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A Report from

THE GAMBIA   2nd – 9th MARCH 2001,

John Kirby



These are notes of a birding trip to The Gambia based on the Tanji tour offered by Gambia Experience and on trips arranged by us.


We booked with Gambia Experience staying at Bakotu Hotel on a bed and breakfast basis and including the Tanji tour. We flew from Manchester by JMC. The seats did not have much legroom, but the food was reasonable. You have to pay for all drinks and headphones.

Holidays to The Gambia


Flights from Manchester and Gatwick arrive within half-hour of each other. 600 people and all their baggage causing chaos in the small airport.

The porters gave us a lot of hassle trying to carry the cases for £1 coins and purporting to be attached to the tour operators. Then they demanded another £1 coin to put the bags on the bus roof rack. We refused and after much arguing the bags were put on the racks. Transfer to the hotel took about 40 minutes.


The Bakotu Hotel gave us 21.20 Dalasis to the pound, one of the best rates. We got 21.50 from a black market dealer without too much bother. We were told hotels such as Senegambia and Atlantic were only giving 18 or 19 to the pound.


The Bakotu Hotel is small and friendly sited near Kotu Bridge and Fajara golf course. It has a pool and there are several beach restaurants nearby that are good value : i.e.- AliBaba,  Sailors and Il Mondo. An evening meal with drinks cost about £8-10 per person.


Whilst it is possible to do The Gambia oneself using taxis, a guide will prove invaluable. A guide will stop other Gambians hassling you, can identify the birds quickly and know the sites well.

I wrote to one from England – Gib Saidy – telling him my hotel and arrival time and he turned up there. I arranged a days birding with him for £85 for two of us – including a driver and car and he was very good. His only vice was his chain-smoking.

Gib Saidy,
PO Box 2239.
The Gambia  -     Tel  (220) 370031 or (220) 392259

I also bumped into Dawda Barry and agreed two 3-hour sessions with him for £5 a person each trip, and he proved good also.

Dawda Barry.
30a, Grant Street,
The Gambia.
West Africa.
Tel – 460362

On the Tanji trip we had Sering Bojang as a guide and he was excellent knowing all the calls. He also does independent guiding.

Sering Bojang
C/o Bakary Bojang.
President’s Office
State House
West Africa Tel – 472140

I also met Lamin Sibbideh who appeared very knowledgeable but wanted £22 per person for ½ days birding.


Virtually none seen, no mosquitoes but we still took anti-malarial tablets. (Doxycycline)


Hot and sunny throughout. No humidity. Daytime temperature ranged from 32C to 40C.  By 11.30 am it was too hot and the birds had disappeared. It was cool enough by 5 pm to re-start. We did try birding in the afternoon but it was a waste of time.


Abuko  with Sering.

The reserve opens at 8 am. We didn’t do the extension due to the heat.

Gambia River with Sering.

Took a boat from Denton Bridge and slowly sailed to Banjul Port where we  disembarked and walked along the Bund Road a short distance

 Brufut Wood with Sering.

This was an afternoon trip and a waste of time due to the heat. A morning trip would have been more productive.

Tanji Reserve with Sering.

A morning trip including the lagoon and was very good. We went on to Tanji village to see the Tabaski celebrations.

Lamin Creek and Rice fields.

An early morning start for “ Birds and Breakfast” trip. The tide was in so the river wasn’t very good, but the walk around the rice fields was excellent.

Marakissa Woods with Gib.

This was a whole day trip and very interesting early on. After lunch the birds dried up as the heat increased.

Fajara Golf course and Kotu Creek with Dawda.

A morning trip and we saw all the common species easily.

Kotu Creek and Nightjars with Dawda.

A late afternoon trip around Kotu Creek and then walking to the rear of the Palma Rima Hotel for the Nightjars which appeared at 7.45 pm.

Kotu Creek and sewage pools with Gib.

A free late afternoon 2hr trip. The men at the sewage pools demanded money to view the pools which Gib refused to pay. We left after an argument. By then we had seen the birds anyway.

Fajara Golf Course.

This was an early evening trip by ourselves without a guide. We were continually hassled by every Gambian who passed by offering to show us the owl we had been shown by Dawda. But we eventually shook them off with a firm “No thank you “!

Senegambia Hotel.

We visited this hotel late one morning. The gardens are extensive and the birds confiding, providing good photographic opportunities. (Gonolek, Coucal, Long tailed Glossy Starling, African Thrush and Snowy crowned Robin Chat.) The hotel has a resident birdman and they feed the vultures at 11.30 am each day. Bijilo Wood is near the hotel and I was told it was worth an early morning visit by birders staying at the hotel. I did not go there due to lack of time.


          Birds of The Gambia and Senegal.             -  Barlow, Wacher and Disley.

          The Gambia Birdwatching Report.            -  Sonja Tausch-Treml & Rainer Tempel.

          A Birdwatchers Guide to The Gambia       -  R. Ward

          Trip Report – The Gambia           - Tony and Viv Day  (internet)

         Trip Report – The Gambia           -  Gruff Dodd

A total of 192 species were seen.

