A bit of news from our little neighbour

It’s about time we reported some news from Gambia on this blog.

Clive Barlow’s recent appointment as official bird recorder for The Gambia is a great excuse to do so. Given its peculiar enclaved geography – just like my home country, a bit of an accident of history, Gambia has always had close ties to Big Brother Senegal, in many ways – cultural, religious, linguistic, ethnic, economic… In the same way, Senegal’s and Gambia’s wildlife and ecosystems are of course intricately connected. A key difference, however, is that despite it being just about 6% of the size of its neighbour, The Gambia has a much higher density of resident birders, birding tours, and local guides, and as such is far better covered, ornithologically speaking, than Senegal.

Want some examples to illustrate the connections between the two? Here’s a first one: the wanderings of Abuko, one of several Gambian “Hoodies” that are equipped with satellite tracking devices. As a youngster, this particular Hooded Vulture was a keen traveler, having covered a good deal of central Senegal, Western Casamance (where it seemingly has taken up residence), and upriver Gambia. The map below shows its movements for the past 4 years.

Abuko movements 2017-12-03

 

Another example are the Slender-billed Gulls, Caspian Terns, and Royal Terns that breed in Senegal’s Saloum delta, many of which make it to The Gambia at some point. Take for instance Slender-billed Gull “POL” ringed as a chick in June 2014 at the Ile aux Oiseaux, and seen at Tanji Bird Reserve on 16/3/15, 14/4/15 and again the following winter, on 5/2/16. Among the 40+ other recoveries of the Saloum’s breeders in TG, another one is AUF: ringed on 15/6/15 at Jakonsa (also in the PNDS), it was seen on 26/8/15 at Tanji, and then almost a year later, on 26/6/16, at our very own Technopole.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Slender-billed Gull / Goéland railleur “POL” (John Hamilton & CrB)

 

And now for the very official announcement of Clive’s appointment, by the West African Bird Study Association from Gambia (WABSA):

“As from 15 Oct 2017 WABSA is pleased to appoint Clive R Barlow as the voluntary Country Recorder for bird observations in The Gambia. WABSA intends an annual Gambia bird report & general update of activities for presentation to DPWM & this publication will then will be accessible to all resident ornithologists & visiting birders. The work will also compliment the GIS bio diversity project currently under planning at DPWM. More news of e.g. single species enquiries, colour ring reports, nest/breeding records, will be notified as the project develops. In the meantime various report forms are being developed but feel welcome to email your ad hoc records, trip reports etc past, present & future to CliveRB [email]. Additionally, all related field research activities will involve WABSA and DPWM staff also to partake voluntarily in the absence or presence of funding. ”

So, if you visit TG: please send your records, whether of common birds or rarities, to Clive.

Clive also runs a project on the phenology of Paleartic passerine migrants to The Gambia, running from as far back as 1965 to present, systematically recording the first arrival  and last departure dates in the coastal area (Banjul – Tujering). In 2017, we have for instance the last record of Western Olivaceous Warbler in 29/03, with the first return bird as early as 28/07, while Subalpine Warbler was last seen on 26/04 and had a first returning bird on 06/10; Common Swift 14/04 & 30/07, etc. The first Common Nightingale of the autumn was heard singing on 13/11.

Watch this space for more trans-border collaborations and publications! (next up: Great Shearwater in Senegambia, status of Kelp Gull, and more!).

I certainly hope to make it to TG some time soon, to see what’s all the fuss about and visit some of the hotspots such as Tanji, Kartong, Abuko Forest, Kiang West and so on.

And meet CrB in real life 😉

 

For now, I’m off to the Djoudj, Langue de Barbarie, Lompoul and Somone. Happy holidays!

 

(Featured image: “Beach Boys” by CrB, 2017)

 

 

 

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