Thursday 5 February 2015

Brufut Woods and Tanji Day 8

Our day of rest had felt a bit of an anti-climax but to be honest it was probably a good thing to ease off a little otherwise there is a likelyhood of burn out, even for the most ardent bird watchers and photographers. Come the next day we were certainly ready to go again, this time setting off firstly for Brufut Woods.
Brufut is easily reached from most of the coastal spots and consequently well visited. I had been before but looked forward to a return. The Northern White-faced Owls weren't showing at all well but that didn't matter, neither did the fact the Verreaux's Eagle-Owls were no longer roosting here since my previous visit. We had already seen them at Bonto and were due a second visit there anyway.
We started by scanning for Sunbirds and successfully found three new ones. The Western Violet-Backeddidn't co-operate in the photo stakes but the Splendid did
Splendid Sunbird   Gambia
as did the Copper Sunbird
Copper Sunbird    Gambia
I also got the chance to photograph one or two previously seen birds for my records too.
Northern Black Flycatcher
Northern Black Flycatcher   Gambia
The often elusive Yellow-crowned Gonalek, a personal favourite.

Yellow-crowned Gonalek   Gambia
and the Fork-tailed Drongo.
Fork-tailed  Drongo   Gambia
We'd picked up a local guide on arrival.... they do their training here before being passed for the Association... and he took us to show us a Cardinal Woodpecker nest.
Both Male
Cardinal Woodpecker   Gambia
and female were very busy carving out their new home.
Cardinal Woodpecker   Gambia
Much to our delight we had another visitor to the same tree.
Black Scimitarbill which I had failed to get a photo of on our previous sighting in Tendaba was this time a bit closer too.
Black Scimitarbill   Gambia
The wonderful thing about Brufut is that there is a drinking station both for birds and birders. Ice cold Coke out of the bottle was perfection, just a shame that the drinking vessels for the birds aren't very aesthetically pleasing !
Yellow-throated Leaflove
Yellow-fronted Leaflove   Gambia
and Lesser Honeyguide
Lesser Honeyguide  Gambia
were two new photo additions but there was one particular visitor I was anxious to see and sure enough, I got lucky!
The very apprehensive and cautious Green Turaco eventually ventured forth after hiding up the tree for quite some time!
Green Turaco  Gambia
It slipped down the tree to the plastic trough
Green Turaco  Gambia
but I have cut out the ugly bits to just leave this head shot of the bird.
Green Turaco  Gambia
A nice new water trough made out of wood wouldn't go amiss !
Happy to have got my best ever views though we decided to go and check out the roosting Long-tailed Nightjars. They must be the most photographed in the world !
Long-tailed Nightjar  Gambia
There's even a shot that looks just like this one posted in the Bird Guides Hut at Kotu.
Long-tailed Nightjar  Gambia
Maybe mine will replace the now rather sun bleached Mr Packham's !
Anyway, satisfied with a couple of shots we silently slipped away to leave them in peace and headed back for another cold drink . Once again we hit lucky with two new additions,
Orange-cheeked Waxbill
Orange-cheeked Waxbill   Gambia
and Black-winged Bishop, to me looking just like the other Bishops when out of breeding plumage !
Black-winged Bishop   Gambia
Leaving Brufut we headed down the road to Tanji Reserve where there is another cafe and drinking station on a bigger scale. Here we were rewarded with some great views of Village Indigobird
Village Indigobird   Gambia
Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher
Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher   Gambia
as well as countless Weavers,Chiffchaff and Bishops.
I even took the opportunity to photograph a Laughing Dove.
Laughing Dove   Gambia
I often overlook the really common species only to regret it when I get home !
With evening closing in we went off in search of Four-banded Sandgrouse in the scrubland behind the beach but much to my surprise we didn't find a single one which was a big disappointment. Last time I visited there were loads but I failed to get a photo,looks like it will have to be third time lucky.
On the beach itself viewing wasn't as good as previous visits either, The Gull roost was on the edge of the beach and not on a near sandbank as before. Consequently there was every chance of flushing them if I went too close. I left Alan and Lamin searching for an odd one out whilst I went back to a place where the Bar -tailed Godwits were feeding. They seemed happy to allow me to get pretty close and get some good photo opportunities.
Bar-tailed Godwit   Gambia
It's a bird I look forward to seeing here
Bar-tailed Godwit   Gambia
although we get them on our local RSPB reserve you don't get views like these !
Bar-tailed Godwit   Gambia
Another rare visitor to our local reserve, or at least the river nearby, is the Osprey.
Osprey  Gambia
Although a rarity in the UK they are very common in The Gambia as many over winter here.
Maybe someone might know the origin of this particular one.
Osprey  Gambia
Anyway, with the sun fading fast we headed home. 11 new species for the list bringing the total to 229 for the trip.
We were wondering just how high we could get to !

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