26th Nov-3rd Dec 2019 – The Gambia, Part 3

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…part 3 of the photos from our recent trip to The Gambia (ahead of a tour there in 2020).

Day 5 – 30th November

On our way upriver, we called in at a couple of sites still close to the coast. We started very early at Bonto Forest, in order to try to catch up with White-spotted Flufftail first plus a couple more species of owl, which were all expertly shown to us by one of the forest guides. Then continued on from there to the nearby Pirang shrimp farm. It was hot by this stage, and although we didn’t manage to find the American Golden Plover here we did see a good selection of waders, gulls and terns and picked up several open country passerines we had not seen before.

From there, we headed inland and upriver. After a stop for lunch at AbCas Creek, we were aiming for Tendaba, where we had an afternoon boat trip booked on the Gambia River. Unfortunately we hadn’t banked on the President of the Gambia being on tour this afternoon! We were ushered to the side of the road in the middle of nowhere by the police and had to wait well over an hour there, before eventually the President’s cavalcade appeared. There were hundreds of vehicles – starting with blacked-out 4x4s, followed by an odd assortment of random government vehicles and finishing off with hundreds of ramshackle minibuses full of supporters. Needless to say, by the time they had all passed by, and we were able to continue on to Tendaba we had missed our boat!

White-spotted Flufftail
White-spotted Flufftail – we had great views of a pair, whistled in by our forest guide
Verreaux's Eagle Owl
Verreaux’s Eagle Owl – perched high in a tree in the forest
White-faced Scops Owl
White-faced Scops Owl – a pair were in some scrubby trees by the forest entrance
Western Grey Plantain-eater
Western Grey Plantain-eater – a very common relative of the Turacos
Violet Turaco
Violet Turaco – glowing in the sunshine at Bonto
Namaqua Dove
Namaqua Dove – showed well on the paths at Pirang shrimp farm
West African Swallow
West African Swallow – now split from the more familiar European Red-rumped Swallow
Yellow-throated Leaflove
Yellow-throated Leaflove – a pair were in the trees at AbCas Creek Lodge while over lunch
Abyssinian Roller
Abyssinian Roller – the commonest roller in the open countryside
Patas Monkey
Patas Monkey – one of four species of primate seen, a large troop was just outside Tendaba

Day 6 – 1st December, morning

After missing our boat trip yesterday while we waited for the President’s procession, we had to reschedule it for this morning. Fortuitously, it meant we had more time on the boat, as there were lots of things to see and some great photo opportunities as we explored the mangrove-lined creeks along the bank of the Gambia River.

African Darter
African Darter – very common along the creeks, drying their wings in the mangroves
Blue-breasted Kingfisher
Blue-breasted Kingfisher – the commonest kingfisher here
Striated Heron
Striated Heron – we saw several in the mangroves along the creeks
Hamerkop
Hamerkop – seen at several sites, but the best views were from the boat
Goliath Heron
Goliath Heron – the biggest heron, we only saw one which flew up ahead of us
Intermediate Egret
Intermediate Egret – along with Great White Egret, common along the creeks
Montagu's Harrier
Montagu’s Harrier – a palearctic winter visitor, this male landed in a tree next to the creek
Pink-backed Pelican
Pink-backed Pelican – another species seen at several sites, but with great views from the boat
Spur-winged Goose
Spur-winged Goose – several flew over as we sailed up the creek
Malachite Kingfisher
Malachite Kingfisher – this one was fishing on the edge of the creek
White-breasted Cormorant
White-breasted Cormorant – we sailed past a large breeding colony in trees beside the creek
Nile Monitor
Nile Monitor – a couple of these large lizards were living under the cormorant colony
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater – there were lots of European and White-throated Bee-eaters here too
Wooly-necked Stork
Woolly-necked Stork – we saw several in the more open areas at the far end of the creek
Beaudouin's Snake Eagle
Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle – flew low over the boat as we sailed back down
Little Swift
Little Swift – nesting underneath the quay at Tendaba, affording great low-level views

It had been a very enjoyable and wildlife-filled morning out on the boat, but now we had to pack up and continue our journey upriver, to try to see some of the most prized species…

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