The White-fronted bee-eater (Merops bullockoides) is a species of bee-eater widely distributed in sub-equatorial Africa. They have a distinctive white forehead, a square tail and a bright red patch on their throat. They nest in small colonies, digging holes in cliffs or earthen banks but can usually be seen in low trees waiting for passing insects from which they hunt either by making quick hawking flights or gliding down before hovering briefly to catch insects.
We opened the windows and drove slowly down the access road. In less than 5 minutes, I saw a flash of colour on the left. I drove closer as quietly as possible and found a beautiful Rainbow Pitta foraging in the bush! This was going to be good – one of my target species right off the bat! I walked slowly and quietly closer until the bird disappeared into the bush.
Moving on, a Rainbow Bee-eater was doing his job!
A pair of Red-tailed Black Cockatoos were frolicking in the trees.
Closer to the picnic area was this lovely Rose-crowned Fruit Dove, another of my targeted species!
We drove down to the end of the road, didn’t find anything so turned around.
An Australasian Figbird was watching us.
Peaceful Doves peacefully foraging near the picnic ground.
Pied Cormorant stretching his wings.
The visitors info place was closed but they had some good information posted.
Orange-footed Scrubfowl right near the sign!
Bar-shouldered Dove watching from above.
Up to now we had been braving the mosquitoes. We only had a small bottle in our carry-on because we planned to buy more when we got here. By the time we reached the pond and the hiking trails we were being eaten alive and forced to turn back.
I wasn’t worried as I knew we would be passing by here after the road trip around the Top End so decided to save our skin. We had already seen many of the target birds anyway so a very auspicious start to this adventure!
The Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis) (sometimes little green bee-eater) is a near passerine bird in the bee-eater family. It is resident but prone to seasonal movements and is found widely distributed across sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal and the Gambia to Ethiopia, the Nile valley, western Arabia and Asia through India to Vietnam. They are mainly insect eaters and they are found in grassland, thin scrub and forest often quite far from water. Several regional plumage variations are known and several subspecies have been named.
Firstly, we actually SAW a lot more than I could get photos of. These birds are camera shy and they are fast! The few bird pics I got are terrible to the point that I can’t match them to a pic in the bird book other than the red bird (Red-headed Malimbe) and the blue bird (Splendid Glossy Starling). I will try to make up for it with photos of the actual canopy walkway.
The trail leading up to the canopy walkway, see how dark it is? We saw a Paradise Flycatcher along the way but the photo didn’t come out – too dark.
These are our guides. Only one was the real paid guide, the other one was his friend who just tagged along, I think he is in training.
Some independent birders already there.
The organized birding group who are also staying at the Rainforest Lodge. I noticed they were watching something very intently so I followed their gaze but couldn’t see anything. All of a sudden, a small bird flew out of the foliage very quickly and the group burst into applause. What WAS that bird? We caught up to them and found out it was a Rosy Bee-eater, one of the target birds in Kakum! At least I caught a glimpse of him!
They are really beautiful, check out this video!
At this point my husband is bored and just having fun with the walkways.
Splendid Glossy Starling
See how beautiful he is!
A lizard walking in front of us.
Back at the reception, the shop was finally open.
Our two guides. Sorry I can’t remember their names but they did know the birds quite well so if you see them there, I can recommend them!
Back in the carp park a Little Bee-eater
The private bus for the tour group.
While I usually do just fine as an independent birder with a local guide, I have to say that Ghana is the first place where I got real “tour-group envy”. They got into the park much earlier, they have private transport so they can get to more remote places where I couldn’t go using tro-tros and their guide supplies them with a checklist of all the birds they saw.
I did get my guide to thumb through my book with me so I could highlight the birds we saw but I am a long way off from anything that resembles the nicely organized bird list the tour groups get. Here is an example of one for all of Ghana but they do make notes on the exact place the bird was seen.
We had lunch at the small cafe just outside the park and hung around the rest of the day for birding in the car park and surrounding areas. My cash reserves were down (when will I learn to change enough money) so we couldn’t make a second trip into the park, they charge by the hour, not the whole day!
Although you could visit Dryandra Woodland as a day trip from Perth, I highly recommend staying a night or two here so you can visit all the water holes and birding areas. You can stay either in the park or in Narrogin, about a half hour’s drive from Dryandra.
The Lion’s Dryandra Village has the advantage of being right inside the park so no commuting and you can easily do the night tour at Barna Mia. You do need to be completely self-sufficient and bring your own food and bed linens.
The official park website has a brochure you can download. I have marked some prime birding location in yellow on the screenshot below. The Old Mill Dam was the best place, I personally saw several Western Rosellas, Australian Ringnecks, Rainbow Bee-eaters and more (see bird list links below).
Dryandra birding spots
The bird list is very impressive and Frank O’Connor’s website has some great location details complete with co-ordinates for your GPS. Eremaea also has a bird list for Dryandra Woodland.
Here are some photos I took at Dryandra Woodlands.
The Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus) is a near passerine bird in the bee-eater family Meropidae. It is the only species of Meropidae found in Australia. They are brilliantly colored birds that grow to be 19–24 cm (max 28 cm) in length, including the elongated tail feathers.
Close up from Wikipedia.
Rainbow bee-eaters are a common species and can be found during the summer in forested areas in most of southern Australia excluding Tasmania. They migrate north during the winter into northern Australia, New Guinea, and some of the southern islands of Indonesia. They may be found in open woodlands, beaches, dunes, cliffs, mangroves, woodlands and they often visits parks and private gardens. The first two photos above were taken at the watering hole near the Dryandra Village. They were quite entertaining as they whizzed down for a drink at the speed of light! Dryandra Woodlands is an easy 2 hour drive from Perth.
Known to the Noongar as “birranga”, the bee-eater’s beauty and character set it apart from other birds and it is the traditional totem of an important family group in the eastern Wheatbelt..
An Aboriginal Dreaming story tells how birds came into being when a rainbow shattered and its colourful shards fell to earth, and the basis for such a tale can be appreciated in the rainbow bee-eater’s startling yet muted oranges, gauzy greens, powder-puff blues and soft yellows.
Another spectacular video from Birding Adventures TV! There are no parrot species in this video, though Botswana does have a few parrots species. They have some amazing footage of feeding lions along with some classic Botswanan birds such as Secretary Bird, Wattled Crane, Lilac Breasted Rollers and several Bee-Eaters. Enjoy!