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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
The Gambia, 03-17 January 2003,
Our original plan of becoming "world birders" by working our way south through central America was derailed temporarily by our discovery that the Gambia is an extremely affordable African birding destination, and one we could easily and safely visit on our own. The cost of a two-week trip, including all flights (from Los Angeles), accommodations, and the services of a guide for the entire time came to little more than we had paid for one week in Belize (sans guide) the previous year. We planned the trip using a number of very informative trip reports found on the web, as well as Rod Ward's 1994 book, "A Birdwatcher's Guide to the Gambia". We were restricted to going during Cathy's semester break in early January, and although we missed seeing bishops and whydahs in breeding plumage, the weather was perfect and many wintering palearctic species were present. We booked our flight and hotel through The Gambia Experience, and, influenced in particular by the trip report of Mark and Sandra Dennis, decided to stay at the Senegambia Hotel.
We were very happy with this choice - the hotel was a pleasant oasis that offered good birding, even from our room's balcony. We recorded 55 species in the hotel grounds - including several species that we only saw here - and skulking species such as Yellow-crowned Gonolek and White-crowned Robin-Chat were much more easily observed here than elsewhere. Although the hotel offered a half-board plan (pre-paid breakfasts and dinners), we opted instead to eat our dinners outside of the hotel in the surrounding village of Kololi. Most nights we ended up at a West African restaurant called Bano's, which had good food, a very friendly wait-staff, and more efficient service than we encountered most other places. The exchange rate was very much in our favor, and outside of the hotel we could get 24 dalasi to the U.S. dollar (38 dalasi to the English pound). Dinner for two (starter, entrée and drinks) typically cost us about 300 dalasi ($12.50). We brought both Traveler's Checks and cash with us - although there was an ATM in Kololi that looked like it would have accepted our U.S. bank card (Plus system), we didn't try it.
The weather was beautiful throughout the trip, with most days clear and sunny in the mid-80s (degrees F), and temperatures dropping into the low 70s at night. Our last two days were very windy, however, and the evenings got quite cool, requiring a light sweater and jeans for comfort outdoors. Although we took the anti-malarial drug mefloquine, treated our clothing with Permethrin, and had brought mosquito nets for use upriver, we saw virtually no mosquitoes the entire trip and were never bitten.
We hired a birding guide, Ebrima Sidibeh, in advance, and arranged for him to lead us on a 7-day coastal itinerary (a mix of full-day and half-day trips) followed by a 3-night trip upriver. Ebrima was highly recommended in several trip reports, and we found him to be a very nice guy, an excellent birder, and, most importantly, very reliable. He honored all of the arrangements and prices we had agreed upon in advance, unlike some other guides whom we heard will cancel pre-arranged trips on short notice if a more lucrative offer comes their way (this happened to a couple we met who had hired Sering Bojang). Although we met with a few minor transportation and housing hitches, Ebrima always managed to solve any problems quickly and with minimum disruptions to our birding plans, and we can recommend him highly. He can be contacted via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
In two weeks, we saw approximately 260 species, more than 215 of them life birds. Although we missed a couple of species we had anticipated seeing, we also saw several, such as African Finfoot, that we had scarcely dared dream we might see. Were we to plan our trip over, the only change we might make would be to spend an additional night upriver at Tendaba Camp and do a second boat trip there - as it was, we had very little time to bird this interesting area, and missed one of our prime target species, White-backed Night-Heron.
03 January: Arrived in the Gambia at about 3:30 pm after an uneventful flight from Gatwick. The first birds we saw were Pied Crows circling the airport terminal, and a Shikra flew by as we were waiting for the bus to the hotel to leave the airport. We arrived at the Senegambia Hotel with about an hour of daylight left and made our first tour of the gardens, finding common species such as Red-billed Hornbill, Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Beautiful Sunbird, Red-billed Firefinch, Red-cheeked Cordon-Bleu and Long-tailed Starling.
04 January: Met with Ebrima at 8 am to finalize the week's plans, and then spent most of the day birding on our own in the Senegambia grounds. In addition to seeing more of those species that would prove to be fairly common everywhere (e.g., Bronze Mannikin, Northern Black Flycatcher, African Grey Hornbill, Green Wood-Hoopoe), we also had good looks here at White-crowned Robin-Chat ("in your face" at the Senegambia, but not seen elsewhere), Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Purple and Bronze-tailed Glossy Starlings, Broad-billed Roller, Oriole Warbler, and the only African Pygmy Kingfisher of the trip. We met Ebrima at 5 pm for a short walk along the ornithological path in nearby Bijilo Forest Park, where we saw our first bee-eaters (Little, Swallow-tailed and White-throated) and got an unexpected and fairly close look at an Ahanta Francolin scratching around in the leaf litter.
05 January: Spent the morning birding the Kotu area (Kotu Creek, sewage ponds and Fajara Golf Course) with Ebrima. Along the creek we had a good look at a Malachite Kingfisher and saw our first Blue-bellied Rollers - fairly plain-looking until they fly and flash their spectacularly iridescent blue wings. The sewage ponds had a good diversity of waders, including Wood, Green, Marsh and Curlew Sandpipers, Black-winged Stilt, African Jacana and several Black Crakes showing in a lily pond. We saw the only ducks of the trip here, a large flock of White-faced Whistling Ducks. In the late afternoon we returned to Bijilo on our own and walked the full perimeter loop. Along the eastern perimeter the forest is quite dense and we saw few birds but many monkeys, both Green Vervet Monkeys (sitting in the trail hoping for handouts) and Red Colobus. Along the western perimeter (the ornithological path) we saw mostly the same species as on the previous evening.
