Birder's Guide to São Tomé and Príncipe: 1991


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Introduction

The islands of São Tomé and Príncipe, 230 kilometres off the west coast of Africa in the Gulf of Guinea, have until very recently been effectively closed to the rest of the world. However, changes in the government's attitude has now opened the island to visitors, and tourist visas are easy to obtain. With most of the 25 endemic species (nine of which are considered threatened) relatively easy to see, these islands make an ideal extension to any trip to West Africa. This guide is based on two trips to these islands, in December 1989 and August 1991, during which all the endemic species were located, including the rediscovery of the São Tomé Grosbeak, previously known from only three eighteenth century specimens.

Both islands form part of the line of recent volcanos stretching from Mount Cameroon in the north to Pagalú in the south. The southern tip of São Tomé lies just on the equator, with Príncipe 150 kilometres to the north-east. Although small (São Tomé about 800 sq. km., Príncipe 150 sq. km), their volcanic origin has created dramatic scenery, with gigantic volcanic plugs towering above steaming jungle, and black lava-sand beaches. The highest point is the Pico Gago Coutinho at 2,024 metres on São Tomé.

A former Portuguese colony, these islands were once the world's largest cocoa producers. However, following independence in 1975, the economy collapsed, and today poverty is widespread with a population suffering one of the lowest per capita incomes and life expectancies in Africa. Despite these problems, most areas of the islands are readily accessible, and birding easy. Natural forest cover is mainly restricted to the wet, southwestern parts of the islands, with the dryer northern and eastern areas mainly given over to cocoa plantations. However, forest cover remains high, as most of these plantations were developed at the time when it was considered that cocoa required shade, with the taller trees being left in place. Additionally, many of these plantations were abandoned following independence, and have now reverted to secondary forest.

Flights and Getting there

From Europe, it is now only possible to fly directly to São Tomé on the once weekly flight from Lisbon (the Moscow service died out recently). Equatorial Airlines, the national carrier of São Tomé and Príncipe, has only one small 24-seater plane, that flies to São Tomé from Douala, Cameroon once a week, and from Libreville, Gabon four times a week. São Tomé-Libreville is $300 return and São Tomé-Príncipe $70 return. Expatriates living in Gabon often organise charters from Libreville. Given the difficulty of getting there, it is advisable to arrange flights, visas, and accommodation in advance.

Visas

Visas are no longer strictly required, as they are issued on arrival. However, it could be advantageous and cheaper to arrange them in advance, although poor diplomatic representation makes this difficult. There are diplomatic missions in Lisbon, Luanda, New York, and Libreville. Visas are issued within two days in Libreville. Visas issued on arrival cost $58, and there is a $20 airport departure fee, both of which must be paid in US$.

Accommodation

Accommodation is in very short supply, as the only tourist class hotel in São Tomé Town, the Swiss run Miramar Hotel, is usually full of United Nations officials, diplomatic visitors, or Portuguese tourists. The standard is good but the cost expensive at $110 per night half board. All prices are quoted in $, and local currency is can only be used on certain days of the week! There is another, much cheaper, hotel in Trindade, and possibly some local pensions in town, though these are likely to be very basic, and probably will not be able to help with transport, money-changing etc. In the hills at Nova Moca there is a pousada, reputedly of a good standard. Unfortunately it has been closed for renovation for the past three years but rumours say that it will open during 1992. For the duration of my second visit an apartment was rented. This didn't really work out any cheaper than the hotel, as it was necessary to pay for days while not actually there. Also self-catering is difficult, due to very few basic commodities being available on São Tomé. On Príncipe, the only pension is in Santo Antonio town, and costs $50 per day full board.

Money

The unit of currency is the Dobra. Most currencies can be changed at the Miramar Hotel. I saw small banks in São Tomé Town and Trindade, though they always seemed closed. There has been talk of São Tomé and Príncipe joining the common West African currency, the Franc FCFA, though this seems a long way off.

Language

As Portuguese, the official language, is widely spoken, it is advisable to learn a little, although one can get by with Spanish. French and some English are spoken by the staff at the Miramar Hotel.

Travel and Getting Around

Rental cars (with or without a driver), mini-mokes and 4 wheel-drive Suzuki jeeps are available on São Tomé through the Miramar Hotel. Expect to pay $80 per day for a Suzuki. These are the best option as although most of the roads are paved, their condition is variable and a four-wheel drive will get you just about anywhere on the island. A bus service operates around the northern and eastern parts of the island and to the larger villages in the interior. An alternative would be to hire a local taxi for the day, which costs about $40-50. Petrol can only be bought by vouchers. Ask at the hotel if more fuel is required, and bear in mind that the petrol stations are closed Sundays and public holidays. A vehicle is not required on Príncipe as all the endemic species can easily be seen walking from Santo Antonio town. The only map readily available is the 1:75,000 that can be bought for $10 from the Miramar Hotel or the Tourist Information Office in town. It is a reprint of a 1971 map made by the Portuguese. Little however has changed since then, and the detail is quite good. We had no problems finding all roads. A very detailed 1:25,000 series labelled Carta de São Tomé, Levantomento Aeropotogrametrico 1958, was produced by Ministério do ultramar, Junta de investigaçãos do ultramar, but is probably now impossible to get.

Climate and When to go

There is an incredible contrast in the rainfall across São Tomé island. The prevailing winds are from the southwest, and it is the mountainous areas lying in their path that receive most of the rain; over 10 metres annually. By contrast the northern area lying in the rain-shadow, which includes São Tomé Town, receives less than a metre. Generally there are two rainy seasons; the short from September to November and the long from February to May. Weather patterns on Príncipe are similar.

If a trip to the south-western forests is to be attempted it would be wise to confine a visit to the dry season between June and September. Otherwise anytime between June and January would be suitable, though even in the dryer months it would be advisable to plan at least one spare day in an itinerary, as the mountains receive rain in all months.

