Today I was picked up at 07.00 by my birding guide for the morning Ebrima W Barry.
Our first port of call were the ricefields at Lamin just across the road from Abuko NR. This area of flooded pools, palms and allotment style small fields proved to be a very productive spot and an excellent introduction to the delights of Gambian birding. First up was an approachable Lizard Buzzard in a roadside palm, quickly followed by Hammerkop, African Darter and the first of many Hornbills – Pied, African Grey and Red-billed. Moving further in the marshy area and several African Jacanas were obvious. An eagle-eyed Ebrima then picked up a male Painted Snipe and a Black Crake whilst Striated Heron, Western Reef Heron and White-crowned Plover were also seen. Around the palms a flock of White-billed Buffalo Weavers flitted about with Senegal Parrots, Village Weavers, Bronze Mannikins and 2 Fork-tailed Drongos for company. An elegant Palm Nut Vulture glided overhead when a shout went up for a fly-through Giant Kingfisher - birding par excellence! Distant Blue-bellied Roller and Yellow-billed Shrikes followed together with some excellent close-up views of 4 Little Bee-eaters, 2 Grey-headed Sparrows and my first African Thrushes. Senegal Coucals and Beautiful Sunbirds proved to be very common here whilst doves included African Mourning Dove, Red-eyed Dove, Vinaceous Dove, Black-billed Wood Dove and Blue-spotted Wood Dove. On the way back to the car we also picked up Grey Woodpecker.
Black-billed Wood Dove
Western Reef Heron
Just as I was thinking things couldn’t get better we entered Abuko NR, what a place! Within minutes of the entrance gate I’d scored with Common Wattle-eye, Lavender Waxbill, Snowy-crowned Robin-chat, Black-necked Weavers and Grey-headed Bristlebill. By the first big pond we had African Darter, Black-crowned Night Heron and perched in a distant treetop – a Black-headed Heron. Then one of the highlights of the trip, a splendid male Western Bluebill skulking low in the shadows quickly followed by Red-bellied Flycatcher. As the habitat thinned and became more open we picked up Orange-cheeked Waxbills, Red-billed Firefinches, c30 Piapiacs, Ringed-necked Parakeets and Red-chested Swallows. A single Fanti Saw-wing surely won the prize for bizarre bird name of the week! 2 similar species were then picked out within a few minutes of each other – Yellow-breasted Apalis and Grey-backed Camaroptera. On a side path that crossed a stream were some fruiting trees that revealed both Violet Turaco and Green Turaco, these really are wonderful birds. To complete the colourful picture was another Blue-bellied Roller, Little Bee-eaters, Beautiful Sunbirds and 2 Lanners.
Western Red Colobus Monkey
Green Vervet Monkey
Back at the hotel for the afternoon and when it was a little cooler we ventured out for a family walk on Fajara Golf Course. Despite the unwanted attentions of a hanger-on bumster I managed to add Wire-tailed Swallow, Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Black-headed Plover, Wattled Plover and both Collared and Variable Sunbird to my list plus Little Swift, Palm Nut Vulture, Giant Kingfisher, Double-spurred Francolin and when back at the hotel a Broad-billed Roller.