In Association with:
273 Species of birds seen in 1 week
Day 1 Friday 6th December
Steve met everyone at Banjul airport, apart from Nick (S) who came on a slightly earlier flight and made his own way to the hotel. Once everyone had settled into their rooms, we met in the garden for a little late afternoon birding.
For a couple of hours easy birding you can't go wrong, as the grounds are quite extensive and offer a lot of vegetation as well as several small ponds where birds come to drink. It was great to finally see some birds properly and in a few minutes we had seen an immature African Harrier Hawk, had stunning views of Broad-billed Roller and a pair of Yellow-crowned Gonoleks really showed off! The Gonolek is simply one of the truly outstanding birds in The Gambia and are very bold and quite used to people in the Senegambia gardens. A couple of White-crowned Robin-Chats were a little skulkier, but after a few minutes they also gave good views. Over on the far hedge we saw some nice Red-cheeked Cordon-Bleu's, Red-billed Firefinch, Grey-backed Camaroptera and Grey-headed Sparrows. However, the real prize bird was the Snowy-Crowned Robin-Chat that was seen skulking in the shadows - it is not normally seen here and can be a difficult bird to find. Eventually the light began to fade and we returned to our rooms to prepare for the evening meal.
Day 2 Saturday 7th December
We had a late breakfast at 7.30am (!) and were
away in our air-conditioned mini-coach just after 8am - heading to Kotu
Sewage Pools. After introductions were made to Soloman and Dembo, our
guides, we parked at the back of the pools and walked through the scrub
to view the first pond. We had a great time sorting through all the
birds. Immediately in front of us were a good assortment of more familiar
waders such as Black-winged Stilt, Common, Green and Wood Sandpipers
and a single Curlew Sandpiper on the far side of the pool. Lending a
touch of exotic to the proceedings was an Intermediate Egret standing
along the waters' edge, several White-faced Whistling Ducks,
as well as an African Jacana and a furtive Black Crake. Overhead we
We hopped on the bus and went down to Kotu Bridge to view the creek. A distant Little Bee-Eater was seen, as well as more Curlew Sandpipers, Ringed Plovers, a perched Black-shouldered Kite and our first Black Egret. Moving on to Fajara Golf Course, we hadn't gone far when a pair of Yellow-crowned Gonoleks showed well, before some really close Little Bee-Eaters were seen. Then an African Pygmy Kingfisher was spotted low down in a shady part of the scrub and we all managed to scope it before flying off.
A male Copper Sunbird was then found and gave good views through the scopes before we headed off into the middle of the golf course. We found some nice Wattled Plovers but got rather distant views of the Black-headed Plovers. A Hammerkop on its rather extraordinary nest was a great sight, before a pair of Yellow-throated Leafloves flew in and perched right next to us. They gave us some great views and were probably the showiest ones we have ever seen! By now it was lunchtime and we headed to the nearby Paradise Beach Club for a cold drink and a nice lunch.
Once we had finished lunch, we returned to our hotel for a rest; but some of us could not resist birding the gardens - and what a good decision that turned out to be. A good assortment of birds were found including Northern Black Flycatcher, Bronze-tailed Glossy Starling, Lavender Waxbills, White-crowned Robin-Chat, Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat and for the lucky few an Oriole Warbler was spotted perched in a bush preening.
We all met up again at 4pm and drove into Banjul. We walked down a side street to the seashore and watched lots of Black Terns flying to and fro, with the odd Royal Tern as well. Both Arctic and Pomarine Skuas were picked out amongst the masses of gulls and terns and at times came overhead as they harried some poor gull. Then we drove to another area and walked down another side street to view some tidal flats. As we walked out onto the flats, a Yellow-billed Stork flew over. In the shallows we found a solitary Greater Flamingo, a Striated Heron perched low down in the mangroves and 5 beautiful Avocets were seen. Then we drove onto the Bund Road to view the mud flats. As the tide was right out there were good numbers of birds roosting and feeding close to the road: a huge flock of Grey-headed Gulls held a few Black-headed Gulls and lots of beautiful Slender-billed Gulls including several that were the pinkest birds we had ever seen. Amongst them we were able to make comparison between the huge Caspian and slightly more demure Royal Terns. Also seen were Western Reef Herons, 3 Sacred Ibis and a small flock of Little Stints. As the light was starting to fade, we went to Camalou Corner and enjoyed the spectacular sight of up to 50 Sacred Ibis coming in to roost as the sun set - a perfect end to a great days' birding.
