Its worth a visit

A day at Marrakissa on 23/11/2011

04/04/2011 17:29

 As we had decided beforehand that this trip to the Gambia was not going to involve a trip to anywhere up river we instead planned to visit Marrakissa on at least two occassions to try and add new species to our photo gallery and in this aspect we turned out to be succesfull.

However our first task on arriving at Marrakissa turned out to be rather unexpected as we immediatly came across two young men carrying arather menacing looking catapult whichthey were obviously going to use to kill birds for food.

We spent at least half an hour talking to these youths explaininmg the reasons why they should not be killing birds for food and we thought ourselves quite satisfied that we had don our best to ease them away from this practice.We disarmed the two youths after explaininmg to them that their village was crecieving subsidies to encourage them not to kill the local birdlife or indeed not to do damage to the local habitat.This is the secont time in 3 years we have had to lecture local youths about killing birds in this way.The last occassion being in the Kotu area around the sewage ponds near the Badala Park hotel.

Our first birds were 8 Red Chested Swallows hawking above the first small rice field which also contained 4 African Black Crakes,2 African Jacana,1 Hammerkop and 2 Piak Piak.The African Crakes didnt seem to mind the prescence of three female rice workers but on our approach they immediately shot for cover.2 adult Palm Nut Vultures circed overhead with 2 Dark Chanting Goshawks and 3 African Harrier Hawks also in the same airspace.3 Fork tailed Drongo,1 Abyssinian Roller,4 Blue Bellied Rollers occupied the rice fields wooden border fence and a single Lizzard Buzzard was staring very intensly from a nearby fig tree(see photo gallery.

In between the first and second rice fields is a small wooden bridge and  African Paradise Flycatchers were feeding very spectaculary from a very dense bush which also contained 5 Brown Babblers and 8 Bronze Winged Mannekins.

2 Black Capped Babbler were sat on the old wooden bridge between the rice fields.There was plenty of Red Eyed Doves around and also 2 African Mourning Doves sat doing courtship in a nearby dead tree(photogallery).Next up came a Lesser Blue eared Glossy Starling in company with 4 Purple glossy and 9 Long Tailed Glossy Starlings.

We came across a medium sizes feeding flock of birds in the middle of a fairly open patch of woodland heading towards the lodge and this contained single Greater Honeyguide and Lesser Honeyguide, 6 White Crested Helmet Shrikes,6 Brown Babblers,3 Senegal Parrots,single Willow warbler,2 Grey Woodpeckers,6 Fork Tailed Drongos,3 African Golden Orioles(photo gallery).

Our best find amongst this flock was a single White Breasted Cuckoo Shrike which retreated to the top of a large tree but not before I was able to get some shots of it.When we started doing the Pearl Spotted Owlet call to the bird it was straight away joined in the tree by an owlet(see photo.)After noting the presence of 14 Red Billed Firefinches on our path to the lodge we decided to take an early lunch at the lodge and update or bird notes.

Whilst lunching at the lodge we were able to observe birds coming in to drink at the water pots and these included Splendid Sunbird,Lesser Honeyguide.Snowy Crowned Robin Chat,around 15 Village Weavers,4 Brown Babblers,16 Bronze Winged Mannikins and several Purple Glossy Starlings(see photo gallery).

After lunch we returned to the area were we had seen the feeding flock and we straight away came across a superb Northern Puffback.In the same bush was another Lesser Honeyguide,8 Wire Tailed Swallows, single African Paradise Flycatcher,5 Red Cheeked Cordon-Bleu and 7 Long Tailed Glossy Starlings.

3 African Golden Orioles were still in the area but there was no sign of the Cucoo Shrike.

2 Shikra were in display flight over the wood and we flushed a single Double Spurred Francolin and 4 Wattled Plover as we approached the rice fields.

Things were generaly much quieter in the afternoon but raptors were very active in the skies and we came across an African Hawk Eagle which settled for a while in a large rather leafy tree giving us a rare opportunity for a picture which although not brilliant was gladly accepted.