A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about flying birds

Isle of May & Bass Rock

Well worth the hassle to finally get here!


View Scotland & Lake District 2021 on Grete Howard's travel map.

These is a long story behind my gannet workshop to Bass Rock off the Scottish east coast, starting with one of our very first  first motorhome trips; during which we got as far as Sheffield before the van broke down. Instead of going to Scotland, we travelled back home on a recovery trailer. 

On the second attempt we managed to get the motorhome as far as Seahouses, only to be told the workshop was cancelled because of bad weather. 

The following year (2020), a photographer friend from the USA, Freddy, was planning to come over to visit us with his wife, so I booked TWO places for the gannet diving workshop. Of course Freddy never did come over, and the workshop was called off because of the Covid 19 pandemic.

After rebooking the workshop (again) this year (2021) for myself and Freddy, it becomes clear that visitors from the US are still not allowed to enter the UK, so our friend Paul from Scotland agrees to take over Freddy's place on the boat trip. A couple of weeks before the trip, Paul had a stroke so sadly will not be coming with me out on the boat (post note: Paul is recovering well). I suggest David takes his place instead, even if he is not really interested in photography.

Unfortunately the fishing boat we are supposed to be going out on, does not manage to get its certificate allowing it to carry passengers in time, so the workshop is yet again cancelled. I am now beginning to think we are jinxed.

Spending some time on the internet looking for a replacement boat trip, I come across BlueWild and arrange for them to take me - and David - out on a privately chartered trip to Isle of May and Bass Rock. 

The day before we are due to go out, their boat breaks down, so our trip is yet again cancelled (are the gods trying to tell us something?). Thankfully, they are able to get the repairs done in a day, and re-schedule us for a couple of days later.

On the sixth attempt, we finally manage to get out on a boat! All I will say at this point, is that it is so worth the wait!

This is the boat that will take us out, with skipper Alan, and crew Philip. It really does make a huge difference to have the boat to ourselves - we have given up group tours some time ago, as we prefer the flexibility of being just the two of us, so this is perfect from that point of view. Alan does everything he can to make sure we see what we want to see, and that I get the shots I want.

large_10522870-d10a-11eb-8b3b-d19bcc7bcaa5.jpg

After a quick, but thorough safety briefing, we leave Dunbar Harbour and head straight across the Firth of Forth shipping channel to Isle of May.

large_cea8a8d0-d10a-11eb-8b3b-d19bcc7bcaa5.jpg
Dunbar Harbour

large_513ed490-d1b5-11eb-91cb-a5f25ea1ff28.jpg

BlueWild is one of the few companies that have a licence to land on Isle of May, and we are offered the opportunity to so so should we wish. As my main purpose of this trip is to see the gannets at Bass Rock, we decide to forego the landing on this occasion.

large_3aed7ca0-d10b-11eb-9397-552c1a307d8a.jpg
Isle of May

large_f8aeb320-d111-11eb-bfdd-8df6638fc9d9.jpg
There seem to be plenty of people on the island on well defined paths

Until I spoke to Alan on the phone about this trip a few days ago, I had no idea that puffins make their home on the island. Alan explains that sometimes you see whole rafts of them on the surface of the water, but so far this year there have only be a few around.

The first birds we see, however, are kittiwakes - there is a colony of them roosting at the entrance to Dunbar harbour.

large_581f4ba0-d110-11eb-a2de-6197e88f7c2b.jpg

I get very excited when I see a small flock of gannets flying low over the water. Alan assures me that I will see plenty more later on. That has to be the understatement of the year!

large_5e0ece90-d111-11eb-8428-a7a7a75b2e52.jpg

I still get a bit carried away taking photos of them.

large_9dd8c350-d111-11eb-bfdd-8df6638fc9d9.jpg

large_9d3dbbd0-d111-11eb-8428-a7a7a75b2e52.jpg

Alan does warn us that we are likely to get 'blessed' at some stage during this trip - he is right!

large_d93042c0-d111-11eb-bfdd-8df6638fc9d9.jpg

Being a great fan of puffins, I am delighted to just spot one single one.

large_316b3c60-d112-11eb-bfdd-8df6638fc9d9.jpg

They are so comical the way they run across the water when they take off!

