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Wed, 02/06/2013 - 11:53 -- abc_admin
Beaudouins_Snake_Eagle_The_Gambia

Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle Circaetus beaudouini The Gambia

Image Credit: 
Steve Garvie
Golden_tailed_Woodpecker_female_The_Gambia

Golden-tailed Woodpecker Campethera abingoni female The Gambia

Image Credit: 
Vaughan Ashby, Birdfinders

The following largely unconfirmed records are taken from recent issues of the Bulletin of the African Bird Club and are for information only.

from ABC Bulletin 22.1

A probable juvenile Preuss’s Cliff Swallow Petrochelidon preussi was observed near Tendaba on 27 November 2014; this species does not (yet) figure on the country list, although probables were reported as long ago as February 1994. As the species has substantially expanded its range in recent decades, its presence would not be too surprising.

from ABC Bulletin 21.2

A Quail-plover Ortyxelos meiffrenii was photographed at Kiang West National Park on 19 April 2014.

from ABC Bulletin 21.1

The second Eurasian Coot Fulica atra for the country was at Kartong Bird Observatory, Western Division, on 25 December 2013; the first was observed at Kaur, in February 1994. Also there was the second Hudsonian Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus hudsonicus from 29 December until early February at least - the first was on 4 September 2007; there are just two other records from West Africa, from Sierra Leone and on São Nicolau, Cape Verde Islands.

from ABC Bulletin 20.2

Three Cuckoo Finches Anomalospiza imberbis were trapped at the edge of a reed bed bordered by marsh and mixed grasses in a large wetland complex near Kartong, Western Division, on 21 February 2013; there is only one previous record for Senegambia, from Banjul, in September 1969. The fourth American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica for the country was observed at Kartong on, e.g., 17 February. Previous records, all from the Western Division, include: Fajara, 15 January 1984, Kotu sewage works, 7 November 1997 and Cape Creek, near Banjul, 4 December 2005.

from ABC Bulletin 20.1

Excellent views were obtained of a Quail-plover Ortyxelos meiffrenii in a harvested groundnut field between Farafenni and Kau’ur, on the north bank, on 23 November 2012.

from ABC Bulletin 19.2

An adult Spotted Crake Porzana porzana in non-breeding plumage was photographed at a small pond south of the main road from Tendaba to the coast on 29 February 2012. This constitutes the second sighting for the country, the first being an individual at Marakissa, Western Division, on 14 January 2005.

from ABC Bulletin 19.1

During a visit in November 2011, the following records were made. A juvenile Brown Booby Sula leucogaster flew south past the Bijol Islands on 17th. At Kaur wetlands, Central River Division, >9,000 Collared Pratincoles Glareola pratincola were counted on 8th. A colour-ringed adult Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus vetula observed on 12th in Tanji Bird Reserve, Western Division, had been ringed as a nestling on Île aux oiseaux, Parc National du Delta du Saloum, Senegal, on 7 June 2004. A Black Scrub Robin Cercotrichas podobe was seen repeatedly in the Sheraton Hotel garden at Brufut.

from ABC Bulletin 18.2

The first Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope for the country was a male in a ricefield near Sapu, Lower River Division, on 22 January 2010. Other records from January 2010 include a (territorial?) pair of Ovambo Sparrowhawks Accipiter ovampensis near Marakissa and a Red-necked Buzzard Buteo auguralis near Feraba Banta, Western Division, on 26th, a first-winter male Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus at Tanji Bird Reserve on 27th, and three Roseate Terns Sterna dougallii at Bijol Island on 16th. Four White-bellied Bustards Eupodotis senegalensis were observed at Ngeyen Sanjal, North Bank Division, on 10 January 2011.

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A juvenile Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus was photographed in Tanji Nature Reserve on 25 November 2010; this appears to be the fifth record for the country, the fourth having been reported in January 2008. The bird was ringed in central Hungary and seems to be the first ringed Red-footed Falcon to be observed in Africa. On 13 October, a Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes was photographed at Marakissa, Western River Division. In December, a Little Green Woodpecker Campethera maculosa was photographed at Tendaba, Lower River Division, on 5th, whilst a Crimson Seedcracker Pyrenestes sanguineus, a rare resident, was observed along the Gambia River, west of Georgetown Island, Central River Division, on 4th.

Three Cape Gulls Larus dominicanus vetula were on the beach at Tanji, Western Division, on 13 January 2010; there have been regular sightings in recent years. Also in January, three Adamawa Turtle Doves Streptopelia hypopyrrha were seen at Janjangbureh, Central River Division.

In July 2009–January 2010 the following were reported. A Dwarf Bittern Ixobrychus sturmii stayed at Kotu, WD, in December–January; this species is rarely seen on the coast. Twenty Black Storks Ciconia nigra were observed near River Gambia National Park, Central River Division (CRD), on 24 January; although still rare, this species is being increasingly recorded. A Bat Hawk Macheirhamphus alcinus was at Lamin Kotu, WD, on 5 November. Thirty adult Rüppell’s Vultures Gups rueppellii bathing near N’jau, CRD, on 6 November is a remarkably large number at the end of the rains. An Ayres’s Hawk Eagle Hieraaetus ayresii was seen at Tanku Bolong, Bao Bolon Wetland Reserve, North Bank Division, on 5 January; there are an increasing number of reports of this species, which was formerly considered rare, from a variety of wooded habitats in The Gambia. A Little Buttonquail Turnix sylvaticus was observed at Farasuto, WD, on 7 December; this species is rarely seen. On 17 November, two Senegal Lapwings Vanellus lugubris were at a small pool near Lamin Lodge, WD. A Red Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius was feeding in rice fields at Jahally Swamp, near Georgetown, CRD, on 12 November. At Wassu, CRD, a Red-necked Nightjar Caprimulgus ruficollis corpse was found on the road on 5 November. A Black-and-white Mannikin Lonchura bicolor was reliably reported by a ranger at Brufut, WD, on 12 July; this would be the first record for The Gambia, if accepted.

A belated report from November 2008 concerns a pair of Common Moorhens Gallinula chloropus breeding and producing six young at Kartong, Western Division; this is the first definite breeding record for the country. Also there, single Great Reed Warblers Acrocephalus arundinaceus were mist-netted on 25 and 28 April 2009; there are few previous records.

In December 2008  - May 2009 the following were reported. Up to three Black Storks Ciconia nigra were at Baboon Island, Central River Division, in mid March. An Osprey Pandion haliaetus observed at Tanji Bird Reserve, Western Division, on 19 December had been ringed as a nestling at Potsdam-Mittelmark, Brandenburg, Germany, on 9 July 2007. Two Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus flew over Brusubi, WD, on 18 February; two together is a rare sight in The Gambia. A Baillon's Crake Porzana pusilla with chicks was reported from Central River Division on 9 February. A first-winter Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis was at Tanji Bird Reserve, WD, on 3 December. A corpse found at Kartong, WD, on 13 May was probably a European Scops Owl Otus scops.

Twenty-five Black Storks Ciconia nigra were resting on a sandbar in the River Gambia between Kantaur and Janjangbureh on 24 January 2009. An Ayres’s Hawk Eagle Hieraaetus ayresii was observed near Farafenni on the opposite side of the river on 1 February 2009.

Records from December 2007 - May 2008 include the following. A dying third calender year Northern Gannet Morus bassanus was found in Banjul harbour on 16 May. Two Ferruginous Ducks Aythya nyroca were photographed at Sapu, Central River Division (CRD), on 12 January; this appears to be only the second report since 1983, the other being from Kaur, CRD, in November 2005. At Kuntair, North Bank Division (NBD), a road- killed Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle Circaetus beaudouini was collected and a melanistic Montagu’s Harrier Circus pygargus photographed on 14 January. An adult male Pallid Harrier C. macrourus and a Swallow-tailed Kite Chelictinia riocourii were foraging over grasssland near Kaur, CRD, on 14 January, whilst a pale- morph Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus was seen over Brufut Woods, Western Division (WD), on 23 April. At Jambur Woods, an Ayres’s Hawk Eagle Hieraaetus ayresii was observed on 16 January. A male Red- footed Falcon Falco vespertinus at Kunkilling Forest Park, CRD, on 11 January is the fourth record and the first to be documented photographically.

A Little (Kurrichane) Buttonquail Turnix sylvaticus found dead on the road near degraded agricultural land at Fass, CRD, north of the river, on 12 January appears to be the first record for this division. A pair of Bronze-winged Coursers Rhinoptilus chalcopterus was on burnt ground near Tanji Bird Reserve, WD, on 5 January; this species has been only rarely seen at the coast in recent years. A total of 475 Black- tailed Godwits Limosa limosa feeding in a brackish lake at Bao-Bolon wetland, NBD, on 14 January is a large congregation for the country. Record numbers of 7,000 Lesser Black-backed Gulls Larus fuscus and 500 Audouin’s Gulls L. audouinii were counted on the Bijol Islands, Tanji Bird Reserve. On 24 May, 15,000 pairs of Royal Terns Sterna maxima with eggs or young were found at the same locality. A European Roller Coracias garrulus, a very scarce species in The Gambia, was observed south of Georgetown, CRD, on 23 April.

A European Robin Erithacus rubecula in the Atlantic Bird Garden on 10 March is a first for Senegambia; however, ship assistance must be considered, as the site is close to Banjul harbour. A female Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius, first seen on 6 March next to a busy road at Brusubi-Brufut, WD, remained there for three weeks. A Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia in Tanji Bird Reserve, WD, on 13 February was a rare find. A Southern Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis was at Tujering, WD, on 20 December; this is a rare winter visitor. Bar-breasted Firefinches Lagonosticta rufopicta were found at Georgetown, CRD, on 22 April.

Records from January - November 2007 include the following. Single Abdim’s Storks Ciconia abdimii were seen over Kartong, Western Division, on 26 May and Sabi, Upper River Division, on 19 July. A flock of c.800 White Storks C. ciconia was at Illiassa and a second of c.650 near Farafenni, North Bank Division, in November. A report from 14 October of two subadult Egyptian Vultures Neophron percnopterus over Kotu rubbish dump, WD, with Hooded Vultures Necrosyrtes monachus, is the first for several years; only one previous record, from the early 1990s in Lower River Division, involves two individuals, all the others being of singles. A Lappet-faced Vulture Torgos tracheliotus with 20+ Eurasian Griffon Vultures Gyps fulvus was photographed on the north bank on 25 November. A White-headed Vulture Trigonoceps occipitalis flew over Sabi with griffon vultures Gyps spp. and two Beaudouin’s Snake Eagles Circaetus beaudouini on 19 May. An Ayres’s Hawk Eagle Hieraaetus ayresii flew across the Gambia River near Tendaba Camp on 24 November. A White-bellied Bustard Eupodotis senegalensis, the first for many years, was photographed on the north bank on 25 November.

Some 400 pairs of Grey-headed Gulls Larus cirrocephalus investigated an ephemeral sandbar at Banjul, created by a beach reclamation project, on 13 March; many nest platforms were built and up to 20 pairs successfully raised young in July, making this the second breeding site for The Gambia, the other being the Bijol Islands in Tanji Bird Reserve. A record of number of 17 Kelp Gulls Larus dominicanus were present at Tanji Bird Reserve, WD, on 29 October, amongst which five ringed individuals had originated from the Sine Saloum colony in Senegal. At the same locality, colour-ringed Lesser Blacked-backed Gulls L. fuscus from Norway and Spain were noted in November. Also there, a Sooty Tern Sterna fuscata was seen on 7 March, and a Bridled Tern S. anaethetus on 24 July; the latter at a roost with 1,000 Great White Pelicans Pelecanus onocrotalus. A Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii was photographed at Banjul on 21 November. Thousands of Black Terns Chlidonias niger passed inshore Banjul from 30 August to 1 September; in 2006 their passage lasted over two weeks. An African Skimmer Rynchops flavirostris at Tanji Bird Reserve on 13 September is a very rare beach record; another was seen at Janjanbureh, Central River Division, on 24 November

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An adult Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius at Kotu, WD, on 10 February is a scarce mid dry-season sighting; an independent juvenile, still with gape flanges, was hunting hairy caterpillars at Radio Syd, Banjul, on 24 August. A Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus was at Tanji Bird Reserve, WD, on 22 September; there are few recent records in the country. A Yellowbill Ceuthmochares aereus was heard at Brufut, WD, on 12 October, whilst a Greyish Eagle Owl Bubo cinerescens was seen regularly in a housing development at the same locality from 22 September into November; there are recent breeding reports from coastal Western Division.

