Monthly Archives: April 2017

St Aidans

A new site today and a relatively new one just opened up by the RSPB , located near the Fairburn Ings Site, so what would I find. I was advised to use the reedbed trail first as it was my first visit, it is a big place with many trails.

Geese were the stand out bird with many Greylags about with the odd Canadas, Meadow Pipits were picked up on the grassy banking using the fence posts so were easy found, it was here that i picked up my first Sedge Warbler of the day, then they were like buses, but during the day I had may a good views of these summer migrants, and of course Reed Warblers were close by given the change to compare the calls together.

Black headed Gulls are in abundance, but you could also pick up Herring, Lesser Black backed and Common Gulls in and amongst. Wildfowl about were Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler, and plenty of Pochard. 

At the trail cross roads I picked up a few Common Terns, nice to see these back, also a Male Reed Bunting was in fine song here and gave fantastic views. Half way round now and the one of the birds I was hoping for today came into view, but at a distance, but after watching for a while I had great views of 3 Black necked Grebes as they came swimming by. I had now virtually made my way round and was near the visitor centre again when I picked up a Female marsh Harrier coming over the ridge, I watched as she sailed effortlessly by.

After dinner I decided to walk in the opposite direction from this morning on to Lowther Hill, I think it was, sun was now out and so were a few Orange tip butterflies along with my first sighting of the year for Small Tortoiseshell. The birds had started singing again Willow Warblers, Chiffchaff, Robin and Wren. I had now found myself near the river where I was listening to Blackcaps, then a different call very similar ever so slightly different and like Reed/Sedge hard to separate, this one was a  Garden Warbler and it took me a while to pin it down and it only gave a brief appearance, but I’m glad I persevered because here I also found Lesser Whitethroat and Common Whitethroat in the same place along with Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff, and a Bee Fly. On the river were Mute swan and a Little Egret

A great day many species seen and now a feeling that summer has returned

Birds Seen : Blackcap, Black headed Gull, Black necked Grebe, Buzzard, Canada Goose, Crow, Chiffchaff, Common Gull, Common Tern, Coot, Cormorant, Gadwall, Garden Warbler, Great Crested Grebe, Grey Heron, Greylag Goose, Herring Gull, Jackdaw, LApwing, Lesser Black backed Gull, Lesser Whitethroat, Linnet, Little Egret, Long tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh Harrier, Meadow Pipit, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Pheasant, Pochard, Redshank, Reed Bunting, Reed Warbler, Robin, Sand Martin, Sedge Warbler, Shelduck, Shoveler, Starling, Stock Dove, Tufted Duck, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler

Reed Bunting

Male Reed Bunting

Black Necked Grebe

Black Necked Grebe

Spurn Point

Early start to the each coast and the migration hot spot in Yorkshire the mighty Spurn Point but was it to deliver today.

We arrived 9:30am to reports of the Subalpine Warbler remaining and in the Canal Scrap area, so that was our first port of call, parking up in the Canal Hide car park. It became clear after asking around that the last place the said bird was seen was viewable from the Canal Scrap Hide, so that’s where we went, 40 mins later and no sign, but we added to the day list whilst searching, Little Grebe, Mallard, Blackcap ♂♀, Willow Warbler, Reed Bunting. We decided on tea and cake back at the car and inadvertently, by yours truly, attracted the Subalpine Warbler to a nearby bush (won’t say how, but nobody complained), this gave many people over the next few hours great views of a very attractive bird.

Next was a walk around the triangle picking up on Lesser Black backed Gull, Redshank, Curlew, Knot and Brent Geese, a few Peacock Butterflies were also out now, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Starling, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Swallow, Sand Martins, Meadow Pipit, Oystercatchers were all seen, and a distant Wheatear

We decided on a call out to Kilnsea Wetlands , after we picked the car up, here we saw Avocet, Shelduck, Teal, Gadwall, Wigeon, Little Egret, Greylag Goose, whilst here we got the news of the Black Brant (a new bird for me) on beacon ponds, after a little walk and scanning thru the Brent Goose flock we eventually picked up the American visitor, a sub species of the Brent Goose, slightly different neck markings and a darker bird on the neck and back

It was now 4pm so we decided on finishing at Spurn and popping in at North Cave Wetlands on the journey back home.

