Friday, December 28, 2012

Birding The Gambia Part 6: Waders

Twenty-five species of waders seen on the trip and although we had great views of Egyptian Plover Pluvianus aegyptius- a target bird - we failed to find any Painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis even though we spent ages sweating in the scorchio sun searching rice fields and ditches. Apparently Greater Painted Snipe is not too difficult to see!
Lots of Sandpipers - Common Actitis hypoleucos ironically being not as common as Green Tringa achropus which was about as common as Wood T. glareola pictured here on the edge of a rice field.
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus was by far the most common wader in The Gambia followed by Senegal Thick-knee Burhinus oedicnemus. These could be found wherever it was slightly moist!
Senegal Thick-knee Burhinus oedicnemus

Senegal Thick-knee Burhinus oedicnemus
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus was fairly frequent around the edges of rice fields and so were Ruff Philomachus pugnax but for sheer spectacle of numbers in flight you could not beat the swirling flocks of Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola.
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
A swirling flock of Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola in a rice field on the south bank of the river near McCarthy Island.
Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola

The locals call Spur-winged Plover Vanellus spinosus 'Gentlemen in Black Coats' and it is not hard to see why. Again a common enough bird in The Gambia.
Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellus spinosus
Slightly less common are African Wattled Lapwing Vanellus senegallus and Black-headed Lapwing Vanellus tectus although both are resident and frequent enough to guarantee sightings. The Wattled Lapwing tends to be quite flighty but the Black-headed Lapwing is a bit more approachable.
Black-headed Lapwing Vanellus tectus
But it is likely to be the Egyptian Plover Pluvianus aegyptius that is at the top of most visiting birder's 'most-want-to-tick' list. We saw a couple of these cracking birds quite close to the roadside in small wetlands along the north bank road. Travelling due east the road is lined with kilometre markers and past Km 57 and close to Km 58 there is a small although obvious pool on the north side of the road. Good site No. 1. A little further east - perhaps just past Km 58 is a pool to the south of the road. This is good site No. 2. There was also Black Crake, African Pygmy Goose, Collared Pratincole and a Moorhen that could have been a Lesser Gallinula angulata but was probably a Common G. chloropus. I didn't pay much attention to the bill 'cus I'd forgotten that Lesser Moorhen existed!
Egyptian Plover Pluvianus aegyptius

Egyptian Plover Pluvianus aegyptius
This bird is even more spectacular in flight and I had great views at the first site as a bird flew in low over the water.
Egyptian Plover Pluvianus aegyptius




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