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  • Photograph of Egyptian Plover

    The stunning Egyptian Plover by Ian Fulton.

  • Where to watch birds and wildlife in
  • SIERRA LEONE

    Best Birds and other wildlife in Sierra Leone

    Birds

    Upper Guinea Forest Endemics
    White-breasted Guineafowl, Brown-cheeked Hornbill, Western Wattled Cuckooshrike, Yellow-headed Picathartes (White-necked Rockfowl), Sierra Leone (White-eyed) Prinia, Sharpe's Apalis, Green-tailed Bristlebill, Yellow-bearded Greenbul, Rufous-winged Illadopsis, Copper-tailed Glossy Starling, Nimba Flycatcher and Gola Malimbe. Also a chance of Black-headed Rufous Warbler, and an outside chance of Rufous Fishing Owl. (The only Upper Guinea Forest Endemic not present is Liberian (White-winged) Greenbul although recent research suggests this 'species' may merely be an aberrant form of Icterine Greenbul.)

    Other Specialities
    Forest Francolin, Long-tailed Hawk, Egyptian and Forbes’s Plovers, Timneh (Grey) Parrot, Blue Malkoha (Yellowbill), Chocolate-backed Kingfisher, Blue-moustached Bee-eater, Blue-throated Roller, Fire-bellied, Little Green and Melancholy (Gabon) Woodpeckers, Rufous-sided Broadbill, Fiery-breasted Bushshrike, Lowland Sooty and Turati's Boubous, Red-cheeked Wattle-eye, Baumann's and Western Bearded Greenbuls, Capuchin Babbler, Puvel's Illadopsis, Kemp's Longbill, White-tailed Ant Thrush, Finsch's Flycatcher Thrush, Forest Scrub Robin, Ussher's Flycatcher, Violet-backed Hyliota, Emerald Starling, Buff-throated, Johanna's and Mangrove Sunbirds, Preuss's Weaver, Crimson Seedcracker, Dybowski’s Twinspot, Cameroon and Jambandu Indigobirds, and Togo Paradise Whydah.

    Also a chance of White-crested Tiger Heron, Olive Ibis, Congo Serpent Eagle, Grey-throated Rail, Red-chested and White-spotted Flufftails, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Pek's Fishing Owl, Standard-winged Nightjar, and African Dwarf and White-bellied Kingfishers.

    Others
    Pygmy Goose, Hartlaub’s Duck, Hamerkop, Palm-nut Vulture, African Harrier Hawk, Crowned and Long-crested Eagles, African Finfoot, Rock Pratincole, White-headed Lapwing, Greater Painted Snipe, Great Snipe (mostly Nov-Mar), Rock Pratincole, Afep and (Western) Bronze-naped Pigeons, Great Blue, Guinea and Yellow-billed Turacos, Western Plantain-eater, cuckoos, Bates's Swift, Sabine’s Spinetail, Narina Trogon, Blue-breasted, and Shining-blue Kingfishers, Black, Swallow-tailed and White-throated Bee-eaters, Abyssinian, Blue-bellied and Broad-billed Rollers, Black-casqued, Black Dwarf, Piping, Red-billed Dwarf, White-crested and Yellow-casqued Hornbills, barbets including Yellow-spotted, tinkerbirds, Cassin's, Thick-billed and Willcock's Honeyguides, (African) Shrike and Vanga (Black-and-white Shrike) Flycatchers, Chestnut and Yellow-bellied Wattle-eyes, Senegal Batis, Red-billed Helmetshrike, Grey-headed, Lagden’s, Many-coloured and Sulphur-breasted Bushshrikes, Blue and Red-shouldered Cuckoo Shrikes, Black-winged Oriole, Velvet-mantled Drongo, Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher, African and Red-bellied Paradise Flycatchers, Western Nicator, Pied-winged and White-throated Blue Swallows, White-shouldered Black Tit, many greenbuls, Green and Tit Hylias, Oriole Warbler, Yellow-browed Camaroptera, Green Crombec, White-tailed Alethe, (Western) Forest Robin, Snowy-crowned Robin Chat, Splendid Starling, Spotted Creeper, Splendid and Superb Sunbirds, Cabanis’s Bunting, weavers and malimbes, and Western Bluebill.

    Also a chance of White-backed Night Heron.

    Mammals
    Hippopotamus, Western Black-and-white (Pied) Colobus, Western Red Colobus, Olive Colobus, Sooty Mangabey, Callithrix, Campbell’s (Mona), Diana and (Martin's) Putty-nosed Monkeys, Red River Hog, Hammer-headed Fruit Bat and several duikers. Also a chance of Chimpanzee and (Common) Long-nosed Cusimanse, and an outside chance of Pygmy Hippopotamus, White-bellied Pangolin and Water Chevrotain.


    Best Sites for Birds and other wildlife in Sierra Leone

    Best Times for Birds and other wildlife in Sierra Leone

    The drier season, when Egyptian Plover occurs, usually lasts from December to February and this is the best time to look for most birds even though these are usually the hottest and most humid months of the year. February to April, especially April when water levels are usually at their lowest, is the best time to look for monkeys at Tiwai Island.

    Recommended Bird Books etc. for Sierra Leone

    Birds of Western Africa by N Borrow and R Demey. Helm, 2014 (Second Edition).

    Birds of Africa south of the Sahara by I Sinclair and P Ryan. C Struik, 2011 (Second Edition).

    The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals by J Kingdon. Bloomsbury, 2015 (Second Revised Edition).

    The Kingdon Pocket Guide to African Mammals by J Kingdon. Bloomsbury, 2016 (Second Edition).


    Apps etc.

    The Kingdon Guide to African Mammals.

    Where to watch birds in Africa by N Wheatley. Helm, 1995.

    Don’t know which country/countries to visit in Africa? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them on the continent, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.

    Birding and Wildlife Trip Reports for Sierra Leone

    Many trip reports, some for Sierra Leone, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Sierra Leone. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Sierra Leone' below.

    Local bird and wildlife guides in Sierra Leone

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation for birders in Sierra Leone

    Some Organized Tours for birds and other wildlife to Sierra Leone

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and they are popular with people with partners with different interests. Individuals, partners and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more for a custom tour than an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who run organized tours to Sierra Leone include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.