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The Gambia

Kingfisher
Giant Kingfisher Megaceryle maxima Website

Birding Gambia

For the European tourist, The Gambia provides a first class destination for any birdwatcher. It has the advantage of being only a short flight away (about 5½ hours) and it has a very large bird list with over 550 species recorded. It is situated close to the northern limit of the tropical rain front and The Gambia is right in the middle of the narrow transitional zone between semi dessert and tropical rain forest, consequently, the country's bird list includes species from both of these areas with the species to be seen varying with the onset of the rainy and dry seasons. Add to the African endemic species the many European migrants that either pass through The Gambia or spend the winter there, and one can see why the bird list is so large. Because of the proximity of the rain forest to the south and the desert to the north, there is always the chance of spotting something unusual that has overshot on migration, or on a food-finding tour.

The climate is very pleasant, although it can be perhaps a little hot inland in the period just before and just after the annual summer rains. However, for many, the big attraction about birding in The Gambia is the attitude of the local population that is friendly, and, for the most part, very helpful.

Hotels in The Gambia range from adequate to very good. As in all things, you get what you pay for. The Atlantic Hotel is a little out on a limb being close to the capital Banjul. However, it has its own bird garden, is close to the Bund road. There are several hotels, Kombo Beach, Bungalow Beach and the Badala Park that offer good birding just a short walk from the hotel in the Kotu area. The Senegambia has large grounds with a corresponding large bird population. The Kairaba, a little more expensive than the average is next door. Also nearby is the Kololi Beach Club, time-share, but rooms can be booked here. All these last three are close to and within easy walking distance of the small Bijilo reserve.

Almost anywhere in The Gambia is good for birds, especially if you have never been before. Don't dismiss your hotel grounds as being too peopled either, you will often get good views of birds such as the Barbary Shrike (sorry Gonelek, showing my age) in the grounds whereas outside they are very timid and often hard to see well. The Senegambia in particular is renowned for its bird-garden; however, in Feb 2000 they were feeding the vultures and Black Kites on the lawn, which seemed to have driven some of the smaller birds away. The Atlantic Hotel too has a small but effective bird garden and I have some lovely video of a Blue Breasted Kingfisher that took up residence there for a while. The Kairaba has large grounds that attract many species including Wattled Plover, Wood Hoopoe, fine spotted woodpecker and a very tame Whimbrel. In truth, most of the hotels have some grounds around them and you will undoubtedly find birds to enjoy whichever hotel you are staying in. (I stayed at the Senegambia and saw 70 species in the grounds! - Fatbirder)

Every little patch of rough ground seems to have its own specialities like the black-shouldered kite in the rough ground between the main road to the Senegambia Hotel and the sea. A damp patch on this same piece of ground produced one morning practically every Gambian heron and egret plus spoonbills.

A good guide can be a great help, especially if you are looking for a particular bird. The problem in The Gambia is that the local enterprise culture has found that a lot of tourists come to The Gambia to watch birds and that there is money to be made as a guide. If you appear outside your hotel with binoculars around your neck, potential guides will soon surround you. Some are good and really know their stuff, but many know little about bird recognition or where best to find birds. The very best ones, do not hang about outside hotels, you will need to contact them. All the hotels run special birdwatching excursions, and if you are on your first visit to The Gambia, then for your first couple of outings you won't regret using these as a springboard to your own travels. However, for trips up-country and away from the coastal regions until you have a little experience of the country I would always recommend a guided tour. Not just for safety reasons, but because it would be just too easy to spend your valuable time searching for the best sites instead of birdwatching, which is after all, what you are thinking of visiting The Gambia for, isn't it?

There are plenty of good sites within easy reach of the hotels. You could walk to many of them from the hotel but, apart from those that are right next to the hotel, it would mean a hot and dusty walk along busy roads. However, with taxis relatively cheap it's not worth the hassle. Remember to bargain with your taxi driver, you will usually be able to negotiate a reasonable rate for there and back with a couple of hours waiting. But do agree the price before you start. If you are a really hard nut you can probably get your ride very cheap. I personally like to settle on a price that I think is reasonable for the journey, I get no pleasure in squeezing the last ounce out of someone who is already making do on a minimal income. (Often the driver is in a vehicle owned by someone else and has to queue - up to a week - for a fare! He may be supporting a very extended family. I hired a taxi for a week at a rate less than half the cost of a self-drive car in Europe and then gave a large, much appreciated, tip at the end of the week. It was a real bargain for me and like a lottery win for the driver - Fatbirder).

