A banner.full


WEATHER:  ditto from yesterday.

Today we went south to Kartong, you can’t go much further south before crossing the border into Senegal, the road stops just south of Kartong town.

Along the way we stopped to photograph one of three Lizard Buzzards that sat on wires close to the road, we also many species, hornbills, plantain-eaters, doves, wood-hoopoes, herons and egrets.

Lizard Buzzard

Black H eron

We turned off the main road into the wetlands just north of Kartong. The wetlands comprise of many pools where sand extraction has taken place, it has developed into a wonderful wildlife habitat. Our first stop just off the main road was on a track that looks down to a small, shallow pool. It was full of birds, four different egrets sat there: Great White, Intermediate, Little and Western Reef Egret, a fifth species sat in the bushes not far away, the Cattle Egret. Also present was our first Black Heron (umbrella bird), Squacco Heron and a few waders: Redshank, Greenshank, Wood and Green Sandpipers and Black-winged Stilt.

Northern Red Bishop found by Sarah and photographed by Tony Moore - note it is ringed, this would have been done at the nearby ringing station

As we pulled away from the pool Sarah (our ‘Bishop’ spotter) called out a Northern Red Bishop – this was great as most of us had missed the sighting yesterday at Lamin Rice Fields.

Next we stopped where much larger pools spread out on either side of the track, we got out of the bus and began a long walk towards the beach. The sky was full of raptors, vultures and pelicans, the pools were full of ducks and the bushes were brimming with passerines, we had a great time.

White-faced Whistling Ducks

We noted our first Chiffchaff and logged a second Olivaceous Warbler in the scrub as we watched various Sunbirds and weavers. Above us dozens of Wire-tailed Swallows, Little and Palm Swifts, Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters and Doves kept us busy. We noted several Ospreys flying over, also Harrier-hawks, a Shikra and lots of White-faced Whistling Ducks.

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater taken by Tony Moore

Kingfishers kept us busy too:  I saw Blue-breasted in the hotel grounds this morning and today we added another 5 species!! The best was Giant Kingfisher, we saw a pair of them in flight several times but they always landed out of view. We tracked down our first Malachite Kingfisher, after a little patience, we eventually saw two of them very well. Whilst waiting for the Malachites we found a Pygmy Kingfisher!

Malachite Kingfisher

The Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters came down to splash in the water right in front of us, the photographers were made up. Modou found a raptor in a track-side bush, it was juvenile Harrier-hawk with missing tail feathers.

Our search for Dwarf Bittern went unrewarded but we did find some other goodies such as Purple Swamphen, Purple Heron, Senegal Thick-knee, Spur-winged Lapwing, Pygmy Goose and a couple of Knob-billed Ducks (either female or eclipse males – hence no knobs).

Lesser Blue-eared Starling and a Yellow-billed Shrike

It was cracking on for 11am when we climbed back onto the bus, our next stop was at the ringing station just a little further along the track. Unfortunately, the ringers had just packed up for the day, they were happy to tell us they had ringed a Dwarf Bittern earlier!! Doh!!

the bueatiful but tiny Pygmy Goose - taken by Tony Moore

The sky was now full of Hooded Vultures, groups of Pink-backed Pelicans, Ospreys, swifts, swallows and bee-eaters. We left the ringers and made our way to the beach just a short drive down the track. Under a beach-shelter we bought a cold drink and enjoyed the sea-breeze.

White-fronted PLovers - by Tony Moore

a third bird taken by me

For the next couple of hours we made our way along the shoreline heading south to look for gulls, terns and waders. Our target bird was the White-fronted Plover and would you believe that it was the first wader we saw!! It stood with a single Ringed Plover and showed really well. That was magical, we continued further, heading towards a large roosting colony of gulls, terns and waders.

Hooded Vultures on the beach eating a dead Turtle

It was packed with birds, we found more waders around a pool and on a sand bar, we logged many Whimbrel, Turnstones, Grey Plovers, Sanderling and our first Oystercatchers. Common Sandpipers appeared around some beach pools and another two White-fronted Plovers showed well.

At the tern roost we saw a few hundred Caspian Terns with twenty or so Royal Terns, a few Sandwich Terns and one or two Common Terns which appeared tiny standing besides others. The gulls were all Lesser Black-backed, we couldn’t find a Cape Gull which we hoped to find.

Grey Heron keeping an eye on the hundreds of Caspain Terns

A bunch of Hooded Vultures were feeding on a very large dead Turtle on the beach, we also had several Osprey sightings, none appeared to be ringed or wing-tagged. We got back onto our air-conditioned bus, hot and bothered, but it had been a lovely experience and we saw some smashing birds.

Here you can pick out the slightly smaller Royal Terns with Yellow bills and a Sandwich Tern

We got back to the hotel at 2:40pm and decided to call it day, I for one needed food and some rest. We also needed some time for packing because tomorrow we set off for our 5 night upriver excursion.

A Northern Black Flycatcher - a new bird for the list seen in the hotel grounds this afternoon - taken by Tony Moore