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A Report from

The Gambia 18th - 25th Jan 2002,

George Watola


The Gambia is a popular birding destination for many Europeans, with a wide range of exotic and colourful species. A novice to Africa can hope to see about 150 new species in a week, without venturing too far from the coast. Owing to limited time and money, I spent my week at the coastal sites mentioned in Ward (1994), which proved accurate, if not a bit optimistic in the species to be seen (Green Crombec seems especially cryptic). I travelled independently, being unable to persuade any of my friends to sample the delights of Africa. It was with some trepidation that I set off, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself when I was there, having only minor hassles to contend with. I travelled with the Gambia Experience, from Manchester via Bristol. The flight out-wards was trouble-free, but on the homeward leg we were delayed for one and a half-hours for refuelling. I also had to contend with a rail-strike when I arrived back, so the journey from Manchester to York took as long as the flight. Previous trip reports indicate big differences in what you might see each month, even between December and January. I found many reports on the internet, but the sites mentioned were usually the same as in "Ward". A new Bradt guide to the Gambia by Barnett and Emms is supposed to be very good, and have some new sites in it. After I came back, I found a review on the Fatbirder web-site, and a link to buy it (£12.50; also on the birdguides web-site).


I stayed at the Palma Rima, as it seemed a good choice in terms of accessibility to the Casino Cycle track, Kotu Creek, Fajara Golf Course and Bijolo. I had a single en-suite room in the apartment block, which was basic but comfortable, and only spoilt by the tall pines blocking my sea-view! I got a good deal on the Gambia Experience web-site, with no single or flight supplement. I had B&B only, as I thought I might eat elsewhere sometimes.

Holidays to The Gambia

Food and Drink

The food at the Palma Rima was excellent, with a buffet breakfast served from 7 am. Evening meals were either buffet with a good selection, or on alternative nights a barbeque, either option for 125 dalasi. I tried the Calabash restaurant towards the beach one night, but while the sauce on my chicken piece was lovely, the chicken itself had seen better days. I was usually too tired by the time I returned to the hotel to try elsewhere, and I was a bit worried about wandering around at night. Bottled water is essential and at least 2 litres a day is needed. I also used up all my re-hydration salts, and felt they were useful in staving off dehydration. Supermarket prices are usually better than hotel prices. A bottle of Julbrew, the local lager, was 20 dalasi at the bar, but only 12 in the supermarket. A cold beer by the swimming pool after a morning's birding was one of the Gambia's many pleasures, however. The "sandwiches" which could be bought in cafes or bars were very filling and good for lunches.

Health and Safety

No vaccinations are compulsory, but hepatitis "A", yellow fever (£40 a shot - not free in the U.K.), typhoid, and tetanus shots are strongly recommended. A Belgian woman died last year from yellow fever contracted in the Gambia, according to my health advisor. I had the latest malaria tablets - Malarone- 98% effective, but expensive - £30 for 12 (taken daily, and for a week after return), which meant I needed 2 boxes of 12 to cover myself for the holiday. I also religiously covered myself in Mosiguard in the morning and late afternoon. Mosquitoes weren't especially noticeable because it was the dry season. I also took along various medicines and ointments - Sting-eze, Loperamide for Banjul Belly, suntan cream, etc. I ended up with Banjul belly on my penultimate day, with a nasty case of the runs at Tanji in the morning. I took Loperamide as recommended, but by the end of the day side effects and a full day's birding had exhausted me and I crashed out at 9 pm. I also didn't eat for 24 hours, but felt ok the next morning. Go prepared for any medical eventuality. Banjul belly especially isn't much fun.


This can be quite bad at times, especially if you're on your own, as I was. The best advice is not to stop or appear in anyway interested. Some bumsters can be quite persistent at times. I didn't really mind, as it's part of the way of life, but it's hard to watch birds while being hustled. However, if you do require a service or goods (bushtaxi, guiding, souvenirs), then prepare to bargain hard. I wouldn't recommend walking around at nighttimes, and company in the form of a guide or driver is probably a good idea in most areas, if just to ward off unwanted attention. Against this, most Gambians appeared genuinely friendly, and around the resorts is certainly the worst area.


As safety deposit boxes are available in all hotels for 50 dalasi/ week, the best idea is to bring cash, and change as and when needed. The only credit card cash-point I saw near the Senegambia wasn't working, so it's probably best not to rely on cashpoints for extra cash. Some hotels do accept credit cards. Bring a bit more cash than you think you'll need. Exchange rates varied from 22 dalasi/£ in the Palma Rima to 24.5 dalasi/£ in the local supermarket across the road, and probably more on the street, if you don't get ripped off big-time. The bird-guide I had priced his guiding in £sterling, so there wasn't much point in changing money for him. The biggest denomination now is 100 dalasi. The 25 dalasi note is very similar to the 10 dalasi, as a waiter found out to his (and mine) surprise when I tipped him 25 dalasi. Oops. We were advised to tip our waiter/waitress 10 dalasi for bar or food service. In a place where 15 dalasi is a daily wage, if you're lucky, it's easy to see how wealthy a tourist must appear.


The weather was unusual, in that there had been heavy rain the week before, virtually unheard of in the dry season. It was overcast for the first 4 days of my holiday, and quite windy, which didn't help bird finding. The weather was better for the last 3 days, warmer and less windy and cloudy. Mid-afternoon was very hot on the last few days, and shade is definitely required during this period.


Bush-taxis are the best way to get around, and once you have a good driver, stick with him. Bargain hard, prices vary widely. For instance a single trip between Bijolo - Badala Park could be either 50 or 100 dalasi. A day-trip to Tanji and the Paradise Inn, on the River Tanji, cost us 400 dalasi, with the services of the driver all day. A return trip to Abuko, lasting 4 hours, cost me 250 dalasi.


The Abuko market stalls seemed good, but the "right price" for souvenirs seems hard to figure out. Supermarkets often have souvenirs for sale, so probably about 1/3 -1/2 of these prices for similar market souvenirs is about right. The small wooden animals and birds are nice, I just hope they're not made from rare trees.