While the list of coastal sites will be enough to keep many birdwatchers happy for a fortnight's holiday, to see the bigger raptors it is best to travel inland. Whilst the distances are not great, the poor state of the roads means that what would be a short 2-3 hour journey within Europe, will take all day in the Gambia and the follow-on from this is that you will need overnight accommodation. Therefore, I repeat my earlier statement; if you are new to The Gambia then you are better taking an organised tour to the inland sites and let someone else look after the admin.

Finally, here are a few words of advice.

Dress Remember The Gambia is a mainly Moslem country. Ladies, when away from the beaches, keep your thighs covered. Save the skimpy shorts for the holiday environs.

Begging There are some beggars and scroungers who hang around outside the hotels. They can be a nuisance but be firm and tell them to go away and walk away from them. They will tell you they are only trying to be friendly and why can't you be friendly too. Don't be fooled they will soon be asking you to donate to their school or some other project with the money undoubtedly destined for their own pocket.

General Safety Having said that, the Gambians in general are really friendly people, you will undoubtedly meet many whose friendship you can savour for the rest of your life, but you probably won't meet them just outside the hotel or on the beach and they certainly won't thrust themselves upon you. There are times when the country is troubled and at any time walking about by yourself away from tourist areas and especially in the city is not a good idea. Ask your hotel for advice and follow it.

There is no social security in The Gambia and one cannot help but feel sorry for those with grave disabilities. However, once you begin giving you will be treated as the pot that never empties both by the needy and everyone else around. The best way to make a contribution to the local economy is to buy your souvenirs or a service from the Gambians and take with you articles that are useful for education. Hotel staff will be delighted to pass these on. (I took a large English dictionary, some pens and paper and an old pair of binoculars with me as well as some children's T-shirts left over from an advertising promotion - the gratitude was overwhelming. Fatbirder)

Away from tourist hotels there isn't a problem you may be asked by the children for any pen or any sweet. Once you give a child one pen or sweet you will immediately be surrounded by masses more. If you carry an inexhaustible supply of goodies, fine, otherwise…

A final finally. Caucasian tourists will be addressed as Toubab apparently a local corruption of two bob. Two bob (two shillings in old British money) was the going rate for running an errand in the days when The Gambia was a colony. If you think how inflation has changed values, you will realise that it was in fact quite a generous rate. Happy birding.

Top Sites

Abuko Nature Reserve

Satellite View

Abuko Nature Reserve is a managed reserve of remnant rain forest around a small pond that has good water levels all year. There are a number of public hides and for the more serious; a small hide overlooking its own small waterhole near the animal sanctuary in the centre of the reserve can be rented by the day for a small fee. (Book in advance at the main entrance. It will take two persons comfortably and three at a pinch.) The bird list of about 200 includes Eagle Owl, Night Heron, Giant Kingfisher and most of the other kingfishers, Violet and Green Turaco and Paradise Flycatcher. A delightful spot very rewarding first thing in the morning when the gates first open (8 am) and again in the late morning after the groups have departed.

Bijilo

Satellite View

Bijilo Forest Park is a small Managed reserve just by the Kololi/Kairaba/Senegambia complex. Has good varied selection of birds including Stone Partridge and is the only place where I have managed to get good close views of white-cheeked bee-eaters.

Bird Safari Camp

Further inland one can stay at the Bird Safari Camp at Georgetown. This is a lovely spot with its own speciality of the delightful little Swamp Flycatcher and Hippos in the river there. I have seen Western Banded Snake Eagle and Red-Shouldered Cuckoo-Shrike in the woods surrounding the camp. Travelling further inland towards Basse takes one into Carmine and Red-Throated Bee-eater country. October to December sees the magnificent Crocodile Bird, the Egyptian Plover in residence at Basse. For me the sight of this bird makes the long journey to Basse worth every bruise on my rear end from the bumpy ride. New accommodation was being built on the opposite side of the river from Basse town when I was last there in October 1999. Perhaps, if someone has been up there since its completion, they could let me know what it is like. Also, the Kairaba hotel was starting to build an upcountry site. That too should have benefits for birdwatchers.

Bund Road

Satellite View

Bund Road is a brackish wet area on one side of the road, sea mudflats on the other side, just outside Banjul. Shags, Pelicans, Herons, Egrets, Kingfishers, Waders, Terns, Gulls, occasional stork and ibis and doves on the roadside wires. Crested Lark, Marsh Harrier… etc.
(I was told that the Bund road should not be birded alone as it is close to an undesirable area of Banjul - Fatbirder)

Kotu

Satellite View

Kotu Bridge, Kotu Ponds and the Golf Course are all situated in the area around Kombo Beach/Badala Beach Hotels. Kotu Bridge and Ponds good for thick-knees, hammerkop, waders, herons, egrets pied kingfisher. Kotu Ponds (Honey Farm) additionally often has ducks and little grebe. Golf course often has Black Headed Plover, Wood Hoopoe, small raptors, scops owl… etc.

