<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Avian Adventures Tour reports The Gambia
Costa Rica
The Gambia

Spanish tour
The Gambia, 28th January to 11th February 2005

Day 1: Friday, 28th January

Our flight from Gatwick touched down at Banjul International more or less on time at about 3.30pm.  There was a long wait before our luggage appeared, but Sering Bojang, our guide for the tour, and Moses, our driver, soon had us on our way to the Senegambia Hotel.  Birds of note on the journey were Hooded Vulture, Purple Glossy Starling, Black-headed Heron, and numerous Black Kites.  We checked in at around 5.00pm and after dropping the luggage in our rooms headed to the gardens for a little birding before dark. 

The Senegambia gardens are an oasis of green in this part of The Gambia and as such attract a good number of birds.  Here we saw Yellow-crowned Gonolek, a bird with which we became very familiar during the tour, both for its colourful plumage and its distinctive call.  White-crowned Robin-chat, both Brown and Blackcap Babblers, African Thrush, Mosque Swallow, Red-billed Hornbill and Yellow-billed Shrike were all birds we were to see almost every time we walked in the gardens.

Day 2: Saturday, 29th January

Breakfast was at 7.00am and we met with Sering and Moses at 7.45am for the 20-minute drive to Abuko Nature Reserve, arguably the most important and productive birding site in The Gambia. 

Officially declared a reserve in 1968, Abuko contains an interesting variety of vegetation in its relatively small rectangular area, ranging from dense evergreen forest to Guinea savannah and grassland.  We concentrated on the riverine forest and the Crocodile Pool, walking from the main entrance to the Animal Orphanage and also spending time at the Education Centre (now referred to as the Darwin Field Station) and the photo hides.  The ringing call of Common Wattle-eyes is just one lasting memory of a morning that produced such spectacular birds as both Violet and Green Turacos, Booted Eagle, Verreaux's Eagle Owl, African White-backed Vulture, Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher, Grey-backed Camaroptera, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Collared, Splendid and Green-headed Sunbirds and three species of hornbill - African Pied, African Grey and Red-billed.  From the Education Centre hide we were able to watch as a Black Egret performed it's umbrella 'routine' as it fished in the pool watched by a Crocodile.  African Jacana, Hamerkop, and Black-headed Herons were also seen.  A Palm-nut Vulture joined with several Hooded Vultures and, catching a thermal, soared above us as we walked the paths noting Green Vervet and Red Colobus Monkeys as we went.  We sat for a short time by the Hyaena enclosure watching a huge Nile Monitor devouring a huge pile of offal. 

We drove to Lamin Lodge for lunch and relaxed in the shade, enjoying our first Western Reef Heron and close views of Pied Kingfisher, Gull-billed and CaspianTerns and Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters as we waited for our meal. After lunch we birded along the track from the Lodge back towards Lamin whilst Moses took the bus for some minor repairs. 

Photo: Pied Kingfisher - Peter Dedicoat

Pied Kingfisher

There were plenty of birds here and so we didn't manage to walk very far - Black-winged and Northern Red Bishops and Pin-tailed Whydah kept us busy for some time as we tried to identify them, 'dressed ' in their dowdy, non-breeding plumage.  A Black-shouldered Kite perched high in a nearby tree presenting some of the group with a 'digi' opportunity whilst others scanned an area of open mangrove where a Grey Plover, Whimbrel, and a Great White Egret jabbed about in the mud in search of food.  Other birds of note were Orange-cheeked Waxbills, Red-winged Warbler, Namaqua Dove, Senegal Parrot and Bearded Barbet. 

When Moses returned we headed for Lamin Village and to the fields behind in search of Temminck's Courser.  We walked the fields for quite some time, but for a long time saw only Northern Wheatear, Woodchat Shrike and a flock of White-billed Buffalo Weavers.  With time getting on, we were about to give up and leave when a single Temminck's Courser flew in.  We all got very good views of the bird and watched it for some time before eventually heading back to the hotel for a much-needed cool drink.

