Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle Circaetus beaudouini The Gambia
Golden-tailed Woodpecker Campethera abingoni female The Gambia
The following largely unconfirmed records are taken from recent issues of the Bulletin of the African Bird Club and are for information only.
from ABC Bulletin 26.1
The first Black-casqued Hornbill Ceratogymna atrata for the country, a male, was photographed at Keneba, Kiang West, on 26 October 2018 (JCr); for details, see p. 103 of this issue
from ABC Bulletin 25.1
Notable records from Kartong Bird Observatory, on the south-west coast, in October–December 2017 include the following. A Eurasian Coot Fulica atra, first seen on 16 October, was joined by a second on 29 November, with one still present on 13 December; these represent the second record for the site (Fig. 17). A group of three House Buntings Emberiza sahari arrived on 7 November and were joined by others, until 11 were seen foraging in gardens around the observatory on 23 November; at least four were still present on 21 December (Fig. 18). A Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus, flushed from a patch of dry grassland on 24 November, was the second record for Kartong and coincided with several records of the species in Senegal. The population of Barbreasted Firefinches Lagonosticta rufopicta is increasing, with seven additional birds recorded at two locations, including two recently fledged juveniles. A Spotted Honeyguide Indicator maculatus discovered in low coastal scrub surrounded by mangrove on 21 November was an unexpected find. A male Garganey Spatula querquedula in eclipse plumage was present with three Northern Shovelers S. clypeata on the quarry wetlands from 11 November until 16 December (OF).
A Ovambo Sparowhawk Accipiter ovampensis remained at Marakissa, Western Region, throughout July– October. A House Bunting was seen at Tendaba, Lower River Region, on 22–23 December (PC, RC & JF).
from ABC Bulletin 24.2
Records from Kartong Bird Observatory (www. kartongbirdobservatory.org) for the period January–June 2017 include the following. A pair of Barbreasted Firefinches Lagonosticta rufopicta, ringed close to the Senegal border on 24 November 2016, was recaptured at the same site on 3 March, following the first record of one individual in January 2016. Two Greater Swamp Warblers Acrocephalus rufescens were trapped in the reedbeds on 26 February and another on 12 March, indicating that the species is still present in the large areas of Typha. The Kartong wetlands also harboured a flock of c.13 Cuckoo-finches Anomalospiza imberbis from February until June, six of which were eventually ringed. A pair of Green-headed Sunbirds Cyanomitra verticalis, the first for the site, was mist-netted on 15 March. Other notable sightings from the end of the dry season included five Northern Carmine Bee-eaters Merops nubicus on 11 and 27 April, now an annual occurrence at this coastal site, where they join the many Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters M. persicus hawking over the wetlands, and a single Leaflove Pyrrhurus scandens on 16 April, a rare species in The Gambia, restricted to forest areas bordering the Casamance, Senegal (OF).
from ABC Bulletin 24.1
An American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica was discovered at Tanji on 14 November 2016 and was still present on 24th (Fig. 10; IE); this is apparently the fifth record for the country (previous records, all from the Western Division, are from January 1984, November 1997, December 2005 and February 2013). A Calidris sp. photographed at Kartong on 11 November that was initially suspected to be a Baird’s Sandpiper C. bairdii, proved, after examination of the photographs, to be a first-winter Little Stint C. minuta (Figs. 11–12): the bird’s structure—long primary projection and wingtips that extend far beyond the tail—superficially looked good for Baird’s, but the longest tertial was missing, which produced the long primary projection. Little Stint, especially first-winters, can also have wingtips that extend far beyond the tail. Additionally, the head pattern was wrong for Baird’s (but fine for Little Stint), the overall colour was pure grey (there is always at least some brown wash in Baird’s) and the legs were too long for Baird’s (but fine again for Little Stint). The bird was a first-winter in active moult, with just a limited number of juvenile-type coverts remaining; this would be odd for Baird’s as its post-juvenile moult is very late and the birds migrate to their wintering grounds in juvenile plumage (CC; NvD). Baird’s Sandpiper is a very rare vagrant to West Africa, with just a single report from The Gambia, in November 1976, and additional reports from Mauritania (November 1987), northern Senegal (December 1985) and São Vicente, Cape Verde (November 2012).
from ABC Bulletin 23.2
Records from January–May 2016 include the following. A pair of Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus was photographed at a nest near Tendaba, Lower River Division, on 25 January (Fig. 7); it seems that these birds have been frequenting the area for several years, but breeding had not been previously observed (BvH). A Shining-blue Kingfisher Alcedo quadribrachys was seen between Janjanbureh and Kunkilling Forest Park, Central River Division, on 23 January (Fig. 8; OF & LG).
