Gambia

Farakunku Lodges Area March 22-29th

Back to a place where I love to go and be with wildlife, a weeks visit this time and back to the Farakunku Lodges, out at Tujering.

A couple of days to settle back in to the Gambia the culture and the heat. I stayed around the lodge for a couple of days before days out ensued, walking around the area birds were numerous with me encountering 62 species in total for the week. Highlights for the week for me were Scarlet Chested, Splendid and Variable Sunbirds, always like watching Yellow billed Shrikes and Blue bellied Rollers, Bats, Dragonflies and Butterflies around the pool and of course the noisy Yellow Crowned Gonolek

Splendid Sunbird (Farakunku Lodges)

Splenid Sunbird

Abuko and Lamin Rice Fields  24th March

My first trip out, organised by Farakunku and with Masanneh Sanyang Bird Guide cost was £55 for the day, lunch not included.

We arrived at Abuko Nature Reserve at 8:30am, picking up Red Colobus monkeys in the Car Park. we made our way into the reserve, after taking photos of the monkeys African Jacana were easy to see from the first bridge along with Black Crowned Nights Herons and Hammerkop. Our first stop of course was the centre hide were you can get an elevated view of the swamp, Nile Crocodile were lazing on the banks of the swamp, Palm Nut Vulture, Squacco Heron, Western Grey Plantain Eaters, Fanti Saw Wing overhead.

We moved further into the forest seeing Snowy Crowned Robin Chat, Little Greenbul, African Palm Swift, the find of the day was a splendid African Goshawk hunting the forest (we saw this bird on a few occasions as we made our way around the forest, Western Bluebill was also another great find.

After a great time at Abuko we called at the Lamin Rice Fields (after dinner at the Lodge) here we saw a fantastic birds as we explored the small area, Pearl Spotted Owlet, Little Swift, Little Bee Eater, Squacco Heron, Striated Heron, Black Egret, Western reef Heron, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Sacred Ibis, Orange Cheecked Waxbill, Sedge Warbler to name only a few….brilliant area

African Jacana

African Jacana

Calypso Corner near Bund Road 25th March

A tourist day today on the cape point picking up a few presents from the wood carving market but then on to the Calypso Beach Bar where they have a large pond area where you can chill have some lunch and watch the wildlife go by, really enjoyed this spot

Plenty of crocs, Caspian Terns coming in for water, skimming as they did so , Pied Kingfishers, Common and Green Sandpipers. I decided also to take a walk along the beach to a little inlet area, where I saw Whimbrel, Greenshank, Pelican, Lesser Crested Tern, Royal Tern, Grey Plover, not much but a great little spot to chill out, we all need that

Calypso Beach Bar

Pied Kingfisher

Pied Kingfisher

Kartong Bird Reserve 26th March

Map Kartong

The big day one I was looking forward to, my day was to be spent with Colin Cross again who would be guiding me around the area. The day couldn’t have started better as soon as I arrived Colin called me over to the veranda from where he hade been watching African Water Rail, and Allens Gallinule to some picking up but eventually had some great and long views of both species, Kartong delivers again.

Out onto the reserve to pick up Abyssinian Roller, Tree Pipit, Crested Lark (Heard Only), Yellow Wagtails (Iberiae), Grey Headed Kingfisher, European Turtle Dove, plenty of Swift Species going thru (Pallid/Common),

Dinner was again near the Allahein River where after we explored by boat, this is where the birds came in the tide was low so we saw lots of Royal and Caspian Terns along with Gull billed Terns, Slender Billed Gulls, Little Stints in big numbers, Redshank, Oystercatchers, Greenshank, Whimbrels, Turnstone, Common Sandpiper, Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Curlew Sandpipers and the list goes on (For a full list see the link below)

Royal Terns with Slender Billed Gulls

Royal Terns1

Tujering  27th March

Today was the day I was hoping for the hoped for bird of the Holiday and my guide delivered, we were reward with excellent views of Temminck’s Coursers, along with young. They were continually on the move scurrying amongst the vegetation and being difficult to photograph, it was only when I gave in that I accidentally caught site of a bird nearby stood still, I filled my boots, beautiful bird and one happy fellow.

