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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
The Gambia 28th February – 14th March 2006,
For this holiday I was keen to take my family somewhere completely different where the holiday experience would not be that of a typical European beach holiday. My dilemma was threefold – where would we go? Could we afford it and most importantly, how much further could my life list be extended?!!
With this in mind we arrived at The Gambia as the perfect choice. My inspiration came from Steve Baines’ trip report of November 2003 as our family circumstances are alike – a keen birder with a non birding family. We chose the Senegambia Beach Hotel, on a half board basis, through the Thomson Worldwide brochure which turned out to be a wise move as the service we had from Thomson was excellent throughout the holiday. The food at the Senegambia was very good. We tried most things with no ill effects although my wife had a mild dose of ‘Banjul Belly’ from an unknown source which disappeared within a day. There was plenty of bottled water available inside the hotel and in the supermarket across the road which we managed to reach without any attention from the nearby bumsters.
For anti-malaria tablets we chose Malarone which was quite expensive at £156 for 69 tablets from the Morrisons Pharmacy yet we had no side effects. Note that we could find nowhere cheaper to buy Malarone.
It was with much anticipation that we set off from Dorset on a freezing February afternoon for an overnight stop at the Gatwick Hilton and an early flight to Banjul the next day. Having read several horror stories regarding Monarch Airlines I was pleasantly surprised to find comfortable seats with plenty of leg room. There were no significant delays on both legs of the journey.
It was my intention to go on birding trips most days between dawn and lunchtime with maybe 1 or 2 full day trips included. With a guide I found that half day trips were sufficient to see most of my target species. I also think that in soaring temperatures all day birding would have been very hard. With this in mind I set myself a target of 160 species over 2 weeks birding in the coastal region and as you will discover this was easily surpassed.
As for guides, most of them seem to be ok but it is pot luck as to whether you manage to find a really good one. You can hire one before you leave the UK although it is equally easy to arrange one on arrival in the Gambia. Be sure to use West Africa Bird Studies Association Guides. They are fully trained and from a well respected organisation. They are all easily recognisable by their green polo shirts and WABSA badges. You will find them outside the Senegambia and on the Kotu Bridge.
When you have hired your guide make sure you have a firm agreement on a price for a trip and stick to the itinerary you want. They will add on little bits to your trip and try to charge you for the pleasure! Do not be afraid to express your dissatisfaction if you are unhappy with the price of a trip. The going rate seems to be around £10 for a short guided walk around Bijilo to up to £60 for a full days birding at say, Pirang and Faraba Banta.
I can thoroughly recommend Modou Jarju who is based outside the Senegambia and can be contacted by e-mail on email@example.com. He is superb at identifying and calling out birds that will make you think ‘How on earth did he find them?’. In fact, by the end of the holiday he will probably feel more like one of the lads than your guide.
As a whole, I found the Gambia and its birds an experience I will never forget, from the excellent Senegambia Beach Hotel down to the smiling, happy children who followed us everywhere. It is an experience I hope to repeat next year.
Day 1 , 28.2.06 – Airport/Senegambia Beach Hotel
The ticks started coming as soon as the landing wheels touched the tarmac with Cattle Egrets and Pied Crows lining the runway and Hooded Vultures and Black Kites overhead following us to the waiting coach. The terminal at Banjul International Airport was chaos with the porters predictably battling to carry our cases to the coach. The more common Gambian species were soon in evidence as we made our way along the smooth tarmac road towards the resort of Kololi. Not all the roads were this smooth!
I had added Palm Swift, Piapiac and surprisingly Black Shouldered Kite to my life list on the 20 minute journey to the hotel. Check-in was smooth and after a short rest I was soon into birding the grounds of the Senegambia. In the hour before dinner I notched up another 14 life ticks including Senegambia specialities such as Yellow Crowned Gonolek and White Crowned Robin Chat. A total of 20 species were added to my life list during my first 2 hours of Gambian birding – a taste of things to come!
Day 2, 1.3.06 – Senegambia Hotel, Bijilo Forest Park
I had decided to use my first morning to familiarise myself with the hotel and the many species found in the grounds. African Thrushes were everywhere as were Starling species including Long Tailed and Purple Glossy Starlings. These were soon followed by my first sighting of Senegal Coucal and Northern Black Flycatcher. Both Mosque and Wire Tailed swallows flashed over the pool. However, the most surprising bird today was a beautiful Blue Breasted Kingfisher which was to become a familiar sight over the next two weeks in the damp wooded areas of the hotel grounds.