large_08ea03b0-d113-11eb-8428-a7a7a75b2e52.jpg

large_089c58e0-d113-11eb-8428-a7a7a75b2e52.jpg

large_2bb38060-d113-11eb-8428-a7a7a75b2e52.jpg

large_5f5c9960-d113-11eb-8428-a7a7a75b2e52.jpg

We soon start seeing more and more of them floating in rafts too. Alan shuts the engine to an idle as we drift through them. Some take fright and fly off as soon as they spot us, others totally ignore us, and let us float right on by.

large_d24e1b10-d113-11eb-8428-a7a7a75b2e52.jpg

large_3788dec0-d114-11eb-8428-a7a7a75b2e52.jpg

large_d8ef5740-d113-11eb-8428-a7a7a75b2e52.jpg

The experience of just sliding past a whole raft of puffins, is truly magical!

large_b1e2bd30-d114-11eb-891a-dbcbbae9e481.jpg

I get some really good close-up photos too!

large_b12e1330-d114-11eb-8428-a7a7a75b2e52.jpg

Photography is challenging to say the very least. The birds are bobbing up and down on the swell, and so is the boat, but seemingly to a different rhythm. I manage focus on the puffin, but the next minute all I can see in the viewfinder is sky, followed by the bird being being 'swallowed up' by the waves.

large_c2324420-d138-11eb-ae11-f9b2e450e57b.jpg

large_c261dfa0-d138-11eb-8f95-bd9a495e2d1f.jpg

My hit rate is appalling!

large_Waves.jpg

The area also has a great number of guillemots, and they remind me so much of penguins when they take off, the way they skim across the surface on their bellies, much like the stones we threw as kids!

large_6ebb5020-d115-11eb-891a-dbcbbae9e481.jpg

Except, of course, penguins never do take off, unlike guillemots!

large_9aa0fea0-d116-11eb-a54e-3192fcfb4dc3.jpg

Guillemots create rafts too!

large_c0cf94c0-d115-11eb-891a-dbcbbae9e481.jpg

We continue to the craggy shores of Isle of May.

large_ad0d2830-d133-11eb-9124-874575c2d87b.jpg

large_adf47af0-d133-11eb-8e5a-2b63b36b69bb.jpg

Steep cliffs and basalt pillars greet us, with thousands of guillemots crowding into every available space.

large_9543b880-d134-11eb-9124-874575c2d87b.jpg

In many places, the rocks are white with guano.

large_94941790-d134-11eb-9124-874575c2d87b.jpg

This would make an amazing jigsaw. For someone you don't like.

large_965d3ed0-d134-11eb-9124-874575c2d87b.jpg

As we make make our way around the island, the odd puffin appears on shore too.

large_0d53f510-d135-11eb-9124-874575c2d87b.jpg

large_76d981d0-d135-11eb-94b3-dfaf0d2a65c0.jpg

A couple of seals bask on the rocks, and a few heads pop out of the water to see what is going on.

large_27980c40-d135-11eb-94b3-dfaf0d2a65c0.jpg

large_26d42000-d135-11eb-9124-874575c2d87b.jpg

The Isle of May is home to an incredible array of wildlife, with up to 200,000 seabirds nesting here.

large_dca62540-d135-11eb-94b3-dfaf0d2a65c0.jpg
Kittiwakes

large_fa8e3e30-d135-11eb-94b3-dfaf0d2a65c0.jpg
Razorbill

large_fac7c4c0-d135-11eb-94b3-dfaf0d2a65c0.jpg
Shag

large_431d3980-d136-11eb-94b3-dfaf0d2a65c0.jpg
Cormorants and Herring Gulls

The steep cliffs hide beguiling grottos, with tales of smugglers and pirates.

large_2abe8eb0-d137-11eb-94b3-dfaf0d2a65c0.jpg

In a secluded bay stands the solitary rock pillar, known as 'The Bishop'.

large_9f83e600-d137-11eb-94b3-dfaf0d2a65c0.jpg

From Isle of May we make our way to Bass Rock, the home of 150,000 gannets. From a distance the flying gannets look like a swarm of mosquitoes around a light – they seem to be completely surrounding the rock.

large_9b3f20c0-d342-11eb-88f9-f7de0380f606.jpg

We can hear them long before we can make out each bird clearly: the racket is quite simply unbelievable! As we get nearer we can clearly see that the white dots on the top of the rock are in fact birds on nests. Wow!

large_faff9c10-d342-11eb-88f9-f7de0380f606.jpg

These large, striking-looking birds are everywhere: on the rocks, on the water and in the air.