The following were reported from Kartong Bird Observatory, at the coast (for information on the observatory, visit www. kartongbirdobservatory.org). A firstsummer male Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus was photographed on the beach on 3 May (CCr per OF). A Eurasian Scops Owl Otus scops was ringed on 18 January—the first record for Kartong (Fig. 9; OF). A male European Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus was photographed on 20 April (CCr per OF). On 7 January, the first Great Snipe Gallinago media to be ringed at the site was a first-year (OF). A young male Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio was photographed on 25 January (Fig 10; JR); there are no previous documented records for Senegambia, but a juvenile was apparently seen further north on the coast, near Gunjur fishing village, in c.2005 (MG). A first-winter Garden Warbler Sylvia borin ringed on 17 January was an unusual record, as most Garden Warblers pass through Senegambia in October–November to winter further south. An adult Bar-breasted Firefinch Lagonosticta rufopicta was ringed on 10 January (Fig. 11); another ‘first’ for Kartong, of a species that is usually found further inland (OF).
from ABC Bulletin 22.1
A probable juvenile Preuss’s Cliff Swallow Petrochelidon preussi was observed near Tendaba on 27 November 2014; this species does not (yet) figure on the country list, although probables were reported as long ago as February 1994. As the species has substantially expanded its range in recent decades, its presence would not be too surprising.
from ABC Bulletin 21.2
A Quail-plover Ortyxelos meiffrenii was photographed at Kiang West National Park on 19 April 2014.
from ABC Bulletin 21.1
The second Eurasian Coot Fulica atra for the country was at Kartong Bird Observatory, Western Division, on 25 December 2013; the first was observed at Kaur, in February 1994. Also there was the second Hudsonian Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus hudsonicus from 29 December until early February at least - the first was on 4 September 2007; there are just two other records from West Africa, from Sierra Leone and on São Nicolau, Cape Verde Islands.
from ABC Bulletin 20.2
Three Cuckoo Finches Anomalospiza imberbis were trapped at the edge of a reed bed bordered by marsh and mixed grasses in a large wetland complex near Kartong, Western Division, on 21 February 2013; there is only one previous record for Senegambia, from Banjul, in September 1969. The fourth American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica for the country was observed at Kartong on, e.g., 17 February. Previous records, all from the Western Division, include: Fajara, 15 January 1984, Kotu sewage works, 7 November 1997 and Cape Creek, near Banjul, 4 December 2005.
from ABC Bulletin 20.1
Excellent views were obtained of a Quail-plover Ortyxelos meiffrenii in a harvested groundnut field between Farafenni and Kau’ur, on the north bank, on 23 November 2012.
from ABC Bulletin 19.2
An adult Spotted Crake Porzana porzana in non-breeding plumage was photographed at a small pond south of the main road from Tendaba to the coast on 29 February 2012. This constitutes the second sighting for the country, the first being an individual at Marakissa, Western Division, on 14 January 2005.
from ABC Bulletin 19.1
During a visit in November 2011, the following records were made. A juvenile Brown Booby Sula leucogaster flew south past the Bijol Islands on 17th. At Kaur wetlands, Central River Division, >9,000 Collared Pratincoles Glareola pratincola were counted on 8th. A colour-ringed adult Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus vetula observed on 12th in Tanji Bird Reserve, Western Division, had been ringed as a nestling on Île aux oiseaux, Parc National du Delta du Saloum, Senegal, on 7 June 2004. A Black Scrub Robin Cercotrichas podobe was seen repeatedly in the Sheraton Hotel garden at Brufut.
from ABC Bulletin 18.2
The first Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope for the country was a male in a ricefield near Sapu, Lower River Division, on 22 January 2010. Other records from January 2010 include a (territorial?) pair of Ovambo Sparrowhawks Accipiter ovampensis near Marakissa and a Red-necked Buzzard Buteo auguralis near Feraba Banta, Western Division, on 26th, a first-winter male Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus at Tanji Bird Reserve on 27th, and three Roseate Terns Sterna dougallii at Bijol Island on 16th. Four White-bellied Bustards Eupodotis senegalensis were observed at Ngeyen Sanjal, North Bank Division, on 10 January 2011.
