Gambia March 2008

Gambia – 7th – 21st March 2008

Firstly I would like to dedicate this trip report to the couple I meet in the Gambia this Year. Who found my trip report for 2007 very helpful for their trip this year, Thank You.

Introduction

This was our third trip to The Gambia. Our previous trips were in November 2005 and March 2007.

Arrangements

We booked our holiday through Thomas Cook this time and stopped at the Senegambia Beach Hotel on a B&B basis for 14 nights which cost £1358.00 for two. This included insurance and surcharges. Food was good and the hotel staff brilliant

GUIDES

Yaya Barry

Was the guide we hired back in November 2005. We hired Yaya again for 4 days birding around the coast. Places we visited included Marakissa, Pirang, Makasutu, Kotu Creek, Abuko, Tanji and Tujering. Yaya’s price for 4 days birding £320 for two people.

Modou Jarju

We also hired Modou Jarju, the Senegambia Beach Hotel bird guide for a night out at the Nightjar site at a cost of 400 Dalasi per person. (roughly £10)

Babucarr Sanyang

Babu is the professional birdguide who is based at the Senegambia Tourist Guides hut near the Senegambia and Kariaba Hotels.

We hired Babu for a half day to the Bijolo Forest. Babu was a great help and is a good guide. Quick to point out the birds and any questions you may have.

We only hired Babu for this visit to Bijolo and it is so hard to get an overall picture, but he was good on the birds, polite, and did things by the book. I probably would hire him again on another visit. Cost was the standard 250 Dalasi hire for a guide.

If you do decided to hire a guide from the hut ensure you do do it by the book in front of everybody else and make sure it goes in the guide book in the hut, do agree a price before you go, including any taxis. If you don’t agree a price you may get caught out. If they won’t give you a price walk away. This has NO reflection on Babu who was good. This experience was with another Official Tourist Guide which makes it worse when it is one of the official guides. Babucarr can be contacted at babusanyang@yahoo.com

Health

Just Malarone at a cost of £55.01 from Tesco for 24 tablets = £2.29 per tablet, this includes the prescription price. See report for November if you are going for the first time

Flights

Flying to the Gambia took us about 6 to 6 1/2 hours. We left from Manchester at 08:20am and arrived at 02:45pm. Flight was on a 757-200.

Money

We decided on travellers cheques and a small amount of cash, left over from previous years. The exchange rate at the time was 40 Dalasi to the pound. We got 36 Dalasi to the pound in England at Thomas Cook (saying it was not worth buying in a this price). At the hotel we got 38 Dalasi to the pound, with between 38 and 40 Dalasi out of the hotel at the bureau down the road.

Sites and Highlights

Senegambia Beach Hotel

This is the place to be if you want to get close to birds. Stopping over for two weeks we managed to knock up a species list of 58 around the grounds. Taking the grounds bird list to a total of 79 species.

The Birds: Cattle Egret, Black Kite, “Yellow Billed” Black Kite, Hooded Vulture, Speckled Pigeon, Laughing Dove, Red-eyed Dove, Senegal Coucal, Little Swift, Red-billed Hornbill, Common Bulbul, African Thrush, White-crowned Robin Chat, Black Flycatcher, Brown Babbler, Blackcap Babbler, Beautiful Sunbird, Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Pied Crow, Purple Glossy Starling, Long-tailed Glossy Starling, House Sparrow, Grey-headed Sparrow, Black-necked Weaver, Village Weaver, Red-billed Firefinch, Red-cheeked Cordon Bleu, Bronze Mannakin, Green Wood Hoopoe, Western Grey Plantain Eater, Broad-billed Roller, Caspian Tern, Grey-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, African Palm Swift, Grey Hornbill, Piapiac, Senegal Parrot, Shikra, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Bearded Barbet, Tree Pipit, Wattled Plover, Yellow-billed Shrike, Lavender Waxbill, African Harrier Hawk, Grey Woodpecker, Fine Spotted Woodpecker, Abyssinian Roller, Osprey, Wire Tailed Swallow, Variable Sunbird, Royal Tern, Lesser Honeyguide, Royal Tern, Slender Billed Gull, Kelp Gull, Black Shouldered Kite, Red Necked Falcon,

There were also reports of Golden Tailed Woodpecker at the Kariaba Hotel next door.