Pretty well essential for many sites, especially if you're new to Africa. The problem is of course getting a good guide that's not too expensive. I was by myself, otherwise my guided trips would have worked out at quite reasonable value for a group of 2-3 birders. I had studied Barlow et al pretty intensively before I came, but still felt I would need the services of a bird-guide to get to more distant sites and sort out calls. With this in mind, I set off after sorting out my room to find some guides at Kotu Creek, but had barely got out the gate, when a taxi-driver pointed out a guide resting in the shade - Babagalleh Bah. I decided to give Baba a try along the Casino Cycle track, and he was very impressive, finding birds such as Painted Snipe, Sacred Ibis, Bearded Barbet, and Gonolek very efficiently. Baba has been guiding for nearly 2 decades, and is extremely good at finding birds, especially by ear. A previous report-writer wasn't so sure about Baba, but if you can imagine showing Chaffinch, Kestrel and other such "rarities" for the umpteenth time to novice birders to Britain, it's not surprising that his enthusiasm wanes sometimes. He was certainly pleased enough when he found an unexpected or unusual species. Baba was always keen for some money up-front, which I had been warned against, but he never let me down. I was constrained by being alone, and unable to find other birders to share costs at short notice, but felt Baba charged me a reasonable rate. I was charged between £25-£50 for a full days birding, dawn to dusk, and to some of the remoter sites. This would have worked out ok for 2-3 birders. Baba tried his hardest to find me birds, and was willing to go along with my crazy schemes to maximise my birding. Sites such as Marakissa take time to get to, so it may be best to take advice from your guide on how many sites are achievable in a day. I also had dreams of finding everything, but as Baba says, the birds aren't always willing to co-operate. Some days the weather was certainly not ideal for birding, but Baba still managed to find good birds. With guiding trips, a fair percentage of the trip fee goes to the taxi-driver, and considering the roads and battering their cars must get, it's not surprising that trips can seem expensive. There seemed to be fewer guides around than I had expected, possibly because the birding season was nearly over. The younger ones all said Baba or Solomon Jallow had trained them, so I'm not sure how this worked - perhaps they gave a commission to their trainers. Some of the younger ones certainly didn't seem as good or as sharp-eyed as Baba. Another very good guide I came across was called Sering Bojang, and he had his own small four-wheel drive. He apparently charges a flat £25/day, and certainly seemed to know his business. This is the same guide highly recommended by Howard "Oscar" Orridge (Birdtours trip-reports). He also showed me a Pearl-spotted Owlet behind the Palma Rima and was very friendly.. Whilst I was happy to go with Baba on several trips, my budget wouldn't allow every day with him.

Itinerary (lifers/daily total)

I was fortunate enough to meet Alan and Lucy Smith from Yorkshire at Abuko, who were on their 5th trip to the Gambia. We went on several self-guided trips together, sharing taxi costs, and this worked out quite well. These are underlined in the itinerary. Baba's trips are highlighted. Kotu Creek (including Casino Cycle Track) and second visits to Bijilo and Abuko I did myself. I would try to get to inland woodland sites such as Yundum and Brufut as often as possible, as the coastal sites generally hold only the commoner species. For first-timers though, everywhere is wonderful.

January 18  Casino Cycle Track   49/64

January 19  Abuko *Yundum   46/96

January 20  Camaloo Corner *Fajara Golf Course  8/96

January 21  Bijolo *Kotu Creek and Sewage Ponds      11/82

January 22  Mandinaba*Pirang*Faraba Banta BushTrack *Marakissa       24/113

January 23  Brufut * Bijolo *Kotu Creek   6/87

January 24  Tanji *Paradise Inn *Kotu Creek    8/98

January 25  Abuko        1/44

Total lifers/triplist      153/216

The sites

Casino Cycle Track
A good introduction to Gambian birding, very productive with lots of nice waterbirds in the rice fields. The Badala Park ponds are very good, access from the path just south of the Badala Park compound. Good site for the two Nightjars, Greater Painted-Snipe, and Pearl-spotted Owlet. A little bit scary in the evening if alone, a lot of bumsters frequent this area, so keep walking. Walking the road between Kotu Creek and the Palma Rima takes a long time compared to walking the Casino Cycle Track.

Kotu Creek and Sewage Ponds
The guides hang around the bridge. There's a footway across the river just upriver to the Fajara Golf Course. Just on the Fajara side is a steep patch of trees reputedly good for Snowy-crowned Robin-chat, as is the scrub between the Sewage ponds and the river. Good for kingfishers. waders and swallows. Often various warblers in the  mangroves. A small admission fee for the ponds.

Fajara Golf Course
A pleasant place with some nice birds. You may be asked for an admission fee. There isn't one.

Camaloo Corner
If restricted for time I would probably drop this site, as only Pink-backed Pelican and Orange-cheeked Waxbill weren't seen elsewhere. We had hoped to visit the Botanic Gardens but they were closed on Sunday. The Atlantic Road gardens looked very interesting as well. The only site mentioned for Chestnut-bellied Starling in "Ward", a species hardly ever mentioned in trip reports. Alan and Lucy said that the Bund Road is extremely dangerous during the week, due to the traffic, and best visited on the weekend, as is Camaloo Corner.

A must-visit site, worth at least a full day (or two), possibly broken up by a visit to the nearby Lamin rice-fields for Temminck's Courser and Four-banded Sandgrouse, and Lamin Lodge for Mouse-brown Sunbird. We didn't really do the extension properly, and this is said to be the best part by some. It took me a good 3 hours just to do to the zoo and on to the exit on my last morning, and even then I felt I was rushing. The reserve is open from 0630 for birders, so it's worthwhile getting here early.

The site for Hadada Ibis, visited on the way to Pirang.

The site for Black Crowned Cranes, if you're lucky (we weren't), but many birders seem to have no problems. Early morning is apparently best. Also good for  Quailfinch, Plain-backed Pipit and other scarcities.

Faraba Banta Bush Track
This is an excellent site for raptors and open woodland birds. In hindsight, I asked too much of Baba for my Pirang-Faraba Banta-Marakissa day, and should have just done Pirang-Faraba Banta-Seleti waterholes, leaving Marakissa for another day.

Some good birds here, such as Red-winged Warbler and Gabar Goshawk. The pools by the entrance where Four-banded Sandgrouse come had dried out in January. Sering had Temminck's Courser and White-fronted Black Chat here. Worth two visits.  Yellow Penduline Tit and various cisticolas are other good birds found here.

I found this site tough going, with birds very few and far between on both occasions. That said, we did see some nice birds not found elsewhere, such as White-throated Bee-eater and Oriole Warbler. The first 300 metres and the upper track are said to be best. I walked back from Bijilo one afternoon to the Palma Rima, via the beach. It took me rather longer than the 20 minutes suggested by "Ward"! I tried to find the Senegambia Hotel on the way back, but managed to completely miss the entrance. Doh.

This was a very interesting site. The Fanti Saw-wings weren't seen on our visit, unusual for this apparently guaranteed stake-out. I would like to have spent longer here, or returned, as at most sites I visited.

The best site for gulls and terns. White-fronted Plover and Kelp Gull are the specialities here. We walked a trail to the left of the information centre first thing in the morning, but found it very quiet, with only African Thrush being seen. Then we walked to the  beach, and one km south to the gulls and terns roosting on the spit. On our way back from the dried up lagoon, birds were a lot livelier in the reserve, even though it was mid-day. The open scrub south of the wooded area is also very good, according to Lucy and Alan.

Tanji Paradise Inn
A nice spot for lunch after Tanji Reserve, found by following the signposts through Tanji village upriver. The drinking pool by the river 200m on the left as you go out the gate is good for seed-eaters such as Pin-tailed Whydah. We sat under a tree and watched the birds coming and going in the heat of the day. We didn't explore the mangroves, but I would think they had interesting birds too. An itinerant birder reckons he had White-crested Tiger Heron here, but Baba had his doubts, saying juvenile White-backed Herons are very similar.

Another top site, well worth visiting for at least half a day if not a full day. Grey-headed Bush Shrike and White-breasted Cuckoo-shrike were seen here, as well as the awesome Verreaux's Eagle Owl, sat on a nest and visible from the road.

Other sites not visited

Lamin Lodge and ricefields   A reliable site for Mouse-brown Sunbird, and the ricefields are worth visiting for raptors, Four-banded Sandgrouse and Temminck's Courser.

