

    forest. They were more common in the dry open country of the Northern Territories, in the region of Lawra and Navarongo.

    [Milvus migrans parasitus.] Wherever we came across villages, either in the forest

    or open country, the African Black Kite would be found scavenging and picking up occasional small chickens. When flight,s of locusts occurred t,hey ate till they could eat no more.

    At Wenchi we saw only one.

    [Elanus csruleus caeruleus.] We saw numbers of Black-shouldered Kites a t Wenchi

    I have no record of it and other places to the northward. from the forest region.

    Machaerhamphus alcinus anderssoni. Coll. no. 894, This very interesting specimen of the Bat-eating Buzzard

    was brought in alive by a native child who had obtained it from il nest in tha forest. I was told by Mr. Rake, Assistant Chief Commissioner a t Tamale, N.T., that Bat-Hawks were frequent,ly to be seen chasing Bats near the Club in the evenings. Unfortunately I never saw one. This bird is in the black and white plumage, which is probably the immabure dress, whilst t,he dark birds are fully adult.

    Feet pale greenish flesh ; bill black ; mre blue ; iris dark brown.

    Pernis apivorus apivorus. Coll. no. "606, 9, Goaso, Ashanti, 18. xii. 34. We obt.ained only a single bird, but i t may have been

    more plentiful than we imagined in the forest. This bird was very fat and it.s stomach was crammed with mason-wasps.

    juv., Mampong, Ashanti, 8. ii. 35.

  • 358 Mr. W. P. Lowe : Lowe- WnlnEron Expeditions to [Ibis,.

    [Aquila rapax raptor.] The Abyssinian Tawny Eagle was uiicommon, but lily

    note-book records seeing it twice a t Ejura during our first expedition.

    [Stephanoagtus coronatus.] The Crowned Hewk-Eagle was seen quite close, perched in

    A native also brought me the wing of one a tree a t Ejura. he had killed a t Mempong, 1934.

    [LophaWs occipitalii.] The Long-crested Hawk-Eagle was very common, and

    seen almost daily perched on some dead branch of a tree.

    Kaupifalco monogrammicus monogrammicus. Coll. no. 75, $2, Wenchi, Ashanti, 8. i. 34 ; no. 118, 9,

    Wenchi, Ashant,i, 12. i. 34 ; no. 340, $2, Ejura, Ashanti, 5. ii. 34.

    The Northern Lizard-Buzzard was moderately common in the open savannah count.ry.

    Butastur ruflpennis. Coll. no. "791, 6, 30 miles E. of Tumu, N.T., Gold Coast,

    The Grasshopper Buzzard-Eagle is a common bird in the Here, as along the White Nile, i t is

    19. i. 35.

    savannah country. sociable, as we frequently found from four to six together.

    [Terathopius ecaudatus.] The Bateleur is more frequently seen in the open country,

    t,hough it was observed at Goaso and Mampong.

    Gypohierax angolensis. Coll. no. 389, Ejura, Ashanti, 11. ii. 34. The Vulturine Fish-Eagle is generally distributed throughout

    the forest and gallery forest country where the oil-palm grows, feeding chiefly on the fruit of that tree. It also eats crabs and small cray-fish, which are common in all forest &reams. The natives kill a good many of these birds, and describe its flesh as '' sweet meat."

  • 1937.1 the Ashanti Forests and the Cold Coast. 359

    Buteo auguralis. Coll. no. 349, 8, Ejura, Ashanti, 6. ii. 34 ; no. 350, 9, Ejura,

    Ashanti, 6. ii. 34 ; no. 446, 8, Ejura, Ashanti, 16. ii. 34 ; no. "1028, 8, Mampong, Ashanti, 16. ii. 35.

    The Red-necked Buzzard is the common Buzzard of the country ; it occurs everywhere in the forest and open savannah. At this season I found them in pairs and breeding. We caught two alive at Ejura, and intended them for the Zoological Gardens, London, but we were so short of space we could not carry them.