large_90c2fee0-d343-11eb-88f9-f7de0380f606.jpg

Launching themselves off the rock, they hang on the thermals before diving into the depths of the sea to gather seaweed for their nest building.

large_9f729bd0-d343-11eb-88f9-f7de0380f606.jpg

large_396952a0-d345-11eb-9c05-053f1cb7bb18.jpg

large_48af6330-d345-11eb-9c05-053f1cb7bb18.jpg
The dots you see are not water droplets on my camera lens, they are in fact other flying birds!

large_710529a0-d345-11eb-9c05-053f1cb7bb18.jpg

large_b419d200-d344-11eb-9c05-053f1cb7bb18.jpg

large_d7ac9220-d344-11eb-9c05-053f1cb7bb18.jpg

I spend the rest of my time at sea shooting anything that moves. Only with my camera, of course. Here are a few of my favourite shots:

large_29f9b660-d73d-11eb-af52-e10a051b3ddb.jpg

large_3cadeba0-d73d-11eb-af52-e10a051b3ddb.jpg

large_50a83570-d73d-11eb-a692-8f6d9a68645e.jpg

large_62a94750-d73d-11eb-a692-8f6d9a68645e.jpg

large_6c38c9d0-d73d-11eb-a692-8f6d9a68645e.jpg
Can you believe that each one of those dots is in fact a gannet!

large_38997f60-d73e-11eb-a692-8f6d9a68645e.jpg

large_827a0b80-d73f-11eb-af52-e10a051b3ddb.jpg

One of my favourite moments of the trip is just sitting in the boat, gazing up at thousands of gannets effortlessly hovering overhead.

large_8811bc60-d73e-11eb-af52-e10a051b3ddb.jpg

One of my main photography aims of this excursion, is to capture a flying gannet with nesting materials in its beak. I take literally thousands of photographs to try and get a good one. As I said earlier, the extremely difficult conditions means my hit rate is dreadful! I do have some success, however.

large_67139460-d73f-11eb-a692-8f6d9a68645e.jpg

large_8262b2f0-d73f-11eb-a692-8f6d9a68645e.jpg

large_829d23e0-d73f-11eb-a692-8f6d9a68645e.jpg

large_c2bb2c10-d73f-11eb-a692-8f6d9a68645e.jpg
Another Surprise appearance – an Eider Duck

We finally have to say goodbye to Bass Rock and return to shore. I glance back and sigh with contentment, delighted that I finally managed to see and experience this wildlife extravaganza.

large_700cf490-d743-11eb-88c0-e33fe6c27e90.jpg

The circling gannets appear to be following us for a while, although I am pretty sure they are more interested in what is under the water than they are in us.

large_7f1ade20-d743-11eb-88c0-e33fe6c27e90.jpg

On our way back to Dunbar Harbour, Alan points out the ruins of the 14th century Tantallon Castle.

large_893f9bc0-d743-11eb-88c0-e33fe6c27e90.jpg

By the time we get back to solid land, I am soaked to the skin, slightly sunburnt, very cold, and covered in white spots from bird dropping; but I feel like I am floating on air with blissful excitement at what I have just witnessed. In all our travels I have never seen or experienced anything like it!

Posted by Grete Howard 11:18 Archived in Scotland Tagged birds cliffs scotland boat wildlife wild pirates seal seaweed gannets puffins cormorant smugglers boat_trip birds_nest bird_watching guano shag wildlife_photography flying_birds isle_of_may firth_of_forth dunbar dunbar_harbour guillemots bass_rock bluewild blue_wild eider kittiwake razorbill herring_gull smuggler_cove tantallon tantallon_castle Comments (2)

Ndutu I: chameleon, lions, migration, cheetah

Goodbye Serengeti, hello Ndutu


View Baby Boomers - Tanzania 2020 on Grete Howard's travel map.

