Our last planned day out was with Muttar Barry and we were to be heading around the Mandina Ba/Farasuto Forest and Bonto Woods area, Muttar along with his driver Abdoulie arrived on time at 7am for our pick up at Farakunku Lodge. On the journey out we saw Double spurred Francolin and Stone Partridegs around the Farakunku Lodge area, near Tanji we saw Giant Kingfisher, Whimbrel, Grey headed Gull and Kelp Gull, also added to the day tally were White billed Buffalo Weaver and Rufous Crowned Roller.
Our first port of call Mandina Ba and we were soon into the herons and egrets, Cattle Egret, Great White Egret and Squacco Heron were abundant, Blue Cheeked Bee eaters overhead with Hooded Vultures and Black Kites. On walking around the rice fields sat on one of the fence posts was a Woodland Kingfisher, but always a little distant for a decent photo, a flock of starlings came into view settling in one of the nearby trees giving us good views of Lesser Blue eared, Greater Blue Eared Glossy Starlings, Long tailed Glossy Starling were around the area too. Looking above again a Wahlberg’s Eagle drifted into view followed shortly after by a Short toed Eagle, Shikra and Grey Kestrel were also around giving brief glimpse now and again. We wandered into the bushy area next having a productive time around one particular bush/tree seeing things like, Red bellied Paradise and African Paradise Flycatcher’s, Green Pigeon and Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Yellow throated Leaflove, Yellow Breasted Apalis, Melodius Warbler, and hearing once again a Grey headed Bush Shrike
Our next port of call was Farsuto Forest, a place we hadn’t visited before as it came about in about 2009 and is a community Nature Reserve near Kuloro, it is best described as a ‘wet evergreen forest’, more on the story at the Farasuto Website, Here. On approach to the reserve we saw Dark Chanting Goshawk and Abyssinian Roller. It’s a great place around the entrance area, where there is a small feeding area we saw Red billed Firefinch, Black Rumped Waxbill, Lavendar Waxbill, African Thrush, White Crowned Robin-Chat, Red cheeked Cordon Bleu. We walked further into the forest, where it eventually opened up into a pool area where we saw Common Sandpiper, Senegal Thick Knees, Blue Bellied Roller, Tawny Eagle, Black Kites, African Palm Swift, Wattled Plover and a splendid male White backed Night Heron. With further guidance we also saw at Farasuto African Wood Owl and Greyish Eagle Owl
Our final stop was at Bonto Woods, disappointed we were in this place seeing only four species Yellow Fronted Canary, Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, Common Wattle Eye and Black Billed Wooddove.
That was our day if you’d like to see the full list of the day press THIS and to round off the day a quick note about Muttar, he is a polite, knows the area’s and his birds, and to date has been the only guide who has supplied cold drinks for the day that I have used and if we do manage to get back will use him again, plus he has been the only guide who has used a book where the negotiated price has been written down and signed upon.
To round off the trip when using a guide always negotiate the day, where you would like to go, what you’d like to see (you might not always get to see what you want to see but you might get more) , negotiate the price and what’s included in the price i.e driver, drinks, lunch, petrol, fees to reserve’s etc
Other bits of wildlife we saw that gets a mention of course are the Dragonflies and Butterflies there are an abundance of both at this time of year and can easily be seen anywhere espeically around the rice fields i.e Lamin Rice Fields and Kotu creek area. Field guides are available for the butterflies one worth a mention is “The Field Guide to the Butterflies of the Gambia” by David Penney, which can be found on Amazon for about the £15 mark, one on the Dragonflies has proven difficult but there is also another Field Guide again by David Penney about the wildlife of the Gambia and again can be found on Amazon for about the same price and this has a few Dragonfly photos as well as other interesting insects of the Gambia. A couple of other wildlife bits to include here were the Fruit Bats and Chameleon both found around the Farakunku Lodge area. More pictures of birds and the wildlife can be seen on my Flickr site HERE (if you know any pictured that are still unknown and you know please drop a note Thanks)
Okay final note about Farakunku Lodge and it’s wildlife we enjoyed 95 species of birds from this area alone, enjoying the sound of African Scops Owl and White Faced Scops Owls on an evening, there are plenty of birds also that visit in the well kept gardens, there many Butterflies and a few Dragonflies within the area, there are many well marked walks which Heather has marked out around Farakunku Lodge , and a beautiful beach with a large pool area nearby with many Birds, Butterflies and Dragonflies to enjoy
Finally a few photos
Little Bee eater
Portia Widow Dragonfly
Citrus swallowtail Butterfly