Temmincks Courser

Temmincks Courser

Other bird highlights were Woodchat Shrike, Brown Backed Woodpecker, Red Winged Warbler, Common Wheatear, Senegal Batis, and White fronted Black Chat

Brufut Woods

Our next move was on to Brufut Woods where the highlights were Long tailed Nightjars, Verreaux Eagle Owl, Yellow White Eye, Swallow tailed Bee Eater and White Faced Scops Owl

Long tailed Nightjar

Long tailed Nightjar

Back to Farakunku then for lunch and a nap before setting out again at about 4pm for an evening back at Tujering, no Coursers this time but Black shouldered Kite, Whistling Cisticola, Osprey, Yellow Wagtail, Chestnut Crowned Sparrow Weaver all made up for it

Gunjur Project 28th March

A new place/site for me and an excellent place it turned out to be. I had arranged a easy day today before setting off back tomorrow so was only out for the morning and was to be escorted around by Lamin the warden, just seeing the area on arrival I was amazed at the amount of Herons/Egrets and Waders about.

We started our morning near the water’s edge easily picking out Great White Egrets, Little Egrets, Western Reef Herons, Black Crowned Night Herons, Squacco Herons, White Faced Whistling Duck, Black Winged Stilts, Grey headed Gulls, Caspian and Royal Terns, and a new for the Gambia, Great Cormorant

Lamin then took me further in to the reserve where we saw the elusive Greater Painted Snipes and Black Crakes, I managed a couple of dark pictures as the snipes were mainly among the reeds. Lamin then took me even further in to the reserve where we found Pygmy Kingfisher and Woodland Kingfisher, 2 Kingfishers missing from the holiday list this time, we also had better views of Greenshank and Black Winged Stilts from this advantage point

We then heeded back and moved on to another part of the reserve where we sat and picked out the birds, like Green, Common and Wood Sandpipers, Redshank, Turnstone, Sanderling, Grey Plover, Spur Winged Plover , Giant, Pied and Blue Breasted Kingfishers, Pink Backed and Great White Pelicans, Palm Nut Vulture, we were having a good time. Overhead I managed to pick out Little Swifts, African Palm Swifts and House and Sand Martins. Walking back we found Yellow Crowned Gonolek and Snowy Crowned Robin Chat. 

An excellent site very much well worth a visit and do support this project

Greenshank

Greenshank


Sadly that is the end of my 5th visit to the Gambia hopefully it won’t be long until the next one

An Extensive lists of the birds from the various sites can be seen here at Gambia Visit 2017, with times visited etc along with the Gambian Visit Itinerary

Photos from my visit which includes Birds, Butterflies, Dragonflies etc can be visited at my Flickr site here Flickr Page


Bempton Cliffs

A visit to the Yorkshire Coasts Seabird Colony at Bempton Cliffs on what turned out to be a very very windy day bit of an early visit in the year for me but I was hoping for a Short Eared Owl that had been here for a while now, but with today’s wind I didn’t have any luck.

I started my visit near the visitor centre around the bird feeders out of the wind and found plenty of Tree Sparrows and Greenfinch. Along with these were Blackbird, Dunnock, Chaffinch and Robins

The Seabirds were now returning to the cliffs for another breeding season with the Gannets now gathering in good numbers, along with Kittiwakes, Auks I struggled to find at this time of year with me only finding one Guillemot out on the sea, there were plenty of Rock Dove/Feral Pigeons and a scattering of Fulmars

Birds at Bempton ; Blackbird, Blue Tit, Crow, Chaffinch, Common Gull, Dunnock, Fulmar, Gannet, Greenfinch, Guillemot, Herring Gull, Jackdaw, Kittiwake, Magpie, Robin, Rock Dove/Feral Pigeon, Tree Sparrow