Having toured the Senegambia and done the ‘family bit’ I was taken by my first guide, Ebrima Korita, to the Bijilo Forest Park for a gentle introduction into Gambian birding outside the hotel. Bijilo is within easy walking distance from the hotel and once familiar with it can be visited without a guide a second time. Birding here was a little difficult at first as the forest was fairly dense and birds seemed to be resting in the heat of the day. The ticks eventually came along the narrow forest paths with Green Woodhoopoe, Snowy Crowned Robin Chat and Tawny Flanked Prinia following in quick succession. Further along the circular route I encountered the first of many Little Bee Eaters and a lone Palm Nut Vulture which is regular here. I managed to identify a Blue Spotted Wood Dove on a low branch but Doves eventually became very confusing so as soon as I had listed the main Dove species I gave up on them! Other species seen here included Grey Backed Camaroptera and House Sparrow.
Day 3, 2.3.06 – Kotu Creek, Fajara Golf Course
Kotu Creek at dawn is a magical place and will provide you with many of the Gambian specialities. It can be reached on foot from the Senegambia via the Casino Cycle Track. If you don’t have a guide you will undoubtedly be approached by one of the many ‘guides’ who base themselves on the bridge at the Creek. If you wish to bird alone be firm with them and as long as you are polite you won’t have a problem.
I saw my first Lizard Buzzard and Blue Bellied Rollers on the drive to the Creek and as we arrived on the bridge Pied Kingfishers were everywhere along with the aggressive Spur Winged Plovers. If you have ever experienced being dive bombed by Herring Gulls then Spur Winged Plovers must be the Gambian equivalent!
A little way into the Creek were many Egret and Heron species and I was able to compare all 3 white Egrets side by side. Other Heron species seen included Striated, Black Headed and Squacco Herons. Also at various points along the Creek I was able to identify several familiar European waders including Common Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Grey and Ringed Plovers.
Towards the Sewage Pools a White Faced Scops Owl roosted in a tall palm and a pair of Red Necked Falcons kept us entertained dashing from tree to tree. With several different habitats in the same area I needed eyes everywhere with Grey Headed Kingfisher on the reeds, White Faced Whistling Duck on the open water and Northern Red Bishop on the rice fields next to the river. The Sewage Pools themselves do not smell as badly as the name suggests unless you happen to be in the vicinity when the lorries are dumping the effluent from Banjul and Serrekunda. All the same, its an excellent habitat for water birds with Little Grebe and many of the European waders present on my visit along with the usual Heron and Egret species.
From Kotu Sewage Pools it was a short walk to the Fajara Golf Course through a busy street market. In the trees lining the fairways I found my first Grey Woodpecker and Pearl Spotted Owlets of the trip. Although by now the temperature was beginning to rise rapidly plenty of passerines were around including Yellow Fronted Tinkerbird, Variable Sunbird and Willow Warbler. Before the heat became too much I managed to add my third Swallow of the holiday to my list, Red Chested Swallow.
Day 4, 3.3.06 – Kotu Rice Fields, Casino Cycle Track
I had already decided to do the above trip in the late afternoon/early evening in the hope of seeing Long Tailed Nightjars in the scrub behind the Palma Rima Hotel. This left all day for lying by the pool with bins handy of course! Before I breakfast I did my customary tour of the grounds and stopped on the terrace overlooking the beach for a little seawatching. There was a constant stream of Royal, Sandwich and Lesser Crested Terns passing through and smaller numbers of Common Terns. This was the only day I saw Lesser Crested Tern in the Gambia. I also picked up Arctic Skua and Osprey among the Terns and Gulls.
On the Rice Fields at Kotu I managed brief glimpses of Painted Snipe but other searches failed to reveal their stunning profile. Along the track towards the Palma Rima a flock of seven African Spoonbills flew overhead and Double Spurred Francolin scuttling off into the sunset from the Cycle track. We did see several Long Tailed Nightjars without too much effort along with Woodchat Shrike in the fading light although it was disappointing not to have to demonstrate the Bill Oddie method of attracting Nightjars!
Day 5, 4.3.06 – Abuko Nature Reserve
It was with much anticipation that we set off after breakfast to the famous Abuko Nature Reserve. On entering the reserve we were soon into dense forest canopy yet I still managed to tick African Paradise Flycatcher and Splendid Sunbird in the first few yards of the path. We soon came to the Photographic Hide which although very scenic was slightly disappointing and held only a few Herons, a lone Hammerkop and a Common Sandpiper. Other wildlife here included Bushbuck and Crocodile, mercifully no snakes!
