This was our second trip to The Gambia. Our previous trip was in November 2005. See this report at http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/glb/
We booked our holiday through Thomas Cook this time and stopped at the Senegambia Beach Hotel on a B&B basis for 14 nights which cost £1273.98 for two. This included insurance and surcharges. Food was good and the hotel staff brilliant
I looked over the Internet this time for a new guide for our 4 days birding. I found a guide called Junkung Jadama or ‘JJ’ as he likes to be known. Cost £300-00 for 4 days which included driver, entrance to reserve when necessary. Visits to Kotu Creek area @ £10 Tujering and Tanji @ £40. Then we had 3 days up river at Tendaba Camp @ a cost of £250. ‘JJ’ was a great help, good at finding birds in a instant and has great patience when I wasn't as fast as him at finding the birds. I would recommend ‘JJ’ to anybody not only did he show us the birds but told us a lot more about the Gambia and its culture.
‘JJ’ has a real passion for the birds around him. You can see a twinkle in his eye when he finds new birds for you or when he hasn’t seen one species for a few years. ‘JJ’ I would recommend to anybody who is thinking of birdwatching in the Gambia. He is punctual and polite at all times, even when we were an hour late one morning.
‘JJ’ can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org or you can check out his website on http://www.gambiabirdguide.com
We also hired Modou Jarju, the Senegambia Beach Hotel birdguide for a night out at the Nightjar site at a cost of £10 per person. We also had a walk around the hotel grounds with Modou to get familiar with the place at a cost of 100 dalasai per person, about £2. We also had a day at Tujering and Tanji Beach at a cost of £20 per person
Just Malarone this time at a cost of £105.60 from Tesco for 48 tablets = £2.20 per tablet. See report for November if you are going for the first time
Flying to the Gambia took us about 6 to 6 1/2 hours. We left from Manchester at 07:00am and arrived at 01:00pm. Flight was on a 757-200. There was in flight entertainment this time.
We decided on travellers cheques and a small amount of cash. The exchange rate at the time was 55 Dalasi to the pound. We got 44 Dalasi to the pound in England at Thomas Cook (hence the small amount of cash in Dalasi). At the hotel we got 51 Dalasi to the pound, with between 52 and 54 Dalasi out of the hotel at the bureau down the road.
Sites and Highlights
Senegambia Beach Hotel
This is the place to be if you want to get close to birds. Stopping over for two weeks we managed to knock up a species list of 65 around the grounds.
The Birds: Cattle Egret, Black Kite, Hooded Vulture, Speckled Pigeon, Laughing Dove, African Mourning Dove, Red-eyed Dove, Senegal Coucal, Little Swift, Red-billed Hornbill, Fanti Saw-wing, Common Bulbul, African Thrush, White-crowned Robin Chat, Black Flycatcher, Brown Babbler, Blackcap Babbler, Beautiful Sunbird, Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Pied Crow, Purple Glossy Starling, Long-tailed Glossy Starling, House Sparrow, Grey-headed Sparrow, Black-necked Weaver, Village Weaver, Red-billed Firefinch, Lavender Waxbill, Red-cheeked Cordon Bleu, Bronze Mannakin, Green Wood Hoopoe, Western Grey Plantain Eater, Broad-billed Roller, Caspian Tern, Grey-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, African Palm Swift, Grey Hornbill, Olivaceous Warbler, Piapiac, Little Bee-eater, Silverbill, Senegal Parrot, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Red-bellied Flycatcher, Oriole Warbler, Shikra, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Bearded Barbet, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Little Tern, Common Tern, Swift, Swallow, Greater Blue-eared Glossy Starling, Little Weaver, Tree Pipit, African Golden Oriole, Wattled Plover, Melodious Warbler, Willow Warbler, Striated Heron, Yellow-billed Shrike, Subalpine Warbler.
There were also reports of Arctic Skua and Brown Booby and the one that got away was Lesser Honeyguide.