I got call of Shorelarks at Crook Ness near Burniston Scarborough so after my time here I headed the way stopping firstly at Holbeck Car Park for Mediterranean Gull, got some great views of one bird without getting out of the car, there were also Black headed Gulls

Crook Ness is a bit hard to find so if your going, hit Burniston on the coastal road from Scarborough turn right at the mini roundabout and then turn right again down a side road next to the Three Jolly Sailors pub called Rock Lane this joins into a road called Field Lane keep going on this road turn right near the farm and you should come to a small car park

Crook Ness MAP . Walking along the cliff path it was long before I found 4 Shorelarks in the stubble field on the right of the path, they were very flighty and didn’t like me too close, so I let them settle again and they were joined by another 8 birds giving me excellent views on still a very windy day. Down on the beach and rock pools Oystercatchers and Redshanks  and a single Cormorant off shore

Birds at Crook Ness ; Crow, Common Gull, Cormorant, Herring Gull, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Shorelark

Gannets

Gannet 2-1310616

Mediterranean Gull

Mediterranean  Gull

Calder Wetlands

Spring weather and longer daylight hours had me reaching for my binoculars on a evening meander around the Calder Wetlands site near Pugneys CP near Wakefield (see My Maps Link), it was only for an hour but always good to be out.

Parked up near the Swan and Cygnet Pub and could hear the call of Wigeon as I was getting my gear together, Cormorant overhead as I made my way on site. Two lakes spilt in half by a pathway, I decided on heading that way as I could view both from there. Little Grebes were calling and soon picked up with the larger Great Crested Grebes, also Coot, Tufted Duck and a few very nice Goldeneye (♂/♀) were close by.

A Green Woodpecker was heard along with a Redshank (which I saw later), and caught sight of a couple of Oystercatchers hiding in amongst the bushes, still couldn’t find the birds I was looking for. Mute Swan and Reed Buntings drew my attention, there was also a few gulls about Herring, Common and Black headed.

I decided on looking thru a few more Tufted Ducks when I finally caught sight of the Long tailed Duck close by and right next to it was the Male Scaup, they both took some finding and my hour was nearly up.

Decided on a quick look at Pugneys only thing of note were 18 Pied Wagtails along the shore line and grass bank

Birds: Blackbird, Canada Goose, Crow,Common Gull, Coot, Cormorant, Goldeneye, Great Crested Grebe, Green Woodpecker, Herring Gull, Lesser Black backed Gull, Little Grebe, Long tailed Duck, Magpie, Mallard, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Pied Wagtail, Redshank, Reed Bunting, Robin, Scaup, Starling, Tufted Duck, Wigeon

Mute Swan

Mute Swan

Old Moor RSPB

December 30th 2016 was the last visit to Old Moor then most of the water was frozen but today was more like spring bird watching without gloves makes a welcome change.

Arriving about 10am I was soon picking up things like Goldfinch, Robin, Dunnock and Blue Tit in the car park. First port of call was the garden were birds like Great Tit, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting, Tree Sparrow and Robin could be seen the highlight here was a splendid Male Great Spotted Woodpecker.

On then the to Tree Sparrow farm where Collard Dove, Reed Bunting, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Robin, Dunnock were seen but not my target for the day.

Next port of call was the family hide and on the way there I picked up a large amount of small birds near the large tree, here I saw Reed Buntings, Tree Sparrows, Linnet, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and a female Brambling. On at the Family Hide where Black headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black Backed Gulls were seen along with lots of Lapwing, and Starlings. Cormorant were plenty with wildfowl like Mallard, Gadwall, Teal, Shoveler, Goldeneye all seen, highlight today from here was a single Mediterranean Gull. 

