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The Gambia – A first Visit (january 2018)


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I actually go two days the wrong way round - tha day I am about to post was actually before the one at Brufut and Tanji (not that it makes any difference!)

Marakissa (Depart 7.00, return to hotel about 4pm -we had this before the Brufut/Tanji day as it was quite a long "short day" and we didn't want that as our last day while staying at Kairaba)


Bruce's Green Pigeon


Woodland Kingfisher


Black-crowned Tchagra


Bearded Barbet


A very pretty Lizard Buzzard


Coming to the ground to hunt

We went for a cold drink at the Marakissa Lodge and saw


Purple Glossy Starling - I love the metallic sheen


Red-cheeked Cordon Bleu




Beautiful Sunbird lives up to its name


So that is all of the birding with Mustapha. We were very happy with him and would use him again.

Edited by TonyQ
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On our last day at the Kairaba, we had the morning free and spent it very productively in the grounds before our transfer to our next base


Cattle Egret were common visitors5ab63958be663_GambiaTR4-2.jpg.09e28e21a4904c7c5a99a64bbdafe4c0.jpgAs  the magpie like Piapiac


White-crowned Robin Chat


Grey Woodpecker


Green Wood-hoopoe


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M+F Red-billed Hornbill




African Thrush


Speckled Pigeon


Northern Black Flycatcher


Blue-breasted Kingfisher


And a particular treat - Shikra

So we were very happy with the hotel. The staff were very friendly, breakfast excellent and the grounds were a great place to spend time.

And so we got our transfer to The Mandina lodge - a drive of about an hour.


Edited by TonyQ
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@TonyQ - excellent photos as always. I'm looking forward to hearing more about Mandina as we only visited the lodge as part of the evening boat ride. Speaking of which do they still do the boat ride? 

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Love the photo of Tanji Beach - full of interest and so atmospheric.


The lavendar waxbills and yellow white-eyes cerainly compensate for the rather dilapidated container!


Lovely Shikra shot to complete this most enjoyable first part of your TR.


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Game Warden

@TonyQ A wonderful series of photos, which, in addition to other recent Gambia trip reports I hope will encorage others to visit.



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Sooo good, particularly love the Village Weaver, the Donkey and cart and the Squirrel

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 just on p1 but the red colobus with its wizened face looks amazing. 

That 1st pic is #20 is worthy to be hung in a wall.  It's so picturesque. I really love it 

That bush shrike in the sun among the gloom is striking! You've got brilliant photos! 


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@lmSA84 Thank you -Mandina coming up! We went on a dusk boat trip for lodge guests. I believe they still do one for people who are not staying, but am not sure.

@Caracal @Kitsafari @Ratdcoops Thank you

@Game Warden Thank you - it is a great place to visit if you are interested in birds.

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Mandina Lodge

The second part of our trip we stayed at The Mandina Lodgefor 4 nights, on a series of mangrove lined waterways and in the Makasutu forest. This was half board (breakfast and dinner)– there are no other restaurants anywhere near. Food was very good. You buy lunch – not too expensive for a light lunch.


Our room - a floating lodge - raised by the tide but attached to the land


Our room

You get a private guide for 2 activities a day – walking in the forest, a canoe trip (guide paddling!) combined with a walk. A typical day is early morning coffeee, set off at agreed time with your guide (7.30 for us), return for breakfast around 10.45 (we were always last to return!). Rest or walk around the lodge or into the forest. A light lunch and relax. Meet the guide again at around 4 - 4.30 to go for a walk in the forest or surrounds for another couple of hours. Shower. DInner at time agreed with chef.

In the next posts I will put sightings together rather than do a day by day account.

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There were many birds to be seen just around the lodge (All of these were taken from the lunch area)5abba99b18bdc_GambiaTR7-11.jpg.f72da9dea84077a9984b08633f0066b2.jpg

Red-billed Firefinch


Brown Sunbird (Was known as Mouse Sunbird, which is more appealing)


Common Wattle-eye


Yellow-crowned Gonolek

A canoe ride on the mangrove lined waterways was a great way to start a day


Senegal Thick-knee


Grey Plover


Long-tailed Cormorant


Swimming not recommended!


Edited by TonyQ
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An interesting feature of the mangroves was that they hosted large numbers of oysters, refreshed by the tidal waters. These were a popular source of food with the local baboons. These are The Guinea Baboon (Papio papio), a new species for us. (Photos taken in very low early morning light!)


Using teeth to remove oyster


Getting very close to the water


This youngster has learned to copy some of the behaviour, but has not yet found the target





The oysters are also harvested by local people - a good source of protein. The also use the waste shells in building materials


Hooded Vultures also appreciated the waste shells as a source of scraps

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Wewould travel some distance in the canoe, and then get out to walk in forest or cultivated land




Pin-tailed Wydah (non-breeding)


Yellow-fronted Canary


Blue-bellied Roller


A stunningly beautiful bird (Mustapha, who guided us in the first part of our trip, said this was his favourite bird - and used it on his business card)


Western Grey Plantain-eater -very common, but a very striking bird.