06 January: Spent the morning with Ebrima at Brufut Woods, an area of scrub and open, dry forest. The area was very birdy, and in rapid succession we added to our list: Stone Partridge, Green Turaco, Little Greenbul, African Green Pigeon, Lesser Honeyguide, African Yellow White-Eye, Red-shouldered Cuckoo-Shrike, Orange-cheeked Waxbill, Striped Kingfisher, Fanti Sawwing, Pied-winged Swallow, Eurasian Wryneck, Mottled Spinetail, Brown-backed Woodpecker, Vieillot's Barbet, Western Violet-backed Sunbird and a pair of Senegal Batis. Several Common Nightingales were singing from dense thickets and a Gray-headed Bush-Shrike called, but we were unable to lure either of those species into view. As we headed back to the car in the heat of the early afternoon, Ebrima took us on a detour through the brush to a spot from which we had clear scope views of a Verreaux's Eagle Owl on its day-roost near the top of an enormous tree. We emerged back at the road to find that our taxi-driver was not at the spot where he had been instructed to meet us, and we had to wait an anxious half an hour before he reappeared. Eventually we headed to the Paradise Inn for a late lunch, but not before making a quick stop along the way for a Black Wood-Hoopoe - as it turned out, we would see this uncommon species on at least three more occasions! Following lunch and an hour's relaxation in the cool shade at the inn, we drove to the Tanji Bird Reserve for some late afternoon birding. The beach at Tanji was excellent for gulls and terns, and we picked out several Lesser Crested Terns and a Yellow-legged Gull among the more common species. We ended the day with a long, hot walk along the main road, as the taxi-driver again failed to follow instructions and parked about a mile further down the road than asked.
07 January: Birded the Abuko Nature Reserve, a small remnant of dense, gallery forest, in the morning. In the vicinity of the Education Center we found most of our target species, getting good looks at both Red-bellied and African Paradise-Flycatchers, Common Wattle-eye, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Collared Sunbird, Little Greenbul, and Grey-headed Bristlebill. We also had fantastic views of both turacos, including finding a large fruiting tree occupied by three Violet Turacos, two Green Turacos, a pair of Bearded Barbets and several Western Grey Plaintain-Eaters. From the Education Center balcony we had eye-level views of a Giant Kingfisher polishing off a tilapia - beating it repeatedly against a branch to kill it before swallowing it head-first. Although we had read in advance that Abuko was difficult birding, we found the forest less dense and the birds much easier to see here than in the neotropical rain forests of Central America. The Abuko extension, a more open, dry forest area, was very quiet when we reached it around noon, so we proceeded instead to Lamin Lodge for lunch and a mid-day rest. After lunch we walked some of the cultivated fields near the lodge, which were good for finches (Lavender and Orange-cheeked Waxbills) and raptors (Eurasian Marsh Harrier, Dark Chanting-Goshawk, African Harrier-Hawk). We spent the final part of the afternoon at Yundum, another open, mostly cultivated area, where we saw Yellow Penduline-Tit, Greater Honeyguide, Black-headed Plover, Black-crowned Tchagra, another Black Wood-Hoopoe and more Blue-bellied Rollers, a pair of Eurasian Hoopoes, Common Redstart, and a very distant Martial Eagle soaring with Hooded Vultures.
08 January: Spent the morning at Marakissa, one of the prettiest rural sites we visited - a mix of cultivated fields, wetland, and forest. The most notable birds we saw here were a group of White-crested Helmet-shrikes, a gorgeous male African Golden Oriole, a flock of African Green Pigeons foraging in a fruiting tree, two more Black Wood-Hoopoes, African Pied Hornbills, and a Sulphur-breasted Bush-Shrike that was only seen well by Ebrima and Paul. On the way home we stopped for a Gabar Goshawk that was perched in a dead tree right beside the road. We spent the afternoon at the Senegambia, determined to rest rather than bird, but late in the afternoon were lured into the gardens by a calling Pearl-spotted Owlet. Many small birds were mobbing the owl, and we watched a Grey Woodpecker attempt to drive it away by pecking at its feet!
09 January: In the morning we birded the abandoned shrimp ponds at Pirang, where we had fantastic views of two of the resident Black Crowned-Cranes flying in to drink at a small pool and then feed in a nearby field. At Pirang we also saw a number of species not seen elsewhere, including Crested Lark, Plain-backed and Tree Pipits, and Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark. After spending a considerable amount of time trying to sneak up on tiny Quail-finches, we were finally rewarded with a quick look at one on the ground. Other notable species we saw here were African Spoonbill, Yellow-billed Stork, Mosque Swallow, and a Long-crested Eagle who perched obligingly on a nearby bund. In the early afternoon we proceeded to the bush track at Faraba Banta. We did not see quite as many raptors as hoped (Red-necked Falcon, Common Kestrel and Grasshopper Buzzard seen well, with more distant views of flying Tawny, Wahlberg's, and Brown Snake Eagles), but this site was terrific for sunbirds. In a single flowering tree we saw Beautiful, Splendid, Variable, Scarlet-chested and Western Violet-backed Sunbirds, and further along the same track got a great look at a male Pygmy Sunbird. We also saw another Brown-backed Woodpecker, more African Yellow White-eyes, Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters and a Little Weaver.
10 January: We started the morning at Camaloo Corner, looking unsuccessfully for Yellow-throated Longclaw, but picking up Woodchat Shrike and large flocks of Slender-billed Gulls and Black Egrets. We moved on to the Bund Rd., where there were many shorebirds and gulls on the mud flats. Two Yellow-billed Storks came in to allow a close view, and we saw several Sacred Ibis in flight over the mangroves. We returned to the Senegambia to spend the afternoon packing and preparing for the next day's trip upriver.
11 January: We had expected to be going upriver in the small jeep we had taken to Faraba Banta, and were anticipating an extremely cramped, uncomfortable journey with a very talkative driver. Instead, Ebrima picked us up in a battered green Peugeot taxi, driven by a quiet young man named Kunta Kombo. Kunta was an excellent driver, and the taxi turned out to be a very comfortable ride, apart from the fact that one rear window couldn't be lowered and the other wouldn't stay up (the latter was the worse problem on the very dusty roads). We got an early, pre-breakfast start and drove directly to Yundum, where we spent the first hour of the morning. New birds seen here included Pin-tailed Whydah and Yellow-billed Oxpecker (on cattle in a fenced pasture), as well as another Little Weaver. We continued on through the busy town of Brikama, made a brief stop at Kunta's house to deliver some bread to his family, and then stopped several more times between Brikama and Brumen Bridge to bird along the roadside. These stops yielded good looks at Yellow-throated Leaflove, African Golden Oriole, large flocks of European Bee-eaters, Black-rumped Waxbill, a busy group of 10-12 White-crested Helmet-Shrikes, and a tree adorned with no fewer than 12 African Grey Hornbills.
