Gambia 2012

posted by Ian Lewis in Club Meetings

An evening back in the African bush - and only a couple of weeks after our last visit - we'll get withdrawal symptoms before long! This time the visit was accompanied by the Black Country tones heralding the return of Mike Wilkes FRPS. This time he took us (pictorially, that is) to The Gambia to see its life - both wild and human. Mind you - it's a good job he's used to exploring 'cos he got here after braving the perils of the bridgeless Thames at Whitchurch!

And what a superb evening this was! Mike started with images of the countryside taken from the plane as it came in to land - and from there we were taken to his hotel and the wildlife there (no- not the two guys he went with!). He says that there's almost no need to go outside the hotel grounds as so much wildlife visits there (not for bed and breakfast I hope) and we saw images of the birds etc that were virtually outside his room!

He took us further though - courtesy of the taxi he and his mates hired for the trip - possibly the only 2 wheel drive 4WD out there! He also took us by canoe along a river (and he didn't get eaten by crocodiles) where we saw long-tailed cormorants drying their wings in the sun. Mike is great at capturing the moment in animal life: difficult to forget the greenshank ripping the legs off a crab then swallowing the body whole (I'll look at greenshank with new respect now!) - or the tern picking up a fish that was clearly going to be too big to handle, only to lose it to an osprey! There weren't only birds - although these are clearly a speciality of his - we were also introduced to the various other creatures such as reptiles and crabs which abound in the area.

But Mike didn't only tell us about the wildlife - we also saw something of the human influence in the area. He took us into towns and villages and we saw the people going about their business. There was a great sequence of images of fishermen returning with their catch; the womenfolk wading out to take it back to the village balanced on their heads (the fish that is, not the village!) - and all the while there's the seabirds trying their luck to get easy food!

He also went into detail about the equipment he used to capture these images - just what a bunch of photographic nuts like us wants to hear!

A great evening Mike - we thoroughly enjoyed your images and your commentary (Mike has an extremely wry humour) which made the whole experience informative and entertaining. Can't wait for his next visit!


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