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Birdfinders' Gambia tour was a great success again this year with all of the speciality birds seen well. The bird of the tour had to be White-spotted Flufftail, seen very well by the entire group!

It was unusually cloudy at the coast during the first week this year but this didn’t affect the birding with well over 200 species seen before we headed upriver. Since I first visited Gambia in 1986 (yes, nearly 30 years ago!) I have accumulated a total of over 430 species in the country so to add two more was truly exceptional with Red-chested Goshawk as well as the flufftail. Other scarce species seen at the coast included White-fronted Plover, Kelp Gull, Greyish Eagle-owl, Dideric, Klass’s and Levaillant’s Cuckoos, Blue Malkoha, Buff-spotted and Brown-backed Woodpeckers, Black Scimitarbill, Grey-headed Bristlebill, White-fronted Black-chat, Green Crombec, Green Hylia, Yellow-bellied Hyliota, African Yellow White-eye, Brubru, Senegal Batis, Grey-headed Bushshrike, Copper Sunbird, White-shouldered Black-tit, males of both Heuglin’s and Vitelline Masked-weavers and Yellow-shouldered Widowbird.

Upriver, once again we ‘scored’ with Savile’s Bustards together with both Singing Bushlark and Flappet Lark at the same site. Good numbers of Egyptian Plovers were seen and at our Red-throated Bee-eater colony we added Northern Anteater-chat and Green Bee-eater. Northern Carmine Bee-eaters were rather scarce this year with only a small group seen but White-throated Bee-eater at Tendaba meant that once again we saw every species of bee-eater and roller on the country list.

Our boat trip once again recorded Adamawa Turtle-dove but the real success was no less than three African Finfoot (is it Finfoot, Finfoots or Finfeet!) with one particular bird uncharacteristically showing continuously for nearly 10 minutes, a photographers dream! White-backed Night-herons were in good numbers in Tendaba but as usual, African Blue Flycatchers were only briefly seen, although compensation was had in the form of a very-showy female Little Green Woodpecker, the first record for the country for four years when last recorded by Birdfinders. Brown-necked Parrots are still ‘hanging on’ in Kiang West National Park and this was one of the best years ever for views of Brown-rumped Buntings.

Although 2013 didn’t record the highest number of species during to the absence of some Palearctic migrants, it will be long-remembered for the views of many difficult species and of course White-spotted Flufftail, African Finfoot, Red-chested Goshawk and Little Green Woodpecker. Birdfinders have been running this tour annually since 1997 (some years with more than one departure) and with nearly 25 tours under our belts, our knowledge of the country and its birds is second to none.

Egyptian Plover

Egyptian Plover