Wednesday, 29 February 2012

February 29th 2012

At long last there’s light at the end of whats been a shitty tunnel thanks to blood posioning.
Bob came round to find out what to write on my headstone and while chatting we were entertained by the feeding antics of my Yellow-necked Mouse which has been active since this mild spell started.
Not surprisingly the moths have benefited from the weather with 14 species recorded since the 21st bringing my total year count for the garden to nineteen.

Grey Shouldered-Knot

Amblyptilia punctidactyla

Hebrew Character

I needed some fresh air so persuaded Bob that if he wasn’t going to walk around the pond I could manage a short walk so arrived just before 11am and the first bird he found was a partial summer plumage Med Gull in biggen bay that moved later to toft bay where he managed a record shot before it left at mid-day to the east and proberbly settled with other gulls on toft farm near Toft Hill.

Med Gull by Bob Hazel and though it looks like the same bird that was a Brandon Marsh yesterday apprently that was seen again today at the same time as this bird.
While watching the gull the first of 2 Rock Pipits appeared followed by the appearance of 25 Meadow Pipits with 20 Gadwall off farborough bank. From farborough spit we watched 2 Curlew circle the reservoir a number of times before flying off east and in toft bay there were 20+ Goldeneye, 40 Pochard, 3 Shoveler while our walk back produced Oystercatcher, adult Yellow-legged Gull 10 Fieldfare, Redwing and 2 Buzzard but no sign of any pipits.

Arrived home toatlly buggered just as a Peregrine flew over the garden mobbed by the local corvids.

I only caught up with the space shed once when it appeared over the crescent moon flanked by Venus and Jupiter last week - these two planets should dominate the month ahead along with Mars so keep um peeled.


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

22nd February 2012

Not birding for awhile.

Have updated the last part of my Gambian Holiday and three of Paul Cashmore vids below

Giant Kingfisher

Blue-bellied Roller

Greyish Eagle Owl


Sunday, 19 February 2012

February 19th 2012

A light snow shower had cleared overnight and the temperature dropped as we trawled around Lawford Heath at first light hoping for owls but all we could find were 200 Fieldfare, 2 Red-legged Partridge, 2 Buzzard, 3 Corn Bunting and 600+ Rooks.
Pushed on to Bretford and checked the swan flock out – all 100 were Mute but not an easy viewing location then it was on to Draycote Water.
Why bother I hear you ask and after 22 runners, 16 walkers, 8 bikers in 30 minutes and just 10 Gadwall and 20 Goldeneye to show for our effort we should have asked that question ourselves.
A text from Keith regarding a Bittern at Brandon showing NOW just as we arrived at the Long Itch Diner meant we had to make an executive decision and the breakfast won so it was a couple of contented stomachs that arrived 40 minutes later and it was still showing. Smug or what.
Not brilliant views but later on we saw it from the opposite hide where it could be seen preening perched on a platform of reeds. Met up with Keith, Jeff and Max and our visit turned out to be the best of the year with Fridays Pintail male joined by a female, Cetties Warbler, 2 Water Rail, 2 Snipe, Kingfisher, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Shelduck, Siskin, Treecreeper and Nuthatch.


Saturday, 18 February 2012

February 18th 2012

African Thrush by Colin Potter

Finally started to update my Gambian blog see January 24th.

Here comes that shed again


February 17th 2012

Out briefly with Dave but he was suffering from a cold so did not stay out long. A look at the Pintail at Brandon Marsh, 60+ Swans at Bretford and 2 Corn Bunting on the heath.


February 16th 2012

Draycote has become a war zone - construction work taking place in three seperate areas, the Fishing Garage home to our House Martin Coloney has been demolished and yesterday every man and his dog from the BBC, ST and the Eviromental Agency were wandering around filming for local TV re-garding the potential drought we may face this summer resulting in very poor duck numbers today. Luckily 110 Pochard still remain while 7 Shoveler were passing through. Toft shallows had 8 Siskin and the island a 3rd year Yellow-legged Gull.


February 15th 2011

Decided to give the pond a miss and chose to walk to onley Fields managing a Tawny Owl near Gorse Farm and a distant Little Owl down Onley Lane near the southern entrance to Ashlawh Cutting. Unfortunately very few passerines around.