Lamin Lodge

Satellite View

From Lamin Lodge you can take a boat trip to see many of the heron species. You will be unlucky not to see Goliath Heron, and with luck, should see Osprey, White and Pink-Backed Pelican, Yellow Billed Stork and Sacred Ibis.

Tanji Bird Reserve

Satellite View

Tanji Bird Reserve is a remarkable narrow strip of land between the sea and the main southbound coastal road. Despite its small size around 300 species of birds have been recorded here including a number of raptors. Seagulls and waders can be seen on the sandbanks just offshore. Not very far out of Banjul, but you will need transport to get there. There is a small entrance fee to help to pay for the wardens that look after the area. Unfortunately, the road bounding the eastern edge of the reserve is in the process of being upgraded from dirt to tarmac. During my last visit in February 2000 it appeared that work on the road had not significantly affected the number or variety of birds to be seen here. However, the road had not been completed at that time and was not open for general use. It remains to be seen how much the noise from the increase in traffic will effect the bird population once the road is fully operational and whether there will be increased human disturbance from the improved accessibility that the new road affords.

Tendaba Camp

Satellite View

Tendaba Camp and Kemoto are situated at either end of the Kiang West National Park. Accommodation is a little more Spartan than at a normal hotel, but, never-the-less, very adequate and the staff as always are very helpful and friendly. Here you could see Ground Hornbill, Gabar and Chanting Goshawk, Brown Snake Eagle, Crested Hawk Eagle and the magnificent Bateleur or a Marital Eagle.

Waste Ground between Kairaba Avenue and the sea (towards Senegambia Hotel)

Satellite View

The waste Ground between Kairaba Avenue and the sea (towards Senegambia Hotel) has Black shouldered kite, warblers, Prinia, Tchagra, Oriole Warbler… etc A small water-hole at the Palma Rima end of this patch often has a good selection of herons from the end of the wet season to about mid February after which it dries out. An area behind the Palma Rima hotel is good for nightjars, but we have been advised by Gambian Guides that this is not a recommended area to visit without local assistance. I have never heard them say that of anywhere else in The Gambia, so I would heed the warning.

Yundum Airport

Satellite View

Near Yundum Airport there is a patch of open countryside on the right hand side of the main road between Serrekunde and Brikama just past the runway and on the opposite side of the road from the runway at Yundum. It is a good spot to see Buffalo weaver, Pin-Tailed Whydah, Yellow-Shouldered Widowbird, Black-Crowned Tchagra, Red Bishop and sometimes Chestnut-Bellied Starling.

Contributor

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 590

Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web

Useful Reading

Bird Song of The Gambia and Senegal

(An Aid to Identification) | By Clive Barlow, John Hammick & Pat Sellar | Mandarin Productions | 2002 | Audio CD | 3-CD set |

ISBN: #143076

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of Senegal and The Gambia

Ron Demey & Nik Borrow | Christopher Helm | 2012 | Paperback | 352 pages, 143 plates with colour illustrations; colour distribution maps, colour maps |

ISBN: 9781408134696

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of the Gambia and Senegal

By Paul van Hoek & Chris Groenendijk| GreenCorner Birding | 2007 | DVD | Running time: approx 90 mins |

ISBN: 170877

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Field Guide to Butterflies of the Gambia, West Africa

By David Penney | Siri Scientific Press | 2009 | Paperback | 80 pages, 235 colour photos |

ISBN: 9780955863622

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Field Guide to Wildlife of The Gambia

(An Introduction to Common Flowers & Animals) | David Penney | Siri Scientific Press | 2012 | Paperback | 160 pages, 786 colour photos |

ISBN: 9780956779526

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Finding Birds in The Gambia

by Dave Gosney | Easybirder | 2012| DVD | Running time: 92 minutes |

ISBN: 9781907316371

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Finding Birds in The Gambia

by Dave Gosney | Easybirder | 2012 | Paperback | 40 Pages & Many Maps |

ISBN: 9781907316364

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Organisations

African Bird Club

Website

A combination of a good tourist infrastructure, travel connections and knowledgeable people makes The Gambia one of the primary birdwatching destinations in Africa. With a checklist of over 500 species and readily accessible sites, this small country offers a great introduction to African birding as well as retaining its appeal for those who have visited the country on previous occasions…

Gambia Birdwatchers' Association

Facebook Page

Gambia Bird Watchers Association was founded 2007 by group of professional Bird watching guide. We offer birding excursions throughout the Gambia.