It's late afternoon as we leave Serengeti National park behind and head for pastures new, with five nights in the Ndutu region of Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

There are just as many zebras here as there were the other side of the park border. Of course the animals don't have to check in and out of the parks as we do, and there are no physical borders.

large_f0e58450-6913-11ea-864c-cb28ddf2f402.jpg

Wattled Starling

A tree by the side of the road is alive with these colourful and impressive-looking birds.

large_bbc4a2f0-6914-11ea-864c-cb28ddf2f402.jpg

large_c660da80-6914-11ea-864c-cb28ddf2f402.jpg

They get their name from the long wattles found on the throat of breeding male birds, who also display unfeathered yellow skin and a black forehead (the rest of the year they are a dull grey)

large_d3ef5000-6914-11ea-864c-cb28ddf2f402.jpg

large_dcefd8f0-6914-11ea-864c-cb28ddf2f402.jpg

large_f5913ca0-6914-11ea-864c-cb28ddf2f402.jpg

large_ff248fb0-6914-11ea-937d-2fac90657d54.jpg
Female

Jackson's Chameleon

Without warning, Malisa comes to a screeching halt on the apparently empty road. Except it is not so empty. Malisa's eyes never cease to amaze me – he has spotted a chameleon crossing the road!

large_b1e12cb0-6917-11ea-b0dc-4b753bedd9e3.jpg

They are seriously bizarre in the way they walk.


Having safely crossed the road, our little friend disappears up the bank and into the undergrowth. What an exciting sighting!

large_bc6f8190-6917-11ea-b0dc-4b753bedd9e3.jpg

large_52c48b20-691a-11ea-9af8-3b57b1d81955.jpg
European White Stork, a seasonal migrant

large_a189f2e0-691a-11ea-9af8-3b57b1d81955.jpg
The dark line you see just before the horizon is thousands upon thousands of zebra and wildebeest making their annual migration through the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. Some 3-4 million animals in total are part of this spectacle.

Lions

Also watching this amazing phenomenon is a pride of seven lions, but not for the same reasons as us: they see it as a line-up of prospective lunch choices.

large_38d36400-691c-11ea-bc75-37280df93c28.jpg

Although this one seems to be watching us.

large_43e71580-691c-11ea-bc75-37280df93c28.jpg

Wildebeest

We soon find ourselves in the midst of the hoofed melee, surrounded by wildebeest on all sides.

large_ca583710-69fe-11ea-aa7d-5336bf737671.jpg

large_f9515c90-69fe-11ea-aa7d-5336bf737671.jpg
There are a few zebra amongst them too, but nowhere near the numbers we saw just a little bit further north in Serengeti.

At this time of the year, the plains of Ndutu are descended on by what is known as the 'Great Migration', and the animals are here to give birth to their babies before continuing on their never-ending quest for greener pastures. It is in the hope of seeing the young animals or even babies being born that we have chosen to come here now; we are therefore a little disappointed to see that there do not appear to be any little ones around, at least not in this herd.

large_e538dc60-69fe-11ea-aa7d-5336bf737671.jpg

We finally see this one single youngster in amongst all the adults.

large_12ea0270-6a08-11ea-b009-e7ffeed5ed77.jpg

He's full of life as he explores his new world.

large_456d0430-6ac7-11ea-b23e-4327cf48f350.jpg

large_4f7efd20-6ac7-11ea-8703-d341e2e13e99.jpg

large_58adc200-6ac7-11ea-b23e-4327cf48f350.jpg

At just a couple of days old, he doesn't know what to make of this egret.

large_9edf9370-6ac7-11ea-b23e-4327cf48f350.jpg

“I think I'll go back to mum.”

large_034fb420-6ac8-11ea-b23e-4327cf48f350.jpg

Mum, meanwhile, has a non-fare-paying passenger in the form of a wattled starling.

large_4d08b080-6ac8-11ea-b23e-4327cf48f350.jpg

The fare-dodger is soon evicted, however.

large_bda23870-6ac8-11ea-b23e-4327cf48f350.jpg

Cheetah

In he distance we see a few cars gathered and go off to investigate.

large_ebf2cc70-6ac9-11ea-bbfc-099fba8ceab3.jpg

Initially we can't see what they are all looking at, but then we spot a little head in the long grass.

large_15818b40-6ace-11ea-bbfc-099fba8ceab3.jpg

There is a mum and two young cubs, somewhere in the region of 5-7 months old, and they have a kill that they are feeding on. Their dinner, however, it completely overrun with flies!

large_400dd430-6ae3-11ea-b2ba-b3943a180500.jpg

large_3fb859d0-6ae6-11ea-8885-3f7f7b47317b.jpg

large_41509290-6ad1-11ea-a914-3da59606106b.jpg

Mum tries to move the carcass, but it proves too heavy for her.

large_8811de80-6aec-11ea-831c-0d5c12bb85ec.jpg

Having had enough to eat, they all join together and roll in the grass in an attempt to rid themselves of those pesky flies.