Tuesday, 14 February 2012

February 14th 2012

Early Moth joined the Spring Usher in the trap and at long last we had decent visibility for today’s visit to the pond while the continuing thaw encouraged some passerine movement.
Counting duck is becoming a headache as they are getting hammered by the disturbance on draycote bank, not helped by the purification and construction plant re-routed via toft bay so are flighty as the traffic trundles pass.
Certainly looks as if Teal and Wigeon numbers are still improving, Pochard about the same and Goldeneye may be well over 60 with at least 45 in toft bay while a few others were dotted around the reservoir, there were 2 male Shoveler and at least 12 Goosander. No sign of yesterdays Pintail.
Over 500 Fieldfare and a 100 Redwing were feeding in the fields between toft bank and the Southam Road while between toft shallows and the M45 embankment there were 11 Siskin, 3 Lesser Redpoll, 2 Treecreeper, Great-spotted Woodpecker and many Blue Tit while on my way back 8 Golden Plover flew west, 35 Meadow Pipit on farborough bank and a smart looking male Peregrine flew over.


Monday, 13 February 2012

February 13th 2012

A male Pintail surprisingly walked out of toft bay, Draycote Water to feed past the hide with a group of Mallard otherwise Bob and I struggled though there was an overnight increase in Teal and Wigeon. A Yellow-legged Gull adult on the island, 14 Goosander and 6 Siskin was the best we could manage.

I was bored so took this and very few birds on the feeder.

Meanwhile I have received enquiry’s about the progress of my picture, the Space Shed and Steam Trains. Unfortunately I have not had time to paint since I arrived back from my holiday as my Gambian Diary is taking longer than anticipated so here’s how it looks at the moment.

No Steam Excursions due through the patch at the moment and the “shed” is just starting to perform its evening fly over’s but good viewing passes not until the 20th so will post times later in week.

My first moth for nearly a month has just appeared – Spring Usher.


Sunday, 12 February 2012

February 12th 2012

This morning was a balmy -2c and climbing compared to yesterdays numbing -13c on the Nene Washes as Dave and I trawled the Grandborough Valley this morning. The highlights were a brock Badger caught in the car headlights at Woolscott for 2 minutes, Tawny Owl near Willoughby, 8 Buzzard loafing on telegraph poles, 6 Tree Sparrow on the Basaely smallholding (no sign of Thursdays Jack Snipe) and 6 Kestrels.
Visibility at the pond wasn’t brilliant while we walked out to farborough spit though there was an obvious increase in Gadwll (35), Pochard (130) and Goldeneye (45) numbers since my last visit. Other birds of note included a Buzzard feeding on a dead gull on the island, 2 adult Yellow-legged Gull among the many gulls post roosting on the frozen surface of toft and parts of biggen bay, 20 + Linnet and 10+ Goosander.
Biggest surprise of the day was at Brandon Marsh where a Red Admiral fluttered past us chased by Dunnocks just after we had missed a Bittern by seconds (many thanks for the heads up Conservation Team) while a wander around the west and east marsh produced 5 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2 Marsh Tit, 2 Goldcrest, Green Sandpiper and at least 8 Jays. The feeding station by the visitors centre produced 2 Coal Tit and 2 Nuthatch.
On our way home there were at least 80 + swans in two groups at Bretford but traffic flow did not allow us a closer inspection and afternoon visitors to my garden included Rook, Yellowhammer and Common Gull.


Wednesday, 8 February 2012

February 8th 2012

Today's visit was very disappointing - freezing me nuts off for only a Sparrowhawk carrying a recently caught dove, 70 Pochard, 7 Goosander, 10 Linnets, 2 Shoveler, Dunlin, 2 Graylag and and a Fox worth noting. Signs are up in country park warning visitors to obey all on site instructions in regards to the construction work along Draycote Bank.
The garden has fared better with visits from Reed Bunting, Willow Tit and Treecreeper.


Sunday, 5 February 2012

February 5th 2012

Flecknoe Road, Grandborough Valley

A week ago I was on a canoe going up the Gambian River with friends sweating buckets while today was the total opposite with 3 inches of overnight snow bringing tranquility to the patch accept for the chattering of teeth.
Despite the effort we put into the Grandborough Valley at first light we only managed 7 Buzzards and 11 Tree Sparrow with no sign of any owls though we did have a Fox, 6 Hare and 4 distant deer species.
Brandon Marsh was iced up with a small amount of open water. The best here was 4 Goldcrest and 5 Snipe while Lawford Heath had 3 Tree Sparrow.