As we headed for Brumen Bridge for lunch, we encountered a group of teenage boys walking along the road carrying a Western Banded Snake Eagle they had caught in a rusty leg-hold trap. The bird was (miraculously) not badly injured, but the boys had pulled out all of its flight feathers. Ebrima negotiated with them for the release of the bird, and eventually bought it from them (not all of the boys appeared to be happy with the transaction - apparently they had planned to eat it). We put the eagle into the car, tied a stuff-sack over its head as a makeshift hood to keep the bird quiet and protect us from its formidable beak, and took it along for the ride to Georgetown. Ebrima had planned to take the eagle to the wildlife rehabilitation center at Abuko upon our return to the coast, but we ended up leaving it instead at the Bird Safari Camp in Georgetown, where the resident bird guide said he would care for it until its flight feathers grew back in and it could be released.
With the eagle riding shotgun, we continued on our slow way to Georgetown, driving mostly on the dirt shoulder of the road to avoid the many bath-tub sized potholes in the pavement. A late afternoon stop in recently burned, open scrub woodland several kilometers east of Brumen Bridge was very productive. Here we found Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver, Brubru, Cut-throat Finch, and a LBJ that Ebrima identified as Plaintive Cisticola. We also got great looks at a pair of Bateleur soaring quite low overhead. In the vicinity of Tendaba we made quick stops for Temminck's Courser and Abyssinian Ground-Hornbills (two groups of 3 seen in fields along the road), and then put the pedal to the metal, arriving at the Georgetown ferry crossing well after dark. Because we were so late arriving at Georgetown, and would be leaving early the next morning to continue on to Basse, Ebrima suggested that we stay at Baobolong Camp, close to the ferry crossing, rather than negotiating another 8 km of rough dirt road to reach Bird Safari Camp. We agreed, and in retrospect this was the worst decision we made during the trip. At Baobolong Camp we were fed a dinner of domoda made with an unidentified meat that consisted solely of fat and gristle, and were shown to a room that appeared from the smell to be built over the septic tank. The men in an adjacent room carried on a loud conversation from 10 pm until after 3 am, making it impossible for us to get any sleep.
12 January: Ebrima had told us that breakfast would be served at 7 am, and that we would need to depart promptly at 7:30 am to get to Basse before the Egyptian Plovers dispersed for the day. At 7:15 am we finally found a half-asleep staff member and placed our breakfast order of bread and tea. Ten minutes later the tea arrived, but we were informed that they had no bread and couldn't get any at that hour on a Sunday. So we left for Basse, having paid for bed and breakfast, but not having gotten much sleep or any breakfast. The riverbanks at the Basse ferry crossing were already crowded with people doing their laundry when we arrived, and the Egyptian Plovers were nowhere to be seen. We had spent half an hour scanning the riverbanks with our scope, admiring a nearby Blue-breasted Kingfisher and worrying that we had missed the plovers, when a pair suddenly materialized behind us on the concrete jetty, no more than 30 feet away. We watched and filmed them until they flew further up the river bank, and then proceeded to nearby rice fields to look for Northern Carmine Bee-eater. The bee-eaters also kept us waiting - we had been at the site for two hours and had just decided to head back to the car when a group of a dozen flew in and perched obligingly in the nearest tree. Target birds seen, we drove back to the village of Bansang, where Ebrima took us to a hostel that served us a quite nice lunch of benachin (rice cooked in a tomato sauce) for 15 dalasi (60 cents) each.
In the late afternoon we went to Bansang Quarry, where a large colony of Red-throated Bee-eaters nests in burrows in the exposed clay cliffs. Coming to drink at the quarry water-hole were Cinnamon-breasted Buntings, Exclamatory Paradise-Whydahs, Yellow-fronted Canaries, and Bush Petronias. We also found a pair of African Silverbills among a large colony of Northern Red Bishops nesting in the long grasses. We had decided to stay at the quarry until dusk in hopes of seeing Four-banded Sandgrouse come to the water-hole to drink, but were spared the wait by seeing several fly into the grass above the cliff-top well before that time. We were able to locate a pair in the grass, and watched them through the scope for about 15 minutes as they foraged along the edge of the cliff. Satisfied, we returned to Bansang village and stopped by Ebrima's family's compound, where he invited us in to share (Gambian style - one plate and 4 spoons) a meal of beef domoda, his favorite dish. The domoda, a peanut-based sauce served over rice, was delicious, unlike the poor excuse we had been served the previous night at Baobolong Camp.
We arrived at the Bird Safari Camp in Georgetown in the dark, only to be told that all rooms were full and they had no space for us. Ebrima had made advance reservations, but because we had not shown up the previous night they had apparently thought we would not be coming at all. Not only had our rooms been taken, but the boat we had reserved for a trip around the island the next morning had been turned over to the Birdfinders tour group that was also staying there. We were dismayed by the prospect of another sleepless night and breakfast-less morning at Baobolong Camp, and pushed Ebrima to press our case with the management. Eventually, another group's guide and driver were moved and we were given their room, and a second boat was promised to us for the morning. Very tired, we nonetheless went looking for African Scops-Owls, but retreated to bed when it became clear that the combined din from the camp generator and an African drumming demonstration would make it impossible to hear any owls calling.