The record of a female Black-crowned Sparrow Lark Eremopterix nigriceps included in the previous recent reports was not the first for The Gambia as stated, but the first with a photographic proof; there are two previous claims. The Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe reportedly photographed on 31 December 2006 was actually the fifth Black-eared Wheatear Oe. hispanica for the country.

A male Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius in fresh plumage was photographed on Brufut cliffs near Tanji Bird Reserve, WD, on 14 October; this is the first report for several years. A Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus mist-netted at Kartong, WD, on 22 August and a juvenile Common Whitethroat Sylvia communis on 24 August are early records. A Brown-necked Raven Corvus ruficollis at Tanji fish-landing site on 29 October constitutes the first record for some years; all previous ones are from the Banjul area in the dry season. Regarding the first Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris for The Gambia, seen at Tendaba airfield on 13 January, a growing number of cruise ships from southern Europe sail up to the Tendaba area of the Gambia River, increasing the possibility of ship-assisted birds arriving in the country.

Records from November 2006 - January 2007 include the following. A sub-adult Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus over Sabi on 7 December is the first record from Upper River Division; also there was a Lappet-faced Vulture Torgos tracheliotus. Many African White-backed Vultures Gyps africanus were attending nests in Borassus palms in Central River Division on 11 December. An adult Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle Circaetus beaudouini flew over Kunkilling Forest Park, CRD, on 11 December. A Danish-ringed Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus found killed by a plane-strike at Yundum, Western Division, on 27 November is the third Danish sub-Saharan recovery. An immature Red-thighed Sparrowhawk Accipiter erythropus was in Abuko, WD, on 11 January, and a pair of Ovambo Sparrowhawks A. ovampensis at Jambur Woods.  An Ayres’s Hawk Eagle Hieraaetus ayresii with an immaculate white head flew over Kiang West, Lower River Division, on 15 December and a Barbary Falcon Falco pelegrinoides over Sabi, URD, on 22 November.

At least ten Adamawa Turtle Doves Streptopelia hypopyrrha singing in Kunkilling Forest Park, CRD, on 30 December, are an indication of the good numbers present there; a nest has still not been found. Two same-sized fledgling Levaillant’s Cuckoos Clamator levaillantii were being fed by a group of five Brown Babblers Turdoides plebejus at Abuko Nature Reserve, WD, on 9 December. A number of road-killed and live, adult and first-year Red-necked Nightjars Caprimulgus ruficollis were collected and photographed in CRD November - December. A Golden-tailed Woodpecker Campethera abingoni was at Tumani Tenda and Tendaba, WD, in January; this is a rare and elusive species in The Gambia.

A female Black-crowned Sparrow Lark Eremopterix nigriceps was photographed at Kaur wetlands, just east of Farafenni, North Bank Division, on 9 December; this would be the first for The Gambia, if accepted. A Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe in full breeding plumage (rarely seen in The Gambia) was photographed at Kerewan, North Bank Division, on 31 December. A female or non-breeding male Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca seen well at Tumani Tenda exhibited all the features of subspecies iberiae or speculigera, the latter often considered a full species, Atlas Flycatcher. A Southern Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis was at Sapu, CRD, on 14 December; this rare visitor is usually seen near the coast. A Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris seen by several observers at Tendaba airfield on 13 January constitutes the first for The Gambia; Birds of Western Africa (Borrow & Demey 2001) mentions only four previous records from the region, two each from northern Mauritania and the Cape Verdes.

Records from June–November 2006 include the following. A juvenile Beaudouin's Snake Eagle Circaetus beaudouini flew over Sabi, Upper River Division, on 22 June. A single Lesser Moorhen Gallinula angulata at Camaloo Corner is a rare coastal record. Two Black-bellied Bustards Lissotis melanogaster flew over the Banjul-Barra river estuary on 24 July. An exhausted and moribund Red Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius with a missing leg was found at Kotu on 22 August. The first confirmed Sooty Tern Sterna fuscata for The Gambia was watched for c30 minutes and photographed at Tanji Bird Reserve on 25 August; what was presumed to be the same individual was seen again on 3 December at the same site. A Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus was photographed at Banjul on 20 October, with another reliable claim from the south of the country around the same time; these may constitute the first records for many decades. A Plain-backed Pipit Anthus leucophrys and three Black-faced Quailfinches Ortygospiza atricollis close to the beach at Banjul on 14 September are unusual records for the area.

Belated records from January 2005 include two Grasshopper Warblers Locustella naevia on Janjanbureh Island, Central River Division, on 13th, and an Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana near Tendaba Camp, Lower River Division, on 17th.

Records from November 2005-May 2006 include the following. An unidentified frigatebird was photographed at Tanji in December. A flock of 43 Northern Gannets Sula bassana was seen off Banjul on 18 February. At Sabi, Upper River Division, three young Red-necked Kestrels Falco chicquera were ready to leave their nest on 29 April. A Spotted Crake Porzana porzana was at Jakhaly wetlands, west of Georgetown, CRD, on 27 November; the only acceptable previous record is one heard calling at Pirang, in October 1988. A White-rumped Sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis was claimed from Kau-er wetlands, with a single Curlew Sandpiper C. ferruginea and Little Stints C. minuta nearby, on 24 November; this would constitute a new species for the country, if accepted. Two Brown Sunbirds Anthreptes gabonicus, regularly seen around a swimming pool at Banjul in February, are an unusual record. A flock of 36 House Sparrows Passer domesticus at Banjul on 12 May is the largest to date since a few were found in 1985.

Records from July-December 2005 include the following. A group of 25 Wilson’s Storm-petrels Oceanites oceanicus, encountered c.25 miles off the Gambian coast at 13°30’N 17°02’W on 2 July, is the largest group recorded in Gambian waters in recent years. A juvenile Dwarf Bittern Ixobrychus sturmii at a seasonal pond at Sao Forest Park, on the north bank of Central River Division (CRD), was well watched and photographed on 7 October; this is a rare bird in The Gambia. A  young Helmeted Guineafowl Numida meleagris killed on the road and collected 10 km west of N’Jau, CRD, on 8 October is the first proof of breeding in that Division. At Kaur, CRD, a record 107 White-headed Lapwings Vanellus albiceps were counted on 8 October. At the same site, c.2,000 Collared Pratincoles Glareola pratincola roosted on 5 October. In December, a Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii was found at Palm Grove lagoon, Banjul, on 12th and an American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica at Cape creek, near Banjul, on 4th. Several calling Adamawa Turtle Doves Streptopelia hypopyrrha were at Kunkilling and Tankandama Eco-Trails, CRD, on 15 December.

Records from the period October 2004-April 2005 include the following. A male Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus of the Palearctic race was observed at Marakissa, Western Division, on 14 January. An Abdim's Stork Ciconia abdimii soared over Sabi on 16 November and another over Dobbo Forest Park, north of the river, Central River Division, on 21 April. A pair of Shikras Accipiter badius was observed nest-building at Georgetown, Central River Division on 23 April; the only previous proven breeding record was at Abuko Nature Reserve, Western Division, in April-June 1999 (Bull. ABC 8: 44–45). A Short-toed Snake Eagle Circaetus gallicus flew over Prufu Swamp, Basse, Upper River Division, on 31 October, and a juvenile Beaudouin's Snake Eagle C. beaudouini over Kunkilling Forest Park, Central River Division, on 25 April. At Marakissa, Western Division, a male Spotted Crake Porzana porzana was seen on 14 January; according to A Field Guide to Birds of The Gambia and Senegal (Barlow et al. 1997) the last documented record is of one heard in 1988. An Allen's Gallinule Porphyrio alleni in non-breeding plumage was at Sapu, Central River Division, on 9 April. An unusual record from Kai Hai Island on the Gambia River on 26 March involved an African Finfoot Podica senegalensis foraging around the rump of a partially submerged cow hippo with calf. At one point the finfoot continued to forage whilst perched on the cow.

Two or three Savile's Bustards Eupodotis savilei were singing at Saba, North Bank Division, on 26 April; the species is generally thought to be vocal only in the rains but this record and others from late January suggest it sings in all seasons. A Franklin’s Gull Larus pipixcan was at Banjul, on the beach behind Albert Market, on 8-9 February until 15 March at least. Two adult Kelp Gulls L. dominicanus were recorded on Bijol Islands, Western Division, on 30 January, and another two at Tanji on 10 February. The first Bridled Tern Sterna anaethetus for The Gambia was identified on Bijol Islands on 24 March. A Shining-blue Kingfisher Alcedo quadribrachys, a rare species in The Gambia, was seen on Georgetown waterfront on 23 March.

A Banded Martin Riparia cincta was at Kunkilling, Central River Division, on 7 February amongst a large group of Common Sand Martins R. riparia; there are few previous Gambian records. Bluethroats Luscinia svecica cyanecula were regularly seen at Prufu Swamp, Basse, Upper River Division, in January-February, with a maximum of three individuals on 9 February; all were males in full breeding plumage. A female in fresh plumage was seen at Sapu, Central River Division, on 9 April. The first Desert Sparrows Passer simplex for the country were photographed in December near Illisa, North Bank Division. A group of c25 Bar-breasted Firefinches Lagonosticta rufopicta was seen north of the river near Wassu, Central River Division, on 18 February and a further six at Sapu on 9 April; these are the first records of groups of this species in The Gambia for over a decade. Also at Sapu on 9 April, three Orange-breasted Waxbills Sporaeginthus subflavus were observed. A Sahel Paradise-Whydah Vidua orientalis in eclipse plumage mimicking Green-winged Pytilia Pytilia melba was heard at Kunkilling, Central River Division, on 9 April and sound-recorded on 20th, with an Exclamatory Paradise-Whydahs V. interjecta mimicking Red-winged Pytilia P. phoenicoptera also there; no pytilias have yet been found at this site.

A belated report was received of single first-winter Laughing Gulls Larus atricilla observed at Tanji on 16 January 2003 and on Bund Road on 19th.

Records from October–December 2004 include the following. A Black Stork Ciconia nigra was seen at Lamin, near Abuko, Western Division in November and a European White Stork C. ciconia at Prufu Swamp, Upper River Division on 4 December. A dark phase European Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus and a Bat Hawk Macheiramphus alcinus were observed at Bao-Bolon, North Bank Division on 31 October. A Red-thighed Sparrowhawk Accipiter erythropus with very rufous underparts was watched at Pirang, Western Division on 30 November. Also in November, two adult Lesser Moorhens Gallinula angulata with a juvenile were seen between Kaur and Georgetown, Central River Division. An independent juvenile Black Coucal Centropus grillii was at Sapu, Central River Division on 2 December. A pair of Spotted Eagle Owls Bubo africanus with a juvenile, observed at Mandina, Western Division in November, is indicative of breeding in the country . Single road-killed Red-necked Nightjars Caprimulgus ruficollis were found in Central River Division at Kaur on 31 October and near Georgetown on 2 November. An Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba flew over Sabi,  near Basse, Upper River Division, in a mixed flock of swifts and hirundines on 2 November; the remains of an Alpine Swift were recovered under a nest of Red-necked Falcon Falco chicquera near this site earlier in the year and constituted the fourth record of the species for The Gambia. Over 1,000 European Bee-eaters Merops apiaster circled over Bao-Bolon wetland reserve, North Bank Division on 30 November.