Birds of Spurn Area : Avocet, Blackbird, Blackcap, Black headed Gull, Blue Tit, Brent Goose, Black Brant, Crow, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coot, Curlew, Dunnock, gadwall, Golden Plover, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Greylag Goose, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Kestrel, Knot, Lesser Black backed Gull, Linnet, Little Egret, Magpie, Mallard, Meadow Pipit, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Peregrine, Redshank, reed Bunting, Robin, Shelduck, Shoveler, Skylark, Starling, Subalpine Warbler, Swallow, Teal, Wheatear, Wigeon, Willow Warbler, Woodpigeon, Wren

An hour and 15 later we were at North Cave Wetlands on Dryham lane looking at Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Little Ringed Plovers, Redshank, Mediterranean Gulls, a distant Buzzard, Black headed Gulls (lots), Sand Martins and Swallows overhead. A walk around the Perimeter Path gave us views over the ponds where a Male Mandarin was seen, along with plenty of Tufted Duck, a Reed Warbler was also heard, a Green Woodpecker was heard. At the turret hide more Black headed Gulls, Ruff, Shelduck, Teal, Pochard, Rock Dove/Feral Pigeon and  Herring Gulls and more Avocet along with a single Pied Wagtail. Back on the trail a Male Blackcap was found along with Goldfinch

Birds of North Cave : Avocet, Blackcap, Black headed Gull, Buzzard, Crow, Chaffinch, Coot, Curlew, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunnock, Gadwall, Goldfinch, Great Crested Grebe, Great Tit, Green Woodpecker, Greylag Goose, Herring Gull, Lapwing, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Little Ringed Plover, Magpie, Mallard, Mandarin Duck, Mediterranean Gull, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Pied Wagtail, Pochard, Redshank, Reed Warbler, Robin, Rock Dove/Feral Pigeon, Ruff, Sand Martin, Shelduck, Shoveler, Swallow, Teal, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Willow Warbler

Avocet at Kilnsea Wetlands

Avocet at Kilnsea Wetlands

Old Moor eventually

A day out back on UK soil after week back out in the Gambia, big change in temperature but there was a few good birds to be had locally, so I headed on out.

First port of call was the cheesegate nab were the usual celebrities at this time of year stop off on route to breeding grounds else where, but on my travel here I picked up a very sizeable movement of Fieldfares in the approach fields. They took some finding but I eventually tracked them down, 2 Male Ring Ouzel,  seen once again in the usual field. It took me a second passing to find them, they must have been in a small furrow hiding out of view. Other birds here were a couple of Grey Partridge, nice to see these, newly arrived Willow warblers calling away, Pied wagtails flying overhead, Mistle Thrush, a Common Buzzard calling but not located, same with a Green Woodpecker. In the fields Stock Dove and Woodpigeon, with Blackbirds, Dunnock and Robins here and there.

I called in at Ingbirchworth Reservoir but firstly I stopped off at the airfield where I picked up a single male Wheatear, on at the reservoir I picked up a couple of Little Ringed Plovers cruising the dam wall, along with a couple of Coots, over the waters it was nice to pick up a few Swallows and Sand Martins, which I’d seen the previous week in the Gambia, on the water a great looking male Goldeneye was still with us, and a beautiful looking Yellowhammer calling with its distinctive “little bit of bread and no cheese” from the top of a tree near the dam wall.

On then to Old Moor and my first port of call was going to be the Wath Ings hide, on the way down Chiffchaff and Willow Warblers were calling away, making it easy to separate these two species, then a call of a Blackcap near to the hide, this male bird was calling away in a difficult place but eventually I got some brief but good views of my first for the year. In the hide the highlight were a small group of Black tailed Godwits and another calling Green Woodpecker. Wader scrap hide held no waders as the name might have you believing but a fine pair of Mediterranean Gulls was a nice find. A friendly Robin back on green lane was a nice highlight as I made my way to the Family Hide, from here Redshank (which should have been next door) and more Sand Martin (using the artificial banking), Shelduck and Oystercatchers passed thru.