Abuko ricefields Supposed to be very good for various species, such as African Crake and Black Scimitarbill.

Makasutu A very good bird site, detailed on the site. Entrance fee 300-350 dalasi, reached from Brikama.

Tendaba A top site, well worth visiting for inland and river species such as African Finfoot and White-backed Heron. On a two-week trip, a must, and perhaps even worth entertaining the possibility on a week trip. Sites such as Casino, Kotu and Fajara, while being very nice, hold only the commoner species, which will also be seen elsewhere. It might be possible to do this combined with, say, Abuko, Yundum and Brufut for instance. A five-hour leisurely drive from Serekunda, with birding stops.

Brumen Bridge A well-known site on the way to Tendaba.

Bamakuno Forest Not sure where this is, but it sounds well worth visiting.  Somewhere between Pirang and Tendaba.

Other inland sites Kaur wetlands, Bansang , Panchang, Basse and the north bank east from Ferefinni are all well-known sites.

Barra and Essau Mentioned in Ward, but seemingly hardly visited. A guide is probably necessary here to make the most of these sites, and to avoid hassles. We had an offer from a nice guy working at the beach-bar at Cape Point. Maybe we should have taken him up on it.

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.

Day by day accounts

Friday 18th
After a trouble-free flight, I touched down in Banjul airport about 3 pm. Already I had spotted Hooded Vultures and Pied Crows from the tarmac, and was buzzing with anticipation. I had had no sleep the previous night, as I had to be at Manchester Airport by 5 am, but a new birding country works wonders on your adrenalin. There were no problems at the airport, I just held onto my bags and warded off the "helpers". A half-hour bus trip along the new airport road to the Palma Rima was spent trying to identify, largely unsuccessfully, all the birds perched on wires and flying about. I spent ten minutes before I got to the Palma Rima reception watching the colourful birds at the entrance. Quickly finding my room, and arranging a safety deposit box, I was out of the hotel heading towards Kotu Creek by 4 pm. I had just turned the corner when a taxi-driver pointed me to a guide resting in the shade. Keen to see as much as I could without getting hassled the first day, I thought I'd take a punt on Baba. I offered him 125 dalasi, which was a bit cheeky for someone of his experience, if he'd take me around Casino Cycle Track. In 3 hours I had nearly 50 lifers, Baba finding birds very efficiently. Sorting out the different calls is also remarkably difficult, when you aren't familiar with any. I was well pleased with Baba's efforts, especially after we had seen the nightjars. We arranged to meet at 0730 the next morning to go to Abuko and Yundum. I went to the supermarket for bottled water, had the evening buffet and a couple of Julbrews, watched the entertainment, then wrote up my notes before retiring early. The sea and the African drums lulled me to sleep after an excellent first day.

Saturday 19th
After a buffet breakfast and a pick-me-up coffee, I met Baba and his driver at the front gate. Going through Serekunda, I had my first look at the terrible poverty prevalent in the Gambia. At Abuko, we walked to the main pool hide, where we had Black Crake, Blue-breasted and Giant Kingfishers, Darter and Palm-nut Vulture. At the smaller Crocodile pool, we had very close views of Crocodiles, and I'm glad there was a wall between them and me. Scary animals. Between here and the "zoo" we walked quietly, Baba picking up on strange calls, barely audible to me, or noticing brief movements in the bushes. I would have seen very little here without a good guide, and certainly recommend the use of one on at least the first visit. We had a lot of good birds along here, including Pygmy Kingfisher, both Turacos, Yellow-throated Leaflove, Grey-headed Bristlebill, Yellow-breasted Apalis, and both Paradise Flycatchers. We had sandwiches and coffee at the zoo cafe. It may not open until mid-day, as it wasn't open on Friday morning when I next came. Here I fortuitously met Alan and Lucy, and we arranged to go to Camaloo the next day. I talked Baba into showing me some of the extension in the heat of the day. Baba immediately found Klaas's Cuckoo, before finding a pair of Common Wattle-eyes and several Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters. It was now time to head for the exit, and we had Splendid Sunbird along the way. We then went to Yundum, where Baba showed me a White-faced Scops Owl in its roost tree, his personal stake-out. We walked around for a bit, and had Red-winged Warbler eventually, after a bit of hide-and-seek in some shrubs. Gabar Goshawk and two species of cisticolas were also good birds. On the way back, we had a flat tyre. While Baba and his friend fixed it, I amused myself finding various raptors flying over the scrub, such as Beaudouin's Snake Eagle, Montagu's Harrier, Grey Kestrel, Lanner and Red-necked Falcon. All these by a very busy highway. A tiring day, but the barbeque and several Julbrews relaxed me before another early night.

Sunday 20th
I walked along the road to Badala Park, not being sure where the entrance was. It takes a lot longer than via the Casino track (There is a back entrance, but on a later occasion, I still got lost inside the grounds). I met up with Alan and Lucy, and we headed for Camaloo Corner with their usual taxi-driver. We were dropped off, and started walking. The wind was again up, and it was a bit overcast. Virtually the first birds we saw were Pink-backed Pelicans coming in to the river. We had various waders, and Caspian and Gull-billed Tern. Four Senegal Thick-knees lurking by the mangroves were new for me. Various little brown jobs buzzed around in flocks, probably mannikins and bishops, but never settling long enough for us to id them properly. At a Cape Point beach-bar we had a cold drink, and got told horror stories of the local muggers leaping out of the mangroves further along, robbing unsuspecting tourists, and disappearing back in. Near the houses were dried up reed-beds, where weavers and Orange-cheeked Waxbills flew busily about. We walked past the old Sun-wing Hotel, where I spotted a Broad-billed Roller sitting high in a tree. We had a late lunch, where Alan was rather disappointed by his cold steak and kidney pie. He got a refund, although I think he would have preferred a hot pie. Walking further along, we found the Botanic Gardens closed. All along the Atlantic road looked good as well. We got a taxi back to the north end of Fajara Golf Course. We didn't pay the requested "entrance fee", but kept walking. I sorted out my first Fine-spotted Woodpecker, before crossing the Kotu causeway. Later that evening, while listening for Stone Partridges, I met Sering and his client. Sering showed me the resident Pearl-spotted Owlet, and well-pleased, I headed back for my nightly ritual of buffet, Julbrew and a bit of the floor-show. Overall, a pleasant day, but as mentioned before, if restricted for time I would probably go to Abuko/Lamin ricefields or Makasutu instead. Yellow-throated Longclaw is probably the only real Camaloo speciality.

Monday 21st
Another day with Alan and Lucy, this time going to Bijolo. Immediately struck gold near the entrance, with a pair of fantastic Oriole Warblers singing and showing well. The guides in the reserve seemed very pleasant, and may even be worth an investment if they can show you some of the specialities such as Ahanta Francolin. There were a lot of tourists here, feeding the monkeys (lots of monkeys). Along the coastal path was nice initially, finding another Oriole Warbler and my only Blue-spotted Wood Dove, easily missed except for the red bill. After that it went very quiet. At our lunch stop at the southern end, I looked up to see a large stork flying over. Yellow-billed Stork! A bit further we had good views of a pair of Grey-backed Camaropteras close to, and then quiet again until we stumbled across a pair of White-throated Bee-eaters. We kept walking along the eastern edge until we reached some sprinklers by a fence. There appeared to be a lot of activity, but no decent views. A bit further on, a brightly-coloured bird suddenly popped out of a small tree. Surrounded by babblers, African Thrushes and Camaropteras, it baffled us until the penny dropped. Sulphur-breasted Bush-shrike. What a beauty. A real highlight, it kept us happy until the exit. After dropping Alan and Lucy off at Badala Park, I decided to walk back from Kotu Creek, as I wanted to check for Malachite Kingfisher, my bogey bird, at the bridge. Yes, one had been sitting by the bridge for half-an-hour, but had just flown off. The Wire-tailed Swallows on the wires were very lovely, however. I watched the Black Egrets and Jacanas at the pool for a while, then got back for an early night, as it was a big day tomorrow.

