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Gambia 1st CASPIAN PLOVER for Gambia Day 14

17th January 2020

Graham and I couldn’t believe it when we came across this CASPIAN PLOVER at the dried out Tujereng Lagoons

This morning there was no time for watering the bananas in the garden as we had to make tracks. It would take over an hour to walk and collect the hired bikes that we had booked in advance. We set off at the break of day and we kinda of got lost during the last part of the journey. As a result this payed off. A Red-necked Kestrel was a new bird but entering a housing estate ‘Red-billed Oxpeckers!‘ Graham spotted three of them directly in front of us on top of the two donkeys. We both got cracking views before they all flew off high east. At the same time a Levant’s Cuckoo flew across the Donkey field. Maybe we should hang out in housing estates but then again maybe not as the state of Graham, looking like he’s been pulled out of hedge backwards, will probably get us both arrested. I first heard that phase by the late Mike McDonnell while a few of us were hanging around waiting for a Melodious Warbler to pop out at Holy Vale in ’92, back home on Scilly. This birder passed us with straggly long hair and all over the shop ‘Anythin about?’ He asked. We told him ‘Nothin for the last hour’ When he had gone around the corner Mike said ‘It looks like he’s been pulled out of hedge backwards’ Everyone of us laughed and me, I was in tears. I thought Mike had made it up on the spot as he was so witty and always cracked me up. So when ever I hear someone say it, it reminds me of the great man.

3 Red-billed Oxpecker on two donkey’s. I hope they payed for the ride they were given.

Just caught this Levant’s Cuckoo as it flew over the donkey’s


‘Lucky’ the nearest dog, was by our side at all times as it followed us from the village where we are staying Mamuda.

We finally made it to the bikes and the idea was to move on and get out in the field as quick as we could. Things kinda of changed when we were invited to have breakfast. We got stuck in and an hour later we arrived at our first destination that was Tujang lagoons. There was a problem, no water in sight! Even so, I said to Graham ‘This looks good’ As we observed the habitat around us. We could hear Iberian wagtails and Green Sandpiper while above, there were 4 Osprey, single Caspian Tern and Short-toed Eagle. Almost immediately on putting our bikes down and walking the dried lagoons, we heard a wader that we couldn’t put a name to. The bird flew overhead but we were always looking at it into the sun. Fortunately, it touched down a fare distance away and we set to work in getting closer and get that blinding sun behinds us. Graham was the first to scan and I hadn’t even lifted my bins up when he said in a bemused way ‘What the fxxx is that doin ere? It looks like a CASPIAN PLOVER!!!’ I was scanning like crazy to where I thought we had last observed the bird pitch down only to be guided by Graham that in fact it had moved in and was now at close range . Even though I had never seen one before, what was in front of us was a Caspian Plover! Now, as I said before, we had no guide books between us and we didn’t do our homework before coming to Gambia. Were very much independent birders when we travel and not interested in seeing every species that’s available in each country we visit. Hanging out and living with the locals, discovering their culture and lifestyle, as I do in many countries I visit, is all part of the travelling and birding. We needed that guide book now though. Is Caspian Plover even on the Gambian list or even the West African list as we strongly believed that it was probably a first for the country? The only Caspian Plover that Graham has seen, was the individual he twitched at Aberladey Bay, Musselbrough, just short of thirty years in July 1990. So for both us it was kinda of like a new species.

The first CASPIAN PLOVER for Gambia and I believe, less than ten records for West Africa.

Graham scanning with the CASPIAN PLOVER just to his left

We observed the plover for almost thirty minutes before a Green Sandpiper alarmed and the plover made a short flight to join the small group of Little-ringed Plover at the beach end of the dried out lagoons. We continued to bird the area and got 4 Black Crake, Black-masked Weaver, Wheatear, 3 Whinchat, Woodchat Shrike, 4 House and 1 Sand Martin. A Palm Nut Vulture flew low over the dry lagoons but we were on the far side watching 2 Crested Lark and my camera was in the bag. While cycling, the camera spends most of it’s time safely in your bag. I wanted to stay longer but we had other plans and cycled another 3 mile down road in the intense heat and turned off south at Sanyang crossroads and returned to ‘Black and White’ for Fish and Chips again. The food was not so good this time and while Graham hung around the house to rest, I went off towards the stink of the Chinese Shrimp Factory. Also, not so many birds this time, Western Bonelli’s, Western Olivaceous and Melodious Warbler. The return bike ride proved to be hard work as the heat was still killing us at 17.00. Graham caught a bus taxis back and I made the two hour stroll home and saw a Violet Turaco in flight and at dusk, a close view of a Long-tailed Nightjar perched on top of a wooden post.

There were up to 4 Black Crake on the dried out lagoons

Small numbers of Iberian Wagtail hanging out with a single White Wagtail

Black-masked Weaver

Little Bee-eater

To finish off a cracking day was this Long-tailed Nightjar on the way home

It was hard work today but we found a mega for Gambia and also saw some good birds. We celebrated with a bloody good vegetarian pis at Bakey’s King at Turntable.

It was while at Turntable that we found out from putting news of the Caspian Plover on social media when we could get Wifi, that it was indeed a first for Gambia and there have only been maybe less than ten records in West Afraica. What are the chances of that and stumbling across this Caspian Plover as it’s seems that most countries that we have both visited in the last few years, we’ve been lucky in finding rare birds. Last year, with Mashuq Ahmed in Kuwait, we both found the third record of Calandra Lark (flock of three) and the 15th record of Evermann’s Redstart. From Kuwait, I moved onto Oman and there I discovered the 4th African Sacred Ibis (a flock of four) and the 7th Cinereous Vulture (two birds together) for that country. The year before, I found the 17th record of Yelow-browed Warbler on Trigdilt Track, Morocco and in Palestine, 2 Ferruginous Duck were the first in over twenty years. While Graham last year found the second record of Isabelline Wheatear for Thialand. There must be other birders who visit other countries with the same luck??

