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A Report from

The Gambia 16th to 23rd November 2001,

Neil Money


This was my wife’s and my first visit to West Africa. The only previous experience either of us had of birding in Africa was a week I spent in Cape Town in August of this year, a trip focused on seabirds. Therefore, as many of the commoner birds were new to us, we decided to spend the time in the coastal area, to get good views of the familiar species of West Africa.


From our home on the north coast of Scotland had a three hours car journey to Inverness for a flight to London Gatwick and an overnight stay at the Le Meridian Hotel at Gatwick. The Hotel is not the cheapest but with an early morning check in and a mid-night return we felt the convenience justified the cost.

Holidays to The Gambia

For the flights to and accommodation in The Gambia we booked through The Gambia Experience, a specialist UK travel agent. They gave us excellent service and have a policy of trying to maximise the benefits of tourism in the country by employing local representatives and supporting the local economy through a designated trust. Contact details are: Kingfisher House, Rownhams Lane, North Baddesley, Hampshire, SO52 9LP; telephone: (+44) 023 8073 0888; web site:

We chose to stay at the Senegambia Hotel because of the extensive mature gardens. This proved a good choice as we recorded over 40 species and missed a number of others known to be present. Many of the birds were confiding and provided good photo opportunities. Most evenings we ate at the hotel, but on two occasions we dined at the nearby Al Basha, an excellent Lebanese restaurant.


To get the best benefit out of birding The Gambia the use of a guide at some stage during a visit is essential. But care needs to be taken when employing a guide, as although there are some excellent guides available, there are also people offering guiding services who have very little experience or knowledge.

A number of people recommended Gib Saidy as a good reliable guide. At the time of our visit Gib was living in the UK so was not available.

We used Baba Bah who is an established guide and an excellent birder. He was trained by Gib Saidy and in turn has trained a number of other guides. In addition, he has lectured on ornithology and eco-tourism on Government courses for official Tourist Guides. He also arranged transport. Contact details for Baba are:

C/o PMB 513, Serrekunda, The Gambia  Fax: 06220 465544.


We used:

A Field Guide to the Birds of the Gambia and Senegal
Clive Barlow, Tony Disley: Buy from or

  • This field guide covers the area of the Gambia, a country which is very popular with a large number of birders. The Gambia shelters many migrants from the Western Palaearctic, from September to April, as well as having a significant list of resident West African birds. The guide also covers Senegal, which almost entirely surrounds The Gambia...Buy.

The Gambia & Senegal, Lonely Planet
The Gambia Traveller’s Map, Macmillan
Internet Trip Reports:
Gruff Dodd: The Gambia, 1-8 November 1998
Gruff also very kindly gave us some pre-visit information and advice and answered our questions.
Dirk Vanackere/Marc Tailly: The Gambia October 31 – November 8 1998


17th November:               Senegambia Hotel Gardens; Bijilo Forest
18th November:               Koto Stream, Cycle Track and Sewage Works
19th November:               Brufut Forest; Tanji Bird Reserve
20th November                Abuko Nature Reserve; Yundum Forest
21st November:               Mandinaba; Pirang Shrimp Farm; Faraba Bunta Forest Track; Lamin Rice Fields
22nd November:              Cape Creek; Katchikally Crocodile Pool: Fajara Golf Course; Bund Road


I do not have the time to detail every observation so the following list is designed to give an indication of frequency of the species as we experienced them. I am happy to answer any questions and to provide further information if required.

Nomenclature follows Clements – some vernacular names differ to those in Barlow et al

