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A spot of birding in the Gambia

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lmSA84

A spot of birding in The Gambia

 

I thought I would share a TR from our recent trip to The Gambia (which for simplicities sake I’ll now refer to as Gambia). Hope you all enjoy.

 

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We recently returned from a 10 day winter break in Gambia, travelling from 27/12/14 - 5/01/15.

 

The trip wasn’t really something we had planned, it was just a last minute booking made by my wife. We also didn’t necessarily choose the destination for its wildlife but rather because of the good weather, short flight time (5.5hrs from London), same time zone and low cost. The final point has been exasperated by the impact of Ebola which has led to a 50% reduction in tourist arrivals vs. last year. This is a significant issue for a country, for which tourism represents almost 20% of GDP and 50% of foreign earnings.

 

I hope this TR might encourage some of you to visit.

 

A few things to set for scene for those who haven’t visited.

 

Gambia is the smallest country in Africa, a quirk of British colonial history. It actually wouldn’t likely exist if many of Britain's attempts to trade the colony to France or other countries had succeeded. Much of Gambia’s land area is defined by a 35km stretch either side of the last 300km or so of the river Gambia. At its widest point the country is 48km wide; at its highest 53m and on its Western border it has an 80km stretch of white sand beach adjoining the Atlantic.

 

The wild terrain I saw was largely defined by Senegambian bushveld interspersed with a variety of differing palm trees and small pockets of forest. I didn’t spend much time near the main river but the area I did see (at Mandina) was close to the delta, moderately forested, with thick mangroves lining the river.

 

Gambia’s wildlife appeal isn’t defined by big game. Most of the big 5 are missing, with the exception of rarely seen leopards, and true wild chimpanzees are no longer present. There is however, a small sanctuary offering an opportunity to see rehabilitated chimpanzees. I was told the best game viewing areas were up river in the remote Eastern portion, but that even there you were most likely to only see hippo, warthogs, bushbuck, duiker and if you’re lucky spotted hyena. There are though a good number of primates present, with Guinea Baboon, Red Colobus, Green or Sabaeus Monkey and Patas Monkeys most regularly seen.

 

What really defines Gambia’s wildlife appeal is its birdlife, with close to 580 recorded species.

 

We chose to stay at a wonderful little resort called Ngala. Ngala is aimed at the premium end of the market, and whilst you shouldn’t expect high end European or Southern/ Eastern African 5 star luxury it is very good and very reasonably. Most importantly it offered my wife the peace and tranquillity she desires and subsequently me the time to go off birdwatching safe in the knowledge that she is suitably looked after.

 

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Ngala Lodge

 

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Ngala Lodge

 

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Ngala beachfront

 

My first few days birdwatching were spent in the hotel grounds. The most commonly seen birds were Western Grey Plantain-eater, Common Bulbul, Western Olivaceous Warbler, Brown Babbler, Beautiful Sunbird, Western Red Bill Hornbill, Long-tailed Glossy Starling, Red Billed Firefinch, Grey Backed Camaroptera, Speckled Pidgeon, and three species of dove (Laughing, African Morning and Red Eye).

 

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Western Plantain-eater

 

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Beautiful Sunbird

 

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Western Red Bill Hornbill

 

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Long Tailed Glossy Starling

 

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Brown Babbler

 

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Red Billed Firefinch

 

In addition, to these more frequent / resident birds I also saw Rose Ringed Parakeets, Senegal Parrot, Broad Billed Roller, Yellow Crowned Gonolok, Piapiac, Black Necked Weaver and Yellow-billed Shrike.

 

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Senegal Parrot

 

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Broad Billed Roller

 

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Yellow Crowned Gonolok

 

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Piapiac

 

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Yellow Billed-shrike

 

Looking out to sea I could also regularly see Caspian Terns, Royal Terns, Little Terns, Grey Headed Gulls and Kelp Gulls, whilst the occasional Pink Backed Pelican would soar over head. A short walk along the shore in either direction would normally produce Whimbrel, Common Greenshank and Western Reef Heron.