Day 3 Sunday 8th December
This morning we drove the short distance to Abuko Reserve. On entering the forest, we found a lot of bird activity in a large tree alongside the path. Our first Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher kept in the shadows and a brief Yellow-breasted Apalis and Northern Puffback were seen by a lucky few. Further on a lovely Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat sat motionless on a low branch and a pair of Hammerkops were seen tending their giant mound of a nest. On arrival at the Crocodile Pool we climbed up to the viewing area and were greeted by a Giant Kingfisher, whilst Hammerkops and several Black-crowned Night Herons showed well around the edges of the pool.
We stayed here for a long time, waiting for birds to fly in. Eventually, after a few brief glimpses, we saw a lovely Violet Turaco perched on a branch at the back of the pool - but the views were still not that good. We also saw a few Fanti Saw-Wings flying around the pool, a Black-headed Heron came in and a nice adult Palm-nut Vulture flew by. Soloman then said he had located the White-backed Night Heron on the pool behind the hide, so we took it in turns looking at an immature bird roosting in a tree. Only parts of the bird were visible, being hidden by some extremely large leaves - however at times it preened and some plumage features could be seen. Other birds seen here included a few Pied Kingfishers, Black Crake, African Jacana, Striated Heron and a Mottled Spinetail that zoomed around overhead showing off its white body-band. There were also several Nile Crocodiles sunning themselves on the bank allowing some good photographic opportunities.
Then we went to the next hide, which was very quiet. But we did encounter a small flock of Black-necked Weavers that made their way across the narrow path in front of us. In the same spot we spent quite some time searching for a Western Bluebill without success, but did have good views of both Green and Violet Turaco. Walking back to the main path, some of us checked the Crocodile Pool again and were rewarded with an African Pied Hornbill perched on top of a palm tree. Further along the main path we had a flurry of activity, as our first Collared Sunbirds showed well as they fed on some flowers alongside the path, Yellow-breasted Apalis eventually showed to all and we had good views of Northern Puffback, Grey-backed Camaroptera and Common Wattle-Eye. An extremely skulking Grey-headed Bristlebill sang its heart out for quite a while and despite our best efforts to find him - it just didn't show. Nearby we had our first Little Greenbul perched on a branch over the path, but overall it was proving to be hard work and birds seemed to be rather elusive. Walking on we heard a Green Hylia and tracked it down to a thick area of tangled vines and bushes but could not locate it.
Just then we found a Spotted Honeyguide and it gave great views as it sat motionless on a vine high up in the canopy and was obviously guarding its own bees nest! This was a really brilliant bird, quite rare in The Gambia and not one we expected.
With the Hylia still calling, we worked our way around to the other side of the bushes and waited patiently. It seemed to be right in front of us, but didn't seem to be moving at all. We waited ages and were eventually rewarded with a few glimpses as it moved in the thickest part of some tangled vines and creepers. Just then we heard Dembo say he had seen a Buff-spotted Woodpecker, so we went over to join him and saw 2 of these tiny little birds feeding on a tree. They flew right over our heads and landed on a close branch before quickly moving off again. Then Anne saw some movement and the Green Hylia was sat out in the open and we all got great views as it fed in a rather slow, sluggish manner. Thankfully, our persistence had eventually paid off with some of the best views imaginable of this truly skulking bird.