Species endemic to São Tomé and Príncipe

Bostrychia bocagei Dwarf Olive Ibis
Treron sanctithomae São Tomé Green Pigeon
Columba malherbii São Tomé Bronze-naped Pigeon
Columba thomensis Maroon Pigeon
Otus hartlaubi São Tomé Scops-Owl
Chaetura thomensis São Tomé Spinetail
Lanius newtoni São Tomé Fiscal Shrike
Lamprotornis ornatus Príncipe Glossy Starling
Oriolus crassirostris São Tomé Oriole
Turdus olivaceofuscus São Tomé Thrush
Horizorhinus dohrni Dohrn's Thrush-Babbler
Prinia molleri São Tomé Prinia
Amaurocichla bocagei São Tomé Short-tail
Terpsiphone atrochalybeia São Tomé Paradise-Flycatcher
Nectarinia newtoni São Tomé Sunbird
Nectarinia hartlaubi Príncipe Sunbird
Dreptes thomensis Giant Sunbird
Zosterops ficedulinus São Tomé White-eye
Speirops lugubris São Tomé Speirops
Speirops leucophaeus Príncipe Speirops
Serinus rufobrunneus Príncipe Seedeater
Neospiza concolor São Tomé Grosbeak
Ploceus grandis Giant Weaver
Ploceus princeps Príncipe Golden Weaver
Thomasophantes sanctithomae São Tomé Weaver

A Brief Ornithological History

São Tomé and Príncipe have been studied ornithologically on several occasions. These observations, other than those of de Naurois who made a series of lengthy studies over the period from 1963-1973, have been generally of the expedition type. This has lead to a patchy understanding of São Tomé and Príncipe birds the result of which is that the status of many species is very unclear. Additionally, the closure of the islands following independence has meant that no recent data had been available until the late 1980s when the International Council for Bird Preservation (ICBP) were first able to visit.

There is a total of 25 endemic species known from both islands. Twenty occur on São Tomé, and 11 on Príncipe. Of the 20 on São Tomé, 14 are single island endemics, while on Príncipe there are five. Most of the endemic species are common or fairly common, but certain species are rare and have not been seen for lengthy periods.
Seven species are currently treated in the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book (Collar and Stuart, 1985); Dwarf Olive Ibis, Maroon Pigeon, São Tomé Scops-Owl, São Tomé Fiscal Shrike, São Tomé Short-tail, São Tomé White-eye, São Tomé Grosbeak and Giant Weaver, though this number was increased to nine in the 1988 update (Collar and Andrew, 1988) with the inclusion of Giant Sunbird and Príncipe Speirops. It is this very high degree of endemism combined with the number of Red Data Book species that has lead to the forests of southwest São Tomé being considered as the second most important forest area for threatened bird species in the Afrotropical and Malagasy region (Collar and Stuart, 1988). As a good overview of the history of ornithological investigation of the two islands is given in Jones and Tye (1987), only a summary of the main surveys or expeditions of note is presented here.

1847 - 1850 - Carl Weiss collected specimens for the Hamburg Museum.
1885 - 1895 - Francisco Newton collected for the Lisbon Museum. His records included the first and last sightings of São Tomé Grosbeak for over 110 years.
1899 - 1901 - Leonardo Fea collected for the Genoa Museum.
1909 - Boyd Alexander collected for the British Museum.
1928 - 1929 - Jose Correia collected for the American Museum. His records included the last of the early sightings of São Tomé Fiscal Shrike.
1949 - Oxford University Expedition.
1954 - A Portuguese scientific mission.
1963 - 1973 - Several long periods spent by R. de Naurois resulting in many scientific papers.
1983 - 1985 - Günther and Feiler.
1987 - S. Eccles spent a week in April for the World Bank. His observations included the possible rediscovery of São Tomé Short-tail (Eccles 1988).
1987 - P.J. Jones and A. Tye spent five weeks studying both islands for the ICBP. (Jones and Tye, 1987).
1990 - University of East Anglia Expedition. Found all the endemic species except the São Tomé Grosbeak. (Atkinson 1990)

References

Atkinson, P. (1990). University of East Anglia Expedition to São Tomé and Príncipe. June - September 1990. Unpublished preliminary report.

Atkinson, P., Peet, N, and Alexander, J. (1991). The status and conservation of the endemic bird species of São Tomé and Príncipe. Bird Conservation International. Vol. 1 No. 3.

Brosset A., and Erard, C. (1986). Les Ouiseaux des régions forestières du nord-est du Gabon. Volume 1. Ecologie at comportement des espèces. Société Nationale de Protection de la Nature, Paris.

Brown, L.H., Urban, E.K., and Newman, K. (1982). The Birds of Africa. Volume I. Academic Press, London. Comprehensive and authoritative, this, combined with volumes II and III, has become the standard reference for West African non passerines.

Clements, J. (1981). Birds of the World: A Checklist. Facts on File, USA. The 1991 update is now available.

Collar, N.J., and Andrew, P. (1988). Birds to Watch. ICBP, Cambridge. UK. Useful summary of current status of each threatened species.

Collar, N.J., and Stuart, S.N. (1985). Threatened Birds of Africa and Related Islands, The ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book, Part I. I.C.B.P., Cambridge, UK.

Collar, N.J., and Stuart, S.N. (1988). Key Forests for Threatened Birds in Africa. International Council for Bird Preservation Monograph No. 3. I.C.B.P., Cambridge, UK.

Eccles, S.D. (1988). The birds of São Tomé - Record of a visit, April 1987 with notes on the rediscovery of Bocage's Longbill. Malimbus. 10.

Howard, R., and Moore, A. (1991). A Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World. Academic Press, London.

Fry, C.H., Keith, S., and Urban, E.K. (1988). The Birds of Africa. Volume III. Academic Press, London.

Jones, P.J., and Tye, A. (1987). The status of the Endemic Avifauna of São Tomé and Príncipe. ICBP Study Report. I.C.B.P., Cambridge.

Mackworth-Praed, C.W., and Grant, C.H.S. (1970-1973). African Handbook of Birds. Series III, Birds of West Central and Western Africa. Volume I and II. Longmans, Edinburgh. This has long been the standard field guide for West Africa, and is still the only reference available with illustrations and text for all the São Tomé and Príncipe birds. Unfortunately, it is no longer available, and has been deleted by the publisher.

Newton, A. (1989). West Africa - A travel survival kit. Lonely Planet Publications. 1988. Useful background reading, but of little practical help.

Snow, D.W. (1950). The Birds of São Tomé and Príncipe. Ibis. (24) London.

Urban, E.K., Fry, C.H., and Keith, S. (1986). The Birds of Africa. Volume II. Academic Press, London.

Acknowledgements

I would especially like to thank Phil Atkinson who supplied invaluable information on logistics and the rarer species. My thanks also go to Peter Jones, Mike Harrison and Stephen Eccles who were the source of much material, and to Peter Alexander-Marrack, Tom and Kattie Gullick, Don Turner, and Ian Sinclair who accompanied me on these trips.