West African Bird Study Association

Information

West African Bird Study Association (WABSA) was formed in April 1994, by indigenous Gambian youths, who are concerned citizens to preserve the country's flora and fauna.

West African Ornithological Society

Website

The West African Ornithological Society grew out of the Nigerian Ornithologists’ Society, which was founded in February 1964. Its object is to promote scientific interest in the birds of West Africa and to further the region’s ornithology, mainly by means of its journal Malimbus (formerly the Bulletin of the Nigerian Ornithologists’ Society). This journal is biannual and bilingual, a unique feature in Africa.The West African Ornithological Society grew out of the Nigerian Ornithologists’ Society, which was founded in February 1964. Its object is to promote scientific interest in the birds of West Africa and to further the region’s ornithology, mainly by means of its journal Malimbus (formerly the Bulletin of the Nigerian Ornithologists’ Society). This journal is biannual and bilingual, a unique feature in Africa.

Reserves

Abbreviations Key

BiR Tanji

Information

Satellite View

Bald Cape is formed from a shallow reef of laterite rock which extends to the north-west reappearing at the Bijol Islands 1.5 km offshore. The Cape is backed by a lagoon which runs south in a broken chain as far as the village of Tanji. The lagoon system has developed from a combination of the outflow of the Tanji River and longshore drift accumulating sand deposits. It is a dynamic system and significant changes can result from a single flood or storm. The Cape and lagoons serve as feeding and roosting grounds for a large diversity of gulls, terns and waders…

Nature Reserves

Website

Over 270 species of birds have been recorded from Abuko Nature Reserve which reflects the value of this small area. The reserve contains an intact pocket of gallery forest in which numerous forest dependent species occur such as the Green Touraco, little Greenbul and the Yellow Breasted Apalis. The milky (or Verreaux`s) Eagle Owl is also resident and often heard calling in the late afternoon. The chain of pools within the lower end of the reserve attract a tremendous variety of bird life, from the White-Spotted Flufftail to the African Fish Eagles. An afternoon spent at the Education Centre or one of the photo hides will yield many good sightings. At the south-western end of the reserve an extension of 29ha added in 1978 has been appropriately labelled the extension bird walk. The area is composed of Guinea Savannah with open glades of grassland.

NP Kiang West

Information

Satellite View

The Kiang West National Park wasestablished in 1987 and is located in southern Gambia, adjacent to the river bank and is 145 kilometres from the capital of Banjul…

NP Niumi

Information

Satellite View

The Niumi National Park occupies the coastal strip of The Gambia north of the river. The park is approximately 4,940 ha (49.4 km2) in extent. Apart from being an important fish breeding ground, it constitutes one of the last untouched mangrove stands on the West African Coast north of the equator. The more terrestrial parts of the park contain an interesting cross section of threatened regional fauna and a wide diversity of habitat types…

NP River Gambia

Information

Satellite View

The national park was established in 1978 and ismade up of a complex of 5 islands that lie on the river in the Central River Division (Region) about 300 kilometres upstream to the south west of Kuntaur (see map) and downstream of Janjangbureh, Georgetown…

NR Abuko

Information

Satellite View

In 1967 a local man called Kalilu requested the then acting Wildlife Officer, Eddie Brewer, to shoot a leopard that had been killing their pigs which had been feeding there illegally. When he visited the spot with his daughter, Stella, they saw an amazing richness of Gambian wildlife and flora and realised the conservation importance of the stream running through Abuko…

WeRv Bao Bolon

Information

Satellite View

Bao Bolon is located on the North Bank of The Gambia River opposite the Kiang West National Park. It consists of six major bolons between Salikeni and Katchang. Together these bolons form a vast wetland complex of international importance. Bao Bolon does not have the characteristics of a river any more…

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Ansuman Drammeh - Best Boy Tours

Guide

Phone: +220 680 9110 Email: gambian.birdguide@gmail.com I grew up with binoculars hanging from my neck and I have been guiding birders since year 2000. I am also a member of the Bird Guides Association of Gambia as well as the Gambia Birdwatching Association. Welcome to Best Boy Tours page! From here you will find information about Ansuman's professional bird tour services.