    Accipiter minullus erythropus. Coll. no. 964, 9, Mampong, Ashanti, 11. ii. 35 ; no. 1072,

    8 ad., Mampong, Ashanti, 21. ii. 35. The male specimen of the West African Little Sparrow-

    Hawk came near the rest-house and, darting into a small bush, tried to drive a Bulbul out to kill. Its movements were extraordinarily rapid, but the Bulbul knew the value of cover and managed to elude the Hawk until I got my gun and shot it. Total length of male in the flesh 98 in., expanse 1 ft. 5 i in.

    Accipiter badius sphenurus. Coll. no. 152, 8, Wenchi, Ashanti, 19. i. 34 ; no. 299, 8,

    Ejura, Ashanti, 2. ii. 34 ; no. 46, 9, Goaso, Ashanti, 30. xii. 33 ; no. 323, $2, Ejura, Ashanti, 3. ii. 34 ; no. "682, 9, Bole, N.T., Gold Coast, 6. i. 35 : no. "842, 8 juv,, Ejura, Ashanti, 31. i. 35.

    Eritrean Shikras were very common in the savannah country. They remind one in their habits of our European Sparrow-Hawk.

    Astur tachiro maeroscelides. Coll. no. 445, 9, Ejura, Ashanti, 16. ii. 3 4 ; no. 471, Q?,

    Mampong, Ashanti, 20. ii. 34 ; 853, 9 imm., Mampong, Ashanti, -1. ii. 35 ; no. 950, 8, Mampong, Ashanti, 10. ii. 1935 ; no. "971, 8 imm., Mampong, Ashanti, 11. ii. 35 ; no. "972, Q imrn., Mampong, Ashanti, 11. ii. 35 ; no. "1107, 9, Mampong, Ashanti, 27 ii. 35.

    No. 853 had bill black, bluish a t base, cere greenish, feet yellowish-white, iris prey. This bird is difficult to determine as it is immature. It matches exactly an immature bird of

  • 360 Mr. W. P. Lowe : Lowe-Waldron Expeditions to [Ibis,

    Astwr castanilius in the British Museum collection. The Western Goshawk appears to be found oiily in the forest, where it is not uncommon. No. 445 shows slight enlarge- ment of ovary.

    Urotriorehis maerouus macrourus. Coll. no. 388, Q, Ejura, 11. ii. 34 ; no. 521, 9, Mampong,

    Ashanti, 23. ii. 34 ; no. *1025,6, Mampong, Ashanti, 15. ii. 35. The Long-tailed Hawk is a difficult bird to obtain or learn

    anything about. One thing that struck me forcibly is its frail body as compared with its powerful muscular legs, which seemed out of proportion to the rest of the body. No. 521 was caught on a bird-limed stick near a pool of water in the forest ; the stomach of no. 388 was remarkable, and brought home in spirit for examination.

    Bill black, cere yellowish-green ; feet yellow ; iris dark brown or yellow.

    Total length in the flesh 650 mni., expanse 1000 min. Neither bird showed signs of immediate breeding.

    Gymnogonys typicus pectoralis. Coll. no. 67, 8, Goaso, Ashanti, 4. i. 34 ; no. 348, $?,

    Ejura, Ashanti, 2. ii. 34 ; no. 1066, $2 juv., Mampong, Ashanti, 21. ii. 35.

    The young bird, which would soon have left the nest, was brought in alive by a native. West African Harrier-Hawks are very common in the forest region, and may be seen clinging to the trunks of trees with flapping wings, or on the ground giving long hops to catch locusts.

    Francolinus albogularis gambags. Coll. no. 371, 3 ad., Ejura, Ashanti, 8. ii. 34 ; no. W31,

    8, Bole, N.T., Gold Coast, 6. i. 35. The Nigerian White-throated Francolin seems to be local in

    its distribution. I never came across it except in open wood- land, generally in hilly country where there are rocks amongst the grass and trees. In such places they often mix with Ptilopachys petrosus. They lie very close, almost allowing one to tread on them, when they rise and fly with great speed,

  • 1937.1 the Ashanti Forests and the Gold Coast. 361

    frequently dodging amongst the trees. There is probably not a better bird for sport in West Africa. No. 371 would soon have been breeding. I believe this to be the first record for Ashanti.

    Bill black, b a d half of upper and lower mandibles chrome- yellow ; feet orange ; iris light brown.