Itinerary and Suggestions

Depending on the time available, there are several basic possibilities:

2-3 Days. With limited time, visitors should concentrate on the commoner São Tomé endemics, with a day or two at Lagoa Amelia and a day in the northern savanna near Guadalupe.
5-7 Days. With about a week there are two options. Either add a day or two on Príncipe to the above, or try to visit the remote southwest forests to look for the restricted rarities.
10-14 Days. This is the recommended time required to find all the species of interest.

For those attempting to find all the endemic species I would recommend the following: Firstly, do the remote southwest forests, where all the São Tomé endemics occur. Allow 2-3 days for travelling plus two to three days on location. Next visit Príncipe, where one day should suffice, though two or three days probably will be needed for travelling (see Príncipe site information below). On returning to São Tomé visit the northern savanna area and/or Lagoa Amelia if required.

Personal Experiences

Due to limited time, and the paucity of bird-finding information available, the December 1989 trip (comprising Peter Alexander-Marrack and myself) concentrated on the high altitude primary forest at Lagoa Amelia. Two days were spent trying, without success, to locate Giant Sunbird. This species was claimed to occur there by our local guide, and was indeed subsequently located there by the UEA expedition in 1990 (Atkinson 1990). The other day was spent (mainly due to poor weather further south) in the dryer savanna area between São Tomé Town and Praia das Conchas in the north-west. Even this limited time was sufficient to find all the commoner endemics plus the more elusive Maroon Pigeon.

The August 1991 trip (comprising Tom and Kattie Gullick, Ian Sinclair, Don Turner, and myself) capitalised on the ornithological information and logistical knowledge gathered by the 1990 UEA expedition. Most of the pre-trip arrangements for camping equipment, porters, dehydrated food, vehicle hire, visas etc were arranged via West African Alternatives. A total of five days was spent camped along the Rio Xufexufe (pronounced 'shoof-shoof') in the largely inaccessible southwest of the island. To get there a four-wheel-drive vehicle was used from São Tomé Town to Santo Antonio, after which local porters transferred equipment along the coast and then about three kilometres up the Rio Xufexufe to a base camp that was used as a central location from which to explore the river. This base camp was situated at only 40 metres altitude within undisturbed primary rain forest. Working the area was slow as the river course was comprised entirely of algae-covered volcanic boulders, with very steep forested slopes on either side. A total of seven kilometres of river was surveyed (five kilometres of the main Rio Xufexufe and two kilometres along larger tributaries) within an altitude range of 0-100 metres. Higher altitude forest on the northwest side of the Rio Xufexufe was accessed three times by climbing the valley sides and walking along the less steep ridges. In this way forest from 40-380 metres altitude was covered. For the rest of the time one day each was spent at Lagoa Amelia and the area around Praia das Conchas.

The two days on Príncipe covered cocoa shade forest between the main town, Santo Antonio, and Bela Vista as well as some remaining primary forest above Bela Vista along the Rio Papagaio. Additionally on one afternoon the offshore islet of Pedra da Galé was visited by boat. The Tinhosas Islands, about 25 kilometres to the south of Príncipe were passed on the return flight to São Tomé.

An overview of areas covered:
23 Dec 89 -Eastern coastal road, Guadalupe savanna, western coastal road.
24 Dec 89 - Lagoa Amelia.
25 Dec 89 -Lagoa Amelia.

01 Aug 91 - Arrive São Tomé.
02 Aug 91 -Drive to Santo Antonio. Walk to base of Rio Xufexufe.
03 Aug 91 - Rio Xufexufe.
04 Aug 91 - Rio Xufexufe.
05 Aug 91 - Rio Xufexufe.
06 Aug 91 - Rio Xufexufe.
07 Aug 91 - Rio Xufexufe. Return to São Tomé Town.
08 Aug 91 - Northern savannas at Praia das Conchas.
09 Aug 91 - Príncipe.
10 Aug 91 - Príncipe.
11 Aug 91 - Lagoa Amelia.
12 Aug 91 - Depart São Tomé.

23 Dec 89. Having hastily arranged the car that morning though the Miramar Hotel, we drove down the eastern coastal road, stopping at any promising habitat, especially river crossings. Due to heavy rain and road subsidence at Micondo, we were forced our return north, where we surveyed the area of savanna between Guadalupe and Praia das Conchas. Afterward we continued south along the western coastal road as far as Neves.

24 Dec 89. We left the hotel early and drove inland to Nova Moca, where we hired a local guide (1000 Dbs), and his drunk brother, to show us the footpath to Lagoa Amelia. The footpath passes through a large area of plantations before entering the forest, where a steep 45 minute climb eventually brought us to the, now dry, crater of Lagoa Amelia.

25 Dec 89. A repeat of yesterdays efforts without the guides. Our celebratory Christmas dinner of sandwiches and beer was consumed perched on a log in the bush. Took a late afternoon private flight to Libreville.

1 Aug 91. Having met Ian Sinclair and Don Turner in Libreville Airport bar, we took the overcrowded Equatorial Airlines flight to São Tomé Town. There we were met by Tom and Kattie Gullick and Paul Spring of West African Alternatives, to be transferred to our apartment by a very uncomfortable, clapped out Land Rover, which belched enormous clouds of diesel fumes and only just managed the smallest inclines. The vehicle did not look good for the four hours of rough roads to Santo Antonio the next day.

2 Aug 91. Up early and ready to go by 07:00, though we had to wait until 08:30, when the Toyota Landcruiser from the Miramar Hotel turned up. News that Paul's Landrover had apparently blown a head gasket and would not be available produced loud cheers all round. Except having to change a tyre en route, the four hour trip to Santo Antonio was uneventful. At Santo Antonio the horse flies we had been warned of were certainly a pain, but not as much as there being insufficient porters to carry our equipment. Despite prior arrangements, there was clearly a misunderstanding of what was involved, and we ended up porting our own rucsacs up and over the 300 metre ridge to the base of the Rio Xufexufe where we made our first camp. As the porters were expecting to return home, it was quite some effort to persuade them to transport the luggage the next day up the Xufexufe.

3 Aug 91. Tom and I set off early to the next village to try to locate more porters. At the first village we only found one old man and a couple of women, and on the beach, further on, a similar situation where the few able-bodied men had just put to sea to fish. We returned to the camp where the others had already departed up-river leaving some of the luggage behind. Over the next four hours, with some porters making double trips, we managed to transfer all the equipment, and set up a base camp at the entry of the 'Sunbird Tributary' about three kilometres up-river. Lengthy negotiations then ensued with the porters to pick us up. We eventually settled for 2,000 Dbs (twice what we had paid for the trip up) four days hence. The afternoon was spent birding along the tributary where several Giant Sunbird were found, and São Tomé Scops-Owl was heard calling. After a couple of kilometres the river became very difficult to traverse as large boulders made climbing very dangerous. On the first evening at the camp we discovered the porters had only left us one canteen of wine, so from there on it had to be rationed. During the evening we had our first excellent views of the São Tomé Scops-Owl that subsequently visited our camp every night.