1   Little Grebe         Tachybaptus ruficollis
10 Koto Sewage Farm

2   Long-tailed Cormorant   Phalacrocorax africanus
Seen in ones and twos in suitable habitat

3   African Darter          Anhinga rufa
Small numbers at Abuko and the Bund Road

4   Pink-backed Pelican    Pelecanus rufescens
Common at Pirang Shrimp Farm and on wrecks along Bund Rd

5   White-faced Whistling-Duck   Dendrocygna viduata
Large numbers at Koto Sewage Farm and common at Pirang Shrimp Farm

6   Spur-winged Goose
4 at Pirang Shrimp Farm

7   Northern Pintail       Anas acuta
3 at Pirang Shrimp Farm

8   Black Heron        Egretta ardesiaca
Common at Pirang Shrimp Farm

9   Little Egret        Egretta garzetta
1 Pirang Shrimp Farm; 1 near Koto

10  Western Reef-Egret   Egretta gularis
Fairly common in suitable habitat

11  Intermediate Egret   Mesophoyx intermedia
Fairly common in suitable habitat

12  Grey Heron          Ardea cinerea
1 Tanji; 1 Bund Road

13  Great Egret         Ardea alba
Fairly common in suitable habitat

14  Black-headed Heron  Ardea melanocephala
Fairly common in suitable habitat

15  Cattle Egret            Bubulcus ibis

16  Squacco Heron     Ardeola ralloides
Largest number Pirang Shrimp Farm with one or two seen elsewhere in suitable habitat

17  Striated Heron       Butorides striatus
Fairly common in suitable habitat

18  Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
3 Abuko

19  White-backed Night-Heron  Gorsachius leuconotus
1 well concealed in dense foliage at Abuko

20  Hamerkop               Scopus umbrettas
Pair collecting nesting material at Abuko and small numbers seen in flight elsewhere eg Koto Stream

21  Osprey              Pandion haliaetus
Fairly common on the coast with maximum numbers at Tanji

22  Black-shouldered Kite   Elanus caeruleus
1 Cape Creek 22nd

23  Black Kite       Milvus migrans
Fairly common and widespread

24  Palm-nut Vulture   Gypohierax angolensis
1 Bijilo Forest Park; 1 Abuko

25  Hooded Vulture     Necrosyrtes monachus
Common and widespread. 100+ daily at feeding station in Senegambia Hotel Gardens

