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November 2001 saw another successful tour to The Gambia. Although at 307 the group total was down on the 2000 two-week tour record of 325, the weather played a large part in this, with unseasonably cloudy weather on many days culminating in rain on 29 November! Highlights of this year's tour were two White-backed Night-herons, seven African Pygmy-geese, a superb Martial Eagle, African Hobby, amazing views of Ahanta Francolin walking along the path in Abuko, White-spotted Flufftails heard calling, Black-bellied Bustard, four Spotted Thick-knees on the north bank road between Kau-ur and Georgetown just after dark, three Temminck's Courser (scarce this year), three Bronze-winged Coursers (also on the north bank road just after dark), three sightings of the rare African Emerald Cuckoo, including possibly the first breeding record for The Gambia, Black Coucal, Long-tailed Nightjar (showing to two metres on the north bank road just after dark), African Scops-owl (showing to 3 metres at Bird Safari Camp), seven Northern Carmine Bee-eaters, 100s of Red-throated Bee-eaters at their breeding colony, all five regular Gambian woodpeckers, White-breasted Cuckooshrike, Grey-headed Bristlebill, White-fronted Black-chat, six species of cisticola, Yellow-bellied Hyliota, Green Hylia, White-shouldered Black-tit, Yellow Penduline-tit, all 10 species of Gambian sunbird, Grey-headed Bushshrike, Chestnut-bellied Starling, Speckle-fronted and Red-headed Weavers and Western Bluebill.

This was Birdfinders' sixth tour to The Gambia with Solomon Jallow and we have been pleased to sponsor the new WABSA (West African Bird Study Association) group by providing funds for the new Brufut Woods reserve. You will see the new signs at both entrances to the reserve and you will be asked for an entrance fee of 10 Dalasis (about 40p) to birdwatch there. The money is split equally between the villagers and WABSA who employ three villagers to maintain the reserve. The ticket collector will have an official badge and the tickets carry a WABSA stamp. Please don't try to avoid paying this small fee (as I understand some groups have done) – the money is going to a very good cause and unless they receive an income from it the villagers have no incentive to preserve the Brufut Woods area. Birdfinders will shortly be sponsoring a similar scheme at Bansang Quarry to protect the Red-throated Bee-eater colony.

Egyptian Plover

Egyptian Plover