 

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Atlantic Coast

 

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Whimbrel

 

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Common Greenshank

 

Finally, a few predators could also be seen. Hooded Vultures and Pied Crows were almost omni-present, Black Kites were often overhead and on one afternoon I saw a Common Kestrel.

 

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Black Kite

 

Whilst the hotel grounds were certainly productive I decided to enhance my trip by hiring a local bird guide, recommended by one of the hotel staff. My guide was a named Modou Jarfu and I have to say that he did a fantastic job. He has an exceptional eye for birds, a real passion for his craft and is proactively identifying and developing new / existing birdwatching locations.

 

If anyone is considering a trip, I would highly recommend his services. He can be contacted at bestboy6042000@yahoo.com.

 

With Modou, I agreed initially to do three half day trips, taking in Kotu Creek and the surrounding area, the Bonto-Pirang Forest and the Brufut Woods.

 

Trip 1 – Kotu Creek and Cycle Path

 

Our first stop was next to the side of the main road, where we found Black Crowned Night Heron, Cattle, Little and Intermediate Egret, Hammerkop, African Jacana, Abyssinian and Blue Bellied Rollers.

 

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More to follow....

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lmSA84

Continuing...

 

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Abyssinian Roller

 

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Blue Bellied Roller

 

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Black Crowned Night Heron

 

We would then carry on along the road for maybe 500m before turning right to enter an area of open rice fields. The rice fields are bisected by a concrete cycle path which we walked, spotting several new species including, Yellow Billed Kites, Senegal Coucal, Squacco Heron, Bronze Mannikins, Vinaceous Dove, Red Eye Doves, White billed Buffalo Weaver and Bushchat Shrikes.

 

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Rice fields

 

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Rice fields

 

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Senegal Coucal

 

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Squacco Heron

 

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Bronze Mannikins

 

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Bushchat Shrike

 

After ~200 metres we left the path to visit a small lake with a few more new species including Long Tailed Cormorant, Great Egret, Black Egret, Black Winged Stilt, Sacred Ibis, African Wattled Lapwing, and Pied Kingfishers.

 

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Long Tailed Cormorant

 

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African Monarch

 

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Great Egret, Black Egret and Black winged Stilt

 

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Pied Kingfisher

 

Following the edge of the pond we walked back onto the cycle path where we encountered a close up viewing of a Lizard Buzzard and a mixed flock with Melodious, Willow and Subalpine Warblers.

 

From there it was only a small way to the Palm Beach Hotel and round to the Kotu Creek Bridge. This spot is a regular meeting point for the local bird watching guides looking for customers. I had to say it was an unusual sight to see ~15 men and women, all armed with old sets of binoculars, pointing out all manner of birdlife to passers-by in the hope of selling a few days birdwatching. It was a real illustration as to how important birdwatching is as a segment of the local tourism market.

 

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Kotu Creek Bridge

 

From the bridge you look out onto a narrow waterway with a broad mud flat on one side and thick mangroves lining the main course of the waterway. Here we added a number of regularly seen species, including Senegal Thick-knee, Common Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, Common Redshank, Blue Breasted Kingfisher, Red Rumped Swallow, Wood Sandpiper and Green Sandpiper.

 

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Blue Breasted Kingfisher

 

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Western Reef Heron

 

In the vegetation immediately surrounding the bridge we were also able to add Red Necked Falcon, Klass Cuckoo, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Green Wood-hoopoe and African Thrush.

 

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Klass Cuckoo

 

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Golden-tailed Woodpecker

 

From the bridge we walked briefly back the way we came and then took a sharp left heading into another small rice field. Our destination was the local sewage works. Whilst on our way to the sewage ponds we saw Zetting Cisticola, large flocks of Village Weavers, a few Double Spurred Franklin, a small flock of Yellow-billed Shrike and a small group of Spur Winged Lapwing.

 

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Ricefield

 

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Village Weaver

 

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Spur Winged Lapwing

 

The sewage ponds surprisingly didn’t smell (with the exception of small processing plant) and allowed us to add a two new species, Little Grebes and White Faced Whistling Ducks.