Tuesday 22nd
Off at 0730 with Baba, and our first stop was Mandinaba. Baba hadn't mentioned we were going here first, and I hadn't even considered Hadada Ibis as a possibility. Anything called hadada has to be worth seeing though. We had to walk around for a while before they eventually showed. We also had a pair of Long-crested Eagles here. We then had a unscheduled stop for Baba to see his family, while I, being a toobab, scared the daylights out of his kids. On to Pirang, where we were unsuccessful in finding the cranes. There was a lot of heavy machinery around, which may have disturbed the cranes. There were Mosque and Rufous-chested Swallows flying around however. Three Oxpeckers perched on a lone donkey by the buildings, and allowed a fairly close approach. These were "real" African birds to me, after years of seeing them on nature documentaries. We then headed for a site near Faraba Banta, but couldn't find any Abyssinian Ground Hornbills. We did have African Hobby, not a common species. Onto Faraba Banta, where our first stop was near a tall flowering Red Silk-cotton. This was alive with birds, but they rapidly disappeared before we could grill them properly. The weather wasn't the best, a bit cool and windy, but we had some nice stuff along here, including White-backed Vulture, Grasshopper Buzzard, Namaqua Dove, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Viellot's Barbet, and Bush Petronia. A snake disappearing into the road verge made us jump, the only snake I saw. Going off the beaten track is a bit nervy snake-wise, and it's best to have a clear sight of where you're going. We tried again for the cranes at Pirang, dipped, and then headed for Brikama. Here we had a late lunch in a cafe, before getting to Marakissa. Just before we got to the birding track on the left, I had a mind-boggling experience with a nesting Verreaux's Eagle Owl. I saw it from the road, sat on a nest about 100m back. Baba said he knew of its presence beforehand and "it was a surprise" for me (We hadn't tried for the one nesting at the Abuko extension, as it had apparently gone). The way he jumped out of the car when I shouted "stop", I'm not so sure! It's curious the pink eyelids are such a conspicuous feature, compared to the size of the bird. After this we walked along a track through the woodland, where Baba found a pair of Grey-headed Bush-shrikes in a Mahogany tree, and then a White-breasted Cuckoo-shrike in the same tree. We also had Mottled Spinetail, African Pied Hornbill and African Golden Oriole on this walk. By now it was getting late, so after a short stop by a bridge, where we saw Black Crake, we headed back to the hotel. A very productive day, with lots of interesting birds.

Wednesday 23rd
I was running out of money by now, so could only afford a half-day with Baba. I had decided to go to Brufut, in the hope of Fanti Saw-wing. No sign unfortunately, but our walk produced both Honeyguides, Western Violet-backed Sunbird, a circling Wahlberg's Eagle, Greater Blue-eared Starling and Black-winged Red Bishop. Baba also heard a distant Senegal Batis, but we couldn't pin it down. Here another bird-guide told Baba some bad news, and he had to rush off to attend a funeral. I decided to try Bijilo again, but this was very hard work in the middle of the day. About 2 pm, I started walking back to the Palma Rima. I couldn't find the entrance to the Senegambia, where I hoped to find some robin-chats. I did bail up a rather large Nile Monitor by a wall. Walking along the beach in the beating sun was tough work, so I headed inland, past some marshy areas. It was extremely hot by this time, so I was glad of my bottled water. I had a rest and a very welcome cold beer by the poolside when I eventually got to the Palma Rima. In the evening I walked down to Kotu Creek, again missing a Malachite Kingfisher by seconds. I tried a restaurant down near the beach for a change. Whether it was the chicken, the salad or too much birding, I don't know, but I developed Banjul Belly overnight. However, I felt alright otherwise to go to Tanji the following day with Alan and Lucy.

Thursday 24th
We had Alan and Lucy's regular taxi all day for this trip. At Tanji, we paid at the reception hut, and then headed south along a trail. This was very quiet, only African Thrushes being found. We then headed for the beach along another trail west, and then south towards to the river. En route, I was overtaken by a sudden bout of Banjul Belly, and had to make a hurried dash for the trees. Always carry loo-roll, I was glad I did. I took my loperamide, and it was very effective, but had some side-effects later in the day. At the spit there were many gulls and terns for us to sort through. Kelp, Lesser Black-backed, Yellow-legged, Audouin's, and Slender-billed Gulls were all present, along with six species of tern. There are also some small islets offshore, where various seabirds breed. There are various fishing trips and boat-trips to the islands, which could be interesting for birds. After a good look at the gulls and terns, we headed for the rivermouth, where two White-fronted Plover showed well, if distantly. We walked back from the dried-up lagoon, where a trail is found a little bit in through the trees. Here I finally saw a White-crowned Robin-chat, and it was certainly worth the wait. We also found Leaf-love and Subalpine Warbler on the way back. Time for lunch, so we headed off to Tanji Paradise Inn. This is a very pleasant spot by the river. Walking out the gate we headed to the mangroves. Sitting under a very large tree, we watched flocks of seed-eaters flitting back and forth from a drinking pool, and identified Pin-tailed Whydah and Yellow-crowned Bishop amongst them. We got back to our hotels in good time. While sitting by the pool, a large brown eagle flew over, startling me somewhat. A Tawny Eagle, but rather out of place over the bungalows and swimming pool. I went for my usual evening walk to Kotu, knowing it was my last night, and feeling a bit sad. I tried again for a Malachite (dipped) and Snowy-crowned Robin-chat (ditto). On returning to the Palma Rima, I went for a lie-down, and didn't get up till the next morning. Shattered!

Friday 25th
An early morning start to Abuko, and feeling alright after a good night's sleep. I even managed some breakfast. I was alone at Abuko initially, but found nothing new until later on, when I saw two Western Bluebill. Turacos, Little Greenbuls, Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher and Common Wattle-eye were also present. I had close-up views of Red-billed Firefinch, and hadn't realised until then just how tiny they are. It was very pleasant, and it would have been good to spend the whole day just pottering around. As it was, I had time to buy some souvenirs at the exit, and to get back to the hotel in my waiting taxi by 12. At the airport, we were delayed for an hour and a half, so didn't leave until 6 p.m. Finally arrived in cold and wet York at 5 am the next morning, due to the train strike. Quite a contrast to sunny Gambia!

Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable trip, and a country I would go again to in an instant. I would think it is entirely feasible to be self-guided, once having acquired a decent taxi-driver and some background info. But maybe not on the first visit, as it is pretty overwhelming!