On at the Field Pool west hide were Blackbirds, Shovelers, Gadwall, Teal, Greylag Geese, Mute Swan, and Wigeon

Lunch break was followed by a return to the Wader Scrap Hide where I picked up Pochard a single Female Pintail, Little Grebe and the Mediteranean Gull again, also nice to see piping Oystercatchers

Last port of call today was Wath Ings Hide, on the walk down here I picked up a single Fieldfare and a Song Thrush. From Wath Ings I could see more Gadwall, Shoveler, Lapwing, Starlings but new for the day were Common Snipe, Grey Heron and a calling Green Woodpecker.

On the way back I also found a single Goldcrest on Green Lane, I also decided on a final stop off at the Tree Sparrow Farm hopefully for my target bird it took a while for it to show but show it did, female at first then the splendid looking males standing well out amongst the crowd of other birds, sorry nearly forgot to say what it was  ….Yellowhammer simple but a fantastic looking bird

So Birds for today were ;

Blackbird, Black headed Gull, Blue Tit, Brambling, Bullfinch, Canada Goose, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Collard Dove, Common Gull, Coot, Cormorant, Dunnock, Fieldfare, Gadwall, Goldcrest, Goldeneye, Goldfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Green Woodpecker, Grey Heron, Greylag Goose, Herring Gull, Jackdaw, Lapwing, Lesser Black backed Gull, Linnet, Little Grebe, Long tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Mediterranean Gull, Mistle Thrush, Moorhen, Mute Swan Oystercatcher, Pheasant, Pintail ♀, Pochard, Reed Bunting, Robin, Shoveler, Snipe, Song Thrush, Starling, Stock Diove, Teal, Tree Sparrow, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Woodpigeon, Yellowhammer

Cormorant

 

Cormorant

Yellowhammer

Yellowhammer//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Alkborough Flats

After the morning jobs  I decided on a run out to Alkborough Flats which is based in North Lincolnshire at the junction of the River Trent and Humber across from the RSPB Blacktoft Sands Reserve.,

Eventually arrived a t noon and settled into the first hide were there was a lot of action going on from plenty of Lapwing (collectively known as a desert), great to see so may in flight. Other birds on looking around were Dunlin (6), Black tailed Godwit, Redshank, Spotted Redshank (7),  and then a very brief view of a Water Rail as it  came out of the reeds and as quickly as it came it went, a couple of Snipe were harder to see. Wildfowl seen were Mallard, Shelduck, Teal and a single male Wigeon

Made my way down to the next hide seeing Stonechat (♂♀) as I went about 300 Starling in the nearby field a skein of about a 1000 Barnacle geese, overhead I managed to pick up a Common Buzzard as it made its way across the reserve, Curlews were calling, Little Egrets were in flight and dropping into the reeds. Down at the far hide Marsh Harriers were easy to pick up at Blacktoft Sands, Herring, Common, Black headed and Great Black Backed Gulls were making the way down the Humber, Lapwings were here also but they had a few Golden Plovers mixed in, Cormorants were lounging about on rocks and posts, the day had come to an end no Short eared Owls or Barn Owls to finish off with but a Tawny Owl was calling from the wood as I left

Birds Today ; Barnacle Goose, Black headed Gull, Black tailed Godwit, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Common Gull, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunlin, Golden Plover, Great Black Backed Gull, Grey Heron, Greylag Goose, Herring Gull, Lapwing, Little Egret, Mallard, Marsh Harrier, Pheasant, Redshank, Robin, Shelduck, Snipe, Spotted Redshank, Starling, Stonechat, Tawny Owl, Teal, Water Rail, wigeon

Lapwings

Lapwings

Spotted Redshank

Spotted Redshank

Black Redstart

Eastern Black RedstartThat should be Eastern Black Redstart a bird that was gracing us from lands far away (residing in Central Asia and wintering in East Africa) and has been on Yorkshire (or is that Cleveland) shores at Skinningrove since late October 2016 and has been an internet celebrity since.

