Abuko birdlife and Kiang West National Park are  Paradise for Bird Watchers

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    Abuko birdlife - Paradise for Bird Watchers

    Well over three hundred species of birds are the chief faunal delight of Abuko. This is the closest patch of tropical forest to Europe, and each winter it attracts thousands of bird-waters and host of Palearctic migrants (willow warblers, chiffchaffs, and black caps, melodious warbler) to swell the numbers of its native species. Most obvious are the water birds – a couple of photos hides overlooking the stream and pools are usually occupied by murmuring birders. Look out for kingfishers (blue-breasted, Senegal malachite and pied), the “umbrella fishing” black heron and two great bird-watcher’s sights – the painted snipe (the male incubates the eggs) and the stunning red-bellied paradise flycatcher, with its thirty-centimetre-long tail feathers. You can generally see hammer kops around the pool at the start of the trail; in flight, their swept-back crest of feathers and pointed beaks make them look exactly like miniature pterodactyls, and their huge nests, courtship displays and trumpet calls are remarkable. In the clearings, wait to see Fanti rough-winged swallows and the occasional shikra darting through the light and, and, and above the forest canopy, hooded vultures, black kites, swooping bee-eaters and rollers and maybe palm nut vultures.

    Kiang west national park

    The south-bank road turns north over the head of Bintang Bolon, passing the Kiang West National Park to the west. This is one of the widest, least explored regions in the country, 11o square kilometers mainly comprised of dry deciduous woodland and guinea savannah, but also containing mangrove creeks and tidal flats. Bound to the north by Gambia river and dissected into three areas by the Jarin, Jali and Nganinkoi bolons, the park is one of the most important reservoirs of wildlife in the Gambia, harboring representatives of most of the remaining mammal species, including sitatunga, bushbuck and duiker, clawless otter, warthog and spotted hyena, west African manatees and dolphins are occasionally seen at Jarin bolon. The area also possesses an impressive range of more than 300 birds including the threatened brown-necked parrot, 21 birds of prey, all ten species of Gambian kingfisher and the booming ground hornbill.

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