Kotu Creek/Sewage Farm and Cycle Track 28.02.07, with ‘JJ’
The Birds: Little Grebe, Long-tailed Cormorant, Great White Pelican, Pink-backed Pelican, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Striated Heron, Black Egret, Little Egret, Western Reef Egret, Intermediate Egret, Great White Egret, Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Hammerkop, Sacred Ibis, African Spoonbill, Eurasian Spoonbill, White-faced Whistling Duck, Black Shouldered Kite, Black Kite “Yellow Bill”, Palm Nut Vulture, Hooded Vulture, African Harrier Hawk, Shikra, Osprey, Black Crake, Common Moorhen, Greater Painted Snipe, Black-winged Stilt, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Wattled Plover, Spur-winged Plover, Whimbrel, Marsh Sandpiper, Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Caspian Tern, Speckled Pigeon, Laughing Dove, Vineaceous Dove, Mourning Dove, Black Billed Wood Dove, Namaqua Dove, Senegal Parrot, Rose Ringed Parakeet, Western Grey Plantain Eater, Senegal Coucal, White-faced Scops Owl, Pearl Spotted Owlet, African Palm Swift, Pallid Swift, Little Swift, Grey Headed Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Little Bee Eater, Abyssinian Roller, Blue Bellied Roller, Green Wood Hoopoe, Red Billed Hornbill, Grey Woodpecker, Wire Tailed Swallow, Yellow Wagtail, Melodious Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Tawny Flanked Prinia, Variable Sunbird, Splendid Sunbird, Beautiful Sunbird, Yellow Billed Shrike, Yellow Crowned Gonolek, Fork Tailed Drongo, Pied Crow, White Billed Buffalo Weaver, Village Weaver, Red Billed Quela, Red Bishop, Red Billed Firefinch, Bronze Mannikin, Gull Billed Tern.
Total of 83 species.
On our walk round we had no hassles and saw no one being hassled. This is one of the areas that seems to get it’s fair share but we saw nothing and were not challenged.
Nightjar Site 28.02.07 PM with Modou Jarju. the Senegambia Hotel Bird Guide
We were taken to the site by Modou the Senegambia Beach Hotel birdguide. Nightjar species seen were: Long-tailed Nightjar and Standard-winged Nightjar.
The Standard-winged was a female and by far the Long-tailed out numbered the Standards. Yes it was the Palma Rima site, it is being built upon but not as far as the dunes. We were assured by Modou that he had had a word with the owner about the Nightjars and that these were safe and that the building was not going that far. My concern is that there will be people, more people that usual around this site when it opens so how long before these Nightjars move on??
Tujering Site 01.03.07, with ‘JJ’
The Birds: Hooded Vulture, Osprey, African Harrier Hawk, Pied Crow, Palm Nut Vulture, Black Kite “Yellow Billed”, Brown Snake Eagle, Black Shouldered Kite, Lizard Buzzard, Double Spurred Francolin, Spur Winged Plover, Laughing Dove, Red Eyed Dove, Black Billed Wood Dove, Green Pigeon, Piapiac, Senegal Coucal, Brown Babbler, Blackcap Babbler, Diederik Cuckoo, Pearl Spotted Owlet, House Martin, African Palm Swift, Green Wood Hoopoe, Striped Kingfisher, Rufous Crowned Roller, Swallow Tailed Bee Eater, Western Grey Plantain Eater, Senegal Parrot, Grey Hornbill, Red Billed Hornbill, Bearded Barbet, Wheatear, White Fronted Black Chat, African Thrush, Singing Cisticola, Green Backed Eremomela, Grey Backed Camaroptera, Scarlet Chested Sunbird, Blue Bellied Roller, Abyssinian Roller, Verreauxs Eagle Owl, Beautiful Sunbird, Western Violet Backed Sunbird, Yellow Billed Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Purple Glossy Starling, Greater Blue-eared Glossy Starling, Bronze-tailed Glossy Starling, Yellow-fronted Canary, Chestnut Crowned Sparrow Weaver, Grey-headed Sparrow, Village Weaver, Lavender Waxbill, Red Cheeked Cordon Bleu, Cattle Egret, Long Crested Eagle, Rose Ringed Parakeet, Black Crowned Tchagra, Yellow Billed Oxpecker
Total 60 Species
Tanji Beach, with ‘JJ’
The Birds: Grey Headed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Kelp Gull, Caspian Tern, Royal Tern, Lesser Crested Tern, Whimbrel, Sanderling, Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Pink-backed Pelican, Western Reef Heron, Variable Sunbird, Yellow Wagtail, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Grey Heron
Total 18 Species
Tendaba Camp 03.03.07, with ‘JJ’
We travelled up to Tendaba camp Saturday the 3rd stopping off en route at a Womens rice fields that ‘JJ’ wanted to try out, nice call.