Day 3: Sunday, 30th January

After breakfast at 7.00am we had to wait a while for Sering and Moses, but were soon at Brufut Woods, a relatively small area of undisturbed savannah woodland.  One of the few such remaining areas in the coastal region, it is now protected, with the co-operation from the local villagers, by the West African Bird Study Association (WABSA).  We enjoyed an excellent morning here.  Three Verreaux's Eagle Owls were ‘scoped and photographed as they sat high in a tree, their large pink eyelids very evident as they slept.  Splendid, Variable and Beautiful Sunbirds were all present as were Cardinal, Grey and Fine-spotted Woodpeckers.  A Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird was first heard and then seen and both Yellow White-eye and Yellow-throated Leaflove put in brief appearances.  A Shikra posed nicely in a bare tree and Fanti Saw-wings put in their only appearance of the trip. 
As the day warmed up we retreated to the Paradise Inn Lodge for a cool drink and lunch.  Then after a short rest we headed for Tanji beach in search of shorebirds.  The wind was causing quite a swell and the brightly coloured fishing boats were bobbing wildly at anchor just off the beach.  A thriving early morning market is held here, traders selling mainly bread, vegetables and fish – the remains of which provided easy pickings for Yellow and White Wagtails, Pied Crows, Hooded Vultures and Black Kites.  We counted at least 50 Ruddy Turnstones as they fed frantically just on the waterline - often flying en masse, short distances as they were disturbed by local children playing football on the beach.  Other birds of note include Grey-headed, Audouin's, Slender-billed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Little, Royal and Sandwich Terns, Ringed Plovers, Sanderling and Bar-tailed Godwit.

Our last stop for the day was at 'Yundum Woods'- which is now actually a cultivated area with sadly most of the trees removed.  This area is excellent for raptors and today we were able to see - Dark Chanting Goshawk, Shikra, Grasshopper Buzzard, Tawny Eagle, Wahlberg's Eagle and Black-shouldered Kite.  Also seen were Whistling Cisticola, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Black Wood Hoopoe and Striped Kingfisher.

Photo: Swallow-tailed Bee-eater - Peter Dedicoat

Swallow-tailed Bee-eater

Day 4: Monday, 31st January

We left the Senegambia at 7.45am, this morning heading for Marakissa.  As we arrived there, a  group of White-crested Helmet Shrikes were the first birds seen, moving noisily through the trees.  We began our walk and very soon were watching Red-shouldered Cuckoo-Shrikes, Northern Puffbacks, both Black and Green Wood Hoopoes and African Green Pigeons.  Further along the track, as the day heated up, raptors were more in evidence - Shikra, Lizard Buzzard and Wahlberg's Eagle showed particularly well.  A Blue-bellied Roller gave plenty of opportunity for the photographers in the group, whilst Singing Cisticolas gave us all practice with our identification of 'LBJs'.
Lunch was taken at Marakissa River Camp where we met up with Solomon Jallow who was guiding a Swiss group.  We birded around the camp for a time seeing six-plus Western Reef Herons, Little Egrets, White-crowned Robin-Chat, Purple Glossy and Bronze-tailed Starlings, Greenshank and Spur-winged Lapwing.
Much refreshed, we moved on towards Darsilami, stopping on a bridge on the way, where we enjoyed excellent birding.  The stars were Spotted Crake, Oriole Warbler and Greater Painted Snipe, but with a supporting cast of Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, Black Crake, Intermediate and Little Egrets, Black-winged Stilt, Squacco Heron, Redshank, Wood Sandpiper and Broad-billed Roller.  We carried on to Darsilami where we counted more than 20 Spur-winged Lapwings, three Senegal Thick-knees, two Greenshanks, a Western Reef Heron, two African Harrier-Hawks and two African Wattled Lapwings, as well as several Yellow-billed Oxpeckers and Lesser Blue-eared Glossy Starlings.

Day 5: Tuesday, 1st February

We spent the whole of the morning at the long abandoned Scan-Gambia Shrimp Farm at Pirang exploring the various pans.  Most were dried up, but the ones that still had some water held a good selection of birds.  A sizeable flock of some 50 or more Pink-backed Pelicans was found to also have two Great White Pelicans.  With them were several African Spoonbills, Eurasian Spoonbills and six Yellow-billed Storks.  A Marsh Harrier continually quartered the area and two Ospreys were fishing.  As we walked along one pathway we were able to get very close views of several Wire-tailed Swallows.  Further on a group of about 20 Long-tailed Cormorants were indulging in a feeding frenzy as they herded a shoal of fish into the shallows.

Pirang is always a good place to see Black-faced Quailfinch, but Sering lead us to a spot where we were able to watch several of them coming to drink, which was a nice change from just flushing them and watching them fly away!  Yellow Wagtails, Crested Larks and a Sedge Warbler also came to the same small area of water and, in the reeds behind, flocks of Yellow-crowned Bishops and Red-billed Queleas came and went.  We had spent quite a few minutes watching all this when, quite unexpectedly, a Bluethroat also came into view.  As we walked back to our vehicle, we had a distant ‘scope view of an African Hobby.

