The Gambia & Senegal.

6th February 1987 - 17th February 1987.

 

6th February.

We arrived in The Gambia, at Yundum Airport on the outskirts of Banjul.

There were four of us; a representative from the Gambian tourist board, two travel agents and me. We were here, on an eight day visit, to assess various locations throughout the country suitable to run wildlife tours, and, I was to stay on for another five days to try to find a boat for a new BBC project.

After meeting officials and collecting luggage, the walk to the minibus provided us with our first taste of Gambian birds, in the trees were lots of Hooded Vultures, also 3 Pied Crows, on the ground 2 Namaqua Doves and my first new bird, several Vinaceous Doves. 

After a short drive we arrived at the Atlantic Hotel in Banjul, where we had a meeting with several tourism officials to discuss details of our route, then we were shown our rooms for the next two nights.

Later, I had chance to look around the gardens which lead out onto the beach, seeing Speckled Pigeons, 2 Long-tailed Glossy Starlings, a Pied Crow, 3 Green Wood-hoopoes, Common Bulbuls, Village Weavers, 2 White Wagtails, a Palm Dove, a Vinaceous Dove, Grey-headed Gulls, 2 Sandwich Terns, a Grey-headed Sparrow, a Black-rumped Waxbill, 2 Red-billed Hornbills, 2 Western Grey Plantain Eaters, 6 Red-billed Fire Finches, a Chiffchaff and in the evening 30+ bats of unknown species, insectiverous bats with pale bellies. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos: Hooded Vultures.

           

             Common Bulbuls.

 

7th February.

Our first full day in The Gambia and we had a free morning, I had a quick look around the hotel garden, seeing a Splendid Sunbird, Village Weavers, Pied Crows and Common Bulbuls, before setting out for a walk along the Bund Road which I had been told was a good place to birdwatch. 

But, according to the hotel staff, it was also a dangerous road to walk along on your own, especially with expensive equipment, so the hotel provided a guard to come with me, which was just as well, as just getting through the hotel gates onto the road was a real hassel with people begging or trying to sell you something, and, several times the guard had to warn some 'very shady-looking' people off during our walk. 

The Bund Road, which now appears to be called Box Bar Road, was then the only road running around the eastern side of Banjul, with mangrove and tidal creeks on its east side, ending by the harbour.

During the walk I saw Western Reef Herons, Turnstones, Ringed Plovers, a Curlew Sandpiper, Greenshanks, Redshanks, 3 Whimbrel, 3 Marsh Sandpipers, Alba wagtails, Pink-backed Pelicans, Palm Doves, Vinaceous Doves, 6 Lesser Crested Terns, Red-billed Fire Finches, a Common Sandpiper, 2 Spur-winged Plovers, 2 Black-winged Stilts, a Squacco Heron, a Grey Heron, 2 Black Terns, Black-headed Gulls, 2 Gonoleks, 7 Caspian Terns, Bar-tailed Godwits, 2 Avocets, Sanderling, 2 Pied Kingfishers, 3 Long-tailed Cormorants, a Senegal Coucal, Ruff, Wood Sandpipers, Yellow Wagtails, a Great White Egret, a Little Egret, a Black-tailed Godwit, Little Stints and 4 Cattle Egrets.

After lunch at the hotel, we travelled the short distance to the Abuko Nature Reserve, on the way and around the car park we saw 2 Western Grey Plantain Eaters, 4 Bronze Mannikins, 6 Red-billed Fire Finches, 4 Abyssinian Rollers, 

a Blue-bellied Roller, 2 Ring-necked Parakeets, a Red-billed Hornbill, a Green Wood Hoopoe, 3 Black Kites, 6 Black-headed Plovers, 6 Little Ringed Plovers, 2 Piapiacs and lots of Hooded Vultures.   

Abuko, the first nature reserve created in the Gambia, is a small fenced area of just 2 square kilometres of rain forest with a scruby buffer area to the south, several small pools at its centre with the main path circling the pools and surrounded by villages. It's incredible the wildlife it holds considering its position, and, it's apparently the closest rain forest to Europe.