    Francolinus bicalcaratus bicalcaratus. Coll..no. 107, 3, Wenchi, Ashanti, 11. i. 34 ; no. 108, Q,

    Wenchi, Ashanti, 11. i. 34 ; no. 117, 3 juv,, Wenchi, Ashanti, 12. i. 34; no. 125, 6, Wenchi, Ashanti, 13. i. 34 ; no. *679, 9, Bole, N.T., Gold Coast, 6. i. 35 ; no. *811, 8 juv., Ejura, N.T., Gold Coast, 28. i. 35.

    The Double-spurred Francolin is tho most common bush- fowl which is encountered immediately after leaving the forest. Even during the nesting season I met pairs and large coveys, which seems to indicate that they do not all breed a t the aame time.

    Francolinus ahantensis. Coll. no. 185, 9, Wenchi, 19. i. 34; 324, $2, Ejura, Ashanti,

    2. ii. 34; no. 493, $2, Mampong, Ashanti, 21. ii. 34; no. 497, sex Z, Mampong, Ashanti, 21. ii. 34 ; no. 554, 8, Mampong, Ashanti, 25. ii. 34 ; no. 553, 9, Mampong, Ashanti, 25. ii. 34 ; no. 585, 6 ad., Goaso, Ashanti, 16. xii. 34 ; no. 855, 9, Mam- pong, Ashanti, 4. ii. 35 ; no. 937, $2 juv., Mampong, Ashanti, 10. ii. 35 ; no. 1032, 3 juv., Mampong, Ashanti, 16. ii. 35; no. *838, 8, Ejura, Ashanti, 31. i. 35 ; no. *904, 8, Mampong, Ashanti, 8. ii. 35 ; n0.*936, pull., Mampong, Ashanti, 10. ii. 35 ; no. "963, 6, Mampong, Ashanti, 11. ii. 35 ; no. * O W , ?, Mampong, Ashanti, 12. ii. 35 ; no. "1024, 8, Mampong, Ashanti, 15. ii. 35 ; 9, without label ; no. 415, juv., Ejura, Ashanti, 13. ii. 34 ; no. 416, 6 juv., Ejura, Ashanti, 13. ii. 34.

    The Ahanta Buah-fowl, judging by its cries, must be a coni- mon bird in the forest region, and yet they are very shy and retiring. By day I once crept with great difficulty through thick cover to where a covey were calling, and, so far as I couId judge, the whole lot were all screaming at the same time. Moonlight nights are also a good time to hear these birds,

  • 362 Mr. W. P. Lowe : Lowe-Waldron. Expeditiom to [Ibis,

    often in some small clearing, where they venture out to feed on yams. At Goaso we were cutting a path to set rat-traps, and so accidentally found a nest containing five eggs. The parent bird sat so closely that she did not move until the large knife was swung over the nest. They begin nesting in January.

    Dr. Bannerman has described the chicks and eggs in the Bull, B. 0. C. 10 April, 1935.

    Total length of Q in the flesh l l g in. ; expanse 21 in. 3 ad. Bill red, darker on nostrils ; feet orange, scales darker

    on margins ; iris dark brown. 9. Bill orange, basal half of culmen and nostrils black;

    feet orange; iris light brown. The spurs vary from one to three, and are usually a deeper colonr than the tarsus.

    Ptiiopaohus petrosus petrosus. Coll. no. 741, 9, Bole, N.T., Gold Coast, 12. i. 3.5; no. "693,

    3, Bole, N.T., Gold Coast, 7. i. 35 ; no. *837,6, Ejura, Ashanti, 30 i. 35.

    We often heard Stone-Partridges calling, particularly at Ejura. In the neighbourhood of Bole they were common birds, often rising at one's feet, singly or in pairs, as it was the breeding season.

    Numlda meleagris galeata. Coll. no. 257, $, Ejura, Ashanti, 28. i. 34. The Grey-breasted Helmet Guineafowl is met with after

    leaving the forest. It occurred in large flocks of fifty to a hundred throughout our entire journey in the Northern Territories. The natives have nearly everywhere domesticated these birds, and it is extraordinary, even in their own country, how soon domestication changes the plumage, the majority becoming pied, and some have tinges of rufous. We found them most useful for the table and often easy to obtain, especially when they alighted in the trees.

