In the week before I went I contacted a local guide I met on my last trip and who, in my humble opinion, is one of the best there is and loves his birding. Musa Jatta has been guiding bird trips in Gambia and Senegal for 16 years and is a remarkably easy going and knowledgeable man, I will not go on and on but I highly recommend him and will put the details of his website and email at the bottom of the page and in the News Items Tab. I prefer to use local guides rather than the tour company excursions mainly because the cash goes to the local people instead of paying bonuses to high flying executives.
We did two formal sessions in total and a third short trip with another friend but the Gambia is such an amazing spot for birding that you can also do a good days birding just walking around the hotel gardens. In out case there was everything from Hooded Vulture, Yellow Billed Kite, Purple Glossy Starling, Hornbill, numerous types of pigeon and dove but more of that anon. I have separated this into two blogs, both quite large, the first is of birds from around the hotel grounds, the second from out and about.
Would I go back, well yes, I think Mrs B has already booked but one thing, your cards are redundant there, cash is king.
Anyhow trip advisor apart we arrived late in the evening and it was getting dark as we made or way to the hotel room. The noise of the birds was still all around and the excitement levels began to grow straight off.
|common bulbul (Pycnonotus barbatus)|
This chap used to spend every evening foraging in the grass outside our bedroom window. The Senegal Coucal is pretty common all over the area but we never did get to understand why everything else flew off when it arrived. A little research required there I think.
|Senegal coucal (Centropus senegalensis)|
I took lots of photos of the Cattle Egrets in the hotel grounds, decided to post this one as it shows how tame they were, they casually march up the poolside and pose, then drink before flying to the trees for a casual preen.
|cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis)|
|purple glossy starling (Lamprotornis purpureus),|
and not forgetting, of course, their long tailed cousins, the long tailed glossy starling.
|long-tailed glossy starling (Lamprotornis caudatus)|
|hooded vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus)|
Joining them were significant numbers of Yellow Billed Kites which did not hang round much after feeding but certainly arrived in large numbers bang on cue. At one session I spotted over 30 and unlike the vultures they never landed to eat, always catching food in the air.
|yellow-billed kite (Milvus aegyptius)|
|brown babbler (Turdoides plebejus)|
|brown babbler (Turdoides plebejus)|
|yellow-crowned gonolek (Laniarius barbarus)|
|pied crow (Corvus albus)|
|white-crowned robin-chat (Cossypha albicapilla)|
|cinnamon / broad billed roller (Eurystomus glaucurus)|
Pigeons and Doves were there in abundance with my old friend the Laughing Dove of Saudi being fairly common. However also very common were the Speckled Pigeon and a couple of other types, of which more later.
|speckled pigeon (Columba guinea)|
Across the country there are a number of members of the collared dove fraternity. These guys were outside the bedroom every day attracted by the peanuts put their by the German bloke across the garden.
|vinaceous dove (Streptopelia vinacea)|
Pretty common around the hotel though a little more secretive were the African Thrush, their liking for the dense trees and grey colour made them a little less evident than some of the more brightly coloured birds.
|African thrush (Turdus pelios)|
Anyhow, much as I enjoyed my birding around the hotel gardens and seeing the Blue Breasted Kingfisher which was way too fast for me to get a picture of there were other forms of life about
|green velvet monkey|
|red colobus monkeys|
This little chap just walked up the wall opposite us in the bar. Calm as you like. Just a taste of the birding around the Gambia, I have to say it is the most acceptable birding I have done for a while, most was done strolling around the Hotel Gardens or simply sitting outside our room, torture!! More anon.