The Birds: Western Grey Plantain Eater, Yellow-billed Shrike, Red-eyed Dove, Bearded Barbet, Village Weaver, African Golden Oriole, Brown-necked Parrot, Common Bulbul, Lavender Waxbill, Black-winged Red Bishop, African Hobby, Blue Breasted Kingfisher, Long-tailed Glossy Starling, Piapiac, Squacco Heron, Eurasian Spoonbill, Hammerkop, Spur Winged Plover, Speckled Pigeon, Purple Heron, Wood Sandpiper, Greenshank, Black Kite “Yellow Billed”, Ruff, Red Chested Swallow, Redshank, Grey Kestrel, African Collard Dove, Lesser Blue-eared Glossy Starling, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Lizard Buzzard, Shikra, Orange-cheeked Waxbill, Tawny-flanked Prinia.
We also heard 'Grey Headed Bush Shrike' at this site but not seen.
Total 34 Species
We then travelled up to our next stop before Tendaba Camp which was at Jampanty Rice Fields or “Raptor Bridge” as it's commonly known
The Birds: Short-toed Eagle, Black-billed Wood Dove, Cattle Egret, Hammerkop, Namaqua Dove, White-backed Vulture, Lanner Falcon, Palm Nut Vulture, Long Crested Eagle, Shikra, Abyssinian Roller, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Black Crake, Grey Kestrel, Long-tailed Glossy Starling, Squacco Heron, Blue Bellied Roller, African Hawk Eagle, Grasshopper Buzzard, Wahlberg’s eagle, Grey Wagtail, Green Wood Hoopoe
Total 22 Species - 11 Species of Raptor
Tendaba Camp 3rd to 5th March, with ‘JJ’
Finally Tendaba Camp. We bird watched around the Camp area along with the airfield, with a night �sorty� for Nightjars and of course the usual boat trip around the creek at Baobolong Wetlands, a Ramsar site of International importance. Check the web site at: http://www.hiddengambia.com/adventure_holidays/hotels_lodges/tendaba_camp_gambia.asp
The Birds: White Wagtail, Long-tailed Glossy Starling, Laughing Dove, Lavender Waxbill, Gull-billed Tern, White-winged Black Tern, Black Kite, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Western Reef Heron, Turnstone, Caspian Tern, Common Sandpiper, Lesser Blue-eared Glossy Starling, Greater Blue-eared Glossy Starling, Collared Pratincole, African Golden Oriole, Bush Petronia, Pygmy Sunbird, Red Bishop, Senegal Parrot, Senegal Batis, Four-banded Sandgrouse, European Bee-eater, Vieillot’s Barbet, Black-rumped Waxbill, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Yellow-fronted Canary, Shikra, Yellow Penduline Tit, Pied Kingfisher, Goliath Heron, Long Tailed Cormorant, Blue Breasted Kingfisher, Cattle Egret, Montagu’s Harrier, Abyssinian Roller, Mouse Brown Sunbird, Grey Heron, African Darter, Grey Woodpecker, Intermediate Egret, Hammerkop, Redshank, Striated Heron, Blue Flycatcher, Spur Winged Plover, Little Swift. Greenshank, Black-shouldered Kite, Double Spurred Francolin, Black Crowned Tchagra, Western Grey Plantain Eater, Ring Necked Parrot, Grey Hornbill, Red Cheeked Cordon Bleu, Variable Sunbird, Black Wood Hoopoe, Common Redstart, Pygmy Sunbird, Senegal Parrot, Sudan Golden Sparrow, Mottled Spinetail, Piapiac, Green Crombec, Black Crowned Night Heron, White Backed Night Heron, African Finfoot, Woolly-necked Stork, Purple Heron, Great White Egret, Malachite Kingfisher, Namaqua Dove, White-throated Kingfisher, Grey Kestrel, Pink Backed Pelican, Senegal Thick-Knee, Copper Sunbird, Red Chested Swallow, Senegal Coucal, Plain Nightjar, Long Tailed Nightjar, Tree Pipit, Stone Partridge, White Crested Helmet Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Northern Wheatear, Hoopoe, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Western Banded Snake Eagle, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Eurasian Marsh Harrier, Yellow Wagtail, Black-headed Plover, Spur Winged Goose, White-billed Buffalo Weaver, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Gabar Goshawk, Grey-backed Camaroptera, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow Weaver, Northern Crombec, Brubru, Spotted Thick-knee, Striped Kingfisher, Bataleur,
Total 110 Species
Missed Birds - African Fish Eagle, heard but not seen and Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, missed even after extensive searching.
