Monday, December 31, 2012

Birding The Gambia - Last Bit: Passerines

There are many common, frequently seen birds in The Gambia that I have not shown on this blog. Red-billed Hornbill Tockus kempi is ubiquitous - it seems to be everywhere at once. African Grey Hornbill T. nasatus and African Pied Hornbill T. fasciatus are not as common but pretty reliable in woodland habitats. White-billed Buffalo Weaver Bubalornis albirostris and Village Weaver Ploceus cucullatus are both very common, the latter being seen in small flocks all over the shop!
White-billed Buffalo Weaver Bubalornis albirostris

Village Weaver Ploceus cucullatus
Sunbirds are fantastic - provided it's a male! We saw Brown, Pygmy, Scarlet-chested, Beautiful and Splendid. The females are all grotty olive and pasty yellow but the males are bonkers! (Apart from the Brown which has no right to be a Sunbird.)

Splendid Sunbird Cinnyris coccinigastrus
 Yellow-billed Shrike Corvinella corvine is the most common shrike and can be encountered most everywhere - it's fairly big, brash and bold.
Yellow-billed Shrike Corvinella corvine
Only three species of crow in The Gambia but there are plenty of two of them. Pied Crow Corvus albus and Piapiac Ptilostomus afer making up in numbers for what lacks in species as far as crows go. The Brown-necked Raven Corvus fuficollis is extremely rare in The Gambia with just a few coastal records
Pied Crow Corvus albus
Males of the Exclamatory Paradise Whydah Vidua interjecta and Sahel Paradise Whydah V. orientalis look identical. The guide book says that the latter has shorter tail streamers and a paler nuchal collar both of which are useless pointers in the field when confronted with a single bird. Females can often be identified by bill colour as can non breeding males. But the Gambian bird guides will all swear that it's where you see these that is key to identification. If you are north of the river it's a Sahel, if you are south of the river it's an Exclamatory! We saw birds on both the north and south so presumably we have seen both species. They both have these completely mad tails which blow about when they are in flight.
Sahel Paradise Whydah Vidua orientalis
 During December the Northern Red Bishop Euplectes afer males get really messy and scruffy and you can see them in all stages of moult.
Northern Red Bishop Euplectes afer
The other crow: the Piapiac (Imm) Ptilostomus afer is another omnipresent species. Immature birds have red bills and adults have black bills. This will be an immature then!
Piapiac (Imm) Ptilostomus afer
The Grey-headed Bristlebill Bleda canicapillus is a Bulbul and is fairly common in forest undergrowth but its close relative The Common Bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus is common in every bush, tree and hedge and window-box. Properly named indeed.
Grey-headed Bristlebill Bleda canicapillus
Lots of Starlings, all glossy and shiny. The Long-tailed Glossy Starling Lamprotornis caudatus is about the commonest but there are plenty of Purple Glossy, Bronze-tailed Glossy, Greater Blue-eared and Lesser Blue-eared to keep Starling aficionados very happy.
Long-tailed Glossy Starling Lamprotornis caudatus
 Crested Lark  Galerida cristata on Bijilo island - just the spot!
Crested Lark  Galerida cristata
 Plenty of the Fork-tailed Drongo Dicrurus adsimilis. Drongo? Must mean something different in N.Z and Oz.
Fork-tailed Drongo Dicrurus adsimilis
 African Thrush Turdus pelios - the only Turdus on The Gambian list.

African Thrush Turdus pelios
Beautiful Sunbird Cinnyris chloropygius - a beautiful bird, an apt name and a male.
Beautiful Sunbird Cinnyris chloropygius
 Probably the second most frequent Ploceus weaver is the Black-necked Weaver Ploceus nigricollis
Black-necked Weaver Ploceus nigricollis
 That's all folks!

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