Friday, 13 February 2015

The Gambia Part 2

Birding around the hotel is all very well but for a wider selection you need to get out and about and in this is what we did the middle of the first week with a trip to Lamin Lodge.  This trip was not with Musa as my inlaws arranged it at the hotel but it was a good morning's birding taking in the tidal area around the mangroves and the rice fields behind.
African golden oriole (Oriolus auratus)

Early in the morning we spotted the African Golden Oriole sitting on a branch, I don't think it had quite woken up yet. 

western reef heron (Egretta gularis)
In the rice fields we encountered a number of members of the Heron family including the Western Reef Heron

intermediate egret, (Mesophoyx intermedia)

also this guy which I am fairly sure is an Intermediate Egret mainly because I think its gape is about level with its eye but I could be wrong.

black heron (Egretta ardesiaca)
Next along the line, yes it almost was a line of these guys, was the Black Heron, or the canopy feeder, so called because of the way it uses its wings while feeding;

black heron (Egretta ardesiaca) Fishing
In effect it creates a canopy with its wings  and it is thought that the fish seek the shade of it and are taken by the Heron.  I am not so sure that is totally correct as this bird was not standing patiently as herons often do but making its way along the stream repeatedly creating a canopy, looking and then moving on.

grey heron (Ardea cinerea)
A little further on her was the ubiquitous Grey Heron.  I have always been delighted to see these birds wherever I go as they have a kind of majesty about them.  Have felt that since I stalked one, very unsuccessfully, along the Broad Meadow river near my home in Dublin.  Dads camera in hand and no chance of getting anywhere near the bird.  Well my lens is a bit stronger now but there was a touch of frustration about this shot too as there was a Sacred Ibis only a few feet from this chap which I could not get a shot of at all.  The joys of birding!

purple heron (Ardea purpurea)
Out on the mangroves was this guy perched on the top of the bushes.  The purple Heron is pretty common around these parts and they like to sit on top of bushes in the early morning to catch the early morning sun.

grey-headed gull (Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus)
Along the Gambia River almost every perch was occupied by hoards of the Grey Headed Gull which are common around the coast here.

pied kingfisher (Ceryle rudis)
Further along the little inlet was a Pied Kingfisher which are very common around here at the minute.  This one was very tame and almost allowed the boat to berth alongside.  The other fairly common Kingfisher here is the Malachite Kingfisher, which we did see, but always zipping off into the mangroves so no picture I'm afraid.  Also in these swamps is the African Pygmy Kingfisher but maybe next time for that one.

Long Tailed Cormorant (Phalacrocorax africanus)

Perched close by on a branch was a Long Tailed Cormorant watching us closely.

whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)

And at the edge of the mangrove was a lone Whimbril resting.  There were quite a few of these about although usually not quite so easily seen.

 We left the boat behind and headed into the fields for a look around.  Even at this early hour the ladies were out in the fields working but that sis not appear to bother the birds very much, in fact in many instances they were close by to grab anything the workers dug up.

little bee-eater (Merops pusillus)
The Little Bee Eater is the smallest of the bee eaters and very common in the Gambia.  They were all over during our walk buisily keeping the bug numbers down.

double-spurred francolin (Pternistis bicalcaratus)
In the distance we noticed something moving and I got my first view of a Double Spurred Francolin a relative of our own Phesant.  These are quite common in the Gambia according to my Helm Giuide and I saw two while in this area.

mourning collared dove (Streptopelia decipiens)
The Pigeon family were represented as ever with the African Mourning Dove in reasonable numbers feeding on the recently turned soil.  The red orbital ring on the eye is very evident even at a dstance.

Senegal parrot (Poicephalus senegalus)
These two guys flew overhead while we were falling along in a phoughed field but they alighted in a tree about 50m away and I managed to get one shot before theyflew off again, the Senegal Parrot, colourful and very noisy like all parrots.

bearded barbet (Lybius dubius)
In a  bush a bit further into the fields we encountered a pair of Bearded Barbet all puffed up against the cool breeze.

Violet Turaco (Musophaga violacea)
A pair of Violet Turaco were spotted in a tree, this is the best shot I could get as they kept hiding in the branches, beautiful bird to watch when flying.

western plantain-eater (Crinifer piscator)
The Western Grey Plantain Eater was reasonably common in the area, I think I saw about 6 ot 7 as we wandered about the area.

grey kestrel (Falco ardosiaceus)

At one point we saw this silouette among the trees and having spent some time trying to get into position we discovered it was a Grey Kestrel.  I got a few pictures but it was difficult to get one that was easy to identify. 
Namaqua dove (Oena capensis)

A familiar friend from the Saudi birding world is the Namaqua Dove which is fairly common all over the area, still the cutest of the dove family in my opinion.

red-cheeked cordonbleu (Uraeginthus bengalus)

A bit further along the hedgerow we spotted this little guy, about the size of a sparrow but far more colourful.  It goes by the rather strange name of a Red-Cheeked Cordon-Bleu, there were quite a few about mainly foraging on the ground for seeds etc but I got a better shot at the one in the tree.  Wonder where that name came from, something to do with cookery perhaps?

woodchat shrike (Lanius senator)
Another friend from my adopted home is the Woodchat Shrike which apparently is quite common around the Gambia.  The can be seen in Saudi but they are not especially common there.

blue-bellied roller (Coracias cyanogaster)
Also fairly common in the Hedges around Lamin Lodge was the Blue Bellied Roller.  While in the area we saw three of these one pretty close up though most were not so accomodating.

village weaver (Ploceus cucullatus)

Ok this one I am not certain of but I think its a Village Weaver whic are apparently very common in the area.  Il will check on it and change if needs be but I think the red eye makes it one of a small number of possibilities

Northern Red Bishop (Euplectes franciscanus)
This I think is a Northern Red Bishop, clearly not red yet as its in non breeding pumage.  Again very common in the area

common bulbul (Pycnonotus barbatus)
The Common Bulbul, a melodious and common resident in the area.  They have to be one of the most vocal of all the small birds

Not too sure about this one yet, TBC!!!!!

Well as you can see even a fairly leisurely trip with relatives around a small area in the Gambia throws up all sorts of interesting birds.  For the listers out there, I have only detailed the ones I got photos of but that only represents a small sample of what is there.  At the risk of sounding like a broken record at this poit, Gambia for birders is a must do!

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