The Gambia is one of the smallest countries in Africa, but its position straddling the humid coastal zone and the drier savanna gives it a large avifauna. The coastal strip is popular with sun-seeking tourists, so there are good hotel facilities as a base for some varied birding. A few remnant primary afrotropical forest areas remain, together with mangroves, agricultural land, and various types of open woodland and scrub.
Up country the conditions are more primitive, but access to the savannah, and to the wetlands within it, makes the trip worthwhile. A major road-building project should be completed in a couple of years, making the journey much more comfortable, and perhaps stimulating the development of better tourist accommodation.
The weather was consistently hot and sunny and needed some acclimatisation, but liberal use of sun-screen and a good supply of water prevented any problems.
The birds were fantastic. Bright colours were everywhere - we saw 8 species of kingfisher, 8 species of bee-eater, 4 rollers, and 2 turacos. Big birds were everywhere - 31 species of raptor including 2 majestic martial eagles, and herons, egrets, storks and pelicans all over the place. And so many other really nice birds - 3 hornbills, two species of eagle owl and two scops owls, and the ubiquitous Long-tailed Glossy Starlings. But the real star was the Egyptian Plover - not just for its rarity, but because it really is a very smart little bird which lets you get close enough to see it in all its finery.
We left Gatwick mid-morning and arrived at the Kombo Beach Hotel around 18.00. The group walked to the nearby Koto stream bridge and watched waders, crabs and mudskippers on the mud at low tide, meeting our guide, Mamadou Jallow en route.
Day 2 7th November.
An early morning visit to the Lamin ricefields yielded good views of Senegal Parrots, Red-billed Hornbills, some Double-spurred Francolins and a number of colourful butterflies. We moved to the Abuko Reserve, a protected area of old-growth afrotropical forest and ponds. Everyone saw the White-backed Night-heron roosting in the bushes and delighted in good views of Violet Turacos and a Snowy-crowned Robin-chat along the path side.
Lunch at the Lamin Lodge (a wooden building on stilts over a tidal creek) gave us a chance to watch Mouse-brown Sunbirds and Pied Kingfishers. A walk around surrounding fields familiarised us with colourful birds such as Red Bishop, Beautiful and Red-chested Sunbirds and Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird. An early return to the Hotel allowed us a productive dusk walk beyond Kotu stream when we heard and then saw Long-tailed Nightjars.
Day 3 8th November.
Our morning visit was to Farasuto Forest. This is a recently-protected primary forest owned by the local community, and our guide Mamadou is very much involved in its protection and development. Among the abundant birds were African Pied Hornbill, Pygmy Kingfisher (looking like a large butterfly in flight), and White-faced Scops Owl. After a picnic lunch in Pirang Forest, Mamadou's quest yielded great views of a pair of magnificent Verreaux's Eagle Owls - flashing their pink eyelids! A late afternoon walk along the Farabanta Bush Trail gave us our first encounter with a flock of White-crested Helmetshrikes and with a pair of circling Grasshopper Buzzards.
Day 4 9th November.
The journey to Tendaba stopped as soon as it began for a Giant Kingfisher at the Koto bridge. We moved on to the Kuloro wetlands where we found Sandwich and Caspian Terns, migrants like Northern Wheatear and Yellow Wagtail, and watched wheeling Little Swifts feeding young at their nests. A host of waders on the mud was watched over by a Goliath Heron. At the shrimp farm (where we were unable to enter the main part as they were harvesting shrimps that day) we had excellent views of Yellow-crowned Bishops and Pin-tailed Whydahs.
At our picnic stop we found Senegal Batis, Yellow-bellied Hyliota and Brubru, and stops along the road were needed for some spectacular raptors - Lizard Buzzard, Lanner Falcon and Bateleur.
After a long trip along dusty roads we stopped for a welcome break at Brumang Bridge, where we found a Red-necked Falcon in a tree, then watched Yellow-billed and Woolly-necked Storks, White-faced Whistling Ducks and a Comb Duck in the nearby wetland. A Black Stork flew by - a great rarity for The Gambia. Our last stop near Tendaba turned up Stone Partridges, 4-banded Sandgrouse, Bruce's Green Pigeon and a Pearl-spotted Owlet which replied to Mamadou's call.
Day 5 10th November.
An excellent 3-hour river boat ride from Tendaba River Camp through the mangroves along Kissy Bolong and Tunku Bolong started the day. Plenty of stunning Blue-bellied Kingfishers (as well as Grey-headed, Woodland, Malachite and Pied), Swallow-tailed and White-throated Bee-eaters accompanied our boat. Raptors like Osprey, African Fish Eagle, Beaudoin's Snake Eagle and Shikra watched our progress.
Another long dusty journey along the South Bank roads was relieved by stops for a Wahlberg's Eagle and two magnificent Martial Eagles. We arrived at Baobolong Camp on Georgetown Island just after dark.
Day 6 11th November.
Our mission today was to find the Egyptian Plover! We travelled along the North Bank, stopping at several waterholes and wetlands. As we slowed at the first, Barbara cried 'Stop!' - our target was there, by the roadside. We had excellent views of 3 birds there, but found 5 others in the Kaur area, and a further 4 at our lunch stop, Nyanga Bantang. Many other species entertained us such as Sudan Golden Sparrow, Collared Pratincoles, but especially the Exclamatory Paradise Whydahs, with their improbably long tails (and looking for all the world like flying newts!). Our lunch was beside a waterhole where groups of bright butterflies including the White Lady Swallowtail were photographed.
After a brief return to camp we set off on a late afternoon river boat cruise around Georgetown Island, and had good views of Red Colobus and Patas Monkeys and Western Baboons. There were terrapins and a swimming Monitor Lizard, and some even saw a Hippo.
As we ate our meal in the open air, we were serenaded by the squeaky calls of Epauletted Fruit Bats in the trees above.
Day 7 12th November.