A juvenile Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus was photographed in Tanji Nature Reserve on 25 November 2010; this appears to be the fifth record for the country, the fourth having been reported in January 2008. The bird was ringed in central Hungary and seems to be the first ringed Red-footed Falcon to be observed in Africa. On 13 October, a Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes was photographed at Marakissa, Western River Division. In December, a Little Green Woodpecker Campethera maculosa was photographed at Tendaba, Lower River Division, on 5th, whilst a Crimson Seedcracker Pyrenestes sanguineus, a rare resident, was observed along the Gambia River, west of Georgetown Island, Central River Division, on 4th.
Three Cape Gulls Larus dominicanus vetula were on the beach at Tanji, Western Division, on 13 January 2010; there have been regular sightings in recent years. Also in January, three Adamawa Turtle Doves Streptopelia hypopyrrha were seen at Janjangbureh, Central River Division.
In July 2009–January 2010 the following were reported. A Dwarf Bittern Ixobrychus sturmii stayed at Kotu, WD, in December–January; this species is rarely seen on the coast. Twenty Black Storks Ciconia nigra were observed near River Gambia National Park, Central River Division (CRD), on 24 January; although still rare, this species is being increasingly recorded. A Bat Hawk Macheirhamphus alcinus was at Lamin Kotu, WD, on 5 November. Thirty adult Rüppell’s Vultures Gups rueppellii bathing near N’jau, CRD, on 6 November is a remarkably large number at the end of the rains. An Ayres’s Hawk Eagle Hieraaetus ayresii was seen at Tanku Bolong, Bao Bolon Wetland Reserve, North Bank Division, on 5 January; there are an increasing number of reports of this species, which was formerly considered rare, from a variety of wooded habitats in The Gambia. A Little Buttonquail Turnix sylvaticus was observed at Farasuto, WD, on 7 December; this species is rarely seen. On 17 November, two Senegal Lapwings Vanellus lugubris were at a small pool near Lamin Lodge, WD. A Red Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius was feeding in rice fields at Jahally Swamp, near Georgetown, CRD, on 12 November. At Wassu, CRD, a Red-necked Nightjar Caprimulgus ruficollis corpse was found on the road on 5 November. A Black-and-white Mannikin Lonchura bicolor was reliably reported by a ranger at Brufut, WD, on 12 July; this would be the first record for The Gambia, if accepted.
A belated report from November 2008 concerns a pair of Common Moorhens Gallinula chloropus breeding and producing six young at Kartong, Western Division; this is the first definite breeding record for the country. Also there, single Great Reed Warblers Acrocephalus arundinaceus were mist-netted on 25 and 28 April 2009; there are few previous records.
In December 2008 - May 2009 the following were reported. Up to three Black Storks Ciconia nigra were at Baboon Island, Central River Division, in mid March. An Osprey Pandion haliaetus observed at Tanji Bird Reserve, Western Division, on 19 December had been ringed as a nestling at Potsdam-Mittelmark, Brandenburg, Germany, on 9 July 2007. Two Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus flew over Brusubi, WD, on 18 February; two together is a rare sight in The Gambia. A Baillon's Crake Porzana pusilla with chicks was reported from Central River Division on 9 February. A first-winter Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis was at Tanji Bird Reserve, WD, on 3 December. A corpse found at Kartong, WD, on 13 May was probably a European Scops Owl Otus scops.
Twenty-five Black Storks Ciconia nigra were resting on a sandbar in the River Gambia between Kantaur and Janjangbureh on 24 January 2009. An Ayres’s Hawk Eagle Hieraaetus ayresii was observed near Farafenni on the opposite side of the river on 1 February 2009.
Records from December 2007 - May 2008 include the following. A dying third calender year Northern Gannet Morus bassanus was found in Banjul harbour on 16 May. Two Ferruginous Ducks Aythya nyroca were photographed at Sapu, Central River Division (CRD), on 12 January; this appears to be only the second report since 1983, the other being from Kaur, CRD, in November 2005. At Kuntair, North Bank Division (NBD), a road- killed Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle Circaetus beaudouini was collected and a melanistic Montagu’s Harrier Circus pygargus photographed on 14 January. An adult male Pallid Harrier C. macrourus and a Swallow-tailed Kite Chelictinia riocourii were foraging over grasssland near Kaur, CRD, on 14 January, whilst a pale- morph Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus was seen over Brufut Woods, Western Division (WD), on 23 April. At Jambur Woods, an Ayres’s Hawk Eagle Hieraaetus ayresii was observed on 16 January. A male Red- footed Falcon Falco vespertinus at Kunkilling Forest Park, CRD, on 11 January is the fourth record and the first to be documented photographically.