Recent splits

Beaudouin's Snake Eagle  Circaetus beaudouini has been split from Short-toed Eagle C. gallicus (Clark 1999). Both are illustrated in "Barlow". The Olivaceous Warbler has been separated into two species (Svensson 2001), both of which visit the Gambia (King & Hutchinson 2001). The North African race 'resieri' of the Eastern species Hippolais pallida is found in small numbers, and may be told from the Western H. opaca by its smaller size, pale wing panel and habit of dipping its tail downwards regularly (Svensson 2001).


Thanks especially to Baba for his superb guiding, and to Alan and Lucy for their kindness and help to a stranger in a strange land. Gambia Experience were excellent, and can't be faulted for their organisation and expertise. Also thanks to the staff of the Palma Rima, you were all very good, and the nice Lebanese lady in the supermarket, a help when I needed it.

The Birds

Gambian birds may be divided into three categories: easy, not so easy and dips. The dividing line between the latter two categories is very thin, and depends on luck. I was well pleased with the birds I saw, most of my dips being due to weather or time of year. Some birds just refused to show eg Snowy-crowned Robin-chat, or had gone from well-known stake-outs eg Fanti Saw-wing, but that's birding. All the species I saw (or didn't see) are summarised below, under the three foregoing categories. African species are highlighted. Additionally, in an appendix, I have summarised other bird records from some recent trip reports (1997 onwards) under the following headings: coastal; late wet season (November - December) and upriver (Tendaba inland). These are included to give an overview of what else could be expected on a Gambian trip, and which sites are best for some birds. Coastal records include some upriver sites, where these are expected to give a better chance.

Easy (including most of the European migrants)

Little Grebe,      Only at Kotu sewage ponds
Long-tailed Cormorant    Any riverine habitat
African Darter, Abuko and Camaloo Corner
Pink-backed Pelican  Good numbers at Camaloo Corner
Black-crowned Night Heron     Abuko and Kotu Creek
Squacco Heron, Most wetlands
Cattle Egret, Wetlands
Green-backed Heron, Wetlands
Black Egret    Casino Cycle Track, particularly the pool by the Badala Park, and Abuko
Little Egret,  Only noted at Casino Cycle Track
Western Reef-Egret  Wetlands
Intermediate Egret    Only noted at Casino Cycle Track
Great White Egret   Widespread in wetlands
Purple Heron    Seen at four wetland sites
Grey Heron, Common
Black-headed Heron  Casino Cycle Track, Abuko and Camaloo Corner
Hamerkop, Casino Cycle Track is very good for this remarkable bird
White-faced Whistling-Duck, Kotu sewage ponds is the place; the flock also seen at the Badala Park pool early one morning.
Black-shouldered Kite,  Seen at four sites
Black Kite Very common
Palm-nut Vulture  Noted at four sites: Abuko, Tanji, Bijolo, and Mandinaba
Hooded Vulture    Everywhere
African Harrier-Hawk     Seen at Casino Cycle Track, Faraba Banta and Brufut. The broad white tail-band is a good field mark on the perched adult.
Western Marsh Harrier, Quite common at Pirang
Dark Chanting Goshawk, Yundum, Faraba Banta and Tanji - Gabar Goshawk is very similar, so worth a second look
Shikra, Widespread: Abuko, Yundum, Camaloo Corner, Faraba Banta and Tanji
Lizard Buzzard     Another common raptor: seen at five sites. Usually seen perched, the mesial stripe is a give-away.
Osprey, Any coastal site
Common Kestrel    Seen at Yundum and the Airport
Grey Kestrel,  A very smart little kestrel that acts like a true falcon: seen at Yundum, Camaloo Corner, Bijilo and Faraba Banta
Red-necked Falcon    For a localised falcon, very widespread: Another lovely falcon, seen at Yundum, Camaloo Corner, Faraba Banta, Brufut and Tanji.
Double-spurred Francolin Not that shy, seen every day and at most sites visited. Wish I could say the same for Stone Partridge!
Black Crake   Abuko seems to be a good place, from the main pool hide with patience. Also seen at Marakissa.
African Jacana     The pool by Badala Park is guaranteed; also Abuko.
Black-winged Stilt,  Camaloo Corner, Kotu Creek and Sewage Ponds, Pirang.
Senegal Thick-knee   Wary, but seen without too much trouble at Camaloo Corner and Kotu Creek; likes to hide near mangroves.
Ringed Plover,   Camaloo Corner, Pirang and Tanji
Kentish Plover,  Pirang
Grey Plover, Very common wader, inland as far as Pirang
Wattled Plover     Seen at Casino Cycle Track, Camaloo Corner, and Pirang
Spur-winged Plover    Very common
Black-tailed Godwit, Only seen at Kotu Creek
Bar-tailed Godwit,   Camaloo Corner and Tanji
Whimbrel,   A common wader
Eurasian Curlew     Camaloo Corner and Tanji
Common Redshank, Common
Common Greenshank   Also common
Green Sandpiper    Casino Cycle Track
Wood Sandpiper    Another common wader
Common Sandpiper, Yes, common
Turnstone,   Camaloo Corner, Kotu Creek and Tanji
Sanderling,  Only at Tanji
Little Stint,   Pirang
Lesser Black-backed Gull,   Numerous at Tanji. Black-backed birds appeared to be fuscus.