From Pirang we drove through Faraba Banta and along the bush track beyond.  It was time for lunch and Moses found a spot where we could spend an hour or so eating and birding.  Two Striped Kingfishers, Rufous-crowned Roller, Eurasian Griffon, Western Bonelli’s Warbler, Mosque Swallow, Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle and Ring-necked Parakeets were all seen here without the need to step out of the shade.

We spent the rest of the afternoon along the same track and confirmed its reputation as a good area for raptors by seeing Shikra, African Hawk Eagle, Booted Eagle, Rüppell’s Griffon, African White-backed Vulture and Bateleur.  Other highlights included Western Violet-backed Sunbird, Red-winged Warbler and African Grey Hornbills.

Day 6: Wednesday, 2nd February

Sticking to the now familiar timetable, we were picked up from the Senegambia at 7.45am and then travelled the short distance to spend the morning in the Kotu area.

We began at the sewage ponds where we found a nice selection of waders – Greenshank, Green, Wood, Marsh and Common Sandpipers and probably the world’s dirtiest Black-winged Stilts.  It was no surprise that several Little Grebes and about 100 White-faced Whistling Ducks preferred to sit on the side of one of the ponds rather than risk swimming on the water!  Also here were Black Crake, Grey Heron, Sacred Ibis and Yellow Wagtails.  A Purple Heron flew over and there were visits by Caspian, Gull-billed and White-winged Terns.

From the sewage ponds we walked through ricefields and then across the road to what used to be known as the Casino Cycle Track, a track that runs past the Badala Park Hotel.  Behind the Badala Park is an excellent wetland and we picked our way through the hotel’s laundry in order to reach it.  The ricefields and the mangroves along the edge of Kotu Creek had lots of Little Bee-eaters and it was here that we saw Red-necked Falcon and Black-shouldered Kite. 

Photo: Little Bee-eater - Peter Dedicoat

Little Bee-eater

Along the Cycle Track we found Common Whitethroat, Subalpine Warbler, Northern Crombec and Grey Woodpecker.  The hotel wetland produced Little Grebes, lots of African Jacanas, at least two Greater Painted Snipe, Sacred Ibis, Squacco Herons, Marsh and Wood Sandpipers and Greenshank.

After a relaxed lunch at the Paradise Beach Bar we drove to Banjul where we stopped first along the Bund Road.  The tide was well up, so there were few birds, but we did record our first African Darter and there were Pink-backed Pelicans and Slender-billed Gulls. 

Next we made our way through the rather grim Half Die area of Banjul (the name Half Die apparently dates back to an outbreak of cholera in 1869) and picked our way through the garbage to a lagoon, once visible from Bund Road, but now obscured by mangroves.  At high tide many shorebirds move here and we counted 50 or more Curlew Sandpipers and smaller numbers of Pied Avocets, Black-tailed Godwits, Little Stints, Ringed Plovers, Redshank and Red Knot.  There was also a rather distant Goliath Heron.

Next Moses drove us almost to the ferry terminal, to a point that gives access to a ‘beach’.  Again this wasn’t the most pleasant of areas to be birding, but, as we walked along the sand, we did get good close views of Arctic Skuas and there were Black-headed, Slender-billed and Kelp Gulls and Black, Common, Royal and Sandwich Terns.

Later, back at the Senegambia, a late walk in the gardens produced Yellow-crowned Gonoleks, White-crowned Robin-Chats, Beautiful Sunbird, Red-billed Hornbill and Senegal Coucal.

Day 7: Thursday, 3rd February

This morning we visited Tanji Bird Reserve.  This consists largely of fairly open areas with stands of gingerbread plum and other small trees, acacia scrub and some Rhun palms.  There is also a more mature wooded area and low, sandy cliffs on the seaward boundary that are a good vantage point for looking over the Tanji lagoon.

We began with a look from the cliffs and had good views of Kelp, Lesser Black-backed, Slender-billed and Grey-headed Gulls, Caspian and Royal Terns.

Turning away from the coast for a while, we wandered around the rest of the reserve, finding Subalpine and Olivaceous Warblers, Common Whitethroat, Eurasian Kestrel, Cardinal Woodpecker, Copper, Variable and Beautiful Sunbirds and Violet Turaco.  There was also a very brief sighting of a Eurasian Wryneck.  However, probably the ‘star’ bird was a Northern White-faced Owl.  Before leaving we returned to the beach area and enjoyed a nice selection of shorebirds that included the only White-fronted Plover of the tour.