13 January: We had a large pirogue with an upper deck to ourselves for our trip around the island of Georgetown. There was plenty of terrestrial bird activity along the riverbanks, but we saw surprisingly few herons or other aquatic birds. Highlights of the boat trip were the many raptors we saw perched in trees along the river - all three species of Snake Eagle (Brown, Western Banded and Short-toed), Wahlberg's Eagle, Red-necked Falcon, African Fish-Eagle, and a Verreaux's Eagle-Owl sitting incongruously in a palm tree. We also saw a number of Swamp Flycatchers in the low vegetation overhanging the river, a species we had not expected to see and saw nowhere else. We left Georgetown at about noon to drive back to Tendaba, stopping along the way at a village where Marabou Storks nest and to look (unsuccessfully) in several places for Little Green Bee-eater. Outside Tendaba we got fantastic looks at another 3 Abyssinian Ground-Hornbills (male, female and juvenile) stalking around a plowed field. We arrived at Tendaba Camp in the late afternoon and went for a walk along a track on the far side of the camp - the highlight yet another Black Wood-Hoopoe. At the African buffet dinner that night (bush-pig and ladyfish) we compared notes with John and Odile, a couple from England whom we had met the previous evening at Georgetown and with whom we would end up birding when we returned to the coast.
14 January: In the morning we went on a boat trip to the creeks (Tanku and Kisi bolons) across the river from Tendaba, sharing a much smaller pirogue than the previous day's with another English couple and their guide. The first bird we found on entering Tanku bolon was a female African Finfoot, which we watched for about 10 minutes as she alternately swam and walked along the creek bank on shockingly orange feet. Mouse-brown Sunbirds were common in the vegetation along the creek, but difficult to get in the binoculars. Other new species we saw on the creek tour were Goliath Heron, a very brief, unsatisfactory glimpse of the only Purple Heron of the trip, several Montagu's Harriers quartering over open areas adjacent to the creek, and a Little Bittern that flushed across the creek several times. We left Tendaba shortly after noon to drive back to the coast, stopping only for lunch at Brumen Bridge, and once to admire a Western Banded Snake Eagle perched beside the road.
15 January: This was the last day of our pre-arranged 7-day coastal itinerary with Ebrima, and we decided to return to Tanji in search of Sulphur-breasted Bush-Shrike and White-fronted Plover, species missed on our first visit. Unfortunately, the morning was extremely windy, keeping the scrub birds down and quiet and making it difficult to use the scope on the beach. We did succeed in finding a White-fronted Plover, hunkered down among the dune vegetation, and watched a pair of Lanners flying low over the beach, scattering the shorebirds and gulls. We met John and Odile for lunch at the Senegambia, where they too were staying, and in the late afternoon accompanied them to Bijilo. We succeeded in locating the Ahanta Francolin twice, at closer range and in better light than we had seen it previously.
16 January: We arranged for Ebrima to guide us for another 1-1/2 days, and for John and Odile to accompany us, splitting the cost. We returned to Brufut for the morning, hoping to see those species we had only heard on our first visit, and looking for other not-yet-seen species such as Klaas's Cuckoo. The morning was again very windy, and as a result there was very little bird activity. We did locate a female Klaas's Cuckoo and another Brubru, but compared to our previous visit saw disappointingly little. In the late afternoon Ebrima took us back to Kotu Creek and Fajara Golf Course for a short walk, followed by a visit to the scrub behind the Palma Rima Hotel to look for nightjars at dusk. The Birdfinders group was there ahead of us, and had already pinned down several Long-tailed Nightjars in their lights, which we were then able to study at close range. Although we waited at the site until it was very dark, we did not find any Standard-winged Nightjars.
17 January: We returned to the Kotu area on our last morning, Greater Painted-Snipe our primary target bird. We located 4 of them in a patch of mangroves bordering rice fields along Kotu Creek, and spent quite a long time chasing them around, trying to see them well on the ground before they inevitably flushed. We then walked back along Kotu Creek to the golf course, and re-visited the sewage ponds, ending the morning watching 5 Sacred Ibis foraging among pigs in a field along the Casino Cycle Track. We were a bit late getting back to the Senegambia, and barely got everything out of our room by the noon deadline. While at the airport waiting for our late-afternoon flight to board, we spent our last few dalasi on cold drinks at the outdoor departure-lounge bar. Sitting there, we got our last life bird of the trip, a Booted Eagle circling overhead among the ubiquitous Hooded Vultures!
& Paul Clarke
Claremont, CA, USA
Numbers in parentheses indicate the number of sites out of 15 at which we saw a species (Georgetown, Bansang, Basse and sites along the road from Brikama to Basse are treated as one site). Species in bold-face were seen within the grounds of the Senegambia Hotel.
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) - Common at Kotu sewage ponds (1).
Great White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus) - Seen offshore at Tanji and two flying over Brufut on 1/6 (2).
Pink-backed Pelican (Pelecanus rufescens) - Common, seen at most coastal and river sites (8).
Great Cormorant(Phalacrocorax carbo) - Flock of a dozen seen flying over Tendaba (1).
Long-tailed Cormorant (Phalacrocorax africanus) - Common at coastal wetland sites (5).
Darter (Anhinga melanogaster) - Common at Tendaba. Also seen at Abuko and Bund Rd (3).
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) - Common, seen at most wetland sites (8).
Black-headed Heron (Ardea melanocephala) - Seen at Kotu Creek, Abuko, Pirang and Georgetown (4).
Goliath Heron (Ardea goliath) - Two seen on Tendaba creek tour (1).
Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) - One glimpsed briefly on Tendaba creek tour (1).
Great Egret (Ardea alba) - Common in wetland areas (7).
Black Egret (Egretta ardesiaca) - Large flock at Camaloo Corner on 1/10. Individuals at Marakissa, Kotu (4).
Intermediate Egret (Egretta intermedia) - Individuals seen at Kotu creek, Marakissa and Pirang (3).
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta garzetta) - Individuals seen at a few sites (5).
Western Reef Heron (Egretta garzetta gularis) - Common, seen at most wetland areas (7).
Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides) - Seen at most wetland sites (6).
Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) - Very common, seen at most sites (11).
Striated Heron (Butorides striatus) - Common upriver (Tendaba, Georgetown). Also seen at Abuko (3).
Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) - A few present at Abuko and Georgetown (2).
Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus) - One flushed repeatedly on Tendaba creek tour (1).