I arrived on site at about 11am and parked just off Marine Terrace in a small car park close to the beck and made my way along Cleveland Way towards the jetty seeing Bar tailed Godwit, Black headed Gulls, Herring Gulls, Rock Pipits, and Redshank along the way.

I went thru the gap along the jetty to the beach area and stayed along the side of the jetty, this is where the bird was last seen (along the boulders place at the side of the jetty) whilst waiting for it to show I picked up Fulmar (on the cliff face), Dunnock, a few Robins and a few Turnstones. It wasn’t long before I was joined by other people and with extra eyes the Eastern Black Redstart was soon picked up along the boulders, a stunning bird to see with its orange belly and black back, we soon had great photo opportunities has it came within close quarters. Here’s a a blog post from A.W. Birder in 2011 giving the various Redstarts CLICK

Video of Eastern Black Redstart HERE

Cant stay for ever so one my way back to the car park I picked up Stonechats (♂,♀), more Rock Pipits, Ringed Plovers, Oystercatchers and Wren

After Skinningrove I stopped off at RSPB Saltholme, basically because I’ve never been and I was in the  area, so I had a quick walk around just to get a feel of the place.

It’s a big place, you need a full day to get the benefits of it, café on site always need one of these, and plenty of birds and hides to stop off in, tried searching for the roosting Long eared Owl here to no avail

Birds List from Skinningrove :- Bat tailed Godwit, Black Redstart (Eastern), Black headed Gull, Blue Tit, Common Gull, Dunnock, Fulmar, Herring Gull, Jackdaw, Magpie, Oystercatcher, Pied wagtail, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Robin, Rock Pipit, Stonechat, Turnstone, Wren

Bird List for RSPB Saltholme :- Blackbird, Black headed Gull, Blue Tit, Canada Goose, Carrion Crow, Common Gull, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Gadwall, Great black Backed Gull, Herring Gull, Jackdaw, Kestrel, Lapwing, Linnet, Little Egret, Magpie, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Pochard, Redshank, Reed Bunting, Shoveler, Starling, Stonechat, Teal, Tufted Duck, Wigeon

Eastern Black Redstart

Eastern Black Redstart Eastern Black Redstart

Turnstone

Turnstone

Calder Wetlands

Not managing to get out on Friday due to car problems all was healed ready for a quick couple of hours around Calder Wetlands on the Saturday Morning. Parking up at near the Swan and Cygnet pub area and paying my fees (glad I did as on return warden was parked up next to me) I was greeted by 6 Whooper Swans flying overhead, plenty of Wigeon were on the embankment as I made my way round, on the water were Coot, Moorhen, Mallard, Tufted Duck and a few Mute Swan. I decided on making my round by going between the two lakes and this is were I found my quarry for the morning, one Long tailed Duck  and it was also within a reasonable distance, good views were had before moving on towards the river where I saw a few Goosander, Blackbirds and Robins.

Id gone about half way round now on my walk and was seeing more Wigeon, Black headed Gulls, Common Gulls and Little Grebe tucked away up against the reed edges with the larger Great Crested Grebe swimming happily out in the middle of the lake. A Kingfisher brightened the morning up with its blazing blues as it flew by , Goldeneye ♂ and ♀ were spotted out on the lake and Redshank and Lapwing just about seen tucked away amongst the grasses on one of the small islands, I was at the end of my walk now and was greeted by two Whooper Swans flying overhead making there way towards Wakefield, I’d gone full circle in more ways than one

Long tailed Duck VIDEO

Morning Bird List :

Blackbird, Black headed Gull, Canada Goose, Carrion Crow, Common Gull, Coot, Cormorant, Gadwall, Goldeneye, Great Crested Grebe, Grey Heron, Jackdaw, Kestrel, Kingfisher, Lapwing, Little Grebe, Long tailed Duck, Magpie, Mallard, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Pheasant, Pochard, Redshank, Robin, Shoveler, Stock Dove, Teal, Tufted Duck, Whooper Swan. Wigeon, Woodpigeon