Three Sun Larks Galerida modesta, including one in aerial display, were observed at Tanu, Central River Division on 6 December; this species was previously only known from a few sites on the north bank in Upper River Division and has recently been discovered south-east of Basse, near Sabi. Eight Plain Martins Riparia paludicola were with Common Sand Martins R. riparia at Kwinella, Lower River Division on 8 December; a rarely recorded species in The Gambia. At Prufu Swamp, Upper River Division, two Orphean Warblers Sylvia hortensis were found on 4 December; this species is new for Upper River Division, most records coming from coastal areas. In November, House Buntings Emberiza striolata were observed at Kaiaf, Lower River Division (a female on 1st), Tendaba, Western Division (a pair) and Bansang Quarry, Central River Division (three); the only previous recent record was that of a male near Belel, Central River Division, in December 2002.

Records from August 2003 to June 2004 include the following. Two White-crested Tiger Herons Tigriornis leucolopha were seen in Bao Bolon Wetland Reserve on 25 February. Three Abdim's Storks Ciconia abdimii were at Sabi, east of Basse on 1­3 June, with one reappearing briefly on 10th. Two European White Storks C. ciconia were soaring over Sabi on 26 August, at the height of the wet season; all previous records from The Gambia are from the dry season. Eurasian Griffon Vultures Gyps fulvus were continually present in the area around Basse in the period January to June, with maxima of 12 over Sabi on 6 February, and more than 35 dominating a group of 150+ large vultures around a fresh horse carcass near the same village on 30 April. An Ayres's Hawk Eagle Hieraaetus ayresii was seen south of Basse, on 12 February; this is the second recent sighting of this species in the area, following that of one on 23 August. A Lesser Moorhen Galinula angulata was photographed near Bakalari, 20 km east of Banjul on 27 February; this is an unusual locality and date. Three sightings of Great Snipe Gallinago media, possibly all of the same bird, were made at Prufu Swamp on 17 January; this species is rare in The Gambia. An Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea was seen following the Banjul ferry on 24 January.

The Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba remains found under an active Red-necked Falcon Falco chicquera nest east of Basse on 4 March, constitute the fourth record of this species for The Gambia. Black-backed Cisticola Cisticola eximius in non-breeding plumage was studied at length at Tanji Bird Reserve on 21 January; this species is rarely recorded in The Gambia and this may be the first for Tanji. An Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana was photographed at Bansang Quarry on 5 December.

Records from October 2002 to September 2003 include the following. An Abdim's Stork Ciconia abdimii was seen soaring over Prufu Swamps, Basse in October and ten were photographed at Sabi, east of Basse, on 11 June; there are only a few records from The Gambia. Some 70 European White Storks C. ciconia flew over Bao-Bolon in late November and up to 150 over Tendaba in early December; these are exceptionally high numbers for The Gambia. On 17 January, 5 Black Storks C. nigra passed Baboon Island while 7 European White Storks flew over near Barajali ferry crossing. In February, a flock of c45 European White Storks was catching the morning thermals near Farafenni. Also in February, a Saddle-billed Stork Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis was noted at Pirang. A male and a female Gadwall Anas strepera were claimed from the Kaur Wetlands in November; these would be the first for the country. Two Barbary Falcons Falco pelegrinoides were observed near Keneba on 3 February. A Bronze-winged Courser Rhinoptilus chalcopterus was hunting insects after dark around a low lamp on the Palm Grove Hotel lawn, Banjul, on 21 May.

A Great Skua Catharacta skua was on a beach of Bijol Islands on 30 January. Little Gull Larus minutus was reported from Tanji in November. Some 5,500 Slender-billed Gulls Larus genei were counted on 10 to 12 January at the Tanbi Wetland complex, Sanyang and Tanji; the main breeding site, with several thousand pairs, is just to the north, on île aux Oiseaux, Delta du Saloum National Park, Senegal. Five Kelp Gulls Larus dominicanus were also there on 12 February. A juvenile Black-legged Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla was spotted from the Banjul ferry on 28 January. On 23 September, a single European Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur was feeding on a track with two Vinaceous Doves S. vinacea at Tujering (13°19'N 16°47'W); this species is infrequent at the coast in the dry season and exceptional during the rains anywhere in The Gambia. A Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus flew over Fajara on 13 January. A pair of Golden-tailed Woodpeckers Campethera abingoni was observed and their calls recorded along Bund Road on 12 July and along Old Cape Road on 17 July; this species is rarely seen in The Gambia. Singing Great Reed Warblers Acrocephalus arundinaceus were recorded at Sapu in early December and at Tendaba in mid January; this is a rarely seen and probably under-recorded species in the country.

A wing found at N'jau on 31 January 2002, is now thought to be from a White-bellied Bustard Eupodotis senegalensis; this is the first indication of the occurrence of this species in The Gambia since the late 1980s. A Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus with a metallic ring on the right leg and a blue ring on the left, seen at Tanji Bird Reserve on 23 January 2002, appears to have been ringed on 17 July 1999 as a juvenile in Iceland, 5,653 km away. A Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix was observed at Sabi on 25 May 2002; the few previous records are from the coast.

An adult Franklin's Gull Larus pipixcan was photographed at Banjul on 17 January 2002. An immature Eurasian Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus was seen near Kerr Jaïn on 28 November 2002. A Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus was disturbed while roosting at Pirang Shrimp Ponds on 16 February 2003; all previous records of this scarce trans-Saharan migrant are from the Upper River Division. A Spotted Honeyguide Indicator maculatus was observed at length at Marakissa on 10 February; this is a rare species in The Gambia.

Map

Mon, 01/14/2013 - 23:30 -- abc_admin

References

Mon, 01/14/2013 - 23:28 -- abc_admin

BALLANTYNE, S. (2006) Bird diversity in Nyassang Forest Park, The Gambia. Malimbus 28(2) pp 134-142.

BALLANTYNE, S. (2007) Bird diversity in Nyassang Forest Park, The Gambia (Malimbus 28: 134-142): corrections and further information. Malimbus 29(1) pp 45-46.

BARLOW, C.R. (2009) Three records of Solitary Sandpiper Tringa solatiria in The Gambia. ABC Bulletin 16(2) pp 209-210.

BARLOW, C.R. and DISLEY, A.S. (2012) First record of Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis for The Gambia. ABC Bulletin 19(1) pp 62-64.

BARNETT, L.K. & EMMS, C. (2001) New species and breeding records for The Gambia. ABC Bulletin 8 (1) pp 44-45.

BARNETT, L.K., EMMS, C. & CAMARA, A. (2001) The birds of Bijol Island, Tanji River (Karinti) Bird Reserve, The Gambia. ABC Bulletin 8 (1) pp 39-43.

BARNETT, L.K., EMMS, C. & CAMARA, A. (2002) Update on Bijol Islands Conservation Project. ABC Bulletin 9 (1) pp 9.

BirdLife International (2000) Threatened Birds of the World. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

COSGROVE, P., DOYLE, P., COSGROVE, R., GOFF, R., VEEN, J. and MANNEH, L. (2013) Tanji River Bird Reserve, The Gambia - a globally important breeding site for Royal Tern. ABC Bulletin 20(1), pp 27-30.

CREWE, M.D. (2001) Selected observations from The Gambia 1997-1999 with comments on the identification of a number of species. ABC Bulletin 8(2) pp 113-116.

CREWE M. D. & SMALL B. J., (2002) Discoveries: Temminck's Horned Lark Eremophila bilopha - a new species for The Gambia. ABC Bulletin 9 (2) pp 136-138.

CREWE, M.D., CREWE, M.A. & SANYANG, T. (2008) First record of Ruppell's Warbler Sylvia rueppelli for The Gambia. ABC Bulletin 15(1) pp 91-92.

GORE, M. E. J. (1990) Birds of The Gambia (2nd edition.). Check-list No. 3. British Ornithologists' Union, Tring.

HIGH, J. (2006) First record of Bridled Tern Sterna anaethetus for The Gambia. ABC Bulletin 13(1) pp 77-78.

KIRK G., BARLOW C. R., (2002) Discoveries: Second confirmed record of Forbes's Plover Charadrius forbesi for The Gambia. ABC Bulletin 9 (2) pp 138-139.

MOREL, G. J. & MOREL, M.-Y. (1990) Les Oiseaux de Sénégambie. ORSTOM, Paris.

NASON, A. (1998) Birding in Tanji Bird Reserve and Bijol Island, The Gambia. ABC Bulletin 5 (1) pp 51-55.

ROBINSON, P. The Gambia chapter pp 357 - 366 in FISHPOOL, L.D.C. and EVANS M.I. editors (2001) Important Bird Areas in Africa and Associated Islands: Priority sites for conservation. Newbury and Cambridge, UK. Pisces Publications and BirdLife International (BirdLife Conservation Series No.11).

ROY, K. (2009) First record of Wahlberg’s Honeybird Prodotiscus regulus for The Gambia. ABC Bulletin 16(1) pp 90-91.

Contacts

Mon, 01/14/2013 - 23:26 -- abc_admin

African Bird Club representative

Solomon Jallow
c/o WABSA
Department of Parks & Wildlife Management HQ
Abuko Nature Reserve
Abuko
PMB 676 S/K
The Gambia

habitatafrica@hotmail.com

Bird recorder and checklist compiler

Lamin Jobarteh
West African Bird Study Association
Palm Grove Hotel
Banjul
The Gambia

laminjobarteh2002@yahoo.co.uk

Clubs

West African Bird Study Association
Lamin Jobarteh
Palm Grove Hotel
Banjul
The Gambia

Guides

WABSA are anxious to ensure that guides belonging to their association act in a professional fashion in guiding clients and if you have any comments, good or bad, these should be sent to their Director, Lamin Jobarteh, c/o Department of Parks and Wildlife Management HQ, Abuko. The current WABSA badges, have two signatures, the signature of their Chairman and the signature of their Director. There is a logo on the badge featuring a pair of binoculars, a bird and a book. There has been trouble recently with badges being forged, bearing the names of reputable guides but being worn by imposters. Telephoning or emailing guides in advance of your arrival should mitigate this problem until such time as new (and we hope unforgeable) badges are provided by the GTA. Guides marked * below were part of WABSA in August 2004.

In February 2006 some of the coastal based guides broke away from WABSA to form Bird Guides Association The Gambia. Where they had previously been recommended to us or were on the WABSA list we have retained the references to them below. As we know little about their identity badges (there have been forgeries of WABSA badges) we suggest that you contact them on the numbers given to arrange to meet.

***indicates further feedback from clients below. We would appreciate further feedback on the accuracy of this information.

Just a few of The Gambia bird guides.