Hamerkop (Scopus umbretta) - Individuals seen at most wetland sites (6).
Yellow-billed Stork (Mycteria ibis) - Two at Bund Rd. and 3-4 at Pirang (2).
Marabou Stork (Leptoptilos crumeniferus) - Several seen in village outside Georgetown (1).
Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus) - 5 at Kotu creek on 1/17. 2-3 seen in flight at Bund Rd (2).
African Spoonbill (Platalea alba) - 3 seen feeding at Pirang and one in flight at Camaloo Corner (2).
White-faced Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna viduata) - Resident flock at Kotu sewage ponds (1).
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) - Common on coast, especially at Tanji where 4-5 were seen together (8).
Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus) - Fairly common in open areas (5).
Black Kite (Milvus migrans) - Ubiquitous, seen virtually everywhere (14).
African Fish-Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer) - One adult seen well on Georgetown boat trip (1).
Palm-nut Vulture (Gypohierax angolensis) - Common, seen at many sites (8).
Hooded Vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus) - Ubiquitous, seen almost everywhere (13).
White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) - Fairly common upriver at Tendaba, Georgetown, Basse (2).
Rüppell's Griffon Vulture (Gyps rueppellii) - One seen at Bansang (1).
Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus) - Several seen well on Georgetown boat trip (1).
Beaudouin's Snake-Eagle (Circaetus beaudouini) - One at Basse rice fields (1).
Brown Snake-Eagle (Circaetus cinereus) - Several seen at Faraba Banta and in Georgetown area (2).
Western Banded Snake-Eagle (Circaetus cinerascens) - Several seen on Georgetown boat trip and by roadside (1).
Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus) - Pair seen soaring over open woodlands east of Brumen Bridge (1).
Eurasian Marsh-Harrier (Circus aeruginosus) - Seen at Basse, Lamin Lodge, Pirang and Bund Rd (4).
Montagu's Harrier (Circus pygargus) - Several seen on Tendaba creek tour (1).
African Harrier-Hawk (Polyboroides typus) - Common, seen mostly at fairly open sites (6).
Lizard Buzzard (Kaupifalco monogrammicus) - Common, seen at many sites (9).
Dark Chanting-Goshawk (Melierax metabates) - Frequently seen along roads and at open sites inland (5).
Gabar Goshawk (Micronisus gabar) - Seen at Marakissa and Basse (including melanistic individual) (2).
Shikra (Accipiter badius) - Fairly common (6).
Grasshopper Buzzard (Butastur rufipennis) - At Faraba Banta and along roadsides upriver (2).
Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax) - Seen in flight at at Marakissa, Faraba Banta,and perched near Tendaba (3).
Wahlberg's Eagle (Aquila wahlbergi) - Seen in flight at at Marakissa, Faraba Banta,and perched at Georgetown (3).
Booted Eagle (Aquila pennatus) - One circling over Banjul airport (1).
Martial Eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus) - Very distant scope views of one over Yundum (1).
Long-crested Eagle (Lophaetus occipitalis) - Individuals seen well at Yundum, Pirang and Basse (3).
Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) - One at Faraba Banta (1).
Grey Kestrel (Falco ardosiaceus) - Fairly common, seen at a variety of sites (5).
Red-necked Falcon (Falco chicquera) - Seen at Kotu, Faraba Banta and on Georgetown boat trip (3).
Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus) - Best looks at Tanji, but seen at a variety of sites (5).
Ahanta Francolin (Francolinus ahantensis) - Seen twice (1/4, 1/15) at Bijilo, foraging in leaf litter (1).
Double-spurred Francolin (Francolinus bicalcaratus) - Common, flushed at most open, grassy sites (8).
Stone Partridge (Ptilopachus petrosus) - Seen and heard at Brufut, several flushed at Tendaba (2).
Black Crowned-Crane (Balearica pavonina) - Pair viewed well at Pirang (1).
Black Crake (Amaurornis flavirostris) - Seen at Kotu sewage ponds, Camaloo Corner, Marakissa and Georgetown (4).
African Finfoot (Podica senegalensis) - Female observed swimming and walking on creek bank at Tendaba (1).
African Jacana (Actophilornis africanus) - A few at Kotu sewage ponds, Marakissa, Abuko and Georgetown (4).
Greater Painted-snipe (Rostratula benghalensis) - Flushed 4 in mangroves at Kotu creek on 1/17 (1).
Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) - Seen at Kotu sewage ponds, Camaloo Corner and Bund Rd (4).
Senegal Thick-knee (Burhinus senegalensis) - Common at Kotu creek and inland along river (4).
Egyptian Plover (Pluvianus aegyptius) - Two at Basse ferry landing (1).
Temminck's Courser (Cursorius temminckii) - Two in plowed field near Tendaba (1).
Spur-winged Plover (Vanellus spinosus) - Common in open areas and near water (8).
Black-headed Plover (Vanellus tectus) - Seen only at Yundum (1).
Wattled Plover (Vanellus senegallus) - Fairly common in open areas (5).
Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) - A few seen at coastal and river sites (6).
Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula) - Common at Kotu, Tanji, Bund Rd. and other mud flats (5).
White-fronted Plover (Charadrius marginatus) - One seen at Tanji on 1/15 (1).
Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) - One flushed from rice fields at Basse (1).
Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa) - Small flock at Camaloo Corner (1).
Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica) - Common at Kotu creek and Tanji (2).
Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) - Common, a few seen at most wetland areas (8).
Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata) - Individuals seen at Camaloo Corner and Tanji (2).
Common Redshank (Tringa tetanus) - Fairly common in wetland areas (5).
Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis) - Several at Kotu sewage ponds, Camaloo Corner and near Soma (3).
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) - A few individuals at most wetland sites (7).
Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus) - Individuals seen at Kotu sewage ponds, Camaloo Corner and Marakissa (3).
Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola) - Common at Kotu sewage ponds, Camaloo Corner (2).
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) - Present at most wetland sites (7).
Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) - Seen at Kotu creek, Tanji and Bund Rd (3).
Red Knot (Calidris canutus) - One on mud flats outside Soma.