    Cuttera edouardi pallasi. Coll. no. 44, 6, Goaso, Ashanti, 29. xii. 33 ; no. 45, $,

    Goaso, Ashanti, 29. xii. 33 ; no. 236, 6, Ejura, Ashanti,

  • 1937.1 the Ashanti Forests and the Gold Coast. 363

    6. i. 34; no. 382, 6, Ejura, Ashanti, 9. ii. 34; no. 384, $, Ejura, Ashanti, 10. ii. 34 ; no. 464, $, Ejura, Ashanti, 17. ii. 34 ; no. 230, $, Ejura, Ashanti, 25. i. 34; no. *605, $, Goaso, Ashanti, 17. xii. 34 ; no. 843, 9, Ejura, Ashanti, 31. i. 35.

    The West African Crested Guineafowl is strictly a forest bird so far as my experience goes. I obtained five males before getting a female on 31 January, the reason being that they were nesting. Dr. G. Taylor, of the British Museum, identified the stomach-contents of these birds to be Rottbwl- liastrous grass ; they also eat various fruits and berries.

    No. 464 had three more eggs to lay. Ad. 8. Head and neck blue, throat and underside of neck

    red ; lores and around eyes black. A double fold of skin at the back of neck about half-way down. Bill greyish-horn ; feet greyish-black ; iris dark brown.

    Ad. Q. Neck violet, throat flesh-colour, around eyes black. The loose folds of skin on the back of neck not so well developed, but the crest was thicker and heavier than the male.

    Canirallus oeuleus oculeus. Coll. no. 342, Q, ad., Ejura, Ashanti, 5. ii. 34 ; no. 322,

    6, Ejura, Ashanti, 3. ii. 34; no. 52, $, Goaso, Ashanti, 30. sii. 33 ; no. 527, 8, Mampong, Ashanti, 26. ii. 34.

    I regret to say we can give no information about the very handsome Grey-throated Rail. These specimens were a11 caught by setting-traps along the forest streams, and never once did we see a single bird. Those captured had been feeding on aquatic insects, and the sex-organs were enlarging.

    Bill black, basal half of both mandibles green ; feet, brown ; iris red, eyelids light brown.

    Limnocorax flavirostra. Coll. no. 831, $2, Ejura, Ashanti, 29. i. 35 (one specimen in

    spirit). Present everywhere in suitable places. These two birds

    came out from a swamp on to the road, where I killed them both with one shot. On picking them up I noticed for the first time t,hat they had a sharp " claw " on the tip of the wing ;

  • 364 Mr. W. P. Lowe : Lowe- Waldron Expeditions to [Ibis,

    this in freshly shot birds was the same colour as the feathers, but those shot years ago on the Nile have white claws. This may or may not be due to fading. I do not remember seeing mention of this curious Black Crakes claw except in Batess Handbook of the Birds of West Africa. What use it can be to the bird is difficult to say, unless it is for climbing.

    Sarothrura pulchra pulchra. Coll. no. 517, 9, Mampong, Ashanti, 22. ii. 34 ; no. 541,

    9, Mampong, Ashanti, 25. ii. 34 ; no. *863, d, Mampong, Ashanti, 6. ii. 35.

    The White-spotted Pigmy-Rail was no doubt common, but very difficiilt to see. These specimens were all captured with bird-lime placed on sticks near the edge of a swamp. I tried waiting to watch them, but this was made impossible by tsetse-fiies.

    No. 541 showed signs of approaching breeding.

    [Choriotis arabs stieberi.] The Sudan Bustard was frequently seen in the open country

    At Wenchi it might be seen daily on the north of the forest. farm-land. We also observed it as far north as Lawra.

    [Neotis eafra denhami.] Denhams Bustard is more common than the foregoing

    species. It inhabits the same sort of ground, and at times we put them up together. These large Bustards are usually very wary and difficult to obtain. A wounded bird of this species fell in tall pass and bushes but was not recovered.

