Sunday, 8 April 2018

The Gambia 2018

To start the new year we headed off to one of our favorite destinations, The Gambia.  From our perspective this country got a huge amount going for it, my wife can sunbathe and generally relax while I potter off birding in what is arguably one of the best birding countries in the world.

As ever I met up with one of Gambia's top bird guides, Musa Jatta of Turaco Birding Expeditions.  We did not go anywhere particularly exotic but in truth we really didn't have to as the birdlife in the Gambia is second to none.  That said I hope to join Musa on one of his more exotic trips into the Senegal next time I visit. While I was there we visited Abuko, the Lamin Rice Fields, Brufut Wood and Tanji.

I have selected a range of photos of some of the species seen but there were many more yet to be see :)

 Pied Crow
 Pied Kingfisher
 Spur Winged Lapwing

 Western Reef Heron/ Egret
Little Egret, don't manage to get that many reasonable in flight shots so here you go :).
Grey Heron 
 Crested Lark
Blackcap Babbler visited us at the hotel every evening.  There was a leaking tap outside they took full advantage of.
 White Crowned Robin Chat
Bearded Barbet 
While there we located a nest hole in a tree in the hotel grounds and after a little wait we discovered its owner.
 Hamerkop collecting nest materials
A pair mating
And mating on top of the nest.  I had no idea that this was such a noisy event, the noise could be heard all across the hotel grounds and from what I saw this was repeated several times a day for several days. The nest is a large rough affair but has an entrance hole at the side through which the birds enter.
 A pair of Yellow Billed Shrike
Blue Breasted Kingfisher 
African Wattled Lapwing 
 Squacco Heron
 Hooded Vulture
 Black Scimitarbill
 Senegal Coucal
 Great Egret
 Vinaceous Collared Dove
 Wood Sandpiper
Senegal Thick-knee 
Black Kite in Flight
Black Kite
Did not get a good photo of this but I think it is a European Roller or possibly an Abyssinian Roller but I am fairly sire it is the former.
 Orange-cheeked Waxbill
 Some Rose-ringed Parakeet flying by.
 Black Heron
 Squacco Heron
 Hybrid Red-bellied x African Paradise Flycatcher (f)
 Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher (m)
Not a great photo of a Common Wattle Eye
 Swallow-tailed Bee-Eater
 A Lanner Falcon high in a tree.  My first clear view of one of these.  Unfortunately he saw me too so I only got one photo.
  Black Billed Wood Dove (f)
Laughing Dove
Speckled Pigeon
 Bronze Mannikin
  Red-billed Firefinch
 Western Bluebill

 Greater Honeyguide
 Black Crake
Grey Back Camaroptera
 Shakira in the bushes
 A Black-shouldered Kite in the distance
 Western Red-billed Hornbill
African Grey Hornbill
African Pied Hornbill
 Fine-spotted Woodpecker 
 Klaas's Cuckoo, a first for me, they were seen in places in Saudi Arabia but I never managed to see one.
 Little Bee-eater
 Splendid Sunbird (m)
 Variable Sunbird (m)
 Long-tailed Nightjar
And another shot of a Long-tailed Nightjar.  These amazing birds are almost impossible to see and full marks to the local guide who found them and shared the experience.  I had never seen one of these before but in a small area of about 5sq m there were 4.
 And another:)
 A pair of Lavender Waxbill
 Lavender Waxbills and a Village Weaver.
 Western Plantain Eater.
 Violet Turaco
Yellow Throated Leavelove
 Common Bulbul
A couple of Ringed Plover
Bar-tailed Godwit.

 Grey-headed Gull
 Grey-headed Gull and a larger Lesser Black-backed Gull with fish supper :)
Caspian Tern

  Glossy Starling
 White-crowned Robin Chat 
 Black-necked Weaver

Grey Woodpecker
Broad Billed Roller
Perl Spotted Owlet perched in a tree
The same bird but facing away, odd how it appears as if they have eyes in the back of their head.  Spotted another of these while birding in the forest.  They are about the size of a little Owl and almost as active.
Female Black Necked Weaver
Still working on a couple of ID's which I will update as soon as I can
All in all I have only two days birding on this trip but was delighted by what we saw, in addition to the above we saw a number of Wire Tailed Swallows, Chiffchaff, a Green Woodhoopoe and a brilliant close up of a Malachite Kingfisher but as it often the case the battery in the camera had given up by then.  We have already booked to return next year for a little longer and I am looking forward to getting a bit further afield to see some more of what this beautiful country has to offer.
© Bernard Bracken