Monday, 22 March 2010

The Kings of Africa

One of the big draws of The Gambia was its outstanding array of Kingfishers. I still get overly excited when I see a common Kingfisher in the UK so when I saw my first Pied Kingfisher on my first day in Africa I almost passed out! By the end of the day however, I'd seen at least 20 Pied Kingfishers and found out they were not only the most common Kingfisher here in The Gambia but also the most common bird on the tidal mangrove pools behind my beach lodgings. I could never get sick of them though.

You don't even have to have seen a picture of a Giant Kingfisher to know that they must be cool. Those two words- Giant and Kingfisher- sound mouthwatering together. I'd seen pictures but didn't have any idea of the scale until I saw my first. I'd say it was the size of a Rook (although perhaps I've got a touch of fisherman's syndrome -"it was this big!"). What an amazing bird though. I saw my first at Abuko and my second on the same mangrove pools that the Pieds seemed to like so much.

Seeing the Blue Breasted Kingfisher was a bit surreal at first. All week I'd been drinking Julbrew, the local lager with a Blue-Breast adorning the label, so my first sighting of a real one was a bit like seeing a local celeb. The best Kingfisher of all though has to be the African Pygmy Kingfisher. I was being led on a chase by a flirtacious Pied when I noticed a sparrow sized bird flutter up onto a mangrove right next to me. I gasped so loudly that I scared the little guy off and so I didn't manage a picture- I've still not got over this!

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