Name Telephone e-mail
*Babagalleh Bah 9902523 baba623@hotmail.com
*Clive Barlow*** 936122 clivebarlow@gambianet.gm
*Alieu Barry 7786437  
*Ebrima W Barry*** 9981130 ebrimaeboy@hotmail.com
*Dawda M Barry*** 7712785 dawdambarry@yahoo.co.uk
*Yaya & Modou Barry*** 9811118 kingbirders@hotmail.com
Lamin Bojang***   laminbrufutwood@yahoo.com
*Modou Camara 9934750  
*Modou A Colley*** 9908916 mcolley99@yahoo.com
Buba Daffeh*** 376897 bdaffeh@hotmail.com
*Pa Almamy Darbo 9910457  
*Ansuman Drammeh 680 9110 gambian.birdguide@gmail.com
*Junkung Jadama 9984157 jsjadama73@yahoo.com
*Solomon Jallow*** 9921551  
*Pa Jallow*** 9850247 pajallow1978@yahoo.com
Ya Ya Jallow*** 4948425 yayajallow7@hotmail.com
Yuspha Jammeh***    
*Modou Jarju 7799190 bestboy6042000@yahoo.com
Pa Musa Jatta*** 9882167 turacobirding@gmail.com
*Lamin Jobarteh 7776821  
Jeland Jobe***   jelandjobe@yahoo.com
Ousman Joku*** 9848360 ousmanjoku@hotmail.com
*Buba Kandeh 4472074  
*Tijan Kanteh 99934617 tijanthebirdman@yahoo.com
*Bubacarr Kassama 7786437  
*Mustapha Kassama*** 9983305 mustaphakassama@yahoo.com
Ebrima Korita*** 99888674 ebrimakorita@hotmail.com

*Laibo Manneh***

7700734 Laibomanneh@yahoo.co.uk

Mustapha Manneh***

9987157 birdlifeafrica2002@yahoo.com

Ebrima Njie***

9841959 birdlifeafrica2002@yahoo.com
*Lamin Sanyang*** 7714132 wildlife@gamtel.gm
*Masaneh Sanyang*** 9924761 masssanyang55@hotmail.com
*Omar T K Sohna 4393938  
*Dembo Sonko 9906023  
*Kebba Sosseh 4375312  
*Malick Suso*** 9921720 MalickSuso@hotmail.com
*Musa Suso 4374770  
Tamba Suso*** 9947535 tambasuso@yahoo.com
*Karamba Touray*** 9940986 elymelani@yahoo.com
Lamin Touray*** 472 957  
Wandy Touray*** 951704  

Clive R Barlow  - resident in The Gambia since 1984 and co author of Field Guide to Birds of The Gambia & Senegal and who has published many articles, short papers and reports about Gambian ornithology, is now currently mostly involved in single species research e.g Nightingale and european song bird studies, vulture and raptor populations and gull migrations. He can be contacted for scientific investigations from universities, zoological institutions and private individuals. Clive can also organise and lead a variety of short tours for birders, photographers, sound recordists, film makers etc. He collaborates with the Dept of Wildlife and Parks Management. Mobile 220 706 1114 for SMS.  Email: birdsofthegambia@hotmail.com

Dawda M Barry This reference was sent by an ornithologist and dated February 2008. "My wife and I have just returned from two weeks birding in the coastal area of The Gambia. We spent some time with an excellent guide called Dawda M Barry. We met him at Kotu Bridge and he organised several trips to places like Pirang and Abuko. He was truly brilliant. Quiet, unassuming and not pushy like many of the other guides. He was really good company and we look forward to seeing him again before too long. We would unreservedly recommend using this guide. Contact address PMB 733, Serrekunda, The Gambia.

Ebrima W Barry "I have spent some time with Ebrima in The Gambia last year and being very impressed by his birding knowledge and skills, I am returning in December this year to spend further time with him. I have also assisted him in setting up a website of his own at www.gambia-birdwatching-tour.com." From a correspondent in October 2008.

Yaya and Modou Barry also known as Kingbirders offer packages within The Gambia at £375 for a one week tour with 3 days up river and a two week tour with 5 days up river at £500.00 per person. This price (2005 and can be negotiated to fit other itineraries or needs) includes airport transfers, vehicle, guides, boat trips and ferry crossings, entrance fees to national parks and nature reserves, upriver accommodation with breakfast, evening meals and picnic lunches.

Lamin Bojang "I have just returned from visiting The Gambia in February 2007. I would like to recommend Lamin Bojang, one of WABSA's professional guides. He is based at Cape Boint Beach close to the Ocean Bay Hotel. Lamin guided me at Abuko and the Lamin Fields area; Brufut Woods and the Tanji coastal area; and the Kotu area. He was a very good bird guide and also good company. He will arrange all required transport for an all-in price, which I found to be reasonable.

Also, can I suggest you support the local businesses and try the Eco-Friends Drink Stop on the main road adjacent to the Lamin rice fields."

"Modou Colley was an excellent guide in March 2005, professional, knowledgeable and unassuming. He was able to get me very close to some good birds allowing decent photographs without disturbing the birds. He was particularly skilled at ID'ing raptors from a distance without optics & when the birds finally approached closer he was invariably proved right in his ID. Note that a visit to the internet cafe to pick up his email involves a 75 km journey - so if the matter is urgent a text message to his mobile may be better."

Buba Daffeh "We enjoy birding with Buba because he is very patient whilst we film and photograph birds. He has been part of the Habitat Africa group for several years."

Pa Jallow "We stumbled across Pa on our second visit to the Gambia in December 2005 outside the Senegambia Hotel and what a chance meeting it turned out to be. He was very knowledgable about birds, but more importantly, very patient, doing what we wanted to do. He became a friend as well as a birdguide, and we look forward to meeting up with him again. We would wholeheartedly recommend Pa if you are about to visit the Gambia at any time."

Solomon Jallow of WABSA manages a group of guides which includes Aladin Jemeh, Tamba Jeffang, Sering Bojang, Osman Sayand, Buba Daffeh, Osman Sayand and Dembo Sonko. These guides have a good knowledge of identification and bird calls and where to find some of the rarer or more difficult species in all parts of The Gambia. They can organise all transport and accommodation.

Ya Ya Jallow "He acted as guide with a Wildsights trip, he was friendly and helpful as well as extremely knowledgeable about the birds and, more importantly, their calls. I can thoroughly recommend him and would have no hesitation in going out with him on my own".

Yuspha Jammeh "A group of Dutch birders were so pleased with Yuspha's  services that they have commissioned the building of a website for Yuspha who lives at Kololi (March 2007)."

Pa Musa Jatta "We have recently returned from The Gambia where we had an excellent guide and driver. Pa Musa Jatta proved excellent at finding and identifying birds in the many different habitats that we visited. He was also knowledgeable, friendly, helpful and patient! He also has a very good and safe driver, Alassan Colley, with a great, comfortable vehicle. Pa knew all the best places to find even rare birds, and organised a hassle-free trip up-river. He can usually be found in the guides' hut outside the Senegambia Hotel."

Jeland Jobe is based outside Senegambia Hotel. Writing in March 2007 "Jeland is very observant, picks up songs and calls at long distances. He is kind and very helpful. He will arrange transport and is familiar with exclellent birding sites."

Ousman Joku Bird & Butterfly Guide. "We used him as a bird guide for 3 half-days in different locations in and around Bakau in mid-February 2007. He was excellent in locating and identifying birds. We recorded 150+ different species in this time.  He was the only guide we saw with his own telescope and tripod which we found very useful in addition to our Leicas. We found him to be very reliable, friendly and trustworthy. We hope to return to The Gambia to go 'up-country' in October and will use him again. We recommend him without reservation."

Tijan Kanteh "We were very satisfied with Tijan on a trip in March 2006. He has a good sense of humour, speaks excellent English, is knowledgable and reliable   The transport arrangements up to Tendaba and beyond worked very well."

Mustapha Kassama "I used Mustapha for a couple of days for relaxed birding trip - he charged £10.00 for a morning around the creek area and £50.00 for a dawn to dusk trip to Marakissa and Yundum fields." Another correspondent reports an enjoyable time with Mustapha in December 2005.

Ebrima Korita is contactable at  the WABSA stand at Kotu Bridge. " A young WABSA guide who is very keen. Non birding colleagues really enjoyed the added dimension he brought to their holiday, he was always polite and never pushy."

Laibo Manneh "Laibo knows Tanji and Brufut like the back of his hand but we used him at Marakissa and had an excellent morning's birding. This is the guide who also writes the list - a real boon for those taking photographs and videos. Laibo also runs trips further afield as far as Basse. Recommended by WABSA colleagues with Habitat Africa. For birding at Marakissa and dropping us off at Tumani Tenda he charged £30.00 per person." From 25th of June, 2007 he accepted the honourable position of  chairman of WABSA.

Mustapha Manneh “We have known Mustapha Manneh for at least 8 years; we first met him when we were looking for someone to take us birding at the bridge in Kotu. We have now become great friends and when we go to the Gambia Mustapha is one of the first people we see to arrange our birding trips. We would have no trouble in recommending him as a bird guide, his knowledge of birds and where they are is second to none, he is also very knowledgeable about the other flora and fauna that is found in the Gambia and nothing is too much trouble for him." Mustapha runs a tour service, and there are details on his website: https://birdlifeafrica.wordpress.com/. Sent May 2015.

Ebrima Njie: “During our week upriver and on the coast with Ebrima he showed non-stop enthusiasm from early morning until dusk. He was always on the lookout for birds (and other wildlife) and then made sure that everyone in the group had the opportunity to have a good view of them.” Ebrima runs a tour service, and there are details on his website: https://birdlifeafrica.wordpress.com/. Sent May 2015.

Lamin Sanyang "Having just returned from a Christmas break in January 2007 in The Gambia with my wife and 17 year old son I can thoroughly recommend Lamin Sanyang as an excellent guide. Having been guided to The Bijol Island on the 27 December and then Abuko Nature Reserve on the 28 December by Lamin, my family and I found him to be very knowledgeable and keen to find different bird species for us. Above all Lamin became a good friend and with his help we sighted 47 bird species. We would definitely use Lamin as a guide again."

Masaneh Sanyang "Recommended by keen birdwatchers, Masaneh was very knowledgeable, patient and extremely helpful throughout our stay. We cannot rate him highly enough and I know the other members of our group would feel the same. Also recommended to us for up-river trips."

"I found Mass at the entrance to Bijilo forest on my penultimate day of my sixth visit to the Gambia. I only wish we had met before. He guided me around Brufut Woods the next day and was very keen and identified every call or song we eard. Excellent value for money. A geniuely nice guy and very polite. He has his own transport and also has a scope. He told me he organises trip to Senegal also, including Nikolo Koba.  I wouldn't hestiate to use his guiding services again."

Malick Suso "I went out with him on four occasions. These tended to be mornings, usually between 7am and 1pm. The cost was very reasonable, £25 which was for taking just myself. He was punctual, knowledgeable and good company"

Tamba Suso "We have just returned from The Gambia and found a superb birding guide called Tamba Soso. He works from outside of the Senegambia Hotel and has his own jeep and can call upon the services of other guides if necessary. His keen eyes and ears (he was exceptional on bird calls) helped us achieve 178 species in 5.5 days of birding. Very well mannered, good fun and obviously loves his birding. We highly recommend Tamba"

Karamba Touray "We first met Karamba when he was working for the Parks Department in Abuko - he knew his birds, was serious about identifying them properly and ensuring visitors got the most out of their visit. He is now working independently so you will need to be clear about costs before you start.."

Lamin Touray "Lamin passed the ultimate test, he was assigned to guide us in an area he had never visited before in his life and we had some 92 species in the space of about 4.5 hours birding in the quiet season."

Wandy Touray "Wandy's ability to find birds around Tendaba, particularly in the Baobolon wetland reserve, is quite legendary. Now organised with a mobile phone he can take advanced bookings."

Conservation

Mon, 01/14/2013 - 23:19 -- abc_admin
African_Hawk_Eagle_Gambia

African Hawk Eagle Hieraaetus spilogaster The Gambia

Image Credit: 
Steve Garvie
Martial_Eagle_Gambia

Martial Eagle Polemaetus bellicosus adult, The Gambia

Image Credit: 
Steve Garvie

The problems of The Gambia are those of any country with a growing population and limited resources. Some areas, for example the coast, are under particular pressure because of mass tourism and the expanding population. The Gambians showed great foresight in establishing the Abuko Nature Reserve in 1968 thus ensuring that succeeding generations of Gambians and visitors would have the opportunity to appreciate the Guinea Savannah forest that originally covered this area of the country. Other reserves have been established at Tanji (Karinti) Bird Reserve and Bao-bolon wetland reserve. Niumi National Park (which includes Ginak Island) and Kiang West National Park provide protection for other species.