Birds seen every day.

Cattle Egret      Rose Ringed Parakeet        

Great White Egret       Western Grey Plantain Eater

Western Reef Egret         Palm-Nut Vulture

Grey Heron       Senegal Coucal     

Hammerkop              Pied Kingfisher

Hooded Vulture    Common Bulbul

Spur Winged Plover      Piapiac

Wattled Plover  Grey-headed Sparrow

Whimbrel          Pied Crow

Common Sandpiper         Red-billed Firefinch

Marsh Sandpiper              Red –cheeked Cordon Bleu

Grey Headed Gull            Village Weaver

Red Eyed Dove Little Bee-Eater

Laughing Dove                Vinaceous Dove

Senegal Parrot   Wire Tailed Swallow

Bronze Mannakin

Birds seen at specific sites.

Abuko Nature Reserve.

Black Crowned Night Heron    Little Greenbul

Striated Heron    White-Crowned Robin Chat

Great White Egret    Grey-Backed Camaroptera

Black-headed Heron    Common Wattle Eye

African Darter   

African Harrier Hawk    Collared Sunbird

Shikra      Scarlet-Chested Sunbird

African Hobby    Splendid Sunbird

Blue-Spotted Wood Dove    Black-Necked Weaver

Black-Billed Wood Dove    Hybrid Paradise Flycatcher

Violet Turaco    Tree Pipit

Green Turaco    Mottled Spinetail

Swallow-Tailed Bee-Eater    Blue-breasted Kingfisher

Blue-Cheeked Bee-Eater    Giant Kingfisher

Blue-bellied Roller    African Thrush

Pied-Winged Swallow    Black Crake

Fanti’s Sawwing    Green Wood-Hoopoe

Kotu Area including Fajara Golf Course

Little Grebe    White-backed Vulture

Grey Plover    Yellow-throated Longclaw

Black-headed Plover    Barn Swallow

Wood Sandpiper    Little Swift

Black Egret    Pallid Swift

Double –spurred Francolin    Piapiac

Senegal ThickKnee    White-Faced Whistling Duck

Ruff    Black-headed Plover

Red-necked Falcon    Pearl Spotted Owlet

Black-Shouldered Kite    SubAlpine Warbler

Turnstone    Yellow-Throated Leaflove

Little Gull    House Sparrow

Long-tailed Nightjar    White-billed Buffalo Weaver

River trips and Bund Road.

Goliath Heron    Black-Tailed Godwit

Sacred Ibis    Bar-Tailed Godwit

Mouse-Brown Sunbird    Oystercatcher

Curlew Sandpiper    Redshank

Black-headed Gull    Royal Tern

Yellow-billed Stork    Sandwich Tern

Lesser Black-Backed Gull    Caspian Tern

Gull-Billed Tern    Blue-Headed Wagtail

African Spoonbill    Namaqua Dove

Osprey    Speckled Pigeon

Black-Winged Stilt    Mourning Dove

Pied Avocet    Yellow Wagtail

Ringed Plover    White Wagtail

Sanderling    Great Cormorant

Eurasian Curlew    Pink-Backed Pelican

Marsh Harrier    Grey-Headed Bristlebill

Tanji Reserve and Lagoon

White Pelican    Yellow Wagtail

Purple Heron    Tawny-flanked Prinia

Lizard Buzzard    Blackcap Babbler

Long Crested Eagle    Brown Babbler

White-Fronted Plover    Variable Sunbird

Greenshank    Splendid Sunbird   

Slender-Billed Gull    Beautiful Sunbird

Crested Lark    Yellow-billed Shrike

Mottled Spinetail    Brubru

Pygmy Kingfisher    Black-crowned Tchagra

Broad-Billed Roller    Sulphur-bellied Bush Shrike

Red-Billed Hornbill    Sudan Golden Sparrow

African grey Hornbill    Northern Black Flycatcher

African Pied Hornbill    Bush Petronia

Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird    Lavender Waxbill

Lesser Honeyguide    Orange-cheeked Waxbill

Mosque Swallow

Tanji Village and Brufut Wood.

African green Pigeon

Red-Chested Swallow

European Swift

Rufous Cisticola

African Reed Warbler

Marakissa Area

Squacco Heron    Grey-Backed Camaroptera

Short-Toed Eagle    Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher

Grey Kestrel    African Golden Oriole

African Jacana    Fork-tailed Drongo   

Wood Sandpiper    Purple Glossy Starling

Klaas’s Cuckoo    Long-Tailed Glossy Starling

Malachite Kingfisher    Black Scimitarbill

Abyssinian Roller    White-Crested HelmetShrike

Greater Honeyguide    Bearded Barbet

Fine-Spotted Woodpecker    Whinchat

Grey Woodpecker

Birds and Breakfast – Lamin Rice Fields


Melodious Warbler

Quail Finch

Sand Martin

Black-Winged Bishop

Green-Backed Eremomela

Yellow-Billed Oxpecker

Northern Red Bishop

Willow Warbler

Black Kite

Green Sandpiper



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