We spent all afternoon here seeing 19 Western Red Colobus Monkeys, a Blue-spotted Wood Dove, 3 Gambian Sun Squirrels, 3 Common Sandpipers, Bronze Mannikins, 3 European Bee-eaters, a Woolly-necked Stork, a Yellow-billed Stork, 2 Great White Egrets, 2 Grey Herons, Spur-winged Plovers, 16 Nile Crocodiles, 3 Black Crakes, 4 African Darters, a Little Egret, 6 Long-tailed Cormorants, what I thought could be 2 Dwarf Crocodiles, 8 Black-headed Herons, 20+ Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters, 8 Callithrix Green Vervet Monkeys, 4 African Palm Swifts, Night Herons, 2 African Sand Martins, a Black Heron, a Nile Monitor which apparently is now split and called Ornate Monitor, 8 Long-crested Helmet-Shrikes, 4 Collared Sunbirds, 4 Pied Hornbills, a Grey-backed Cameroptera, an African Golden Oriole, 3 Palm-nut Vultures, 3 Olive now called African Thrushes, 3 Black Kites, Hooded Vultures, a Wahlberg's Eagle, a Fork-tailed Drongo, 2 Yellow-throated Leaf-Love now called Greenbul, 2 Scarlet-spectacled Wattle-eyes, 2 Golden-rumped Tinkerbirds, 4 Red-bellied or Black-headed  Paradise-Flycatchers, a Yellow White-eye, a Leaf-Love, an African Pygmy Kingfisher, a Western Spectacled Weaver, a Green-crested Turaco,  an African Paradise-Flycatcher, a Little Greenbul, a Western Baboon, a Beautiful Sunbird, 4 Splendid Sunbirds, around 15 Little Swifts, 2 Senegal Parrots, a Gambian Giant Rat, a Western Grey Plantain Eater, 2 Snowy-crowned Robin-Chats, a Harrier Hawk, 9 Long-tailed Glossy Starilngs, 2 Bushbucks and 2 Red Patas Monkeys.   

On the way back to the hotel we saw 30+ Palm Swifts, 3 Crested Larks, 2 Western Grey Plantain Eaters, 2 Senegal Parrots, a Red-billed Hornbill, 2 Ring-necked Parakeets, an Osprey, a Great White Egret, 30+ Little Swifts, 3 Pied Kingfishers, Grey-headed Gulls, Pied Crows and a Grey Kestrel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos: Long-tailed Cormorant.

           

            African Darter.

 

            Black Heron.

 

            Pied Hornbill.

 

 

 

 

8th February.

We left the hotel early for the first stage of a boat trip inland on the Gambia River. By the side of the road at Oyster Creek we saw 10 Red Patas Monkeys, and from there, on the river to Tendaba and in and around the scrub by Tendaba camp I saw an African Collared Dove, Grey-headed Sparrows, 2 Grey Kestrels, 2 Red-cheeked Cordon-bleus, Bronze Mannikins, Red-billed Firefinches, Hooded Vultures, Vinaceous Doves, Long-tailed Glossy Starlings, a Lavender Waxbill, Palm Doves, Namaqua Doves, Speckled Pigeons, African Mourning Doves, Western Grey Plantain Eaters, 8 Blue-bellied Rollers, Red-chested Swallows, Black Kites, Pied Crows, Common Bulbuls, 2 Senegal Coucals, 3 Yellow-billed Oxpeckers, 2 Senegal Wattled Plovers, 2 Dark Chanting Goshawks, a Brown Snake-Eagle, 5 Western Red Colobus Monkeys, 13 African Grey Hornbills, 2 Senegal Parrots, 2 Ring-necked Parakeets, 12 Piapiacs, a Rufous-crowned Roller, 4 Abyssinian Rollers, 3 Harrier Hawks, Cattle Egrets, 5 Palm-nut Vultures, 3 Blue-spotted Wood-Doves, 6 Long-crested Helmet-Shrikes, 3 Fork-tailed Drongos, a Greenshank, a Splendid Sunbird, 3 Black Wood-Hoopoes, 4 Campbell's Mona Monkeys, 2 Black-headed Herons, 2 Hamerkops, a Lizard Buzzard, 2 African White-backed Vultures, a Long-crested Eagle, 2 Squacco Herons, 4 Grey Herons, a Striped Ground Squirrel, a Marsh Harrier, an African Darter, a Great White Egret, an African Fish Eagle, 2 Red-billed Hornbills, a Pied Kingfisher, lots of Pink-backed Pelicans, Spur-winged Plovers, 2 Senegal Thick-knees, Black-winged Stilts, a Grey Woodpecker, a Vieillot's Barbet, at least 2 Black-rumped Waxbills, 40+ White-billed Buffalo Weavers, a Scarlet-chested Sunbird, a Crombec, an Oriole Warbler and a Spotted Thick-knee.  

