Monday, May 05, 2008

The Gambia 8-16 Apr 2008

The Gambia 8-16 Apr 2008

Venue/Total/Lifers/Trip New
Tuesday Airport, Hotel/13/10/13
Wednesday Hotel /25/23/25
Thursday Beach, Kotu/43/35/38
Friday Abuko /39/20/20

Saturday Lamin/42/18/23
Monday Secret Place, Tanji/56/24/29
Total 130 /148

The birding extravaganza got underway from the bus at the airport, with Pied Crow and Black Kite.

We stayed at the Senegambia, which is a bird watching destination in its own right. As we first stepped out of our room we heard a commotion above and saw an African Harrier Hawk (just like you see at London Zoo) being mobbed by a couple of Crows. A first tour round the grounds added White Crowned Robin Chat (one of the species it is famous for), Speckled Pigeon, Palm Dove, Collared Dove, the amazingly colourful Yellow Crowned Gonolek (a snap of which on Trip advisor had clinched our hotel selection, Northern Black Flycatcher (we happened to pass the resident birdwatcher’s hut and he pointed this one out), Zazou the Western Red Hornbill, Common Bulbul, Cattle Egret (which sips tea at breakfast) and Senegal Coucal.

Next morning we added Grey Headed Sparrow , Pia Piac, Red Bellied Firefinch, Village Weaver, Hooded Vulture African Grey Hornbill, Western Grey Plantain Eater, Long Tailed Starling, Yellow Billed Shrike, Fruit Bat, Senegal Parrot (flew over during the 1130 Vulture Feeding), Green Wood-Hoopoe and Blue Breasted Kingfisher. The resident monkeys are Vervets and Red Colobus.

At 5pm we joined the daily guided walk round the grounds, with Modou one of the Resident Birdwatchers. We saw Splendid and Beautiful Sunbirds, Grey Headed Gull (which we had seen in small flocks flying along the coast, Grey Woodpecker, Yellow Fronted Tinkerbird, Broad Billed Roller, African Thrush, Lavender Waxbill, Bronze Mannikin (which identified the flocks of little birds we had seen on first day), Black Necked Weaver, Brown Babbler, Blackcap Babbler, Nile Monitor, Yellow Headed Agama.

Thursday we saw Palm Swift before breakfast and then a stroll along the beach brought magnificent huge Caspian Terns and Royal Tern.

At 3pm we went on our first Modou venture- £60 for 39 species around Kotu! At the pond we saw Rufous Crowned Roller, Spur Winged Plover, African Jacana, Wood Sandpiper, Little Egret, Hammerkop, Black Winged Stilt, Painted Snipe, Squacco Heron, Greenshank, Dabchick and Long Tailed Cormorant. Along the Cycle Track we found Sacred Ibis, Black Headed Heron, Grey Heron, White Billed Buffalo Weaver, African Spoonbill, Western Red Heron, Western Reef Heron (the Umbrella Bird), Black Egret, Senegal Coucal. From the corner by the Palm Beach Hotel we watched Little Bee Eater, Abyssinian Roller, Beautiful Sunbird, Red Billed Hornbill, Green Wood Hoopoe, Shikra, Blue Bellied Roller. From Kotu Bridge Pied Kingfisher, Ringed Plover, Whimbrel, Grey Headed gull, Wire Tailed and white Throated Blue Swallows, Northern Crombec then Modou managed to tempt out by clever whistling an Oriole Warbler. Finally to the Sewage Works where we added Senegal Thick Knee, Fork Tailed Drongo Red Necked Falcon and White faced Whistling Duck!!

Next day, off with Modou to Abuko Nature Reserve. Shikra and Brown Throated Wattle-Eye on the way to the pond, then from the lookout there Grey, Black Capped, Squacco, Black, Purple, Black Crowned Night Herons, Black Crake, African Jacana, African Darter, Giant, Pied and Malachite Kingfishers, African Paradise Flycatcher, African Pied & Western Red Billed Hornbills, Village weaver, African Wattled Plover, Nile Crocodile, Little Greenbul, Violet & Green Turaco, Palm Nut Vulture, Greater Honeyguide, Grey Headed Bristle Bill, Senegal Parrot, Ahanta Francolin, Dik Dik, Red Cheeked Cordon Bleu, Lavender Waxbill, Fanti Saw Wing, Antelope, Grey Woodpecker, Blue Spotted Wood Dove, Snowy Crowned Robin Chat, African Thrush, Green Wood Hoopoe, Pied Crow, Hooded Vulture, African Harrier Hawk.

Next day we went with Tamba, the other resident ornithologist – equally as excellent – on a very different trip. An early start then off in a jeep – via Long Crested Eagle and Yellow Fronted Tinkerbird sightings - to a little hut under a weaver tree on the edge of the mangroves where a lovely breakfast awaited. Then into a boat, as the oyster women got into their dugouts to go and gather oysters from the Mangrove stems. Pied KF, Grey WP, Senegal Thicknee, Malachite KF, Sandwich Tern, Ringed and Grey Plovers, Striated Heron, Long Tailed Cormorant, Mouse Brown Sunbird, Wattled Plover, Grey Kestrel, Blue Bellied Roller, Fine spotted WP, Plaintain Eater, Wood Hoopoe, Yellow Backed Shrike, Pearl Spotted Owlets (replying to Tamba’s call – both he and Modhou use that call as it flushes birds out to mob the owl), African Golden Oriole, Brown Spotted Babbler, Spur Wing Plover, Double Spurred Francolin, Red Chested Swallow, Pink Backed Pelican, Whimbrel, Black Billed Wood Dove, Pied Crow, PiaPiac on a Donkey, Little Bee Eater, Palm Swift, Black Headed Heron, Red Bishop, Senegal Parrot, Rose Winged Parakeet (the only type in Africa – London has more varieties!), Great White Egret, Gull Billed tern, Black Kite, Rufous Crowned Roller, Great White Pelican.

Sunday we went to remote rural Senegal for a day – which is a separate and non-bird-based tale.

Monday, Modhou took us to the place which he and Tamba have discovered. Red Bishop, Black Headed Plover, Temmicks Courser, Green Backed Eremola, Beautiful and Scarlet Chested Sunbirds, Cordon Bleu, Little Weaver, Brubru, Yellow Fronted Tinkerbird, Zitting and Singing Cisticola, Tawny Flanked Prinia, Grey Backed Cameroptera, Plantain Eater, Buffalo Weaver, Brown Backed WP, Fine Spotted WP, Osprey, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Lizard Buzzard (another example of the dark grey series of Birds of Prey here), African Harrier Hawk, Hooded Vulture, Villots Barbet, Striped Kingfisher, Brown Babbler, Village Weaver, Violet Backed Starling, Double Spurred Francolin, Aby Roller, Yellow Fronted Canary, Namacqua Dove, Grey Headed Sparrow, Klaas’ Cuckoo, Yellow Billed Shrike, Venacious Dove, Northern Black Flycatcher, Northern Puffback, Cattle Egret, Rabbit. Then on to the lovely cafĂ© at Tanji Beach for refreshment and a walk along the beach yielding Whibrel, Grey Headed, Lesser Back Backed and Slender Billed Gull, Pied KF, Wood Sandpiper, Caspian, Gull Billed, Lesser Crested, Little Terns, Turnstone, Sanderling, Gt White Pelican, Yellow and White Wagtail, Bar Tailed Godwit.

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