The sun was now shinning so I made my way to the garden picking up a male Orange tip butterfly on the way and a very difficult Green veined White Butterfly, Orange tips were also found at the garden but as always proved difficult to photograph. Out on the TPT I found a few Speckled woods and a Peacock Butterfly, so the insect year had truly kicked off again also.

Birds at Ingbirchworth area ; Blackbird, Black headed Gull, Blue Tit, Buzzard, Canada Goose, Crow, Chaffinch, Coot, Curlew, Dunnock, Fieldfare, Goldeneye, Goldfinch, Green Woodpecker, Grey Heron, Grey Partridge, Lapwing, Linnet, Little Ringed Plover, Magpie, Mallard, Meadow Pipit, Mistle Thrush, Pheasant, Pied Wagtail, Ring Ouzel, Robin, Sand Martin, Starling, Stock Dove, Swallow, Tufted Duck, Wheatear, Willow Warbler, Woodpigeon

Birds at Old Moor RSPB site : Blackbird, Blackcap, Black headed Gull, Black tailed Godwit, Canada Goose, Crow, Chiffchaff, Coot, Cormorant, Gadwall, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great Crested Grebe, Great Tit, Green Woodpecker, Grey Heron, Greylag Goose, Herring Gull, Jackdaw, Kestrel, Lapwing, Lesser Black backed Gull, Linnet, Magpie, Mallard, Mediterranean Gull, Mistle Thrush, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Pochard, Redshank, Sand Martin, Shelduck, Shoveler, Starling, Teal, Tufted Duck, Willow Warbler, Woodpigeon

Butterflies : Green veined White, Orange tip, Peacock, Speckled Wood

A few Pictures

Orange Tip

Male Orange Tip

Ring Ouzel

Ring Ouzel


Farakunku Lodges Area March 22-29th

Back to a place where I love to go and be with wildlife, a weeks visit this time and back to the Farakunku Lodges, out at Tujering.

A couple of days to settle back in to the Gambia the culture and the heat. I stayed around the lodge for a couple of days before days out ensued, walking around the area birds were numerous with me encountering 62 species in total for the week. Highlights for the week for me were Scarlet Chested, Splendid and Variable Sunbirds, always like watching Yellow billed Shrikes and Blue bellied Rollers, Bats, Dragonflies and Butterflies around the pool and of course the noisy Yellow Crowned Gonolek

Splendid Sunbird (Farakunku Lodges)

Splenid Sunbird

Abuko and Lamin Rice Fields  24th March

My first trip out, organised by Farakunku and with Masanneh Sanyang Bird Guide cost was £55 for the day, lunch not included.

We arrived at Abuko Nature Reserve at 8:30am, picking up Red Colobus monkeys in the Car Park. we made our way into the reserve, after taking photos of the monkeys African Jacana were easy to see from the first bridge along with Black Crowned Nights Herons and Hammerkop. Our first stop of course was the centre hide were you can get an elevated view of the swamp, Nile Crocodile were lazing on the banks of the swamp, Palm Nut Vulture, Squacco Heron, Western Grey Plantain Eaters, Fanti Saw Wing overhead.

We moved further into the forest seeing Snowy Crowned Robin Chat, Little Greenbul, African Palm Swift, the find of the day was a splendid African Goshawk hunting the forest (we saw this bird on a few occasions as we made our way around the forest, Western Bluebill was also another great find.

After a great time at Abuko we called at the Lamin Rice Fields (after dinner at the Lodge) here we saw a fantastic birds as we explored the small area, Pearl Spotted Owlet, Little Swift, Little Bee Eater, Squacco Heron, Striated Heron, Black Egret, Western reef Heron, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Sacred Ibis, Orange Cheecked Waxbill, Sedge Warbler to name only a few….brilliant area

African Jacana

African Jacana

Calypso Corner near Bund Road 25th March

A tourist day today on the cape point picking up a few presents from the wood carving market but then on to the Calypso Beach Bar where they have a large pond area where you can chill have some lunch and watch the wildlife go by, really enjoyed this spot

Plenty of crocs, Caspian Terns coming in for water, skimming as they did so , Pied Kingfishers, Common and Green Sandpipers. I decided also to take a walk along the beach to a little inlet area, where I saw Whimbrel, Greenshank, Pelican, Lesser Crested Tern, Royal Tern, Grey Plover, not much but a great little spot to chill out, we all need that

Calypso Beach Bar

Pied Kingfisher

Pied Kingfisher

Kartong Bird Reserve 26th March

Map Kartong

The big day one I was looking forward to, my day was to be spent with Colin Cross again who would be guiding me around the area. The day couldn’t have started better as soon as I arrived Colin called me over to the veranda from where he hade been watching African Water Rail, and Allens Gallinule to some picking up but eventually had some great and long views of both species, Kartong delivers again.