Yellow-legged Gull, Tanji
Grey-headed Gull, The common gull along the coast and upriver
Audouin's Gull,  Tanji is the place. A colour-ringed first-winter was an interesting find.
Slender-billed Gull,  Tanji again. The pink breast flush on some adults was quite striking
Royal Tern     Seen out to sea at Bijilo, and numerous at Tanji
Lesser Crested Tern, Once we had got close to the Royals on the beach at Tanji, we could pick out Lesser Cresteds among them. The thinner yellow bill and smaller size were apparent, but I wouldn't like to differentiate between them on a flyby.
Caspian Tern    Camaloo Corner, Pirang and Tanji
Sandwich Tern, Camaloo Corner and Tanji
Gull-billed Tern, One at Camaloo Corner; very different jizz from Sandwich Tern
Common Tern,  Quite a few at Tanji
Little Tern,   Pirang and Tanji - this is the tern reputed to sound like Least Tern.
Speckled Pigeon   Once you've seen these, along with the following four species, you don't take that much notice. A shame, as these especially are quite attractive.
Laughing Dove
African Mourning Dove
Vinaceous Dove
Red-eyed Dove    All these are very, very, very common
Black-billed Wood Dove, A very pretty little dove, which you always have to look closely at to make sure its not the rarer Blue-spotted Wood Dove. Seen at Yundum, Tanji Paradise Inn, Bijilo and Abuko
Senegal Parrot     Common
Rose-ringed Parakeet     Very common and noisy
Violet Turaco, Easy at Abuko, also seen at Bijilo and Marakissa
Western Grey Plantain-eater Seen every day
Senegal Coucal    Common
Palm Swift, Seen every day
Little Swift, Seen over Marakissa and the Airport
Striped Kingfisher, Seen at Yundum, Faraba Banta, Brufut and Tanji - a true open woodland species.
Giant Kingfisher  Seen at three sites, so classed as "easy" - Abuko, Marakissa and Kotu Creek. Still a tremendous bird to see.
Pied Kingfisher    Very conspicuous - guaranteed at Kotu Creek, Camaloo and Pirang
Little Bee-eater   Seen every day - widespread
Abyssinian Roller, Yundum, Camaloo Corner, Bijilo and Pirang
Blue-bellied Roller     Seen every day - common and conspicuous
Rufous-crowned Roller    Widespread - seen most days
Green Wood-Hoopoe Common- Casino Cycle Track is as good a site as any
Hoopoe, One seen at Yundum
Red-billed Hornbill    Very common
Grey Hornbill, Also very common
Bearded Barbet   Very ugly. Seen at Casino Cycle Track, Faraba Banta and Brufut
Grey Woodpecker     The common woodpecker. Worth checking to make sure its not the somewhat similar Fine-spotted
Crested Lark,    Many at Pirang
Red-chested Swallow The common swallow; there may be Barn Swallow among them, but I wasn't looking. (Some birders do, according to their trip reports)
House Martin   Pirang
Yellow Wagtail, Camaloo Corner and Pirang
White Wagtail,   Camaloo Corner and the Airport
Little Greenbul     Appeared quite common at Abuko, and not too hard to see
Common Bulbul    Every day, everywhere
African Thrush     Seen every day
Northern Wheatear, Yundum, Camaloo Corner and Pirang
Melodious Warbler, Camaloo Corner, Faraba Banta, Brufut and Tanji
Greenbacked Eromomela, Yundum, Faraba Banta and Brufut
Northern Crombec     Abuko, Bijilo, Faraba Banta and Brufut
Willow Warbler, One seen at Tanji
Common Chiffchaff, Camaloo Corner and Kotu Creek
Zitting Cisticola, Camaloo Corner, Kotu Creek and Tanji
Tawny-flanked Prinia, Seen every day at most sites
Grey-backed Camaroptera   Several pairs at Bijilo and Tanji
Northern Black-Flycatcher   Abuko, Fajara  and Bijilo
Brown Babbler     Common
Blackcap Babbler Common
Variable Sunbird  Seen at five sites
Splendid Sunbird  Abuko and Brufut
Beautiful Sunbird, The common sunbird
Woodchat Shrike   Yundum, Camaloo Corner and Bijilo
Yellow-billed Shrike   Common
Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Surprisingly for a supposedly shy bird, seen every day somewhere. Has a habit of suddenly emerging. A noisy singer.
Fork-tailed Drongo    Seen most days
Piapiac, Common; seen every day in groups. Could be confused with Green Wood-Hoopoe on a glance
Pied Crow Widespread
Purple Glossy Starling     Casino Cycle Track, Yundum, Camaloo Corner and Marakissa. Very hard to sort out these from Blue-eareds in flight at a distance.
Long-tailed Glossy Starling   Seen every day
Yellow-fronted Canary,     Pairs at Faraba Banta, Brufut and Paradise Inn
House Sparrow, Yundum and the Airport
Grey-headed Sparrow, Casino Cycle Track, Yundum, Camaloo Corner and Brufut
White-billed Buffalo-Weaver, A large colony between the Palma Rima and Badala  Park
Northern Red Bishop, Seen at four sites - quite common, but hard to separate in non-breeding plumage from Black-winged Red Bishop
Village Weaver    Widespread and common
Black-necked Weaver     Not as common as Village Weaver, but still widespread
Lavender Waxbill, Seen first at the entrance to the Palma Rima - common
Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu    This smart finch was seen most days
Red-billed Firefinch   Common tiny finch. Very tame at Abuko.
Bronze Mannikin, Seen every day