Breakfast under the trees allowed us to see a Fine-spotted Woodpecker. Afterwards, our first destination was Bansang Quarry where we found a colony of Red-throated Bee-eaters, and some good raptors such as a Booted Eagle, a melanistic Gabar Goshawk, and a Red-necked Falcon. After lunch at Jahally Swamp we walked through the rice fields and were astonished to find a bird recorded very rarely inland in The Gambia - a very confiding Grey Phalarope! Typical African birds like Red-billed Quelea and Marabou Stork were joined by very European Sedge Warblers and a Marsh Harrier. An evening walk from our Camp gave us excellent views of several 4-banded Sandgrouse and another Pearl-spotted Owlet, but nightjars proved elusive. An African Scops Owl got us out of bed shortly after we had turned in for the night.
Day 8 13th November.
Our journey back to Tendaba was along the better roads of the North Bank. We stopped to check on the Egyptian Plovers (4 this morning not 3), and then diverted to some rice fields - very productive as we found a fishing Black Heron, several elusive Black Coucals and a Long-crested Eagle. A stop at Wassu stone circles (dating from AD73 apparently) gave us wonderful views of Carmine Bee-eaters, followed by finches like White-rumped Seedeaters and African Silverbills, and raptors such as both Beaudoin's and Brown Snake Eagles.
A hot sweep through scrubby grassland flushed a Black-bellied Bustard, which was spotted and immediately chased by a Tawny Eagle - thankfully unsuccessful! A visit to Baobolong wetlands was slightly disappointing because the heavy rains in the wet season had covered the mud (but it was good for a paddle). Gull-billed, Caspian and White-winged Terns were present, as was a Slender-billed Gull.
A very battered ferry at Farafenye carried us back to the south bank and its dusty roads. A final stop at dusk produced 4 species of sunbird, Brown-rumped Bunting, Senegal Batis and Bush Petronia. It was dark when we reached Tendaba.
Day 9 14th November.
An early morning walk behind Tendaba Camp was not as productive as hoped for - the ample rains had made the grass grow too high, and this made ground-dwelling birds impossible to find. We travelled back to the coast, making various stops en-route. At the Kampanti rice-fields we found 8 species of raptors, including excellent perched views of Lizard Buzzard and Grasshopper Buzzard. Two pairs of Blue-bellied Rollers posed for photos. Good views of Klaas and Dideric Cuckoos enlivened our lunch stop at Bamaquno Forest. Later we dropped in on Faroba Scrub Reserve where we shown a pair of roosting Greyish Eagle Owls by a local guide. We were all pleased to return to the excellent showers at the Kombo Beach Hotel.
Day 10 15th November.
Today we explored local reserves and woodlands (Tujereng Woods, Tanji Bird Reserve, Brufut Woods) to catch up on species missed so far. We were rewarded with 3 Bearded Barbets looking like 3 gossiping old men, and a Vieillot’s Barbet. We were charmed by a squadron of White-crested Helmetshrikes which squabbled above our heads after responding to Mamadou's owl call. Lunch under a fine mango tree at a quiet restaurant was interrupted by Red-bellied Paradise Flycatchers, Red-billed Hornbills and Green Woodhoopoes. Sitting quietly in the hide in Brufut Woods was rewarded by a pair of rare Ahanta Francolins creeping out of the undergrowth. Good views of a stunning Green Turaco and a White-faced Scops Owl rounded off the birding.
After the usual excellent buffet dinner, a walk along the Hotel's beach revealed lots of crabs scurrying in and out of the waves.
Day 11 16th November.
This was our last full day , and our targets were the hard-to-see forest skulkers we had missed so far. We spent the morning in Farasuto Forest, where we were greeted by excellent views of a singing Oriole Warbler, but after that we had to work hard. We eventually all saw Buff-spotted Woodpecker, Leaflove, a singing (and rare) Green Crombec, Collared Sunbird and African Goshawk.
We moved south to have lunch at the Marakissi River Camp, where we spent the afternoon. Birds coming to their water troughs included the Yellow-throated Leaflove, Black-capped Babblers and various glossy starlings. A walk to the wetlands was rewarded with good views of 3 Painted Snipes and a Little Bittern. As we left a Shikra watched us from a low branch.
Day 12 17th November.
Our final morning was a return to Abuko Forest Reserve . We were entertained by excellent views of both Green and Violet Turacos chasing each other through the trees. Our last new bird was a lovely male Western Bluebill. We returned to the Hotel in time to pack and have lunch, before our flight back to Gatwick.
Great White Pelican – Pelecanus onocrotalus
A flock of 35 flew high over Brumang Bridge on the 9th.
Pink Backed Pelican – Pelecanus rufescens
Recorded in small numbers on 7 dates with a maximum of 50 on the 10th.
Great Cormorant – Phalacrocorax carbo
Just 2 recorded in flight on the 10th.
Long Tailed Cormorant – Phalacrocorax africanus
Recorded on 4 dates, with a maximum of 20 on the 13th.
African Darter – Anhinga rufa
Recorded on the river boat trip out of Georgetown on the 10th when 15 were recorded.
Grey Heron – Ardea cinerea
Recorded on 8 dates in small numbers, with the daily maximum of 10 on the 10th on the river boat trip out of Georgetown.
Black Headed Heron – Ardea melanocephala
Recorded almost daily with a daily maximum of 20 on the 11th.
Goliath Heron – Ardea goliath
Just a single bird was seen on the 9th at one of the stops as we travelled to Tendaba.
Purple Heron – Ardea purpurea
Three singles seen on the 7th, 13th & 16th.
Great White Egret – Egretta alba
Common, recorded on 8 dates.
Black Heron – Egretta ardesiaca
Just recorded on the 10th when 10 were seen at a swamp on a stop over on the drive to Georgetown.
Intermediate Egret – Egretta intermedia
Recorded in small numbers on 6 dates with daily maximums of 12 on the 10th & 13th.
Little Egret – Egretta garzetta
Just recorded on 4 dates with a daily maximum of 6 on the 13th.
Western Reef Egret – Egretta gularis
Common in suitable habitat, recorded virtually daily with a maximum of 25 on the 10th on the river boat trip out of Georgetown.