Abdoulie Ndure

Guide

Gambia is a country of nature with more than 500 different bird species recorded. Even if you are just beginning or an expert in birding, you have got the right destination. Make sure you will have a unique experience and increase your chances of birding with a local and professional bird guide…

Bax Birding Tours - Bakary Manneh

Tour Operator

Bax Birding Tours can provide you with escorted bird watching and natural history tours of The Gambia. Under the expert guidance of Bakary Manneh (Bax) we will arrange to take you to the best locations in The Gambia for birds and other wildlife. We can also build itineraries for those with an interest in photography, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, plants, flowers, local culture and history…

Bird Finders

Tour Operator

The Gambia is one of the easiest introductions to both tropical birdwatching and Africa. A former British colony, it is one of the smallest countries in Africa, surrounded by Senegal and straddling the Gambia River for some 200 miles. We will be visiting after the end of the wet season when the vegetation is still green and some of the weavers and bishops are still in summer plumage…

Ebrima Njie - Birdlife Africa

Tour Operator & Guiding

If you are a birder or wildlife lover wanting to explore The Gambia and Senegal, Birdlife Africa can provide a friendly, personal experience. We offer everything from individual day trips to organised group itineraries.

Ebrima W Barry

Tour Operator

The bird life of the Gambia is both attractive and varied. Some 540 species have been recorded, which is remarkable for such a small country. Habitats include the Atlantic shoreline, the huge Gambia River, mangroves, wetlands, villages with farm and fallow land and the African bush. The Helm Field Guide “Birds of The Gambia and Senegal” is recommended and should be inspiring…

Farakunku Lodges

Tour Operator

This package is designed for guests who want a pre-booked week of birding with a registered Guide, visiting all the best sites within easy driving distance for 6 full day’s bird watching. It includes half board accommodation, airport transfers, all transport and the guide’s fees. You only need to arrange and pay for your own flights and any lunches and drinks. Additional days of bird watching at different sites can be arranged for longer stay guests who may also prefer to spread the days out across their stay…

Footsteps Eco-Lodge

Website

The Gambia is home to more than 550 species of birds and they are all around you, which means you don’t have to go far to see some beautiful, exotic birds. In fact, at Footsteps Eco-Lodge we have over 100 species of birds within our grounds and over 150 within walking distance, so whether you are an avid birder or casual birdwatcher, novice or professional, the birding is great!

Gambia Experience

Tour Operator

The Gambia provides some amazing opportunities for birdwatching. With 540+ species and everything in relatively close proximity, you don’t have to travel far to see some fascinating birdlife; you’ll even find a whole host of exotic species in your hotel gardens. So whether you’re a first timer, a keen amateur or an enthusiast looking for particular species we guarantee you’ll find something to inspire you...

Junkung Jadama (JJ)

Tour Operator & Guiding

Many of the national parks and nature reserves are within easy reach of Gambia's coastal resorts. In order to enjoy the natural wonders of the Gambia to the full, it is wise to employ the services of an experienced guide who will look after you and help you make the best use of your time…

Malick Suso

Tour Guide

Malick Suso is a top Gambian bird guide and birdwatching is his lifelong passion. Located on the coast at Kotu, Gambia, near the Bakotu and Kombo Beach Hotels, Malick travels all over the Gambia - his knowledge of the whole country is profound. In his local area he also oversees other official guides based here…

Modou Barry

Guide

I am a well known Gambian Ornithologist, with over 10 years' experience. I can arrange bird watching trips during your holiday, throughout the length and breadth of The Gambia, at very reasonable cost…

Modou Saidy

Guide

He is contactable at Kotu Bridge, the meeting place of the WABSA guides, or as follows: Mobile phone - 220 797 1545 - I am a professional bird guide, a member of The Gambia's National Bird Watcher Association. My professional name is Modou Saidy. I am 29 years of age…

Ousman Joku

Tour Guide

Ousman Joku has been birdwatching in Gambia since he was a young boy and is now among the most professional and experienced bird guides in Gambia. If you are simply looking for an introduction to bird watching in Gambia with day trips from the coast or a fully inclusive longer tour of Gambia and Senegal then Ousman is your man…

Trip Reports

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2008 [11 November] - Ray Thorneycroft

Report

The trip was made by Chris Johnson, Mick Bellas, and Ray Thorneycroft. Planning started some six months beforehand with the booking of a package holiday deal with Thomas Cook, for seven days, flying from East Midlands Airport, and staying at the Badala Park Hotel, at a cost of £289.00 each. This was situated near Kotu Beach….