A search for an elusive Buff Breasted Woodpecker revealed not one but both species of Turaco in the same tree. Further into the forest we found Yellow Breasted Apalis, Scarlet Chested Sunbird and Northern Puffback high in the trees along with the magnificent Swallow Tailed Bee Eater. Bee Eaters have to be my favourite bird family and by the end of the holiday I was spoilt by good numbers of all the Bee Eaters seen in the coastal region.
Unfortunately that was as good as it got for Abuko, the forest was beginning to take its toll so we decided to cross the road to the Abuko Rice Fields where we had good views of the normally skulking Black Crake. On the way back to the taxi even Ebrima got excited when he found a small flock of Bar Breasted Firefinches mixed with the much more common Red Billed Firefinches. I was ready for a cold drink and I can recommend Omars small bar at the end of the track leading to the Rice Fields. It’s worth stopping for the welcome alone which will be even better if you like reggae music as I do! It’s worth mentioning here that the return drive back through Serrekunda to Kololi was something else, try it and you will see what I mean!
Days 6/7, 5/6.3.06 – Sindola Lodge Safari Park
We left the Senegambia at 8 am for the up country drive to Sindola and overnight stay to experience the real Gambia. The trip was organised by Thomsons and guided by Mustaffa from Gambia Tours, and what a character Mustaffa was – to say that he liked his food was an understatement! I did have my doubts about this trip as it was noted as a birding hot spot, in fact, I had never heard of it. How wrong I was to be!
We were soon onto the dusty tracks that were a feature of our journey to Sindola and my worst fears were confirmed when the minibus finally gave up the ghost in the middle of nowhere after a series of false starts. We were still 30 miles from Sindola. It did have its benefits as Mustaffa had noticed a pair of enormous Abyssinian Ground Hornbills that I hadn’t seen.
All of a sudden we were surrounded by hordes of smiling schoolchildren and I spent the next hour and a half showing them my binoculars, telescope and camera. The birds here were pretty good too. There was a huge Martial Eagle soaring with the Vultures and Kites along with several African Harrier Hawks and an unidentifiable Eagle that was probably Tawny.
We were eventually collected by a Ranger from Sindola and arrived there an hour later. Within minutes of arrival I was watching soaring raptors including my bird of the fortnight, a fantastic male Bataleur which I fortunate to see on both days here. My attention was diverted by a flash of brilliant yellow – an African Golden Oriole had flown by just a few feet away from me. An evening tour of the Safari Park enabled me to add Dark Chanting Goshawk, Rufous Crowned Roller and White Shouldered Black Tit to my list.
At sunrise the next day I walked the fence surrounding the lodge and listened to the dawn chorus – an amazing experience. While listening to the dawn chorus I almost missed a fly over Ibis, instantly recognisable as Hadada Ibis with its trailing legs. To round off the trip I added Booted Eagle and Shikra to the list. All in all, a fantastic two days birding together with superb facilities. The tour companies would do well to market Sindola as a birding hot spot.
Day 8, 7.3.06 – Lamin Lodge – Birds & Breakfast
This was probably my most anticipated trip of the holiday. I teamed up with two other birders from the Senegambia, Martin & Elaine from Thatcham and set off with Ebrima at 6.30 am for Lamin Lodge.
On arrival we were met by hordes of people who were probably not interested in birds so it was a wise choice to go with our guide who took us a lot further up river and found us more birds than we would have found otherwise. Lamin Lodge is an impressive but dangerous looking wooden structure built on stilts overlooking the River Gambia. The views from the upper levels were absolutely stunning.
The birds started coming thick and fast with Malachite Kingfisher, Namaqua Dove and Mouse Brown Sunbird seen even before we boarded the boat. Waders were everywhere including Redshank, Sanderling, Greenshank and Curlew, which is apparently not a common bird for the area. The real bonus came as we rounded a bend in the river and came across a huge heron skulking in the mangroves – our first and only Goliath Heron of the fortnight. As we came back up the river it had moved out on to the mudflats allowing us much better views of this normally secretive species.
After breakfast we walked through a small wooded area with plenty of birds to Lamin Rice Fields. I added several new birds here including Black Winged Red Bishop, Black Crowned Tchagra and an overhead Lanner Falcon. This area is also very good for Woodpeckers holding good numbers of Grey, Fine Spotted and Cardinal Woodpeckers.