large_f4477600-6b6e-11ea-ac3b-efbc5fd82d13.jpg

large_feefbb80-6b6e-11ea-ac3b-efbc5fd82d13.jpg

large_088ad6c0-6b6f-11ea-ac3b-efbc5fd82d13.jpg

large_1d6128b0-6b6f-11ea-ac3b-efbc5fd82d13.jpg

large_11868ea0-6b78-11ea-8ad3-1961d8fe092d.jpg

large_27636a30-6b6f-11ea-ac3b-efbc5fd82d13.jpg

It's getting late and we need to be at the lodge before dark; and as we don't know what we might see on the way to delay us, Malisa wants to get going.

Great White Egrets and Abdim Storks

We are not the only ones heading for home – a great number of egrets and storks fly low on the way to their roosting sites for the night.

large_3d266730-6c4d-11ea-902d-0f61fcd3471b.jpg

large_4e9216e0-6c4d-11ea-902d-0f61fcd3471b.jpg

large_df7aa5a0-6c4d-11ea-902d-0f61fcd3471b.jpg

large_d1f6b770-6c4d-11ea-902d-0f61fcd3471b.jpg

Road Block

More and more ungulates are joining the migration this point, with the road being blocked in several places by wildebeest and zebra.

large_925c7250-6c5a-11ea-ba53-8f3deb0f5634.jpg

large_87824760-6c5a-11ea-ba53-8f3deb0f5634.jpg

Uh uh. It looks like there may be a road block of a different kind here; I hope we can manage to get through the puddles.

large_c0b0ba60-6c5c-11ea-9451-756f53dbf0b9.jpg

The cars in front of us have made it, so we should be OK. It probably looks worse than it actually is.

large_d6f62cb0-6c5c-11ea-9451-756f53dbf0b9.jpg

large_737c5d70-6c5d-11ea-9451-756f53dbf0b9.jpg

We're through!

Great White Egrets
As we cross the narrow strip of land between Lake Masek and Lake Ndutu, we see hundreds and hundreds of egrets fly low over the water as they are coming home to roost. The light is gorgeous with the setting sun giving the whole scene a warm, yellow glow.

large_382fca70-6dd1-11ea-b0c4-9b843c58933c.jpg

large_41102130-6dd1-11ea-a9cf-6587a9aa4c79.jpg

large_587eaa30-6dd1-11ea-a9cf-6587a9aa4c79.jpg

It's a spectacular sight, and we stay as long as we can before having to make the journey to the lodge for the night.

large_65ee7420-6dd1-11ea-a9cf-6587a9aa4c79.jpg

large_6f1bb260-6dd1-11ea-a9cf-6587a9aa4c79.jpg

large_812ace00-6dd1-11ea-a9cf-6587a9aa4c79.jpg

Ndutu Lodge

This is the third time we have stayed here at Ndutu Lodge, and as yet we've never arrived early enough to be able to have the time to sit around the camp fire before dinner.

large_8120a190-6de1-11ea-9c12-bf23da039322.jpg

Today is no different. By the time we have a shower and change, we are the last to arrive in the restaurant. The food here has always been excellent, but as they are under new management, we are a little concerned that this may have changed. We needn't have worried, it every bit as good as it always was.

large_0dabad20-6de3-11ea-9c12-bf23da039322.jpg
Another good thing about Ndutu Lodge which hasn't changed, is that they serve Savanna Cider.

large_b9d85360-6de2-11ea-9c12-bf23da039322.jpg
Mini tomato tart

large_c90ab4e0-6de2-11ea-9c12-bf23da039322.jpg
Chicken curry with coconut and banana, mango chutney, rice and poppadum; with vegetables on the side

large_005cb1a0-6de3-11ea-9c12-bf23da039322.jpg
Chocolate mousse

Thank you so much to Calabash Adventures for arranging this trip.

large_815f9470-6de3-11ea-9c12-bf23da039322.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 15:58 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals birds sunset wildlife africa cats safari tanzania big zebra birding flies cheetah lions egret stork migration starling wildebeest chameleon bird_watching african_safari ndutu calabash_adventures ngorongoro_conservation_area lake_ndutu lake_masek wildebeest_migration game_viewing great_migration wildlife_photography flying_birds wildlife_viewing cheetah_cubs abdim_stork ndutu_lodge Comments (4)

Sunset Cruise from Mandina Lodges

What an amazing amount of birds!