2008 [11 November] - Terry Bentley

Report

A recent trip to the Gambia with my wife Jill, was to be a holiday taking in the sun and adding a little birding along the way. We made contact with guides from the Bird Guides Association in their hut at Kotu Bridge and as we were staying at the Sunset Beach Hotel…

2008 [12 December] - Pat & Judy Hayes

Report

…Our first day birding saw us out by 7.30am when our initial stop was Kotu Creek & rice fields. Here we spent some time on the bridge checking out what was about. It also gave us the opportunity to meet up with Malick Suso, our guide during our previous visit. We also visited the Casino Cycle track and sewage works…

2010 [01 January] - Nik Borrow - Gambia & Senegal

PDF Report

We once again returned to The Gambia and Senegal in what turned out to be a highly successful tour. An impressive, total of 359 species were recorded of which all but two were seen…

2010 [11 November] - Mike & Olly Fox

Report

We made contact with the bird guide Modou Colley who was to organize the four night/five day trip to both Tendaba and Baobolong Camps. Modou was also our guide for the two half day trips to Pirang/Faraba Banta and Brufut Woods. Modou proved to be a most knowledgeable and patient guide and cannot be recommended highly enough…

2011 [02 February] - Guy Kilgallen

Report

Annotated list…

2012 [04 April] - Mark Graham

Report

…I was pleasantly surprised by how close Tanji and Brufut Forest were from the hotel.Both within walking distance and hassle free.To get to the Tanji reserve wooded area to the east of the main road you have to go past Ghana Town a settlement of Ghanaians.I read in a report that I would get the life pestered out of me there.Not so!Not one person stopped me or even acknowledged me….

2012 [12 December] - Ben Turner

Report

…As we approached the tree a huge bird with black and white wings flew a short distance away from us! More scrambling over fences and through wild mint brought us closer to the bird again and we were treated to a spectacular flypast. Additional searching led us to a more open area where a female Abyssinian Ground Hornbill was feeding quietly some distance away….

2013 [12 December] - Chris Kehoe - Gambia & Senegal

PDF Report

Our 2013 Birdquest tour to Gambia and Senegal served up a splendid selection of regional specialities plus a wealth of more widespread Afrotropical species and Palearctic winter visitors. Particular highlights amongst the more localised or tricky species included delightful Cricket Warblers, exquisite Scissor-tailed Kites, showy Quail-plovers, Arabian and Saville's Bustards, localised River Prinias, confiding Ahanta Francolins, Western Bluebills, Grey-headed Bristlebill

2014 [01 January] - Christoph Moning & Gerlinde Taurer

PDF Report

This year we decided to escape the drab European winter by exploring the region of Senegambia. We took this as an introduction to the West-African avifauna, while enjoying the huge diversity and quantity of European migrants….

2014 [11 November] - Richard Hanman

Report

The Gambia had been on my birding ‘wish list’ for as long as I can remember having a ‘wish list’. The thought of seeing colourful exotic birds such as Bee-eaters, Kingfishers, Barbets and Firefinches always gave me a warm tingly feeling. Add to that the sound of African drums, a river trip in a canoe, and the reputation that Gambia has as ‘the smiling coast’ on behalf of the friendliness of its people, why wouldn’t any birder want to visit? Indeed many have! This visit was part personal pilgrimage to the birding equivalent of Mecca and part reconnaissance trip in the hope of running a ‘Bargain Birding Club’ here myself in the not too distant future...

2015 [02 February] - Tony Benton

Report

The flight from London Gatwick to The Gambia was largely uneventful, except that we were delayed for 1.5 hours by a passenger becoming ill before the plane had left the stand. Once resolved, however, we made good progress, slightly under six hours, and arrived late afternoon to temperatures of about 34 c. Glorious was the first word that sprung to mind, it was so good to leave behind the dank, sometimes cold, British weather!

2015 [03 March] - Kevin Bollington

Report

On 18 March 2015 I made a 10 night holiday with my wife at the Sheraton Hotel, Brufut Heights, in the Gambia. The hotel grounds proved very fruitful with Abyssinian and Blue-bellied Rollers, Yellow-billed Shrike, Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Purple & Long-tailed Glossy Starlings, Bearded Barbet, Green Woodhoopoe, Senegal Parrot and Slender-billed Gull to name but a few.

2015 [11 November] - Jan Sjostedt & Ingvar Jansson - Gambia & Senegal

PDF Report

2016 [01 January] - Claudi Racionero

Report

Just a fast trip to spend the end of the year out of home looking for some birds I have missed in some other trips in Africa.