Cattle Egret – Bubulcus ibis
Very common with several thousand seen during the trip.
Squacco Heron – Ardeola ralloides
Recorded on 7 dates with a daily maximum of 60 on the 11th.
Striated Heron – Butorides striata
Recorded in low numbers on 7 dates, with a daily maximum of 6 on the 11th.
Black Crowned Night Heron – Nycticorax nycticorax
Recorded on 7 dates with a daily maximum of 10 on the 11th.
White Backed Night Heron - Gorsachius leuconotus
An early highlight to the trip when a near-adult was found at its day time roost at Abuko on the 7th, followed by 2 juveniles at Farasuto Forest on the 16th.
Little Bittern – Ixobrychus minutus
An adult male was flushed from some reeds at Marakissi River Camp on the 16th.
Hammerkop – Scopus umbretta
Recorded on 8 dates in small numbers with a daily maximum of 12 on the 10th.
Yellow Billed Stork – Mycteria ibis
Just recorded on 2 dates with 3 on the journey to Tendaba on the 9th, and 8 seen on the 10th.
Black Stork – Ciconia nigra
An adult flew past us at close range at the swamp near Brumen Bridge on the 9th. Considered to be a rare bird in the Gambia with just the odd records seen annually.
Barlow considers it to be a rare/scarce migrant to West Africa.
Woolly Necked Stork – Ciconia episcopus
Three seen on the 9th on the swamp near Brumen Bridge on the 9th, with 6 seen on the river boat trip from Tendaba on the 10th.
Marabou Stork – Leptoptilos crumeniferus
Just a single bird seen flying high over Jahally Swamp on the 12th.
White Faced Whistling Duck – Dendrocygna viduata
Recorded on 4 dates with 50 on the 9th, 3 on the 12th, 12 on the 13th, and 12 on the 16th.
Spur Winged Goose – Plectropterus gambensis
Recorded on 3 dates with 4 on the 10th, 12 on the 11th & 2 on the 12th.
Knob Billed Duck – Sarkidiornis melanotos
Our only sighting was of 3 birds on the 9th on the marsh near Brumen Bridge.
Osprey – Pandion haliaetus
Recorded on four dates with a daily maximum of 4 on the 10th.
Black Shouldered Kite – Elanus caeruleus
Singles seen on the 7th & 15th.
Black Kite – Milvus migrans
Recorded daily in variable numbers with a daily maximum of 100 on the 13/11 which were mainly birds seen over the river as we were waiting for the ferry to Georgetown. No attempt was made to identify any of the races but probably most related to the African Yellow Billed race parasitus.
African Fish Eagle – Haliaeetus vocifer
Just a single adult seen on the river boat trip out of Tendaba on the 10th.
Palm Nut Vulture – Gypohierax angolensis
Singles recorded on 3 dates with 4 on the 7th.
Hooded Vulture – Necrosyrtes monachus
Very common and seen daily.
African White Backed Vulture – Gyps africanus
Only seen up river and not on the coast, with 4 on the 9th, and singles on the 11th & 12th.
Rueppell’s Griffon Vulture – Gyps rueppellii
Recorded on 3 dates but again only inland, with two on the 9th and singles on the 11th and 14th.
Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle – Circaetus beaudouini
This recently split species was recorded from inland sites with 2 on the 10th, and singles on the 11th & 13th.
Brown Snake Eagle – Circaetus cinereus
Singles recorded on the 8th, 11th, and 13th.
Bateleur – Terathopius ecaudatus
Two single adults were seen on the 9th & 14th both from inland sites.
Marsh Harrier – Circus aeruginosus
Recorded on 4 dates with a daily maximum of 4 on the 12th.
African Harrier Hawk – Polyboroides typus
Recorded on 6 dates with a daily maximum of 4 on the 8th.
Lizard Buzzard – Kaupifalco monogrammicus
Singles recorded on 6 dates.
Dark Chanting Goshawk – Melierax metabates
Recorded on 6 dates chiefly singles but with 2 on the 8th & 12th.
Gabar Goshawk – Micronisus gabar
A sighting of a melanistic form seen well on the 12th at the Bamsang Quarry, and a normal form seen on the 16th at Marakissi.
African Goshawk – Accipiter tachiro
Good views were had of a single adult in the Farasuto Forest on the 16th.
Shikra – Accipiter badius
Recorded on 7 dates with a daily maximum of 4 on the 12th chiefly at the Bamsang Quarry.
Grasshopper Buzzard – Butastur rufipennis
This attractive raptor was recorded as follows: 2 on the 8th, singles on the 9th, 11th, & 13th, with 2 again on the 14th.
Tawny Eagle – Aquila rapax
A single pale morph bird was seen on the 13th at an inland site.
Wahlberg’s Eagle – Aquila wahlbergi
Singles seen on the 10th and 14th, with 2 sat on a palm tree on the 11th on the river boat trip around Georgetown.
African Hawk Eagle – Aquila spilogaster
Two seen on the 12th at an inland site, with a single on the 13th. This last bird was initially considered to be a Ayres Hawk Eagle, although we were somewhat confused when the field guide plate didn’t show the two obvious pale patches in the centre of the upper-wings and the under-parts streaking also appeared less striking than the field guide plate showed. On reference to Ferguson-Lees he states the main confusion species is the African Hawk Eagle which has more lightly streaked under-parts and in flight has pale windows and grey panels on the upper-wings lacking in Ayres Hawk Eagle. As our bird clearly had the two pale panels on the upper-wings and fairly light streaking on the under-parts. The field guide also states that Ayres is very rare in the Gambia whereas African Hawk Eagle is frequent throughout.
Booted Eagle – Aquila pennatus
Single light morphs were seen on the 12th at Bamsang Quarry and on the 13th.
Martial Eagle – Polemaetus bellicosus
An adult and a juvenile were seen soaring over the road and gave excellent flight views on the 10th on the drive to Georgetown.
Long Crested Eagle – Lophaetus occipitalis
An adult was seen on the 13th.
Grey Kestrel – Falco ardosiaceus
Recorded on 5 dates only with a daily maximum of 3 on the 11th.