By now it was time for lunch and we made our way back along the path to the coach. On the way we saw a few more Black-necked Weavers and another Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat. We drove the short distance to Lamin Lodge and had a nice buffet meal and some cold drinks. There were still birds to be seen and a Royal Tern flew along the river. However, the star birds were a pair of Mouse-brown Sunbirds giving excellent perched views along the entrance path - allowing our entire group to see them really well. How lucky! Then, we walked out of the gate and along the road for a few hundred metres. Several Orange-cheeked Waxbills showed well, as did Little Bee-Eaters and a female Pin-tailed Wydah. In a large baobab tree there was a lot of activity and we had another Copper Sunbird, Western Bonelli's Warbler, both Beautiful and Splendid Sunbirds and a fine Yellow-fronted Canary. A few of the group also had views of a Pygmy Sunbird fly in.
Driving on, we stopped in a side street in Lamin Village where we soon found a White-faced Scops Owl at its roost site. Perched up in the canopy it was really hard to pick out, but through the telescopes we were able to have a good look at the intricate plumage details. In the same group of trees there were a few Lavender Waxbills and a couple of Northern Crombecs.
Driving down the road we went to some rice fields and walked out to the middle where a male Greater Painted Snipe proved frustratingly elusive as he moved into deep cover before the last of our group had spotted him. We also had a Long-crested Eagle fly over, watched a Woodland Kingfisher perched on a tree stump and saw a pair of Fine-spotted Woodpeckers in a tall palm tree. But we only wanted to spend a short time here, as we still had so much to see today and so we moved off quickly.
Up at Yundum we went to a large field with scattered low bushes and had good views of 4 fantastic Temminck's Coursers running and feeding in the short grass and were able to watch them for ages. Also here we watched Wattled and Black-headed Plovers - with our best views yet of the latter. Then we drove just along the track and parked at an area of open woodland, with scrub, tall grassland and scattered bushes - a perfect area to view birds well. Birds came quickly here: Swallow-tailed Bee-Eaters were perched on some dead branches, a pair of stunning Senegal Batis, Tawny-flanked Prinia, a distant Cut-Throat and Yellow-fronted Canary, a close male Scarlet-chested Sunbird, African Golden Oriole, Red-chested and Pied-winged Swallows flew over, Rufous-crowned Roller, Greater Honeyguide, Red-winged Warbler and a Lanner.
There were several species of Cisticola present but we only managed brief views of Rufous and didn't really pin down any Whistling. It was a really exciting final hours birding and we only left here when the light finally began to fade.
Day 4 Monday 9th December
We had an early breakfast before starting on our journey inland. We were to be joined on this journey by another local guide, Tamba, who is an exceptional birder and a good friend of Birdseekers. Our first stop was an area of rice fields where we hoped to see Hadada Ibis - but unfortunately they failed to show. We did see some good birds including Purple Glossy and Greater Blue-Eared Glossy Starlings, Violet Turaco, African Green Pigeon, but the star bird was a Grey-headed Bush Shrike singing from the top of a large tree. Returning to the coach an African Golden Oriole was seen in the same tree as a lovely Rufous-crowned Roller.
From here we drove for 10 minutes to Pirang - a former shrimp farm. Here we had a couple of Plain-backed Pipits, Crested Lark and some Mosque Swallows. As we began to walk around the ponds a few Quailfinch flew up calling, but we never obtained any views of them on the ground. After a while we heard, then saw 2 majestic Black-crowned Cranes fly along. We were able to watch them fly quite close by us and through binoculars you could get every detail of their plumage in the sunlight. As we were about to walk back to the coach, we picked up an immense Saddle-billed Stork and watched as it flew in a wide arc around us before disappearing into the distance This is an extremely rare bird for The Gambia with only a handful of records since 1965.. Also seen here were 8 African Spoonbills flying over, a distant perched Long-crested Eagle and a few Palm-nut Vultures.
We then continued driving inland and reached our next stop of Bamakuno Forest. Walking through the trees we found a small flock of birds which included some Green-backed Eremomelas, Yellow White-Eyes and a superb White-shouldered Black Tit. Overhead an African Hawk Eagle was seen. We followed a track out into the scrub to try and locate the flock again. It was easier to view here, being more open with scattered trees. Once again we found the White-shouldered Black Tit and also a fantastic Yellow-bellied Hyliota - which is described as an uncommon resident and seldom seen. There was also a female Scarlet-chested Sunbird in the same tree, but this was hardly looked at as we all watched the Hyliota until it moved off and disappeared. Walking back to the main road, we had to wait a while for our coach to return from the local village, where the spare tyre was being repaired. Whilst waiting, a few Green-backed Eremomelas were seen and a flock of White-crested Helmet Shrikes gave superb views along the roadside.