Internationally, attitudes to conservation are changing, with a greater appreciation of the need for local communities to see the tangible benefits of conserving natural resources. There are a number of projects in The Gambia which are proving successful and we hope these will be replicated and developed.

Local sanctuary projects. The West African Bird Study Association (a group of local Gambian birders including many of the local guides) have agreed with the local community at Brufut to create such a protected area as part of their campaign to protect what remains of the coastal forest. They  charge visitors to enter the reserve, a proportion of this goes to the local community, providing an incentive to protect the woodland. The Gambia Birding Group UK, having made a small initial donation, encouraged WABSA to develop the area and regrets that at the moment a disagreement between WABSA and the Exmoor Falconry Centre, who provided substantial funding. There is a dispute about who is running the project.  Financial accountability was one of the issues raised and we understand that WABSA have now appointed a committee to oversee this.

A  WABSA project has been set up at at Bansang Quarry where the local community have agreed to help protect the Red-throated Bee-eater Merops bulocki colony. Half the area has been fenced off to protect the birds, with access to the rest of the quarry continuing for building materials. The area is staffed by members of a local youth group; the entry fees go directly to the local community. The Gambia Birding Group UK funded the cost of the fencing and a shelter, Birdfinders having funded the signs.

WABSA have also established a scheme at Marakissa Woods which are suffering encroachment at a frightening rate. The initial funding for this project was provided primarily by Birdseekers.

Community Forests to provide firewood for local people.
 

Operation Desertification Control An item in the Daily Observer for June 20 2006 reported on this WABSA project to plant over ten thousand seedlings of drought resistant trees. The project operates in seven villages in the North Bank and Central River Divisions. Beneficiaries include the communities of Kerr Mbuguma, Bali, Buranya and No-Kunda in the North Bank Division. The Lamin-Koto, Bani and Niani-Kunting communities, all in the Central River Division, also benefited. They were given rakes, watering cans, beehives, cutlasses and other materials. The paper reports that Lamin Jobarteh, director of WABSA, said that the majority of Gambians already feel the impact of this vicious cycle of desertification, as it has now become a real life problem which threatens the livelihood of the rural population. The desertification project in Northern Gambia, the area most prone to desert condition, he said, is funded by the Netherlands Committee and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Dry Area Region (NC-IUCN/DAS). He said that planned activities for the project will centre on sensitising the participation of rural communities on sound forest management and its rational utilisation. It is also meant to support local communities by encouraging income generating activities like beekeeping, establishment of woodlots and agro-biodiversity.

It was good to read that young school based members of WABSA from St.Augustine’s, St.Joseph’s, Presentation Girl’s, Gambia High, Muslim and SoS Heimen Meiner Senior Secondary Schools are also raising funds for this project.  Taking an imaginative approach they recently ran a fashion show, using the event not only to raise funds but also to spread the message of the dangers of desertification.
 

Makasutu Culture Forest. This is a a successful  venture that introduces visitors to the local culture and wildlife. Employing about 80 people the project has the active support of the local community who have a vested interest in protecting the woodland.

Gambia-Makasutu-logo

 

Makasutu Wildlife Trust logo, The Gambia

 

Makasutu Wildlife Trust. A newish NGO which aims to help protect the wildlife  and wild habitats of The Gambia and to encourage a greater awareness, appreciation and participation in all aspects of biodiversity, its conservation and sustainable use, and the environment. For information about membership and the activities contact the trust at PO Box 2164, Serrekunda, The Gambia.

email: drumohq@qanet.gm

Eco tourism is recognised as an important strand in future developments, minimising the adverse impact of tourism and maximising the benefits to local communities.

There are smaller scale projects such as the restoration of the Botanical Gardens and the planting of hotel grounds with an appropriate mix of trees that will attract birds.

Projects such as the Brufut Youths and Environmental Group involve young people in cleaning up and protecting their local environment. This group is currently seeking financial assistance for basic equipment such as spades and wheelbarrows. Further information is available from Famarah Drammeh who is based at the Department of Parks and Wildlife Management wildlife@gamtel.gm

Local support is a key factor in the Department of Parks and Wildlife Management's bid to fund a conservation project for the Tanji (Karinti) Bird Reserve and The Bijol Island. The African Bird Club and Gambia Birding Group do not have the resources to set up and run major Gambia based projects but will encourage members and users of this website to contribute directly to a variety of projects within The Gambia. There is no one "right answer" to conservation and we will support a range of approaches that recognise that conservation needs to have definable economic benefits if it is to be successful.

This leads to an important point.  By visiting The Gambia you have the opportunity to contribute to this process by buying goods and services from local people. Do so with good grace, it seems utterly preferable to pay for services genuinely rendered rather than throwing a handful of biros at children who should be at school. And no, this doesn't mean that you should put up with "guides" who know nothing about bird watching. Using good guides and drivers who appreciate the birds of their country and understand the differing needs of birdwatchers who come to see, photograph, film and record the birds is an important contribution to the country's economy. Your contribution to the local Upper River and North Bank economy is particularly valuable. With many tourists limited to the developed coast the more remote areas get little benefit from tourism. The hope is that naturalists who visit The Gambia will appreciate their good fortune in being able to travel and see such diversity and recognise that they have an opportunity to make a positive contribution to protecting natural habitats.

The Gambia is party to a number of international environmental agreements including Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution and Wetlands.

The Bijol Islands in The Gambia have received protection in the form of a regular boat patrol. With funds supplied by the British High Commission to The Gambia and Wetlands International in Dakar, Senegal, the Department of Parks and Wildlife Management has obtained a 7m fibreglass boat and outboard motor, plus running costs for the first year - (BARNETT et al 2002).

Books & Sounds

Mon, 01/14/2013 - 23:16 -- abc_admin

The Gambia and Senegal are well covered by field guides. A Field Guide to the Birds of The Gambia and Senegal by Barlow et al and Birds of Senegal and The Gambia by Borrow and Demey both cover these countries.

In addition, the western and central parts of Africa now have an excellent guide in the Birds of Western Africa by Borrow and Demey which covers The Gambia and Senegal. It is a fantastic reference work and thoroughly recommended. It covers 23 countries south of the Sahara, from Mauritania in the northwest, to Chad and Central African Republic in the east, and Congo Brazzaville in the southeast, including the Cape Verde and Gulf of Guinea Islands. The paperback version is much more portable than the hard cover edition and it is ideal for the field, although there is less detail.

Birds of Africa south of the Sahara also covers the same countries as Birds of Western Africa except the Cape Verde Islands.

You can purchase these and other books from WildSounds, one of the largest specialist UK mail-order companies, via our book and media sales page. Many birdwatchers are not only interested in birds, so we have added the most useful books for other taxa on this page.

*** Wildsounds donates 5% of each order generated via these links to the ABC Conservation Fund. Please order here, get a good price and support ABC! ***

Book image: 
Book info: 
A Field Guide to Birds of The Gambia & Senegal, Barlow, Wacher & Disley, A&C Black, Softback.
Book description: 

A specific guide to the birds of this area. Over 600 species are described with almost 570 species illustrated on 48 colour plates. The species not illustrated in colour are vagrants.

"This new book is quite simply excellent, and is certainly one of the very best true field guides for any region in the world. Yes, I rate it that highly. It is clearly evident that great thought and consideration went into the planning and design of the book - it really is user-friendly, nothing is missing that should be included, and nothing included is a waste of space. The end result is a masterpiece." Nick Dymond, British Birds.

Media type: 
Book image: 
Book info: 
Birds of Senegal and The Gambia (2011), Nik Borrow and Ron Demey, Christopher Helm, Softback.
Book description: 

This new field guide covers The Gambia, a country which is very popular with a large number of birders and tourists, and the whole of neighbouring Senegal. This fascinating region shelters many Western Palearctic migrants from September to April, as well as a significant list of resident West African birds. The stunning colour plates depict more than 680 species, covering almost every distinct plumage and race. The authoritative text highlights the key features needed to identify each species in the field, and accurate up-to-date maps are provided for every species. This comprehensive guide is an essential companion for anyone visiting The Gambia and Senegal. 352 pages.

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Book info: 
Birds of Western Africa, Nik Borrow & Ron Demey, Helm, Hardback.
Book description: 

Helm Identification Guide. 147 plates depicting over 1280 species in 2800 individual figures. Covers Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Rio Muni, Gabon, Congo, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, part of Mauritania and the islands of Sao Tome, Principe and Bioko (Fernando Po). All the species described are illustrated in colour apart from a few vagrants, which are depicted in black-and-white in the text. Distribution maps are provided for the majority of species (except vagrants). 832 pages.

Media type: 
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Book info: 
Field Guide to the Birds of Western Africa, Nik Borrow & Ron Demey, Helm, Softback.
Book description: 

Helm Field Guide. Utilises all the plates from the Helm ID Guide by the same authors, with a concise, authoritative text on facing pages, to create a guide covering all 1,304 species found in the region. The guide also contains an updated colour distribution map for each species and a number of new images have been painted just for this guide. Covers Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Rio Muni, Gabon, Congo, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, part of Mauritania and the islands of Sao Tome, Principe and Bioko (Fernando Po). 512 pages.

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Birds of Africa South of the Sahara, Ian Sinclair & Peter Ryan, New Holland, Softback.
Book description: 

Second edition, including 500 new images and 400 updated distribution maps. Unrivalled coverage of African birds in a single volume. 2129+ species covered with an additional 101 vagrants briefly described. Revised to reflect the latest changes in taxonomy. Species descriptions give precise identification features highlighting differences between similar species as well as briefly reporting habitat, status and call. Annotated illustrations portray distinctive plumages as well as diagnostic flight patterns and major geographic variants where applicable.

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Book info: 
Birds of The Gambia, M E J More, British Ornithologists Union, Hardback.
Book description: 

BOU checklist 3. Second edition 1991. A popular holiday destination, The Gambia is usually most British birdwatchers' introduction to the birds of West Africa, which often fuels the desire for further travel. This is a detailed account of the Gambian birdlife which is heavily influenced by the River Gambia which flows along the middle of this tiny West African nation. 152 pages.

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Bird Song of The Gambia & Senegal, C Barlow, J Hammick & P Sellar, Mandarin Prodns., 3 CD Set.
Book description: 

Vocalisations of 265 species and subspecies. Indexed but not announced. There are 4 separate recordings of Cameron Indigobird (Vidua camerunensis) mimicing 4 different hosts.

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Visiting

Mon, 01/14/2013 - 23:11 -- abc_admin

Little Bee-eater Merops pusillus
Note the blue eyebrow which is unusual in the west African race.
Tanji Reserve, The Gambia
See NASON, A. (1998)

Image Credit: 
Ian Nason

Birding tours

AshantiBirdfinders, BirdquestLimosa and Sunbird operate tours to The Gambia.

Accommodation

This is not intended to be a complete list of accommodation in The Gambia but it includes places where birders have stayed and / or provided information about the hotel, the area and birdwatching potential. Note that you should check prices as those given may have changed since they were reported.

Banjul and the developed coast

The Senegambia Hotel. Tel 220 228601 Fax 220 227861 www.senegambiahotel.com email reservations@senegambiahotel.com
Extensive grounds with a good birdlist and used extensively by British bird tour groups.

The Kairaba Hotel. Tel 220 462940  fax 220 462947  email kairaba@gamtel.gm
"This is rated as one of the best hotels in The Gambia and visitors report that it has picked up again lately and that the Shikra restaurant is particularly good. From personal experience in February 2003, this hotel seems best booked as part of a package deal rather than for a few days as part of an independent tour."

