Return to The Gambia, Day 4, 25 January 2015 - Farasutu Forest, Bama Kuno Forest, Kampanti Ricefields & Tendaba

Today things really hotted up with the start of 3 days up country and the promise of some great new birds. Little did I know it wheb we were picked up by Ebrima at 07.30 but the day would end up giving me no less than 36 lifers!
Things started off sedately with a couple of Grey Kestrels en route to our first port of call, the lovely community woodland reserve of Farasutu Forest which Ebrima has been instrumental in getting off the ground. At our initial parking spot we immediately had a male Klaas's Cuckoo in a large tree quickly followed by Greater Honeyguide, a small group of Purple Glossy Starlings that held one or two Bronze-tailed Glossy Starlings, Cardinal Woodpecker and c5 Senegal Parrots. I then got onto a small cuckoo perched low down on some weeds that proved to be a female Diederik Cuckoo and we hadn't moved 20 meters from the car! A short walk away (via a Red-bellied Paradise-flycatcher and a Woodchat) we were soon feasting our eyes on a staked-out roosting Greyish Eagle Owl. moving on to the forest proper and then out to some ponds at the far side we scored with Long-crested Eagle, Western Marsh Harrier, Giant Kingfisher, numerous Senegal Thicknees and then a great view of the shy and elusive White-backed Night Heron found just as we arrived. A juv Black-crowned Night Heron then flew over to clinch the pair! In the woods and at the small feedign station we also scored with 2 African Grey Hornbills, 3 Blue-spotted Wood Doves, plenty of Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, Black-necked Weaver, Northern Grey-headed Sparrow, several Black-rumped Waxbills, 2 Lavender Waxbills, Bronze Mannikins, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Grey-backed Cameroptera, African Thrushes, Willow Warbler and several Variable and Splendid Sunbirds. What a place!

Purple Glossy Starlings

Bronze-tailed Glossy Starling

Senegal Parrot

Cardinal Woodpecker

Greyish Eagle Owl

Greyish Eagle Owl

Giant Kingfisher

Long-crested Eagle

African Grey Hornbill

Variable Sunbird

Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu

Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird

Black-rumped Waxbill

Next stop was a quick look at the dry woodland at Bama Kuno Forest which was a tad disappointing. The target bird here was Black-faced Firefinch but try as we might we could only find 4 Little Bee-eaters, 2 Lanners, Variable and Splendid Sunbirds and as we were leaving a nice Striped Kingfisher.  Following that I scooped with a Rufous-crowned Roller lifer as we headed to the next site.


Rufous-crowned Roller

Next up was the roadside site at Kampanti Ricefields, also known as raptor bridge. And we were indeed treated to raptors. Initially with a lovely graceful Grasshopper Buzzard, then a distinctive Wahlberg's Eagle and a convenient juv Tawny Eagle for comparison. Several African Harrier-hawks were about with numerous Hooded Vultures passing overhead. Raptors weren't the only attraction here though as in the same tree I had 2 more lifers - a pair of Northern Puffbacks and a Yellow-throated Leaflove. 2 Violet Turacos flew to and fro, 3 Blue-bellied Rollers, an African Collared Dove, Black-headed Heron and then a distinctive Mosque Swallow picked up by Ebrima.

Grasshopper Buzzard

Black-headed Heron

Wahlberg's Eagle

Tawny Eagle

Blue-bellied Roller

Wattled Plover

The next few roadside miles continued to produce raptors with a fantastic Gabar Goshawk, Dark-chanting Goshawk and several Palm Nut Vultures plus more Rufous-crowned Rollers and loads of Abyssianian Rollers. Before we reached Tendaba an eagle-eyed Ebrima spotted 3 White-crested Helmet-shrikes fly across the road which we duly bagged in a tree set back from the road.

Palm Nut Vulture

Gabar Goshawk

Gabar Goshawk

Dark Chanting Goshawk
Dark Chanting Goshawk

After checking in to our room and having a late lunch at Tendaba Camp Ebrima and I had an hour thrashiing the dry woodland behind the village while Belinda relaxed in the shade of the restaurant area. Despite reservations about it being in the heat of the day I managed to find our main target as I flushed 2 superb Bronze-winged Coursers. This wasn't the only good bird here either as I went on to tick Brubru, Cut-throat Finch, Red-billed Quelea, Yellow-fronted Canary and Fine-spotted Woodpecker! Add to that Black-crowned Tchagra, a photogenic Abyssinian Roller, Hoopoe and 2 Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters.

Bronze-winged Courser

Abyssinian Roller

The action-packed day continued with a boat trip from the camp to explore the creeks on the north side of the river. Despite missing a couple of the difficult targets (including Finfoot) there were birds a plenty and 2 of my most wanted birds were bagged - the huge Goliath Heron (3) and the tiny Mouse-brown Sunbird (c5) together with other lifers- a nice sitting juv African Fish Eagle, Pink-backed Pelican and several White-throated Bee-eaters. African Darters were very numerous as were Great Cormorants in their breeding colony here. The recently split African Woollyneck Stork was also added to the list with Sacred Ibis, Senegal Thicknees, Blue-breasted and Pied Kingfishers, another skulking White-backed Night Heron.

Goliath Heron

African Darter

Pink-backed Pelican

Great Cormorant


African Woollyneck

African Fish Eagle

White-throated Bee-eater

Senegal Thicknee

Still the day was not over! There was still time just as dusk fell to visit Ebrima's stake-out for Standard-winged Nightjar and boy did that pay off with vikews of c3 females and then the truly awesome sight of a male which must go down as one of the birds of the whole trip. While waiting for dusk to fall 4 Bruce's Green Pigeons, Fine-spotted Woodpecker, Northern Black Flycatcher and a Western Banded Snake Eagle also found their way onto my list. Wow, wow, wow!            

No comments:

Post a Comment