Violet Turaco - a thrill to see them


African Pied Hornbill


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After a walk, we would get back into the canoe and Ush (not sure of spelling) would paddle back towards the lodge, enjoying sights on the way




Malachite Kingfisher (you could get very close to some of the birds in a canoe)


African Darter


Sacred Ibis


Spur-winged Lapwing




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In the middle of the day, we would get interesting sightings around the lodge


Hoopoe with Kill


Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu

There was a pool at the lodge. We didn't use it, but at around 4pm each day, a number of visitors did use it






Bee-eaters taking a bath

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The floating lodge is so cool! What a great way to stay at a mangrove area. And so many beautiful birds to see - a lot of lifers for me. That turaco and gonolek are stunningbirds, and the oyster-eating  baboon is fascinating.

do you think it would be secure area and place for a solo lady to stay at?

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Wow @TonyQ - Bearded Barbet, what a cool bird!


The Brown Sunbird certainly looks like a Cisticola.  I agree that 'Mouse Sunbird' has much more appeal.


Nice angle to highlight the wattles on the Common Wattle-eye.  I have found Wattle-eyes to be difficult to photograph well.


Add I am living vicariously through your Violet Turaco photos!


* In all my years of observing shorebirds, I have never seen a Whimbrel perched on a tree limb!   Willet, Spotted Sandpipers, even Solitary Sandpipers but never a Whimbrel.   


And I like the Bee-eater splash-bathing photos a lot.


Thanks very much for preparing this TR - looks like you and @Thursday's Child had a blast.

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I remember I looked at this floating lodge place once (before my wife put the Gambia ban in place). Really getting some lovely birding there - amazing variety and so many beautiful ones.

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@Kitsafari Thank you. Mandina would be safe for a single female, but it might be a lonely trip. DIning is at individual tables, and the activities tend to be done with your own guide, so not that much mixing with other guests. ( @Galana has just been so he can comment on that experience). As for the rest of The Gambia - with a reputable guide I am sure you would be safe (and there are a few female guides), but again it might be fairly lonely staying in hotels. Birding group tours do go from the UK (and from other countries).


It is a destination for birding really, and winter sun. Easy to get to fairly cheaply from Europe, but I imagine pretty expensive from Singapore.


@offshorebirder thank you. I have never seen a Whimbrel in a tree before either! Yes we did have a very good time.

@pault  Thank you

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On one afternoon we took a cruise in a small boat with two other guests, our guide and a boatman. The idea was to see birds coming in to roost on an island in the river. This was an additional cost (£70 total for two of us, including a bottle of wine)




Goliath Heron


A fishing base

Osprey are quite common in The Gambia at this time of year,and can be seen quite closely








We also saw other people fishing



We then arrived at the place that birds came into roost. Light was very low at this time, so difficult to photograph, but it was a lovely experience seeing thousands of birds coming in to roost




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On another day we took a trip to Kartong, on the coast. We went with our guide and a taxi. It was a different environment with some wet land a beach area


Purple Swamphen


Allen's Gallinule


African Jacana - juvenile


White-faced Whistling Duck


Great White Pelican


Abyssinian Roller - a beautiful bird


Beaudouin's SnakeEagle


Namaqua Dove


Rufous-crowned Roller




And a distant view of an Osprey with a very large fish

Edited by TonyQ
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Walks around the area of Mandina Lodge, in the forest and surrounding lands were enjoyable and productive




Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher


White-throated Bee-eaters




Little Bee-eater


On one walk we were acommpanied by theis three-legged dog from the lodge.


Blackcap Babblers in the undergrowth

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As we didn't see that many mammals, I was foolish to forget to put this in from a day much earlier in the trip


Side-striped Squirrel


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Back at Mandina, to finish off with a few Sunbirds


Beautiful Sunbird


Variable Sunbird


Our friend the Brown (Mouse) Sunbird


Splendid Sunbird

On our final morning walk we spent some enjoyable time watching a family of Guinea Baboons enjoying the sun and grooming


Male relaxing


Youngster looking down on us





So that is about it. We really enjoyed The Gambia. It is a great place for a winter birding break from the UK and much of Europe. It can be done cheaply. The flight is only 6 hours and no real time difference. I suspect we may return.


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@TonyQ thank you for sharing your TR. Such an enjoyable read and as always loved your photos of both birds n mammals  (including a dog!).


You are prob right - gambia is a distance away from my area to do just a short trip. Glad you found a good quick getaway though!

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