Sunday, December 30, 2012

Still birding The Gambia: Various Non-Passerines

Caspian Tern Sterna caspia
I want to finish this Gambia birding trip blog before the new year so I have decided to lump all of the rest of my photos into just two groups: remaining various non-passerines and finally the passerines.
One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to Bijilo island just off the coast near Ghana Town. There is a fishing village on the coast here and you can hire a boat to take you out to the island (which is really a sand bar). I advise you do this as it is a fantastic bit of luxury sand surrounded by azure waters.
Here be Slender-billed, Audouin's, Lesser Black-backed, Grey-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls. Caspian, Sandwich, Little and Royal Terns. Ringed, Little-ringed, Grey, Kentish and White-fronted Plover. Osprey, Western-reef Egret and Grey Heron.
Grey-headed Gull (2nd W) Larus cirrocephalus
 We also saw an adult Brown Booby as well as Great Cormorants and some dead stuff washed up onto the sands.
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei
African Jacana Actophilornis africanus is a common species.
African Jacana Actophilornis africanus
 And so too is the Senegal Coucal Centropus senegalensis another one of those birds which you will see in just about every hotel grounds as well as in most scrub and open habitat.
Senegal Coucal Centropus senegalensis
There are only three species of parrot on The Gambian list: Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri, Senegal Parrot Poicephalus senegalus and Brown-necked Parrot Poicephalus robustus. We saw plenty of the first two but none of the third.. The guide book of choice 'Birds of Senegal and The Gambia' by Nik Borrow and Ron Demey have the latter as 'very local, uncommon and declining' and I can vouch for that!
Fortunately the Senegal Parrot is very common, obvious, noisy and good to photograph.
Senegal Parrot Poicephalus senegalus
 Brufut woods is a great place to see Long-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus climacurus. Local guides have two or three individuals staked out and you can get worryingly close to the birds! The disturbance to these day time roosting birds is bound to become a serious concern - if it isn't already.
Long-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus climacurus
The common owl of The Gambia - the Pearl-spotted Owlet Glaucidium perlatum could be heard every evening, night and morning just about everywhere.
Pearl-spotted Owlet Glaucidium perlatum
 Unlike the Verreaux's Eagle Owl Bubo lacteus which had to be searched for. Again the local guides know just where to look and there are a couple of well-known roosting sites.
Verreaux's Eagle Owl Bubo lacteus
 There are at least thirteen species of Pigeon and Dove in The Gambia. Training your eye to spot the difference between four types of 'collared dove' and the two Wood Dove is the most difficult aspect but the rest are all very distinctive. A pigeon/dove is everywhere - you even stop looking at them after a day or so. Even the guides ignore them, which is a shame as some of them are quite beautiful birds.
Red-eyed Dove Streptopelia semitorquata
African Mourning Dove Streptopelia decipiens
Bruce's Green Pigeon Treron waalia - the best looking pigeon in the world?
Bruce's Green Pigeon Treron waalia
 Laughing Dove  Streptopelia senegalensis. - bound to keep you amused!
Laughing Dove  Streptopelia senegalensis
The next post will cover some of the passerines seen on the trip and that will wrap-up birding in The Gambia. Thanks for taking the time to follow this blog.

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