Last bird morning in Gambia


Wednesday 15 February.

After yesterday, our last morning in the Gambia; in Kotu.

For the last time, a walk to the “hamerkop pond” not far away.

Hamerkops themselves are not present this time, but plenty of other birds are.

8:40: about twenty white-faced whistling ducks, including juveniles.

Black heron doing its umbrella trick, Gambia, February 2012

A black heron is doing its umbrella trick.

Black heron just after umbrella trick, Gambia, February 2012

Spur-winged plovers.

Great egret and cattle egret.

African jacana. Greenshank.

Wood sandpiper. Black-winged stilt.

Piapiacs on domestic pigs’ backs.

A common sandpiper.

Pied crows.

A squacco heron flying.

A green sandpiper.

A hooded vulture on the roof of a building.

Buffalo weaver nests in a tree to the right.

A ring-necked-parakeet, flying, calling. It is here in his native Africa; unlike Europe, where it was introduced.

A speckled pigeon.

A sacred ibis flying past.

Another bird flying past, a cattle egret. Sadly, it shows an environmental problem in the Gambia, as a plastic bag is attached to its legs and it probably cannot walk properly this way. There is more plastic and other litter around the pond.

A red-billed hornbill sitting on a stick.

We walk back.

On a sandbank in the estuary, a western reef heron.

A whimbrel flying and calling.

A common bulbul singing.

Two long-tailed cormorants flying past.

The bus to the airport will come soon.

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11 thoughts on “Last bird morning in Gambia

  1. Pingback: Gambian red-billed firefinch photos | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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  5. Birds of the Air: Wood sandpiper draws birders to Jamestown, Rhode Island

    By Seth Kellogg

    on October 24, 2012 at 3:26 PM, updated October 24, 2012 at 5:13 PM

    Many readers have probably seen the movie “The Big Year,” which was shown in movie theaters last summer. Most serious birders do a big year every single year, but not on the continental scale portrayed in the film. A continental big year is costly, and for the truly obsessed. Typical birders strive for two more modest achievements, a state ‘big year,’ called a year list, and a continental lifetime list, shortened to life list.

    Some prefer to be more casual about their birding. They take walks in a local park or woodland, or drive to a hotspot on the coast, and simply enjoy seeing birds without recording what they see. The old-fashioned term “bird-watcher” applies more appropriately to this pastime.

    Most birders turn their bird-watching into the challenge of bird-finding, and the sport of bird-listing. In the process they learn more and more about the habits and behavior of birds, what habitats they prefer for breeding and foraging, when and where they migrate, how they look, sing, interact, and fly.

    To help in this endeavor, the birder records what is seen and heard in a journal or on lists as a reminder of what is mastered, and as a challenge to learn more. This is a way to document any improvement in skill and effort. The listing becomes a sport in which the primary opponent is oneself.

    The big year contestant requires years of experience of this kind, with many visits to different parts of the continent. To be a continental life lister, however, only a few short but intensive visits to other parts of the country are needed: western birders coming east, and northeastern birders traveling west, south, or north.

    My own visits to other parts of the country have raised my life list to 673 species, and I expect to add only a few more. I have no plans for distant travel that might get that number nearer 700, a target that most continental listers try to reach. Learning a bit about the looks and lives of all those different birds in their normal habitat has been the more important part of my long distance travels.

    Sometimes, however, a ‘foreign’ bird may not stay at home, but travel ‘abroad,’ usually due to a genetic mishap that skews their migration path or a storm that drives them astray. Any such member of a foreign species that ends up in southern New England is a bird I will try to see.

    Word of a ‘wood sandpiper’ present in Jamestown, Rhode Island was a strong prompt for me to travel there as soon as possible. This bird is a resident of Eurasia, and had only been found in North American five times previously. I had seen it years ago on a visit to The Gambia in Africa, where the species spends the winter. It breeds in Scandinavia and Russia.

    The email hotlines reported the bird was in a marsh that we visit during an annual winter trip that the bird club makes to Rhode Island. We only scan the area from the road, but now birders were taking a five-minute walk through the salt marsh, preferably at low tide when only a few inches of water covered the path.

    At the end of the path, others were peering at a large pool, where no bird was visible at first. Then it appeared — so close at 20 feet away that it had been overlooked. For more than half an hour the bird strutted before us, grabbing bugs from the surface as it walked on its long legs, or posing for many minutes to grab a nap or preen its feathers.

    It looked most like our lesser yellowlegs, but we noted the greenish legs, the shorter, thicker bill, and the subtle distinctions in the plumages, one being a broad white stripe above the eye. Its behavior was more deliberate than a yellowlegs, except for the constant, vigorous bobbing of its rump and tail as it fed.

    We admired in silence and pondered the fate of this sandpiper, all but alone in the spacious marsh, and almost surely, at that moment, the only one of its kind on the continent.

    Seth Kellogg can be contacted at skhawk@comcast.net.

    http://www.masslive.com/living/index.ssf/2012/10/birds_of_the_air_wood_sandpiper_draws_birders_to_jamestown_rhode_island.html

  6. Pingback: Liebster Award, thanks supernova! | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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