Monday, 23 March 2009

Gambia trip list - part 5

41. Lanner - one juvenile over the hyena enclosure at Abuko, happily wheeling around harassing the vultures. Brilliant bird!

42. Red-necked Falcon - one along the seaward side of Bijilo. Other people saw them looking north from the Senegambia.
43. Grey Kestrel - one in paddyfields on the opposite side of the road to Abuko
44. Common Kestrel - one or two single birds
45. Double-spurred Francolin - one at Bijilo, close but briefly, as you'd expect!
46. Painted Snipe - a male seen briefly twice in the margins of the shallow mangrove creek to the west of the maion Kotu Creek bridge. Go west from the bridge along the south side of the creek, to reach another track running from the road to a hotel; cross straight over this, and check the creeks to the north (i.e. seaward side).
47. African Jacana - seen on lily pond near the Casino Cycle Track, also at Kotu sewage ponds and nearby fields

48. Senegal Thick-knee - several easily seen at Abuko from the hides.

49. Black-headed Plover - two pairs on the Fajara golf course

50. Spur-winged Plover - abundant

51. Wattled Plover - pair at Abuko

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Gambia trip list - part 4

And now for some proper birds...

Come on, admit it. Ducks and herons are quite nice, but they can't really compete with soaring eagles, gliding hawks, hunting falcons and the rest of the raptors, can they? Our photos certainly don't do all of these justice, but believe me - the birds were absolutely superb, especially the eagle-fest on the Faraba Banta bush-track. Enjoy...

28. Martial Eagle. Wow - they don't get much bigger or better than this! This adult drifted slowly overhead at Faraba Banta, absolutely miles up, but still obviously massive.

29. Tawny Eagle. Had the misfortune to appear with the Martial Eagle, so we didn't really pay it much attention!
30. African Hawk Eagle. Also Faraba Banta.
31. Long-crested Eagle. Faraba Banta - very striking underwing pattern.

32. Brown Snake Eagle. Faraba Banta.
33. Short-toed Eagle. Yep, you've got the idea... Faraba Banta again. At least I recognised this one straight away!

34. Black / Yellow-billed Kite. Almost as common as Hooded Vulture, with plenty around the hotel at vulture feeding time. Don't remember taking this picture, but I'm quite pleased with it!

35. Grasshopper Buzzard. Just one at Faraba Banta.
36. Black-shouldered Kite. Couple seen around Kotu Creek / Fajara area.

37. Marsh Harrier. Several sites, over mangrove creeks.
38. Dark Chanting Goshawk. Several seen, including 2 or 3 at Tujering.
39. Shikra. Several seen, all behaving in typical Accipiter fashion like our Sparrowhawks. The best views were of this one bathing in the pool in front of the hide at Brufut.

40. Lizard Buzzard. Closest views of this bird perched briefly at Abuko, before lauching itself off into the forest.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Gambia trip list - part 3

Arrrghhhh.... we've barely started the Gambia list, and already missed one! With apologies to the rather charming (though not-really-that-rare) species concerned, I should add...

18. Little Grebe - on the lily ponds near the casino cycle track.

And now back into sequence (according to the Barlow field guide - thanks Paul!):

19. Yellow-billed Stork - one high over Fajara, together with ...
20. African Spoonbill - several over Fajara
21. White-faced Whistling Duck - 200+ around the sewage treatment works at Kotu, much more satisfactory to see them here than in the many British captive collections.

22. Sacred Ibis - ones and twos around Kotu
23. Osprey - several singles seen (Bijilo, Tanji and Abuko, at least). Note the colour ring on this bird - wonder whether it's migrating north towards the UK at the moment?

24. African Harrier-Hawk - one each over Bijilo and Abuko
25. Palm-nut Vulture - couple perched in palms at Abuko, plus other singles elsewhere
26. Pied Crow - ubiquitous
27. Hooded Vulture - beyond ubiquitous! Practically never out of sight in the sky during daylight hours. Many (I guess up to about 100) around the Senegambia Hotel, where we stayed, particularly at feeding time late morning. This tourist attraction was then followed by...


... and looking rather bedraggled afterwards!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Gambia Trip List - part 2

Loads of herons and egrets wherever we went - some familiar from Europe, and some not.