4 Aug 91. We had planned to try to walk the four kilometres to the headwaters of the Xufexufe today to search for the São Tomé Fiscal-Shrike, but early rain made walking on the exposed rocks treacherous, so we decided to travel as far as it took to find the São Tomé Short-tail and reassess the situation. These we found within an hour, so we divided, with Tom and I continuing slowly to reconnoitre the river for the next day. Ian decided to make some sound recordings, and Don and Kattie to hang around the lower stretches of the river. (Later in the day Don went quite some distance up-river, where he reported it effectively impassable due to the large boulders and waterfalls). Tom and I continued slowly for another couple of hours, and then tried a northern tributary that didn't look too steep. After a few hundred metres we decided it would take forever following the river-bed, as far as the 300 metres altitude at which the UEA expedition had discovered their São Tomé Fiscal-Shrike, so we climbed the steep valley sides through the forest. Although the climb was very steep, it was a welcome relief from the river bed, and nowhere near as dangerous. It was during this climb that we passed a small clearing where perched in a tree the São Tomé Grosbeak was rediscovered. After some note taking and general delirium we pressed on, but despite much effort in excellent looking (to us) Fiscal Shrike habitat we turned back. However, on the way back, just a short distance from where we had seen the grosbeak a São Tomé Fiscal Shrike was found quietly feeding on the forest floor. As imagined, on return to the camp the atmosphere was a little strained with a mixture of delight and despondency.

5 Aug 91. An early start back to the Grosbeak site that I had thoughtfully marked with surveying tape the previous day. The Fiscal-Shrike was found in exactly the same spot, and Ian also flushed a Dwarf Olive Ibis, which although pursued could not be relocated. Again the party split-up with Ian and Don waiting for the Grosbeak (which amazingly returned to the same tree after a couple of hours) and Tom, Kattie and I covering a wider area in search of the Ibis, during which more Short-tails were found within the forest. Following the general success we returned to the camp early, by which time three pairs of shoes had fallen to pieces from constantly being soaked in the river. Don and I discovered small infected sores on our legs, which took weeks to clear up, though we never did really discover the cause.

6 Aug 91. Rain started well before dawn and continued on and off until 14:00, with us kicking our heels around the camp. In the afternoon Tom and I made one last effort to look for the Dwarf Olive Ibis and chose an area on a forested ridge about 250 metres above the camp. The climb was hard, but well worth it, as after an hour searching we had excellent views of a Dwarf Olive Ibis that we had disturbed into a tree.

7 Aug 91. Another wet start, and after packing up and standing around wondering what to do, were very pleased when the porters arrived. A quick three hour return trip in the rain, and relief when the Toyota Landcruiser turned up in Santo Antonio on time. All afternoon drive back to São Tomé Town that finished with a possible Fernando Po Swift just outside our apartment. A celebratory and well deserved meal in the Hotel Miramar in the evening, made a welcome change from the dehydrated stodge of the previous week.

8 Aug 91. Most of the morning was spent cleaning and drying out camping equipment, with the afternoon birding on the northwest coast mainly to locate Golden-backed Bishop.

9 Aug 91. Collected by Paul Spring at 07:00 for the 08:00 flight to Príncipe. After a lazy breakfast we walked the Bela Vista road where we cleaned-up on all the endemics within two hours and were left wondering what to do with the remaining two days. Over lunch we decided to hire a boat and visit the Pedra da Galé, situated off the northern coast, that we had seen on our flight. This was very successful, adding White-capped Noddy, Bridled Tern and Sooty Tern to the list. We had one heart-stopping moment when the motor packed up several kilometres out at sea, and we arrived back at the wharf with only a thimbleful of petrol in the tank. A poor night's sleep with much noise, rain and heat.

10 Aug 91. Tom, Kattie and Don walked the Bela Vista road as yesterday, and Ian took the track to the communications tower. I had intended to try a reservoir marked to the north on the map, but was informed it would be dry, so birded the primary forest above Bela Vista. On the return flight we asked the pilot to pass the Tinhosas Islands where we saw several Frigatebird sp.

11 Aug 91. An early start to travel to Lagoa Amelia in Paul's (unfortunately) repaired Landrover. Despite more vegetation than when I had previously been there two years previous, I remembered the route to the crater, where right on the summit a Maroon Pigeon was seen well.

12 Aug 91. 05:00 start for the 06:00 São Tomé to Libreville flight.

Birding Sites

Sao Tome map

The Southwestern Forests and the Rio Xufexufe, São Tomé (0°09'N 6°31'E)

The place to go! All 20 São Tomé island endemics occur here, and in practice the only place currently where that the Dwarf Olive Ibis, São Tomé Short-tail, São Tomé Fiscal-Shrike, and São Tomé Grosbeak, can be found. As the area is very remote, all food and camping equipment must be ported in. To get to the base of the Rio Xufexufe it is four hours by four wheel drive vehicle from São Tomé to Santo Antonio (where porters and a guide can be hired), and a further two hours walking over a forested ridge. An alternative could be to hire a good boat from São Tomé Town to drop you on the beach in about three hours. The best camping site is adjacent to the large eastern 'Sunbird' tributary about three kilometres (2-3 hours walk) up-river. The Giant Sunbird is most numerous along this tributary, although the Short-tail is noticeable absent. To find the São Tomé Short-tail and the other species of interest proceed up-river for about half an hour and work the forested ridges to the north and west of the main river.

Xuje Xufe map

To retrace our steps to the exact location where we found the Grosbeak and Fiscal-Shrike, follow the main river from the Sunbird tributary for about 30-40 minutes to the distinctive tributary on the left (see map). Continue for another 50 metres past this tributary and then ascend the steep bank on the northern side of the river. After 20 minutes or so you should be on the top of the ridge, with the very steep drop on your right, east, side, and a gentle slope on the left side. Use an altimeter, and walk along the ridge crest to an altitude of 220 - 240 metres. On the way you will pass the very obvious, large flat area where we had the São Tomé Fiscal-Shrike and Dwarf Olive Ibis. The São Tomé Scops-Owl is widespread in the forests and will respond to an imitation of its call. Of the rest of the São Tomé endemics, all are fairly common and easy to see, except the Maroon Pigeon and São Tomé White-eye, which can both be found at Lagoa Amelia. The Giant Weaver nests around Santo Antonio village, which is probably the easiest place to find it.