The above hotels are near the top end of the market. Whilst they may be particularly popular with birders, there is a very wide range of accommodation to choose from, dependent on your timetable, your budget and whether you need to take into account the needs of family members who have different interests.

The Badala Park Tel 460400, fax 460402 provides basic accommodation in a brilliant birding location in the Kotu area and is popular with birders on a budget.  You will probably want to make an allowance for eating out in the evening.   
 

The Bakotu Hotel Tel 465959, fax 465555 is also popular with birders, being smaller and quieter. A short walk through the gardens will take you to a viewpoint overlooking the Kotu stream.

"We really like the Safari Garden Hotel which has 12 double rooms in gardens with a swimming pool. The hotel supports a number of conservation initiatives,  prides itself on not laying off staff during the "off season" and supports development programmes for the staff. The only disadvantage for birders is the location; but it is within walking distance of the Fajara Golf course."
Tel 495887 fax 497841 email  geri@qanet.gm
 

The Atlantic Hotel, Banjul. Tel 220 228601 Fax 220 227861 
Enquiries and reservation email:business.centre@atlantic-hotel.gm Also included on web site www.corinthia.com "Good for the Bund Road, estuary watching and bird garden (an oasis in the dry season). If you decide to book direct, a) ask for a room overlooking the bird garden and b) ask if they will store your main luggage whilst you travel up-river." We would be particularly interested in feedback from birders who have used budget and locally owned hotels.

Tanji and Marikissa

Gambia-Paradise

Paradise Inn, The Gambia

Paradise Inn Lodge and Nature Park Tanji.  fax +220 460 023 email paradiseinnlodge@gamtel.gm  "Convenient for the Tanji (Karinti) Reserve including the Bijol Islands. Brufut is relatively close but you will need transport. The birding in the grounds of the lodge and nearby is also very good. Wet season sightings include the elusive Shining Blue Kingfisher Alcedo quadribrachys. They have their own bird guide Laibo Manneh whom we thought was excellent. Paradise Lodge will organise trips for you including Abuko / Kombo south area, Marikissa, Tendaba and Basse. For birdwatching trips Laibo charged £30.00 per person per day including transport (but not of course overnight expenses). In peak season you would be well advised to book him in advance. We revisited Paradise Inn Lodge again in February 2003 and would thoroughly recommend it for a relaxing few days or as an alternative to the hustle and bustle of the developed coastal strip."

'Alla la Darroo' guest house is a 45 minute drive from the airport and lies just South of Brikama on the road to Marakissa and the border South. "We have not visited it ourselves but for birders not requiring en suite accommodation and not in need of electricity to charge their batteries it sounds well worth considering." Despite references to the opportunities to sleep under the stars they assure us they do provide mosquito netting. They see themselves as an eco friendly establishment. 

River Lodge some 10-15 minutes south of Marikissa, ( turn right at Darsilami) is a wonderful location. It is best known as an excellent lunch stop, they do have some thatched huts and a single long drop loo. 100D bed and breakfast (2000 prices).  Only for the really intrepid with their own sheet sleeping bag and mosquito net.

Gambia-Marikissa

Marikissa, The Gambia

Tumani Tenda, Sindola and Kemoto

Tumani Tenda PO Box 5425, Brikama, The Gambia, West Africa. Tel 01425 email tumanitenda@hotmail.com. An excellent development well worth supporting. The camp (follow the signs for Kachokorr forest) is run by representatives of the families in the local village. Accommodation is very simple but adequate with a flushing loo and shower. Food is also simple. Prices are very low, in February 2003 we paid £4.28 pp for room and breakfast and £1.00 for dinner. There is a local guide who will take you on a very enjoyable bird walk around the local area.  Excellent birds include Brown-necked Parrots Poicephalus robusuts.

Tendaba  Tel (Banjul Office) 465288, fax 466180. If you can only visit one up river location during your stay, this is the one to go for. Book your boat trip to the bolons of the Baobolong Wetland Reserve as soon as you arrive taking into account tides (you need to be at the head of the bolons for high tide if you are going to cross between the two without grounding the boat). The camp is locally owned and managed. You will need to specify en-suite accommodation if this is what your require. With more general parties coming here, the swimming pool is functioning again. Travel by bus to Kwinella and then walk 5 km (think about the walk when packing). We have seen a local man shipping packs on his donkey cart; if he is around that could be a worthwhile investment, bearing in mind the heat. Tendaba features on most birdwatching tours upriver. 

Sindola Lodge is a new, luxurious facility located in bush country near Kanali, which is about 2.5 hours drive from the coast on a quite good road and not as expensive as one might expect. The Lodge has links principally with the Kairaba Hotel and features in several brochures. They organise their own transfers from the coast.

Georgetown & Basse

Baobalong Camp Tel: 676133 or 676151. This is run by local Gambian birders and there is excellent birding in and around the camp. It is popular with British birdwatching groups. "Good value - we enjoyed it."

Jangjang-bureh Camp On the north bank this camp is lit by oil lamps and has a bar overlooking the river.

Both of these camps can organise river trips and bird walks.

Jem Hotel, Basse Tel: 668356 Fax 668001 (or in the UK 01843 586985) Rooms (for double or single use) are D175 per night, with all meals extra. "For many years accepted as the best available in a limited market."

Guides

There are a number of birding guides in The Gambia, some associated with hotels which can organise birdwatching trips.

"The West African Bird Study Association (WABSA) have guides at their stall at Kotu Creek. You should make sure that you go to the stall rather than get picked up by pseudo guides lurking nearby. Unfortunately some people have been forging WABSA membership cards but if you are at the stall, other guides will soon see off intruders. You may want to use the WABSA guides listed in the Contact section of this website and make contact before you go. Some guides have left WABSA to join a new organisation but we have not yet had feedback from members as to how this is working out on the ground."

Solomon Jallow of WABSA manages a group of guides which includes Ansuman Drammeh, Aladin Jemeh, Tamba Jeffang, Sering Bojang, Buba Daffeh, Osman Sayand and Dembo Sonko. These guides have a good knowledge of identification and bird calls and where to find some of the rarer or more difficult species in all parts of The Gambia. They can organise all transport and accommodation. Tel:  907694. E-mail habitatafrica@hotmail.com

Clive Barlow has operated as a tour leader and bird guide in The Gambia since 1985 and is available throughout the year as a birding, photography, or research guide for both individuals and groups, see www.birdsofthegambia.com.

You need to bear in mind that in addition to being able to find and identify birds, you should feel confident that anyone guiding you up river will be able to organise reliable transport with the proper insurance for such an expedition and be able to pre-book accommodation. Fuel and vehicle hire are not as cheap as many other items in The Gambia so you need to be clear about whether these are included or not in the costs that are quoted. In November many of the top flight guides will be working for the numerous bird tour companies that bring their groups to The Gambia at this time. Other guides can find and identify the birds: the occasional difference of opinion can become a learning experience on both sides.

Logistics

Flights: There are numerous scheduled and charter flights which connect Western Europe and other African countries with Banjul International airport which is close to the capital city itself and to the coastal resorts.

Books: The Books and Sounds section of this website shows a comprehensive range of field and other guides for birders visiting The Gambia and if you order from this site, you will be generating funds for our conservation work. The following travel guides have much valuable and interesting information:

The Bradt Guide to The Gambia by Craig Emms and Linda Barnett is written by professional ecologists based in The Gambia. Covering all of the basics it is particularly good in directing birders to lesser known areas with good birding potential and provides information about alternative accommodation to enable birders to stay on hand for early morning starts. It will be well appreciated by visitors interested in wildlife. The health section also includes useful information.

Lonely Planet Guide to The Gambia and Senegal gives sensible advice on a whole range of issues relating to a stay in The Gambia.

For a deeper understanding of the society you will be visiting read Michael Tomkinson's Gambia. Beautiful photographs illustrate this book which will be invaluable to students visiting the country. The book includes a directory which provides "a comprehensive if subjective guide to The Gambia's hotels, guest houses, lodges and camps, and of the airlines and holiday firms that serve it."

Roads: Travel in The Gambia is very straightforward, though the state of the roads away from the coastal resorts and Banjul means that it takes a long time to go anywhere. There are two main routes through the country, the tar road along the southern side of the Gambia River and the dirt road along its northern bank.

In November 2004 a correspondent reported "the south bank road is now in an appalling state with substantially increased journey times... The north bank road all the way from Barra to Georgetown has been almost completely rebuilt and is in excellent condition."  In August 2006, this was confirmed as the best option although it is hoped that the south bank road will improve in the foreseeable future.

Independent travellers can hire vehicles or a vehicle with driver as well as trying more sedate options to see the countryside such as boats or bicycles. "Car hire is not really necessary: not only does the lack of signs make it difficult to go anywhere off the beaten track, but concentrating on driving around the potholes and avoiding other vehicles, especially donkey/horse/ox carts would make for a stressful experience." If you choose to hire a car, the general advice for travelling up-country is to bear in mind that car hire is expensive, the conditions of roads and vehicles make it important that you should be confident driving on dirt roads and have some basic mechanical knowledge, including wheel changing skills. 

Public transport is very good value but tends not to suit birders who want to stop en-route. We beleive public buses still run to Basse on the road on the south side road, but we understand the express buses have been withdrawn.

Tourist taxis and car hire are not cheap (unless you are comparing with London prices). You should check that the driver's licence and insurance are up to date. The prices of tourist taxis are fixed so your trip isn't spoilt by the prospect of the lively and probably noisy negotiations when it comes to settling up. However, if you feel confident about dealing with this you can flag down a town taxi. Bush Taxis are usually minibuses travelling on fixed routes. They depart when full -  guessing which one will leave next is impossible - just try and pick the fullest (but this means you get the least comfortable seat).

For longer independent trips most birders tend to use a taxi driver they have already met, whose driving and car they feel comfortable with for a long journey on bad roads. You do need to check that they are properly insured and should recognise that there will be sites that you will be unable to reach in an ordinary taxi. The most secure option, with proper public liability insurance is to hire a vehicle and driver from one of the tour companies.  West Africa Tours Tel 495258 fax 496118 watours@gamtel.gm offer a package of 4 WD vehicle, driver and guide, petrol included, around the peninsular area including Marikissa, with you being responsible for petrol beyond this. This arrangement ensures that you don't miss out on birding if the vehicle does suffer damage on the rather exciting roads - if it is not immediately repairable West African Tours will get another vehicle out to you asap - particularly important if you are travelling up river.   

Bush taxis and buses connect The Gambia to many parts of Senegal. "Bush taxis are certainly the cheapest way to travel, but as first-time visitors we didn’t have the confidence to work out the routes and flag one down."

"We found that hiring a driver and taxi for the day (D800/£16) or half-day (D500/£10) was not too expensive, especially if shared between three or four people. The taxis vary in their quality / state of dilapidation, and unless you have a recommendation from someone who has been before, it is pot luck.  But if you find a taxi driver that you like, it is usually easy to book him for the travel you need for the remainder of your trip.

Money: Note that you should recheck prices and exchange rates as those given may have changed since they were reported.

The Dalasis has continued to fall in value in recent years, and we found that both the Senegambia Hotel and the nearby banks and exchange bureaux were offering D49-50 to the pound sterling (€=D34), although the Paradise Beach Hotel near Kotu was offering only D45 to the pound. On arrival at the airport, it is advisable to have a couple of pound coins ready as this is the preferred currency for tipping by the porters at both the airport and the hotels. Note not having a porter at the airport is not an option: one will just pick up your bags, ask where you’re going and demand that you follow them.