6. (Black-crowned) Night Heron - adults and juveniles at Abuko, amongst other sites

7. Cattle Egret - ever present!
8. Squacco Heron - just one or two seen around Kotu Creek

9. Striated Heron - this one at Kotu Creek, plus others nearby

10. Black Egret - a few seen 'umbrella-fishing' around the mangroves creeks at Kotu
11. Intermediate Egret - just one, with useful comparison to all three other white egrets, in paddyfields on the opposite side of the road to Abuko
12. Western Reef Heron - several around Kotu, and one on the beach at Tanji

13. Little Egret - various sites
14. Great White Egret - common, this one showing well at the lily pond near the Casino Cycle Track

15. Black-headed Heron - about 10 at Abuko, plus a few others elsewhere
16. Grey Heron - a few singletons around Kotu
17. Purple Heron - one at Abuko

Monday, 16 March 2009

Adder nice weekend....

Had a couple of days leave to use up before the end of March, so a few days with the family in Norfolk seemed like a good plan - it's not really the time of year to see anything amazingly rare birdwise, but the weather was great and Dad and I saw a few enjoyable bits and bobs. Most notable were these Adders on Kelling Heath:

We managed to dip not one, but two Rough-legged Buzzards on opposite sides of the county, but at least our trip out west was rewarded with great views of the Great Grey Shrike at Roydon Common. Not quite Steppe Grey tame, but still very obliging...

Abbey Farm found the usual Little Owl, two Tawnies were randomly hooting away at lunchtime in the Broads, and the raptor list included ringtail Hen Harrier and a couple of SEOs. All good... shame to go back to work, really!

Monday, 9 March 2009

Gambia Trip List - part 1

Right, here we go..... if you don't want to see birds from outside the UK, then look away now. In fact, look away for quite some time - I may be a while!

The idea is that I'll post a systematic list of what we saw in the Gambia (13-20 Feb 2008), with details of location, and as many photos as I can (click any for larger images). They're certainly not prize-winning material, but hopefully you'll get a taste for the amazing diversity of the birdlife in the country, and find one or two that you like. Eyes down for a full house...

1. Pink-backed Pelican - 3 around the fishing boats (pirogues, perhaps?) off Tanji

2. Great White Pelican - one soaring very high over Fajara Golf Course

3. Long-tailed Cormorant - noted at Kotu Creek, for at least a nanosecond before we saw something more interesting, like... well, like anything else on this list.

4. Hamerkop- great looking bird (with particularly well-coiffed hairdo), seen well gathering and arranging nest material at Abuko. Also near Kotu, I think.

Incoming... a spectacularly large nest!

5. African Darter - great views of these at Abuko as well.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Phalarope Photography

My first visit to KGV Reservoir for a couple of months was prompted by news of a Grey Phalarope - always a great bird to see, and often very confiding. It didn't disappoint, showing down to about 3 metres, though difficult to photograph due to its manic rate of activity, and rather strong sunshine. Still, I'm pretty pleased with these - continued thanks to my Dad for the long-term loan of his lens!!! Promise to buy my own soon, honest....

Click to enlarge any of the images.

A female Red-breasted Merganser showed rather more distantly (i.e. miles away) on the north basin, but was a good bird for the London area, while Peregrine, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk all drifted over the reservoir and a Grey Wagtail was pretty handsome. However, these were only brief distractions from the main event....

Feeding on hold for a moment, and intently looking skywards... we found a soaring Peregrine a few minutes later.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

I might get in trouble for this... a little more Gambia

David's doing yet another late one at work tonight so I thought I'd do some blogging. I have no idea how to edit photos though so these are pretty much as they were taken, which is why I might get into trouble for posting them!

David doesn't like me to take close ups but the egrets were so tame that it seemed silly to do anything else. They're quite cheeky but always wait for you to leave your table before clearing up your breakfast!

Cattle Egret

I had to wait quite a while for the mannikins to cuddle up like this...

Bronze Mannikins

Who knew that vultures dried themselves off like cormorants???

Hooded Vultures

The fantastic spot of Tanji gave me the chance to take my first flight shots.

Royal Tern

Unfortunately I don't recognise this final shot so it must be one of David's - humph!

Senegal Coucal

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Southend - where's Rossi?

No sign of the regular adult Ring-billed Gull (at least, not for me - it mysteriously appeared on the pager while I was there), but these were rather smart....

Gambia photos will eventually get sorted out... on that mythical day when I have some time!