After we had settled into our huts and had a bite to eat at Tendaba camp, I had a quick stroll alongside the river seeing an Osprey, a Gull-billed Tern, a Western Reef Heron, 2 Pink-backed Pelicans, 2 White-winged Black Terns, 2 Common Sandpipers, a Greenshank, a Whimbrel and a Redshank.

Later we departed in a much smaller boat to explore the creeks on the northern side of the Gambia River. 

Here we saw Grey Herons, 2 Squacco Herons, Grey-headed Gulls, Pink-backed Pelicans, 7 Gull-billed Terns, White-winged Black Terns, Black Terns, 3 Striated Herons, 5 Western Reef Herons, 2 African Fish Eagles, 4 Ospreys, 5 Pied Kingfishers, 2 Goliath Herons, 2 Woodland Kingfishers, a Black-headed Heron, 5 Blue-breasted Kingfishers, a Brown Sunbird, 10 African Darters, 3 Greenshank, a Palm-nut Vulture, a Nile Crocodile, Ring-necked Parakeets, a Redshank, 5 Common Sandpipers, 2 Night Herons, 10 Senegal Thick-knees, a Great White Egret, a Whimbrel, a Wood Sandpiper, a Malachite Kingfisher, a Nile Monitor, 6 Little Terns and a Royal Tern.

It was getting dark on our way back to the camp and we saw 2 West African Pipistrelles and 10+ larger, pale bellied bats, but I couldn't find out which species they were. Back at the hut there was a West African Gecko.

 

Photos: Red Patas Monkeys. River Gambia and creeks with Red Mangroves. Western Reef Heron. Pied Kingfisher.

9th February.

A look around Tendaba Camp before breakfast, in the scrub and by the river, seeing Red-billed Hornbills, Grey Hornbills, 2 Gonoleks, a Lavender Waxbill, 2 Hamerkops, a Western Grey Plantain Eater, a Blue-breasted Kingfisher, a Blackcap, White-winged Black Terns, Black Terns, a Little Swift, several species of doves, a Bearded Barbet, White-backed and Hooded Vultures and Village Weavers. 

After breakfast there was more time to explore, I found a nearby area of grassland surrounded by scrub and trees called Tendaba Airport, at least that's what was on the sign above a rickety, open-fronted shed which I guess was for passengers at one time. Here I saw 4 Senegal Coucals, a Grey Woodpecker, 6 Long-crested Helmet-shrikes, 6 Senegal Parrots, a Gonolek, 2 Crombecs, lots of Red-billed Hornbills, 2 Abyssinian Rollers, a Long-crested Eagle, an Osprey, 4 Yellow-billed Shrikes, Ring-necked Parakeets, a Croaking Cisticola, 8 Red-rumped Swallows, 4 Mosque Swallows, African Palm Swifts, 2 House Martins, 7 flava wagtails, 2 Striped Kingfishers, 10 Bush Sparrows, 2 Cut-throat Weavers, 4 Bonelli's Warblers, a Palm-nut Vulture, 2 Pale Flycatchers, a Woodchat Shrike, 12 Senegal Eremomelas and a Pygmy Sunbird. My route took me back by the river where there were Pink-backed Pelicans, 2 Great White Egrets, a Purple Heron, 8 Gull-billed Terns, 2 Grey Plovers, a Hamerkop, 4 Grey Hornbills, 2 Wheatears, a Rufous-crowned Roller, a Grey-backed Cameroptera, 3 Tawny-flanked Prinias, Black Kites and Red-eyed Doves. 