Day 9, 8.3.06 – Bund Road, Camaloo Corner
This was to be the quietest trip of the holiday but I still had to go here to get close ups of Pink Backed Pelicans, Storks and Terns. What close ups? The tide was way out! I had also read that birding here was like birding on the M25. They were absolutely right – you had to watch your back as well as the birds.
There were plenty of Pink Backed Pelicans on rotting boats offshore and yet more waders including my only Curlew Sandpipers of the 2 weeks. There was also an unexpected flock of 30 Avocets on the waters edge in the distance. I also managed another Bee Eater here, Blue Cheeked on the telegraph wires over the M25!
We carefully crossed the road to a dry scrubby area above the river. There were several passerines here including a Pin Tailed Whydah in non breeding plumage. From here we went on to Camaloo Corner which, I have to say, was a complete wash out. The habitat was very dry and parched and held few birds. The only new bird I picked up here was European Hoopoe which is seen infrequently in the Gambia.
After this trip I unfortunately had a disagreement over a previously agreed price on a trip to Pirang with Ebrima and we parted company. I had understood a price of £50 was agreed, he argued £60. They will try it on! I went on the same trip next day with Martin, Elaine and their guide Modou for £25 – no contest! Modou was very good as I mentioned earlier.
Day 10, 9.3.06 – Pirang, Faraba Banta
Today, the whole of the Gambia had now unfortunately become covered in a thin cloud of red dust. A sandstorm in the Sahara had blown everything in our direction and visibility was impaired for the next few days. No seawatching from the terrace today!
We left on time with Modou at 7.45 and arrived at Pirang with our enthusiasm slightly dampened with the lack of visibility. Pirang consists of a series of disused pools forming a shrimp farm although I believe the land has been bought and will eventually be restored to its former glory. Hopefully this will not affect birding there in the future. Although Pirang is famous for its Black Crowned Cranes we did not see them. We did see plenty of Crested Larks on the paths round the pools, Quailfinch and singles of Plain Backed Pipit and European Spoonbill.
We then made our way to Faraba Banta which is a renowned raptor hot spot. As we made our way along the track in the heat of the day we did see several raptors including a Long Crested Eagle sitting motionless in a dead tree. We also found a Lesser Kestrel which was a special bird, even for Modou. However, the hampered visibility spoilt our chances of seeing any soaring Eagles. Modou then took us straight to a tree which held a roosting Greyish Eagle Owl. I marvelled at how he could pick out this tree from hundreds of others looking just the same!
The whole length of the track produced many passerines including Singing Cisticola, Vitelline Masked Weaver and Green Backed Eremomela. The area also turned up my only Viellots Barbet of the two weeks.
Day 11, 10.3.06, Senegambia Beach Hotel
Unfortunately the previous 10 days’ birding had taken its toll and I decided to have a lazy day by the pool, bins by my side of course! With this in mind I bagged the nearest available sunbed after breakfast and settled down for the day. I still managed 24 species without leaving my sunbed!
Day 12, 11.3.06, Tujureng/Tanji Beach
Throughout their second week Martin and Elaine had raved about a trip that Modou had taken them on to a place called Tujureng. This place I had never seen mentioned in any guide or reports so I was a little sceptical but I decided to try it and boy, did it produce the goods! Modou really came into his own here and I couldn’t believe it when he told me that very few guides came here and it is not a well known place. I’m sure it will be soon.
Modou was on time again and we set off along the Tanji road at 7.30. We soon stopped at a patch of rough ground opposite a building site. What could be in this habitat? Answer – a pair of beautiful Temmincks Coursers! I hoped this was a taste of things to come.
Tujureng itself is an area of mixed habitat with low bushes surrounding many tracks off a main pathway. There are also quite a few dead trees standing out which makes it easy to see perching raptors. Luckily, visibility had improved by the time we had arrived. A short distance along the main path I noticed a small woodpecker with a red crown in a tree. I had found my first Fine Spotted Woodpecker. This was soon followed by the first of four Cisticola species – Whistling Cisticola. Then, in an area of dense low scrub just off the main path, Modou reliably informed me that I would see the rarest bird of my 2 week holiday – Bronze Winged Courser. We spent a magical 10 minutes watching these delicately plumaged birds.