 

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White Faced Whistling Ducks

 

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Black Winged Stilts

 

Finally, as the sun set we walked about 50m down a dirt road to small grove of large trees where Modou mimicked the call of Pearl-spotted Owlets, managing to call out a pair of the diminutive owls.

 

Trip 2 – Bonto-Pirang Forest and the surrounding area

 

The next morning we would meet early at 7.00am for a ~1hr drive down towards the Bonto Pirang Forest. Our initial stop though was not actually at the forest rather it was at a point about 15 minutes past the forest. It’s hard to describe this location, other than it is simply a spot of low open bushveld at the side of road.

 

More to follow...

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First stop

 

Whilst this location certainly isn’t glamorous it was very productive. Almost immediately we began to add numerous new species to our list including

 

Yellow-bellied Hyliota, Northern Puffback and Red-checked Cordon-bleu, all of which were found almost immediately.

 

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Yellow-bellied Hyliota

 

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Red-checked Cordon-bleu

 

A short walk further from the road and we reached an area with a small grove of mixed trees. Here we spent a while spotting number of new but common species including Fork-tailed Drongo, African Grey Hornbill, Northern Black Flycatcher, Black-crowned Tchagra, Northern Grey-headed Sparrow, and African Golden Oriole

 

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Tree Grove

 

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Northern Black Flycatcher

 

 

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African Golden Oriole

 

What really made this little spot special through were two less commonly seen birds, the Grey-headed Bush-shrike and a flock of Brown Necked Parrots which frequently flew overhead (unfortunately only ever landing in the fair distance).

 

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Grey-headed Bush-shrike

 

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Brown Necked Parrot

 

We then carried on along a narrow path into small thicket, interspersed with shallow ponds and small clearings created to make charcoal (unfortunately, I saw this at numerous spots in this location). Despite the depressing sight of the charcoal pits, another key feature of this location began to make itself clear – the high number and diversity of raptors.

 

In short order we got good sightings of three Shikra, a nesting African Harrier Hawk and a Lanner Falcon. We were only temporarily interrupted from our raptor watching by a few Yellow-fronted Canaries, a Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher and a few Orange-cheeked Waxbill.

 

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Yellow-fronted Canary

 

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Shikra

 

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African Harrier Hawk

 

Following back on ourselves we then took a path which led us around the back of the grove of trees in which we had previously viewed the Brown Necked Parrots, to an area of open bushveld dotted with termite mounds.

 

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Open bushveld

 

Here our raptor viewing continued with Whalberg’s Eagle and Botted Eagle overhead.

 

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Booted Eagle

 

Down in the trees just off the path we were treated to Western Bonelli’s Warbler, Cardinal Woodpecker, Western Violet-backed Sunbird, Collared, and Variable Sunbirds.

 

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Western Bonelli’s Warbler

 

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Cardinal Woodpecker

 

Continuing further along the path we came across our first and only Violet Turaco darting into a small pocket of forest. Thereafter, the bushveld thinned out even more. In this comparatively sparse landscape we had good sightings of Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle, Western Marsh Harrier, Namaqua Dove and Beautiful Sunbirds.

 

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Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle

 

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Western Marsh Harrier.

 

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Namaqua Dove

 

We also had more fleeting sightings of Blue Cheeked Bee-eater, Pied Wing Swallow, Blackcap, Common Whitethroat and numerous Northern Red Bishops.

 

After a productive few hours we headed back to the car, still parked along the side of the road, and travelled maybe 15-20mins down the road to the Bonto-Pirang Forest.

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The Bonto-Pirang forest is a small nature reserve run by the Bonto-Pirang Community Project. Among the four areas I visited it was clearly the densest patch of forest, with numerous tall trees hiding a thick layer of undergrowth.

 

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Bonto-Pirang Forest

 

At the edge of the reserve is small “Jungle Bar”, a hut really for local guides to relax at, offer drinks and take the small entrance fee payment. Next to the bar they have also placed a series of small watering cans to attract birds down.