An early lunch then back on the boat for the short trip to the Farafenni/Soma cossing at Yelitenda. During the cruise I saw African Darters, White-billed Buffalo Weavers, 2 Senegal Wattled Plovers, 2 Spur-winged Plovers, 5 Abyssinian Rollers, 2 White-backed Vultures, lots of Pink-backed Pelicans, a Hoopoe, an African Golden Oriole, a Dark Chanting Goshawk, 9 Yellow-billed Storks, a Flappet Lark, 8 Chestnut-backed Finch-larks, a Woodchat Shrike, 2 Temminck's Coursers, a Wheatear, 2 Red-necked Falcons, a Grasshopper Buzzard, a Carmine Bee-eater, 8 Long-tailed Glossy Starlings, 2 Bearded Barbets, 8 Double-spurred Francolins, 4 Blue-eared Glossy Starlings, 2 Senegal Coucals, a Sand Martin, 6 Red-rumped Swallows, a Fufous-crowned Roller, a Yellow-billed Shrike, a Grey Woodpecker, several Fork-tailed Drongos and 2 Black Wood-hoopoes.

At Yelitenda we got off of our boat to catch the ferry to the north bank and then on to Farafenni where we spent the night. 

Along the banks and on the crossing I saw a West African Goshawk, a Great White Egret, 2 Greenshank, several Western Reef Herons and Grey Herons, 2 Black-winged Stilts, 2 alba wagtails, 3 African Fish Eagles, a Palm-nut Vulture, a Hamerkop, 3 Marsh Harriers, a Lesser Crested Tern, 20+ Ruff, a Whimbrel and a Gull-billed Tern.

 

Photos: Bearded Barbet, African Darter, Chestnut-backed Finch-lark.

10th February.

After breakfast at the hotel in Farafenni we visited the local market. In the town centre there were around 85 Yellow-billed Storks in the trees, also a group of 17 Pink-backed Pelicans, Little Swifts and Ring-necked Parakeets were also seen.

Then we had a drive to an area west of Farafenni seeing a Black-shouldered Kite, an Abyssinian Roller, 4 Chestnut-backed Finch Larks, 2 Spur-winged Geese, a Green Sandpiper, a Little Stint, 4 Sand Martins, a Pallid Harrier, 2 Quail Finches, 2 Dark Plain-backed Pipits, 500+ Red Bishops, a White-backed Vulture, a Montagu's Harrier, 4 Mottled-throated Spine-tailed Swifts, Red-rumped Swallows, 6+ Senegal Eremomelas, Common Bulbuls, White-billed Buffalo-weavers and Red-billed Hornbills.

 

We returned to the boat to continue our trip eastwards on the River Gambia seeing a Harrier-Hawk, a Black Kite, 6 Pied Kingfishers, a group of 22 Senegal Thick-knees all stood in a line along the top of the bank, lots of Hooded Vultures, around 60 Whimbrel, 2 Hamerkops, about 25 Ruff, a Black-headed Heron, 2 Palm-nut Vultures, 2 Great White Egrets, a Carmine Bee-eater, a Brown Harrier/Snake-Eagle, a Blue-bellied Roller, Cattle Egrets, 6 Abyssinian Rollers and 

12 Abyssinian Ground Hornbills.

We stopped for lunch at a place called Jappeni where I saw a Yellow-billed Oxpcker, 18 Marabous mainly stood in trees and 3 Common Agama lizards.

Photos: Farafenni market, Hooded Vulture, Common Agamas, Senegal Thick-knees. 

After lunch we continued our boat jouney seeing 8 Pink-backed Pelicans, a Dark Chanting Goshawk, a Gabar Goshawk, 4 Chestnut-backed Finch Larks, 4 Spur-winged Plovers, a Rufous Swamp Warbler, a Marsh Harrier, 8 Long-crested Helmet-Shrikes, Grey Hornbills, lots of Red-billed Hornbills and several Long-tailed Glossy Starlings.

By mid afternnon we had reached as far up-river as the boat was able to go and we transfered to the mini-bus. We continued east along the main road on the southern side of the River Gambia, stopping at the Jahlai Pachar rice fields which were full of birds.