2016 [02 February] - Kit Britten

PDF Report

2016 [11 November] - Antony Skyrme

Report

...From the hide we had Hamerkop, Black-headed-heron, Squacco heron, Rufous-crowned-roller, Fanti-Saw-Wing, Palm-Swift. The crocodile appeared well its eyes mainly. Red Colobus and Green Vervet Monkeys occur - you hear them crashing through the trees as you approach them...

2016 [11 November] - David Flack

PDF Report

...A word of warning to those going for the first time. There are many ‘chancers’ with a pair of binoculars and little knowledge who will offer to guide you, they hang around the birding hotspots touting for business. Stick to registered guides of the Gambian Birding Association who have the knowledge to make your trip memorable....

2016 [11 November] - Pat & Judy Hayes

Report

We decided to return to the Gambia, using the same format as our previous visits. With a large list of birds, hot sunny weather, great accommodation and a bird guide second to none, it was a no brainer...

2016 [11 November] - Solomon Jallow

PDF Report

2016 [12 December] - Bob Buckler

Report

...From the airport apron we logged our first bird, Cattle Egret and from the car park we added Hooded Vulture, Yellow-billed Kite, Spectacled Pigeon, Red-chested Swallow, House Sparrow and Lesser Blue-eared Glossy Starling...

2016 [12 December] - Tony Moverley

Report

This report provides a flavour of what we saw and experienced on an eight day birding trip to The Gambia in late November and early December 2016. We recorded 224 species (of which 2 were heard only). In addition, 20 species of butterfly were tentatively identified, together with a small number of other insects, mammals and reptiles (see Species List at end of report)...

2017 [03 March] - Helen & Michael Howard

PDF Report

...We arrived mid-afternnon, so after settling in, to whet our appetite for the week ahead Mustapha took us for a stroll up to Kotu bridge, a short walk from the hotel. It overlooks a tidal creek with mangroves complete with waders and kingfishers: Senegal Thick-knee, Spurred-winged Lapwing, African Wattled Lapwing, Black-winged Stilt, African Darter, Western Reef Egret, Malachite Kingfisher and Pied Kingfisher among others. Plus Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Red-billed Firefinch, Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, Bronze Mannikin, and Beautiful Sunbirds - in just an hour we’d seen over 30 species. Back at the hotel, at the wooden platform that overlooks the creek (Kotu bridge within view) we saw our first Little Bee-eaters, busy catching insects...

2017 [03 March] - Philip Thompson

PDF Report

We started with a pleasant canoe trip along the Red Mangrove - lined creek during which we saw some of the familiar birds of this habitat such as African Darter, Long - tailed Cormorant and Pied Kingfisher. A dista nt Goliath Heron was spotted perched at the top of the mangroves.

2017 [03 March] - Philip Thompson

PDF Report

Having arrived safely, if a little delayed, into Banjul Airport we negotiated the rather chaotic and overwhelming porters, to be met and escorted to our transfer coach driven by Baba, our regular driver for the tour. It was then a direct transfer to our lodge within the Makasutu Forest.

2017 [04 April] - Rob Mileto

PDF Report

...Once out, the first birds of the trip for most were the Western Cattle Egrets on the airport lawns. It was onl y a short walk to our minibus, and a very welcome bottle of water and a woven little fan provided as gifts to cool us on our onward journey. We stopped briefly in the town of Birkama to get some essentials for our ‘luggage - less’ member and then, by around 4pm, we were sipping a cold drink by the Mandina Lodge pool...

2017 [12 December] - Duncan McNiven

PDF Report

...So, with the shadows lengthening, we all settled in to our various luxury stilted, floating or jungle lodges with the calls of Senegal Thick-knees resonating from the mudflats and Western Grey Plantain-eaters from the trees above our heads before meeting up for our first delicious Mandina meal by the pool and starting our holiday in earnest...

2017 [12 December] - Kevin Elsby

PDF Report

On our way from the airport to Mandina we were able to pick out a single Yellow - billed Kite and a couple of Hooded Vultures as well five very distinctive Pied Crows. A single Yellow - billed Shrike was perched on some telegraph wires and a coup le of Northern Red - billed Hornbills were seen.

2018 [03 March] - David Karr

PDF Report

Armed with a target ‘wish list’ of 38 species, I spent a long weekend in The Gambia hoping to get a view of some of West Africa’s more localized and less common species (full list in annex). My companion for the trip by road from Bissau was Hamilton Mo nteiro, who had recently been appointed the first African Bird Club (ABC) Representative for Guinea - Bissau.

2018 [03 March] - Richard Bashford

PDF Report

We saw a few birds alongside the regular vultures and kites, including a Namaqua Dove near the airport and our first Wattled Lapwings. We also saw two or three Western Grey Plantain-eaters flying across the road – a bird we would get to know far better over the next week. We had a glimpse or two of other birds which would have to wait.

