18 November 2010

New Bird Observatory in the Gambia

Volunteer ringers from the UK have just returned from their first trip to the Kartong Bird Observatory, to help understand bird demography in the Gambia. During the 11 day trip more than 800 birds were processed and measurements taken. The majority of the birds ringed were African but there were some Palearctic migrants which were just arriving including Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Olivaceous Warbler, Yellow Wagtail, Sedge and Reed Warbler.

During the nights it was very dark, due to the new moon and provided great lamping conditions for Long-tailed Nightjar, Painted Snipe, Senegal Thick-knee and Spur-winged Plover. Local bird guides and birders will be able to take part in reporting leg flagged Spur-winged Plovers throughout Gambia and the movements of the whoosh netted Hooded Vultures will be very interesting (below).

Ringing demonstrations were run mid week to introduce the local school children to bird conservation and it was received very well with many fascinated faces. Some notable birds were Yellow-crowned Gonolek (pictured), Levaillant’s Cuckoo and Blue-breasted Kingfisher (1 of the 6 species of kingfishers caught).

Future annual expeditions will provide more valuable data, with the next trip being March 2011. Maybe more new birds will be added to the Gambian list like Cassin's Honeyguide as on this occasion.

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