Friday, 13 March 2015

Birdwatching The Gambia 2015. Day 11, Basse.

Feb 9th 

Today should have been one of if not the highlight of the trip as we were going up to Basse to see the Egyptian plover and carmine bee-eaters.
Soon after departure we stopped to get fuel for the bus. This was quite fortuitous as across the road were several Bruce’s green pigeons. We had seen these before but not as close as this, and in the tree to their left was a shikra, the second of the day as there’s been one hanging around the Eco lodge at Janjanbureh.

Bruce's green pigeon

Not much to report about the journey to Basse other than we stopped for a brown snake eagle.

brown snake eagle

We had gone to Basse in hope rather than expectation because all the reports filtering back to the coast said the plovers had already departed so in many respects it was no shock when there was no sign of them but I amused myself with a beautiful sunbird for a few minutes. 

Beautiful sunbid

Whilst there are the ferries that transport cars/small lorries/waggons across the river a few at a time most people get across via man-powered boats that can seat around 10-12 people. Well one of the ferryman claimed to have seen an Egyptian  plover earlier that morning so we piled into his boat for a river trip (and of course for a fee). It was fascinating watching the guy sculling the boat (propelling it forward using a single oar at the rear) but needless to say we didn't see any plovers. I’ll leave you to decide whether we'd been scammed.
Next stop was to look for carmine bee-eaters a few hundred yards east of the ferry where the town stops and the agricultural land starts (can be seen on Google maps). Our luck hadn't changed and there were none to be seen though we did find a red-throated bee-eater.  And that was that for Basse. A long long way to go for nothing.

Back at Janjanbureh (Georgetown) we were hanging around the bar area when Steve and I decided to wander down to the river to see if the swamp flycatcher was still there. It was and because a young lad was sitting on the river bank less than 10 yards from it I moved closer. As I fumbled around with the tripod it flew off down river but another appeared almost immediately. By far the best shots of the day.

Swamp flycatcher

Late afternoon we went for a walk down to the (now deserted) Bird Safari camp. This was similar to our other walks through scrub/wooded areas – we saw quite a few species but few were seen well and almost none at close enough range to photograph. We did hang around in one clearing seeing purple heron (very distant), a Wahlbergs eagle (impossibly distant) but I went to the trees and searched out a pearl spotted owlet that had been calling. The bird totally ignored me and I left it where I'd found it - the advantage of birding alone.

Pearl-spotted owlet

When I returned to the group they had spotted a distant pair of  hadada ibis and an African fish eagle – the first of the trip for both species so I took some record shots  We also saw a turtle dove in the same area, something that Tijan was interested in as part of a project he was involved in.

Hadada ibis

African fish eagle

Other than a pair of colobus monkeys (again very distant) that was about it. A long day and a lot of travelling for nothing. Still I had got some pictures of swampy the swamp flycatcher.

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