Compared to Europe, travel and food are cheap, though they are, not surprisingly, more expensive around the hotels than elsewhere. We ate at a range of restaurants – Indian, Asian, Mediterranean, Lebanese, African – and typically paid D500 (£10) for a main course and a couple of drinks for two of us. A bottle of Banjul, the local beer, costs D30 (60p) and a four-pack of 1.5 litre bottles of water costs D150 (£3) from one of the three mini-markets close to the Senegambia Hotel. You can use sterling in shops and restaurants, but don’t expect to get such a good exchange rate. Many of the bird guides prefer to be paid in pounds, though will accept Dalasis if that’s all you have. We took our money as a mix of cash and sterling travellers’ cheques – cashpoints are becoming more numerous (for use with credit cards), though you can withdraw a maximum of D2000 (£40) at a time, and the power cuts seem to put them out of action regularly.

Communications: "Mobile phones have revolutionised communications in The Gambia, in a country where most homes do not have a landline (because Gamtel, the state-owned phone / tv / radio company, cannot afford the infrastructure costs).  Almost everyone has a mobile, at least on the coast and in the big towns, and network coverage seems good in most places, even inland – the antennae are solar-powered, thus avoiding the problem of frequent power cuts. This means that all the taxi drivers and bird guides can be contacted directly when you’re in the country, and most also have e-mail addresses if you want to arrange something in advance. You can buy a local Africell Simcard in order to use your own mobile (though you’ll need one with a triband facility). * , but we found it just as easy to call from the hotel. Short local calls to taxi drivers’ mobile phones cost just D6-15 (12p-30p), though we didn’t call the UK, so have no idea what the bill would be.
*NB website editors note Gamcell, which has better coverage away from the coast, is not easily available - there is a long waiting list for these."

Health: Visit your Health Centre / Doctor to check on current health protection requirements. If this is your first trip to sub-Saharan Africa, it is best to call at your Centre when you book your holiday to avoid the possibility of having more than one jab at the same time. You will definitely need to protect yourself against malaria.  There is now an alternative to Larium available in the UK. Given the tendency for birdwatchers to visit marshy places at dusk this is particularly important. It is advisable to keep your arms, legs, feet and ankles covered. Whilst some people are not keen on mosquito nets, it is best to always carry your own because ceiling fans and air conditioning are subject to failure (and they may be too cool / noisy to let you sleep).

Timing: The most popular times to visit are November to early December when many of the birds are still in breeding plumage, the rains have normally finished and the temperature is cooler. The arrival of the Harmattan, a wind from the North, in late December or January is bad for photographers. The wind carries dust from the Sahara which gives an overcast appearance to photographs. The dust can also affect the working of cameras and videos and be the scourge of contact lens wearers. The late dry season from February to April is a great time for raptor watching in The Gambia. However, by end of February the Egyptian Plovers Pluvianius aegyptius will have moved on. Birding in the hotter rainy season is clearly more challenging but can bring its own reward in terms of birdsong and spectacular breeding plumage.

Safety

Safety and health issues are no different from those in many African countries. Guidebooks, travel companies and websites provide much of the advice one needs, but key points warrant repetition here: (1) be aware of the risk of malaria and seek current advice, sleep in a sealed tent or under a net and take prophylaxis as recommended; (2) always ensure you have sufficient water and some method of purification (even if this comprises a pot and a campfire for boiling); (3) do not underestimate the danger of being in the sun for too long, ensure you use sun-block, drink plenty of water and wear a hat; (4) be aware of the risk of AIDS; (5) ensure that you take a reasonably-equipped first-aid pack with you including supplies of hypodermic and suturing needles.

See the following 2 websites or the embassy website for your own country for safety and travel information: US Travel and UK FCO.

Hotspots

Mon, 01/14/2013 - 23:05 -- abc_admin
Blue_bellied_Roller_Gambia

Blue-bellied Roller Coracias cyanogaster, Tanji Reserve, The Gambia

Image Credit: 
Ian Nason

The Gambia Hotspots* is available for download. It was posted in January 2015 and contains updates from a correspondent who has visited a number of the key sites in recent months. It is well worth reading in conjunction with the information below. 

Banjul Peninsula

Birdwatching can start almost anywhere in The Gambia and the grounds of some of the larger hotels are favourite locations. For birders new to Africa, the Senegambia Hotel gardens are a good place to observe birds at leisure and become familiar with some of the more common and a few of the less common species.

Abuko Nature Reserve is a small area of fenced forest and woodland located on the main south bank road, 3 km from the edge of the main urban centre of Serekunda. With a species list of about 200 including kingfishers, raptors, turacos, bulbuls and flycatchers etc., it is a good place to spend some time in the hides.

Many birders are happy to make at least two visits to the reserve as it is difficult to cover the whole reserve in one day. The main pool is always worth a visit and the new education centre here is a good place to find out from the park wardens what birds are about. The tour groups that pass through are a temporary distraction - they rarely stay in the hide for more than 15 minutes. Photographers will enjoy the photo hide at the end of the track by the main pool visitor centre. This needs to be booked in advance at the main entrance and a small fee paid. The hide is good for Violet Turaco Musophaga violacea, Green Turaco Tauraco persa, Verreaux's Eagle Owl Bubo lacteus, African Pygmy Kingfisher Ceyx pictus, Giant Kingfisher Megaceryle maxima and Splendid Starling Lamprotornis splendidus. There are also red colobus, green vervet and red patas monkeys and some big monitor lizards.

Bijilo is a small managed forest park close to the Senegambia Hotel with an interesting selection of birds including Stone Partridge Ptilopachus petrosus, White-throated Bee-eater Merops albicollis and Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat Cossypha niveicapilla.

Bund Road, Banjul has a stand of terns and pelicans opposite the wrecks. Waders, egrets etc. can be seen on the opposite side of the road in the mangroves as far as the pumping station. There are good views from the roof of the pumping station (at your own risk). The pool at the prison end of the road is worth a look although we would not recommend walking there from the pumping station in the heat of the day.

Camalou Corner, Botanical Garden and Cape Creek. This is a traditional taxi round with plenty of variety. You can bird Cape Creek from the track west of the bridge on the Cape road from Denton Bridge. At the Botanic Garden don't miss the large tree in the nursery area next door which can be a real treasure trove.

Koto area which includes a creek and sewage pools is several kilometres north of the Senegambia. For many years this site was not to be missed when staying on this part of the coastal strip. However, an oil leak from the power station higher up the creek and the development of hotels has degraded the habitat. The West African Bird Study Association has an information point at the bridge here so it is a good place to pick up a registered guide. The bridge used to be a good place to see Senegal Thick-knee Burhinus senegalensis, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater Merops hirundineus and a range of waders. Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus are common in the nearby fields. The sewage pools are an excellent place for White-faced Whistling Duck Dendrocygna viduata amongst other birds. Regrettably, the hotels have been pressing for these pools to be closed. We hope that the Kotu Creek site is recovering now and would apreciate news from correspondents regarding its status.

Lamin Lodge and Makasutu have both proved popular for non-birdwatchers being introduced to the delights of ornithology. Lamin Lodge is an extraordinary eating place serving food throughout the day, although the monkeys can be a nuisance as they rush in to grab any bread on the table (tough if you are having a sandwich).

Makasutu in particular has attracted favourable comments, because of the large areas of undisturbed forest. The development of Makasutu, with strong links with the local community, provides a good model for linking conservation and economic development for local communities. For more information about this see the Conservation page. It is important to understand that Makasutu is not just a birdwatching site. The entrance fee is expensive by Gambian standards but makes for a pleasant day out. The delight of being paddled through a creek with no engine sounds enables you to get much closer to the birds on the mudbanks and roosting in the trees (but try to ensure you avoid the noisy tour groups). Anyone visiting the site has to pay the full fee. The site is open from 08.00-18.00.

Email: makasutu@hotmail.com

Sightings have included African Cuckoo Hawk Aviceda cuculoides, Stone Partridge Ptilopahcus petrosus,  African Finfoot Podica senegalensis, Senegal Parrot Poicephalus senegalus, Brown-necked Parrot P.robustus, African Wood Owl Strix woodfordii, Blue-bellied Roller Coracias cyanogaster, Fine-spotted Woodpecker Campethera punctuligera, Grey-headed Bush-Shrike Malacanotus blanchoti, Piapiac Ptilostomus afer, large numbers of Brown Sunbirds Anthreptes gabonicus and African Silverbill Lonchura cantans. There is a also small population of West African Manatees in the bolons. To get there if you are not part of a group or with a local guide, you follow the Banjul Basse Highway to Brikama. Go beyond the main turn off to Brikama, carry along for a short while until you see a blue sign on the left (Kindergarten Bottrop from memory). Pass this sign for about 100 metres until you see a tarmac turn-off to the left. Follow the track through the village until it turns into a dirt track and the advice we have at this point is to hire a local person to show you the final 3 km! Gerri and Maurice from the Safari Garden Hotel also take a small number of visitors.

Yundum is best known for Temminck's Courser Cursorius teminckii but Yellow Penduline Tit Anthoscopus parvulus and Yellow-mantled Widowbird Euplectes macrourus have also been seen.

Tanji, The Bijol Islands, Brufut and Marikissa

Gambia-Brufut

 

WABSA, Brufut, The Gambia, Courtesy of the Gambia Birding Group

 

Brufut is always worth a visit in conjunction with Tanji and woodland around the village produces a wide variety of birds. This area was managed by WABSA:  Birdfinders and the Exmoor Falconry Centre have funded the reserve which has a well and a hide to enable visitors to view the Verraux Eagle Owls Bubo lacteus which breed in the area. We understand that the area is now being managed by a local community group with the intention that all the revenue will go direct to the community.

Tanji (Karinti) Nature Reserve: despite the damage done by the road widening, the site is still worth a visit. There is an area around the seasonal pool, behind the reserve office, with a walk towards the lagoon area (the guides on the reserve will be happy to show you and tell you what is around). This is a good site for Bruce's Green Pigeon Treron waalia and Oriole Warbler Hypergerus atriceps. The tern stand is best viewed from a track that goes across the scrub nearer to the bridge into Tanji itself.

The Bijol Islands: Royal Tern Sterna maxima, Caspian Tern Sterna caspia and waders nest, roost and feed on The Bijol Islands. You may see turtles and dolphins during the trip over. To minimise disturbance to the birds, the Department of Parks and Wildlife Management run trips to the islands twice a week from October to March and just once a week from April to September. Access is prohibited at other times. In February 2003 the charge was D200 per person with a minimum of D400. You will be given an official receipt and the money goes towards the cost of patrolling the area to deter egg thieves and other disturbances. The boat departs from Brufut fishing centre and as it is launched from the beach,  wear appropriate clothing and shoes - you may get a little wet. Remember to take your shoes on to the Island as your feet may get burned very quickly. The trip usually lasts for about two hours but will be affected by the tide and conditions. To book the boat to The Bijol Islands contact the R&D unit, Department of Wildlife email: wildlife@gamtel.gm  If you are already in the country you can make contact by phone 375888 / 903511 / 919213 or fax 392179 or an alternative is to contact Mr Amadou Camara at the Tanji River (Karinti) Bird Reserve on 910398.

The maximum number of visitors is five per trip and the normal minimum is two visitors. If one person wishes to travel on their own they will have to pay the equivalent of two adult fares. Guides travel free provided there are two other full fare paying passengers, otherwise the visitor should pay for the guide. Children go free providing there are two full fare paying passengers on the boat. All proceeds from the trip go to the conservation of wildlife in The Gambia. The boat was donated by the British High Commission. The visitor trips are a way of meeting the running costs of the boat as well as informng a larger number of people about the importance of these breeding sites.

Tanji Nature Park / Paradise Inn is a good place for  lunch and a drink followed by a little bird watching in the shade of trees overlooking the river. Follow the signs from Tanji village. Sightings around the grounds have included African Finfoot Podica senegalensis and during the rainy season, Shining Blue Kingfisher Alcedo quadribrachys.