Back on the main track the birds came thick and fast with Yellow Fronted Canary, Senegal Batis and Brubru all seen in the same tree. We then came to a more densely wooded area where Modou promised me a Striped Kingfisher. He duly delivered the goods. At this point I mustn’t forget a familiar bird from home, Tree Pipit which was the first Modou had seen for some time. Cardinal Woodpecker and an unexpected Brown Woodpecker were added to my list and as a fitting finale to a wonderful day the sun shone through enabling me to see plenty of soaring raptors amongst which were Wahlbergs and Brown Snake Eagles. On the way out of Tujureng we made an impromptu stop for a tiny African Pygmy Kingfisher low in a tree. How Modou had seen that I will never know!
On our way back to the Senegambia we made a brief stop at Tanji Beach where we were pleased to find single Black Headed and Kelp Gulls. Also both Black and the much rarer white morph Western Reef Herons were present on rocks just off shore. All in all, I would say that this was the most fantastic days birding of my life, let alone my holiday and to round the day off my 12 year old daughter found a Long Tailed Nightjar in the Senegambia grounds on our way back to our room from the bar!
Day 13, 12.3.06 – Monster Truck Safari (Thomson Tour)
Today was a non-birding day due to the above trip although I was able to watch a phenomenal Royal Tern passage from the hotel before breakfast. There must have thousands upon thousands of Royal Terns moving north along with smaller numbers of Sandwich Terns. I saw no other terns offshore that day. The trip itself produced very few birds although Blue Bellied Rollers were everywhere on the wires on the main road to Tanji.
Day 14, 13.3.06 – Senegambia Beach Hotel/Abuko
I decided the to spend the final morning of my last full day in the Gambia by the pool and the last afternoon having a final go at Abuko as I was assured that the late afternoon would be better than the morning there. I did add Little Tern to the holiday list before breakfast this morning.
Modou worked very hard to find birds at Abuko and ironically being my last day it was also the hottest. I did find both hides a little disappointing, the birds obviously still resting in the heat of the afternoon. However I did have excellent views of a Giant Kingfisher from the Photographic Hide.
The dense wooded areas were a little more successful this time with both Lesser and Greater Honeyguide added to the list here along with a furtive Western Bluebill among the dead leaves on the forest floor. The sky produced a soaring Tawny Eagle among the Vultures and Kites.
From here we crossed the road to the Rice Fields and had a very enjoyable walk. The Rice Paddies and lightly wooded areas yielded similar species to my last visit with the addition of Square Tailed Drongo and two superb new birds in the form of Pygmy Sunbird and Ovambo Sparrowhawk. Watching the colourful Sunbirds is one of the images of the Gambia that will stay with me for a long time. A final visit to Omar was in order and we left feeling a little frustrated with Abuko yet pleased with our walk around the Rice Fields.
Day 15, 14.3.06 – Kotu Rice Fields
Before I went home Modou was adamant that I should see at least 2 more new birds so we agreed on a short walk before breakfast from Kotu Rice Fields back to the Senegambia. In my last hours birding in the Gambia I added Yellow Throated Longclaw and Plaintive Cisticola to my life list. We did have another go for Painted Snipe but were unsuccessful on this visit. It was with a heavy heart that I made my way back to the Senegambia although it was a fitting finale that the last bird I was to see in the Gambia was an superb Wahlbergs Eagle soaring over the runway as the coach made its way into Banjul International Airport for the journey home
Overall, I would say that my time in the Gambia was a wonderful experience, one I would not have missed. The Senegambia and its staff, not forgetting the food, were first class. Everything about the Gambia from the baggage chaos to the smiling children I will never forget. Of course I must not forget the birds. To surpass my target of 160 was amazing and a large vote of thanks must go to Modou for helping me pass 200. I will see you in November 2007!