Once again we chose Paradise Inn Lodge for lunch and two Pearl-spotted Owls put on a good show for us here.  In spite of being mobbed by various sunbirds and Red-billed Firefinches, they remained unperturbed and quite approachable.

We spent the afternoon at what has become known as ‘Osman’s Wood’, an area where Sering’s colleague Osman Sayand recently recorded the first proven breeding in The Gambia of Greyish Eagle Owl.  Nothing as exciting as that for us unfortunately, but Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle, Woodchat Shrike, Northern Wheatear and Black-crowned Tchagra all contributed to a pleasant visit.

Day 8: Friday, 4th February

We left the Senegambia Hotel this morning and set out on the long drive to Tendaba Camp.  Having failed on our first visit to Pirang to find Black Crowned Cranes, our first stop on the way was for a second attempt and this time we were ‘successful’, getting at least a brief view of two birds in flight and then one perched in a distant tree.  Whether this last one, not much more than a silhouette, was a different bird or one of the original two was impossible to say.  Sand Martin, African Spoonbill, Yellow-billed Stork and Wire-tailed Swallows were amongst the other species recorded.

We continued our journey making a number of stops along the way.  One of these, at a spot Sering refers to as ‘raptor bridge’, was particularly good, as we saw Long-crested Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Grasshopper Buzzard, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Eurasian Turtle Dove, two more Greater Painted Snipe and a Common Moorhen.

At Tendaba, Pink-backed Pelicans were on the Gambia River and Ruddy Turnstones and Common Redshank amongst the birds on the muddy banks.  A small pool of water resulting from a leaking pipe was attracting a flock of 50 or so Black-rumped Waxbills.

Late in the afternoon, when the temperature had started to drop a little, we set out for a drive across the nearby airfield.  The highlights here were undoubtedly two Abyssinian Ground Hornbills, but we also saw a Wahlberg’s Eagle and had ‘scope views of a juvenile African Fish Eagle in a nest.

Day 9: Saturday, 5th February

We spent the morning on a boat trip with Wandifa Touray from Tendaba Camp across the Gambia River to explore the creeks and mangroves on the north side.  After first going a short way along the south side of the river for a closer view of an African Fish Eagle, we crossed and spent the next couple of hours making our way along Kisi Bolon and Tunku Bolon.  This circuit eventually brought us back out onto the main river.

Herons and egrets were numerous, particularly Grey Herons and Western Reef Herons and we also had good close views of a Goliath Heron.  Waders seen were mainly Whimbrel, Greenshank and Common Sandpipers, but there were also small flocks of Spur-winged Lapwings and a handful of Little Ringed Plovers.  Mangrove specialists seen were African Blue Flycatcher and Mouse-coloured Sunbird and we had much better views than previously of Pygmy Sunbird.  Blue-breasted Kingfishers were numerous and there were at least two or three Malachite Kingfishers.  Raptors included Osprey, Beaudouin's Snake Eagle, Montagu's and Eurasian Marsh Harriers, Lanner and Eurasian Kestrel, while other ‘flyovers’ included several small groups of White-breasted Cormorants and a single Woolly-necked Stork.  The highlights of the morning, however, were the two White-backed Night Herons sat side by side in the mangroves and the African Finfoot that we watched for several minutes, firstly as it skulked among the mangrove roots and eventually as it swam in the open with a fish in its bill.  All in all it was an excellent morning.    

After lunch back at Tendaba Camp and a break during the hottest part of the day, we went out again at 4.30pm, this time to Badeling woods and Kiang West National Park and once again we enjoyed excellent birding.  Amongst the highlights were two Gabar Goshawks, several Brown-necked Parrots, White-shouldered Black Tit, Stone Partridges, White-crested Helmet Shrikes and Black-crowned Tchagra.  Most surprisingly, the Double-spurred Francolins seen were our first.

Day 10: Sunday, 6th February

We left Tendaba at about 8.00am.  The road from there to Soma was terrible, more potholes than tarmac and it took us two hours to cover 35km!  While we were waiting for the ferry to take us across the river to Farafenni, two Beaudouin’s Snake Eagles passed over and there were Great White and Little Egrets, Western Reef Heron, Hamerkop, Royal and Black Terns to watch at close range.  Once we were on the north bank the road was much better, but now it was very dusty and so it remained all the way.

