Gambia Ringing Trip 2015

In January 2015 a team of eight ringers travelled to the (Kartong Bird Observatory) in The Gambia to take part in their seventh ringing course. Ringing has been taking place at the West African country’s bird reserve since 1996 but a permanent ringing station was established in 2010. Six ringers from Suffolk, Roger Walsh, Patrick Barker, Chris McIntyre, Mike Marsh, Lee Gregory and Richard Tomlinson were joined by Mike Jackson from Yorkshire and Olly Fox from Wiltshire for two weeks of ringing African Birds and Western Palearctic migrants. Over the two weeks ringing activities were undertaken in woodland, scrub, wetland, reed bed and on mud flats and the beach and 1900 birds were caught of over 100 species including over 300 Western Palearctic Migrants with over 100 being Whitethroats.

A key element to the trip was to assist with the training of some of the local boys with their ringing training and bird ID skills. The five local boys working at the Observatory were awarded certificates to recognise their achievements.

As a group we were able to take out a large quantity of donated clothing, optics, bird books, stationary, cash donations and medical supplies very kindly donated by members of the Waveney Bird Club and many other people. The clothing is distributed by KBO ringer in charge Colin Cross and his wife Binta who live in Kartong to the people who they know really need it and can not afford to buy clothes for themselves. The optics and bird books are going to be divided between the KBO and a new childrens' bird club being established in Gunjur. Both causes will add to the development and education of Gambian boys and girls giving them to knowledge and skills to preserve Gambia’s wildlife for generations to come. The medical supplies were donated to the Kajabang Medical Post (more info here), a medical station set up thanks to charitable donations employing a local registered nurse providing medical services to the local community. The stationary all goes to the schools in Kartong and the money donated is going towards the construction and erection of Barn Owl Boxes in and around Katong providing a great link between a successful project underway in Suffolk and a new project in the Gambia. Barn Owls are persecuted in African countries due to mythological links to witches. This project will provide safe nesting sites and give Colin Cross the opportunity to go into schools to encourage Gambian children to protect their Owls rather than persecute them.

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Chris McIntyre, Patrick Barker and Roger Walsh presenting Colin Cross with optics and bird books donated to the Kartong Bird Observatory with KBO staff Mike, Eboy and Ernest.

Patrick Barker and Roger Walsh presenting Kajabang Medical Post RIN Basiru with donated medical supplies, first aid kits and glasses.

In January a team of ringers will be heading to The Gambia to the Kartong Bird Observatory (www.kartongbirdobservatory.org) to continue the annual ringing and recording project of African birds and Western Paleartic migrants. Ringing trips have been running since 2010 and Waveney Ringing Group members Chris McIntyre, Roger Walsh, Patrick Barker, Genevieve Bridgeman and Stephen Flory have all taken part in previous trips. The 2015 trip is being led by Roger Walsh and the team of 8 contains 5 other Suffolk based members Patrick Barker, Chris McIntyre, Mike Marsh, Richard Tomlinson and Lee Gregory.
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As part of the trip we look to visit the village of Kartong and the local school. We donate everything that is left at the end of a trip back to our host Colin Cross who along with his wife Binta can give it to people who really need it in The Gambia. We are also trying to help Colin kit out the Kartong Bird Observatory so that he can continue to educate young Gambian boys to be bird guides and wildlife Rangers. The more Colin is able to do with the locals increases the conservation message and should preserve birds, wildlife and habitat for generations to come. For this trip we all have an allocation of 40kg of luggage each do are going to try and push this to the limit with the gear we take out. To that end I would like to issue a plea to everyone to see if they have any of the following items that they might wish to donate or with Christmas approaching if anyone is replacing anything and doesn’t know what to do with the old gear please consider donating it for us to take out.

We are especially interested in the following:

Optics – any old binoculars or optical equipment regardless of age. The last sets donated were given to members of The Gambia Parks and Wildlife Dept as they do not have any of their own and we can help them complete surveys and track poaching with optics.

Football kits and equipment for adults and children especially premier league and international teams and Ipswich Town and Norwich City. Norwich City shirts are especially useful for cleaning windows and toilets or tearing up for oily rags. Other sports kit and equipment is equally good.

Field guides and wildlife books. Books to assist with the education of young bird guides and wildlife Rangers. Literacy is an issue but books with clear pictures especially African birds or WP migrants. Books with clear pictures of African wildlife including mammals, insects and plants will also help the bird guides in increasing their knowledge further than just birds.

Outdoor equipment. Walking gear, waterproofs, gardening gloves, waders, safety equipment (high viz vests, ear defenders etc).

There are other things that we can purchase if anyone would like to make a donation. Roger Walsh currently sponsors two disabled children and is hoping to raise enough funds to sponsor a third. In West Africa disabled children are outcast and the two children Roger supports have been given a new lease of life.

It will be possible to drop off any donations at Waveney Bird Club and SOG Events in December and January or with any of the Suffolk Based members of the trip.

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