Full Species List
Little Grebe – small numbers at Kotu Sewage Pools
Pink Backed Pelican – common, Bund Road and Pirang, 1 seen off the Senegambia
Great Cormorant – 1, Bund Road
Long Tailed Cormorant – common and widespread at all wetland sites
African Darter – 1, Pirang
Grey Heron – seen in small numbers at all wetland sites
Black Headed Heron – common at Kotu and Abuko
Goliath Heron – 1, River Gambia from Lamin Lodge
Purple Heron – 1, River Gambia from Lamin Lodge
Great White Egret – small numbers in Kotu area and from Lamin Lodge
Black Egret – small numbers at Kotu and Abuko Rice Fields
Intermediate Egret – singles at Kotu on 2 occasions
Western Reef Heron – very common at most wetland & coastal sites
Little Egret – singles at Kotu and Pirang
Squacco Heron – 2 at Kotu, 1 at Abuko
Cattle Egret – abundant in Hotel grounds and wetland sites
Striated Heron – common at Kotu, Lamin Lodge and Abuko
Black Crowned Night Heron – 2 seen at Abuko
Hammerkop – surprisingly only 2 seen at Abuko
Yellow Billed Stork – 7 off Bund Road, smaller numbers at Pirang
Sacred Ibis – singles seen at Fajara Golf Course, Kotu, Lamin Lodge & Abuko
Hadada Ibis – single at Sindola Safari Lodge
European Spoonbill – single at Pirang
African Spoonbill – small numbers present at Kotu & Pirang
White Faced Whistling Duck – common at Kotu Creek
Osprey – 2 seen from Senegambia, 1 from Lamin Lodge
Black Shouldered Kite – 1 en route to Hotel from airport, 1 at Sindola, 1 from Lamin Lodge
Black Kite – very abundant everywhere
Palm Nut Vulture – singles at Bijilo and Abuko, breeding colony at Sindola
Hooded Vulture – very abundant everywhere
Brown Snake Eagle – single at Tujureng
Bataleur – 1 male at Sindola Lodge
Marsh Harrier – 1 over Lamin Lodge
African Harrier Hawk – singles or pairs from Senegambia, Kotu, Sindola & Faraba Banta
Lizard Buzzard – singles in Kotu area on 2 occasions
Dark Chanting Goshawk – 1 at Sindola Lodge
Shikra – singles at Kotu, Sindola Lodge & Abuko
Ovambo Sparrowhawk – 1 at Abuko Rice Fields
Tawny Eagle – 1 over Abuko
Wahlbergs Eagle – single at Tujureng and over airport
Booted Eagle – 1 at Sindola Lodge
Martial Eagle – 1 travelling to Sindola
Long Crested Eagle – 1, Faraba Banta
Lesser Kestrel – 1, Faraba Banta
Grey Kestrel – singles at Kotu & Pirang, frequent over Senegambia
Red Necked Falcon – pair at Kotu Creek
Lanner Falcon – single over Lamin Rice Fields
Double Spurred Francolin, singles at Kotu and Abuko
Stone Partridge – pair at Tujureng
Black Crake – singles at Abuko Rice Fields on 2 occasions
African Jacana – small numbers at Kotu & Abuko
Greater Painted Snipe – pair at Kotu Rice Fields
Black Winged Stilt – small numbers in Kotu area and at Abuko
Avocet – 20 off Bund Road
Senegal Thick Knee – common, Kotu and Lamin areas, small numbers elsewhere
Temmincks Courser – pair on scrubland between Bijilo and Tanji opposite building site
Bronze Winged Courser – pair at Tujureng
Spur Winged Plover – common and widespread through coastal region
Black Headed Plover – small numbers seen at Kotu Creek only
Wattled Plover – 2 at Kotu Creek, single at Abuko
Grey Plover – 1 at Kotu and Tanji, small numbers off Bund Road
Ringed Plover – common at Kotu, Lamin & Bund Road areas, single at Pirang
Whimbrel – singles at Kotu, Lamin Lodge and Pirang
Curlew- singles at Lamin Lodge and off Bund Road
Marsh Sandpiper – single at Kotu
Redshank – singles at Kotu and Lamin Lodge
Green Sandpiper – small numbers in Kotu area, Abuko and Pirang
Wood Sandpiper – singles at Kotu and Pirang
Common Sandpiper – common at Kotu, Lamin Lodge, Abuko and Pirang
Turnstone – singles from Bund Road and Pirang, common at Tanji Beach
Sanderling – small numbers from Lamin Lodge
Dunlin – 1 at Pirang
Arctic Skua – 1 off Senegambia
Kelp Gull – 1 at Tanji Beach
Lesser Black Backed Gull – common off Senegambia and Tanji Beach
Grey Headed Gull – abundant all along the coast
Black Headed Gull – 1 at Tanji Beach