A Little (Kurrichane) Buttonquail Turnix sylvaticus found dead on the road near degraded agricultural land at Fass, CRD, north of the river, on 12 January appears to be the first record for this division. A pair of Bronze-winged Coursers Rhinoptilus chalcopterus was on burnt ground near Tanji Bird Reserve, WD, on 5 January; this species has been only rarely seen at the coast in recent years. A total of 475 Black- tailed Godwits Limosa limosa feeding in a brackish lake at Bao-Bolon wetland, NBD, on 14 January is a large congregation for the country. Record numbers of 7,000 Lesser Black-backed Gulls Larus fuscus and 500 Audouin’s Gulls L. audouinii were counted on the Bijol Islands, Tanji Bird Reserve. On 24 May, 15,000 pairs of Royal Terns Sterna maxima with eggs or young were found at the same locality. A European Roller Coracias garrulus, a very scarce species in The Gambia, was observed south of Georgetown, CRD, on 23 April.
A European Robin Erithacus rubecula in the Atlantic Bird Garden on 10 March is a first for Senegambia; however, ship assistance must be considered, as the site is close to Banjul harbour. A female Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius, first seen on 6 March next to a busy road at Brusubi-Brufut, WD, remained there for three weeks. A Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia in Tanji Bird Reserve, WD, on 13 February was a rare find. A Southern Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis was at Tujering, WD, on 20 December; this is a rare winter visitor. Bar-breasted Firefinches Lagonosticta rufopicta were found at Georgetown, CRD, on 22 April.
Records from January - November 2007 include the following. Single Abdim’s Storks Ciconia abdimii were seen over Kartong, Western Division, on 26 May and Sabi, Upper River Division, on 19 July. A flock of c.800 White Storks C. ciconia was at Illiassa and a second of c.650 near Farafenni, North Bank Division, in November. A report from 14 October of two subadult Egyptian Vultures Neophron percnopterus over Kotu rubbish dump, WD, with Hooded Vultures Necrosyrtes monachus, is the first for several years; only one previous record, from the early 1990s in Lower River Division, involves two individuals, all the others being of singles. A Lappet-faced Vulture Torgos tracheliotus with 20+ Eurasian Griffon Vultures Gyps fulvus was photographed on the north bank on 25 November. A White-headed Vulture Trigonoceps occipitalis flew over Sabi with griffon vultures Gyps spp. and two Beaudouin’s Snake Eagles Circaetus beaudouini on 19 May. An Ayres’s Hawk Eagle Hieraaetus ayresii flew across the Gambia River near Tendaba Camp on 24 November. A White-bellied Bustard Eupodotis senegalensis, the first for many years, was photographed on the north bank on 25 November.
Some 400 pairs of Grey-headed Gulls Larus cirrocephalus investigated an ephemeral sandbar at Banjul, created by a beach reclamation project, on 13 March; many nest platforms were built and up to 20 pairs successfully raised young in July, making this the second breeding site for The Gambia, the other being the Bijol Islands in Tanji Bird Reserve. A record of number of 17 Kelp Gulls Larus dominicanus were present at Tanji Bird Reserve, WD, on 29 October, amongst which five ringed individuals had originated from the Sine Saloum colony in Senegal. At the same locality, colour-ringed Lesser Blacked-backed Gulls L. fuscus from Norway and Spain were noted in November. Also there, a Sooty Tern Sterna fuscata was seen on 7 March, and a Bridled Tern S. anaethetus on 24 July; the latter at a roost with 1,000 Great White Pelicans Pelecanus onocrotalus. A Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii was photographed at Banjul on 21 November. Thousands of Black Terns Chlidonias niger passed inshore Banjul from 30 August to 1 September; in 2006 their passage lasted over two weeks. An African Skimmer Rynchops flavirostris at Tanji Bird Reserve on 13 September is a very rare beach record; another was seen at Janjanbureh, Central River Division, on 24 November
An adult Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius at Kotu, WD, on 10 February is a scarce mid dry-season sighting; an independent juvenile, still with gape flanges, was hunting hairy caterpillars at Radio Syd, Banjul, on 24 August. A Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus was at Tanji Bird Reserve, WD, on 22 September; there are few recent records in the country. A Yellowbill Ceuthmochares aereus was heard at Brufut, WD, on 12 October, whilst a Greyish Eagle Owl Bubo cinerescens was seen regularly in a housing development at the same locality from 22 September into November; there are recent breeding reports from coastal Western Division.