Whilst our sandwiches were being prepared, we had a crazy few minutes when an absolutely stunning Bateleur flew low overhead and circled behind some tall trees in company with another one. Then a Ruppell's Griffon Vulture flew over our heads and inspected us, whilst several Grasshopper Buzzards soared higher up. Nearby, 3 Yellow-billed Oxpeckers took a ride on some cattle. Not a bad lunch stop!
After lunch we drove on, the road steadily deteriorating. A short while later we stopped to view a close Long-crested Eagle - admiring its strikingly long hair do!
We eventually arrived at Tendaba Camp, on the shores of the Gambia River, at about 3.30pm. Once we had placed our luggage into our rooms, we boarded our pirogue and set off across the river towards the many creeks that flow through the mangroves here. At the entrance to the first creek, there was a large roost of Black Kites and we could see a distant African Fish Eagle on its nest. As we motored along the narrow creek, several Blue-breasted Kingfishers were seen perched in the bushes. We were also very lucky to get several Mouse-brown Sunbirds perched - normally they are just a tiny little brown blur as they zoom into the mangroves.
Overhead, we saw European and Blue-cheeked Bee-Eaters and lots of Rose-ringed Parakeets. As we went around a corner, a massive Goliath Heron flew away down the creek, showing off its immense wing-span. A short while later we had another one perched up on a dead tree before flying off into the nearby marshes. Nearby, we stopped the boat and were privileged to see 2 adult White-backed Night Herons roosting in the mangroves. As the tide was higher than the previous week, we were able to go into a smaller side channel and unbelievable, a superb African Finfoot was seen swimming in the shadows, under the mangrove branches. We turned the boat round and cut the engine. The bird had other ideas and had doubled back. So we turned around again and slowly and quietly cruised parallel to the mangroves. And there it was! A male African Finfoot was swimming across the channel right out in the open, before heading once again into the shadows. As we got nearer, we all managed to get some of the best views imaginable of this truly difficult species as it swam down the channel - often right out in the open.
After a few minutes it turned into the mangroves and swam out of sight. Wow! Elated with this episode, we then saw another adult White-backed Night Heron roosting before slowly making our way back to the camp just as dusk settled. It was incredibly relaxing as we sailed through the mangroves at dusk, with the calls of birds echoing all around us and the occasional silhouette of herons flying over.
Day 5 Tuesday 10th December
We had breakfast at 6am and drove the short distance to a bush track that has recently been very productive, with several good birds being found. Just a little way along the track a small francolin flew up from next to the coach and landed in the undergrowth. It raised its head slightly and amazingly it turned out to be a White-throated Francolin and was even a new bird for Soloman. We all got out of the coach and most of the group saw the bird in flight - with views that were not ideal but you could see it was plainly much smaller than the Double-spurred Francolins with which we had all become used to seeing regularly over the previous few days. In this area of quite dense bushes and scrub we found several excellent Cut-Throat Finches (how aptly named they are!) and an all too brief Bruce's Green Pigeon - but on the whole it was quiet. So we drove towards the ferry and further inland. Along the main road we stopped to look at a flock of starlings perched in a dead tree. There we had an excellent opportunity to compare size and structure of Greater Blue-Eared with Lesser Blue-Eared Glossy Starlings.
