Saturday, 7 February 2015

Back to Kartong Day 10

After the previous day I was really looking forward to returning to Kartong for a day's photography.
Instead of wandering Colin Cross, had kindly sorted out a stool and some camouflage scrim netting and all I had to do was decide where to go.
In my mind I had made two target species, nothing spectacular but two waders that I have nothing of merit to show from previous efforts. On our walk about on the previous visit we spotted both species were present, Green and Marsh Sandpipers.
I returned to the spot I'd seen them and set myself up. Everything went well for a few moments, the Black-winged Stilt posing nicely in the early sun.
Black-winged Stilt   Gambia
Several Wood Sandpipers were feeding around the nearest pools
Wood Sandpiper   Gambia
but everything was still a bit distant at the spot I'd chosen.
Colin tells me that the lack of rain during the last wet season has left the pools much drier than they should be, perhaps they are as much as 6 weeks ahead of their usual schedule. This of course has a knock on effect on many things including the rice crop so the consequences can be quite awful.
Suddenly the pools cleared of every bird to be seen, the reason, a Lanner Falcon, which landed some distance away.
Lanner Falcon   Gambia
The first shot was through some grass but when I moved the image becomes a bit clearer, the pose not as good.
Lanner Falcon   Gambia
My attempt to sneak a lot closer still by emerging from behind a sand dune failed miserably, the moment my head appeared it was off to join the female sat in a distant bush.
This was to be the tone of the whole session, a constant stream of raptors scaring the waders off the pools.
Marsh Harrier
Marsh Harrier   Gambia
Yellow -billed Kite
Yellow-billed Kite   Gambia
even Osprey dropped in.
Osprey   Gambia
It wasn't fishing, it was down for a bath.
Osprey   Gambia
All this action, although distant, was a pleasure to watch even if it did mean I failed in my attempts for the two target species. Instead I had to make do with Common Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper   Gambia
Little Ringed Plover
Little Ringed Plover  Gambia
and, most pleasingly, Yellow Wagtail.
Yellow Wagtail    Gambia
The time soon shot past and it was time to rejoin Alan and Colin back in the Observatory before departing for lunch and the next boat trip.
Just time for a couple of snaps of the Abyssinian Roller that hangs around in the Observatory garden.
Abyssinian Roller   Gambia
Another fine fish and chip lunch washed down with a cold beer and we waiting for the boat when suddenly a couple of Hoopoe landed right next to us. With a bit of patience Colin and I both managed to get on the right side of them with the sun behind us.
Hoopoe   Gambia
and they seemed quite happy to have us around.
Hoopoe   Gambia
In fact we left them to it and boarded the boat, heading first to the sandbanks down river where we had our second new bird of the day, European Spoonbill. In a group which included half a dozen African Spoonbill, they stayed some distance away whilst the Africans came down to the waters edge to look for food.
 African Spoonbill   Gambia
before wandering off past the roosting Caspian Terns.
African Spoonbill   Gambia
Further down we had even closer views of a couple of Pink-backed Pelican
Pinked-backed Pelican   Gambia
 and a few Greenshank .
Greenshank   Gambia
No Goliath Heron this time around so it just goes to show, it's worth going on these trip more than the once.
Another excellent day, most enjoyable even if our trip list hadn't advanced too far, in fact numerically it was the lowest day of the trip so far however I have definitely earmarked Kartong as a must visit location on my next visit to The Gambia. So much to see and photograph, we had hardly scratched the surface.
Tomorrow we were off to Marakissa, a place I had been to on my last trip. Maybe that would prove to advance the numbers.

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