Red Necked Falcon – Falco chicquera
Our first showed well in the trees on the 9th at Brumang Bridge, our second was on the 12th at the Bamsang Quarry, and finally our third was on the 13th. A very fine looking falcon with heavy barring on the under-parts and a red head and nape.
Lanner Falcon – Falco biarmicus
Three seen soaring high on the 9th with 2 soaring high on the 14th.
Barbary Falcon – Falco pelegrinoides
A single bird carrying prey flew around the Tendaba River Camp on the 10th.
Peregrine Falcon – Falco peregrinus
One sat in a tree at Tujereng Woods on the 15th.
Ahanta Francolin – Francolinus ahantensis
As we were sat in the hide overlooking a small water-hole in Brufut Woods on the 15th two birds walked out of the forest and wandered around the back of the water-hole at 16.30 hrs and stayed out for a good 5 minutes before disappearing back into the forest. They did not attempt to drink at the water-hole.
Double Spurred Francolin – Francolinus bicalcaratus
Recorded on 4 dates with a daily maximum of 3 on the 10th.
Stone Partridge – Ptilopachus petrosus
A party of 4 were flushed from scrub towards the end of our drive to Tendaba River Camp on the 9th.
Black Crake – Amaurornis flavirostris
Just recorded on two dates with one on the 11th, and 2 on the 16th.
Black Bellied Bustard – Lissotis melanogaster
A single bird was flushed on two occasions on the 13th.
African Jacana – Actophilornis africanus
Recorded on 5 dates with a daily maximum of 6 on the 11th.
Greater Painted Snipe – Rostratula benghalensis
Three seen feeding out in the marsh during the late afternoon at the Marakissi River Camp on the 16th.
Black Winged Stilt – Himantopus himantopus
Recorded on 7 dates with a daily maximum of 10 on the 10th.
Avocet – Recurvirostra avosetta
A small party of 5 flew over the marsh on the 11th.
Sengal Thick-knee – Burhinus senegalensis
Common and seen virtually daily. On the 11th, two flocks totalling about 100 birds were seen at Kaur marsh.
Egyptian Plover – Pluvianus aegyptius
The star bird of the trip. 12 birds seen at 3 different sites and they gave excellent views. On the 13th we were passing one of these marshy areas and saw four birds ie probably 13 in total. Simply better than expected!!
Collared Pratincole – Glareola pratincola
A single bird seen at one of the Egyptian Plovers sites on the 11th. On the 13th, when we were waiting for the North Bank ferry a good size flock flew high over the river and after we had crossed the river and was heading back to our lodge and second flock flew over high, probably in the region of 60+ birds seen.
Spur Winged Plover – Vanellus spinosus
Very common, seen daily in good numbers.
Black Headed Plover – Vanellus tectus
Only seen inland, with 4 on the 10th, 10 on the 11th, 4 on the 12th, & 10 on the 13th.
Wattled Plover - Vanellus senegallus
Recorded on 7 dates with a daily maximum of 12 on the 12th.
Grey Plover – Pluvialis squatarola
Recorded on 4 dates with a daily maximum of 30 on the 10th.
Ringed plover - Charadrius hiaticula
Single birds on the mud by the Koto stream on the 6th and 7th.
Common Snipe – Gallinago gallinago
Just seen on 2 dates with 1 on the 9th, and 4 on the 12th.
Black Tailed Godwit – Limosa limosa
Just 2 seen on the 9th.
Bar-tailed godwit - Limosa lapponica
A single at Kuloro Wetlands on the 9th.
Whimbrel – Numenius phaeopus
Recorded on 7 dates in fair numbers and one of the commonest waders seen.
Common Sandpiper – Actitis hypoleucos
Recorded on 7 dates with a daily maximum of 15 on the 10th from the Tendaba river boat trip.
Green Sandpiper – Tringa ochropus
One on the 9th, 2 on the 10th & 2 on the 12th.
Common Greenshank – Tringa nebularia
Recorded on 8 dates with a daily maximum of 80 seen on the Tendaba river boat trip on the 10th.
Wood Sandpiper – Tringa glareola
Recorded on 4 dates with a daily maximum of 5 on the 13th.
Common Redshank – Tringa tetanus
Recorded on 3 dates with the daily maximum of 8 on the 9th.
Ruddy Turnstone – Arenaria interpres
10 found on the 9th at the Kuloro Wetlands.
Ruff – Philomachus pugnax
A party of 15 were seen on the 11th.
Grey Phalarope – Phalaropus fulicaria
One of the surprises of the trip when a single winter plumage bird showed down to a few yards on the 12th in rice fields at Jahally Swamp. Would appear to be only 2 other inland records (per Barlow), and none listed by Borrow & Demey.
Slender Billed Gull – Chroicocephalus genei
As we did not spend any time birding at the coast, only 4 were seen on the 13th.
Grey Headed Gull – Chroicocephalus genei
Just recorded on 5 dates with a maximum of 60 on the 15th.
Gull Billed Tern – Gelochelidon nilotica
Just seen on two dates with 1 on the 9th, & 4 on the 13th. All 5 were in full winter plumage.
Caspian Tern – Hydroprogne caspia
Singles recorded on 3 dates with 2 on the 10th.
White Winged Black Tern – Chlidonias leucopterus
Our only marsh tern was a single winter plumage White Winged Black feeding over a marsh on the 13th.
Sandwich Tern – Thalasseus sandvicensis
Just a single bird seen on the 9th at the Quloro Wetlands.
Royal Tern – Thalasseus maximus
Four flew past the Kombo Beach Hotel during the early morning of the 16th.
Four Banded Sandgrouse – Pterocles quadricinctus
Six seen on the 9th near the Tendaba Lodge, 2 seen on the 11th, and 12 were seen very well feeding on a dusty track during the evening of the 12th near the Georgetown lodge.
Speckled Pigeon – Columba guinea
Recorded on 9 dates in good numbers.