East Marsh, Brandon Marsh

Friday, 3 February 2012

February 3rd 2012

Had to take my bins and Dave’s scope to the Focus Optics doctor and they have been hospitalized in Austria and Germany for life saving operations so it’s back to eye balling birding for me. On our way back we had a Coal Tit and Jay at Brandon while eating to keep warm and a Corn Bunting on the heath along with 2 Buzzards.


Thursday, 2 February 2012

February 2nd 2012

The biting easterly wind made Draycote Water bitterly cold this morning. The highlight was 2 Whooper Swan which arrived with 2 Mute Swan late morning while other sightings included 6 Shoveler, 34 Goosander, 26 Goldeneye 12 Reed Bunting, 20+ Yellowhammer, Jay, 10 Fieldfare and 4 Dunlin.

record shot of Whooper Swan by Bob Hazell

Unfortunately there will be a lot of disturbance over the next few days from the construction of a sailing club car park in the picnic area and the construction of a pipeline on, along and eventually through draycote bank as Severn Trent have been granted a license to extract water from Newbold Comyn connecting too an already present pipe line with the intention of raising the water level by at least a meter as soon as possible. Purification Works traffic today was being diverted along draycote bank while supplies were delivered.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

February 1st 2012

I arrived home at 2pm this morning after a weeks birding with Halcyon Gambia and it was a shock to the system hanging around for the airparks bus to arrive in -2c after sweating buckets in 30c 6 hours earlier and watching Dave scrape a heavy frost off the car windows before we could leave.
No way was I going out with Bob to the pond as planned and invited him round for coffee after his walk so we could play catch up and find out what I had missed.
As for the holiday it was stunning with a provisional count of 291 species seen adding 14 to my Gambia and world list which far exceed my expectations due to being well organized by Phil and Clare at Halcyon Gambia in the UK, Bob and Jane who ran the Halcyon Gambia Compound in Bijilo, Gambia plus being well guided by Mustapha and our ever smiling driver Aladdin. I will put a full report on the blog once I get my act together and receive a few pictures from the gang.


January 24th to January 28th 2012

January 24th 2012
Flew out of a very wet Birmingham Airport and eventually had clear sky’s over the Western Sahara and thankfully the boredom of a six hour flight was lifted when we enjoyed panoramic views of the sandstone plains of Mauritania before arriving at Gambia’s Yundum Airport on time. Being my third visit to Gambia and most of the groups second with Halcyon Gambia once I was through passport control I grabbed a porter who I knew would jumped the queue and put my luggage though the security checks in double quick time so I was soon heading for the exit to be met by our guide for the week Mustapha. While I went outside to enjoy the heat it did not take long for Mus to round everyone up and once our luggage was loaded on to our mini bus we made our way to the Halcyon compound in Bijilo noting the usual first birds on any visit to Gambia, Speckled Pigeon, Black-headed Plover, Hooded Vultures and Cattle Egret while enjoying the glorious sunshine and getting use to Mus talking again about his beloved Barnsley in his mock Yorkshire accent, even though he has never been to the UK.

Halycon Compond

At the compound we were cheerily greeted by Bob and Jane our hosts and the rest of the compound staff and allocated our rooms. Once we had freshened up the last couple of hours of daylight was spent chilling out by the pool, watching the feeders, drinking beers and chatting as if we had never been away.

Red-billed Fire-finch

African Mourning Dove, African Palm Swift, Beautiful Sunbird, Black Kite,
Black-headed Plover, Cattle Egret, Common Bulbul, Grey-headed Sparrow, Hooded Vulture, Laughing Dove,Greater Blue-eared Glossy Starling, Little Swift, Village Weaver,Pied Crow, Red-billed Fire-finch, Long-tailed Glossy Starling, Shrika,
Speckled Pigeon, Red-cheeked Cordon-Bleu, Squacco Heron, Village Indigobird, Vinaceous Dove, Western Grey Plantain-Eater.