Also while the Wifi was working or before the electric went off, I looked at my emails and discovered that a 24-page document including a ‘extreme counter-terrorism’ list includes Extinction Rebellion. It also includes Greenpeace, which I am a member of – other supporters are Dame Judi Dench, Stephen Fry, Gillian Anderson and Joanna Lumley – and the ocean pollution campaigners Sea Shepherd, whose supporters include Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan. Also included is Stop the Badger Cull, which is backed by Sir Brian May, the Queen guitarist. ‘Stop the Badger Cull!!??

Among the groups listed with no known link to terrorist violence or known threat to national security are Stop the War, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, which I am also a member of, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Cycling advocacy group, vegan activists, anti-fascist groups, anti-racist groups, an anti-police surveillance group and campaigners against airport expansion. Communist and socialist political parties are also on the list.
Cycling advocacy group,Vegan activists, Stop the War, anti racists groups and campaigners against airport expansion to name a few!!??
This is absurd! Welcome to Tory Britain!!
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: “Tarring environmental campaigners and terrorist organisations with the same brush is not going to help fight terrorism. It will only harm the reputation of hard-working police officers. How can we possibly teach children about the devastation caused by the climate emergency while at the same implying that those trying to stop it are extremists?”
Peta’s director, Elisa Allen, said: “This appears to be a sinister attempt to quash legitimate campaigning organisations – something that is as dangerous as it is undemocratic.”

The non terrorists violet and no threat to national security groups named above are on the UK counter-terror list alongside numerous groups associated with the ideology of violence of the far right, and the terrorist group National Action, which is proscribed, as well as two other banned groups. There are also a set of symbols and tattoos commonly associated with white supremacy, from a swastika and a “white pride worldwide” poster to tattoos of an iron eagle and the second world war German general Erwin Rommel.
One senior teacher, who supports the efforts to thwart radicalisation, said “The document is extraordinarily vague and leaves a great deal down to the interpretation of the individual member of staff,” the teacher added. “Clustering relatively innocuous groups like Greenpeace and CND in with genuine extremist groups seems to imply that these organisations are on the radar of the counter-terrorism police and should also be interpreted as such by the teaching staff coming across them.”
Police said it was “unhelpful and misleading” to suggest non-violent groups in the document were being smeared. They said it would be provided to Prevent partners as “a guide to help them identify and understand the range of organisations they might come across” and should not be viewed as suggesting that membership of “non-proscribed groups would be sufficient to trigger a Prevent referral”.
“Our focus is definitely not on lawful protest, or legitimate causes taken up by activists across the country,” Counter Terrorism Policing’s senior national coordinator, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon told the Guardian.
Then why are ‘Greenpeace’ and ‘Stop the Badger Cull’ on the UK counter-terrorism list??
This is partly why ‘Stop the Badger Cull are on the list as Clare Collier , advocacy director at Liberty, said that ‘The latest document was evidence that peaceful protest was under threat. “We have long warned that the government’s counter-terror agenda is one of the greatest threats to free speech in the UK. If you are passionate about anything from climate change to social justice or fighting racism in the UK today you risk being labelled extremist and your details being passed to the police’
‘The UK’s counter-terror measures are designed to co-opt public sector workers like teachers to spy on young people in their care – this guide will only add to the confusion and pressures they face. It also reinforces long held concerns that the government’s staggeringly broad definition of extremism gives the police cover to characterise non-violent political activity as a threat, and monitor and control any community they wish.’
If you don’t know who Critical Mass, a cycle safety and advocacy group are, it’s originated from San Francisco, campaigns for local and national authorities to support green forms of transport and develop cycling-friendly infrastructure. However it was one of a number of organisations ot have their logo listed in a collection of “Left-Wing and Associated Single Issue Groups” compiled by counter terror policing in a document first reported on by the Guardian.
After Critical Mass was first formed in the US in 1992, the movement came to Europe and groups organised mass rides to “takeover” roads to promote their cause. The group has been officially dubbed a “form of direct action in which people meet at a set location and time and travel as a group through their neighbourhoods on bikes”.
Clare Collier also said “At this rate, anyone with an opinion is going to end up on a watchlist. While labelling cyclists as extremists is obviously laughable, Prevent – and the Government’s counter-terror agenda as a whole – must be subject to a thorough independent review for far graver reasons. Their questionable tactics not only pose a threat to our civil liberties but to our safety.”

Well I guess I better watch my back as I’m a member of Greenpeace, a number of pro-Palestinian groups and visited the country a few times, support Sea Shepard, anti-fracking, Stop the Badger Cull, hunt sabators, anti racists, scrupping apples, picking dandolines, downloading music off Youtube, finding mega birds in other countries, borrowing my mates bike and I forgot to give it him back. I’m expecting a knock at my door when I return home. I think I’m safer staying in Gambia than in the UK where the Tory government is trying to control you if you are a threat to them!
Before you know it, Johnson will be controlling the media on who is invited to the party and who is not. in the same style as Trump does in the good ole USA.
Welcome to Tory Britian!!


Author: Kris Webb 10

I love to throw sticks at trees! I also can’t get enough of music! I also blog about my observations on Scilly and wherever I go around the world and what’s sometimes on my mind. I’ve visited over 30 countries and some more times than once. I’ve worked and volunteered in Nepal, USA, Peru, Gambia, Costa Rica, 3x Australia, and refugee camps in Palestine The profile image is one I took while in Palestine of a brave Israeli holding high the Palestinian flag in front of the Israeli Offensive Forces during protests in Belin

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