24th january 2020
It was some surprise when I found this 1st year EGYPTIAN VULTURE at Tanji with only less than twenty recorded in Gambia and the first photographic evidence in thirty years.
I wanted to check out Tanji Bird Reserve and was on a bus taxi just after 08.00 from Sanyang. Graham was meeting me later on Tanji Bridge at mid-day. 12 dalasi for the ten minutes bus taxi to Tanji where I starting searching through the large number of mixed terns and gulls on arrival from the bridge. Of the former, there were Caspian, African Royal and a few Sandwich Tern. 100’s of Grey-headed Gulls with lesser numbers of Slender-billed and a handful of Lesser Black-backed Gull. Noisy Pied Kingfishers were up and down the lagoons with a single Giant Kingfisher and waders included Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Whimbrel,Curlew and over 30 Bar-tailed Godwit.
African Royal Tern
Caspian, African Royal and Sandwich Tern
A fisherman wading out to the lagoons
I left the area and walked on a bank of scrubby habitat and here there were 6 Black-fanta Sorewings, Sunbird, 6 Orange-cheeked Waxbill with over 30 Blue-cheeked Bee-eater. I reached the highway and as I had a drink, I could see a small vulture flying some distance away on the opposite side of the road. I just got my bins on it for a second before it disappeared behind some trees and down the dried out creek. it was an immature EGYPTIAN VULTURE and I thought that it’s probably a good bird in Gambia as Gosney’s book only mentions other vulture species you can see but not Egypian. I would of liked to have got a record shot of the raptor but it’s probably now in Senegal. I also followed the dried creek and a long ways off I could see a suluated Egypian Vulture perched high in the bare branches of a tree. Here it stayed for forty minutes being harrassed by Pied Crows, including an individual landing very briefly on the it’s back a number of times. 2 Black Kite joined in the mobbing but it wasn’t long until they left it alone leaving me to get some cracking views. It then flew off out of sight over the bank.
The Pied Crows harassed the EGYPTIAN VULTURE and one individual briefly landed on it’s back with 2 Black Kite also joining in by dive bombing it while it was perched
The only other Egyptian Vulture that I’ve seen were in the Himalayas and crossing from Morocco into Tarifia, Spain and all of them were adults and high up in the sky.
As I approached the town of Tanji, there was the vulture getting stick being chased around by more crows and kites and even 2 Hooded Vulture very low over the creek and in front of the bridge where I was meeting Graham in thirty minutes. Five crows were still giving the vulture jip when it decided to land only meters directly above me in a tree. One of the crows pulled the tip of it’s primary feathers a few times and it was obvious that the vulture was not in good shape with the right wing dropping down. However, it could still fly as it proved it when folks below flushed it by chatting so loud/ I observed it fly off high further in land. I turned around, got on the bridge and Graham jumped out of a bus taxi! I was now hungry and arranged to meet at the fishing boats on the beach in half an hour. My dinner, that should take twenty minutes at the most, came out another forty minutes later and as result, understandably because I was so long, I never saw Graham for the rest of the day but I did get 6 Pink-backed Pelican with Cormorants on the sea.
Just infront and above Tanji bridge the crows and even a Hooded Vulture mobbed the Egyptian Vulture wherever it decided to go.
The vulture was forced to come down and landed next to a tree that I just happened to be standing next to. Also, 5 Pied Crows didn’t leave it alone with an individual pulling on it’s primaries while it was perched.
The crows myself and the vulture in peace but it wasn’t long before it was on the wing again when flushed by locals where I lost it as it flew further in land.
This Senegal Thicklnee was flushed by a kayack on the river
Up to 6 Pink-backed Pelican were close inshore
I went to the entrance of Tanji Reserve, thinking he might of gone in and after paying 35 dalasi, I made my ways towards the eco-tourism lodge where there is a drinking pool that attracts many species in and I wasn’t disappointed. I sat down with the pool in view at close range and with Chris Lamsdale and his wife, Denise, who are staying at the lodge, we kept a careful eye what was dropping in while chewing on the fat. I had no idea what I was expecting but new species included African Pygmy Kingfisher, Yellow breasted Apalis, Grey-breasted Bristlebird and a stonking male Western Bluebill There were also the more common species and in with them were a single Greater Honeyguide, African Paradise Flycatcher, 2 Oriole Warbler, and Yellow-throated Love-leaf. A small group of both Swallow-tailed and Little Bee-eater were dipping into the water in flight. later on in the evening light, Chris and I observed the terns, gulls and waders coming into roost just off shore on the lagoons then I had to get home before dark. You do not want to be in a vehicle after dark in Gambia as that’s the time when many accidents happen. Maybe it’s somethin to do with many bus taxis you see have no back lights or no lights at all!!.
Yellow breasted Apalis
Male western Bluebill
Swallow-tailed Bee-eater. Unfortunately I arrived at the drinking pool when the light was not so good
Bar-tailed Godwit and other waders feed in the rubbish on the shore
Fiddle Crabs scattered all over the shop
Tanji fishing village
Looking from the fishing village towards Tanji Reserve