Further on we made a `bush stop' and found a good selection of birds: a pair of diminuitive Brown-backed Woodpeckers performed really well in the tops of some small bushes quite close to the road, a superb Black Wood Hoopoe was a bit elusive but we all managed to track him down in a tree that also held 2 Vieillot's Barbets, a nice African Golden Oriole and a few Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weavers. Back at the coach we had a superb male Pygmy Sunbird fly in and land at the top of a tree and just behind us a Black-crowned Tchagra was scoped as he sang his heart out from the top of another tree. Further along the road, which had now turned into a dusty track, we stopped to have a look at a distant flying raptor that just seemed to disappear, when some movement in a nearby bush saw us gazing in disbelief at what is probably the most showiest Rufous Bush Robin ever, as it perched in a roadside tree and then hopped on the ground right in front of us - not even moving when a car drove right past it! Other stops were made for a distant Beaudouin's Snake Eagle and a closer Brown Snake Eagle. Driving to Somer, we had a Marsh Sandpiper in the river alongside the road.
Catching the ferry over the River Gambia, we had decent views of an adult African Fish Eagle perched on a dead riverside tree. Then we were off and once again had got over the river pretty quickly - sometimes you can be delayed several hours on this ferry.
Nearing the town of Farafenni, we found a pair of Northern Anteater Chats in a roadside field. And in a big tree in the middle of the town we watched a colony of Yellow-billed Storks, some with nearly fully grown young - whilst Steve and Soloman went looking for some banano's!
A few kilometres out of town we stopped to look for Spotted Thick-Knee and failed to find any, but we had some superb views of Exclamatory Paradise Wydah, European Bee-Eaters flying over, Beaudouin's Snake Eagle and several Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Larks. Driving along we saw another Brown Snake Eagle, Hoopoe, Red-rumped Swallows and Mottled Spinetail, before stopping to look at a Verreaux's Eagle Owl perched on a huge nest in a large baobab tree. This is normally a bird seen around the coastal areas, but they have become very difficult now and are not being seen by other companies. This is a true Birdseekers bird, as we found this nest site on last years tour and this site had not been checked out again by anyone until our return last week! We also saw 5 Temminck's Coursers in a roadside field as we continued towards the Kaur wetlands.
Finally, we reached the Kaur wetlands and got out of the coach to view the marsh. We immediately found lots of Kittlitz's Plovers, with Little Ringed Plovers, Little Stint, Ruff and Marsh Harrier. And then the bird we all wanted to see - Egyptian Plover. This must be one of the most wanted birds in the world. In the bright sunshine, the immaculate plumage really stood out and if it's possible looked even more beautiful than normal! We found 2 perched in a small pool with another nearby and they gave absolutely stunning views. It always seems such a shame to leave these absolutely crippling birds, but after one final look through the scope we walked away and drove around the side of the reed bed to another pool which looked really promising, but all we had were loads of Ruff.
It was difficult to leave here but we had a long drive back to Tendaba and our evening meal. We stopped at a small drinking pool on the way - and it was absolutely full of birds. Highlights here were a couple stunning male Sudan Golden Sparrows (plus females), several Exclamatory Paradise Whydah's, Red-billed Quelea, lots of Namaqua Doves, Bush Petronia, a male Red Bishop in breeding plumage along with loads of non-breeding birds, a stunning Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, Cut-Throats and a large distant flock of pelicans that held a few birds with distinct black and white wings - our first White Pelicans.
Further down the road we stopped to look at a large flock of 70+ Marabou Storks, with Pink-backed Pelicans soaring amongst them. Whilst looking at these birds we spotted an immense Martial Eagle soaring high up and we also spotted a close African Hawk Eagle. Harriers were moving through and first of all we had a female Pallid Harrier fly over with a few Montagu's Harriers and then further along the road another seven Montagu's flew over, in company with a fine male Pallid Harrier.
Leaving here we saw more European Hoopoes, several Beautiful Sunbirds and stopped once again to view the Verreaux's Eagle Owl on its nest. Walking through the field here produced a close immature Martial Eagle overhead and a couple of Four-banded Sandgrouse were flushed from the scrub, but unfortunately did not land again and flew away into the distance.
A little way on we watched 3 White Storks soar over the road in front of us - a very scarce bird here and our record reflects an influx this year
At the ferry we had to wait about an hour for it to go, so in the meantime we found some Yellow-backed Weavers in non-breeding plumage moving through the bushes by the ferry queue.
