16 December 2011

More Birds of The Gambia

While the birds we encountered in The Gambia were not generally as colorful as those in Ecuador, they were certainly no slackers! Prior to our trip, one of the bird species that I was hoping we would see and get some good photo ops was an Abyssinian Roller. We saw this species frequently throughout the trip, but never where I had a reasonable opportunity for good photos. Finally, as we were headed back to the coast from our upriver sojourn, we were just passing through a small village when one of our group spotted this roller sitting near the road on a corn stalk. The bird was very accommodating and I took dozens of shots out of the mini-bus window. Below is one of them and I'm pleased with it!

On a four hour boat trip we took down the Gambia River, there were quite a few photo opps that we didn't get on our land excursions. One of them was this African Fish Eagle. It looks much like our Bald Eagle but with white extending down into the chest area.

While not overly colorful, the Egyptian Plover is a highly sought after species because of its rarity. Its lack of bright colors is more than made up for by its very regal appearance.
These Little Bee-Eaters provided a double thrill for me. Not only were they beautiful little birds, but one held a dragonfly in its bill for this shot, so it "fed" another of my passions.
Northern Red Bishops were rather common in agricultural and grassland habitats and males were often seen perched high up on the end of a grass stem.

Every once in a while, one of our "eagle-eye" guides or tour group members would spot one of the small, terrestrial kingfishers sitting in some undergrowth. These low light conditions made for difficult photography but I lucked out with this shot of a Pygmy Kingfisher. They are not much bigger than a sparrow, except for their head and large bill.
 The Red-billed Firefinch was fairly common but still a beautiful sight to behold!
Another common species which we saw most every day was the Red-cheeked Cordon-Blew. I took lots of shots of these trying for a good one.
As a group, the Bee-eaters were certainly my favorite. Although they were not easy to get good pictures of, this Red-throated Bee-Eater posed for us while we were on a boat trip though some mangrove marsh habitat.
Another of my target birds for the trip was the Yellow-billed Oxpecker. We did not see any of them until our inland excursion, but saw several in the cattle raising areas. This bird frequents native livestock a eats ticks and other insects off the back of these animals. This one is on the back of a cow, but we saw others on horses.
Northern Carmine Bee-eaters breed north of The Gambia up to southern Europe. We were fortunate to find a large group of them after no luck on our first attempt. They certainly are one of the most striking species we encountered on our trip.
The full repertoire of colors on this Scarlet-chested Sunbird are not visible in this image, but it was none-the-less quite a neat species, showing its hummingbird like flower feeding and iridescent feathers.
These birds are not colorful but their look is surely unique with the yellow eyes and white crest - White-crested Helmet-Shrike.

So there you have a sample of some of the more colorful birds of The Gambia. I'll follow with just a few more of some of the better bird images that I was lucky enough to get on this trip. And there are also a few images of native mammals that I'll share with you on a later blog.


  1. You should definitely go for cheap flights to Banjul if you want to fulfil your desire to observe and get amazed by the plenty colourful and beautiful birds of Gambia.

  2. Kinda stumbled upon your blog and LOVE your photos of birds and other wildlife......will be following your work!