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I have been digiscoping for around 18 years now and through persistence and good equipment I am getting great results. I use a Swarovski 80hd spotting scope and a Sony RX100 camera which has just replaced my old faithful Nikon P5100. The majority of my bird watching takes place in County Durham in England which has a variety of different habitats from coast to moors. Digiscoping is great because it allows me to get good photos without disturbing birds. VIEW THE LATEST PHOTOBOOK AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE

Monday, 11 April 2016

Shrikes in Gambia

As most people know who follow my blog Shrikes are my favourite birds and coming to the Gambia is great for seeing various species of Shrike

These are the most common of the all of the Shrikes in the Gambia and classed as Abundant.
The hotel grounds were as good as anywhere to see this bird as the hunted in gangs, sweeping across the gardens.
The were very approachable if care was taken, and I had a bird swoop down and catch an insect from between my feet as I photographed two others that were sitting on the same branch.


The other Shrike that was seen at the hotel is the Yellow Crowned Gonalek previously known as a Barbary Shrike.  There were probably 3 or 4 pairs in the hotel grounds, and they could be heard long before they were seen.  When they sing, the male sings then immediately afterwards the female adds her couple of notes as they sing in duet. It is an extremely bright Shrike and is more accurately a Bush Shrike.


On a trip out with the brilliant guide Modou Taal, who works from the Senegambia Hotel, he took us to Brufut Woods, where there was an orchard that was simply alive with birds.  One of which was this Northen Puffback (also known as the Gambian Puffback Shrike.  This bird was flying from tree to tree but sometimes it would sit out in the open and give an opportunity for some nice shots


This is one of the Shrikes that we get in Europe and sometimes even in England, particularly young birds.  It was one of the Shrikes that I wanted to see in Africa.


Now this small Shrike really did prove difficult to get a photograph of.  It could be heard in a number of places, and it hid in the foliage of the trees and bushes. So we did well to get a view of it, although I did not  get a good photograph of it


This is a Shrike which I did not really expect to see, and surprisingly when we saw it with Modou near the Lamin Rice Fields it spent most of the time on the ground. Most un-Shrike like.  But it is a well marked bird and it did prove tricky to photograph amongst the grasses.

Gambia Rollers

The other species of bird that I specifically asked Dawda to show me was the Blue Bellied Roller, I had not got any good photos of these on my previous visit to the Gambia..
Again Dawda's knowledge was superb and in the 3 hours that we were with him we saw 4 species of Roller.

 Broad Billed Roller - This was the most common of the Rollers that I saw in the Gambia, there were a few in the hotel grounds, and we saw them everywhere that we went on bird trips.  A beautiful claret wine colour with blue in the wings.  The were also very approachable/

 ABYSSINIAN ROLLER - Unlike the last time I was in the Gambia this proved to be the most difficult Roller to see. and to my eye it is the most stunning of all of the Rollers that I saw.  This was at Kotu Bridge near to the Kingfisher hotspot.

RUFOUS CROWNED ROLLER - This was one of the Rollers that I really did not expect to see, yet we saw 3 on our different trips out.  Close to Kotu Bridge Dawda found a Roller hotspot where there were 3 different species on view at the same time these were on the Golf Course. A beautiful Roller- but is there such a thing as a drab roller - not in the Gambia
And finally the Blue Bellied Roller.  This was my main target bird for the holiday and it was not until nearly the end of it that we found these. Again they were on the Golf Course and there were 3 of them - one perched on its own and these two that were perched together.  I was so excited about getting photos of these that when Dawda was pointing other species out, I just continued photographing these Rollers. Fantastic!!

Shots from Gambia

Wow its been nearly a month since I posted on here.  I have been rather busy lately and on top of that I have been editing some of the better shots from Gambia which I will be putting into my latest photobook.
I left my digiscoping gear at home and all of the photos from the Gambia were taken using my Canon SX50.
So now there is going to be a deluge of photos from Gambia starting with some of the Kingfishers

One morning on a trip out I asked our guide Dawda Barry to find some Kingfishers and Rollers. Boy did he produce - I saw 5 species of Kingfisher and 4 species of Roller, and on top of that he found 2 species of Bee Eater, Painted Snipe, Woodpeckers, African Spoonbill, Shikra as well as many other species.
This was the 2nd Blure Breasted Kingfisher that I had seen this holiday, and this was by far the best views I have had of one.  It was at a place called Kotu Bridge, which is where Dawda asked if he could be our bird guide.  Only a few steps away from the taxi and this is what was on offer. Amazing. Pied Kingfishers were all over the place here too. Very common.

This Kingfisher proved elusive, it keeps pretty much to woodlands and this one was by a river in deep undergrowth.  As Dawda positioned us a little bit closer a dug out canoe with other bird watchers in it came around the corner and spooked the Kingfisher, this was the best shot I got of it.
Just a  100 meters away from the bridge was a couple of pools which must have held fish as there were Pied Kingfisher hovering above it. But Dawda heard the call of the diminutive Malachite Kingfisher, due to the boggy ground it was difficult to get very close to it and it was a busy little bird too, trying different perches out. It absolutely glows in the sunlight - stunning
This Kingfisher is so common in the Gambia, we had them just about everywhere we went where there was water - even at the hotel. But Kotu Bridge was THE place for them. At one point there were four perched on the wires that went over the river, plus another 2 on the lamp posts.

Now this Kingfisher I did not expect to see, yet it was the second of the holiday, and it was perched out in the open - again at Kotu Bridge.  At one point I could see 3 species of kingfisher at the same time.  It does not get better than this for kingfishers - well done Dawda.
Below is another Striped Kingfisher that our main bird guide Modou Taal found near Brufut Woods. This one was a bit harder to get as it kept in the shade - mind it was about 40 degrees. 

Digiscoping Blog By Colin Severs

Digiscoping Blog By Colin Severs
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