Not so easy or localised

White Pelican   One seen flying over the sea at Tanji
Yellow-billed Stork     A surprise was one flying north over Bijilo during our lunch-break   
Sacred Ibis     Three along the Casino Cycle Track in the rice fields
Hadada Ibis    Three at Mandinaba took a while to find in the long grass
White-backed Vulture     One with Hoodeds circling high at Faraba Banta
Beaudouin's Snake Eagle     What appeared to be this species, rather than Short-toed, at Yundum and Faraba Banta
Montagu's Harrier  Seen near Yundum when we had to repair a tyre
Gabar Goshawk   One perched nor far from a Dark Chanting Goshawk at Yundum
Grasshopper Buzzard One at Faraba Banta
Wahlberg's Eagle One seen well at Brufut.
Tawny Eagle   One flying over the Palma Rima grounds was a big surprise when I was having a quiet pool-side beer!
Long-crested Eagle    Two seen at Mandinaba and one at Faraba Banta were very impressive
African Hobby One flew over us while we were looking for Ground Hornbills near Pirang
Lanner Falcon Seen at Yundum and Faraba Banta
Greater Painted-Snipe     Skulking in a small patch of mangroves near Badala  Park. A stakeout that any good guide should know.
White-fronted Plover A pair on the river flats at Tanji
Black-headed Plover Seen at Yundum and Camaloo Corner
Kelp Gull  Two adults at least at Tanji. The green legs are quite distinctive.
Blue-spotted (Red-billed) Wood Dove Blue-spotted is a silly name for this dove, Red-billed is far more appropriate. Only one seen, at Bijilo
Namaqua Dove    This cracking dove only seen at Faraba Banta
African Green Pigeon Seen at Faraba Banta, Marakissa and Tanji.
Green Turaco Much rarer than Violet Turaco. Only seen at Abuko.
Klaas's Cuckoo    One near the "zoo" in the extension at Abuko flew off rapidly
White-faced Scops Owl    Baba had a stakeout for this species at Yundum. The bird looked rather similar to the illustration of African Scops Owl in "Barlow", but Baba was positive.
Verreaux's Eagle Owl     Marakissa. This amazing bird had to be the highlight of my trip. (Also reported at Abuko and Brufut).
Pearl-spotted Owlet   One is always to be found at the back of the Palma Rima, usually whistled up by one of the bird-guides in the evening
Long-tailed Nightjar 
Standard-winged Nightjar This and the preceding species found behind the Palma Rima, by the unfinished walled apartment blocks, They come out just on dark, and can be told by tail-length.   
 Usually a guide and his party looking as well.
Mottled Spinetail One with Little Swifts at Marakissa
African Pygmy Kingfisher     One found by me at Abuko, perched quietly in the middle canopy.
Blue-breasted Kingfisher Seen at Abuko, Kotu Creek (twice) and Tanji Paradise Inn
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Camaloo Corner had good numbers
Swallow-tailed Bee-eater Somewhat similar to the Little, except for the blue forked tail. Seen at Abuko and Bijilo
White-throated Bee-eater     Bijolo is the site. Seen twice, a pair at the south end on the 21st, and a pair (the same?) near the entrance on the 23rd. Inconspicuous and quiet.
Broad-billed Roller    Only seen twice, one near the old Sunwing Hotel, and one near Tanji.
African Pied Hornbill, One seen at Marakissa
Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird     Seen at Faraba Banta and Brufut. A very pretty little bird, and not shy.
Viellot's Barbet    Only seen at Faraba Banta
Greater Honeyguide  Brief views at Brufut. Also reported at Abuko ricefields.
Lesser Honeyguide    Even briefer views at Brufut. Honeyguides are really wary. (Apparently this species breeds at the  Senegambia, also reported at Abuko and Yundum)
Fine-spotted Woodpecker     Seen at Fajara and Bijilo. The yellow tail is a good field-mark
Mosque Swallow  This big swallow only seen at Pirang
Rufous-chested Swallow  This dry season rarity seen at Pirang, in company with other swallows
Wire-tailed Swallow   Often perched on the wires at Kotu Bridge; also seen at Pirang. A very smart little swallow.
White-breasted Cuckoo-shrike Baba does it again. This uncommon bird high in a huge Mahogany tree at Marakissa, with two Grey-headed Bushshrikes (!) The only species I saw not mentioned in the other trip reports I've read.
Yellow-throated Leaflove One at Abuko
Leaf-love  A real surprise was our finding one at Tanji, seen well clambering around in a small tree by the path
Grey-headed Bristlebill   One at Abuko
White-crowned Robin-chat    A bird I thought I'd never catch up with. My yell of delight when I found this at Tanji certainly amused Alan and Lucy. Very striking.
Western Olivaceous Warbler    One at Kotu was the only sighting
Subalpine Warbler  A very bright male in a tree at Tanji was so unexpected (to me, anyway), I thought it was something far more exotic.
Siffling Cisticola   Cisticolas are tricky. One at Yundum
Singing Cisticola  Yundum
Red-winged Warbler  Yundum appears to be the best site. Retiring, and well found by Baba.
Yellow-breasted Apalis    I found this, 5m from the Pygmy Kingfisher at Abuko. A very quiet bird in mid-canopy.
Oriole Warbler     Spectacular. Two seen between the Research Centre and the Bijilo entrance, and another along the Ornithological Path
Common Wattle-eye  Tiny, but perfectly formed. Tame. Only seen at Abuko (both days)
African Paradise-Flycatcher Only seen at Abuko
Red-bellied Paradise-Flycatcher Seen both days at Abuko.
Western Violet-backed Sunbird  A pair at Brufut
Collared Sunbird  Abuko and Tanji
Pygmy Sunbird     A female in a mixed flock at Faraba Banta was the only sighting.
Green-headed Sunbird     A pair at Bijilo. Quite rare, judging from trip reports and "Barlow". (Also reported at Abuko rice fields and Brufut).
Scarlet-chested Sunbird   Only at Faraba Banta
Copper Sunbird    Seen near Bijilo; appears to be either very uncommon or possibly easily overlooked.
African Golden Oriole     A pair at Marakissa
Northern Puffback     Pairs seen at Abuko extension and Brufut.
Black-crowned Tchagra   One at Yundum
Sulphur-breasted Bush-shrike One at Bijilo
Grey-headed Bush-shrike     A pair at Marakissa in a huge Mahogany tree
Greater Blue-eared Glossy Starling  Several in flight at Brufut, id'd by Baba. I wouldn't have known.
Lesser Blue-eared Glossy Starling   One perched near Ghana Town appeared to be this species. (Apparently common inland)
Yellow-billed Oxpecker   A bird I really wanted to see, it proved elusive. Reputed to get onto animals (pigs, cows) around Kotu Creek, Casino and Fajara. Finally seen at Pirang, 3 perched on a lone donkey (!). None seen on herds of cows elsewhere.
Bush Petronia A pair at Faraba Banta. Also seen at Brufut.
Yellow-crowned Bishop    Several at Tanji Paradise Inn, coming to water (also reported at Pirang, Camaloo, and Faraba Banta)
Black-winged Red Bishop     Some at Brufut.
Vitelline Masked Weaver     Several at Faraba Banta.
Orange-cheeked Waxbill Some in dried-up reeds near Cape Point
African Silverbill  A pair at the entrance to the Palma Rima. (Also reported at the Senegambia).
Pin-tailed Whydah A few at Tanji Paradise Inn, coming to the drinking pool
Village Indigobird A female in a village near Mandinaba (not often reported)
Western Bluebill  A pair at Abuko, quietly shuffling around by the path, quite tame. The last lifer of my trip.

Dips and others

White-backed Night Heron   At Abuko main pool until Xmas, when moved on. (Also      reported at Kotu, Makasutu and Tendaba).
Spur-winged Goose    The one at the Badala Park pools is not wild, according to Baba, and belongs to somebody. So, not really tickable at this site. (Reported at Pirang and Tendaba).
Black Crowned Crane     Dipped twice in one day at Pirang. (Also reported at Tendaba airfield).
Ahanta Francolin  Some German birders reported this species along the Ornithological track at Bijilo. Also reported at Abuko.
Stone Partridge    Heard in the unfinished apartment blocks behind the Palma Rima my first evening, and at Brufut, which was as close as I got, sadly. Not that difficult, apparently (really?). Also reported at Bijilo, Tanji and Tendaba.
White-spotted Flufftail     A truly elusive species, seen rarely at Abuko between marker post 95 and the exit. Baba says he's only seen this species about four times, early in the morning before they're disturbed. The wet season is apparently best, with early December giving a reasonable shot as they're vocal. A bird-watching friend of mine saw one by chance at Abuko on her trip a few years ago, so it's possible.
Common Snipe A bird that gave the typical snipe rasp was heard, but not seen, one evening along Casino Cycle Track
Temminck's Courser Reported at Yundum by Sering (also Lamin rice fields)
Yellowbill  Reported at Abuko by Sering, also from Brufut.
Plain Nightjar A birdguide at Kotu Creek mentioned this species in passing, possibly present in the local area, but I didn't follow it up.
Malachite Kingfisher Reliable at Kotu Bridge, but I managed to miss it on 3 occasions! Once I even got my binoculars on to its branch just as it shot downriver, having been perched there for 5 minutes. My worst dip.
Abyssinian Ground Hornbill  A site between Pirang and Faraba Banta was apparently good for them, but not having been cultivated recently, the hornbills may have gone. Also reported at Tendaba airfield and Kiang West National Park
Fanti Saw-wing     No sign at Brufut, they may have dispersed elsewhere. Seen here the previous week, so obviously mobile. Also reported at Tanji and Abuko
Yellow-throated Longclaw     Reputedly at Kotu Creek, according to some trip reports, between the bridge and Badala Park, but certainly very elusive if present. Also reported at Camaloo Corner, but again tricky.
White-fronted Black Chat     Reported by Sering at Yundum., also at Bamakuno Forest
Snowy-crowned Robin-chat   I looked everywhere for this bird, said to be reliable around Kotu Creek and ponds, Fajara, especially Senegambia gardens, Palma Rima, Yundum, Bijilo and Abuko. Just wouldn't co-operate, and not even heard. The weather was cold and windy whenever I looked especially, so not ideal conditions.
Green Hylia    One at Abuko was heard in dense foliage, but wouldn't emerge, even though only 1m away.
Senegal Batis One at Brufut was heard 100m away, but we couldn't find it on a closer approach.

