Monday, 19 December 2016

Gambia 2016. Part 9. Back again!

It was slightly strange returning after a mere 10 days at home but good to know that wife Claire would be getting some sunshine to appease my guilt for leaving her behind on the first trip. Alan meanwhile was off to Goa and much though I enjoyed his company, and given a choice, dinner under the stars is preferable with my wife. I can't even tell you what colour Alan's eyes are!
I did have some slight doubts though. I had decided in advance that I would not be going to the extra expense of more guided trips, my budget was blown and this was a trip for Claire not me. The doubt was wether there was enough birding activity to keep me entertained for 2 weeks in and around the hotel. Lying by the pool all day is a non starter for me.
Fortunately I soon discovered a small pool, more a wet patch of ground really. Being near the river creek at Kotu this area floods during the wet season and as the flooding recedes it leaves behind one or two wet patches. I noticed that there was a huge amount of birding activity in this particular one which measured no more than a few square metres and was no more than ankle deep in water.
What was being pulled out was amazing! The fish were unbelievably big!

Long-tailed Cormorant_
The Cormorant couldn't submerge fully and still caught a large fish. At least a dozen birds covering several species were sharing the same small space.
And every one was catching fish!
From Greenshank to Black Heron
Black Heron
Even the grass seemed to hold fish.
Intermediate Egret
as this Intermediate Egret demonstrated!
Intermediate Egret
Even the Egret looks surprised but not nearly as much as I was when I saw the size of the fish the Hammerkop pulled out of the water.
It took an age of trying.
Juggling the fish this way and that before eventually after many attemptsd, managing to swallow the fish.
As the different species have different fishing methods all seem to tolerate each other's presence, however, two of the same species would often fall out. The Black Heron certainly didn't want competition but I guess two "Umbrella Birds" in the same pool really was pushing it for space.
Black Heron
The one species that did command respect though was the Monitor Lizard. Everything kept out of this one's way.
Monitor Lizard
At one stage there were three in the vicinity albeit, two somewhat smaller than that big beast.
The pool kept me amused for a couple of days before sadly becoming fished out. Then it was back to scratching around for subjects. There might not be the action but the subjects and light were good enough.
Spur-winged Plover
Spur-winged Plovers seem to get everywhere, on the beach, the local golf course, the rice fields.
Spur-winged Plover
They can be a nuisance because they can kick-off if you approach carelessly, putting everything to flight. However, they are fine if you use caution.
Spur-winged Plover
and can make a handsome portrait subject.
Wandering the golf course didn't seem to bring too much luck.This Yellow-wattled Lapwing is actually on the fairway, if you wandered in to the rough the grass is full of horrible tiny piked seed pods that are quite painful if you get them in your shoes.
Yellow-wattled Lapwing   Gambia 2016
I didn't spend too much time there, besides, the variety was poor, the Cattle Egrets and Glossy Long-tailed Starlings being the only other regulars on the ground.
Cattle Egret    Gambia 2016
Consequently, the river estuary down by the beach had more appeal even if the birds lacked excitement.
.Grey Plover    Gambia 2016
Grey Plover and Grey-headed Gull
Grey-headed Gull
Long-tailed Cormorant was at least constantly grooming to give a variety of shots
 Long-tailed Cormorant
and the Whimbrel was a definite stand in when it went quiet.
And sometimes it was so quiet even the Common Sandpiper appeared bored!
Common Sandpiper
Would this keep me going for a whole two weeks though ?

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