 

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Jungle Bar

 

We paused to watch these watering cans, both before and after our main walk in the forest. New species seen included African Paradise Flycatcher, Blue Spotted Wood Dove, Black-billed Wood Dove, Yellow White-eye, Lavender Waxbill, Black-rumped Waxbill and Vitelline Masked Weaver

 

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Lavender Waxbill

 

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Black Rumped Waxbill

 

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African Paradise Flycatcher

 

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Black Necked Weavers

 

Following our first stop to watch the makeshift watering hole we walked off into the forest following a dirt road car track before turning right onto a small path and into the heart of the small reserve. Whilst walking this initial route we came across numerous new species more accustomed to the denser vegetation including Common Wattle-eye, Little Greenbul, Green Hylia, Grey-headed Bristlebill, Ahanta Francolin, Yellow-breasted Apalis and Buff Spotted Woodpecker. We also came across our first mammals, seeing numerous and a small troop of Green Monkeys.

 

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Open Bushveld adjoining the forest

 

After a while we emerged into an open area of bush to look for African Pygmy Kingfisher, which we dually found, in addition to Northern Crombec.

 

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African Pygmy Kingfisher

 

At was at this point that we joined by Kawsu. Kawsu is one of the local forest guides and has a deep understanding of where three key species of birds can be found - Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, African Scops Owl and White Spotted Flufftail.

 

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Modou and Kawsu

 

The White Spotted Flufftail is a specialty of this reserve and is a very difficult bird to find (in my experience at least!), principally due to how shy it is and secondly because it lives in dense undergrowth which as a habitat is declining.

 

At Bonto-Pirang the local guides have set up three small areas, complete with small wooden sets for people to wait whilst they try to call the birds out into the open. We tried all three of these areas for roughly a half hour in total with no luck. Until…just as we gave up and were preparing to leave we got a call back and then another. It took 5 more minutes but eventually one gave us a brief view. It was too brief for a good photo, but never the less it was a great lifer for me.

 

Whilst we had been waiting to call out the flufftail we also had good views of Snowy-crowned Robin Chat and Green Crombec.

 

Following our viewing of the flufftail we re-traced our steps back onto the main dirt road running through the park and back towards the “jungle bar”. Whilst walking back we had a good view of African Pied Hornbill.

 

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African Pied Hornbill

 

Before we reached the bar we turned left to spot Verreaux’s Eagle Owl, on a nest in the far distance and then much closer to the bar an African Scops Owl.

 

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Verreaux’s Eagle Owl

 

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African Scops Owl

 

That ended our second successful day. It’s probably at this point that I should mention that Modou had spent a lot of the day taking and making phone calls on his mobile, which frankly pissed me off. However, when we arrived back at the lodge to find my wife quite concerned about how long we had been out, it all became clear! There had been an attempted military coup in the early morning. Modou had been taking calls from the hotel concerned that we were okay as they had not let any other guests out of the hotel on the orders of the military! The attempted coup didn’t turn out to be anything substantive and it didn’t affect any other days of our holiday.

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twaffle

Fascinating insight to The Gambia. What sort of lens power did you need to get your photos?

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pault

@ImSA84 Wow. For a couple of half-day trips around town you are really racking up the bird sightings.

 

I love the thought of bird guiding touts hanging out on a bridge waiting for potential customers. At the same time sad, though - that there are so many skilled people available o jang around on bridges on the off chance.

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Marks

Wow! What a way to break in the Gambia subforum. I'm mesmerized by the variety of birdlife you've found. Particularly like the snake eagle in flight and the scops owl.

 

Quite a fascinating revelation about Modou's reason for being on the phone. It seems as though you took it in stride!

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michael-ibk

Really incredible how many birds you managed to rack up in such short time - and you got super photos of them as well. Gambia looks most impressive!

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lmSA84

@@twaffle - thank you for the kind comment. All of the photos have been taken with a Nikon AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G ED VR.

 

@@pault - Unfortunately, I think you're right. The country is really suffering from a lack of tourism this year and I don't think many of the would be bird guides have any other alternatives

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Trip 3 – Brufut Forest

 

The following day we again got up early but traveled only for ~20mins, to reach the Brufut Forest. It’s referred to as a forest but really it is an area of dense bushveld with tall bushes, interspersed with a few tall trees on one side and an area of open low grassland on the other side.