View Galavanting in The Gambia 2019 on Grete Howard's travel map.

This afternoon we are taking another boat trip, this one with two added bonuses: a bottle of wine and the sunset! Hopefully. The sunset, that is, the bottle is most definitely present!

large_495dd520-aec4-11e9-ba05-2377c29eee6f.jpg

large_b5bf31a0-aec4-11e9-ba05-2377c29eee6f.jpg

large_0efb7930-aec6-11e9-9468-af3c2e977f6c.jpg

My plan of action this evening is to take photos of birds just as they take off. I always like a challenge and to step outside my comfort zone. I start with this Long Tailed Cormorant.

large_0a232b40-aec8-11e9-abcb-27ebc93ed2a1.jpg

large_5cf52850-aecd-11e9-9844-73cae9928b86.jpg
Fishing centre

large_90993840-aecd-11e9-b106-75d2fa348bb2.jpg
I have a soft spot for baobab trees

large_214abc00-aecf-11e9-8c73-19c619678c9f.jpg
Whimbrel

large_6c0bcf00-aece-11e9-8c73-19c619678c9f.jpg
Wattled Plover

large_494c3600-aed1-11e9-a4f8-833a99faa165.jpg
Black Kite taking off

large_a30d6730-aee1-11e9-bca0-295e59c1731a.jpg
Palm Nut Vulture

large_39bc0d00-aee5-11e9-831b-6306d8171314.jpg
Great White Egret

large_a2f11350-aee6-11e9-adb5-bd39c8ff2012.jpg
Preening

I think she's going to fly...

large_2c237370-aee7-11e9-adb5-bd39c8ff2012.jpg

Here she goes!

large_94027c20-aee7-11e9-adb5-bd39c8ff2012.jpg

It looks like she is having a blast!

large_0a6b7150-aee8-11e9-adb5-bd39c8ff2012.jpg

We see a tree full of Pink Backed Pelicans.

large_4bfd9000-aef5-11e9-8b6f-692b6f608cab.jpg

large_597a5240-aef5-11e9-8b6f-692b6f608cab.jpg

large_63e567b0-aef5-11e9-8b6f-692b6f608cab.jpg

large_bc2c8af0-af24-11e9-a2e0-9144e19566f6.jpg

large_da63e0b0-aef5-11e9-8b6f-692b6f608cab.jpg
Yellow Billed Stork

large_ab696cc0-af23-11e9-a2e0-9144e19566f6.jpg
African Spoonbill

large_88e96900-b240-11e9-a16f-df722d255168.jpg
Goliath Heron

large_3794ea50-b553-11e9-b011-e16c85473ec2.jpg
Black Kite

large_dd22d3d0-b6af-11e9-90aa-e55591e14d66.jpg
Blue Cheeked Bee Eater

The sun is getting low now, and depending which direction I point my camera, the sky glows a warm yellow, glistening in the ripples on the water surface.

large_c2ce7380-b6b0-11e9-90aa-e55591e14d66.jpg

large_81c6b220-b6b1-11e9-90aa-e55591e14d66.jpg
Great White Egret

large_bcf668d0-b6b2-11e9-90aa-e55591e14d66.jpg
Common Sandpiper

large_9bb5e0a0-b6b3-11e9-90aa-e55591e14d66.jpg
Sacred Ibis

large_d8507fb0-b6b9-11e9-9fb6-c1626cfb739f.jpg
Sacred Ibis

large_47a99100-b6bd-11e9-9212-5bc3cb40e6cb.jpg
Whimbrels

large_69983e10-b6bd-11e9-ac8d-f1b40a4219f3.jpg
And they're gone

large_7c381610-b6bf-11e9-9ff2-4f73c5657d79.jpg
African Darter

large_ad65b250-b6c0-11e9-9ff2-4f73c5657d79.jpg
Cattle Egret

The sun is only just above the horizon now, as we have entered an area enclosed on three sides by mangroves and an island in the middle.

large_75650990-b6c1-11e9-9ff2-4f73c5657d79.jpg

Max, the captain, explains we will wait here for the sun to go down and the birds to come back to roost.

large_606de710-b85f-11e9-966b-4d2ca9a8fd2b.jpg

We see a few single birds flying around in the sunset, then coming in to the island to settle down for the night.

