MARAKISSA BUSH TRACK AND WETLANDS – FARA BANTA BUSH TRACK AND BIRD HIDE
WEATHER: the usual – hot, dry and humid. 35C
After our great day out yesterday, today was always going to be anticlimactic whatever we chose to do, sure enough it was.
Our drive to Marakissa was halted by Modou when he spotted an African Green Pigeon sitting in the top of tree, our first sighting of this fairly common species.
Afrcan Green Pigeon - record taken by Tony Moore
The bush track around Marakissa’s open woodland can hold some great species, for example, both Red-shouldered Cuckooshrike and White-breasted Cuckooshrike are regulars there and a host of other goodies can be found.
Our first find was Yellow White-eye, with a group of small birds such as Mannikins, Weavers and Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu. We then bumped into a party of Turaco’s, both Violet and Green were present, some of the group had excellent views of both species.
We then spent some time trying to lure out a Leaf-love, we never saw it perched but had it in flight several times. We saw other species along the track such as Bearded Barbet, but generally it was rather quiet.
We ended up near a bridge over river and some wetlands on either side of the road. Walking into the wetlands produced quite a few sighting including our third new species of the trip in the shape of an Allen’s Gallinule, this bird was well hidden in the reeds but with patience it did show for us all.
Lots of wetland species were seen in a couple of areas of open water: we saw the Black Heron performing its ‘unbrella’ fishing technique, along with a malachite Kingfisher, Senegal Thich-knee, Wattled Plover, White-faced Whistling Ducks, herons, egrets, cormorants and darters.
'Umbrella bird' - Black Heron - taken by Tony Moore
Around 11:30am we got back on the bus and drove to the nearest village along the main road to buy lunch supplies. Then a twenty minute drive found us at Fara Banta Bush Track, a long drive along a bumpy track led us deep into open forest where local guides have set up a hide with seating and a large pool for birds to come to drink.
Spotted Honeyguide - juvenile
We ate lunch, we spent 2-3 hours there watching a good variety of species which included Spotted Honeyguide (juvenile), Black-rumped, Lavender and Orange-cheeked Waxbills, Bronze Mannikins, Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, Firefinch, Black-winged Bishops and plenty other weaver species.
The star bird, the one we had come to see most of all, was the beautiful Black-faced Firefinch, a pair of them turned up several times, what a stunning looking bird.
Black-faced Firefinch (male) with a Black-winged Bishop, a Lavender Waxbill and a Little Waever - by Tony Moore
a cracking shot of the Black-faced Firefinch - taken by Tony Moore
At 4pm we went for a walk along the forest tracks, boy was that hard work, we hardly saw a thing! Eventually, Modou whistled out a small group of Grey-headed Bush Shrikes. They flew over us and dashed about in the trees but we never got the scope on them.
We turned around and slowly walked back to the bus and Beatrice lagged behind us, she usually does that and finds some good birds. This time she photographed a Senegal Batis and showed us when she got back onto the bus, it was a new bird for trip list!!
So, as we got into the final day of the trip we have logged 191 species, we have a morning’s birding left tomorrow.