26  Short-toed Eagle      Circaetus gallicus
1 Faraba Banta Bush Track

27  Brown Snake-Eagle   Circaetus cinereus
1 near Faraba Banta

28  Bateleur            Terathopius ecaudatus
1 Faraba Banta Bush Track

29  Montagu's Harrier      Circus pygargus
1 ringtail Pirang Shrimp Farm

30  African Harrier-Hawk   Polyboroides typus
Fairly common in suitable habitat

31  Lizard Buzzard    Kaupifalco monogrammicus
Fairly common in suitable habitat

32  Dark Chanting-Goshawk  Melierax metabates
1 near Faraba Banta

33  Shikra           Accipiter badius
Seen daily in singles

34  Grasshopper Buzzard   Butastur rufipennis
1 Faraba Banta Bush Track

35  Tawny Eagle  
Aquila rapax belisarus
1 Senegambia Hotel Gardens

36  Wahlberg's Eagle       Aquila wahlbergi
1 Yundum Woods

37  Martial Eagle     Polemaetus bellicosus
1 Faraba Banta Bush Track

38  Long-crested Eagle  Lophaetus occipitalis
1 Faraba Banta Bush Track

39  Lesser Kestrel      Falco naumanni
2 flying south over Senegambia Hotel Gardens 17th

40  Grey Kestrel       Falco ardosiaceus
Singles seen on three days

41  Double-spurred Francolin Francolinus bicalcaratus
Common in suitable habitat

42  Stone Partridge     Ptilopachus petrosus
1 Abuko

43  Black Crake     Amaurornis flavirostra
1 lily pond near Koto

44  Black Crowned-Crane   Balearica pavonina
3 (2 adults 1 juvenile) Pirang Shrimp Farm

45  African Jacana     Actophilornis africanus
5 lily pond near Koto; 1 Abuko

46  Bar-tailed Godwit    Limosa lapponica
1 Tanji

47  Whimbrel         Numenius phaeopus
Singles seen in suitable habitat

48  Eurasian Curlew    Numenius arquata
1 Tanji; 1 Bund Road

49  Common Greenshank      Tringa nebularia
Fairly common in suitable habitat

50  Green Sandpiper    Tringa ochropus
Fairly common Koto Sewage Farm and Pirang Shrimp Farm

51  Wood Sandpiper       Tringa glareola
6 Koto Sewage Farm

52  Common Sandpiper     Actitis hypoleucos
Fairly common in suitable habitat

53  Ruddy Turnstone   Arenaria interpres
Small numbers Tanji and 1 Koto Stream

54  Sanderling         Calidris alba
Common at Tanji

55  Curlew Sandpiper    Calidris ferruginea
10 Cape Creek

56  Senegal Thick-knee  Burhinus senegalensis
Fairly common in suitable habitat

57  Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
1 Tanji

58  Black-winged Stilt  Himantopus himantopus
Seen only at Koto Sewage Farm and Cape Creek

59  Grey Plover  Pluvialis squatarola
Single birds seen at Koto and Tanji

60  Common Ringed Plover  Charadrius hiaticula
Small numbers Tanji

61  White-fronted Plover  Charadrius marginatus
1 Tanji

62  Spur-winged Plover    Vanellus spinosus

63  Black-headed Lapwing  Vanellus tectus
2 Fajara Golf Course

64  Wattled Lapwing       Vanellus senegallus

65  Kelp Gull             Larus dominicanus
1 Tanji

66  Lesser Black-backed Gull  Larus fuscus
1 Tanji

67  Grey-headed Gull   Larus cirrocephalus

68  Black Tern            Chlidonias niger
2 in large flock of terns in feeding frenzy on shoal of small fish pushed in shore by tuna at Senegambia Hotel Beach 17th.1 at Tanji

69  Gull-billed Tern     Sterna nilotica
Fairly common

70  Caspian Tern         Sterna caspia

71  Royal Tern           Sterna maxima
Small numbers in feeding flock Senegambia Hotel Beach 17th and in roost at Cape Creek 22nd

72  Lesser Crested-Tern   Sterna bengalensis
2 in feeding flock Senegambia Hotel Beach 17th and 3 in roost at Cape Creek 22nd

73  Sandwich Tern         Sterna sandvicensis
Small numbers in feeding lock off Senegambia Hotel beach and at Tanji

74  Common Tern          Sterna hirundo
Small numbers in feeding lock off Senegambia Hotel beach and 1 Bund Road

75  Speckled Pigeon        Columba guinea

76  Laughing Dove    Streptopelia senegalensis

77  African Mourning Dove Streptopelia decipiens
2 Yundum Forest and 2 Pirang Shrimp Farm

78  Vinaceous Dove   Streptopelia vinacea

79  Red-eyed Dove   Streptopelia semitorquata

80  Black-billed Wood-Dove  Turtur abyssinicus
Present at Brufut Forest, Abuko and Faraba Banta Bush Track

81  Blue-spotted Wood-Dove  Turtur afer
Seen only at Abuko and Senegambia Hotel Garden

82  Namaqua Dove         Oena capensis
1 Fajara Golf Course 22nd

83  Senegal Parrot      Poicephalus senegalus
Singles Koto Cycle Track and Abuko

84  Rose-ringed Parakeet   Psittacula krameri
Small parties Koto Cycle Track and Cape Creek

85  Guinea Turaco           Tauraco persa
1 Abuko

86  Violet Turaco    Musophaga violacea
1 Abuko

87  Western Grey Plantain-eater Crinifer piscator
Fairly common and widespread

88  Levaillant's Cuckoo  Oxylophus levaillantii
1 Yundum Woods

89  Klaas' Cuckoo       Chrysococcyx klaas
1 Brufut Woods

90  Senegal Coucal  Centropus senegalensis
Fairly common and widespread

91  White-faced Scops-Owl   Otus leucotis
1 Yundum Woods

92  Pearl-spotted Owlet   Glaucidium perlatum
1 Koto Cycle Track

93  Long-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus climacurus
1 singing near Koto

94  Standard-winged Nightjar Macrodipteryx longipennis
1 female near Koto

95  African Palm-Swift   Cypsiurus parvuss
Seen on three days at various locations

96  Common Swift         Apus apus
Two large flocks seen

97  Little Swift         Apus affinis
Small numbers in association with other swift species at Koto Sewage Farm and Brufut Forest

