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Day 2 (Sunday, 17th January)

Abuko

Pool

Entrance

Abuko pool

Wild Gambia, the company we were using for the rest of the week, finally arrived at the hotel at 7.30am, despite a time of 7am being arranged. This wasn’t a major problem, since Abuko theoretically opens at 8am, although this in practice is whenever the people turn up. After dipping on reported White-faced Scops-Owl opposite the entrance, we proceeded to the research centre, initially down the wrong track, and of course shadowed by the predictable Gambian Bird Guide. His ruse was one of being stand offish, but being slightly ahead and pointing out goodies such as Duiker. We managed to shake him off at the rather quiet pool next to the research station, after clocking up Black-crowned Night-Heron and African Darter.

The fun started only 20 metres or so further up the track from here, where a pair of confiding, yet unexpected, Ahanta Francolins were found at what turned out to be a very productive spot. They had been preceded by a Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat, the first of quite a few within the reserve. Black-necked Weavers were abundant, both at the spot where we were ensconced, and also in numerous waves passing through. African Thrushes were also numerous here.

We hardly had time to finish counting the riches, when a little further down the track still, a gang of Oriole Warblers and Little Greenbuls stopped us once again. It took some time for their activity to abate, but this was replaced by one or two noisy Blackcap Babblers in the same spot. When I moved around to try for better views, an African Goshawk was disturbed, but kindly perched only a short distance away.

We couldn’t remember Abuko being so lively in such a short space of time, and a trio of Violet Turacos kept the party going at the top of a palm. Just in front, a Klaas’s Cuckoo kept vigil. On the opposite side of the track, we thought a pair of Tawny Eagles had been very patient with our passing, until we realised why when they started to copulate.

Ahanta Francolin

Black-necked Weaver

Ahanta Francolin

Black-necked Weaver

African Goshawk

Oriole Warbler

African Goshawk

Oriole Warbler

Tawny Eagle

Black Kite

Tawny Eagle

Black Kite

Snowy-crowned Robin-chat

Violet Turaco

Snowy-crowned Robin-chat

Violet Turaco

Swallow-tailed Bee-eater

Little Greenbul

Swallow-tailed Bee-eater

Little Greenbul

With such a brilliant approach to the animal orphanage area, it was predictable that the visit to the jewel box hide would be much quieter. On paying the 50 dalasis each for entry, the caretaker warned that there wasn’t much water coming from the leaking pipe, but topped it up from his own supply anyway. After negotiating the craft sellers, we settled down for an hour in the confines of the hide. There was indeed still a pool present, although the menagerie of expected birds didn’t appear. We did watch a plethora of various doves, and a small party of Red-billed Firefinches, but the addition of a Gambian Gun Squirrel was the only other spot of excitement.

Jewel hide

Inside the jewel hide

Entrance to the Jewel Hide

Inside the Jewel Hide

African Thrush

Black-billed Wood Dove

African Thrush

Black-billed Wood Dove

Blue-spotted Wood Dove

Laughing Dove

Blue-spotted Wood Dove

Laughing Dove

Red-eyed Dove

Gambian Sun Squirrel

Red-eyed Dove

Gambian Sun Squirrel

The return to the entrance was predictably much quieter, with the heat of the day rising, and conversely much busier with birding parties. However, we did manage to add both species of Paradise Flycatcher, as well as the thump of monster on water as a Giant Kingfisher plunged for food at the pool.

Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher

Giant Kingfisher

Red-belled Paradise Flycatcher

Giant Kingfisher

Lamin Lodge

Lamin paddies

Lamin Lodge

Lamin paddies

Lamin, and the Lodge to which we were aiming, is only a short drive away from Abuko down some rather bumpy and sandy back streets. It is situated on a mangrove, which was at high tide when we arrived (low tide may be better for wading birds), and seems to be prone to visits from the local bored tourists, looking for excitement beyond the sun lounger. Not a great deal was spotted over the mangroves while having lunch, apart from a couple of terns and Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters.

This turned for the better when we headed for a trudge through the rice fields. They were not what I expected, since we covered small open allotment areas bounded by dry woodland and marsh. The real excitement started just after Namaqua Doves and Beautiful Sunbirds. We were watching some of the copious Little Bee-eaters, when a disturbance revealed a smallish Olive Grass Snake trying to squeeze the life out of a squealing rodent. It was probably due to our presence that the rat escaped the ensnaring coils twice. The woodland held a noisy party of Green Wood Hoopoes, as well as Brown Babblers and a Greater Blue-eared Starling.

We left the woods for the small allotments, which were being worked by aged Gambians. We added Fine-Spotted Woodpecker here.

Little Bee-eater

Namaqua Dove

Little Bee-eater

Namaqua Dove

Olive Grass Snake

Green Wood Hoopoe

Olive Grass Snake

Green Wood Hoopoe

Brown Babbler

African Green Pigeon

Brown Babbler

African Green Pigeon

Brufut poolDespite knowing this small reserve as Brufut Woods, most of the excitement is centred around the lagoon next to the sea. We came across this by following the beach for a little way, and added a pair of Palm-nut Vultures and overflying Lanner Falcons along this route. When we reached the lagoon, we realised that the white egret mixing with the 3 Western Reef Herons was actually a white phase Reef Heron. One of the darker birds made the mistake of wandering off to fish on its own, which resulted in the spectre of both the Lanners stooping on it in an attempt to add it to their menu.

The lagoon held quite a number of birds, most of which were Grey-hooded Gulls. However, sifting through these found a few Kelp Gulls. There was also a minor collection of Terns, principally populated by Caspian, but also added to with singles of Royal and Sandwich. A Grey Kestrel was perched in the clearing beyond. The return to the car through the woods was largely uneventful, save for the passing of a small party of Banded Mongooses.

Palm-nut Vulture

Grey Kestrel

Palm-nut Vulture

Grey Kestrel

Garden

Tip

Senegambia gardens

Rough area to rear of gardens

This is a much more upmarket establishment than our modest Badala Park Hotel, and despite being in a much less bird attractive spot than the latter, is recommended for good views of one or two speciality species. After negotiating the swimwear clad residents, and not knowing where we were going, we chanced upon what was probably the best birding spot in the grounds – a rough area of gravel and unkempt bushes beside the lawns. First to fall was White-crowned Robin-Chat next to a dripping tap. While watching this, a Yellow-crowned Gonolek meandered towards us. Blackcap Babblers made up the backdrop.

On the lawns, our attention was drawn skywards by a small group of circling birds, which looked like tiny birds of prey. The late evening light caste a brick red colour on their underparts, and the slightly forked tail was enough to further confuse the issue. The riddle was solved when they landed – Broad-billed Rollers. They were eventually scattered by a marauding Shikra. We decided that was to be that for the day, and wandered back out of the hotel, but not before a Cardinal Woodpecker paused our exit.

Yellow-crowned Gonolek

White-crowned Robin-chat

Yellow-crowned Gonolek

White-crowned Robin-chat

Blackcap Babbler

Broad-billed Roller

Blackcap Babbler

Broad-billed Roller

Home

Paintings gallery

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Contact

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Content

Introduction

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7 Day 8

Species list

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