Its worth a visit
25/03/2011 Marrakissa our 2nd trip
One of the nice things about birding in the Gambia is that wherever you decide to go.you can almost guarantee that you are going to see plenty of birds on route to your destination.
Wec stopped off on our second visit to Marrakissa to pick up some provisions both for the guide and driver plus some water for myself.As we were being served at a little shop/compound we were suddenly aware of some comotion outside the shop and a great deal of panic amongst the local livestock.
As we rushed outside we were amazed to see a falcon on the ground clutching a small chicen which was struggling to get free of the birds clutches.allmst immediately the shopkeeper stopped his buisness grabbed a sweeping brush and went hell for leather after the bird which by now we had identified as a Red Necked falcon.
After succesfully frightening the bird off tthe shopkeeper returned and explained that the falcon had been hanging around for several days and had allready killed one chicken two days previousely.
After a brief exchange we continued on our way and reached Marrakissa at around 09:15 hours.We decided to approach the lodge from the oppositte direction from our last trip so we copuld could come on to the rice fields and try and surprise the Black Crakes and try to get pictures of birds before they dashed for cover.
Alighting from our vehicle we immediately noticed a party of 12 raptors circling overhead and at first we assumed all these to be Hooded Vultures.However after closer scrutiny we realised that at least 3 of these birds were immature African Harier hawks whilst a fourth bird appeared very pale underneath and was much broader in the wing.After observing the characteristic Hooded appearence and the diagnostic dark carpal joints we soon realised that this was our first Short Toed Eagle of the trip.We were able to watch the bird for about five minutes before it started to dispatch itself away from the other raptors and slowly began working its way to the south.
Back on the ground we soon came across our first feeding flock when on the track before us was a party of 35 Red Billed Firefinches,18 Bronze Winged mannikins and 11 Orange Billed Waxbills.Meanwhile in the first real area of forest 8 brown Babblers,7 Purple Glossy Starlings,11 Long Tailed Glossy Starlings and 5 Black Capped Babbler were feeding noisily.Single Lesser Honeyguide and 2 Grey Woodpecker with another Greater Honeyguide were in the next clump and aftr about two minutes of impersonating the Pearl Spotted Owlet call we were indeed joined also by two Owlets.
We came upon the ricefields aroiund 10:30 hours but as before the 3 African Black Crakes ran straight under the wooden bridge and nothing we could do would tempt them to come out.
We noticed a mediuim sizes raptor sat in a dead tree some three hundred yards away and after identifying it as an immature Brown Snake Eagle we managed to get reasonably close to it and get some pictures(see photo gallery).
8 Wire Tailed Swallows were perched on wires just ouside the lodge some three of which were very young birds still being fed by their parents.We arrived at the lodge for a quick lunch at around 11:30 hours.
The feeding area at the lodge was pretty quiet compared to our last visit with just 22 Village Weavers hanging around the watering buckets.Much of the activity was dominated by a rather bold Ground Squirrel which was constantly returning to drinj at the main drinking pot.
After a disapointing session during lunchtime at the drinking vessels we departed via the small gate at the southern point of the compound to look for birds along the river bank.
Our progress was halted momentarily when a large Monitor Lizzard came out of the shadows and walked across our path on its way to the stream.As we stood waiting its departure we noted both Malachite and Blue breasted Kingfisher sitting motionless on nearby shrubs staring intensly into the water for their next meal.
3 Grey Hornbills wee our first birds outside the compound and these were soon joined by a single Black Wood Hoopoe and 3 Bearded barbets.
We tried a short burst of the Pearl Spotted Owlet call and immmediately both Slendid Sunbird and 4 Beautifull Sunbird arrived to investigate.
These were quickly joined by 5 Common Bullbuls and a single White Crowned Robin Chat.
Despite another session of doing the Owlet call birding was disintivly quite in this area of the woods and we decididto head off towards the rice fields and to try our luck again with the Black Crakes.
Only 2 Black Crakes were out in the open on the first field thopugh there was 3 Jacana,1 Hammerkop and 8 Purple Glossy Starlinghs feeding in one corner of the field.
A single Violet Turaco flew across the field and in to a nearby Fig Tree were it gave us tantalising views of its superb plumage as it worked its way to the far side of the copse.
Despite the prescence of 5 Blue Bellioed Rollers,4 Yellow billed Shrikes and 8 Purple Glossy Starlings,not to mentio 5 Yellow Fronted Canaries feeding on the ground from the rice field fence we decided to call it a day and head back to Fajarra.