There were several stops on the way to Georgetown.  One particularly good area of dry scrub produced White-fronted Black Chat, Green-winged Pytilia, Common Redstart, Rufous Scrub Robin, Senegal Batis and Speckle-fronted Weaver.  Various wetlands held good numbers of waders, which included our first Ruff and Common Snipe and we also saw the only Collared Pratincoles and Purple Swamp-hens of the tour.  There were two more Abyssinian Ground Hornbills and there were Sudan Golden Sparrows, Little Green Bee-eaters and Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Larks.  However, the two major highlights of the day were an Allen’s Gallinule, quite a rarity in The Gambia, and two Egyptian Plovers, not rare, but probably the species most associated with The Gambia and the one most people want to see. 

The Egyptian Plovers were at Nyanga and for a few minutes were at reasonably close range for us to see from the roadside.  Then they flew off, out of sight, and we might easily have missed them if we had come along half an hour later.  Although they are sometimes referred to as ‘Crocodile Birds’, there does not seem to be any evidence to support the suggestion that these birds sometimes pick the teeth of gaping Crocodiles!

It was about 5.00pm when we crossed by ferry to Georgetown Island and then it was just a short drive to Bao-bolong Camp.

Day 11: Monday, 7th February

Birds seen at Bao-bolong Camp this morning, before and during breakfast, included Village Indigobird, Red-throated Bee-eater, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Beautiful Sunbird and Fine-spotted Woodpecker.  Not a bad start!

After breakfast we drove out towards Bird Safari Camp and had a walk through ricefields, where a small amount of remaining water was attracting quite a number of birds.  As well as the usual Black-winged Stilts and various sandpipers, Senegal Parrots and Ring-necked Parakeets were coming down to drink and there were large numbers of doves, including Eurasian Turtle Doves.  Hadada Ibises and Marabou Storks flew over, raptors seen included Grey Kestrel, Shikra and Eurasian Marsh Harrier and we saw all four species of rollers.  We also had our best view to date of Four-banded Sandgrouse.  

As the day got hotter, we treated ourselves to a drink at Bird Safari Camp and went and sat by the river for a while.  We could see distant Black Crakes and Swamp Flycatchers on the far bank, but otherwise there wasn’t much activity.  Eventually, we had a nice close look at a Swamp Flycatcher near where we were sitting.

After lunch back at Bao-bolong Camp, we set off to visit Bansang quarry, a journey which necessitated a ferry crossing each way.  We stopped on the way when Sering saw two Spotted Thick-knees sitting in the shade of roadside bushes, the only time during the tour that we saw this species.

Part of the quarry is now being protected by WABSA.  It has a long established nesting colony of Red-throated Bee-eaters and many of these birds were present.  There was very little water remaining, but lots of birds were coming to drink.  These included Pin-tailed Whydahs, Exclamatory Paradise Whydahs, Bush Petronias, Yellow-fronted Canaries, Cinnamon-breasted Buntings and Cut-throats.  A particularly good find here was a Blue Rock Thrush, another rather uncommon species in The Gambia.  Hooded and African White-backed Vultures passed overhead and a Lanner Falcon put in a brief appearance.

Day 12: Tuesday, 8th February

It is not unusual for up-river camps to suffer from water supply problems.  We had coped for two nights, but with no sign of the difficulties affecting Bao-bolong being resolved, we decided to cut short our stay.  We left at about 8.30am and spent the day driving along the south side of the river back to Tendaba Camp.  We arrived at Tendaba at 5.00pm.

There was just one birding stop on the way, but it was quite a long one.  We visited Jakhaly ricefields, situated just off the main road between Georgetown and Soma.  Although not as good an area as it once was, the ricefields and drainage ditches that have replaced the former freshwater swamp still hold plenty of birds.  A number of tracks criss-cross the site making access and viewing quite easy.

The most numerous species at Jakhaly was African Jacana.  There were literally hundreds of them!  There were also quite good numbers of waders, including 50 or more Ruff, Greenshanks, Wood Sandpipers and just one Spotted Redshank.  Raptors included two Short-toed Eagles (another Gambian rarity), two Brown Snake Eagles, African White-backed Vultures, Rüppell’s and Eurasian Griffons, African Fish Eagle, African Hawk Eagle, Grey Kestrel, Eurasian Kestrel and Eurasian Marsh Harrier.  There were also plenty of herons and egrets, including Striated Heron.  Notable birds at the smaller end of the scale, were Malachite Kingfisher, Winding Cisticola and Eurasian Reed Warbler.