Eventually we arrived at Tendaba, ate our meal and set off for the coast. We took a slight detour to drive the bush track in search of the fabled Bronze-winged Coursers - but didn't see any. However we were immensely privileged to watch a large owl land on the sandy track some 50 yards in front of us. It turned out to be a Spotted Eagle Owl! Wow! In the spotlight we were able to scope it and gain all the feather details. It was obviously smaller than Verreaux's, no pink eyelids, different facial markings and was a generally greyer bird all over.
We eventually arrived at the Senegambia Hotel at 1am and headed straight to our beds for a well-earned nights sleep!
Day 6 Wednesday 11th December
After our late arrival, we had a late breakfast and met at 9.30 for a walk around the gardens. The usual birds were seen, such as White-crowned Robin-Chat, Lavender Waxbills, Red-billed Firefinch and lots of Village Weavers. A small Monitor Lizard was also seen. Walking down to the beach and around the outside of the hotel gardens found us in an area of scrub and small rice fields. A few Little Bee-Eaters showed well as did several Tawny-flanked Prinias. The highlight was an immature White-backed Vulture being mobbed by Pied Crows and the much smaller Hooded Vultures. It was an immense beast that showed for ages before being driven off by the hordes of attacking birds.
At 11.30am we watched the Hooded Vultures being fed in the hotel gardens and literally stood a few feet away as they bickered and fought over the scraps. After a swim and leisurely lunch, we met up with Soloman and Dembo and headed to Yundum for our second visit of the week.
Immediately we found a Tawny Eagle soaring next to a Wahlberg's Eagle and were able to note the difference between this often-confusing pair. In nearby trees several Swallow-tailed Bee-Eaters were perched and performed their aerial acrobatics. Following a path through the scrub we found a couple of Yellow White-Eyes and a Vieillot's Barbet, whilst a Pearl-spotted Owlet attracted the attention of Variable and Copper Sunbirds and a few Green-backed Eremomelas. Nearby an African Hobby was seen perched atop a dead tree and a Lanner flew over. Other species seen included a Stone Partridges, Northern Black Flycatcher, another fine male Copper Sunbird, Fine-spotted Woodpecker and Yellow-fronted Canary. A nearby tree held a small flock of African Green Pigeons and Andrew found a Bruce's Green Pigeon amongst them. Moving on we saw a small party of Scarlet-chested Sunbirds flying around the bushes. A little further along we found a superb Black Wood Hoopoe, female Pin-tailed Whydah, Black-crowned Tchagra, Brubru and Brown-backed Woodpecker. Walking back to the coach, we disturbed a Double-spurred Francolin off its nest with 4 eggs, saw a Red-winged Warbler and got rather unsatisfactory views of Rufous Cisticola.
We then drove a short distance away and found a fine Beaudouin's Snake Eagle perched on top of a tree - a nice way to end the day. It was barbecue night at the hotel and afterwards we perused the African Market that was camped in the hotel grounds.
Day 7 Thursday 12th December
After breakfast we headed off to Marakissa and en-route stopped off in an area to check for White-fronted Black Chat. We failed to find this bird, but saw several Ospreys and a Marsh Harrier. There were several Tawny-flanked Prinias, as well as several Yellow-fronted Canaries in the scrubby grassland. A Black-crowned Tchagra and female Pin-tailed Wydah were scoped and a Greater Honeyguide flew out of a close tree and flew into a distant acacia, where we managed to scope it as well. We were soon off to Marakissa and driving along dusty tracks in this area African Grey Hornbills were obviously much more common here than Red-billed Hornbills and we saw several birds as we drove along. Shortly after arriving, we watched an African Pied Hornbill perched in a palm tree and a short walk brought us great views of a male Red-shouldered Cuckoo-Shrike. There were at least 2 males and a female seen. At first the males were seen skulking in the palm fronds but after a short while they gave incredible views for such a normally difficult species.