Bijolo Forest park 10.03.08 with Babu time 09:00 to 13:00

The Birds : Pied Crow, Hooded Vulture, Black Kite, Shikra, Common Kestrel, Grey Kestrel, Double Spurred Francolin, Laughing Dove, Black Billed Wood Dove, Blue Spotted Wood Dove, Vinaceous Dove, Red Eyed Dove, Senegal Coucal, Piapiac, Green Wood Hoopoe, African Palm Swift, Blue Bellied Roller, Little Bee Eater, Yellow Fronted Tinkerbird, Red Billed Hornbill, Grey Hornbill, Grey Woodpecker, Common Bulbul, Oriole Warbler, Blackcap Babbler, Brown Babbler, Snowy Crowned Robin Chat, Grey Backed Camaroptera, Beautiful Sunbird, Yellow Billed Shrike, Village Weaver.

Makasutu 12.03.08 with Yaya Barry

The Birds : African Golden Oriole, Grey Woodpecker, Fine Spotted Woodpecker, Fork Tailed Drongo, Red Bellied Paradise Flycatcher, Bearded Barbet, Hooded Vulture, Black Kite, “Yellow Billed” Black Kite, Greater Honeyguide, Lesser Honeyguide, Pied Winged Swallow, Mottled Spinetail, Blue Bellied Roller, Abyssinian Roller, Yellow Billed Oxpecker, Yellow Billed Shrike, Grey Hornbill, Red Billed Hornbill, Piapiac, Green Wood Hoopoe, Gabar Goshawk, Lanner Falcon, Booted Eagle(Pale Phase), Spur Winged Plover, Wattled Plover, Red Eyed Dove, Grey Kestrel, Lizard Buzzard, Beautiful Sunbird, Western Grey Plantain Eater, White Faced Scops Owl, African Hobby, Brown Babbler, Whalbergs Eagle, Violet Turaco, Cattle Egret, Tawny Flanked Prinia, African Green Pigeon, Rose Ringed Parakeet, Common Bulbul, European Marsh Harrier, African Harrier Hawk.

Pirang 12.03.08 with Yaya Barry

The Birds : Crested Lark, Western Reef Heron, Senegal Thick Knee, Great White Egret, Greenshank, Blue Cheeked Bee Eater, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Wire Tailed Swallow, Gull Billed Tern, Hammerkop, Yellow Throated Longclaw, Quail Finch, Pied Kingfisher.

Marakissa 12.03.08 with Yaya Barry

The Birds : Giant Kingfisher, Long Tailed Glossy Starling, Purple Glossy Starling, Greater Honeyguide, Intermediate Egret, Greenshank, Bronze Mannakin, African Thrush, Lizard Buzzard, Black Kite, Spur Winged Plover, Senegal Thick knee, Blue Bellied Roller, Common Bulbul, Spotted Honeyguide, Broad Billed Roller, Striated Heron, Orange Cheeked Waxbill, Long Crested Hawk Eagle.

Kotu Creek/Sewage Farm and Cycle Track 13.03.08 with Yaya Barry

The Birds: Little Grebe, Long-tailed Cormorant, Pink-backed Pelican, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Striated Heron, Black Crowned Night Heron, Black Egret, Little Egret, Western Reef Heron, Intermediate Egret, Great White Egret, Grey Heron, Hammerkop,Yellow Billed Stork, Sacred Ibis, African Spoonbill, White-faced Whistling Duck, Black Kite, Hooded Vulture, African Harrier Hawk, Shikra, Lizard Buzzard, Red Necked Falcon, Black Crake, African Jacana, Senegal Thick Knee, Black-winged Stilt, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Wattled Plover, Spur-winged Plover, Whimbrel, Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Common Redshank, Caspian Tern, Grey Headed Gull, Gull Billed Tern, Speckled Pigeon, Laughing Dove, Vineaceous Dove, Red Eyed Dove, Piapiac, Rose Ringed Parakeet, Western Grey Plantain Eater, Senegal Coucal, Blue Breasted Kingfisher, Malachite Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Little Bee Eater, Abyssinian Roller, Blue Bellied Roller, Broad Billed Roller, Green Wood Hoopoe, Red Billed Hornbill, Grey Hornbill, Bearded Barbet, Grey Woodpecker, Wire Tailed Swallow, Variable Sunbird, Beautiful Sunbird, Yellow Billed Shrike, Fork Tailed Drongo, Common Bulbul, Pied Crow, Zitting Cisticola, White Billed Buffalo Weaver, Village Weaver, Red Billed Firefinch, Bronze Mannikin, Northern Crombec, Red Cheeked Cordon Bleu, Spur Winged Goose.

On our walk round we had no hassles and saw no one being hassled. This is one of the areas that seems to get it’s fair share but we saw nothing and were not challenged.