 

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Brufut Forest

 

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Brufut Forest

 

Once we parked up, we walked down a dirt road track for a few hundred metres before turning off the main track briefly. Whilst walking we spotted two new species, Village Indigobird and Common Chiffchaff.

 

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Village Indigobird

 

Off the main track we had good viewings of a pair of Oriole Warbler, a few Senegal Eremomela, and an African Green Pigeon in the distance.

 

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Oriole Warblers

 

Once back on the main track we continued walking, spotting an African Hobby, a small group of Stone Partridge and a single Cooper Sunbird.

 

After a while we turned left walking through a small group of houses into an open field where a flowering tree had attracted 20 or so Splendid Sunbirds. A Fine Spotted Woodpecker and a Whistling Cisticola were also nearby.

 

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Splendid Sunbirds

 

After this detour into the open field we headed into the thick bush, which is the protected area. Brufut has a similar setup to Bonto-Pirang, with a small jungle bar and some watering cans out to attract birds.

 

Once in the main area we saw numerous Little Bee-eaters, Swallow Bee-eater, Red-throated Bee-eater and Fanti-Saw-wing.

 

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Little Bee-eater

 

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Red-throated Bee-eater

 

We also managed to find one of the highlights of the area, Sulphur-breasted Bush-shrike, which after much chasing I was finally able to photograph. Whilst searching for bush-shrike we also saw Lessor Honeyguide and a pair of Green Turaco.

 

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Sulphur-breasted Bush-shrike

 

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Lessor Honeyguide

 

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Green Turaco

 

The other specialty of the Brufut forest is Long Tailed Nightjars roosting on the ground. This one luckily was very close to the path.

 

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Long Tailed Nightjar

 

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Following this we returned to the jungle bar where we saw Yellow-throated Leaflove, Blackcap Babbler and Little Weaver, amongst a host of other birds come down to drink

 

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The Brufut Forest was meant to be my last day’s birdwatching but on the day before we were due to fly home we were informed that the airline which we were travelling with had gone under! Unfortunately, it was a victim of the economic stress that the Ebola outbreak has caused. The net result is that we had to stay another 3 days and miss a day of work.

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Trip 4 – Tujereng and the Tanji Beach

 

I honestly, wasn’t that upset and took to counselling myself by booking another half day trip. This time we went to Tujereng and the Tanji beach.

 

Tujereng is another area of mixed bushveld. What distinguishes this location is its close proximity to the ocean and an area of comparatively open grassland, which can sometimes attract bustards and coursers.

 

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Tujereng

 

Despite it’s largely similar appearing vegetation, the area netted us a broad range of new species the most notable of which were several Osprey, a Eurasian Wryneck, Senegal Batis, Scarlet –chested Sunbird, White Fronted Black Chat, Rufous-crowned Roller, Stripped Kingfisher, Vieillot’s Barbet, Brown-backed Woodpecker, Chestnut Crowned Sparrow-Weaver, White-Winged Black Tit, Red-winged Warbler, Short-toed Snake Eagle and Black-headed Lapwing.

 

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Osprey

 

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White Fronted Black Chat

 

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Rufous-crowned Roller

 

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Stripped Kingfisher

 

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Vieillot’s Barbet

 

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Brown-backed Woodpecker

 

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White-winged Black Tit

 

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Red-winged Warbler

 

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Black-headed Lapwing

 

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Short-toed Snake Eagles

 

Tujereng also produced my only sighting of a Patas Monkey. Sadly, no Coursers or Bustards.

 

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Patas Monkey

 

Following a ~3hrs at Tujereng, we travelled about 10mins back towards the hotel, before pulling over to briefly visit Tanji beach. Tanji beach is best described as an informal fishing port with hundreds of wooden fishing boats strewn along its beachfront. Next to the line of boats is a large market selling the freshly caught fish and a broad range of other fruits, vegetables and spices. The area is also populated with racks of drying fish and small shacks were the fisherman relax and mend their nets. The whole area is hive of activity, strewn with rubbish, and as you might expect in parts the smell is overwhelming.

