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Showing posts from March, 2008

March 30th Bund Road/Atlantic Hotel/Camaloo Corner/Bijilo Woods

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Our last full day and we tried to pick up some water-birds that we hadn’t seen up to now. Along the Bund Road we came across lots of herons and kingfishers (including three Greats) as well as several Pink-backed Pelicans. 

From here we headed to Tijan’s garden at Atlantic Hotel in Banjul for a mini-Gambia twitch.
We got the Greyish Eagle Owl that had been present for a few days as well as a first for Gambia – an elusive European Robin!
On the way back we called in at Camaloo Corner where there was a single African Spoonbill, two Yellow-billed Storks, Marsh Sandpiper and a circling flock of 16 Great-white Pelicans.
Back at the hotel I was still itching to get a few more species so I succumbed to the pestering of one of he local guides and went with him to Bijilo Woods – and what a good move that was. Grey Woodpecker, African Silverbill, three Oriole Warblers and the sought after White-throated Bee-eaters were all bagged as well as the Blue-breated Kingfisher that kept avoidin…

March 29th Pirang/Bush Track

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Today was to be a full days birding a little further inland but as we set off, we knew that things were going to be rather hot. We finally caught up with a Grey Kestrel on the way as well as a Black-winged Kite, Lizzard Buzzard and Shikra. At Pirang, everything was dry – Wire-tailed Swallows swooped around and we picked up a Yellow-throated Longclaw on the track to the viewing point. All the shrimp pools were dry apart from a couple of damp patches that attracted a few herons. We added Mosque Swallow at the creek and African Mourning Dove back nearer the village.
We headed for the bush-track (having had a brief chat with Tijan’s sister in a nearby village). Quite soon we found a pair of African Hobbies at a best site but not much else at all initially. A flock of at least 30 Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters flew high overhead whilst we ate lunch.
A little further down the track was a far more productive area with the road lined with some denser vegetation. Here we sa…

March 28th Brufut Woods

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We decided that as it was Friday, we’d just have a morning’s birding at Brufut Woods in order to allow Tijan time to go to the mosque later in the day.
First call was to see two obliging White-faced Scops Owls right next to he track. The Verreaux’s Eagle Owls had not been seen for several months; we tried the regular places but to no avail. African Green pigeons fed in the top of one of the trees where they should have been. Then we were directed to a site where three Long-tailed Nightjars were roosting – first time I’ve ever seen any nightjar in daylight. On to the hide overlooking the almost dry drinking pools and we picked up several more birds. Black-winged Red Bishops joined the Red Bishops and doves. We saw another Lanner falcon and a couple of Harrier Hawks.  We noted several migrants – Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap as well as more Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters, Fork-tailed Drongos, Lesser Honeyguides, Sunbirds and Prinias. We came across a Black-winged Kit…

March 27th Brikama/Marakissa

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We’d asked Tijan if we could visit a school and he arranged for us to visit his local Lower Basic School at Sifoe in the morning. 

We had a wonderful time there and arranged some links to be made with Bernie’s school. We took names and photos to show the kids back home – Sifoe is a large village but has no electricity. The school teaches 840 8 – 14 year olds but they had nothing. We’ll see what we can do!
From there we headed for Marakissa near the Senegalese border where there was a lodge where we could recuperate. On the way we had Wire-tailed Swallows, Tawny Eagle, Long-crested Eagle and Plain-backed Pipit. At Marakissa we sat in the shad but the temperature had soared and there was no breeze. It was 38 degrees in the shade and Bernie was getting over-heated – we just had to keep as cool as we could. Fortunately there were some bird baths around and our patience rewarded us with fine views of lots of birds including Orange-cheeked Waxbills, Greater, Lesser and the rare Spotte…

March 26th Tujering/Tanji

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Today we decided that we’d spend all day out in the field. We set off slightly earlier and our first stop was at some dry fields near Brufut to look for Coursers. There were no Coursers but two Black-headed Plovers more than compensated. We drove through Tanji and onto Tujering where we turned off onto a track through fields and old water-melon fields.

The area was fantastic; Striped Kingfisher, Black-crowned Tchagra, Purple Glossy Starling, Red Bishop, Grey-headed Sparrow, Scarlet Chested Sunbird, White-fronted Black Chat, Red-winged Warbler, Senegal Batis, Harrier Hawk, Singing Cisticola, Whistling Cisticola and others were seen in one small area. A little wandering yielded Veillot’s Barbet, Green-backed Eremomela, Grey-backed Cameroptera, Lanner, Namaqua Dove, Bru-bru, Northern Crombec, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Black Flycatcher, Pearl-spotted Owlet, Rufous-crowned Roller and the usual supporting cast.
Having spent a wonderful few hours here we headed to Paradise Lodge for lun…

25th March – Abuko/Cycle track/Kotu.

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I was up before dawn – a bit pointless really, I could have waited for the Gambian alarm clocks (Bulbuls) that started up their “quick doctor quick” song about 10 minutes before it was light enough to attempt to see anything. I headed for the beach and saw my first Grey-headed Gulls, Caspian and Royal Terns and Speckled Pigeon. Palm Swifts flew overhead and a Yellow-billed Shrike showed for me on the way back to my room.
Tijan was waiting for us at 8am to take us to Abuko for a morning’s birding. En route we saw a few Blue-bellied Rollers on the roadside wires and White-billed Buffalo Weavers around a couple of colonies with their huge nests. We paid our D35 entrance fee and entered the forest. The first bird we saw was one of those that Bernie really wanted to see – Giant Kingfisher, a female sat right out in the open over a rapidly drying pool. It wasn’t far to the field centre and a magnificent view over the Crocodile Pool (of which there were several). 
Almost immediately,…

Gambia 24 March

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Having heard all about some friend’s recent trips to The Gambia and the earliness of the Easter holidays, we decided to make some last minute arrangements to spend a week there. I managed to find a package run by Thomas Cook at the Senegambia Hotel through Co-operative Travel for Monday 24th – 31st March. The hotel comes highly recommended as the place for birders to stay; I concur. The standard of the hotel is pretty standard but definitely one of the better ones in the country.

The next challenge was to gen up on what we were likely to see. Getting trip reports from late March was impossible – everyone goes between October and January, with a few into February. The weather at that time of year was set to be hot and sunny with no rain but at least the humidity wouldn’t be too bad. I got the name of a guide from our friends and contacted him via e-mail. I was surprised that he was available but when we got there we realised just how few birders there were at that time of year…

Egrets and Herons

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As no-one was available to twitch to Norfolk, I decided on a relatively local twitch and some high-water birding. Fist call was Poynton, south of Stockport, where a Cattle Egret had been in residence for several weeks. There was no sign in the reported place but a walk further down the path found the cattle and there, partially concealed was the egret. Eventually it decided to fly around and so I got some clearer if not close views.
Next, I decided to head for Parkgate on the Wirral, a place I hadn't visited for some time. It was a good two hours before high tide when I arrived and the car park was filling up quickly. Most birds were well out and there was a shimmering haze over the marsh. A Peregrine sat out on the marsh and another flew overhead. there were several Little Egrets flying in and around the pools along with the expected Teal, Pintail, Wigeon and waders. A couple of Merlins put in an appearance along with a Buzzard and three Short-eared Owls.
There were plently of wade…