APPENDIX: Birds seen on recent trips by others

Coastal birds

Gannet offshore
Dwarf Bittern Marakissa, Georgetown
Goliath Heron Lamin Lodge, Tanji, Bund Road, Tendaba
Woolly-necked Stork Faraba Banta, Brumen Bridge, Tendaba
White Stork Pirang
African Spoonbill  Camaloo, Kotu, Bund Road, Pirang, Tendaba, Brumen Bridge
Western Banded Snake Eagle Marakissa, Tendaba, Bansang
Brown Snake Eagle   Brufut, Tendaba, Georgetown
African Cuckoo Hawk     Makasutu
Bateleur    Faraba Banta, Brumen Bridge
African Hawk Eagle   Faraba Banta, Tendaba
Martial Eagle Yundum, Faraba Banta
Ayre's Hawk Eagle    Abuko rice fields
Booted Eagle    Abuko, Faraba Banta
African Goshawk Brikama
Western Little Sparrowhawk Abuko
Ovambo Sparrowhawk     Senegambia
African Fish Eagle     Pirang, Tendaba
Barbary Falcon    Kotu
Peregrine    Abuko, Tendaba
Pallid Harrier    Brufut
Small Buttonquail Lamin Village fields
African Finfoot     Makasutu, Tendaba
African Crake Abuko rice fields
Avocet Kotu, Bund Road, Pirang
Oystercatcher   Tanji, Camaloo
Spotted Thick-knee   Faraba Banta
Curlew Sandpiper   Pirang
Ruff Kotu, Pirang, Camaloo
Marsh Sandpiper    Kotu, Camaloo, Pirang
Golden Plover  Kotu (a Gambian rarity)
Little Ringed Plover Pirang, Tendaba
Four-banded Sandgrouse Lamin rice fields, Georgetown
Arctic Skua Kotu Beach
Pomarine Skua Kotu Beach
Black-headed Gull  Kotu, Bund Road
Little Gull    Kotu (a Gambian rarity)
Roseate Tern    Kotu Beach
Black Tern Bund Road, Kotu Beach, Pirang
Bruce's Green Pigeon     Faraba Banta, Lamin rice fields, Tanji, Tendaba
Eurasian Turtle Dove    Brufut
Brown-necked Parrot Pirang, Tendaba
Spotted Eagle Owl     Senegambia
Barn Owl   Senegambia
African Wood Owl Makasutu
Short-eared Owl    Senegambia
African Scops Owl Casino
Pallid Swift Faraba Banta
Black Scimitarbill Abuko rice fields, Brufut, Yundum, Bijilo
Spotted Honeyguide  Marakissa
Buff-spotted Woodpecker     Abuko
Cardinal Woodpecker Abuko, Bijilo, Brufut, Tanji
Brown-backed Woodpecker  Yundum, Brufut, Bamakuno Forest
Pied-winged Swallow  Faraba Banta, Yundum, Tanji, Pirang, Abuko rice fields
Plain-backed Pipit Pirang, Abuko rice fields
Tree Pipit   Faraba Banta
Chestnut-backed Sparrow-lark Bund Road, Tendaba
Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike Abuko, Marakissa
Nightingale Brufut
Whinchat    Yundum
Redstart     Lamin Lodge
Eurasian Reed Warbler Bund Road
Whitethroat Bijilo, Faraba Banta
Blackcap    Casino
Wood Warbler Abuko, Yundum
Western Bonelli's Warbler  Yundum, Tendaba
Red-faced Cisticola   Yundum
Whistling Cisticola     Yundum, Brufut
Plaintive Cisticola Yundum
Yellow-bellied Hyliota Brufut, Bamakuno Forest
Yellow Penduline Tit  Yundum, Tanji, Bamakuno Forest
Yellow White-eye Faraba Banta
Brubru Brufut
White-crested Helmet-shrike Abuko, Abuko ricefields, Brufut, Faraba Banta
Square-tailed Drongo Sukuta
Splendid Glossy Starling Abuko
Bronze-tailed Glossy Starling Senegambia, Pirang, Faraba Banta
Chestnut-bellied Starling Senegambia, Yundum
Mouse-brown Sunbird     Lamin Lodge, Tendaba
Little Weaver Yundum, Brufut, Bamakuno
Heuglin's Masked Weaver   Yundum
Yellow-backed Weaver    Marakissa, Brufut
Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver  Brufut, Faraba Banta
Red-billed Quelea Brufut, Seleti
Yellow-shouldered Widowbird Yundum
Red-winged Pytilia     Seleti, Bansang
Black-rumped Waxbill     Yundum, Camaloo, Pirang, Tendaba, Bansang, Bamakuno
Cut-throat Brufut, Yundum, Faraba Banta, Bansang
Exclamatory Paradise Whydah Seleti, Georgetown, Bansang
Quailfinch Pirang, Bund Road
Black-faced Firefinch Bamakuno Forest


Levaillant's Cuckoo   Casino, Bijilo, Kotu
Diederik Cuckoo  Abuko, Brufut, Yundum
African Cuckoo    Yundum, Brumen Bridge
African Emerald Cuckoo Abuko
Woodland Kingfisher Marakissa, Fajara, Tendaba
Grey-headed Kingfisher  Tendaba


Little Bittern Georgetown
White-crested Tiger Heron  Tendaba
Saddle-billed Stork    Brumen Bridge, Tendaba
Marabou Stork    Brikama, Kaur wetlands, Same- Basse
African Pygmy Goose Panchang
Ruppell's Griffon Vulture Tendaba
African Swallow-tailed Kite   Basse
Common Moorhen Georgetown
Purple Swamphen   Georgetown
Black-bellied Bustard Basse
Egyptian Plover    Basse, Kaur wetlands, Panchang
Kittlitz's Plover    Kaur wetlands
Collared Pratincole Kaur wetlands
Red-throated Bee-eater  Bansang
Little Green Bee-eater    Tendaba
European Bee-eater Tendaba
European Roller Tendaba
Red-rumped Swallow   Tendaba
Grey-rumped Swallow Bansang
Northern Anteater Chat  Tendaba, Farefinni
African Blue Flycatcher   Tendaba
White-shouldered Black Tit  Tendaba, Batelling woods
White-rumped Seed-eater     Tendaba
Sudan Golden Sparrow    Georgetown
Cinnamon-breasted Rock Bunting Bansang, Georgetown


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...

+ A Birdwatchers' Guide to The Gambia. (1994) Ward.

Web-sites and reports
Gambia Experience:
Gambia Birding Group:
New Year 2001/2002, Alison and Christopher Hall
November 30th-December 14th 2001, Mark and Sandra Dennis
December 1st- 15th 2000, Howard Orridge
November 17th-24th 1998, Stephen Mawby
November 1st-8th 1998, Gruff Dodd
January 20th-27th 1997, Jan Vermeulen

July 4th-19th 2001, Tiemen De Smedt and Wim Deloddere
December 19th  2000 - January 2nd 2001, Simon Woolley and Julia Casson
12-19 February 1999 & 1-8 November 2000, Kent Ohrn

Unpublished trip report from Phil Mountain, of Filey, January 31st - February 13th 1997

Baba: Babagalleh  Bah; c/- PMB 513, Serekunda, The Gambia. Fax: 0220-484100;

Clark, W.S. (1999)      Plumage differences and taxonomic status of three similar
Circaetus snake-eagles. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists Club, 114, 56-58.
King, J.M.B. & Hutchinson, J.M.C. (2001) Site fidelity and recurrence of some
migrant bird species in The Gambia. Ringing and Migration, 20, 292-302.
Svensson, L. (2001)     Identification of Western and Eastern Olivaceous, Booted
and Syke's Warblers. Birding World, 14, 192-219.


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