Friday, 23 February 2018

Gambia , the return to an old favourite! Part 1.

I have lost count of the times I have been to The Gambia but for wife Claire and I it ticks all the boxes. Not too far to travel from the UK, low cost packages are available, winter sun and fabulous birding. When we returned from our very expensive but ultimately disappointing trip to the Far East I immediately checked out the internet to see what was available and found a 2 week package tour with Thomas Cook and staying at our new favourite hotel, The Bakutu, for less than £1200 B&B for the two of us, I grabbed it.
Why suffer the miserable British winter if you don't have to?
With one eye on our total budget I set off with little intention of taking a guided trip, I might take a taxi somewhere I knew if I got bored with the local birding, but I wasn't prepared to pay large amounts to see places I have already been to. Having stayed in the Kotu area of The Gambia I know exactly where to go and what to expect,,,, or do I ?!
Dependant on what time of year you visit you will find a different scene. By January the rice crops in the local fields have been gathered and the paddy fields have dried out. One or two might still be holding some water, and as it gets hotter, water is harder to find and as such these pools can be magnets for some species.I was delighted to find one such pool very close to Kotu Bridge which on my first morning gave me excellent views of African Spoonbill
African Spoonbill  Platalea alba
and during the course of the week several other species too!
Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret   Bubulcus ibis
Wood Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
Squacco Heron
Squacco Heron   Ardeola ralloides
Little Egret
Little Egret  Egretta garzetta
Intermediate Egret.
Intermediate Egret    Mesophoyx intermedia
Some were regulars but others such as the Spoonbill and this Striated Heron were one off opportunities.
Striated Heron   Butorides striata
When you are staying locally it can get a bit monotonous walking the same paths every day, in fact the same paths you have walked many times before this trip, but you never know what might turn up and sometimes you get lucky.
To find a pool like this, so close to our hotel, where you can get up close and personal with your subject is why I keep on going back.
Great White Egret.
Great Egret  Ardea alba
This isn't the only pool though, slightly further to walk but just as productive is the Badala pool.

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