Lagoa Amelia, São Tomé (0°17'N 6°36'E)

From São Tomé town take the inland route through Trindade to arrive at Nova Moca. Lagoa Amelia is the now dry crater lake above the village, where natural forest still remains. From Nova Moca a road winds through hills given over to cultivation, coffee and cocoa plantations. After 3.3 kilometres there is a track off right that passes through about two kilometres of now largely disused plantations, to the base of the forest, where a steep trail leads to the rim of the crater lake. It would be impossible describe directions to the trail, so it is necessary to hire a guide in Nova Moca. At the top there is a small meteorological station (a Stephenson screen with a few instruments). No altitude is marked on the map, but from the temperature we estimated the summit to be 1,500-1,700 metres. All the commoner endemic species occur here as well as the more uncommon Maroon Pigeon, São Tomé Scops-Owl and Giant Sunbird, the later seemingly restricted to the bushes inside the crater lake.

Guadalupe Savanna, São Tomé

The area between Guadalupe and Praia das Conchas in the northern part of the island lies in the rain shadow of the mountainous southwest. Consequently the area is a mosaic of grassland interspersed with Acacia trees and small scattered bushes. Birds are easily found by stopping along the main and side roads that cover the area. White-winged Widow-bird, Golden-backed Bishop, Fire-crowned Bishop and Vitelline Masked Weaver are common, with Red-headed Lovebird and Harlequin Quail also occurring.

Lemba, São Tomé (0°15'N 6°28'E)

Take the western coastal road as far Lemba, where the road peters out on a steep hill with good views into areas of shade forest. Most of the commoner endemics are known to occur here.

East Coast Road, São Tomé

The main road passing down the eastern side of the island is dissected by many rivers and streams. Any of these are worth watching.

Pico Gago Coutinho, São Tomé

This forest covered mountain of 2,024 metres, is the highest point on the island. Although unexplored ornithologically it would certainly hold species of interest, especially the Giant Sunbird. Take the western coast road as far as Ponta Figo (just after Neves) and then walk or drive (four-wheel-drive only) the road, south to Cascata, where you can hire a guide to take you to the summit.

Sete Pedras, São Tomé

This small group of rocks lies four kilometres off the southeast coast, and may be an interesting place to look for breeding seabirds. I have no idea of where it would be possible to hire a boat.

Príncipe Island

As in theory only a few hours are needed to find all five Príncipe endemics, it is tempting to recommend that birders join one of the Príncipe day tours ($160) frequently organised by the Miramar Hotel. However, depending on the time of year a day's birding could be washed out by rain. The Equatorial Airlines flight operates on Friday mornings and Monday afternoons, which means almost four days stranded on the island. An interesting alternative I recommend, would be to take to flight one way, and arrange for a sea worthy boat from São Tomé for the return journey. This would pass by the Tinhosas Islands where along with tens of thousands of terns, Ascension Frigatebird is a distinct possibility. Transport on the island is almost non-existent, but all the birds of interest can be seen by walking the road from Santo Antonio Town to Bela Vista.

Systematic List

Nomenclature and sequence follow Clements (1981), with a few exceptions which are discussed under the relevant species. A total of 70 species was recorded (three requiring confirmation), 57 on São Tomé and 36 on Príncipe. All of the known 25 endemic species were recorded, with all 20 species known from São Tomé recorded there, but only seven of the eleven known located on Príncipe. The four that could not be located on Príncipe being São Tomé Bronze-naped Pigeon, São Tomé Scops-Owl, São Tomé Thrush, and São Tomé White-eye. However, there seems a good chance that these species could survive in the undisturbed forests of the southwest of the island. Many endemic species were tape-recorded by other members of the trips, and some recordings have been deposited with the British Library of Wildlife Sound.

White-tailed Tropicbird Phaethon lepturus On São Tomé, a few observed on several occasions (23/12/89) and (2/8/91) from the eastern coastal road, either passing along the coast or flying inland over forested areas. On Príncipe, at least 10 around the offshore islets of Pedra de Galé (9/8/91) and the Tinhosas Islands (10/8/91).

Brown Booby Sula leucogaster On São Tomé, 1 offshore of São Tomé Town (24/12/89) and 2 offshore of Santo Antonio (2/8/91). On Príncipe, at least 6 off the northern coast between Santo Antonio and Pedra de Galé (9/8/91).

Long-tailed Cormorant Phalacrocorax africanus On São Tomé, a total of 10 birds, mainly singles, recorded along rivers from the eastern coast road.

Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis Fairly common on both São Tomé and Príncipe in the lowlands, and occurring around plantations above 1000 metres at Nova Moca on São Tomé.

Little Green Heron Butorides striatus On São Tomé, 3 along rivers and streams in the northern part of the island (24/12/89) and 6 over two days along the Rio Xufexufe (3-4/8/91). On Príncipe, 2 recorded along the Rio Papagaio (10/8/91).

Western Reef Heron Egretta gularis On São Tomé, fairly common along rivers, with a maximum of 7 birds on coastal rocks at Santo Antonio (7/8/91). On Príncipe, only a single bird along the Rio Papagaio (9-10/8/9). White phase birds comprised about 60% of the population.

Olive Ibis Bostrychia olivacea On Príncipe, two birds seen flying low over forest just below the communications tower 4-5 km from Santo Antonio (10/8/91). This is the first sighting of the endemic Príncipe subspecies B. o. rothschildi since early this century, and it had been postulated that this subspecies was now extinct (Brown et al. 1982, Mackworth-Praed and Grant 1970).

Dwarf Olive Ibis Bostrychia bocagei Species endemic to São Tomé. Usually regarded as a subspecies of Olive Ibis Bostrychia olivacea. At least three birds along forested ridges on the western side of the Rio Xufexufe (5/8/91) and (6/8/91). Another bird heard calling from the ridge north at Roca Jou (2/8/91) as it was flushed by dogs used by locals for hunting pigs, and three other records of birds calling from the forested areas along the Rio Xufexufe between (4/8/91) and (6/8/91). Judging from the three individuals seen, this species seems to prefer feeding on the flatter areas of the forest floor, and indeed the second locality where this species was found was chosen as an obvious 'plateau' area within the mostly very steep valley flanks. These flatter areas were also heavily rooted over by introduced Wild Boars Sus scrofa, and it could be that this also attracts the Ibis, which presumably feed on the insects exposed. All observations were from primary forest between 210 - 300 metres altitude. From the one individual seen well from 25 metres that was perched in a tree about 5 metres above eye level, the following description was taken: Size small for an Bostrychia Ibis (initially mistaken for Maroon Pigeon). Upperparts dull olive-brown with no metallic gloss. A fine pale line across secondary coverts. Fine white tips to the crest and a wide pale streak above and below the eye. Underparts as upperparts, though with belly and undertail blackish, and some fine white flecking on the flanks. Bill flesh-orange, short, thick‑based and not strongly decurved. Legs flesh coloured. In flight, call a harsh 'karh karh karh' followed by a similar 'karh karh'.

