Reader John sends us oodles of photos from The Gambia, and I’ve stuck a lizard (my own photo) in at the bottom:
Having recently returned from NYC, the reported US cases of Ebola has prompted me to try and highlight the indirect impact of the virus on the West Africa country of The Gambia via your Readers’ Photo slot.
Gambia is the smallest country in Africa and despite being surrounded by countries affected by the ravages of the virus, it has remained free from the disease. However, it is now suffering adverse economic impacts because many who normally travel there during its relatively short tourist season, are staying away. This very poor country will find it very difficult with one of its main economic drivers so badly affected. I am in regular contact with friends in Gambia who are confirming their plight.
The Gambia has a terrible history associated with slavery – your older readers will remember Arthur Haley’s Roots story which begins in 1767 when his ancestor, Kunta Kinte, is kidnapped from the banks of the River Gambia at Juffura – and I have met some African Americans visiting to retrace their own ‘roots’.
On a brighter note, it is also known for its fabulous birdlife which makes it a popular destination for many European ‘twitchers’ because of the varied mix of resident African and Euro-Asian migratory species.
The most spectacularly colourful are the iridescent, and aptly named, beautiful sunbirds (Cinnyris pulchella) which appear to occupy the same nectar-eating niche as hummingbirds. The first three photos are of the brighter male with one of the drab female.
Sticking with colourful species, the yellow-crowned gonolek (Laniarius barbarous), red billed fire finch (Lagonosticta senegala) and two species of flycatcher, African paradise (Terpsiphone viridis) and black-headed paradise (Terpsiphone rufiventer), lurk in the rainforests adding bight flashes when they appear.
There are many species of Roller; I have picked the ubiquitous Abyssinian Roller (Coracias abyssinica) and this one hunted the beach outside our hotel.
The last bird is a wader, the Senegal thick-knee (Burhinus senegalensis)
And Professor Ceiling Cat snapped this lizard yesterday at the castle at Vileka Tarnovo, Bulgaria. I have no idea what it is, but ten to one someone will tell me soon.