 

 

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Tanji Beach

 

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Tanji Beach

 

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Fisherman being mobbed

 

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Fisherman mending his net

 

Given all this activity it’s no surprise that this location is a mecca for shorebirds, in particular Grey-headed Gulls.

 

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In addition, to the thousands of Grey-headed Gulls, notable species included Pink Backed Pelicans, Slender-billed Gulls, Laughing Gull, Kelp Gull, Lessor Black-backed Gulls, Caspian Terns, Royal Terns, White Wagtails and Bar-tailed Godwit.

 

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Pink Backed Pelican

 

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White Wagtail

 

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Caspian and Royal Terns

 

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Hooded Vulture and Pied Crow

 

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Cattle Egret

 

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Bar-tailed Godwit

 

The trip to Tujereng and Tanji was the last of my trips with Modou but not the last of my wildlife experiences. My wife, now suitably relaxed, agreed to a spot of birdwatching in the afternoon, all be it birdwatching with a difference.

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Trip 5 – Mandina Sunset Cruise

 

The trip was sunset cruise with a half bottle of wine per person, setting off from the Mandina Lodge in the Makasutu Forest.

 

Mandina is a beautiful luxury lodge established by two Englishmen in 1992. The lodge is set within a 1000-acre forest reserve covering a range of habitats, with a large river frontage to the property. All of the lodge’s villas are set on the river, floating on pontoons, surrounding by the mangroves and wooden walkways connecting all the dispersed areas of the property. The area is mecca for birdlife and as you might expect birdwatching features heavily in their proposed activities.

 

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Mandina Lodge

 

On our boat there were about 8 other people and we set off into a tributary channel to traverse up the river, spot wildlife and generally relax. The trip isn’t particularly wildlife orientated (until the end) with the guides being a bit lackadaisical but we still spotted several of the local specialities including White-throated Bee-eater, Senegal Thick-knee, Goliath Heron, Purple Heron, Common Sandpiper and African Wattled Lapwing among other birds.

 

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Sunset Cruise

 

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White-throated Bee-eater

 

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Senegal Thick-knee and African Wattled Lapwing

 

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Goliath Heron

 

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The area isn’t just about birdlife as we also saw Guinea Baboon (close to reception), Green monkey and Water Mongoose.

 

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Green Monkey

 

 

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Water Mongoose

 

Having travelled down the one of the tributaries (I assume) for about an hour you eventually come out onto the main channel / delta. Here we experienced an incredible sight. A low fog and grey sky had combined to create a surreal vista where the sky literally melted into the river. The view made me recall those stories of pioneering sailors believing the horizon as the end of the earth. The only thing breaking this vista was the occasional egret or heron.

 

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Main Delta

 

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Great Egret

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lmSA84

The real magic of this place though, is not the view, and it doesn’t occur until the evening. Turning back from the delta we traveled down a different tributary back into the heart of the mangroves and here we begun to see a fantastic series of sights.

 

It started with a roost of hundreds maybe even low thousands of black kites roosting all along the right hand side of the river. Everywhere you looked every tree had a black kite at its peak, sometimes maybe 30 or more.

 

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Black Kite Roost

 

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Black Kites

 

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Black Kites

 

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Black Kites

 

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Black Kite

 

Continuing further down, the mass of black kites was broken by a pair of Palm Nut Vultures and the occasional Darter.

 

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Palm Nut Vulture

 

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Palm Nut Vultures

 

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African Darter

 

Eventually though we rounded the corner to find a hidden gem. Located in the middle of a cul-de-sac in the river is a small island of isolated mangrove. This island, cut off from the main land, is the main roosting location of thousands of Egrets (Little, Intermediate and Great), Western Reef Herons, Sacred Ibis, Long-tailed Cormorants, Great Cormorants, Pied Kingfisher and Blue-breasted Kingfisher.

 

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Mangrove Island

 

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Sacred Ibis

 

The boatmen moored the boat about 30 metres from the island and for about 30-40mins in the fading light we watched as flock, after flock, after flock of birds came shooting in over-head and from ever other direction. Each flock arriving added to the incredible rabble as each bird fought for its place in this tiny sanctuary.