Black Kite Milvus migrans parasitus On São Tomé, a few birds of the distinct yellow-billed African race parasitus seen daily in coastal areas, and frequently seen feeding offshore. On Príncipe, 4 around Santo Antonio (9-10/8/91).

Harlequin Quail Coturnix delegorguei On São Tomé, a single flushed in the northern savannas near Guadalupe (23/12/89), and 2 in flight across the road on the outskirts of São Tomé Town (8/8/91).

Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus On São Tomé, 1 where the Rio Abade crosses the eastern coast road (23/12/89), and 1 heard Porto Alegre (7/8/91). On Príncipe, 1 Santo Antonio (10/8/91).

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus On São Tomé, 2 in the bay of São Tomé Town (23/12/89), and 2 along the Rio Xufexufe (3/8/91) and (7/8/91), and a further 2 on the beach at Praia das Conchas (8/8/91). On Príncipe, 1 feeding on the sandy beach of Santo Antonio (9/8/91).

Common Sandpiper Tringa hypoleucos On São Tomé, up to 5 seen daily in coastal areas (23-25/12/89), 2 at Santo Antonio (2/8/91) and 1 at the mouth of the Rio Xufexufe (7/8/91)

Bridled Tern Sterna anaethetus On Príncipe, 1 flying around the headland at Praia Grande (9/8/91).

Sooty Tern Sterna fuscata On São Tomé, a large flock of Sterna Terns seen from the Praia das Conchas (8/8/91) were presumed to be this species. On Príncipe, up to 25 feeding around the Pedra da Galé (9/8/91). Large numbers (many 1000s) of Sterna Terns on the Tinhosas islands (10/8/91) could possibly be this species (Mackworth-Praed and Grant 1970).

Brown Noddy Anous stolidus On Príncipe, up to 15 feeding around the Pedra da Galé (9/8/91).

White-capped Noddy Anous minutus On Príncipe, up to 15 feeding around the Pedra da Galé (9/8/91).

Feral Pigeon Columba livia On São Tomé, a few around São Tomé Town and Santo Antonio (2/8/91). On Príncipe, up to 6 around Santo Antonio (9-10/8/91).

Maroon Pigeon Columba thomensis Species endemic to São Tomé. A total of 4 birds seen twice in primary forest above the Rio Xufexufe (4-5/8/91). At Nova Moca a pair were seen feeding on berries in forest edge adjacent to old plantations (24/12/89), with another two singles in the same area (11/8/91). One in primary forest on the mountain summit at Lagoa Amelia above Nova Moca allowed very close approach.

São Tomé Bronze-naped Pigeon Columba malherbii Species endemic to São Tomé. Common in the dryer lowlands of the north-west, and probably prefers secondary forest. Outside this area, a few around Nova Moca plantations and Lagoa Amelia forest (23-25/12/89), 3 Porto Alegre (2/8/91) and 10 along the Rio Xufexufe (5-7/8/91). Undertail coverts look chestnut in the field.

Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis On both, São Tomé and Príncipe common in the lowlands, becoming less common in the highlands.

African Green Pigeon Treron calva On Príncipe, at least 20 in small groups observed along the road between Santo Antonio and Bela Vista (9-10/8/91).

São Tomé Green Pigeon Treron sanctithomae Species endemic to São Tomé. Appears to be restricted largely to primary forest. Ten seen Lagoa Amelia (24/12/89) with several heard there (11/8/91). Along the Rio Xufexufe 10 (3-7/8/91). Call resembles that of African Green Pigeon T. calva, but with the ending more regular and reminiscent of a telephone ringing.

Lemon Dove Aplopelia larvata On São Tomé, common in the higher forest of Lagoa Amelia with 20 daily (24-25/12/89). Otherwise uncommon, with 3 singles in forest along the Rio Xufexufe (2-5/8/91). Four in secondary forest near Praia das Conchas and 2 in beach scrub there (8/8/91). On Príncipe, 2 in primary forest above Bela Vista. Plumage of this species noted as extremely variable. Some had pale grey face, pinkish on sides of neck, vinous breast, pale belly with whitish undertail coverts, brown wings, dark tail with pale rim. Feet reddish. Some had entirely buff belly, while others had a dark grey head, dark maroon breast, brown wings and mantle, pale grey undertail coverts, iridescent pink nape, row of pale spots on wing coverts. None seen calling, but several heard: series of falsetto "hoo" notes repeated about twice per second.

Red-headed Lovebird Agapornis pullaria On São Tomé, 10 in the northern savannas (23/12/89) and (8/8/91). Two at San Miguel (3/8/91) and 2 Santo Antonio (7/8/91) were in abandoned plantations near the coast.

African Emerald Cuckoo Chrysococcyx cupreus On São Tomé, a few heard daily in both lowland and highland areas (23-25/12/89), 2 heard from forest along the Rio Xufexufe (4-5/8/91). On Príncipe, 2 heard (9-10/8/91).

São Tomé Scops-Owl Otus hartlaubii Species endemic to São Tomé and possibly present on Príncipe (Jones et al. 1987). Up to 6 heard calling daily in lowland primary forest along the Rio Xufexufe (3-6/8/91), from about 40-250 metres altitude, including one seen nightly within the base campsite spotlighted down to 5 metres. Also heard from high altitude forest at Lagoa Amelia (11/8/91).

São Tomé Spinetail Chaetura thomensis Species endemic to São Tomé and Príncipe. On São Tomé, 15 in small parties in the northern lowlands (23/12/89) and (11/8/91), about 5 daily along the Rio Xufexufe (2-4/8/91), and 6 and 4 at Lagoa Amelia (24/12/89) and (11/8/91) respectively. Call was a very high pitched 'chip', which could not be recorded.

African Palm Swift Cypsiurus parvus On São Tomé, only observed in the dryer northern areas, with up to 30 daily around São Tomé Town. On Príncipe, up to 25 (9-10/8/91).