Day 13: Wednesday, 9th February   

After an early breakfast we went back to Bateling woods to look especially for several species that are regularly found here, but which were not seen on our previous visit.  These were Brubru, Brown-rumped Bunting, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver and Yellow Penduline Tit, all of which we managed to see well.  Also seen were Southern Grey Shrike, Red-winged Pytilia, Hoopoe, Four-banded Sandgrouse, Yellow White-eye, Vitelline Masked Weaver and a rather distant Great Spotted Cuckoo.  In addition, a House Bunting was observed, a species regarded as a rare vagrant in The Gambia, but which has been seen on a number of occasions at several sites this winter, perhaps indicating a range extension.

After lunch back at Tendaba Camp, we took the afternoon off in order to avoid the heat, but went out to the airfield again at 5.00pm.  Waders here included Little Stints, Ringed Plovers, Little Ringed Plovers, Common Redshank and Greenshank.  A melanistic Gabar Goshawk flew through and there were literally hundreds of Vinaceous Doves coming to drink.  When we went searching for Plain-backed Pipits, not only did we find our target, but also three Red-throated Pipits.

We ended the day looking for owls and nightjars.  There were excellent views of an African Scops Owl, but only a brief look at a Long-tailed Nightjar as it flew by.  Nevertheless, it was a very satisfactory result.

Day 14: Thursday, 10th February

We left Tendaba at 8.00am and spent the day travelling back to Kololi and the Senegambia Beach Hotel.  There were plenty of stops on the way and we enjoyed some excellent birding.

Our first stop was at Brumen Bridge where on the mud there was a flock of about 100 Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, plus Greenshanks and Common Redshanks.  A Palm-nut Vulture came from its nest down to the water’s edge, there were both Long-tailed and White-breasted Cormorants and an Osprey.

Next we stopped again at Sering’s ‘raptor bridge’ where again we saw Greater Painted Snipes, Black Crakes, Blue-breasted Kingfisher and Common Moorhen, plus Green Sandpiper and African Paradise Flycatcher.

Further on we made an unplanned stop when a Martial Eagle was spotted.  At a distance to begin with, this impressive raptor gradually drifted towards us and passed overhead giving excellent views.

We went again to the bush track at Faraba Banta and ate our lunch under the shade of the same tree as we had done on 1st February.  Also creatures of habit were the Rufous-crowned Roller and Western Bonelli’s Warbler that hardly seemed to have moved from where they were seen last time.  Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters were feeding in the area and occasionally settling in a nearby tree and a Dark Chanting Goshawk also perched just a short distance away.

Finally we went back to Abuko Nature Reserve, this time concentrating first on the forest and then returning to the Education Centre hide.  Highlights were Western Bluebill, excellent views of two Green Turacos and a Lizard Buzzard perched just outside one of the small photographic hides.  At the Education Centre a Crocodile splashed about in the pool in front of the hide and was perhaps the reason why three visiting Bushbucks and two Red-flanked Duikers didn’t come too close.  Two African Harrier-Hawks and two Palm-nut Vultures also came to the water and there were several of the usual herons and egrets, plus Pied Kingfisher.  We stayed until the light was fading and now had only a short drive to our hotel.

Day 15: Friday, 11th February

This morning we reverted to our earlier routine, being picked up from the Senegambia at 7.45am by Sering and Moses.  As we were due to fly home later, it was sensible today not to go too far and we opted for a return visit to the Kotu area.

We began at Kotu Creek, where two Kelp Gulls, a Lesser Black-backed Gull and a Slender-billed Gull were all ‘flyovers’.  Waders seen from the bridge included Whimbrels and Bar-tailed Godwit and, as usual, there were Senegal Thick-knees here.

On the Fajara Golf Course, a juvenile Klaas’s Cuckoo was an interesting find and it was unusual to see as many as four Red-necked Falcons.  Several Black-headed Lapwings were more to be expected, as were the Beautiful, Splendid and Variable Sunbirds.

At the sewage ponds, nothing much seemed to have changed – the birds present were more or less the same as on our earlier visit.  A Black-shouldered Kite that flew over was the first we had seen for a week.

We returned to the hotel to complete our packing and then went again to the Paradise Beach Bar for lunch, before heading to the airport for our flight to Gatwick.

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