large_37a316a0-b6bd-11e9-9212-5bc3cb40e6cb.jpg
large_74f204e0-b860-11e9-966b-4d2ca9a8fd2b.jpg

large_ba96bc10-b861-11e9-966b-4d2ca9a8fd2b.jpg

large_9aff1700-b864-11e9-8a28-f1fdc4841ca7.jpg

The sun has painted the sky a deep orange now.

large_c89bcee0-b866-11e9-9835-6f8d3a03d1f8.jpg

large_d39a71c0-b866-11e9-9835-6f8d3a03d1f8.jpg
Beautiful reflections on the water

large_efcfed20-b870-11e9-9f73-c3059d9f662b.jpg

Where there were initially just one or two, they are now coming in thick and fast, it seems to be never ending, and they seem to appear from nowhere.

large_dd8da1a0-b872-11e9-9f73-c3059d9f662b.jpg

large_29e5b2e0-b873-11e9-9f73-c3059d9f662b.jpg

large_95595730-b877-11e9-ba7a-e335038ae3ff.jpg

large_a27a64e0-b877-11e9-ba7a-e335038ae3ff.jpg

large_e614e9a0-b877-11e9-ba7a-e335038ae3ff.jpg

large_a98d6470-b9d1-11e9-a759-d131d68c09f2.jpg

large_93743cd0-b9d2-11e9-a759-d131d68c09f2.jpg

More and more egrets are gathering in the trees, and when you think there is no room for any more birds, a whole lot of others arrive.

large_f3ee5940-b9d4-11e9-a99c-a577d66306f2.jpg

large_8fcc0310-b9d7-11e9-a727-a9240efb2c90.jpg

large_54af7ee0-b9d9-11e9-a727-a9240efb2c90.jpg

It is hard to know where to look, the birds are coming from three out of four directions, and seem to suddenly appear out of nowhere from behind us with a whoosh. It is an air traffic control nightmare!

large_e6afdbb0-b9d8-11e9-a727-a9240efb2c90.jpg

large_bb400d90-b9e4-11e9-a025-3ddb7d442764.jpg

When there is no more room at the inn and the light is fading rapidly, we start to make our way back to the lodge, stopping from time to time to take photos of the sunset. To say this evening's performance has been spectacular is an understatement!

large_cc503a50-b9e5-11e9-a025-3ddb7d442764.jpg

large_153f63c0-b9f6-11e9-9683-9f1c8878c4ae.jpg

large_6834abd0-b9f1-11e9-be68-5fce43d56dcb.jpg

large_336a9d00-b9f2-11e9-be68-5fce43d56dcb.jpg

large_b1607170-b9f3-11e9-9683-9f1c8878c4ae.jpg

By the time we reach the hotel, darkness has all but enveloped Makasutu Forest and the twinkling lights of Mandina Lodge welcome us back.

large_bce3a180-c0e1-11e9-986f-25d98c009784.jpg

large_7178eb90-c0e3-11e9-9419-07d3fe23298b.jpg

large_2cd1bc50-c0e4-11e9-9419-07d3fe23298b.jpg

Dinner

As time is getting on, we go straight to dinner from the sunset cruise; the boat conveniently lands at the jetty right by the restaurant anyway.

large_016961e0-c0e8-11e9-8197-3b07721b6384.jpg
Pre-dinner drink of Pina Colada

large_4f7eb380-c0e8-11e9-8197-3b07721b6384.jpg
Prawn Cocktail

large_a4f0a210-c0e8-11e9-8197-3b07721b6384.jpg
Butter fish with Lyonnaise potatoes and a delicious home made tartare sauce

large_Samosas.jpg
David's Samosas

large_986e14e0-c1c5-11e9-9c80-098154c165a4.jpg
Gambian Rice Pudding with ground peanuts - a very delicate flavour

We decline the offer of an early morning coffee in the room tomorrow, in favour of a lie in, and sneak off to bed after a magical day in Makasutu Forest.

Posted by Grete Howard 15:16 Archived in Gambia Tagged trees birds fishing reflections sunset pelicans kite africa dinner forest birding captain baobab stork vulture ibis egrets spoonbill birdwatching mangroves cocktail west_africa samosas cormorant gambia boat_trip fores sunset_cruise piña_colada darter roost plover bee_eater sandpiper the_gambia butter_fish mandina_lodges makasutu makasutu_forest whinbrel flying_birds birds_flying air_traffic_control prawn_cocktail rice_pudding Comments (5)

(Entries 1 - 3 of 3) Page [1]