Slender Billed Gull – common off Senegambia
Gull Billed Tern – small numbers on River Gambia from Lamin Lodge
Caspian Tern – singles at Kotu, Lamin Lodge, Bund Road and Senegembia
Lesser Crested Tern – small numbers off Senegambia
Sandwich Tern – common off Senegambia and on River Gambia
Royal Tern – abundant off Senegambia, several onshore at Tanji Beach
Common Tern – small numbers off Senegambia most days
Little Tern – small numbers moving north on 13th & 14th
Speckled Pigeon – common around Senegambia grounds
African Mourning Dove – single at Abuko
Red Eyed Dove – common most places
Laughing Dove- widespread in small numbers
Vinaceous Dove- common in Senegambia grounds, small numbers elsewhere
Black Billed Wood Dove – singles at Abuko on 2 occasions
Red Billed Wood Dove – 1 at Kotu Rice Fields
Blue Spotted Wood Dove – 2 at Bijilo, 1 at Abuko
Namaqua Dove – several at Lamin Lodge
Ring Necked Parakeet – frequently seen flying over Senegambia, 2 at Tujureng
Senegal Parrot – common Kotu area, singles at Abuko and Fajara Golf Course
Green Turaco – single at Abuko
Violet Turaco – pair at Abuko twice
Western Grey Plantain Eater – common in Kotu area, small numbers elsewhere
Senegal Coucal – numerous Senegambia grounds, relatively common elsewhere
White Faced Scops Owl – 1 at Kotu Rice Fields
Greyish Eagle Owl – 1 at Faraba Banta
Pearl Spotted Owlet – 1 at Fajara Golf Course, heard several times after dark in Senegambia
Long Tailed Nightjar – several behind Palma Rima, 1 in Senegambia grounds
African Palm Swift – common over Senegambia, less common away from coast
Little Swift – small numbers over Senegambia and at Sindola
Malachite Kingfisher – common along River Gambia
African Pygmy Kingfisher – 1 at Tujureng
Grey Headed Kingfisher – single at Kotu on each visit
Blue Breasted Kingfisher – single seen around Senegambia grounds throughout 2 weeks
Striped Kinfisher – 1 at Tujureng
Giant Kingfisher – singles at Kotu, Abuko and Lamin Lodge
Pied Kingfisher – numerous at wetland sites away from coast
Little Bee Eater – widespread and common in most areas
Swallow Tailed Bee Eater – 4 at Abuko, 2 at Tujureng
White Throated Bee Eater – small flocks seen on several occasions in Senegambia grounds
Blue Cheeked Bee Eater – 1 at Bund Road, several at Pirang
Abyssinian Roller – small numbers in Kotu area and at BundRoad
Rufous Crowned Roller – singles at Sindola and Tujureng
Blue Bellied Roller – numerous on telegraph wire throughout the Gambia
Broad Billed Roller – several seen in Senegambia grounds most days
European Hoopoe – single at Camaloo Corner
Green Woodhoopoe – several at Bijilo and Abuko, also noted at Sindola
Red Billed Hornbill – widespread in small numbers
African Pied Hornbill – single over Lamin Lodge
African Grey Hornbill – pairs at Sindola, Lamin area, Faraba Banta and Tujureng
Abyssinian Ground Hornbill – pairs on road to Sindola and at Tujureng
Yellow Fronted Tinkerbird – singles at Faraba Banta and Fajara Golf Course
Viellots Barbet – pair at Faraba Banta
Bearded Barbet – seen frequently in Senegambia Hotel, none elsewhere
Greater Honeyguide – 1 at Abuko
Lesser Honeyguide – 1 at Abuko
Fine Spotted Woodpecker – 1 at Tujureng
Buff Spotted Woodpecker – 1 at Abuko
Cardinal Woodpecker – 1 at Tujureng
Grey Woodpecker – singles at Fajara, Senegambia, Kotu and Tujureng
Brown Backed Woodpecker – 1 at Tujureng
Crested Lark – small numbers at Pirang only
Sand Martin – single over Bund Road
Red Chested Swallow – present at Kotu, Sindola and Lamin area in small numbers
Wire Tailed Swallow – widespread in small numbers
Mosque Swallow – seen over Senegambia on most days
White Wagtail – singles at Kotu Creek, Bund Road and Tanji Beach
Yellow Wagtail – singles at Kotu Creek and Tanji Beach
Yellow Throated Longclaw – pair at Kotu Rice Fields
Plain Backed Pipit – 1 at Pirang
Tree Pipit – 1 at Tujureng
Common Bulbul – numerous in hotel grounds, less frequent elsewhere