The record of a female Black-crowned Sparrow Lark Eremopterix nigriceps included in the previous recent reports was not the first for The Gambia as stated, but the first with a photographic proof; there are two previous claims. The Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe reportedly photographed on 31 December 2006 was actually the fifth Black-eared Wheatear Oe. hispanica for the country.
A male Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius in fresh plumage was photographed on Brufut cliffs near Tanji Bird Reserve, WD, on 14 October; this is the first report for several years. A Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus mist-netted at Kartong, WD, on 22 August and a juvenile Common Whitethroat Sylvia communis on 24 August are early records. A Brown-necked Raven Corvus ruficollis at Tanji fish-landing site on 29 October constitutes the first record for some years; all previous ones are from the Banjul area in the dry season. Regarding the first Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris for The Gambia, seen at Tendaba airfield on 13 January, a growing number of cruise ships from southern Europe sail up to the Tendaba area of the Gambia River, increasing the possibility of ship-assisted birds arriving in the country.
Records from November 2006 - January 2007 include the following. A sub-adult Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus over Sabi on 7 December is the first record from Upper River Division; also there was a Lappet-faced Vulture Torgos tracheliotus. Many African White-backed Vultures Gyps africanus were attending nests in Borassus palms in Central River Division on 11 December. An adult Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle Circaetus beaudouini flew over Kunkilling Forest Park, CRD, on 11 December. A Danish-ringed Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus found killed by a plane-strike at Yundum, Western Division, on 27 November is the third Danish sub-Saharan recovery. An immature Red-thighed Sparrowhawk Accipiter erythropus was in Abuko, WD, on 11 January, and a pair of Ovambo Sparrowhawks A. ovampensis at Jambur Woods. An Ayres’s Hawk Eagle Hieraaetus ayresii with an immaculate white head flew over Kiang West, Lower River Division, on 15 December and a Barbary Falcon Falco pelegrinoides over Sabi, URD, on 22 November.
At least ten Adamawa Turtle Doves Streptopelia hypopyrrha singing in Kunkilling Forest Park, CRD, on 30 December, are an indication of the good numbers present there; a nest has still not been found. Two same-sized fledgling Levaillant’s Cuckoos Clamator levaillantii were being fed by a group of five Brown Babblers Turdoides plebejus at Abuko Nature Reserve, WD, on 9 December. A number of road-killed and live, adult and first-year Red-necked Nightjars Caprimulgus ruficollis were collected and photographed in CRD November - December. A Golden-tailed Woodpecker Campethera abingoni was at Tumani Tenda and Tendaba, WD, in January; this is a rare and elusive species in The Gambia.
A female Black-crowned Sparrow Lark Eremopterix nigriceps was photographed at Kaur wetlands, just east of Farafenni, North Bank Division, on 9 December; this would be the first for The Gambia, if accepted. A Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe in full breeding plumage (rarely seen in The Gambia) was photographed at Kerewan, North Bank Division, on 31 December. A female or non-breeding male Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca seen well at Tumani Tenda exhibited all the features of subspecies iberiae or speculigera, the latter often considered a full species, Atlas Flycatcher. A Southern Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis was at Sapu, CRD, on 14 December; this rare visitor is usually seen near the coast. A Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris seen by several observers at Tendaba airfield on 13 January constitutes the first for The Gambia; Birds of Western Africa (Borrow & Demey 2001) mentions only four previous records from the region, two each from northern Mauritania and the Cape Verdes.
Records from June–November 2006 include the following. A juvenile Beaudouin's Snake Eagle Circaetus beaudouini flew over Sabi, Upper River Division, on 22 June. A single Lesser Moorhen Gallinula angulata at Camaloo Corner is a rare coastal record. Two Black-bellied Bustards Lissotis melanogaster flew over the Banjul-Barra river estuary on 24 July. An exhausted and moribund Red Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius with a missing leg was found at Kotu on 22 August. The first confirmed Sooty Tern Sterna fuscata for The Gambia was watched for c30 minutes and photographed at Tanji Bird Reserve on 25 August; what was presumed to be the same individual was seen again on 3 December at the same site. A Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus was photographed at Banjul on 20 October, with another reliable claim from the south of the country around the same time; these may constitute the first records for many decades. A Plain-backed Pipit Anthus leucophrys and three Black-faced Quailfinches Ortygospiza atricollis close to the beach at Banjul on 14 September are unusual records for the area.
