Yes, I know I went to the
last year but this year
Lynne came with me. It was just a week and we agreed that I would go
birdwatching in the morning and Lynne would read her Kindle on the beach and
get a tan. It worked out something like that but with a few unexpected twists. Gambia
|Kombo Beach hotel. We had a ground floor room.|
The journey out was uneventful. On Tuesday 20 November a 6-hour flight from Gatwick. There is no time difference so we arrived late afternoon and settled in in time for dinner, unpacked, did the crossword, put tripod and lens together ready for the morning. Realised I’d forgotten my hat so decided to get one at the local bazaar. The only hat I could get was too big, had no style and was very floppy but it did, at least, keep the sun off. Don't laugh, now!
|Not exactly 'a la mode' but it kept the sun off!|
In fact, later, I realised it was a great advantage.
When we were accosted by children or locals they
largely ignored me because I looked so stupid!
After I bought the hat I was accosted by a bird guide, Ebou Barry, who wanted me to go on a trip with him. I agreed to go on Thursday to Abuko.
|Pied kingfisher, hovering|
|Long-tailed glossy starling|
We agreed to do some visits together and I spent quite a lot
of my birdwatching time with Dave during the week of our visit. Dave was there
with his wife, Claire, for a whole month!
|Dave Williams, Claire and me|
|Grey kestrel with lizard prey|
|Shikra (L, similar to our sparrowhawk) being mobbed by a pied crow.|
Eventually we got to Marakissa but it was quiet and Ebou didn’t seem very keen to find any birds for us. He knew the birds we did see but he had no recordings to attract others. The highlights were a long-crested eagle and a grey-headed bush-shrike.
As the morning wore on I started to feel queasy. At Marakissa I had diarrhoea. I drank tea and flat cola (flat cola seems to be the current 'cure' for bad stomach). After our visit to the reserve we got into the car and started back. I had travelled in the front on the way down. I told Dave I’d love to offer him the front seat, but the way I felt I needed to have access to an open window and the back window didn’t open!! Dave generously got in the back. My prescience was accurate. No sooner had we reached the main road than I threw up violently, several times, even while we were going. This left me empty. I felt somewhat better but I still just wanted to go back to the hotel and lie down. Lynne bought me some local potion to make me feel better:
|Lynne's heart was in the right place.|
I had to decline her kind offer of medicinal beverages!
|Black herons are the only birds|
who shade themselves from the
sun with their wings while fishing
|He's seen something interesting. Damn that sun!|
|That's better. Now I can see!|
(greenshank in foreground)
|Schoolchildren on Lynne's visit.|
|Typical Gambian house. This isn't just|
the bedroom; it's the whole house!
|You can tell Lynne enjoyed the day trip. She looks so happy!|
This was taken by one of the kids. It was supposed to be
Lynne with his friends but he was overzealous with the zoom!
|Bar-tailed godwits. Dashing through the surf!|
|Western reef heron.|
(Spur-winged plover in front, greenshank behind)
The next day we stayed around the usual places. The highlight being some little bee-eaters which were quite tame and who all alighted on one reed stem, weighing it down.
|Try and ignore that hat!|
|Lesser blue-eared glossy starling|
On the last full day I went with Dave to see if the Medical Research Council would let us in to their compound as I had heard from someone on the plane that it was very good for birds. They wouldn’t let us in, so we went instead to the monkey sanctuary. We saw few monkeys and very few birds! This was surprising. Well, after that we went to the Senegambia Hotel, where Dave assured me I would be able to see nearby white-crowned robin-chats. He was absolutely right. There were two of them which came very close indeed. The only trouble was that they were too close, sometimes directly above our heads! Also they like dark places and the light is always poor. Therefore my photos are not the best.
|Red-cheeked cordon- bleu (Yes, really. Cordon-bleu!)|