Sanderling (Calidris alba) - A few at Tanji and Bund Rd (2).
Little Stint (Calidris minuta) - Present in small numbers at Tanji, Pirang and outside Soma (3).
Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) - Small numbers present at Kotu creek and sewage ponds and at Bund Rd (2).
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax) - One each at Kotu sewage ponds and Pirang (2).
Pomarine Jaeger (Stercorarius pomarinus) - One seen flying offshore at Tanji on 1/15 (1).
Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus) - Several present at Tanji on 1/15 (1).
Yellow-legged Gull (Larus cachinnans) - One at Tanji on 1/6 (1).
Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus) - Present at Tanji (1).
Gray-headed Gull (Larus cirrocephalus) - Common at most sites on the coast (6).
Slender-billed Gull (Larus genei) - Flocks at Camaloo Corner, Bund Rd. and Tanji (3).
Gull-billed Tern (Sterna nilotica) - A few seen at most wetland sites (6).
Caspian Tern (Sterna caspia) - Individuals at most coastal sites, many at Tanji (5).
Lesser Crested Tern (Sterna bengalensis) - Several at Tanji; easily compared to Royal and Sandwich Terns (1).
Sandwich Tern (Sterna sandvicensis) - Only at Tanji (1).
Royal Tern (Sterna maxima) - A few at Tanji, Bund Rd. and Tendaba (3).
Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) - Only seen at Bund Rd (1).
Black Tern (Chlidonias niger) - One at Kotu sewage ponds on 1/17 (1).
Four-banded Sandgrouse (Pterocles quadricinctus) - Pair seen well at Bansang Quarry (1).
Speckled Pigeon (Columba guinea) - Common (7).
Eurasian Turtle-Dove (Streptopelia turtur) - Small numbers seen upriver at Basse and Georgetown (1).
African Mourning Dove (Streptopelia decipiens) - Seen or heard at a variety of sites (4).
Red-eyed Dove (Streptopelia semitorquata) - Ubiquitous, seen everywhere (15).
Vinaceous Dove (Streptopelia vinacea) - Only slightly less common than Red-eyed Dove (11).
Laughing Dove (Streptopelia senegalensis) - Very common, seen at most sites (9).
Black-billed Wood-Dove (Turtur abyssinicus) - Common, a few seen at most sites (11).
Blue-spotted Wood-Dove (Turtur afer) - Only noted at Bijilo and along road to Georgetown (2).
Namaqua Dove (Oena capensis) - More common upriver, but a few seen at Brufut, Yundum, Faraba Banta (6).
Bruce's Green-Pigeon (Treron waalia) - A few seen in the Georgetown area and at Tendaba (2).
African Green-Pigeon (Treron calva) - Flocks seen at Brufut and Marakissa (2).
Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri) - Fairly common in open savannah (7).
Senegal Parrot (Poicephalus senegalus) - Also fairly common in open savannah (5).
Green Turaco (Tauraco persa) - Seen well at Abuko and Brufut (2).
Violet Turaco (Musophaga violacea) - Seen well at Abuko and along Georgetown road (2).
Western Grey Plantain-eater (Crinifer piscator) - Very common, seen at most sites (11).
Klaas' Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx klaas) - A female observed at Brufut on 1/16 (1).
Senegal Coucal (Centropus senegalensis) - Common, seen at most sites (11).
Verreaux's Eagle-Owl (Bubo lacteus) - Individuals seen at Brufut (day roost) and on Georgetown boat trip (2).
Pearl-spotted Owlet (Glaucidium perlatum) - Seen at Kotu, Fajara golf course, Tanji and the Senegambia (3).
Long-tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus climacurus) - Palma Rima scrub on 1/16; also flushed one at Brufut on 1/6 (2).
Mottled Spinetail (Telacanthura ussheri) - Seen on both visits to Brufut (1).
African Palm-Swift (Cypsiurus parvus) - Common, seen at most sites (11).
Little Swift (Apus affinis) - Only seen at Kotu sewage ponds on 1/5 (1).
Malachite Kingfisher (Alcedo cristata) - Individuals at Kotu creek, Tendaba creek tour and Basse ferry landing (3).
African Pygmy-Kingfisher (Ispidina picta) - One seen at the Senegambia on 1/4 (1).
Blue-breasted Kingfisher (Halcyon malimbica) - Common at Tendaba, Georgetown and Basse ferry landing (2).
Striped Kingfisher (Halcyon chelicuti) - Individuals seen at Brufut, Lamin Lodge and Yundum (3).
Giant Kingfisher (Megaceryle maxima) - Great views of one at Abuko crocodile pool. Another one at Bund Rd (2).
Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis) - Common, seen at most wetland sites (8).
Red-throated Bee-eater (Merops bulocki) - Colony at Bansang Quarry; individuals also seen in Basse area (1).
Little Bee-eater (Merops pusillus) - Common, seen at many sites (8).
Swallow-tailed Bee-eater (Merops hirundineus) - Individuals seen at a variety of wooded sites (6).
White-throated Bee-eater (Merops albicollis) - Group of 5-6 seen at Bijilo on all visits (1).
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Merops persicus) - Common around Banjul, on wires and flying overhead (4).
European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster) - Common inland (2).
Northern Carmine Bee-eater (Merops nubicus) - Flock of 12 at Basse rice fields (1).
Abyssinian Roller (Coracias abyssinica) - Very common inland. Also seen at Abuko, Bund Rd., Lamin Lodge (5).
Rufous-crowned Roller (Coracias naevia) - Small numbers seen at Brufut, Yundum, Faraba Banta and along roads (4).
Blue-bellied Roller (Coracias cyanogaster) - Seen at Kotu, Marakissa, Yundum and Pirang (5).
Broad-billed Roller (Eurystomus glaucurus) - Individuals seen only at Senegambia, Bijilo, Kotu and Tanji (4).
Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops) - Pair seen at Yundum and one along Georgetown road (2).
Green Wood-Hoopoe (Phoeniculus purpureus) - Fairly common, especially in somewhat wooded areas (7).