African Morning Dove – Streptopelia decipiens
Red Eyed Dove – Streptopelia semitorquata
Vinaceous Dove – Streptopelia vinacea
Laughing Dove – Streptopelia senegalensis
All four of these doves were very common and seen daily.
Black Billed Wood Dove – Turtur abyssinicus
Recorded in small numbers on 8 dates, with a daily maximum of 6 on the 7th & 15th.
Blue Spotted Wood Dove – Turtur afer
Two seen on the 7th at Abuko, with 3 on the 8th in the Farasuto Forest, and 1 on the 17th again in Abuko.
Namaqua Dove – Oena capensis
Recorded on 4 dates with a daily maximum of 25 on the 11th at a water-hole.
Bruce’s Green Pigeon – Treron waalia
Seen on four dates at inland sites, with a daily maximum of 3 on the 11th and 14th.
Rose Ringed Parakeet – Psittacula krameri
Recorded on 4 dates with a maximum of 30 on the 10th on the Tendaba river boat trip.
Brown Necked Parrot – Poicephalus robustus
Just a single individual flew over the pools at Farasuto Forest on the 8th.
Senegal Parrot – Poicephalus senegalus
Recorded on 5 dates chiefly in flight with a daily maximum of 6 on the 7th.
Green Turaco – Tauraco persa
One seen on the 15th with 5 on the 17th at Abuko.
Violet Turaco – Musophaga violacea
Four seen well in Abuko on the 7th, 2 seen in the Farasuto Forest on the 8th, and 6 again seen in Abuko on the 17th.
Western Grey Plantain Eater – Crinifer piscator
Common recorded virtually daily with a day maximum of 15 on the 16th.
Levaillant’s Cuckoo – Clamator levaillantii
Singles seen on the 12th, and the 13th near the Ferry terminal at Georgetown.
Klaas’s Cuckoo – Chrysococcyx klaas
An adult male seen on the 7th, with singles on the 13th & 14th.
Dideric Cuckoo – Chrysococcyx caprius
Singles seen on the 7th & 14th, strangely in the same area as 2 of the Klaas’s Cuckoo seen above.
African Black Coucal – Centropus grillii
Five seen on the 15th at the Tanji Bird Reserve.
Senegal Coucal – Centropus senegalensis
Recorded in small numbers on eight dates with a daily maximum of 6 on the 12th.
African Scops Owl - Otus senegalensis
Two seen at Baobolong camp, Georgetown on the 12th.
Northern White Face Owl – Ptilopsis leucotis
Singles seen on the 8th in Farasuto Forest and on the 15th in Brufut Wood.
Greyish Eagle Owl – Bubo cinerascens
Two seen roosting on the 14th at Farabo scrub.
Verreaux’s Eagle Owl – Bubo lacteus
One seen on the 8th in Pirang Forest.
Pearl Spotted Owlet – Glaudicium perlatum
Singles seen on the 6th, 9th & 12th.
Long Tailed Nightjar – Caprimulgus climacurus
Two seen very briefly near Koto stream on the 7th.
Mottled Spinetail – Telacanthura ussheri
Seen on 3 dates with a daily maximum of 40 on the 11th.
African Palm Swift – Cypslurus parvus
Recorded on 7 dates in fair numbers with a daily maximum of 40 on the 6th.
Little Swift – Apus affinis
Good numbers recorded on 6 dates with a daily maximum of 100 on the 9th.
Grey Headed Kingfisher – Halcyon leucocephala
One seen on the 10th in the Tendaba river boat trip and 2 on the 11th.
Striped Kingfisher – Halcyon chelicuti
Just 2 seen on the 9th were our only sighting of the trip.
Blue Breasted Kingfisher – Halcyon malimbica
One seen briefly in flight over the pools at Farasuto Forest on the 8th, an amazing 16 with several pairs displaying on the river boat trip out of Tendaba on the 10th, and finally 1 on the 12th.
Woodland Kingfisher – Halcyon senegalensis
Singles recorded on 4 dates with 2 on the 11th.
African Pygmy Kingfisher – Ceyx pictus
After missing two earlier sightings, I saw 2 on the 16th including 1 coming into the pool at Brufut Woods to wash on the 16th.
Malachite Kingfisher – Alcedo cristata
Four seen on the 10th on the Tendaba river trip, 2 on the 11th and 2 on the 16th.
Giant Kingfisher – Megaceryle maxima
One seen briefly on the 9th at Koto bridge, and another at Marakissa on the 16th.
Pied Kingfisher – Ceryle rudis
Common and widespread. Recorded on 8 dates with a daily maximum of 8 on the 9th.
Swallow Tailed Bee-eater – Merops hirundineus
Recorded on 5 dates in small numbers with a daily maximum of 4 on the 7th in Abuko.
Little Bee-eater Merops pusillus
Just seen on 2 dates with 10 on the 7th & 2 on the 15th.
Red Throated Bee-eater – Merops bulocki
Five seen on the evening boat trip around Georgetown on the 11th and then 50+ seen at their breeding site at Bamsang Quarry on the 12th. Superb!!
White Throated Bee-eater – Merops albicollis
Six seen in flight on the 10th.
Little Green Bee-eater – Merops orientalis
Three seen on the 11th, 4 on the 12th and 1 on the 13th.
Blue Cheeked Bee-eater – Merops persicus
Only seen in flight with a party of 5 on the 8th & 2 on the 13th.
European Bee-eater – Merops apiaster
A superb flock of 80 birds past over us during the late afternoon of the 9th close to Tendaba, 6 seen on the 10th & 14th.
Carmine Bee-eater – Merops nubicus
Six seen very well once we managed to get the sun on our backs on the 13th.
Rufous Crowned Roller – Coracias naevius
Surprisingly, only 2 seen with the first on the 8th & the second on the 14th.
Abyssinian Roller – Coracias abyssinicus
Common & widespread. Recorded on 8 dates with 15 seen on the 11th and 12th.
Blue Bellied Roller – Coracias cyanogaster
Recorded on 5 dates with 4 seen on the 14th, 15th & 16th.
