Friday, 7 December 2012

The Gambia November 2012 3rd Quarter



The 19th saw Debbie & me having the day to ourselves and we walked the short distance to Bijilo Forest just 20 minutes to the north of where we were staying. On the way we walked along the road where we encountered Cattle Egrets, Senegal Coucal, African Palm Swift, Long-tailed Glossy Starling and Piapiac while on the telegraph wires were a Blue-bellied Roller and 2 Shikras, one adult and a juvenile. And just before we reached the entrance to the forest a pair of Blue-bellied Rollers came overhead calling and displaying, wrong time for the camera not to be at hand! In the forest we saw a number of Green Vervet Monkey’s and Red Colobus Monkey’s but, mostly high in the trees and shy of the camera. A couple of Green Vervets came close to ‘inspect’ us but were to close for the 400mm lens while some of the birds included Violet Turaco, African Paradise Flycatcher, Little Greenbul and Senegal Parrot. When we left the forest our route back was along the beach where several Hooded Vultures were feeding on the remains of a Turtle and a large dead fish, Black Kites drifted overhead and offshore were Osprey, Royal, Caspian and Sandwich Terns and the odd passing Lesser Black-backed Gull and back at the hotel I had a close encounter with 2 Yellow-billed Shrikes while around the grounds were Laughing Dove, Red-billed Firefinch, Village Weaver, Beautiful Sunbird and many Black Kites.
Hooded Vulture

male Pintail Whydah in eclipse

Yellow-billed (Black) Kite

Brown Babbler

Golden Orb Web Spider

In the afternoon we took a taxi to Cape Point to visit the markets and we also had a wander around the small, but well stocked Botanical Gardens and we went to the Crocodile pool at Kachikaly in nearby Bakau. As well as dozens of Crocodiles there were a pair of Blue-breasted Kingfishers and a pair of Yellow-throated Leafloves amongst the avifauna.
Me doing my Steve Irwin Impression

St. Lucia Widow

On the 20th Debbie and I took a trip to the Abuko Nature reserve on the main Airport to Banjul road where I have visited many a time in search of Western Bluebill but without success. On arrival we were virtually forced to take a guide with us despite me telling them I didn’t need one and that I had visited numerous times before and new what I was looking for but still they insisted. “Only if you find me a Western Bluebill, then I will pay” was my retort. First thing I noticed was that much of the reserve was overgrown and there appeared to be a lot less bird activity than on past visits. I know forest birding can be hard work but there is usually something here. There was bugger all at the pool and viewing was restricted by overgrown trees in the front of the viewing areas. A few feet on after leaving the pool we encountered a new species in the Gambia for me in the shape of a pair of Anhanta Francolins, although heard earlier in the week at Brufut, they were the first I’d ever seen. A little further on while crouched low and scanning the forest floor for my elusive Bluebill tick we spotted an African Thrush and a Common Wattle-eye when Debs said “there’s a small bird on a log just in front of me” but for the life of me I couldn’t see it and, couldn’t crouch down as far as her (old man’s knees lol) then, I saw a movement and caught glimpses of 2 dark birds flitting about before one landed in the open on a dead bush. Sitting in front of me now was that long sought after bird the Western Bluebill in all its glory. I was now a happy man and to think my wife’s first visit to Gambia and she finds me the bird I’d long to see. Another pair of Anhanta Francolin’s were scurrying through the undergrowth further along the track while other birds included Grey-backed Camaroptra, Violet Turaco, Green Turaco, Little Greenbul, Grey-headed Bristlebill, Snowy-crowned Robin-chat, Black-necked Weaver, Purple Heron, Black-headed Heron and Grey Woodpecker. Plus also Lavender Waxbill, Orange-cheeked Waxbill, African Mourning Dove, African Pied Hornbill and Palm-nut Vulture. Also there was, a young Nile Monitor, Green Vervet and Red Colobus Monkey’s  and in the orphanage a group of Baboons, 2 Spotted Hyenas a giant Tortoise with a hole in its shell while overhead were 162 Hooded Vultures.
African Paradise Flycatcher

Nile Monitor

Red Colobus Monkey

Spotted Hyena

morribund White-faced Scops Owl held by my wife


  1. ... and we all know what happened to Steve Irwin ...

    As a word of caution dare I say common sense, I tried a similar thing with a rabbit suffering with myxomatosis that I stumbled across in Stone Lees which at the last minute attacked me and 17 of my wandering colleagues, killing seven of us, maiming two others and leaving deep psychological scars on the rest of us who were lucky escaped with all our limbs intact. On another occasion Gadget rather foolishly crept up upon an injured Gnat to take a snide photo only for the microscopic insect (Not Gadget ... the Gnat) to go uttrely berserk and darn near bash his little head in with a flailing wing as it hurriedly escaped. So people do not follow Elsie's rather idiotic example and treat dangerous wild animals with deep respect. I am surprised at your bad example Elsie ... bravado gone mad I'm afraid.

  2. Another great read Martyn, mouth-watering list of species and fantastic pics.