Belated records from January 2005 include two Grasshopper Warblers Locustella naevia on Janjanbureh Island, Central River Division, on 13th, and an Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana near Tendaba Camp, Lower River Division, on 17th.
Records from November 2005-May 2006 include the following. An unidentified frigatebird was photographed at Tanji in December. A flock of 43 Northern Gannets Sula bassana was seen off Banjul on 18 February. At Sabi, Upper River Division, three young Red-necked Kestrels Falco chicquera were ready to leave their nest on 29 April. A Spotted Crake Porzana porzana was at Jakhaly wetlands, west of Georgetown, CRD, on 27 November; the only acceptable previous record is one heard calling at Pirang, in October 1988. A White-rumped Sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis was claimed from Kau-er wetlands, with a single Curlew Sandpiper C. ferruginea and Little Stints C. minuta nearby, on 24 November; this would constitute a new species for the country, if accepted. Two Brown Sunbirds Anthreptes gabonicus, regularly seen around a swimming pool at Banjul in February, are an unusual record. A flock of 36 House Sparrows Passer domesticus at Banjul on 12 May is the largest to date since a few were found in 1985.
Records from July-December 2005 include the following. A group of 25 Wilson’s Storm-petrels Oceanites oceanicus, encountered c.25 miles off the Gambian coast at 13°30’N 17°02’W on 2 July, is the largest group recorded in Gambian waters in recent years. A juvenile Dwarf Bittern Ixobrychus sturmii at a seasonal pond at Sao Forest Park, on the north bank of Central River Division (CRD), was well watched and photographed on 7 October; this is a rare bird in The Gambia. A young Helmeted Guineafowl Numida meleagris killed on the road and collected 10 km west of N’Jau, CRD, on 8 October is the first proof of breeding in that Division. At Kaur, CRD, a record 107 White-headed Lapwings Vanellus albiceps were counted on 8 October. At the same site, c.2,000 Collared Pratincoles Glareola pratincola roosted on 5 October. In December, a Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii was found at Palm Grove lagoon, Banjul, on 12th and an American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica at Cape creek, near Banjul, on 4th. Several calling Adamawa Turtle Doves Streptopelia hypopyrrha were at Kunkilling and Tankandama Eco-Trails, CRD, on 15 December.
Records from the period October 2004-April 2005 include the following. A male Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus of the Palearctic race was observed at Marakissa, Western Division, on 14 January. An Abdim's Stork Ciconia abdimii soared over Sabi on 16 November and another over Dobbo Forest Park, north of the river, Central River Division, on 21 April. A pair of Shikras Accipiter badius was observed nest-building at Georgetown, Central River Division on 23 April; the only previous proven breeding record was at Abuko Nature Reserve, Western Division, in April-June 1999 (Bull. ABC 8: 44–45). A Short-toed Snake Eagle Circaetus gallicus flew over Prufu Swamp, Basse, Upper River Division, on 31 October, and a juvenile Beaudouin's Snake Eagle C. beaudouini over Kunkilling Forest Park, Central River Division, on 25 April. At Marakissa, Western Division, a male Spotted Crake Porzana porzana was seen on 14 January; according to A Field Guide to Birds of The Gambia and Senegal (Barlow et al. 1997) the last documented record is of one heard in 1988. An Allen's Gallinule Porphyrio alleni in non-breeding plumage was at Sapu, Central River Division, on 9 April. An unusual record from Kai Hai Island on the Gambia River on 26 March involved an African Finfoot Podica senegalensis foraging around the rump of a partially submerged cow hippo with calf. At one point the finfoot continued to forage whilst perched on the cow.