Black Wood-Hoopoe (Rhinopomastus aterrimus) - Seen at Brufut, Yundum, Marakissa and Tendaba (4).
Red-billed Hornbill (Tockus erythrorhynchus) - Very common, seen almost everywhere (13).
African Pied Hornbill (Tockus fasciatus) - Groups of 2-3 seen at Tanji, Marakissa and along Georgetown road (3).
African Grey Hornbill (Tockus nasutus) - Fairly common, seen at many sites, usually in pairs (8).
Abyssinian Ground-Hornbill (Bucorvus abyssinicus) - 3 groups of 3 seen in fields near Tendaba (1).
Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird (Pogoniulus chrysoconus) - Seen at Kotu, Brufut and the Senegambia (3).
Vieillot's Barbet (Lybius vieilloti) - One at Brufut on 1/6 and a pair at Yundum on 1/7 (2).
Bearded Barbet (Lybius dubius) - Common, seen at many sites (9).
Greater Honeyguide (Indicator indicator) - Both sexes seen at Yundum; male at Fajara golf course on 1/16 (2).
Lesser Honeyguide (Indicator minor) - Individuals seen at Brufut, Yundum and the Senegambia (3).
Eurasian Wryneck (Jynx torquilla) - One at Brufut on 1/6 (1).
Fine-spotted Woodpecker (Campethera punctuligera) - Seen at Brufut, Marakissa, Yundum and upriver (4).
Gray Woodpecker (Dendropicos goertae) - Common, seen at many sites (9).
Brown-backed Woodpecker (Dendropicos obsoletus) - One at Brufut on 1/6 and one at Faraba Banta (2).
Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark (Eremopterix leucotis) - Group of 3 seen at Pirang (1).
Crested Lark (Galerida cristata) - Fairly common at Pirang (1).
Red-chested Swallow (Hirundo lucida) - Small numbers seen at several places, both coastal and upriver (5).
Wire-tailed Swallow (Hirundo smithii) - Seen at Kotu, Yundum, Pirang and Faraba Banta (4).
Pied-winged Swallow (Hirundo leucosoma) - A few at Brufut and Faraba Banta (2).
Mosque Swallow (Hirundo senegalensis) - Several seen at Pirang and on Tendaba creek tour (2).
Red-rumped Swallow (Hirundo daurica) - Fairly common upriver in Georgetown and Bansang area (1).
House Martin (Delichon urbica) - Seen at Brufut and upriver (2).
Fanti Sawwing (Psalidoprocne obscura) - Several at Brufut on 1/6 (1).
White Wagtail (Motacilla alba) - Several at mud flats near Soma (1).
Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava) - A few seen at Kotu sewage ponds, Pirang, Yundum and Basse (4).
Plain-backed Pipit (Anthus leucophrys) - Several seen at Pirang (1).
Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis) - Several at Pirang (1).
Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike (Campephaga phoenicea) - One in flight at Brufut on 1/6 (1).
Common Bulbul (Pycnonotus barbatus) - Very common, seen almost everywhere (11).
Little Greenbul (Andropadus virens) - Seen well at Abuko and briefly at Brufut (2).
Yellow-throated Leaflove (Chlorocichla flavicollis) - Pairs at Tanji on 1/6 and along Georgetown road (2).
Gray-headed Bristlebill (Bleda canicapilla) - Seen very well at Abuko (1).
African Thrush (Turdus pelios) - Common in wooded areas and gardens (8).
Singing Cisticola (Cisticola cantans) - One singing at Yundum (1).
Plaintive Cisticola (Cisticola dorsti) - One on ground in open woodland east of Brumen Bridge (1).
Siffling Cisticola (Cisticola brachypterus) - One seen at Faraba Banta (1).
Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis) - Fairly common in tall grass (Kotu, Pirang, Faraba Banta, etc) (4).
Tawny-flanked Prinia (Prinia subflava) - Common in grassy areas (7).
Red-winged Warbler (Prinia erythroptera) - Pair at Brufut on 1/6 (1).
Yellow-breasted Apalis (Apalis flavida) - In canopy at Abuko (1).
Oriole Warbler (Hypergerus atriceps) - Common at Bijilo and in the Senegambia gardens (2).
Grey-backed Camaroptera (Camaroptera brachyuran) - Seen well at Bijilo and Yundum, but heard many places (3).
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus) - In reeds at Camaloo Corner (1).
Olivaceous Warbler (Hippolais opaca) - Common in coastal scrub areas and gardens (7).
Melodious Warbler (Hippolais polyglotta) - Fairly common in coastal scrub (5).
Green-backed Eremomela (Eremomela pusilla) - Fairly common in scrub areas (7).
Northern Crombec (Sylvietta brachyuran) - Fairly common in scrub areas (7).
Western Bonelli's Warbler (Phylloscopus bonelli) - Seen at Kotu, Yundum, Senegambia and Tendaba (4).
Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) - Several at the Senegambia and also seen at Bijilo (2).
Subalpine Warbler (Sylvia cantillans) - Fairly common, especially near water (e.g., in mangroves) (5).
Northern Black-Flycatcher (Melaenornis edolioides) - Seen at a variety of sites (6).
Swamp Flycatcher (Muscicapa aquatica) - A few seen on Georgetown boat trip (1).
Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat (Cossypha niveicapilla) - Seen at Bijilo, Abuko, Brufut and the Senegambia (4).
White-crowned Robin-Chat (Cossypha albicapilla) - Common and conspicuous at the Senegambia (1).
Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) - Seen at Yundum and Tendaba (3).
Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra) - One at Faraba Banta (1).
Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) - Individuals at Pirang and Basse (2).
Common Wattle-eye (Platysteira cyanea) - Seen at Abuko and on Tendaba creek tour (2).
Senegal Batis (Batis senegalensis) - Seen well at Brufut, Yundum and in open woodlands east of Brumen Bridge (3).
Red-bellied Paradise-Flycatcher (Terpsiphone rufiventer) - Several seen at Abuko and Marakissa (2).
