Trip Report : The Gambia November 2023

Fourteen members of SBBOT enjoyed a very successful 2-week trip to The Gambia in November. The trip was organised by John van der Dol and used Tijan Kanteh as our local guide. A brief oversight of our itinerary is given below.

During our trip we recorded over 220 bird species, including our targets of the elusive African Finfoot, 8 enigmatic Egyptian Plovers, Goliath Heron, Adamawa Turtle Dove, Long-tailed Nightjar, Exclamatory Paradise and Pin-tailed Wydah’s. Northern Carmine Bee-eater and a male Black-casqued Hornbill, the only one known to be resident in The Gambia. The full list of species is too numerous to report here but will be included in a fuller Trip Report to be added onto the SBBOT website. To give you a taster the list includes 14 types of Heron / Egrets, 22 Raptors, 19 waders, 7 Gulls / Terns, 10 Pigeons / Doves, 4 Owls, 5 Rollers, 8 Kingfishers...

We also saw several species of primates, reptiles and amphibians. One of the tour group (Ron Waters) took his own mobile moth trap, and whilst the number of moth species was disappointingly low, he did find over 20 species of butterflies.

For the first three days of the trip, we were based at the Bakuto Hotel just outside the capital Banjul. and visited the nearby birding sites of Kotu Bridge, Cape Point and Melakissa. We then crossed the River Gambia on the ferry from Banjul to Barra before driving along the north bank of the River up country to Georgetown to stay 2 nights at Baobolong Camp stopping at Kaur Wetlands and Njau Waterhole. From Georgetown we used a boat to explore the riverbanks with a stop at Kunkilling Forest. We then crossed the river and drove down the south bank of the river, stopping for 2 nights at Tendaba, where we enjoyed boat rides to bird along the creeks of Tunku and Kisi Babong and walks around Wassu Quarry and Kiang West. From Tendaba we returned to the Bakuto Hotel for the final days, from where we visited Brufut Forest, Pirang, the beach at Tanji, Bund Road, Lamin Lodge and Sofie Forest. We also had a visit to Kartong Bird Observatory, where an ex-SBBOT member Colin Cross is the Warden, and we enjoyed close views of several resident African species (e.g. Northern Crombec, Yellow-tailed Woodpecker, etc) and several European migrants (e.g. Nightingale, Whitethroat, etc, with the volunteer ringing team allowing one of our members (Rob Stephenson) to help with the ringing.

Yes, at times the traffic was coming at us in all directions, the roads very dusty, the street markets full of colour, noise and chaos, the temperature was hot and humid, but it was a great adventure, well organised, good company, hardly a mossie in sight or sound and what you would expect from The Gambia excellent birding. And, of course, as with all trips some great memories created, stories to tell, etc. Lastly, but not least, the Tour made a small donation to SBBOT.

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