Thursday, 1 March 2018

Birding in the Gambia 8th to 20th February 2018 Part 1

Blue-bellied Roller - Yoba, first positive identification from the car

Unusually for us, we booked just a few months before travel and opted for a package put together by Farakunku Lodges, where we spent the majority of nights.

Thursday 8th - Arrive 14:15 Banjul and transfer to Tanje.

There was no space for us at Farakunku on the first night and we stayed at the Tanje Ecolodges. The lodges were clean and we were aware that there was no hot water. In the afternoon, after arrival, we went down to the beach, watching gulls, terns and Storm Petrels. There were no waders on the beach there but a look through the scrub running along beside the beach gave some of our first species for our list.

Storm Petrel

Fishing boats at Ghanatown

Red-chested Swallow

Friday 9th - Tanje until transfer to Farakunku 14:30

Before breakfast we watched the birds coming in to the water pools to drink.

Western Bluebill


 Black-necked Weavers, Red-cheeked Cordon Bleu, 
Common Bulbul, and Black-billed Wood Dove

Vervet Monkey

We then walked through the forest (that was fairly quiet)  and out onto the beach. 
Here we setttled in with many familiar birds along the water's edge.

Bar-tailed Godwit


Caspian Tern

After transferring to Farakunku we sat in the bird and tree sanctuary for a while and had some good close views.

Fine-spotted Woodpecker

African Thrush

Beautiful Sunbird

Yellow-throated Gonolek

Long-tailed Glossy Starling

Saturday 10th - Abuko and Lamin Rice Fields

At Abuko we had some interesting non-bird sightings.

West African Crocodile

Red Colobus Monkey

Rock Python

Nile Monitor

Most birds that we saw were close to water.

Giant Kingfisher

Black Heron

African Harrier Hawk

Senegal Coucal

African Pygmy Kingfisher

Grey Woodpecker

After lunch at the delightfully quirky Lamin Lodge, located in the mangroves and where 'monkey sticks' were provided to keep the Vervets away from food while people are eating, we moved on to the rice fields.

Mud skipper

At the rice fields we walked between fields on the raised banks. There wasn't much water in the fields at all, but we still found a few birds.

Striated Heron

 Western Reef Heron

Dark Blue Pansy

African Spoonbill

Senegal Thick-knee

Greater Painted-snipe

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater

Our guide, Ebrima, also had a site for White-faced Scops Owl.

White-faced Scops Owl 

Sunday 11th - Brufut woods am, local walks pm.

The most striking thing about Brufut woods was the rubbish. A lot along the roads, some dumped in a shallow pit - and then you really appreciate regular rubbish collections, something that doesn't happen in the Gambia. Most of the rubbish is basically plastic, with no where for it to go it just sits there, for ever more!
As the day progressed it became increasingly hot, so finishing up at the water provided to attract birds to drink in a shady area (with seating for birders) was appreciated.

The vast majority of litter is plastic.

African Grey Hornbill

Hooded Vulture


Senegal Parrot

Orange-cheeked Waxbill, Yellow-fronted Canary and
Red-cheeked Cordon Bleu. 

Lizard Buzzard

Long-tailed Nightjar

In the afternoon we spent some time at Tujereng, exploring the pools and finding a Great Snipe, Snipe,  Spur-winged Goose, Black-winged Stilt, Broad-billed Roller, Kittilitz's Plover, Sedge Warbler, African Collared Dove and Tawny Eagle amongst others.

Muddy pools by the coast, Tujereng

Broad-billed Roller

Wood Sandpiper

Spotted Redshank

Kittlitz's Plover

Monday 12th - Bonto, Farasutu & Faraba Banta

A terrific start to the day with two owl species before breakfast and both in the grounds of  Farakunku lodges!

African Scops Owl

Pearl-spotted Owlet

As a result we were a little late setting off for our fist stop, Farasutu Forest where we were led to first where two White-faced Scops Owl were roosting, and then further into the forest was the addtional bonus of well hiden African Wood Owl roosting, but the Grey Eagle Owls had not be located in the windy conditions over night and had yet to be pinned down. 

White-faced Scops Owl 

A visit then to Farasutu Forest the Verreaux's Eagle Owl were found easily, but it was not quite warm and the forest was failry quite. We spent some time over lunch watching the water provided at the rangers station for a while.

Farasutu Forest

Verreaux's Eagle Owl one of a pair

The last location, Farara Banta, was a scrubby, open area. It was very hot by this time and undoubtedly, this affected the numbers of birds seen.

Baobab tree. Large pods are too tough for animals to break in to. 
Contents is a white powder, made into a drink
or mixed with sugar and eaten like sherbet.

Dark Chanting Goshawk

(Western) Red-billed Hornbill

Tuesday 13th - Penyam, Marakissa & Darsilami

Another day of trekking in our quest to see birds, first of all visiting the area of Penyam.

Red-billed Quelea

Little Bee-eater


Unidentified plant

The day was punctuated by a very good lunch at Marakissa where we listened to Pied Kingfishers on the river while we ate our ample meal, and again watching birds come down to water put out for them.

Purple Glossy Starling

Brown Babbler

Greater Honeyguide

Pia Piak (adult with black bill)

At the wetlands of Darsilami a Plain-backed Pipit was seen hunkered down in the only available shade.

Plain-backed Pipit

African Wattled Lapwing