African Paradise-Flycatcher (Terpsiphone viridis) - Individuals seen at Abuko and Bijilo (2).
Blackcap Babbler (Turdoides reinwardtii) - Common in wooded areas and gardens (6).
Brown Babbler (Turdoides plebejus) - Common in wooded areas and gardens (8).
Yellow Penduline-Tit (Anthoscopus parvulus) - Several foraging in long grass at Yundum (1).
Mouse-brown Sunbird (Anthreptes gabonicus) - Common along creek at Tendaba (1).
Western Violet-backed Sunbird (Anthreptes longuemarei) - Seen at Brufut and Faraba Banta (2).
Collared Sunbird (Hedydipna collaris) - One female high in canopy at Abuko (1).
Pygmy Sunbird (Hedydipna platura) - Male seen well at Faraba Banta, several in flight at Tendaba (3).
Scarlet-chested Sunbird (Chalcomitra senegalensis) - Seen well at Faraba Banta and along Georgetown road (3).
Beautiful Sunbird (Cinnyris pulchellus) - Common, seen at most sites (11).
Splendid Sunbird (Cinnyris coccinigaster) - Individuals seen at Brufut, Yundum, Faraba Banta, Senegambia (5).
Variable Sunbird (Cinnyris venustus) - Common at a variety of sites (8).
African Yellow White-eye (Zosterops senegalensis) - Several seen at Brufut on 1/6 and at Faraba Banta (2).
African Golden Oriole (Oriolus auratus) - Individuals seen at Fajara golf course, Marakissa and Faraba Banta (4).
Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator) - Seen at Brufut, Fajara golf course, Camaloo Corner and Bansang Quarry (4).
Yellow-billed Shrike (Corvinella corvine) - Common, seen at most sites (10).
Brubru (Nilaus afer) - Individuals seen well at Brufut on 1/16 and in open woodland east of Brumen Bridge (2).
Northern Puffback (Dryoscopus gambensis) - Common, seen in small numbers at many sites (8).
Black-crowned Tchagra (Tchagra senegala) - Seen at Brufut, Tanji and Yundum (3).
Yellow-crowned Gonolek (Laniarius barbarus) - Conspicuous at the Senegambia. Also at Bijilo, Tanji, Yundum (5).
Sulphur-breasted Bushshrike (Telophorus sulfureopectus) - One seen by Paul and Ebrima only at Marakissa (1).
White-crested Helmetshrike (Prionops plumatus) - Small parties at Abuko, Marakissa and on Georgetown road (3).
Fork-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus adsimilis) - Common, seen in wooded areas (8).
Piapiac (Ptilostomus afer) - Parties at Kotu, the Senegambia and at sites upriver (3).
Pied Crow (Corvus albus) - Very common, present at most sites (13).
Greater Blue-eared Glossy-Starling (Lamprotornis chalybaeus) - Seen at Senegambia, Bijilo, Marakissa, upriver (5).
Lesser Blue-eared Glossy-Starling (Lamprotornis chloropterus) - Only seen at Bansang Quarry (1).
Bronze-tailed Glossy-Starling (Lamprotornis chalcurus) - Common at the Senegambia, not noted elsewhere (1).
Purple Glossy-Starling (Lamprotornis purpureus) - At the Senegambia, Bijilo, Brufut, Yundum (5).
Long-tailed Glossy-Starling (Lamprotornis caudatus) - Very common in open areas (10).
Yellow-billed Oxpecker (Buphagus africanus) - Two at Yundum on 1/11. More common upriver (2).
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) - A few seen at the Senegambia (1).
Gray-headed Sparrow (Passer griseus) - Fairly common, seen at a variety of sites (8).
Bush Petronia (Petronia dentate) - Common at Bansang Quarry. One seen at the Senegambia (3).
White-billed Buffalo-Weaver (Bubalornis albirostris) - Flocks at Kotu, Camaloo Corner, Yundum and upriver (4).
Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver (Plocepasser superciliosus) - Several in open woodland near Brumen Bridge (1).
Little Weaver (Ploceus luteolus) - Individuals at Faraba Banta, Yundum on 1/11 and near Basse (3).
Black-necked Weaver (Ploceus nigricollis) - Fairly common in wooded areas (6).
Village Weaver (Ploceus cucullatus) - Ubiquitous, often in large flocks (13).
Yellow-backed Weaver (Ploceus melanocephalus) - Nests along river in Georgetown; questionable ID of birds (1).
Black-winged Red Bishop (Euplectes hordeaceus) - Several identified by Ebrima at Faraba Banta (1).
Northern Red Bishop (Euplectes franciscanus) - Common in open grassland (9).
Red-billed Firefinch (Lagonosticta senegala) - Common, seen at many sites (10).
Red-cheeked Cordonbleu (Uraeginthus bengalus) - Common, seen at many sites (10).
Lavender Waxbill (Estrilda caerulescens) - Small numbers at Senegambia, Bijilo, Lamin Lodge, Faraba Banta (4).
Orange-cheeked Waxbill (Estrilda melpoda) - A few individuals at Brufut and Lamin Lodge (2).
Black-rumped Waxbill (Estrilda troglodytes) - Only seen upriver (1).
African Quailfinch (Ortygospiza atricollis) - Seen well (with effort) at Pirang. Also at Basse rice fields (2).
African Silverbill (Lonchura cantans) - Pair in tall grass at Bansang Quarry (1).
Bronze Mannikin (Lonchura cucullata) - Common, flocks seen at most sites (11).
Cut-throat (Amadina fasciata) - Male and two females in open woodland east of Brumen Bridge (1).
Village Indigobird (Vidua chalybeate) - Only seen upriver, especially at Basse (1).
Pin-tailed Whydah (Vidua macroura) - Several seen at Yundum on 1/11 (1).
Exclamatory Paradise-Whydah (Vidua interjecta) - A few at Bansang Quarry (1).
Yellow-fronted Canary (Serinus mozambicus) - Fairly common in open woodland areas (5).
Cinnamon-breasted Bunting (Emberiza tahapisi) - Common at Bansang Quarry (1).