Two or three Savile's Bustards Eupodotis savilei were singing at Saba, North Bank Division, on 26 April; the species is generally thought to be vocal only in the rains but this record and others from late January suggest it sings in all seasons. A Franklin’s Gull Larus pipixcan was at Banjul, on the beach behind Albert Market, on 8-9 February until 15 March at least. Two adult Kelp Gulls L. dominicanus were recorded on Bijol Islands, Western Division, on 30 January, and another two at Tanji on 10 February. The first Bridled Tern Sterna anaethetus for The Gambia was identified on Bijol Islands on 24 March. A Shining-blue Kingfisher Alcedo quadribrachys, a rare species in The Gambia, was seen on Georgetown waterfront on 23 March.
A Banded Martin Riparia cincta was at Kunkilling, Central River Division, on 7 February amongst a large group of Common Sand Martins R. riparia; there are few previous Gambian records. Bluethroats Luscinia svecica cyanecula were regularly seen at Prufu Swamp, Basse, Upper River Division, in January-February, with a maximum of three individuals on 9 February; all were males in full breeding plumage. A female in fresh plumage was seen at Sapu, Central River Division, on 9 April. The first Desert Sparrows Passer simplex for the country were photographed in December near Illisa, North Bank Division. A group of c25 Bar-breasted Firefinches Lagonosticta rufopicta was seen north of the river near Wassu, Central River Division, on 18 February and a further six at Sapu on 9 April; these are the first records of groups of this species in The Gambia for over a decade. Also at Sapu on 9 April, three Orange-breasted Waxbills Sporaeginthus subflavus were observed. A Sahel Paradise-Whydah Vidua orientalis in eclipse plumage mimicking Green-winged Pytilia Pytilia melba was heard at Kunkilling, Central River Division, on 9 April and sound-recorded on 20th, with an Exclamatory Paradise-Whydahs V. interjecta mimicking Red-winged Pytilia P. phoenicoptera also there; no pytilias have yet been found at this site.
A belated report was received of single first-winter Laughing Gulls Larus atricilla observed at Tanji on 16 January 2003 and on Bund Road on 19th.
Records from October–December 2004 include the following. A Black Stork Ciconia nigra was seen at Lamin, near Abuko, Western Division in November and a European White Stork C. ciconia at Prufu Swamp, Upper River Division on 4 December. A dark phase European Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus and a Bat Hawk Macheiramphus alcinus were observed at Bao-Bolon, North Bank Division on 31 October. A Red-thighed Sparrowhawk Accipiter erythropus with very rufous underparts was watched at Pirang, Western Division on 30 November. Also in November, two adult Lesser Moorhens Gallinula angulata with a juvenile were seen between Kaur and Georgetown, Central River Division. An independent juvenile Black Coucal Centropus grillii was at Sapu, Central River Division on 2 December. A pair of Spotted Eagle Owls Bubo africanus with a juvenile, observed at Mandina, Western Division in November, is indicative of breeding in the country . Single road-killed Red-necked Nightjars Caprimulgus ruficollis were found in Central River Division at Kaur on 31 October and near Georgetown on 2 November. An Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba flew over Sabi, near Basse, Upper River Division, in a mixed flock of swifts and hirundines on 2 November; the remains of an Alpine Swift were recovered under a nest of Red-necked Falcon Falco chicquera near this site earlier in the year and constituted the fourth record of the species for The Gambia. Over 1,000 European Bee-eaters Merops apiaster circled over Bao-Bolon wetland reserve, North Bank Division on 30 November.
Three Sun Larks Galerida modesta, including one in aerial display, were observed at Tanu, Central River Division on 6 December; this species was previously only known from a few sites on the north bank in Upper River Division and has recently been discovered south-east of Basse, near Sabi. Eight Plain Martins Riparia paludicola were with Common Sand Martins R. riparia at Kwinella, Lower River Division on 8 December; a rarely recorded species in The Gambia. At Prufu Swamp, Upper River Division, two Orphean Warblers Sylvia hortensis were found on 4 December; this species is new for Upper River Division, most records coming from coastal areas. In November, House Buntings Emberiza striolata were observed at Kaiaf, Lower River Division (a female on 1st), Tendaba, Western Division (a pair) and Bansang Quarry, Central River Division (three); the only previous recent record was that of a male near Belel, Central River Division, in December 2002.