January 25th 2012
Up early raring to go and after breakfast we boarded our minibus for the short journey to Koto Bridge which had hardly changed since our last visit except for a great hole in the bridge. Certainly no Health and Safety here – just a large stump jammed in to stop you splashing around 10 ft below. Loaded up with water we then went walk about revisiting Koto Creek, Casino Cycle Track, Lily Ponds and Koto Sewage Ponds before a welcome cold drink at the Gambian Birdwatching Association garden where they have a shelter to cool down. Once rested we returned to the minibus and moved on to Fajara Golf Course for a short walk before finally arriving at a beach bar at Cape Creek for Lunch. Birds were coming thick and fast so grateful for the peace and quiet the bar gave us – once the native dancing troop had stopped practicing – to my ears it was just a racket although I noticed a few of my group tapping along. Had to give the semi- naked bronzed wrinklies a wide berth while searching the beach then on to Brutfut for a stunning couple of hours. Mus had two party piece up his sleeve. The first was 2 roosting Verreaux's Eagle-Owls high in a palm tree – a longed for life tick for me and the second was taking us to a spot where he indicated there was a roosting Long-tailed Nightjar with in 6ft of us but it sure took 7 of us a while to locate this gem among the leaf litter. We arrived back at the compound hot, tired and 151 species under the belt.

Verreaux's Eagle-Owl, Brutfut. Colin Potter

Pygmy Kingfisher, Brutfut, Colin Potter

African Grey Hornbill, African Harrier-Hawk, African Jacana, African Pied-Hornbill, African Spoonbill, African Thrush, Bearded Barbet, Black Scimitar-bill, Black-billed Wood Dove, Blackcap Babbler, Black-crowned Night Heron, Black Egret Black-headed Gull, Black-headed Heron, Black-necked Weaver, Black-shouldered Kite, Black-tailed Godwit, Black-winged Stilt, Blue-bellied Roller, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Blue-cheeked Bee-Eater, Blue-headed Wagtail, Bronze Mannikin, Brown Babbler, Caspian Tern, Chiffchaff,Common Sandpiper, Crested Lark, Double-spurred Francolin, Eurasian Hoopoe, European Roller, Fork-tailed Drongo, Great White Egret, Green Sandpiper, Green Turaco, Green Wood Hoopoe, Green-backed Eremomela, Greenshank, Grey Heron, Grey Kestrel, Grey Plover, Grey Woodpecker, Grey-backed Camaroptera, Grey-headed Gull, Gull-billed Tern, House Sparrow, Intermediate Egret, Lavender Waxbill, Lesser Blue-eared Glossy Starling, Lesser Honeyguide, Little Bee-eater, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Little Ringed Plover, Little Weaver, Lizzard Buzzard, Long-tailed Cormorant,Long-tailed Nightjar, Malachite Kingfisher, Marsh Harrier, Mottled Spinetail, Namaqua Dove Northern Black Flycatcher, Northern Red Bishop, Olivacious Warbler, Orange-billed Waxbill, Osprey, Palm-nut Vulture, Pearl-spotted Owlet, Pygmy Kingfisher, Pink-backed Pelican,Pied Kingfisher, Plain-backed Pipit, Red-billed Hornbill, Red-billed Quelea, Red-chested Swallow, Redshank, Red-winged Warbler, Ringed Plover, Rosy Parakeet,Saced Ibis, Sand Martin, Senegal Coucal, Senegal Parrot, Senegal Thick-knee, Slender-billed Gull, Splendid Sunbird, Spur-winged Plover, Striped Kingfisher, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Variable Sunbird, Verreaux's Eagle-Owl, Violet Turaco, Wattled Plover, Western Reef Heron, Western Sub-Alpine Warbler, Whimbrel, White Wagtail, White-billed Buffalo Weaver,White-faced Whistling Duck, White-shouldered Black-Tit, Willow Warbler, Winding Cisticola Wire-tailed Swallow, Wood Sandpiper, Woodchat Shrike, Yellow Wagtail, Yellow-billed Shrike, Yellow-breasted Apalils, Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Zitting Cisticola

January 26th 2012
A beautiful Black-shouldered Kite sitting on a roadside telegraph pole greeted us as we drove out of Bijilo along with Lizzard Buzzard and Grey Kestrel on our way to the riverine forest reserve at Abuko where we had a leisurely walk finding a number of good species with the highlight for most being the Western Bluebill, Grey-headed Bristle Bill and 2 Buff-spotted Woodpecker before leaving which gave us chance to enjoy the attention of the stall holders and a cold drink chatting to the locals before moving on to Lamin Rice Fields.

