Monday, 9 February 2015

Bonto and Tujering Woods Day 12

Well if yesterday had been a good day for photography, bad one for new species, today would prove to be quite the opposite.
On a rather dull but warm day we headed straight for Bonto Forest, where we had previously called in to see the two Owl species when on our way to Tendaba. Once again the maxim of "grab it while you can" proved to be right. On this second visit there was no sign of the Northern White Faced and only the male Verreaux put in the briefest of appearances.
Knowing that heavily shaded woods are a non starter for photography I left Alan and Lamin to scramble about in the undergrowth and I headed off for the brighter edge of the first where earlier Lamin had called out some Stone Partridge right in to the open of a sandy track.
Lovely little birds, they are almost comical in their behaviour.
Stone  Partridge   Gambia
My wanderings proved to be of little point, I found a few Northern Red Bishops feeding on the grass, this one in danger of an Ant attack !
Northern Red Bishop  Gambia

But before long I went back to the drinking station to see what that might reveal. Not much more than we'd had the previous visit, Village Weaver and again the Little Greenbul

Little Greenbul   Gambia
but by the time Alan got back we did manage to spot an African Paradise Flycatcher to add to our Red-bellied sighting. He had done reasonably well foraging in the undergrowth and had added three more species to the list so our combined effort had suddenly taken a boost but overall I was now lagging one behind him. I might not be a lister but I am quite competitive whenever a challenge is thrown down !
As yet we hadn't had a Pearl Spotted Owlet and Lamin reckoned he knew where we might find one so we headed off in that direction. Sadly we didn't connect but I did get a half decent shot of a Senegal Coucal while we were looking.

Senegal Coucal   Gambia
Then we saw something I was very pleased to get a second attempt at !
Yellow-billed Oxpecker!
Only these were on a Donkey.
I had been delighted to see and photograph them at Tendaba but I wasn't happy that I had made the best of the opportunity, now I had a second chance. As I approached they all flew off to the nearest tree but  I realised that there was one particular individual that had stayed behind, far too engrossed in feeding !
Yellow-billed Oxpecker   Gambia
I hadn't realised that Oxpeckers will feed on the host animal as well as any parasites they find.
Yellow-billed Oxpecker   Gambia
I felt really sorry for the poor Donkey as before long the rest of the small group had returned too, perhaps all waiting to have their share.
Yellow-billed Oxpecker   Gambia
These rather sweet looking birds were causing the poor beast much irritation and that sore would only get worse I imagine.
Yellow-billed Oxpecker   Gambia
Anyway, I left them to it. We headed off to Tujering woods, well they call it that but it was more like open savannah to me. Perhaps we only saw a small part of it. What we did though was quite rewarding. Firstly a juvenile Striped Kingfisher showing out in the open.
Striped Kingfisher   Gambia
Then a good view of Grey Woodpecker
Grey Woodpecker  Gambia
That was one we'd seen before but the next two were not.
Red-winged Warbler
Red-winged Warbler   Gambia
and White-fronted Black-chat
White-fronted Black-chat   Gambia
The light had been pretty poor all day, not good for my photography but even worse for Claire's sunbathing back at Farakunku . Still a nice dinner and a few drinks would cheer her up and with 8 new species added to the list during the day, we were actually believing we could make our target 250 after all. We needed 5 more on our last trip out. The question was where would we find them ?

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