Records from August 2003 to June 2004 include the following. Two White-crested Tiger Herons Tigriornis leucolopha were seen in Bao Bolon Wetland Reserve on 25 February. Three Abdim's Storks Ciconia abdimii were at Sabi, east of Basse on 13 June, with one reappearing briefly on 10th. Two European White Storks C. ciconia were soaring over Sabi on 26 August, at the height of the wet season; all previous records from The Gambia are from the dry season. Eurasian Griffon Vultures Gyps fulvus were continually present in the area around Basse in the period January to June, with maxima of 12 over Sabi on 6 February, and more than 35 dominating a group of 150+ large vultures around a fresh horse carcass near the same village on 30 April. An Ayres's Hawk Eagle Hieraaetus ayresii was seen south of Basse, on 12 February; this is the second recent sighting of this species in the area, following that of one on 23 August. A Lesser Moorhen Galinula angulata was photographed near Bakalari, 20 km east of Banjul on 27 February; this is an unusual locality and date. Three sightings of Great Snipe Gallinago media, possibly all of the same bird, were made at Prufu Swamp on 17 January; this species is rare in The Gambia. An Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea was seen following the Banjul ferry on 24 January.
The Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba remains found under an active Red-necked Falcon Falco chicquera nest east of Basse on 4 March, constitute the fourth record of this species for The Gambia. Black-backed Cisticola Cisticola eximius in non-breeding plumage was studied at length at Tanji Bird Reserve on 21 January; this species is rarely recorded in The Gambia and this may be the first for Tanji. An Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana was photographed at Bansang Quarry on 5 December.
Records from October 2002 to September 2003 include the following. An Abdim's Stork Ciconia abdimii was seen soaring over Prufu Swamps, Basse in October and ten were photographed at Sabi, east of Basse, on 11 June; there are only a few records from The Gambia. Some 70 European White Storks C. ciconia flew over Bao-Bolon in late November and up to 150 over Tendaba in early December; these are exceptionally high numbers for The Gambia. On 17 January, 5 Black Storks C. nigra passed Baboon Island while 7 European White Storks flew over near Barajali ferry crossing. In February, a flock of c45 European White Storks was catching the morning thermals near Farafenni. Also in February, a Saddle-billed Stork Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis was noted at Pirang. A male and a female Gadwall Anas strepera were claimed from the Kaur Wetlands in November; these would be the first for the country. Two Barbary Falcons Falco pelegrinoides were observed near Keneba on 3 February. A Bronze-winged Courser Rhinoptilus chalcopterus was hunting insects after dark around a low lamp on the Palm Grove Hotel lawn, Banjul, on 21 May.
A Great Skua Catharacta skua was on a beach of Bijol Islands on 30 January. Little Gull Larus minutus was reported from Tanji in November. Some 5,500 Slender-billed Gulls Larus genei were counted on 10 to 12 January at the Tanbi Wetland complex, Sanyang and Tanji; the main breeding site, with several thousand pairs, is just to the north, on île aux Oiseaux, Delta du Saloum National Park, Senegal. Five Kelp Gulls Larus dominicanus were also there on 12 February. A juvenile Black-legged Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla was spotted from the Banjul ferry on 28 January. On 23 September, a single European Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur was feeding on a track with two Vinaceous Doves S. vinacea at Tujering (13°19'N 16°47'W); this species is infrequent at the coast in the dry season and exceptional during the rains anywhere in The Gambia. A Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus flew over Fajara on 13 January. A pair of Golden-tailed Woodpeckers Campethera abingoni was observed and their calls recorded along Bund Road on 12 July and along Old Cape Road on 17 July; this species is rarely seen in The Gambia. Singing Great Reed Warblers Acrocephalus arundinaceus were recorded at Sapu in early December and at Tendaba in mid January; this is a rarely seen and probably under-recorded species in the country.
A wing found at N'jau on 31 January 2002, is now thought to be from a White-bellied Bustard Eupodotis senegalensis; this is the first indication of the occurrence of this species in The Gambia since the late 1980s. A Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus with a metallic ring on the right leg and a blue ring on the left, seen at Tanji Bird Reserve on 23 January 2002, appears to have been ringed on 17 July 1999 as a juvenile in Iceland, 5,653 km away. A Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix was observed at Sabi on 25 May 2002; the few previous records are from the coast.
An adult Franklin's Gull Larus pipixcan was photographed at Banjul on 17 January 2002. An immature Eurasian Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus was seen near Kerr Jaïn on 28 November 2002. A Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus was disturbed while roosting at Pirang Shrimp Ponds on 16 February 2003; all previous records of this scarce trans-Saharan migrant are from the Upper River Division. A Spotted Honeyguide Indicator maculatus was observed at length at Marakissa on 10 February; this is a rare species in The Gambia.