Over the years I have been visiting The Gambia, the pool situated behind the Badala Park hotel has gone from a great birding spot to one that was virtually in accessible and now, back to brilliant!
The main attraction to me is that it's one of two spots in the locality that's excellent for Greater Painted Snipe which is a real favourite of mine.
Painted Snipe are a rather cautious bird so getting good views isn't easy but on my very first visit I managed to spot one.
A female who had just had a bath.
She didn't notice me at first and I was able to get closer
but she must have heard the camera shutter and decided to move!
Still it was a great start!
A large part of the pool is filled with reeds and that's where many of the birds, including the Snipe often hide out. Hundreds of Cattle Egrets choose it as their overnight roost too but on one visit I also spotted a Purple Heron in there, the only one I saw in TG this year too.
There was plenty of open water though and along the muddy margins there were several species of waders including the elegant Black-winged Stilt.
There was a pair that stayed for the duration I was there.
A couple of Wood Sandpipers and a Greenshank appeared to be more or less permanent residents too and both species allowed really close approach despite me sitting out in the open.
You never seem to get this close in the UK, certainly not when in open view anyway.
Fishing further out in the pond was a Little Grebe which didn't get quite as close but presumably because the water was too shallow.
but you could still get those low level shots that are not possible from many of the places I visit at home.
My favourite shots though, well beside the Snipe, were of a pair of Speckled Pigeons that dropped in for a drink.
Not often you get an opportunity like this one!
Another species I was delighted to get close to was Marsh Sandpiper
A rather elegant fine billed bird and one I hadn't been able to photograph as well as I would have liked to in the past.
This one just ignored me!
A Great Egret dropped by on one visit.
The setting sun giving me a problem with exposing the whites but the reflections on the pool were lovely.
It was the Snipe that kept dragging me back though, I was determined I could do better. On several visits I failed to locate them but the one day I got lucky, well sort of!
I had sneaked up on the feeding bird noticed when suddenly a Cattle Egret flew in so low the bird panicked and flew off!
Curses! I stood up and walked back to the open end of the pool and casually walked out to my favoured spot to photograph the waders.
Stupid me hadn't noticed there she was, sat on the edge of the water, right out in the open.
With a quick shake she was off again.
Ah well, can't win 'em all!