Long-tailed Nightjar (above) and 50 African Jacana. Most importantly 250 Western Palearctic passerines were caught including warblers such as Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Melodious, Subalpine, Orphean, Bonelli's, Western Olivaceous, Reed and Sedge as well as Nightingale, Redstart, Bluethroat, Tree Pipit and an amazing 19 Woodchat Shrikes (below top). We also saw an Osprey with a satelite tag but were unable to read the colour ring. Some of the African birds were doing some very interesting moult strategies, but the most curious was a 1st winter Chiffchaff that was in active primary moult. As we know neither adults nor first year birds moult in their wintering quarters, so it seems like it could actually have been an Iberian Chiffchaff (below bottom) which does moult in this way and would also be a new species for The Gambia. The team also proved winter site fidelity with a Melodious Warbler that was retrapped after being ringed here in March and some direct migration thanks to three birds that were already ringed by other ringing schemes. The first was from a Sandwich Tern with a BTO ring that had been ringed on Coquet Island, Northumberland earlier this year, followed by another Sandwich Tern from Helgoland, Germany and a Sedge Warbler wearing a French ring. Can't wait for the feedback on these.
|Woodchat Shrike study group|
|possible Iberian Chiffchaff in wing moult|
|Eastern Olivaceous Warbler|
|Difference between Western (left) and Eastern (right) Olivaceous Warbler - note the paler colour and the shorter and thinner bill of Eastern, also noted was pinker shade to the legs with the legs of Western being greyer.|
|Purple Glossy Starling|
|Double-spurred Francolin - unfortunately unringable due to the appendages below! Must be another way we can tag these birds so that we can learn more about them!|
|Yes, that is my blood!|
|African Pygmy Kingfisher - one of two caught that were originally ringed over 3 years ago|
|Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu - renamed on the trip as Red-cheeked Gordon Bennet by Mr Prior to defy the French!|
|Spur-winged Plover - caught over 60 and fitted with leg flags. What an amazing attacking device on its carpal joint!|
|Yellow-winged Bat - the most impressive of a number of bats caught.|
|Yellow-winged Bat - head view|
|African Paradise Flycatcher|
|A very excited team having caught two European ringed Sandwich Terns as well as two Grey-headed Gull, Whimbrel and Slender-billed Gull|
|African Jacana - makes a noise like a Velocoraptor and feet like a spider!|
|Laura and her three Orphean Warblers|
|A very happy Colin with the first Blue-cheeked Bee-eater to be caught in the area especially as it is the emblem of the Kartong Bird Observatory|
|Wood Sandpiper study group|
|The big boy - Giant Kingfisher|
|...and with two of its cousins the smaller Malachite above (also the most aggressive in the hand) and Pied below|
|An amazing beast eyeing up a Lanner Falcon|
|...and another view - how it stayed in the net we will never know!|
|Crested Lark - one of three caught on the edge of the mangroves|
|One of six Cattle Egrets caught being held by Manuel|
|African Grey Hornbill|
|Standard-winged Nightjar - a female so no flamboyant flight feathers|
|The Gambian whoosh netting team with Toby and Keith and their catch of four Piapiacs.|
|Piapiac - these birds with amazing purple eyes are being darvic colour ringed so hopefully lots of in field sightings may highlight how far these birds are moving.|
After two hours and in near darkness we finished, having no disturbance from crocodiles, but on removing my waders I found 24 leeches attached to my legs! My initial response being to take them off as quickly as possible was the wrong move, but Doc Keith was at hand to apply bandages, ably assisted by 1st Lieutenant Walsh who also proved to be a very good nurse. The hidden talents of a Headmaster!
A big thank you to all of the intrepid team, Jez Blackburn (ringer in charge), Colin Cross and Binta (Kartong Bird Observatory), the Gambian helpers Moses, Manuel, Denbo and Abdoulie and the village of Kartong for enabling such an amazing trip! Also to Hanni and the staff at Lemonfish who managed to keep up with my voracious food appetite!
Another team are heading out at the end of January so I wish them a very jealous best of luck. Hope we left some birds for you to ring!