Gambia-Marikissa

 

Marikissa, The Gambia, Courtesy of the Gambia Birding Group

 

Marikissa: South of Brikama on the road to Darisalmi. The area around the bridge and back towards Marikissa is particularly profitable. Good for kingfishers, raptors, rollers and parties of migrating birds. Black Crake Amaurornis flavirostra is seen regularly around the pond by the bridge. A local co-operative is developing the fields beyond the bridge - please remember that the crops are their livelihood and do not trample over the seedlings. Drive on to Darisalmi and turn right following the sign to River Lodge. The causeway is an excellent viewing point for waders and raptors and the grassland around River Lodge (which has an upper viewing platform) produces more species. Do not attempt to cross the causeway in a vehicle unless you are confident you can do so safely but if you make it we recommend the fish and chips.

A morning visit here produced many species including Grey Kestrel Falco ardosiaceus, Violet Turaco Musophaga violacea, Blue-breasted Kingfisher Halcyon malimbica, Broad-Billed Roller Eurystomus glaucurus, Lesser Honeyguide Indicator minor, Yellow-throated Leaf-love Chlorocichla flavicollis, Senegal Eremomola Eremomela pusilla, Blackcap Babbler Turdoides reinwardtii and Beautiful Sunbird Cinnyris pulchellus.

East of Brikama, the dried shrimp pools are probably the best known site for Black Crowned Cranes Balearica pavonina. There has been some difficulty in gaining access although some of the local bird guides seemed to have come to an arrangement with the new management. A correspondent reported in 2004 that "Pirang Shrimp Farm has now been completely closed to birders with metal gates built across the only access track. Up to 4 Black Crowned Cranes are still in the area but many of the specialist birds can now only be seen from a distance. Habitat Africa are trying to make arrangements for their guides to accompany birdtours on to the site."

 

Kiang West National Park and Tendaba

Gambia-Kiang

 

Kiang, The Gambia, Courtesy of the Gambia Birding Group

 

Bird Kiang West National Park en route for Tendaba or whilst you are based at the camp. The track to Batelling from the Kwinella Tendaba road is just about manageable and will take you to some excellent birding with plenty of shaded cover for the birds. It is well known for sandgrouse which fly up from under your feet, Blue-breasted Kingfisher Halcyon malimbica and White-winged Black Tit Parus leucomelas. We are disappointed that many local guides do not take you into the park itself - we have heard tales that the road from Batelling to Toubab Kolon Point is impassable or that the water hole is dried up and then find this is not the case at all - the road to Toubab Kolon Point is better than the Kwinella Batelling track and in the third week in December there was still plenty of water in the water hole. Even if the birding is not of the same order as the aforementioned track the view at the waterhole provides some welcome relief to the flatness of The Gambia and there is always a good chance of something interesting arriving to drink. Lamin Sanyang of the Dept of Parks and Wildlife Management is often around in Batelling to direct you to the waterhole but if not, just follow the road towards Toubab Kollon Point and stop when you come to a clearing with a shelter to the right of the road. The footpath to the waterhole heads off just  to the right of the road. Sitatunga and Roan Antelopes may be seen in the park if you are particularly fortunate.

Tendaba: There are three main areas to visit around Tendaba itself. The essential trip is by boat across to Kisi and Tunku Bolons which can produce a wonderful array of birds including African Darter anhinga rufa, Green-backed Heron Butorides striata, Goliath Heron Ardea goliath, Woolly-necked Stork Ciconia episcopus, African Fish Eagle Haliaeetus vocifer, African Blue Flycatcher Elminia longicauda (at the entrance of the bolons) and Brown Sunbird Anthreptes gabonicus. White-backed Night Heron Gorsachius leuconotos is seen frequently and occasionally Pel's Fishing-owl Scotopelia peli and African Finfoot Podica senegalensis. Clawless Otters are a strong possibility here. Organise your boat as soon as you arrive, bearing in mind that tides will determine when you can go across. Sunhat and water are essential. The airstrip produces raptors, Abysinnian Ground Hornbills Bucorvus abyssinicus and sandgrouse. The third area is the savannah/ track to Batelling described under Kiang West above.

Georgetown & Basse

There are many pools on the road on the north side of the river from Farafenni (just east of Tendaba) to Georgetown. At Georgetown itself the camps will direct you to profitable spots around the island and will organise boat trips for you - keep your eyes peeled for African Finfoot Podica senegalensis along the river.

Kunkilling Forest Park and Tankandam Community Forest Eco Trails 5 kms east of Janjanbureh. A new community based site managed by the Forestry Department. It is an intact piece of Sudan-Guinea savannah by the River Gambia.  There has been no forest fire here for many years.  Key species include breeding African White-backed Vulture Gyps africanus, African Finfoot Podica senegalensis, Bronze-winged Courser Rhinoptilus chalcopterus, Spotted Thick-knee Burhinus capensis, Adamawa Turtle Dove Streptopelia hypopyrrha, Shining-blue Kingfisher Alcedo quadribrachys, Yellow-bellied Hyliota Hyliota flavigaster, Grey-Tit Flycatcher Myioparus plumbeus, Black-faced Firefinch Lagonosticta larvata plus all 5 species of primate found in The Gambia. Tickets are D100 per person (about £2.00 Sterling) which includes dusk access. 60% goes to the local community and 40% to the Forestry Dept. Tickets should be puchased at Forestry HQ in Janjanbureh. Guides will also require tickets. The site is open throughout the day and dusk walks are encouraged. Clive Barlow, ornitholigical consultant for the project, has developed four trails. Named after nearby villages, these were opened up by local people and not a single tree was destroyed in the process.

Bansang Quarry: This site is now being managed by WABSA, the Gambia Birding Group having funded the fencing of half the quarry to protect the nest holes of the Red-throated Bee-eaters Merops bulocki. Watching these wonderful birds at their roost just before sunset could be one of the most magical experiences of your trip. There will be other birds drinking from the pools to distract you further. Be careful not to miss the last ferry back to Georgetown. It is good at other times of day but as it is a sun trap, you will not want to stay long, until the hut planned by WABSA is built.
 

Basse: For many years, this has been the recognised spot for viewing Egyptian Plover Pluvianius aegyptius. Start at the jetty or the veranda of Traditions. However we have been told that the birds are seen less frequently following floods earlier in 2003 - although the owners of Traditions say they still see them early in the morning. Northern Carmine Bee-eaters Merops nubicus can be seen in the fields east of Basse but you may have to walk some distance to find them. Great Snipe Gallinago media used to be seen in the marsh area just  east of Basse but changes in drainage meant this species had not been seen (or at least reported) for some years. We are delighted to reported that Kev Roy, who birds the Prufut Swamp as his local patch, reported seeing a Great Snipe here in January 2004. He also saw a Bluethroat Luscinia svecica with complete blue patch on the same day.

Sindola is situated in an area of bush some distance from the river so the number of species is naturally more limited than at the riverside camps. The well irrigated grounds attract birds from the surrounding bush. Species seen in late evening and early morning in the grounds of Sindola Lodge on one trip incuded Western Grey Plantain-eater Crinifer piscator, Mottled Spinetail Telecanthura ussheri, Abyssinian Roller Coracias abyssinicus, Bearded Barbet Lybius dubius and Pygmy Sunbird Hedydipna platura.

Species

Mon, 01/14/2013 - 23:00 -- abc_admin
Gambia_Olivaceous_Warbler

Western Olivaceous Warbler Hippolais opaca, Tanji, The Gambia, November 2012

Image Credit: 
Martyn Wilson

Download and listen to Clive Barlow's recording, edited by Tony Fulford, of the song of the Western Olivaceous Warbler at Tanji Bird Reserve, The Gambia on the 17th November 2012. 

Country checklist and status

You can download and print a checklist for The Gambia.

Endemic species

There are no endemic species in The Gambia.

Near endemic species (found in 3 or less African countries)

There are no near endemic species in The Gambia.

Threatened species

Lappet-faced Vulture Torgos tracheliotus Vulnerable
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni Vulnerable

For further information on The Gambia's threatened species, see BirdLife International.

Important Bird Areas

Mon, 01/14/2013 - 22:58 -- abc_admin
Violet_Turaco_Gambia

Violet Turaco Musophaga violacea, The Gambia

Image Credit: 
Richard Gabb
Tanji_Reserve_Gambia

Tanji Bird Reserve, The Gambia

Image Credit: 
Courtesy of the Gambia Birding Group

Despite its small size and pressure on habitat, The Gambia has a rich avifauna and over 500 species have been recorded of which approximately half are known to breed. The majority of the country falls within the Sudan-Guinea Savanna biome and a few small forests of the Guinea-Congo Forests biome also remain. The inland and coastal wetlands attract large number of both Palearctic and intra-Africa migrants.

BirdLife International has listed 13 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in The Gambia covering 585 km2 or about 5% of the surface area and these include the country's protected areas and areas of high ecological value.

The following 2 IBAs are near the capital Banjul and hold rich assemblies of Guinea-Congo Forests biome species: Abuko Nature Reserve is possibly the most intensively watched forest in Africa and its species include African Goshawk Accipiter tachiro, Green Turaco Tauraco persa, African Pied Hornbill Tockus fasciatus, Little Greenbul Andropadus virens, Green Hylia Hylia prasina, Yellow-breasted Apalis Apalis flavida and Red-bellied Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone rufiventer; Pirang Forest Park species include Grey-headed Bristlebill Bleda canicapilla, Green Crombec Sylvietta virens and Western Bluebill Spermophaga haematina.

The following 2 IBAs have species of the Sudan-Guinea Savanna biome: Kiang West National Park is on the south bank of the Gambia River and holds Brown-necked Parrot Poicephalus robustus, White-fronted Black Chat Myrmecocichla albifrons, Dorst's Cisticola Cisticola dorsti, and Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver Plocepasser superciliosus; Prufru-Darsilami area is 350 km from the coast in the east of the country and holds Violet Turaco Musophaga violacea, White-crowned Robin-Chat Cossypha albicapillus and Oriole Warbler Hypergerus atriceps.

The remaining sites are wetlands chosen primarily for their migrant and wintering waterbirds. Niumi National Park is located in the north-west of the country, contiguous with the Delta du Saloum National Park and IBA in Senegal, and is important for its tern and gull roosts; Tanbi wetland complex lies at the mouth of the Gambia River close to Banjul and is important for terns, gulls, herons and Palearctic waders; Tanji River (Karinti) Bird Reserve along with the Bijol Islands are the most important sites in the country for most species of gulls and terns being the only known breeding sites in the country for Grey-headed Gull Larus cirrocephalus, Caspian Tern Sterna caspia and Royal Tern S. maxima; Allahein to Kartung coast is near the border with Senegal in the south-west of the country and may be a good site for waterbirds although the area is not well known ornithologically.

Bao Bolon Wetland Reserve is opposite Kiang West National Park on the Gambia River and extends to the Senegal border holding non-breeding populations of African Darter Anhinga rufa, Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus and Pink-backed Pelican P. rufescens; Samba Sotor to Kaur wetlands are located on the north bank of the Gambia River some 150 km from the coast, the lake near Kaur being one of the most important in the country for Egyptian Plover Pluvianus aegyptius, Kittlitz's Plover Charadrius pecuarius and White-headed Lapwing Vanellus albiceps; Dankunku wetlands lie on the opposite side of the river to the previous site and the wetlands are of a different character holding Pink-backed Pelican, Yellow-billed Stork Mycteria ibis, Marabou Stork Leptoptilos crumeniferus and Black Crowned Crane Balearica pavonina; Islands of the Central River Division are further east and comprise a number of islands in the river which are important for ducks, herons, egrets and cormorants; Jakhaly rice-fields are close to the previous IBA and hold several thousand waterbirds such as African Jacana Actophilornis africanus, Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus, Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa and Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola.

For further details, download the country IBAs from BirdLife International.

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