Nightjar Site 13.03.08 PM with Modou Jarju, the Senegambia Hotel Bird Guide

We were taken to the site by Modou the Senegambia Beach Hotel bird guide. Nightjar species seen were: Long-tailed Nightjar and Standard-winged Nightjar.
Before the Nightjars we had a visit again to Kotu Creek to find Painted Snipe to an area we were assured was nailed on. Should see 5 or 6 birds no problem – we saw 1 male bird along with a Black Headed Heron and Marsh Sandpiper.

Abuko Rice Fields 15.03.08 with Yaya Barry

The Birds : Tawny Flanked Prinia, Red Bellied Paradise Flycatcher, Red Eyed Dove, Mourning Dove, Black Billed Wood Dove, Black Flycatcher, Vinaceous Dove, Hooded Vulture, Beautiful Sunbird, Splendid Sunbird, Bearded Barbet, Lavender Waxbill, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, African Jacanna, Red Billed Hornbill, Grey Hornbill, Fork Tailed Drongo, Black Crake, Village Weaver, Black Egret, Darter, Hammerkop, Intermediate Egret, Piapiac, Senegal Parrot, Striated Heron, Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Pied Kingfisher, Little Egret, Common Bulbul, Barn Swallow.

Abuko Nature Reserve 15.03.08 with Yaya Barry

The Birds : Little Greenbul, Common Bulbul, Red Eyed Dove, Purple Heron, Pied Hornbill, Darter, Malachite Kingfisher, Grey Heron, Black Egret, Fork Tailed Drongo, Fanti Saw Wing, Blue Spotted Wood Dove, Hammerkop, Pied Hornbill, Western Grey Plantain Eater, Wattled Plover, Black Crowned Night Heron, Grey Headed BristlebillKlass Cuckoo, Grey Woodpecker, Grey Kestrel, Yellow Breasted Apalis, Lanner Falcon, Pink Backed Pelican, Blue Bellied Roller

Tujering Site 16.03.08 with Yaya Barry

The Birds: Hooded Vulture, Osprey, Pied Crow, Palm Nut Vulture, Black Kite, Long Crested Eagle, Lizard Buzzard, Double Spurred Francolin, Laughing Dove, Red Eyed Dove, African Palm Swift, Striped Kingfisher, White Fronted Black Chat, African Palm Swift, Singing Cisticola, Green Backed Eremomela Scarlet Chested Sunbird, Western Violet Backed Sunbird, Woodchat Shrike, Purple Glossy Starling, Yellow-fronted Canary, Chestnut Crowned Sparrow Weaver, Grey-headed Sparrow, Little Weaver, Red Cheeked Cordon Bleu, Black Crowned Tchagra, Yellow Billed Oxpecker, Vieillot’s Barbet, European Hoopoe, Black Headed Heron, Common Bulbul, Red Bishop, Plaintive Cisticola, Whinchat, Vitelline Masked Weaver, Fine Spotted Woodpecker, Abyssinian Roller, Cut Throat Finch, Yellow Penduline Tit, Northern Crombec

Tanji Beach, 16.03.08 with Yaya Barry

The Birds: Grey Headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Kelp Gull, Caspian Tern, Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern, Sanderling, Turnstone, Bar Tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Pink-backed Pelican, White Pelican, Western Reef Heron, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Grey Heron, Little Egret

Total bird tally for the hols = 179 with 9 of those lifers (Bold)

Miscellaneous

Take plenty of water with you when you are out and about. Cost in the local supermarket for 6-off 1.5 litre bottles 125 Dalasi

The weather was hot and sunny during our 14 day stay in the Gambia with the occasional light hazy cloud. Plenty of sun cream was needed. It was pleasant to about 11:00am and then Hot till about 04:00pm. Anything between 81° F and 106° F

“Bumsters” you will come across, they are a part of the Gambian culture, be polite and strong they will get the message, there is no need to be rude.

Field Guides

A Field Guide to the Birds of the Gambia and Senegal – Clive Barlow, Tim Watcher and Tony Disley. ISBN 1-873403-32-1

DVD’s

These are by Malcolm Rymer and are a must before you go a great introduction. There are three in all:

1. Sorties around the Smiling Coast
2. Forays Further afield
3. Upriver Odyssey

These can be bought through his web site http://www.wildlifevideos.net/

Reports

Try also http://www.birdtours.co.uk/

Useful Web Sites

www.nigelblake.co.uk
http://www.fatbirder.com/links_geo/africa/gambia.html
http://www.bsc.gm/birdlinks.htm
http://www.camacdonald.com/birding/africagambia.htm

White Crowned Robin Chat

White Crowned Robin Chat

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