98  African Pygmy-Kingfisher  Ispidina picta
6 Abuko

99  Woodland Kingfisher  Halcyon senegalensis
1 Koto Cycle Track and 2 Abuko

100 Blue-breasted Kingfisher Halcyon malimbica
Singles at Abuko and Katchikally Crocodile Pool

101 Striped Kingfisher    Halcyon chelicuti
Singles Brufut Forest and Faraba Banta Bush Track

102 Giant Kingfisher       Megaceryle maximas
1 Brufut Forest and 3 Abuko

103 Pied Kingfisher          Ceryle rudis
Common and widespread

104 Little Bee-eater       Merops pusillus
Fairly common and widespread

105 Swallow-tailed Bee-eater Merops hirundineus
Small numbers Brufut Forest and Abuko

106 Blue-cheeked Bee-eater   Merops persicus
20+ Bund Road and small parties high overhead on two other days

107 Abyssinian Roller      Coracias abyssinica
Singles Faraba Banta Bush Track and Bund Road

108 Rufous-crowned Roller  Coracias naevia
1 Faraba Banta Bush Track

109 Blue-bellied Roller   Coracias cyanogaster
Fairly common

110 Broad-billed Roller   Eurystomus glaucurus
Up to 6 morning and evening Senegambia Hotel Garden and one or two other locations

111 Green Woodhoopoe   Phoeniculus purpureus
Common and widespread

112 Red-billed Hornbill  Tockus erythrorhynchus
Common and widespread

113 African Grey Hornbill      Tockus nasutus

Fairly common and widespread

114 Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird  Pogoniulus chrysoconus
Fairly common and widespread

115 Bearded Barbet          Lybius dubius
Ones and twos seen at a number of locations

116 Fine-spotted Woodpecker Campethera punctuligera
Singles Bijilo Forest Park and Brufut Forest

117 Cardinal Woodpecker   Dendropicos fuscescens
1 Brufut Forest

118 Grey Woodpecker     Dendropicos goertae
Singles Koto Cycle Track and Yundum Forest

119 Black-headed Paradise-Flycatcher   Terpsiphone rufiventer
1 Abuko

120  Hybrid: Black-headed/African Paradise-Flycatcher
2 Abuko
121 Fork-tailed Drongo     Dicrurus adsimilis
Singles Koto Cycle Track and Abuko

122 Piapiac               Ptilostomus afer
Small flocks Senegambia Hotel and Faraja Golf Course

123 Pied Crow              Corvus albus
Common and widespread

124 African Golden-Oriole    Oriolus auratus
1 female Brufut Forest

125 Yellow-billed Shrike    Corvinella corvina
Fairly common and widespread

126 Northern Puffback    Dryoscopus gambensis
1 Katchikally Crocodile Pool

127 Black-crowned Tchagra    Tchagra senegala
1 Yundum Forest

128 Common Gonolek        Laniarius barbarus
Singles seen in various locations but heard more often than seen

129 Brown-throated Wattle-eye Platysteira cyanea
1 Abuko

130 African Thrush             Turdus pelios
Fairly common and widespread

131 Purple Glossy-Starling Lamprotornis purpureus
1 Senegambia Hotel Garden

132 Bronze-tailed Glossy-Starling  Lamprotornis chalcurus
1 Senegambia Hotel Grden

133 Greater Blue-eared Glossy-Starling Lamprotornis chalybaeus
Small numbers Senegambia Hotel Grden

134 Lesser Blue-eared Glossy-Starling  Lamprotornis chloropterus
Small numbers Senegambia Hotel Grden

135 Long-tailed Glossy-Starling Lamprotornis caudatus
Common and widespread

136 Northern Black-Flycatcher Melaenornis edolioides
1 Tanji

137 Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat  Cossypha niveicapilla
1 Abuko

