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Gambia We found Brufut Woods Day 20

23rd January 2020

At last we’ve also found Painted Snipe with the female being the more colorful individual.

Last night we spent some time grilling Gosney’s book so we could find the bloody forest but was non the wiser even with Maps Me. The day before we knew that we were in the right area and early this morning after watching a woman add a large basket of rubbish to the tip, we followed the dusty track again but we went another half a mile from the area where we had a break yesterday until we came to a creek. We sat down at the edge and immediately I was on a Painted Snipe! Get in there! A male but a meter away from it was a stonking female. Altogether 4 Painted Snipe and a Violet Turaco flying over and landing in a tree just above me where it joined two others. We believed that we had finally found Brufut Forest and just in one spot while still on the snipe we also got 2 Lillic-breasted and 7 Pied Kingfisher, Hammerkop, 4 Night Heron, 2 Black crake and single Yellow-throated Loveleaf and Greater Honeyguide. This was more like it and we went looking for the drinking pools and the bar. Only a minute away from the snipe and Graham came out ‘Oxpeckers!’ I ain’t goin to do the same mistake like I did last time in looking for an Oxe in a housing estate but I couldn’t even see a donkey, cow, crocodile, moose or any livestock. Not even a dog. The birds were in a tree and they soon flew down out of sight. Turning a corner and I ended up spending some time with a herd of cows and 4 Yellow-billed Oxpecker. We asked a number of people where is the bar or forest but no one knew. I looked at Maps Me and suggested that I reckon that the wood back up the track might be the forest.

Up to 4 Painted Snipe were resting at the creek

While 3 Violet Turaco were in the trees on the otherside of the creek

And 2 Lillic-breasted and 7 Pied Kingfisher were perched over the creek

Not knowing that they were there, we flushed out 4 Night Heron roosting in trees

This is the area of the creek where all the species above were observed

There were 4 comical looking Yellow-billed Oxpecker on top of the cows

We returned the the tiny hut we came across yesterday and discovered that in fact it is the bar and all along we had been in and out of the forest without even knowing it. What a relief and we sat down on one of the benches looking over what we thought yesterday was a car park which turns out to be the area where the drinking pools are. We had a drink while a number of species of weaver, finches, lots of doves and 2 Yellow-throated Love-leaf were drinking from the two large bowls put out. We couldn’t wait any longer to get stuck into the forest and after paying 50 Dalias each, 33p, we were on the main path leading east straight out of the trees to find another tip! After a few minutes of walking where the villagers have been busy burning the area, we came across a man with his young daughter taking wood and wheel borrowing it through the rubbish scattered along the path and stretching deeper into the burnt out areas and scrub. It was a sad state and as we walked on, there was no ending to the waste and the stench. We thought it would end but it got worse as both adults and children were sifting through the rubbish with sticks to filter through the waste. Finally we arrived back at the sign ‘Brufut Forest’ with children playing in the rubbish. In the fifteen minutes that it took to do a circuit, we had seen nothing but rubbish!! We did see a single Palm Nut Vulture and Yellow-throated Tinkerbird at the same time that we could hear someone chopping wood just before we returned to the bar. It was 2011 when Gosney Book came out that we were using. A lot has changed since then and I’m sure Gosney’s updated guide he brought out a few year back has changed. Maybe the bar hasn’t changed but the forest is now just a strip of ideal habitat surrounded on the east to the south west side by rubbish. After saying that, we did venture NE and as we approached a village only five minutes from the bar, at a smaller scale, we came across more rubbish dumped at the side of the path. We could of continued but we returned when there was also a rotten dead dog on top of the rubbish. Speaking to one of the guides who works at the forest, he told me that the new houses that are almost in the forest, have only been there less than five years and it looks like there is no stop to the construction work as it’s goin to increase. I told him that we met folk collecting wood, after they had chopped it down and we heard someone else chopping just a stones throw from where were sitting. He came across as if he didn’t believe me and he had no intention of goin to see it for himself. Anyways, what could he do? Like everywhere in the world, where forests and sensitive sites are being destroyed, he’s fighting a losing a battle. The way I see it, we’ve destroyed the earth and we’ve gone too far where there is no return and man will continue to destroy. It’s too late!!

For over ten minutes of walking on the edge of the forest, this is what we saw, rubbish all over the shop!!

Both adults and children with sticks sifting for ever they can find

While other children play in it

This woman adds more to the every growing problem that is all over Gambia

Yellow-fronted Tinklebird

With no bird guide we can’t identify the female/2st year sunbirds Anyone know what species they are?

Black-necked Weaver

We were told by a couple,that while we were away, both Green and Violet Turaco had visited the drinking bowls. We told them and their guide where to go and see Painted Snipe and Oxpeckers. The turacos were the two species we were hoping for and already we had the Viloit in the bag. Over an hour had gone by and we had added Black-capped Babbler, Greater Honeyguide, Snowy-capped Robin Chat, Reed Warbler, African Drongo and a small flock of Orange-cheeked Finch, all coming down for a drink. We gave it another thirty minutes and was rewarded with a single Green Turaco out in the open for fifteen minutes perched in a tree showing very well.

Black-capped Babbler

Greater Honeyguide

Black-necked Weaver

Snowy-capped Robin Chat

Fork-tailed Drongo

Yellow-throated Loveleaf

And finally a Green Turaco

I guess I might of put folks off in visiting Brufut Forest. My advice is to overshoot the forest to check out the creek and surrounding area and then return and maybe just enjoy the birds visiting the drinking bowls instead of spending time along the paths in the forest. The reason why we couldn’t find the latter site is because we were searching for a forest and the bar, as we thought, was an area where birders can drink and also eat from a selected menu.
We observed a lot more birds while on the track than in the forest and this was the case when we started making our ways back to the creek after leaving the forest and was a single Pied-winged Swallow with other swallows and both Little and Swallow-tailed Bee-eater. While Graham and I had one more look at the snipe, only meters away above in a palm tree was an Osprey watching every move we made. The last bird of the day was a fly over Violet Turaco. However, just before we got to the video club at 20.00 at Banjanjelly to watch Liverpool beat Wolves 2-1, a Nightjar sp, probably a female Standed-winged Night, flew low across the road at very close range in the street lights to end a great days of birding.

Little Bee-eater

Swallow-tailed Bee-eater

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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