 

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African Darter, Great Cormorant, Long Tailed Cormorant

 

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It was an incredible sight and one that I would to anyone, birdwatcher or not! The wine also helps. After enjoying this incredible sight until dusk we headed back to the main lodge and the ~1hr drive back to the hotel.

 

Overall, I would highly recommend Gambia as a potential wildlife destination, all be it for its birdwatching. In a little over 2.5 days of birdwatching I was fortunate enough to record 197 species of bird and 4 mammal species. This was also without visiting a number of easily accessible locations such as the Abuko Nature Reserve and Cape Point. These locations would almost certainly have netted me Western Red Colobus and a number of other common birds such as Giant Kingfisher.

 

 

Hopefully, a number of you will consider this destination and help to get Western African back on the path to recovery.

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lmSA84

Finally my favourite photo from the trip

 

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Beautiful Sunbird

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Marks

Seriously impressed by your nonchalance and rolling with the punches with the airline.

 

Also by your goliath heron picture...gorgeous.

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lmSA84

@@Marks, thanks! We really had no choice. The airline originally wanted to send us separately - sending me on the Saturday and my wife on the Sunday but given the attempted coup earlier in the week there was no way we were accepting that!

 

Actually we were thrilled to have the extra time and the cruise was an unexpected cherry on the top

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Peter Connan

Wow! 197 species in 3 days is incredible!

 

Coups and airline failures eish! C'est Afrique.

 

Some great photos, and thanks very much for sharing.

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wilddog

What a wonderful selection of birds you found . Fascinating to see some familiar birds, some that are variations on the Southern African species and some totally new. It suddenly makes the Gambia a more interesting prospect for holiday. Thank you so much for sharing this trip report.

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Eagle Owl

Great photos, especially love the Turaco. Thanks for sharing.

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SafariChick

@@lmSA84 Really enjoyed this report - missed it the first time around but glad it got bumped up. Really seems a worthwhile destination, so many wonderful photos and species! I laughed at the part about how you were annoyed at your guide being on the phone so much until you found out why. Of course, he might have told you! But perhaps he didn't want to interrupt what seemed to be a so-far peaceful day!

 

As for the airline going out of business, something similar happened to my husband a few years ago in Mexico. He'd been on a surf trip with a group and knew that the airline he was flying on was entering bankruptcy, but they assured him it was just a re-organization and there was no chance of them ceasing operations. He was in a little, remote area down near the south of Mexico and this airline was the only one on which he could take his long surfboards as they were the only ones that had a plane big enough to accommodate them that flew to this spot. All went well getting there and with the trip. But the day before he was to fly home, he learned that the airline did decide to cease flying the next day, the day he was to fly home! (And by the way, our travel insurance didn't cover insolvency of the carrier!) He ended up shipping his boards home via UPS which cost a fortune, but was able in the end to take the small plane to Mexico City as it was landing before noon, their deadline, then had to book a new flight home from there. Not quite the fun extension you had!

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lmSA84

@@SafariChick - glad you enjoyed it!

 

Gambia is a fascinating destination and one that I hope to return to one day. My plan would be to head inland / further up the river to area called Tendaba, where they have a whole different set of ecology / birds.

 

Sounds like a nightmare for your husband! Our main travel insurance was similarly useless but thankfully we had booked part of the trip with American Express cards, who provide us a another layer of travel insurance and they actually were the ones to step up and cover much of the extra cost.

 

That's the thing with some of these remote destinations - if they're not served by conventional airlines you have to take a chance!

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TonyQ

@@lmSA84

I have also come to your report late!

What an amazing number of birds you saw on your trip - and beautiful photos throughout.

Gambia sounds like a great destination

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lmSA84

@@TonyQ - thank you and glad you enjoyed it!

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xelas

@ImSA84

 

Another late guest! And I am glad to find it, Gambia looks an amazing birding location. Your excellent photos surely makes some birders wanting to visit it.

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jeremie

Great pictures and report.

Did you see any antilope or hippos in the Gambia? Is there something still big game in Gambia?

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