Broad Billed Roller – Eurystomus glaucurus
Chiefly an evening time bird. Recorded on 6 dates with 40 seen on the evening boat trip around Georgetown on the 11th.
Green Woodhoopoe – Phoeniculus purpureus
Recorded on 5 dates with a daily maximum of 5 on the 8th.
Black Woodhoopoe – Rhinopomastus aterrimus
One seen briefly but well sat on top of a dead tree on the river boat ride out of Tendaba on the 10th.
African Pied Hornbill – Tockus fasciatus
Only seen on 2 dates with 3 on the 8th and 2 on the 16th both days in Farasuto Forest.
African Grey Hornbill – Tockus nasutus
Common & widespread and seen virtually daily with a daily maximum of 30 on the 11th.
Red Billed Hornbill – Tockus erythrorhynchus
Recorded on 8 dates with a daily maximum of 12 on the 15th.
Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird – Pogoniulus chrysoconus
Just a single individual seen on the 7th, but heard on several occasions.
Vieillot’s Barbet – Lybius vieilloti
Two seen on the 9th not far from our Tendaba lodge, and one seen on the 15th in Tujereng Woods.
Bearded Barbet – Lybius dubius
Only recorded on 3 dates as follows: 1 on the 9th, 2 on the 12th and 10 on the 15th.
Lesser Honeyguide – Indicator minor
Just 2 singles seen on the 15th & 16th.
Greater Honeyguide – Indicator indicator
A male was seen well on the 8th.
Fine Spotted Woodpecker – A single seen on the 13th in the grounds of our lodge at Georgetown, and 2 seen on the 15th as we were leaving Brufut woods.
Buff Spotted Woodpecker – Campethera nivosa
Just a single individual seen on the 16th.
Cardinal Woodpecker – Dendropicos fuscescens
One seen in scrub when we walked to the coast on the 15th.
Grey Woodpecker – Dendropicos goertae
Singles seen on the 7th & 8th with 2 on the 15th.
Brown Backed Woodpecker – Dendropicos obsoletus
A male seen on the 9th and a female seen on the 12th and finally a male on the 14th.
Singing Bushlark – Mirafra cantillans
Two were flushed when looking for Bustards on the 13th.
Chestnut Backed Sparrow Lark – Eremopterix leucotis
A pair showed very well on the 9th near Brumen Bridge, 25 were seen on the 11th and 2 on the 12th.
Crested Lark – Galerida cristata
Just a single bird seen on the 9th at the Kuloro Wetlands.
Fanti Saw-wing – Psalidoprocne obscura
Recorded on 5 dates near the coast with a daily maximum of 100 on the 7th.
Sand Martin – Riparia riparia
20 seen on the 11th.
Barn Swallow – Hirundo rustica
The only birds to be identified were 6 on the 11th.
Red Chested Swallow – Hirundo lucida
Identified on 3 dates with a daily maximum of 15 on the 9th.
Wire Tailed Swallow – Hirundo smithii
Only identified on 4 dates with a daily maximum of 10 on the 6th.
Pied Winged Swallow – Hirundo leucosoma
Just 1 seen in Abuko on the 7th.
House Martin – Delichon urbica
Just 2 seen on the 11th feeding with the Sand Martins.
Rufous Chested Swallow – Cecropis semirufa
Just 6 identified on the 13th.
Red Rumped Swallow – Cecropis daurica
Recorded on 4 dates with a daily maximum of 15 on the 12th.
Tree Pipit – Anthus trivialis
One showed well in Tujereng woods on the 15th.
White wagtail - Motacilla alba
Singles seen on the 11th and 13th
Yellow Wagtail – Motacilla flava
Ten seen on the 11th with one appearing to be a Blue Headed type, and 2 seen on the 12th.
Grey wagtail - Motacilla cinerea
A single seen with the Egyptian Plovers on the 11th
Common Bulbul – Pycnonotus barbatus
Very common & widespread.
Little Greenbul – Andropadus virens
Only seen in Abuko with 4 on the 7th and 2 on the 17th.
Yellow Throated Leaf-love – Chlorocichla flavicollis
Three seen on the 11th, 2 on the 13th & 1 on the 16th.
Leaf-love Phyllastrephus scandens
After trying for an hour, up to 4 showed briefly but reasonably well in Farasuto Forest on the 16th.
Grey Headed Bristlebill – Bleda canicapillus
Two seen in Abuko on the 7th, and 1 in Farasuto Forest on the 16th.
African Thrush – Turdus pelios
Small numbers seen on four dates with a daily maximum of 4 on the 7th & 15th.
Snowy Crowned Robin-chat - Cossypha niveicapilla
Singles seen on the 11th & 17th with 2 on the 16th.
White Crowned Robin-chat – Cossypha albicapillus
Singles seen on the 7th & 16th, with 3 on the 13th.
Northern Wheatear – Oenanthe oenanthe
One seen on the 9th.
Northern Black Flycatcher – Melaenornis edolioides
A pair seen on the 15th.
Swamp Flycatcher – Muscicapa aquatica
Two seen on the 11th during the evening boat ride around Georgetown, and 1 seen on the 13th.
Senegal Batis – Batis senegalensis
Two single males the first on the 8th and the second on the 9th.
Common Wattle-eye – Platysteira cyanea
Two seen on the 7th, 1 on the 8th, 2 on the 16th & 17th.
Red Bellied Paradise Flycatcher – Terpsiphone rufiventer
One seen on the 8th, 1 on the 15th, and a stunning male on the 17th.
African Paradise Flycatcher – Terpsiphone viridis
Brief views of 3 birds on the 16th.
Tawny Flanked Prinia – Prinia subflava
Brief views on several days
Red Winged Warbler – Heliolais erythropterus
After about 20 minutes of trying we at last got good views of a pair on the 15th at Tujereng woods.
Singing Cisticola – Cisticola erythropterus
Two were seen on the 8th & 15th with 1 on the 9th.
Whistling Cisticola – Cisticola lateralis
Two seen on the 9th & 1 on the 15th.
Winding Cisticola – Cisticola marginatus
One seen on the 13th.