Out onto the reserve to pick up Abyssinian Roller, Tree Pipit, Crested Lark (Heard Only), Yellow Wagtails (Iberiae), Grey Headed Kingfisher, European Turtle Dove, plenty of Swift Species going thru (Pallid/Common),

Dinner was again near the Allahein River where after we explored by boat, this is where the birds came in the tide was low so we saw lots of Royal and Caspian Terns along with Gull billed Terns, Slender Billed Gulls, Little Stints in big numbers, Redshank, Oystercatchers, Greenshank, Whimbrels, Turnstone, Common Sandpiper, Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Curlew Sandpipers and the list goes on (For a full list see the link below)

Royal Terns with Slender Billed Gulls

Royal Terns1

Tujering  27th March

Today was the day I was hoping for the hoped for bird of the Holiday and my guide delivered, we were reward with excellent views of Temminck’s Coursers, along with young. They were continually on the move scurrying amongst the vegetation and being difficult to photograph, it was only when I gave in that I accidentally caught site of a bird nearby stood still, I filled my boots, beautiful bird and one happy fellow.

Temmincks Courser

Temmincks Courser

Other bird highlights were Woodchat Shrike, Brown Backed Woodpecker, Red Winged Warbler, Common Wheatear, Senegal Batis, and White fronted Black Chat

Brufut Woods

Our next move was on to Brufut Woods where the highlights were Long tailed Nightjars, Verreaux Eagle Owl, Yellow White Eye, Swallow tailed Bee Eater and White Faced Scops Owl

Long tailed Nightjar

Long tailed Nightjar

Back to Farakunku then for lunch and a nap before setting out again at about 4pm for an evening back at Tujering, no Coursers this time but Black shouldered Kite, Whistling Cisticola, Osprey, Yellow Wagtail, Chestnut Crowned Sparrow Weaver all made up for it

Gunjur Project 28th March

A new place/site for me and an excellent place it turned out to be. I had arranged a easy day today before setting off back tomorrow so was only out for the morning and was to be escorted around by Lamin the warden, just seeing the area on arrival I was amazed at the amount of Herons/Egrets and Waders about.

We started our morning near the water’s edge easily picking out Great White Egrets, Little Egrets, Western Reef Herons, Black Crowned Night Herons, Squacco Herons, White Faced Whistling Duck, Black Winged Stilts, Grey headed Gulls, Caspian and Royal Terns, and a new for the Gambia, Great Cormorant

Lamin then took me further in to the reserve where we saw the elusive Greater Painted Snipes and Black Crakes, I managed a couple of dark pictures as the snipes were mainly among the reeds. Lamin then took me even further in to the reserve where we found Pygmy Kingfisher and Woodland Kingfisher, 2 Kingfishers missing from the holiday list this time, we also had better views of Greenshank and Black Winged Stilts from this advantage point

We then heeded back and moved on to another part of the reserve where we sat and picked out the birds, like Green, Common and Wood Sandpipers, Redshank, Turnstone, Sanderling, Grey Plover, Spur Winged Plover , Giant, Pied and Blue Breasted Kingfishers, Pink Backed and Great White Pelicans, Palm Nut Vulture, we were having a good time. Overhead I managed to pick out Little Swifts, African Palm Swifts and House and Sand Martins. Walking back we found Yellow Crowned Gonolek and Snowy Crowned Robin Chat. 

An excellent site very much well worth a visit and do support this project



Sadly that is the end of my 5th visit to the Gambia hopefully it won’t be long until the next one

An Extensive lists of the birds from the various sites can be seen here at Gambia Visit 2017, with times visited etc along with the Gambian Visit Itinerary

Photos from my visit which includes Birds, Butterflies, Dragonflies etc can be visited at my Flickr site here Flickr Page