Tendaba road: What can one say about this road. If your need is so much that you have to go to Tendaba then go if not DON’T this road is like nothing you have experienced in your life, The road is being worked on and should hopefully be ready in about 2 years. The Gambians are even suggesting that you should take the north road and catch the ferry across to Tendaba, what does that say.
Tujering Site 08.03.07 with Modou Jarju, the Senegambia Hotel Bird Guide
The Birds: Violet Turaco, Brown-backed Woodpecker, Northern Puffback, Blue Bellied Roller, Grey Hornbill, Yellow-fronted Canary, Red-cheeked Cordon Bleu, Laughing Dove, Senegal Batis, Grey-headed Sparrow, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Common Redstart, Swallow Tailed Bee Eater, Yellow Penduline Tit, Pied Winged Swallow, Splendid Sunbird, Pearl Spotted Owlet, Hoopoe, Singing Cisticola, Beautiful Sunbird, White Fronted Black Chat, Common Whitethroat, Rufous Cisticola, Woodchat Shrike, African Palm Swift, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Little Bee Eater, Hammerkop, Green-backed Eremomela, Purple Glossy Startling, Green Pigeon, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Tree Pipit, Black Shouldered Kite, Long Crested Eagle, Whistling Cisticola, Osprey, Pink-backed Pelican, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow Weaver.
Total 41 Species
Tanji Beach, with Modou Jarju, the Senegambia Hotel Bird Guide
The Birds: Kelp Gull, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Grey-headed Gull, Caspian Gull, Royal Tern, Lesser Crested Tern, Yellow Wagtail, Sandwich Tern, Long-tailed Cormorant, White Wagtail, Red-chested Swallow,
Total 12 Species
Total bird tally for the hols = 230 with 62 of those lifers
Take plenty of water with you when you are out and about. Cost in the local supermarket for 6-off 1.5 litre bottles 120 Dalasi
The weather was hot and sunny during our 14 day stay in the Gambia with the occasional light hazy cloud. Plenty of sun cream was needed. It was pleasant to about 11:00am and then Hot till about 04:00pm. Anything between 92° and 104°
"Bumsters" you will come across, they are a part of the Gambian culture, be polite and strong they will get the message, there is no need to be rude.
A Field Guide to the Birds of the Gambia and Senegal - Clive Barlow, Tony Disley
Collins Illustrated Checklist - Birds of Western and Central Africa / Ber Van Perlo, I did a couple of errors on birds illustrated ie Plate 76 Snowy Crowned Robin Chat and White Headed Robin Chat and Plate 46 Little and Damara Terns.
These are by Malcolm Rymer and are a must before you go a great introduction. There are three in all:
1. Sorties around the Smiling Coast
2. Forays Further afield
3. Upriver Odyssey
These can be bought through his web site http://www.wildlifevideos.net/
Try also http://www.birdtours.co.uk/
Useful Web Sites
Some photos can be seen on my blog at http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/glb/ Use the link my photos and then The Gambia folder