Working for birds in Africa

Birding in The Gambia

Fri, 12/21/2012 - 13:26 -- abc_admin
Malcolm Rymer. Privately produced. Set of three VHS videos.
page 68

This set of three videos present a hybrid between a video trip report and an identification guide. They don't set out to be purely an identification guide, as there is no species list accompanying any of the videos, and the birds are not shown in any particular sequence other than the sites at which they can be seen. There is an identification video available, but I haven't seen it.

Video 1 is entitled 'Sorties around the Smiling Coast" and lasts 85 minutes. It has a brief introduction to birdwatching and general information about The Gambia. It then concentrates on sites, and birds that can be found at them, around the hotels near the Kotu Stream, where most people usually stay when visiting The Gambia. Despite the relaxed style of the video, over 100 species of bird are covered - I counted 104.

Video 2 is called 'Forays further afield', occupies 90 minutes and mainly covers sites not mentioned in the first video that are still near the coast but not necessarily in the immediate vicinity. Sites featured include Bakau, Kamaloo Corner, Abuko, Lamin Fields, Mandina Ba and Kuloro, Brufut woods and Tanji, to name but a few. During the course of this video 127 species were noted.

Video 3, 'Upriver Odyssey', is 90 minutes long. It details sites away from the coastal area, such as Tendaba Camp, Pirang, Brumen Bridge, Jahali ricefields, Georgetown and Basse. Also included were sites that I certainly was not aware of when I visited the country, such as the Kau-Ur wetlands, near Jahawur Mandinka, and Bansang quarry. There was also an account of an extensive trip along the north side of the River Gambia. In all I noted 127 species on this video.

Common to all three videos is a map indicating the location of the sites mentioned. A description of the habitats found at each of these is included in the commentary with supporting images. Ignoring the introduction on the first video, which includes birds from other parts of the world, all three videos together cover over 300 different species, obviously with some overlap between them. The footage is generally excellent, although there are one or two brief sections that consist of out-of-focus action shots. The narration is clear and informative. However, sometimes species are not named on their first appearance, although they invariably are subsequently. Identification features are mentioned for many, and some also have status and distribution information as well.

For anyone planning their own trip to this wonderful country, these videos are a very useful source of information and provide a clear picture of what to expect, as well as showing a significant number of the birds you might expect to see.

Roy Hargreaves

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