Siffling Cisticola – Cisticola brachypterus
One seen on the 10th.
Zitting Cisticola – Cisticola juncidis
Three singles seen on the 8th, 12th & 13th.
Oriole Warbler – Hypergerus atriceps
Two were seen on the 16th at Farasuto Forest, one of which showed very well singing in the open. Others showed well later in the day.
Yellow Breasted Apalis – Apalis flavida
Three were seen on the 7th with 1 on the 8th, but others we had U.T.V.
Grey Backed Camaroptera – Camaroptera brachyura
Only identified for certain on 3 dates as follows: 2 on the 7th & 8th with 1 on the 9th.
Sedge Warbler – Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
Just a single bird seen on the 12th.
Melodious Warbler – Hippolais polyglotta
Three singles seen on the 9th, 14th & 15th.
Yellow Bellied Hyliota – Hyliota flavigaster
A pair showed well on the 9th and a single bird was seen also on the 12th. Superb.
Willow Warbler – Phylloscopus trochilius
Recorded on four dates with a daily maximum of 15 on the 15th.
Chiffchaff – Phylloscopus collybita
Just a single bird seen on the 13th.
Green Backed Eremomela – Eremomela pusilla
Recorded in low numbers on 7 dates with a daily maximum of 4 on the 10th & 15th.
Northern Crombec – Sylvietta brachyura
Odd birds seen on only 3 dates as follows: 1 on the 9th, and 2 seen on the 12th & 15th.
Green Crombec – Sylvietta virens
After much searching, a singing male was well watched in Farasuto Forest on the 16th.
Blackcap Babbler – Turdoides reinwardtii
Recorded in small parties on three dates: 6 on the 8th, 2 on the 11th, & 5 on the 16th.
Brown Babbler – Turdoides plebejus
Just seen on three dates: 4 on the 7th, 2 on the 12th, & 7 on the 15th.
White Shouldered Black Tit – Parus guineensis
Two of these delightful birds were found in scrub on the 9th as we were approaching Tendaba.
Yellow Penduline Tit – Anthoscopus parvulus
Another good find was a single bird that showed well but briefly along the Farabanta Bush Trial on the 8th.
Mouse Brown Sunbird – Anthreptes gabonicus
Just seen on 2 dates in mangroves with 1 on the 7th & 4 on the 10th on the river boat trip out of Tendaba.
Western Violet Backed Sunbird – Anthreptes longuemarei
After missing one on the 13th, I was delighted to see a pair on the 14th behind the Tendaba Camp.
Collared Sunbird – Hedydipna collaris
Surprisingly, just 2 were seen on the 16th.
Pygmy Sunbird – Hedydipna platura
A stunning male gave good views on the 9th near Tendaba.
Scarlet Chested Sunbird – Chalcomitra senegalensis
Recorded on 5 dates with immature type birds being seen on other dates were probably this species with a daily maximum of 4 on the 12th.
Beautiful Sunbird – Cinnyris pulchellus
The commonest Sunbird, recorded on 6 dates at least with a daily maximum of 30 on the 8th.
Splendid Sunbird – Cinnyris coccinigaster
Recorded on five dates with a daily maximum of 6 on the 8th.
Variable Sunbird – Cinnyris venustus
Just identified on 3 dates with a daily maximum of 4 on the 8th.
Copper sunbird - Cinnyris cupreus
Single bird seen on the 7th at Abuko.
African Yellow White-Eye – Zosterops senegalensis
A single bird seen on the 12th and another on the 14th.
African Golden Oriole – Oriolus auratus
One seen on the 9th, 2 on the 11th and a female on the 14th.
Yellow Billed Shrike – Corvinella corvine
Only logged on 3 dates but others were seen whilst travelling.
Brubru – Nilaus afer
Just 2 seen on the 9th.
Northern Puffback – Dryoscopus gambensis
Recorded on three dates with 3 on the 8th, 1 on the 12th & a pair on the 14th.
Black Crowned Tchagra – Tchagra senegala
A single bird seen on the 8th and 2 showed well on the 15th.
Yellow Crowned Gonolek – Laniarius barbarus
Surprisingly, only recorded on 3 dates with 2 on the 8th, 3 on the 15th & 1 on the 16th.
Grey Headed Bushshrike – Melaconotus blanchoti
A single bird showed well on the 12th behind our lodge at Georgetown.
White Crested Helmetshrike – Prionops plumatus
Recorded on three dates in small parties with 8 on the 8th, 4 on the 10th, and a party of 7 which performed superbly above our heads on the 15th in Tujereng Woods.
Fork Tailed Drongo – Dicrurus adsimilis
Recorded on 8 dates with a daily maximum of 4 on the 9th & 13th.
Piapiac – Ptilostomus afer
Recorded on 5 dates, with a daily maximum of 15 all in one flock on the 11th.
Pied Crow – Corvus albus
Very common at the coast, much rarer inland and in fact not seen on 2 dates up river.
Greater Blue Eared Glossy Starling – Lamprotornis chalybaeus
This species appeared to be the commonest and was seen almost daily with a maximum of 30 on the 8th.
Lesser Blue Eared Glossy Starling – Lamprotornis chloropterus
The only 3 I identified for certain were in the fields near Farasuto Forest on the 8th, when good comparision could be made with Greater Blue Eared & Bronze Tailed.
Bronze Tailed Glossy Starling – Lamprotornis chalcurus
Identified on 4 dates with a daily maximum of 3 on the 11th.
Purple Glossy Starling – Lamprotornis purpureus
Recorded on 4 dates with a daily maximum of 4 on the 16th.
Long Tailed Glossy Starling – Lamprotornis caudatus
Very common & widespread.
Yellow Billed Oxpecker – Buphagus africanus
Six seen on the 9th and 14 on the 12th.
House Sparrow – Passer domesticus
Just 2 individuals seen on the 7th and 9th.
Grey Headed Sparrow – Passer griseus
Common & widespread.
Sudan Golden Sparrow – Passer luteus
Three of these nomadic sparrows were seen in scrub near a water-hole not far from Georgetown on the 11th.