Little Swift Apus affinis On São Tomé, numerous around São Tomé Town and in the dryer northern areas. The only other record was of 5+ birds near Santo Antonio (2-3/8/91).

Malachite Kingfisher Alcedo cristata I follow Snow (1950) in regarding Alcedo Kingfishers on both São Tomé and Príncipe as A. cristata. Although the plumage of Príncipe birds appears intermediate between cristata and leucogaster they are clearly more reminiscent of cristata in habitat, call, and certain plumage characteristics. On São Tomé, 2 on the coast near Praia das Plancas (23/12/89) and up to 6 daily along the Rio Xufexufe (2-5/8/91). On Príncipe, up to 4 along the Rio Papagaio between Santo Antonio and Bela Vista (9-10/8/91). Both Príncipe and São Tomé birds are found in identical habitat along streams and rivers, with the birds perched out in open in the typical manner of cristata. This is contrary to mainland leucogaster birds, which are found exclusively low down along smaller streams within the interior of closed canopy primary rain forest. Call much more like the sharp, harsh 'tzeek' of cristata, than the relatively long 'seeep' of leucogaster (Author, pers. obs.). The São Tomé birds are appreciably larger than the Príncipe and mainland races.

Blue-breasted Kingfisher Halcyon malimbica On Príncipe, 2 around Santo Antonio (9/8/91).

São Tomé Fiscal Shrike Lanius newtoni Species endemic to São Tomé. One seen twice (4-5/8/91) along a forested ridge at 220 metres altitude above the Rio Xufexufe at (0°09'N 6°31'E,). Other than the bird found by the UEA expedition in 1990 (Atkinson 1990), this is the only sighting of this species since Correia in 1928. This bird was actually only about 1 km in a direct line from the earlier UEA sighting. In contrast to this earlier bird, which was found feeding on a dried up river bed, this individual was found within closed-canopy primary forest. The bird was initially seen as it flew from the ground, where it had been feeding, to perch on a small sapling about 2 metres up, where it was viewed for several minutes in good light. Crown, nape, mantle and wings glossy black with a white, broken line across the wing. Throat, chin, breast and belly yellow-orange. (This colour presumably fades soon after death, as museum specimens are white). Tail long and apparently forked with rounded tips, (reminiscent of Asiatic Forktails Enicurus sp), though whether this was the result of moult was not clear. Undertail blackish with 3-4 irregular off-white bars. Bill black and stumpy. Legs greyish. Stance very upright. When perched remained motionless before hopping down onto the ground to feed. Seen to feed on some small beetles. Once, when disturbed, ascended tangled vines into the lower canopy. Quiet and unobtrusive, which probably helps account for the paucity of records.

São Tomé Thrush Turdus olivaceofuscus Species endemic to São Tomé and Príncipe. A few in lowland forest areas and plantations in the north. Fairly common in forest above Nova Moca (24-25/12/89) and along the Rio Xufexufe (3-6/8/91) with at least 10 daily.

Dohrn's Thrush-Babbler Horizorhinus dohrni Species endemic to Príncipe. At least 15+ daily (9-10/8/91) in cocoa plantation shade forest along the road between Santo Antonio and Bela Vista. Loud vocalisations strongly suggest that this is a turdine species. Study of this species highly recommended.

São Tomé Prinia Prinia molleri Species endemic to São Tomé. Widespread, recorded daily in all habitats including town and high altitude forest. Probably the most successful of the São Tomé endemics. The wing snapping displays are frequently observed.

São Tomé Short-tail Amaurocichla bocagei Species endemic to São Tomé. Up to 10 daily (4-6/8/91) along the Rio Xufexufe from 40 - 350 metres altitude (the total altitude covered). A poorly recorded species, collected regularly between 1892 and 1928, but with only two records since (Eccles, 1988 and Atkinson 1990). Most common on moss covered boulders along rivers at the edge of primary forest, but also several found some hundred metres from water within primary forest where it occurs on fallen logs and low branches within 2 metres of the forest floor. Quite vocal with a piercing call. The taxonomic affinities of this species are far from clear, and the most striking feature is the gait, which strongly resembles a Pipit Anthus sp.

São Tomé Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone atrochalybeia Species endemic to São Tomé. Recorded from lowland shade and primary forest at all altitudes. Commonest along the Rio Xufexufe with at least 10 birds daily (2-5/8/91).

Olive Sunbird Nectarinia olivacea On Príncipe, 2 (9-10/8/91) along the road between Santo Antonio to Bela Vista.

Príncipe Sunbird Nectarinia hartlaubii Species endemic to Príncipe. Five between Santo Antonio and Bela Vista (9-10/8/91).

São Tomé Sunbird Nectarinia newtoni Species endemic to São Tomé. Largely confined to primary forest. Commonly seen with at least 10 daily along the Rio Xufexufe (2-6/8/91) and at Nova Moca (24-25/12/91) and (11/8/91). Otherwise only 4 individuals in the coastal lowlands, including one in a tree-lined avenue in São Tomé Town.

Giant Sunbird Nectarinia thomensis Species endemic to São Tomé. Only seen in primary forest along the Rio Xufexufe, both near and away from water (2-6/8/91) from 60 - 250 metres altitude. Seen feeding on both the nectar of flowering scrubs and probing the branches of larger trees.

São Tomé White-Eye Zosterops ficedulinus Species endemic to São Tomé. Only seen in areas of primary forest where it appears to prefer the edge. At Lagoa Amelia four groups of 4-10 birds (24-25/12/89) and (11/8/91). Along the Rio Xufexufe four groups of 2-15 birds (2-6/8/91).

Príncipe Speirops Nectarinia leucophaeus Species endemic to Príncipe. Two birds in cocoa shade forest along the road from Santo Antonio and Bela Vista (9-10/8/91), with a further 12 in primary forest above Bela Vista (10/8/91).

São Tomé Speirops Speirops lugubris Species endemic to São Tomé. A few daily in lowland shade forest. Common in areas of primary forest, with several parties of 2-10 birds daily at Lagoa Amelia (224-25/12/89) and (11/8/91), and along the Rio Xufexufe (2-6/8/91).

Yellow-fronted Canary Serinus mozambicus On São Tomé, several in the dryer northern areas (23/12/89) and 1 near Praia das Conchas (8/8/91).

Príncipe Seed-Eater Serinus rufobrunneus Species endemic to São Tomé and Príncipe. On São Tomé, common along the Rio Xufexufe, with 15 daily (2-6/8/91) and at Lagoa Amelia (24-25/12/89) and (11/8/91). Elsewhere a few seen in most forested areas.

