Return to The Gambia, Day 2, 23 January 2015 - Kotu Creek, Fajara GC & Abuko NR

This morning we met Ebrima at the hotel gate at 08.00 for a chat about our forthcoming trip up country and took a walk with him to Kotu Bridge. With arrangements made for the trip starting on 25th we spent a bit of time on the bridge filling our boots with a few of the goodies here. Pied Kingfishers are always obvious here but for they were eclipsed by an extremely showy Blue-breasted Kingfisher. While feasting our eyes on this beauty my eye caught movement low down in bushes right by the bridge and soon I was watching my first new bird of the trip, a Northern Crombec. It was just a pity my camera settings were wrong so the resultant photos were pretty rubbish! A Wire-tailed Swallow posed nicely before Ebrima got onto a lovely Oriole Warbler quickly followed by Little Weaver and Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird. c15 White-faced Whistling Ducks a Caspian Tern and a Slender-billed Gull flew over while the creek also held Long-tailed Cormorant, 3 Grey Plover, Whimbrel, Greenshank and a Black Crake. In the immediate area were also Giant Kingfisher, Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, Village Indigobird and Village Weavers.

Squacco Heron

Western Reef Heron

Northern Crombec

Blue-breasted Kingfisher

Village Weaver

Pied Kingfisher

Wire-tailed Swallow

On the short walk back towards the hotel we clocked up an array of species too - c10 Piapiac, 1 White-billed Buffalo-weaver, Lizard Buzzard, 3 Shikra, Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters, 1 Abyssinian Roller, 2 Blue-bellied Rollers and 4 Broad-billed Rollers.

Blue-bellied Roller


Following a tip off from Ebrima a late morning explore of the old paddyfields and mangroves just inland of the Palm Beach Hotel proved very worthwhile. It took a little finding as it was hidden in the mangroves but a kindly guide pointed us to a ramshackle hide and within seconds I'd seen up to 10 Greater Painted Snipe! Also in the area was my 2nd lifer - a solitary Hadada Ibis together with 3 Sacred Ibis and a Black Heron doing the classic 'umbrella' fishing technique. The return walk via the beach (and a drink) yielded 2 Chiffchaffs and Variable Sunbird in flowers by a cafe.

Greater Painted Snipe

Greater Painted Snipes

Hadada Ibis

Black Heron

Broad-billed Roller

Variable Sunbird

An afternoon walk north along the beach and back via Fajara Golf Course was a bit of a failure. I couldn't locate any suitable areas for sunbirds along the Atlantic Road which was busy, dusty and not pleasant and then we couldn't shake off a hanger on across the GC who wanted money for a variety of made up reasons. He followed us all the way back to the hotel and didn't get a penny as all he'd done was ruin our walk! Apart from some Green Woodhoopoes, Brown Babblers, Western Red-billed Hornbills and a Western Grey Plainatin-eater we saw very little.

Green Woodhoopoe

Western Red-billed Hornbill

Little Egret

In the relative cool of the late afternoon we decided on a taxi ride to Abuko NR, a site I'd been to a couple of times in 2011. We were shocked to find the permit fee has gone up 10x since then and is now 400 dalhasi (about £6.20!) and even then had to fight NOT to have a crap guide follow us round! With the reserve closing at 18.00 we only had an hour and a half so it was quick walk but nonetheless we did clock up some nice views of some great birds - Violet Turaco, 2 Green Turaco, Snowy-crowned Robin Chat, 2 Giant Kingfisher, African Darter, Purple Heron, African Paradise Flycatcher, Grey Woodpecker, Black-necked Weavers, 2 African Jacana, African Harrier Hawk, c6 Fanti Saw-wings, 2 African Thrush, 2 Blackcap Babblers, Red-billed Firefinches and Bronze Mannikins.

Long-tailed Cormorant

Snowy-crowned Robin Chat

Violet Turaco

Giant Kingfisher

African Darter

Grey Woodpecker

African Paradise Flycatcher

African Harrier Hawk

Little Bee-eater

Red-billed Firefinch

Red-billed Firefinch

        Green Woodhoopoe              

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