Places to Stay

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Dalaba Lodge

Accommodation

Traditional african accomodation with modern conveniences, in the middle of the Gambian Bush. Perfect for bird watchers and those after some R&R…

Farakunku Lodges

Accommodation

Your Anglo/Gambian hosts ( Heather and Moses) offer you deluxe, secluded, country holiday accommodation for couples and single travellers, all set in a natural rural area only 2kms from the sea on the edge of Tujereng village on Gambia’s unspoilt south coast…

Fatou's Lodge

Accommodation

Fatou's Lodge is located above Tanji. There, the climate is very pleasant and it usually blows a pleasant breeze. Fatou's Lodge is also ideal for birdwatchers, as the lodge is located in the triangle to Tanji Bird Sanctuary, Brufut Forest, Madiana Waterways and Tanji River. Especially in our area is a variety of different bird species.

Footsteps Eco-Lodge

Website

The Gambia is home to more than 550 species of birds and they are all around you, which means you don’t have to go far to see some beautiful, exotic birds. In fact, at Footsteps Eco-Lodge we have over 100 species of birds within our grounds and over 150 within walking distance, so whether you are an avid birder or casual birdwatcher, novice or professional, the birding is great!

Kairaba Beach Hotel

Accommodation

Breakfast is served at the Kingfisher`s Terrace Restaurant, which enjoys a magnificent outlook over the bountiful lawns with its many birds, flowers and plants. Clients have the choice of sitting in the air-conditioned restaurant or outside on the terrace breathing the flowery scented air.

Kayira Beach Resort

Accommodation

Jinack Island,The Gambia

Laico Atlantic Hotel

Accommodation

The Atlantic Bird Garden offers the chance to relax and enjoy some colourful African plants and birds.

Mandinari River Lodge

Accommodation

You can stay at any one of our five custom built eco-lodges. They are constructed with comfort in mind but also to blend in with the natural surroundings of their beautiful backdrop, and to also give you a taste of what it is really like to live by the Riverside in western Africa.

Morgan Kunda Lodges

Accommodation

The staff here at Morgan Kunda Lodges are proud welcome holiday makers to our exclusive accommodation set in Jarjari Village – deep in the heart of the Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve, North of the river. Our newly-built lodges are staffed by local people serving both Gambian and European cuisine. Until now it was not possible to spend long periods of time in this unique nature reserve as it was only accessible via long excursions from the South. From our exclusive accommodation, you will have unrivalled access to untapped areas along the Bao Bolong, and secret locations only our Guides know about.

Paradise Inn Tanji village

Accommodation

…beautyfully located lodge containing twenty huts in typical African style with bar-restaurant(Belgian management)

Senegambia Beach Hotel

Accommodation

The hotel garden is a paradise of palm trees, beautiful flowers and exotic plants. It features not only exotic flora but fauna too. During your daily stroll through the gardens you are likely to see monitor lizards of all sizes, an array of monkeys, butterflies and the main attraction of course are the vultures which are fed by the hotel staff each morning. The hotel is a Mecca for bird-watchers and nature lovers who travel year after year to observe more 100 species of birds on the grounds of the hotel with the help of our resident bird-watcher. - The garden is excellent for birds - I saw over 70 species there Fatbirder

Observatories

Kartong Bird Observatory

Website

Satellite View

K.B.O. is located overlooking a former sand mine. Since mining stopped these areas have filled with water during each rainy season and created one of the best birding sites along the coast of The Gambia. Bird ringing began at Kartong in 1996 with the pioneering work of Mike King and John High. To carry this work forward a team of ringers from the U.K. has now established a permanent ringing station at Kartong…

Blogs

Gambia Experience Birdwatching Blog

BLOG

Here we share some of our favourite photography of the birdlife in The Gambia. What will you get the opportunity to see when you visit?

Other Links

Birds of The Gambia and Senegal

Website

…this photo group started with the intent of promoting responsible birding in The Gambia and Senegal, and sharing information for birders visiting The Gambia, Senegal, or West Africa. Of the 660+ species listed (Clements) for Senegambia, we have pictures of over 495 now: 73%. Also, discussion of trip reports, subspecies, and more. Non-profit, volunteer - with contributors from all over the world…

Photographers & Artists

Photographer - Hans Martin

Gallery

Galleries show some of my work of the past ten years, though most of it was made during the last three years…

Photographer - Mic Clark

Gallery

Birds of Gambia…