Painted Snipe by Graeme Dunlop

Here our visit produced the hoped for Painted Snipe with at least 2 showing well amongst the mangroves while the small agricultural plots held many species new for our trip list.
Over a long lunch at Lamin Lodge the food went flying as we scrambled to see a flyby Goliath Heron go past our lofty position watched by a sharp eyed Green-eyed Velvet Monkey who despite our gallant efforts finally made off with the sugar bowl. As the heat of the day subsided we searched the surrounding fields and tracks behind Lamin Lodge village finding a delightful Western Violet-backed Sunbird but missed by seconds the White-crowned Robin-Chat.
Back early at the compound giving us chance to pack for tomorrows up country trip then enjoyed the sight and sounds of the compounds garden and feeders while downing a few very welcome cold Beer’s

Buff-spotted Woodpecker Common Wattle-Eye European Bee-eater Fanti Saw-wing Giant Kingfisher Goliath Heron Grey Headed Bristle Bill Grey Plantain-eater m, Hammerkop, Kestrel Lanner Falcon Little Greenbul Moorhen Painted Snipe Pied-winged Swallow Purple Heron Red-bellied Paradise-Flycatcher Red-eyed Dove Reed Warbler Sandwich Tern Scarlet-breasted Sunbird Sedge Warbler Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat Western Bluebill Western Violet-backed Sunbird Yellow-fronted Canary Yellow-throated Leaflove

January 27th 2012
Needing an early start to catch the ferry to Barra over the Gambian River for our journey to Georgetown we dragged poor old Bob and Jane out of bed at some ungodly hour for breakfast and were mightily impressed that our mini-bus had transformed into a coach when our new driver Aladdin and his renovated 22 seat “Skylark” arrived. By Gambian standards this was luxury and boy did we benefit from having plenty of spare room for our gear and a window seat each.
Once we were parked up inside the dock awaiting the ferry’s arrival we stood on the quayside adding a few tern and gull species before boarding and heading for the top deck which gave us panoramic views of our crossing. The highlights were a couple of Skua species, Royal Tern and 100s of African Palm Swift flying low so you could actually appreciate what they looked like as normally they are so high overhead.
Once Aladdin had eased past the disembarking traffic and passengers we left Barra be hind and headed east though we hadn’t gone far when a call for a comfort stop produced over 60+ roosting Bruce’s Green Pigeon.

Bruce's Green Pigeon by Colin Potter
Further on Mus spotted a helmet-shrike and as we charged off the coach we had excellent roadside views of 2 White Crested Helmet-shrike along with 2 African Golden Oriole and 2 African Green Pigeon. We continued our journey stopping at various wetlands which produced many new species for the trip and one or two lifers for the group. The best were Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark, Cut-throat, Southern Grey Shrike, Sudan Golden Sparrow and Yellow-billed Oxpecker at Kerewan, Pin-tailed Whydah at Batung Wetland and Kaur Wetland produced many species including Kentish Plover, Kittlitz's Plover, Knob-billed Duck and Spur-winged Goose. In between theses locations we also had from the coach Exclamatory Paradise-Whydah, 2 Northern Anteater-Chat, Lanner Falcon and 3 Ruppell's Vulture.
As the long journey continued we were soon jolted out of our fatigue and slumber by Mus announcing we are going to look for coursers and bustards. Having spread out and with Lamin on point duty and Mus using his knowledge of the area we managed to find 4 Temminck's Courser, Black-bellied Bustard, 2 White-bellied Bustard and a Savile's Bustard so it was a dusty sweaty, smiling gang that returned to the coach totally buggered but most experiencing 4 life ticks from one area - magic.

Chestnut-backed Sparrow-lark by Colin Potter

The rest of the journey was a mixture of fortunes such as failing to find any Egyptian Plovers and seeing 3 more White-bellied Bustard before arriving just before dusk at Georgetown. We needed to be on the south bank and could see our accommodation but we were the 11th vehicle awaiting the ferry which could only take four at a time so while we waited we looked for Pearl-spotted Owlet finding two. Eventually we crossed in the dark allowing stunning view of the clear sky’s including a few constellations I had not seen before. Once we arrived at the Baobalong Camp we freshened up then it was out again for a look for nightjars and owls finding one unidentified nightjar species and hearing a Verreaux's Eagle-Owl.