138 White-crowned Robin-Chat Cossypha albicapilla
Fairly common and widespread in suitable habitat

139 Northern Wheatear   Oenanthe oenanthe
2 Pirang Shrimp Farm

140 Red-chested Swallow     Hirundo lucida
Fairly common and widespread

141 Wire-tailed Swallow     Hirundo smithii
Fairly common and widespread

142 Pied-winged Swallow     Hirundo leucosoma
1 Cape Creek

143 Rufous-chested Swallow  Hirundo semirufa
2 Pirang Shrimp Farm

144 Mosque Swallow    Hirundo senegalensis
1 Pirang Shrimp Farm

145 House Martin       Delichon urbica
2 Pirang Shrimp Farm

146 Fanti Sawwing   Psalidoprocne obscura
Small numbers seen in wooded habitats

147 Common Bulbul        Pycnonotus barbatus
Common and widespread

148 Little Greenbul     Andropadus virens
1 Abuko

149 Singing Cisticola   Cisticola cantans
1 Brufut Forest

150 Whistling Cisticola  Cisticola lateralis
1 Brufut Forest

151 Red-pate Cisticola   Cisticola ruficeps
1 Yundum Forest

152 Zitting Cisticola   Cisticola juncidis
Small numbers at Pirang Shrimp Farm and Cape Creed

153 Tawny-flanked Prinia    Prinia subflava
Singles Brufut Forest and Yundum Forest

154 Backed-backed Camaroptera Camaroptera brevicaudata
1 Abuko

155 Olivaceous Warbler   Hippolais pallida
1 singing Brufut Forest

156 Melodious Warbler   Hippolais polyglotta
Common with up to 5 seen in any one day

157 Senegal Eremomela    Eremomela pusilla
1 Faraba Banta Bush Track

158 Northern Crombec  Sylvietta brachyura
Singles Abuko and Faraba Banta Bush Track

159 Yellow-bellied Hyliota Hyliota flavigaster
1 Faraba Banta Bush Track

160 Subalpine Warbler       Sylvia cantillans
1 Koto Stream

161 Blackcap Babbler    Turdoides reinwardtii
Fairly common and widespread

162 Brown Babbler       Turdoides plebejus
Common and widespread

163 Crested Lark     Galerida cristata
1 Tanji; 1 Pirang Shrimp Farm

164 House Sparrow       Passer domesticus
Present in very small numbers Senegambia Hotel Gardens with one or two seen elsewhere

165 Headed-headed Sparrow      Passer griseus
Fairly common

166 Bush Petronia      Petronia dentata
Singles Brufut Forest and Yundum Forest

167 Western Bluebill    Spermophaga haematina
2 Abuko

168 Bar-breasted Firefinch Lagonosticta rufopicta
5 Abuko

169 Red-billed Firefinch   Lagonosticta senegala
Fairly common and widespread

170 Red-cheeked Cordonbleu Uraeginthus bengalus
Fairly common and widespread

171 Lavender Waxbill     Estrilda caerulescens
Small flock in Senegambia Hotel Garden and 2 Abuko

172 Orange-cheeked Waxbill   Estrilda melpoda
3 Koto Cycle Track and 4 Abuko

173 African Quailfinch   Ortygospiza atricollis
4 Pirang Shrimp Farm

174 Bronze Mannikin        Lonchura cucullata
Fairly common, often in flocks

175 Village Indigobird  Vidua chalybeata
1 Faraba Banta Bush Track and 1 Fajara Golf Course

176 Pin-tailed Whydah    Vidua macroura
1 Brufut Forest

177 Yellow Wagtail       Motacilla flava
Present at Tanji and Pirang Shrimp Farm

178 Yellow-throated Longclaw  Macronyx croceus
2 Cape Creek

179 Plain-backed Pipit     Anthus leucophrys
2 Pirang Shrimp Farm

180 White-billed Buffalo-Weaver   Bubalornis albirostris
Small flocks Koto Cycle Track and Yundum Forest

181 Black-necked Weaver  Ploceus nigricollis
3 Brufut Forest

182 Vitelline Masked-Weaver Ploceus vitellinus
Small colony of ca 5 birds Yundum Woods

183 Village Weaver    Ploceus cucullatus
Common and widespread

184 Black-headed Weaver Ploceus melanocephalus
1 male Koto

185 Orange Bishop      Euplectes franciscanus
Fairly common is suitable habitat

186 Western Violet-backed Sunbird Anthreptes longuemarei
1 male Brufut Forest

187 Variable Sunbird     Nectarinia venusta
Fairly common

188 Splendid Sunbird    Nectarinia coccinigastra
Fairly common and widespread

189 Beautiful Sunbird   Nectarinia pulchella
Fairly common and widespread

190 Yellow-fronted Canary  Serinus mozambicus
Small flocks Yundum Forest and Faraba Banta Bush Track


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