Bush Petronia – Petronia dentata
Mainly seen away from the coast. Recorded on 5 dates with a daily maximum of 4 on the 11th & 13th. A confiding species.
White Billed Buffalo Weaver – Bubalornis albirostris
Recorded on 3 dates with a daily maximum of 20 at a breeding colony on the 11th.
Little Weaver – Ploceus luteolus
Four seen on the 8th, 1 on the 9th & 1 on the 15th.
Black Necked Weaver – Ploceus nigricollis
Six seen on the 7th & 15 coming into the water-hole at Brufut woods on the 15th.
Vitelline Masked Weaver – Ploceus vitellinus
Two seen on the 8th along the Farabanta Bush Trail & 2 seen on the 10th.
Village Weaver – Ploceus cucullatus
By far the commonest weaver and seen daily including several large breeding colonies often hanging over rivers.
Yellow Backed Weaver – Ploceus melanocephalus
Thirty seen on the 11th & 10 on the 13th were the only ones I logged although female types were seen on other dates but I made no attempt to identify them.
Red Billed Quelea – Quelea quelea
Ten were seen on the 12th close to Georgetown.
Yellow Crowned Bishop – Euplectes hordeaceus
Three (including 2 breeding plumage males) seen on the 9th, and 6 seen on the 11th near Georgetown.
Black Winged Red Bishop – Euplectes hordeaceus
Ten seen on the 11th & 4 seen on the 16th at Marakissa, including 3 breeding plumage males.
Northern Red Bishop – Euplectes franciscanus
Recorded on 6 dates with a daily maximum of 25 on the 8th with a number of full breeding plumage male birds being seen.
Western Bluebill – Spermophaga haematina
Three including a full adult male were seen well along the main trek at Abuko on the 17th.
Red Billed Firefinch – Lagonosticta senegala
Common & widespread with a daily maximum of 20 on the 7th.
Red Cheeked Cordonbleu – Uraeginthus bengalus
Recorded on 7 dates with a daily maximum of 15 on the 8th.
Lavender Waxbill – Estrilda caerulescens
Just recorded on 3 dates: 2 on the 9th, 1 on the 13th & 2 on the 15th.
Orange Cheeked Waxbill – Estrilda melpoda
Just 4 seen on the 7th.
Black Rumped Waxbill – Estrilda troglodytes
Three seen on the 8th with 10 on the 9th at the Quloro Wetlands.
African Quailfinch – Ortygospiza fuscocrissa
Two of these attractive finches showed well on a forest pathway on the 12th.
African Silverbill – Euodice cantans
Six seen on the 13th on a stop-over on our drive back from Georgetown.
Bronze Mannikin – Spermestes cucullatus
Recorded on three dates with a daily maximum of 60 on the 7th at the Lamin Ricefields.
Cut-throat – Amadina fasciata
A pair were seen on the 11th at a lunch stop and 3 were seen on the 12th.
Village Indigobird – Vidua chalybeate
Recorded on six dates with a daily maximum of 6 on the 11th.
Pin-tailed Whydah - Vidua macroura
A female seen at Pirang on the 9th
Exclamatory Paradise Whydah – Vidua paradisaea
Five (including at least 2 breeding plumage and displaying males) were seen well on the 11th at a water hole in the Kaur area, with 2 more displaying males on the 12th & 13th.
White Rumped Seed-eater – Serinus leucopyglus
Two were seen with other finches at the Standing Stone monument on the 13th on the drive back from Georgetown to Tendaba.
Yellow Fronted Canary – Serinus mozambicus
Recorded in small numbers on 5 dates with a daily maximum of 3 on the 15th.
Cinnamon Breasted Bunting – Emberiza tahapisi
Three were seen on the 12th in the Bamsang Quarry.
Brown Rumped Bunting – Emberiza affinis
Two seen on the 13th on the drive back from Georgetown to Tendaba.
Barlow - Field Guide to The Birds of Gambia and Senegal 1997
Borrow – Birds of Western Africa 2001
Ferguson-Lees – Raptors of the World 2001
Blue pansy Golden pansy Soldier pansy
Small orange acraea Elegant acraea Pearl charaxes
Grass yellow Small grass yellow Caper white
African spirit (wood white) Scarlet tip Tiny orange tip
Large orange tip Creamy small white African caper white
Zebra white African emigrant Painted lady
Guineafowl Soldier commodore African tiger
River sailor Common zebra blue African grass blue
Diadem Citrus swallowtail White lady swallowtail
Narrow-banded green swallowtail
Western Red Colobus monkey Vervet monkey
Patas monkey Western baboon
Sun squirrel Marsh mongoose
Straw-coloured fruit bat Epauletted fruit bat
Bird list compiled by John Cooper
Yellow Throated Leaflove
Yellow Billed Stork
Yellow Backed Weaver
Woolly Necked Stork
White Throated Bee-eater
White Faced Scops Owl
White Crowned Robin-chat
White Crested Helmet-shrike
White Backed Vulture
Western Reef Heron
Verreaux's Eagle Owl
Swallow Tailed Bee-eaters
Slender Billed Gull
Ruppels Griffon Vulture
Rufous Crowned Roller
Red Throated Bee-eater
Red Rumped Swallow
Red Cheeked Cordon-bleu (female)
Red Billed Hornbill
Red Billed Firefinch
Western Grey Plantain-eater
Pink Backed Pelican with Yellow Billed Storks
Palm Nut Vulture
Northern Red Bishop
Long Tailed Glossy Starling
Green Backed Eremomela
Great White Egret
Melanistic Gabor Goshawk
Fine Spotted Woodpecker
Egyptian Plover with Chestnut Backed Sparrow-Lark
Immature Dark Chanting Goshawk
Chestnut Backed Sparrow-Lark
Bruce's Green Pigeon
Broad Billed Roller
Blue Breasted Kingfisher
Blue Bellied Roller
Black Capped Babblers
Black Headed Plovers
African Mourning Dove
African Grey Hornbill
African Golden Oriole (female)