African Golden Oriole ,African Green Pigeon, African Oriole, African Silverbill, Arctic Skua, Avocet, Black Rumped Waxbill, Black Tern, Black-bellied Bustard, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Bush Petronia, Chestnut-backed Sparrow-lark, Collared Pratincole, Common Redstart, Common Tern, Cormorant, Curlew Sandpiper, Cut-throat, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Exclamatory Paradise-Whydah, Four-banded Sandgrouse, Grasshopper Buzzard, House Martin, Kentish Plover, Kittlitz's Plover, Knob-billed Duck, Little Green Bee-Eater, Little Stint, Little Tern, Marsh Sandpiper, Med Gull Montagu’s Harrier, Northern Anteater-Chat, Northern Wheatear, Pygmy Sunbird, Pied Hornbill, Pin-tailed Whydah, Pomarine Skua, Purple Swamphen, Quail, Red-necked Falcon, Royal Tern, Ruff, Ruppell's Vulture, Sand Partridge, Savile's Bustard, Southern Grey Shrike, Spur-winged Goose, Sudan Golden Sparrow, Temminck's Courser, Western Bonelli's Warbler, White Crested Helmetshrike, White-backed Pelican, White-bellied Bustard, White-winged black Tern, Yellow-billed Oxpecker.

January 28h 2012
The intensity of dawn to dusk birding and long travel days can start to wear you down so it was very welcome just to walk 200 yards from our accommodation down to the rivers edge and board our motorized covered canoe for a trip along the north bank at first light.

We soon spread out but I was unfortunately not on the bank side when a shout of hippo had me racing to the other side but too late. Those on the ball were lucky enough to see its nostrils and ears and hear it snort before submerging –damn. New trip birds came thick and fast with plenty of activity in the river-side vegetation where we had at least 14 kingfishers of three species, 6 Swamp Flycatcher, 4 African fish Eagles and 2 Striated Heron amongst the many herons and egrets.

African Fish Eagle

The main highlights was the 10 Red-throated Bee-Eater a must see species when up river along with the 2 elusive African Fin-foot hiding amongst the mangrove roots, a close fly by Long-crested Eagle that flew over then perched allowing good views and the large amount of Turtle Dove’s we flushed as we chugged along at a leisurely pace. The icing on the cake was on our way back when I took an interest in a small clump of trees covered in vines and somehow managed to spot what I thought was an owl roosting. The canoe turned round and a closer look showed a Verreaux's Eagle-Owl just sitting quietly half way up – magic.

African Fin-foot by Colin Potter

Once back on dry land we finished packing, loaded the coach and left Georgetown for Bansang Quarry further up country where we had more Red-throated Bee-Eater plus Cinnamon-breasted Bunting and European Golden Oriole added to our trip list before heading back wast to Tendaba. Though a lot better since being re-graded there’s no luxury like the north road tarmac and this road is very dusty and a boneshaker but somehow you get use to it and a number of stops produced more children than birds at some locations.

Aladdin our superb driver who never stopped smiling and one of the nicest guys you can ever meet and was always a favourite with the children - not surprising since he has 11 of his own.

Highlight from the coach was Rufous Crowned Roller at the junction for Georgetown when we slowed for a military check point and at the village of Fula Bantang a Donkey carcass attracted 2 Ruppell's and 18 White-backed Vulture while overhead a Beaudouin's Snake-Eagle circled though out our short stay. Nearby a Marabou Stork colony had at least 40 of these big ugly beasties

Marabou Stork

Arrived at Tendaba where Dave and I had the local ladies in stitches as our room allocation meant we were expected to share a bed but that but was soon sorted out and we appreciated the running water to freshen up which was a lacking at Georgetown.
Once we had gathered ourselves we were out again to nearby Kiang West looking for Abyssinian Ground-Hornbill but we not quick enough when one was seen by Mus going back in to the forest undergrowth then we eventually made our way to an ideal spot for nightjars and waited for the sun to go down. After a short wait we managed at least 4 Standard-winged Nightjars but the there show was stolen by the 2 calling African Scops Owl with one appearing in adjacent tree.