São Tomé Grosbeak Neospiza concolor Species endemic to São Tomé. Two birds seen twice (4-5/8/91), perched in a bare tree along a ridge within primary forest above the Rio Xufexufe, at 240 metres altitude (0°09'N 6°31'E,). This was the most important find of these trips, as this species had not been seen since 1890 when 3 specimens were collected by Newton and would now be extinct by CITES criteria. Indeed, this hypothesis had been raised (Collar and Stuart 1985 and Atkinson 1990). On the first occasion, one bird was observed for about three minutes perched some 20 metres away, four metres above eye level on a dead branch within a small clearing created by a falling tree. On the second occasion, the following day, two birds were seen briefly, one for about 30 seconds in exactly the same place. The most striking feature of the bird was the large 'bull' head, 'chunky' build, and very thick bill, giving an appearance reminiscent of Thick-billed Weaver Amblyospiza albifrons or European Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes. Size estimated 17-18 cm. Plumage overall dark chestnut-black with underparts more rufous. Bill darkish horn. The plate in Mackworth-Praed and Grant (1973) gives a fair impression of the species, although the head is more 'bullish' than depicted. Full details of the rediscovery of this species are the subject of another paper (Sargeant and Gullick in prep.).

Chestnut-breasted Negro-Finch Nigrita bicolor On Príncipe, two birds twice (9-10/8/91) along the road between Santo Antonio and Bela Vista.

Cordon-Bleu Uraeginthus angolensis On São Tomé, only seems to occur in the dryer northern areas, where fairly common, including scrub in São Tomé Town.

Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild On São Tomé, common in the northern savannas, with 50 daily in suitable habitat. One group of 20 along the Rio Xufexufe (3/8/91). On Príncipe, fairly common along the road between Santo Antonio and Bela Vista (9-10/8/91).

Bronze Mannikin Lonchura cucullata On São Tomé, common in the dryer northern areas. A few seen in the south-east along the coast road (2/8/91). On Príncipe, common around Santo Antonio and Bela Vista.

Príncipe Golden Weaver Ploceus princeps Species endemic to Príncipe. Abundant in all wooded habitats. The commonest bird on the island.

Vitelline Masked Weaver Ploceus vitellinus On São Tomé, fairly common in the dryer north-east and northern savannas, including scrub within São Tomé Town.

Giant Weaver Ploceus grandis Species endemic to São Tomé. Up to 6 seen daily along the Rio Xufexufe (2-4/8/91). A few in overgrown plantations in the southern part of the island, and 3 around Santo Antonio (2/8/91) where it obviously nests. Elsewhere, 4 near São Tomé Town (23/12/89), 2 Nova Moca (24/12/89) and 10 there (11/8/91).

Red-headed Quelea Quelea erythrops Common in open grassland in the north-west between Guadalupe and Praia das Conchas (23/12/89).

São Tomé Weaver Thomasophantes sanctithomae Species endemic to São Tomé. A few in northern areas, and fairly common at Nova Moca and Lagoa Amelia.

Fire-crowned Bishop Euplectes hordeaceus Common in open grassland and scrub in northern areas.

Golden-backed Bishop Euplectes aureus Common in open grassland in northern areas (23/12/89), with __ in full breeding plumage. One bird in non-breeding plumage near Praia das Conchas (8/8/91).

White-winged Widow-bird Euplectes albonotatus Small groups totalling up to 50 birds in scrub around town, and in grassland along the road near Guadalupe (23/12/89), with __ in full breeding plumage. A few parties of non-breeding plumaged birds near Praia das Conchas (8/8/91).

Pin-tailed Whydah Vidua macroura Fairly common in the north, with up to 25 birds in grasslands and scrub along the road between São Tomé Town and Guadalupe (23/12/89), with __ in breeding plumage. Three near Praia das Conchas (8/8/91) had not yet attained breeding plumage.

Chestnut-winged Starling Onychognathus fulgidus Two groups of 1 and 3 respectively in the northern lowlands (23/12/89). At least 12 over four days along the Rio Xufexufe (2-5/8/91).

Príncipe Glossy Starling Lamprotornis ornatus Species endemic to Príncipe. Abundant in all wooded habitats.

São Tomé Oriole Oriolus crassirostris Species endemic to São Tomé. A total of 30 birds seen and heard in primary forest along the Rio Xufexufe (3-6/8/91). Otherwise only recorded in primary forest at Lagoa Amelia, where up to 10 birds heard and seen (24-25/12/89) and (11/8/91), including a juvenile (25/12/89) that had heavy streaking on upper breast, no black on head and a large white eye-ring.

Velvet-mantled Drongo Dicrurus modestus Usually considered as a species endemic to Príncipe. However, here I follow Mackworth Praed and Grant (1973) in regarding the Príncipe birds D. m. modestus as conspecific with the mainland race of D. m. coracinus, itself often treated conspecific with Fork-tailed Drongo Dicrurus adsimilis. On Príncipe, two pairs along the road between Santo Antonio and Bela Vista (9-10/8/91)

Observations of three other species, Fregata aquila, Sula capensis and Apus sladeniae, which require confirmation, would be new for São Tomé and Príncipe.

Frigatebird sp. Fregata sp. Flying from Príncipe to São Tomé on (10/8/91), at least 4 Fregata sp birds were seen hanging over the Sooty Tern Sterna fuscata colonies on the Tinhosas Islands. There are no records of Fregata sp. for São Tomé, though at least one record of Ascension Frigatebird Fregata aquila exists for Gabon.

Gannet sp. Sula sp. On São Tomé, an immature bird of either S. capensis or S. bassana observed from the beach at Praia das Conchas (8/8/91) flying past northward. There are no records of either of these species for São Tomé, though there is at least one record of S. capensis, the most likely species, for Gabon. Distinguished from immature Brown Booby Sula leucogaster by the absence of any pale patches on the belly, smaller size and different flight jizz.

Apus sp. In São Tomé Town, an individual Swift Apus sp. showing known characteristics of Fernando Po Swift Apus sladeniae was seen feeding low down around houses (7/8/91) in the company of Little Swift Apus affinis and African Palm Swift Cypsiurus parvus. The bird was watched in good light at eye level from a distance down to 20 metres for about 30 seconds before flying off. General size was that of European Swift Apus apus, with a blue-black body and showing no contrast on the upper wing surface of the secondaries. Tail fork shallower than European Swift. Little or no white on throat (none seen by four observers). European Swift is not known from Gabon, the closest African mainland, until late September (Brosset et al. 1986 and Author, pers. obs.).