Monday, 9 February 2015

Marakissa Day11

The last time I went to Marakissa it was bit of a disaster ! Our driver/guide managed to get us stuck in deep sand on the nearby road to our destination, The River Camp,and it took us well over an hour to dig ourselves out.No sooner had we got there than my travelling companion for the day started to feel unwell and we headed home at lunch time.We didn't see too much that day but I was aware that there are possibilities for some new species to see and so was looking forward to a repeat visit.
Before heading to the camp though, Lamin took us somewhere else not too far away. What looked like a fairly uninteresting pool with a few Jacanas on it turned out to be pretty good !
I sat myself down on the edge of the water to see if I could get some shots of the Jacanas which, if given the opportunity , will settle down and are quite confiding.
These proved no exception
African Jacana  Gambia
Like father, like son.
African Jacana  Gambia
or they could well be mother and daughter but either way I wouldn't want to try getting school shoes to fit the youngsters !
Suddenly, out of a tiny gap in the reeds over on the far side I saw a dark object starting to emerge. I called Alan over to take a look.
Allen's Gallinule  Gambia
This was a bit different ! By process of elimination we decided, correctly as it turned out, this was Allen's Gallinule, a juvenile.
Allen's Gallinule  Gambia
Lamin confirmed it on his return from a recce but was as surprised as we were to find it there. Nice one! Unfortunately it kept it's distance in the time we were there but out of the same dark recess a whole family of Black Crake emerged too.
Black Crake   Gambia
This normally shy species seemed quite happy well out in to the open, giving me my best photo opportunities ever.
Black Crake   Gambia
The area was known for African Pygmy Kingfisher and much to our amazement Lamin found us one. Unfortunately it was sat in a very awkward place, my attempts to get a better shot sadly flushed it so we had to settle for some poor records instead. Nearby a Broad-billed Roller was showing well.
Broad-billed Roller   Gambia
and as we headed back to the car, an Intermediate Egret was close enough for a photograph too.
Intermediate Egret   Gambia
That's when Lamin came up trumps again. Alan and I would have walked right past it but he spotted what we failed to.
The African Pygmy Kingfisher !
Pygmy Kingfisher     Gambia
It sat and posed for us to try different camera exposures and settings to try and cope with the dappled sunlight and deep shade.
Pygmy Kingfisher     Gambia
I was delighted as my only previous encounter was with a rather wet and bedraggled specimen which had been taking a bath at Abuko !
This was turning out to be a rather good day and we hadn't even reached the River Camp yet !
Setting off in the car again I was amazed to find the entrance to the River Camp just off the rather grand tarmac road. Obviously a recent and welcome addition !
With lunch ordered in advance it turned out a buffet had been organised as there were a total of 19 people expected... all at once. I think there were already a few extra who had already eaten so the viewing station surrounded by water bowls was rather crowded.
Still in between the rushes we did get some rather good birds.
The Spotted Honeyguide, this time showing pretty well despite the deep shade.
Spotted Honeyguide   Gambia
There were Purple Glossy Starlings everywhere
Purple Glossy Starling  Gambia
Even in deep shade their colours shining through magnificently.
Purple Glossy Starling  Gambia
These two Green Wood Hoopoe looked as if they were about to star in a nursery rhyme
Green Wood Hoopoe   Gambia
The Beautiful Sunbird living up to it's name.
Beautiful Sunbird   Gambia
I suppose the one slight disappointment was the Violet Turaco. Along with the Green Turaco they had been way up my target list for several visits and up to this trip I had failed. With the Green one now reasonably well caught, the Violet remained.
It made a very brief appearance but was joined by a Piapiac which ruined my only shot !
Violet Turaco  Gambia
Well, that and a stick through it's head !
After lunch which we both wished we hadn't eaten (buffets are not good for you, especially at lunch time, as you eat too much) we went looking for two new species known to be around. We failed on the Bush-shrike but after spending a good 20 minutes looking in the same tree, Lamin found the roosting Scops Owl.
I had long given up but he was determined to find it and eventually he did.
2015-01-21 at 16-40-38
Yep, that's it ! A blurred eye bang in the middle of the picture. There was no way I could hand hold my camera steady enough to get the Owl in focus some 30 feet up in the canopy. Ok, it's only an eye but I guess it counts ! One new tick ! The eyesight of the locals never fails to amaze me.
Moving on from the River Camp we had one more treat in store, a rather large watering hole. With late afternoon approaching things were getting active!
The first mass visitors were a herd of cows which I found myself surrounded by but once they moved on the birds started to approach too,
A flock of Purple Glossy Starling looked fabulous in the sunlight.
Purple Glossy Starling  Gambia
particularly when joined by the contrasting yellow of the Village Weavers.
Village Weaver   Gambia
I put my 2.0x teleconverter on to try and get some closer shots.
Purple Glossy Starling  Gambia
but it wasn't needed for the next arrival that put them all to flight.
An African Harrier Hawk
2015-01-21 at 17-46-26 (1)
You don't get the opportunity to see these on the ground that often, and certainly not this close I wouldn't think.
2015-01-21 at 17-48-34 (1)
It actually looks a far more attractive bird than when seen in flight !
2015-01-21 at 17-48-59
They are a bit weird though, their head looks to weedy and small, their legs too long and spindly for their rather large body mass. Well, that's my opinion anyway !
No sooner had the Harrier Hawk gone than two Hooded Vultures arrived for their turn.
Hooded Vulture  Gambia
They too frightening most smaller birds away.
Still, a great days birding which had proven to be an excellent day for my photography too. As we were packing up I had one last treat, a fly by Violet Turaco. A bit of a grab shot but it shows off the wing colours quite nicely.
Violet Turaco  Gambia

Although it had been an excellent day's outing our list had only grown by 4. We were now standing at 237 with only two more days of trips to go. Our target was suddenly looking a bit too big to achieve.
Tomorrow we were heading firstly to Bonto Woods again, then to Tujering. We'd have to wait and see what developed.

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