African Fin-foot, African Fish-Eagle, African Scops Owl, Beaudouin's Snake-Eagle, Broad-billed Roller, Brown Snake Eagle, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, European Golden Oriole, Fine-spotted Woodpecker, Greater Honeyguide, Grey Hornbill, Long-crested Eagle, Marabou Stork, Oriole Warbler, Purple Glossy Starling, Red-rumped Swallow, Red-throated Bee-eater, Ruddy Turnstone, Rufous-crowned Roller, Standard-winged Nightjar, Striated Heron, Swamp Flycatcher, Turtle Dove, White-backed Vulture,

Jan 29th to 31st 2012

January 28th 2012

We had another relaxing canoe trip to start the day exploring the balons opposite Tendaba just as the sun was coming up. Presumably it was a large fish that breached the surface as we crossed and caused some brief excitement hoping it was a dolphin then on approaching the first balon a small bat was still out hunting among the mangrove roots. Again kingfishers were plentiful with over 30 seen and at this hour a lot of species were just thinking about leaving their roost sites so species such as Herons, Egrets and African Darters were seen in good numbers.

African Darter

Palm-nut Vulture

Abyssinian Roller by Colin Potter

As we continued creeping along we managed to find a number of passerines feeding in the undergrowth like African Blue Flycatcher, plenty of Mouse-brown Sunbirds, Senegal Batis, Northern Crombec and Yellow-crowned Bishop while a woodpecker species was eventually tracked down and found to be another lifer for me-Golden-tailed Woodpecker. In the clearer areas we had Woolly-necked Stork and Montagu’s Harrier while overhead we kept an eye out for the longed for Martial Eagle that had been present but it wasn’t to be but did find a Mosque Swallow. Some of the specialised birds of this habitat such as White-crowned Night Heron we dipped on but Goliath Heron and African Fin-foot did appear. The Fin-foot decided it would perform and showed for along time allowing plenty of photographs and videos to be taken.

On our return to Tendaba we grabbed a cool drink then went for a walk behind the village managing 8 White Crested Helmetshrike and 60 White-backed Pelican overhead but nothing added to the trip list then on our return we packed and started out for the long journey back to the Halcyon compound, Bijilo. To get back to the main road we followed a number of dirt tracks through Kiang West seeing White-fronted Blackchat but the Lesser Kestrel female put doubt in the minds of a few and never made the list.

As we headed east a comfort stop brought us our first Tree Pipit of the trip and we experienced Mus buying firewood and charcoal for his mum from the roadside as it was cheaper than in the capital. Arrived back tired and dusty but soon perked up with a hot shower and food and as the gang drifted away for beddy byes, Dennis and I had a Barn Owl flying over the compound and a White-faced Scops Owl was heard later on in the evening.

African Blue Flycatcher, African Darter, Barn Owl, European Swallow, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Mosque Swallow, Mouse-brown Sunbird, Northern Crombec, Senegal Batis, Swallow-tailed Bee-Eater, Tree Pipit, White fronted Blackchat, White-throated Bee-Eater, Woolly-necked Stork, Yellow-crowned Bishop.

January 30th 2012
Our last full day in the field started at Farasuto a local wood near Mus’es home village which the local community had turned in to reserve where there was a stunning roosting Greyish Eagle Owl which had taken up residence. Earlier we had spent some time under the canopy where we managed to see Oriole Warbler, Green Crombec and Grey Headed Bristle Bill from the 60 or so species recorded here.

Next stop was Faraba Banta where we added Copper Sunbird to the trip from a tree dripping with sunbirds before moving on to have our packed lunch at Tanji Beach. – Not the prettiest location due to the local fishing industry but there were plenty to see while sheltering from the heat of the day and we managed a few species not previously seen on the trip Bar-tailed Godwit, Caspian Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Sanderling and after a long wait I finally caught up with Kelp Gull. Plenty of other gull species seen here and 2 Ospreys.
Once rested we were back on the move this time to Turjering and managed Cardinal Woodpecker, Klaas's Cuckoo, Northern Puffback, Vieillots Barbet, Common Swift and Whinchat amongst a wide range of species.

January 31st 2012

Speckled Pigeon

African Mourning Dove by Colin Potter

We were not due at Yumdum Airport till 3pm so chilled out by the pool enjoying the wares of a travelling stall holder we had invited round to buy gifts which saved us from the hassle of the markets

The final group pic then homeward bound to -2