In the same area a party of 4 White-crested Helmet Shrikes flew into the tree right next to us and 2 Black Wood Hoopoes were seen well, as were Red-bellied and African Paradise Flycatchers and lots of Black-necked Weavers. We walked around the maze of narrow trails through the undergrowth and found a nice male Greater Honeyguide close by, Green-backed Eremomela, and another African-pied Hornbill before we heard Ahanta Francolin calling in the tall vegetation by the path. Eventually, one was flushed and flew right past a few of the group. Our 3rd francolin species of the trip - a feat almost certainly never achieved before within a single trip!
By now it was getting hot and we returned to our hotel for lunch. On the way we stopped to look at a close pale phase Booted Eagle and we also watched a nice Tawny Eagle overhead.
During our leisurely lunch-break Nick(S) saw the African Pygmy Kingfisher that had been frequenting the gardens for a few weeks. After lunch we drove the short distance down the coast to Tanji.
On arrival, we walked down to the beach to view the lagoons and gull roost. We picked out several Lesser-crested Terns amongst the Royal and Caspian Terns. There were also a couple of Little Terns and several distant Black Terns out to sea. All of a sudden a huge Kelp Gull flew in and landed in front of us, allowing us to note its huge bill and dull leg colour before flying off. We saw 2 White-fronted Plovers on the beach and a distant Oystercatcher and Little Stint. Walking inland we went round to another area to search for gulls and found another or the same Kelp Gull amongst more Lesser-crested Terns.
Moving inland slightly we accidentally flushed a Four-banded Sandgrouse from beside the trail and then found it perched in an area of scrubby grass, where we were able to scope it. Walking along the trails, we heard a Sulphur-breasted Bush Shrike and after an hour of trying Mary found this stunning bird perched on top of a bush. Wow! Further on we found a tree full of African Green Pigeons, 72 in all and what a sight. There were also a couple of Senegal Thick-Knees standing in the shadows.
Then we were off to an area of coastal scrub to look for nightjars. No sooner had we arrived but a Long-tailed Nightjar flew up and then land on a sandy, bare patch right I front of us. We managed to scope it and get pretty good views in the torchlight. Another couple were seen and showed well against the clear African sky. Then a male Standard-winged Nightjar with full standards flew up into the sky and repeated this one last time for the entire group to see. What a great end to yet another fantastic days' birding. That evening we all celebrated Audrey's milestone birthday - cheers!
Day 8 Friday 13th Dec
This morning we paid a visit to Brufut. On arrival we took a sandy track into the `wood', where we immediately heard a Grey-headed Bristlebill singing in the bushes. We spent a little while trying to coax it into view but without success. But we did manage excellent views of a female Northern Puffback. Just a couple hundred yards along the track we had brief views of a male Western Violet-backed Sunbird, before hearing a Klaas's Cuckoo. After a scanning all the trees and bushes we eventually located the bird sat almost motionless in a tree and were able to obtain really good views through the scope. Just around the next corner there was a rather elusive Lesser Honeyguide, which was joined by another or same Klaas's Cuckoo. Nearby we heard a Nightingale singing but could not actually see it. Further along we had close views of a different Klaas's Cuckoo with another calling in the distance, several Swallow-tailed Bee-Eaters, watched an Osprey eating a Garfish, several Variable Sunbirds and another, much closer Lesser Honeyguide. But it was soon time to leave this excellent area and return to the hotel.
On the way back to our hotel, a few of us paid
a visit to Bujillo for our final hours' birding and followed the path
along the coast, seeing lots of Little Bee-Eaters, Grey Woodpecker,
Grey Kestrel and several Green Vervet Monkeys. But all too soon we had
to leave and return to the hotel to prepare for our journey back to
a decidedly cold
On behalf of Steve, Soloman, Denbo, Tamba and myself, I would like to thank everyone who fully participated in this exciting tour, and for making it such a pleasure to lead. We had recorded a total of 273 species seen, finding some real quality birds including several new to our very experienced local guides - who had said our second days' birding at Tendaba was the best they had experienced in 5 years!
Finally, over the 2 weeks, Birdseekers had taken more people to The Gambia than any other company and recorded a grand total of 310 species - and that's without travelling all the way to Basse!