    Lissotis melanogaster melanogaster. Coll. no. *777, 3, Lama, N.T., Gold Coast, 18. i. 1935. We saw the Northern Black-bellied Bustard a t Wenchi and

    The specimen here enumerated was one of a pair Lawra. which rose together.

    Podica senegalensis senegalensis. COIL no, 6, Mampong, Ashanti, 3. ii. 35. These extraordinary birds, with a mixture of Rail, Cormorant,

    and Coot, are, so far as my limited experience goes, solitary

  • 1937.1 the Ashanti Forests and the ffold Coast. 365

    creatures ; usually one is seen, or a t most two, swimming about on some slow-running stream. The specimen here listed had enlarged testes and would soon have been breeding.

    Afroxyechus tricollaris forbesi. Coll. no. 110, 9 ad., Wenchi, Ashanti, 11. i. 34 ; no. 112, 9.

    Wenchi, Ashanti, 11. i. 34 ; no. "778, 3, Lawra, N.T., Gold Coast, 18. i. 35; no. "779, 9, Lawra, N.T., Gold Coast, 18.i.35.

    Forbes's Banded Plover is quite a common bird locally, and we often saw as many as a dozen together, either on sandy or burnt ground. When flying they utt,er "peep, peep." They seem to like human habitation. Nos. 110, 112 showed no signs of breeding.

    Sarciophorus teotus tectus. No. 784, sex 1, Tumu, N.T., Gold Coast, 19. i. 35. This Black-headed Plover is a spirit-specimen, so I cannot

    give t.lie sex. Curiously enough, during our long tour of the Northern Territories this was the only time the species wits met with; about a dozen birds frequented a piece of flat dry ground surrounding the rest-house. They are said to be always there.

    Pluvianus agyptius aegyptius. Coll. no. *660, $, Volta River, N. of Wenohi, 2. i. 35. The Egyptian Plover was very common as we crossed the

    Black Volts River, as many as eight being seen together.

    (Edicnemus senegalensis senegalensis. Coll. no. 35, $, Goaso, Ashanti, 28. xii. 33 ; no. 154, $ ad.,

    I was surprised to find the Senegal Stone-Plover in the small At Wenchi they Neither of these

    Wenchi, Ashanti, 15. i. 34.

    clearing at Goaso, running along the path. were more common on the cultivated land. birds showed any indication of breeding.

    (Edicnemus capensis maculosus. Coll. no. 680, $, Bole, N.T., Gold Coast, 6. i. 35 ; no, "767,

    Q, Lama, N.T., Gold Coast, 17.i.35 (sexual organs enlarging),

  • 366 Mr. w. P. Lowe : Lowe-Waldron Expeditions to [Ibis, The West African Dikkop was most plentiful a t Bole,

    where they would soon have been nesting. They occurred in the open woodland ; occasionally six or eight would rise from the ground with a screani.

    Columba guinea guinea. Coll. no. "793, 9, Navaroiigo, N.T., Gold Coast, 21. i. 35. We saw only three birds, the one listed being one of a pair

    flying together in open count,ry ; they had been feeding on ground-nuts. The specimen obtained had just finished laying.

    Columba unieincta. Coll. no. 268, 8 ad., Ejura, dshanti, 30. i. 1934. The Afep Pigeon is certainly a very rare bird, and I believe

    had not previously been recorded from the Gold Coast. It frequents tall forest trees and has an astonishingly loud note which I a t fist thought came from some animal. This specimen wa+s in breeding condition. There appears to bc some confusion as to the soft parts of this bird. Ours had: bill, tip very pale blue, base plumbeous; feet slute-grey; iris yellowish-red, bime skin and eyelids red, with a grey stripe above and below eyelids. Bates describes the soft parts : iris orange-red, skin around eyes carmine ; hard part, of bill leaden blue, soft part dark red, with a white or bluish bloom; feet dark red or purple. It is to be hoped that future collectors will carefully note the soft parts, which a t present seem to indictite that there is both a grey- and red- legged bird. The majority o the skins in the National Collec- tion are from East Africa, and, unfortunately, no record of these parts has been made. In the 'Catalogue of Birds,' vol. xxi. p. 243, Buttikofer gives a still more mixed description.

    The above bird had been feeding on large black-coloured .seeds twice the size of a pea.

