Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Abuko (Day 6 Gambia)

How many signs ?
Green Touraco
Giant Kingfisher
Giant Kingfisher
Western Grey Plantain-eater
Violet Touraco

Abuko maain lagoon
Broad-billed Roller
Palm-nut Vulture
Giant Kingfisher
Darwin Field Centre
Red Colobus Monkey
Mallick in action
The calming down Wasp sting

Just a few hundred metres across the road from the rice fields was the undisputed number one reserve in Gambia, Akubo. Abuko is 259 acres and enclosed in a 2.5 meter fence. It is among six protected wildlife management parks and covers an area of 105 hectares (roughly 2 sq. km). The park  is rectangular with a surrounding narrow strip around its boundaries acting as an extra buffer zone

Today, Abuko is the Gambia's most visited tourist attraction receiving approximately 33,000 visitors per year. One interesting fact is that it is the nearest tropical forest to Europe. Fifty types of mature tropical trees have been recorded in the protected area.

It has been estimated that there are over 290 bird species living within the forest. Birding within forest environments is always more difficult so this part of the day was about quality of which we most definitely achieved. We started with a perched female Giant Kingfisher, the largest Kingfisher in the world, which was probably the same size as a Rook. We then reached the Darwin Field Centre where we rested from the hot sun and got further views of both the male & female Kingfisher. It was very peaceful and I was delighted to see my first Violet Touracos. A Broad-billed Roller sat within a short distance watching me closely. A Palm-nut Vulture was going to and from its nest high in a palm tree on the opposite side of the lagoon whilst a Hammerkop collected nesting material. A pair of Great Grey Hornbills were displaying as Mottled Spinetails buzzed around them.

As we left the centre I was stung by a demon wasp on the back of neck. After a few chosen words (not ones I’d repeat to my mother) another birder came to rescue by treating the sting. I did have to cope with a large swelling for the rest of the day trip. The pain of the sting first disappeared when I started watching my first Green Touraco, what a bird. Views were very much on and off but this was a real wow moment, simply awesome.

The trip list had moved to a very pleasing 134, 16 away from my target.

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