Little Greenbul – 1 at Abuko
African Thrush – common in hotel grounds, single at Abuko the only other sighting
Singing Cisticloa – singles at Faraba Banta and Tujureng
Whistling Cisticola – 1 at Tujureng
Siffling Cisticola – 1 at Tujureng
Plaintive Cisticola – 1 at Kotu Rice Fields
Zitting Cisticola – 1 Kotu Creek
Desert Cisticola – 1 at Tujureng
Tawny Flanked Prinia – seen regularly at Kotu, Senegambia, also at Lamin area and Faraba Banta
Yellow Breasted Apalis – 1 at Abuko
Grey Backed Camaroptera – singles at Bijilo and Fajara Golf Course, seen regularly at Senegambia
Reed Warbler – 1 at Kotu Creek
Olivaceous Warbler – 1 in Senegambia grounds
Green Backed Eremomela – 1 at Faraba Banta
Northern Crombec – singles at Lamin area and Tujureng
Willow Warbler – 2 in hotel grounds, single at Fajara Golf Course
Northern Black Flycatcher – small number in hotel grounds, 1 at Abuko
Snowy Crowned Robin Chat – pairs at Bijilo, Abuko and Tujureng
White Crowned Robin Chat – common in hotel grounds, few elsewhere
Redstart – 1 at Faraba Banta
Whinchat – 1 at Faraba Banta
Common Wattle Eye – singles at Abuko on 2 occasions
Senegal Batis – 1 at Tujureng
African Paradise Flycatcher – singles at Abuko on 2 occasions
Blackcap Babbler – common in hotel gardens, small numbers elsewhere
Brown Babbler – pairs seen at Bijilo, Senegambia, Sindola and Bund Road
White Shouldered Black Tit – family group at Sindola Safari Park
Mouse Brown Sunbird – several on River Gambia from Lamin Lodge
Pygmy Sunbird – 1 at Abuko Rice Fields
Scarlet Chested Sunbird – 1 at Abuko
Beautiful Sunbird – small numbers in hotel grounds and Kotu area
Splendid Sunbird – singles at Abuko on 2 occasions
Variable Sunbird – singles at Fajara Golf Course and Lamin Lodge
African Golden Oriole – 1 at Sindola Lodge
Woodchat Shrike – 1 off beach behind Palma Rima Hotel
Yellow Billed Shrike – seen in small numbers in hotel, Kotu, Sindola and Pirang
Brubru – 1 at Tujureng
Northern Puffback – 1 at Abuko
Black Crowned Tchagra – 1 in Lamin area
Yellow Crowned Gonolek – numerous in hotel gardens, less common elsewhere
Sulphur Breasted Bushshrike – pair at Tujureng
White Crested Helmetshrike – pair at Tujureng
Square Tailed Drongo – 1 at Abuko Rice Fields
Fork Tailed Drongo – seen at Kotu, Abuko, Sindola and Lamin Lodge in small numbers
Piapiac – localised in small groups
Pied Crow – abundant in coastal region, less so inland
Greater Blue Eared Glossy Starling – common in Senegambia grounds, 2 at Faraba Banta
Lesser Blue Eared Glossy Starling – single at Sindola Lodge
Purple Glossy Starling – common in hotel grounds, less common elsewhere
Long Tailed Glossy Starling – Very common in hotel grounds, seen in most other places
Yellow Billed Oxpecker – 4 at Faraba Banta
White Billed Buffalo Weaver – common and widespread
Little Weaver – 1 at Faraba Banta
Black Necked Weaver – small numbers in mixed Weaver flocks in hotel grounds
Vitelline Masked Weaver – 1 at Faraba Banta
Village Weaver – abundant in hotel grounds and elsewhere
Black Winged Red Bishop – pair in Lamin area
Northern Red Bishop – small numbers at Kotu, Lamin Lodge, Pirang and Tujureng
Western Bluebill – 1 at Abuko
Bar Breasted Firefinch – small flock at Abuko Rice Fields
Red Billed Firefinch – very common in hotel grounds, small numbers elsewhere
Red Cheeked Cordon Bleu – common in hotel grounds, small numbers in most places
Lavender Waxbill – common in hotel grounds, less common elsewhere
African Quailfinch – singles at Abuko and Pirang
Bronze Mannikin – abundant in Senegambia grounds, very few elsewhere
Village Indigobird – small flock off Bund Road
Pin Tailed Whydah – single off Bund Road
Yellow Fronted Canary – 1 at Tujureng
House Sparrow – singles at Bijilo and Kotu Creek
Grey Headed Sparrow – small numbers at Bijilo, Bund Road, Faraba Banta and Sindola
Total number of species – 218
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