    Turturaena iriditorques iriditorques. Coll. no. 552,d ad., Mampong, Ashanti, 25. ii. 34 ; no. *1103,

    ad ad., Mampong, Ashanti, 24. ii. 35. We met with the Gaboon Bronze-naped Pigeon only at two

    plmes. The fist was along the Afram River, where single

  • 1'337.1 the Ashanti Forests and the Gold Coast. 367

    birds were observed crossing the road, and again in dense forest near Mampong. Both specimens were in breeding condit,ion.

    Streptopelia semitorquata erythrophrys. Coil. no. 397, 8 ad., Ejura, Ashanti, 11. i i . 34. The West African Red-eyed Dove was abundant in the

    open bush country, especially near cultivation. This bird mas in breeding condition.

    Streptopelia vinaeea vinacea. Coll. no. 367, 3 ad., Ejura, Ashanti, 8. ii. 34. The Vinaceous Dove was in flocks of thirty to fifty birds,

    They were breeding at this feeding in t,he small rice-fields. season of t,he year.

    Stigmatopelia senegalensis senegalensis. Coll. no. 705, 9, Bole, N.T., Gold Coast, 8. i. 35 ; no. "704,

    q, Bole, N.T., Gold Coast, 8. i. 35. Senegal Doves abounded a t Bole, and the amusing notes of

    '' Mr. O'Duffy, Mr. O'Duffy '' were heard from sunrise to sunset. No. 705 had just finished laying.

    [(Ena eapensis capensis.] The Long-tailed Dove was very local. Wa was the only

    place we met with these birds, feeding on small patches of cultivated land.

    Tympanistria fraseri. Coll. no. 420, 8 ad., Ejurlt, Ashanti, 14. ii. 34 ; no. 828,

    8 juv., Ejura, Ashanti, 28. i. 35 ; no. "960, $? imm., Mampong, -4shanti, 11. ii. 35.

    The West African Tambourine Doves are seldom seen, and are very retiring in their habits. No. 420 was a breeding bird.

    Turtur afer afer. a l l . no. 38, 6 ad., Goaso, Ashanti, 29. xii. 33 ; no. 222,

    Senegal Red-billed Wood-Doves occurred sparingly at They

    8 ad., Ejura, Ashanti, 25. i. 34.

    GOBSO, but were more plentiful in the open country. breed a t t,he end of December.

  • 368 Expeditions to Ashanti Forests nnd Gold Coast. [Ibis,

    Turtur afer kilimensis. Coll. no. 613, sex 2, Goaso, Ashanti, 21. xii. 34. Moderately plentiful ; more often seen along the roads than

    in the woods, picking up millet-seeds dropped by natives.

    Turtur abyssinicus delicatula. Cull. no. 734, d, Bole, N.T. Gold Coast, 10. i. 35. The Black-billed Wood-Dove is so easily confused with

    the foregoing species that I cannot give any information concerning it.

    Calopelia puella puella. Coll. no. 540, 6 ad., Mamnpong, Ashanti, 25. ii. 34. Of the Gold Coast Odu-Dove I can give no information.

    It is either It was just about to breed, and had

    Total length 285 mm. ; expanse 420 mm. Bill yellowish-

    This, the only one obtained, was in dense forest. very scarce or retiring. been feeding on large seeds.

    grey, base claret ; feet bright red ; iris deep red.

    Vinago waalia. Coll. no. 730, Bole, N.T., Gold Coast, 10. i. 36 ; no. "729, d,

    Bruce's Fruit-Pigeons were very common a t Bole. At times Bole, N.T., Gold Coast, 10. i. 35.

    seen singly, or often fifteen t o twenty feeding on wild figs.

    Vinago calva sharpei. Coll. no. 186, d ad., Wenchi, Ashanti, 20. i. 34. The Sierra Leone Green Pigeon was present everywhere

    in the forests, and also in the savannah, where wild fig trees are to be found. Some large trees contained several hundred birds, and a continual shower of discarded fruits was falling on the bushes below. I found one nest early in January in a small mango tree. The nest consisted of a few twigs, and contained one white egg.

    [To be continued.]


View more >