Here we saw 34 Hamerkops, 17 African Jacanas, 100+ Cattle Egrets, a Marsh Harrier, 30 Yellow-billed Egrets, 10+ Great White Egrets, 20 Black-winged Stilts, 20 Wood Sandpipers, Spur-winged Plovers, a Western Reef Heron, 2 Squacco Herons, White-billed Buffalo-Weavers, Black Kites, Greater Blue-eared Glossy Starlings, a Roller, lots of Ruff, Abyssinian Rollers, Piapiacs, a Green Sandpiper, Bronze-tailed Glossy Starlings, Purple Glossy Starlings, 33 Long-tailed Cormorants, an African Pygmy Kingfisher, 4 Senegal Coucals, lots of Red Bishops, 2 Beautiful Sunbirds, a Purple Heron, 3 Blue-breasted Kingfishers, Grey Herons, an African Darter, a Black Crake, 2 Swamp Flycatchers, a Gonolek, 4 Callitrix Green Vervets, 2 Scarlet-chested Sunbird, 2 Pied Kingfishers, a Palm-nut Vulture, a Lizard Buzzard, a Winding Cisticola and 2 Grey Woodpeckers.

From there we drove to Georgetown now called Janjanbureh, and from the ferry to the island I saw a Broad-billed Roller, 100+ egrets in a roost on the bank, 3 Night Herons and a bat with orange wings flying around over the water. At the accommodation in Georgetown there were lots of bats, both fruit and true, flying around.

Photos: Brown Harrier/Snake-Eagle. Egrets at rice fields.

11th February.

Overnight in a slightly run-down, old colonial house in Georgetown/Janjanbureh, where, in the morning I saw 2 Bruce's Green Pigeons, a Yellow-billed Shrike, African Palm Swifts, Village Weavers and a Bearded Barbet.

Leaving the island we continued east on the South Bank Road towards Basse, along the way seeing lots of starlings and weavers, Senegal Parrots, Marabous, 2 Palm-nut Vultures, 3 Red Patas Monkeys, lots of hornbills and doves, 2 Dark Chanting Goshawks, 3 Grasshopper Buzzards, Cattle Egrets, 2 Blue-bellied Rollers, Abyssinian Rollers, another Yellow-billed Shrike and 2 more Bruce's Green Pigeons, a Red-necked Buzzard, a Gabar Goshawk, 2 more Bearded Barbets, 2 Carmine Bee-eaters, a Harrier-Hawk, a Pallid Harrier and an immature Brown Snake-Eagle.

Photos: Above Red-necked Buzzard, right Grasshopper                                                                                Buzzard.

 

We broke our journey at a place called Sotuma Samba, a lake surrounded by forest. Here I saw a distant Bateleur, 4 Moorhens, 8 African Jacanas, 4 Yellow-billed Oxpeckers, 3 Western Grey Plantain-Eaters, 2 White-crowned Robin-Chats, 4 Squacco Herons, a Purple Heron, 5 Blue-bellied Rollers, a Grey Heron, a Tawny Eagle, African Palm Swifts, Piapiacs, White-billed Buffalo-Weavers, 3 Hamerkops, a Great White Egret, a Black-headed Heron, Cattle Egrets, a Long-tailed Cormorant, a Harrier-Hawk, a Black-billed Wood-Dove and 4 Western Red Colobus Monkeys.

                                                                              The lake at Sotuma Samba.

After our break we continued to Basse stopping at the only place before the town that we could view the river, in this area I saw a Black-shouldered Kite, 9 Black-headed Herons, 17 Senegal Thick-knees, a Hamerkop, 2 Spur-winged Plovers and just as we were about to leave an Egyptian Plover flying down river. I was really hoping that this wasn't the only view I had of such an iconic bird.

In Basse we visited the market, the largest in this region, then went for an excellent traditional lunch.

Early afternoon we continued our journey east, at first the habitat was similar to before but as we got closer to the Senegal boarder it became a lot more arid. Along the way I saw 3 Wire-tailed Swallows, 3 African Jacanas, 2 Moorhens, 4 Lavender Waxbills, Cattle Egrets, a Yellow-crowned Bishop, a Red-throated Bee-Eater, a Gonolek, a Red-cheeked Cordon-Bleu, a Fan-tailed Drongo, a Blue-bellied Roller and a Cardinal Woodpecker.

At the Senegal boarder I saw a Double-spurred Francolin and 2 Black-headed Plovers. Joining the main road north we stopped at Gouloumbou (now spelt Gouioumbo) bridge where I saw 2 more Egyptian Plovers, 3 White-crowned Plovers, 24 Senegal Thick-knees, a Wire-tailed Swallow, a Common Sandpiper and 3 Spur-winged Plovers.

We continued towards Tambacounda and our hotel for the night, on the way seeing a Red Patas Monkey, a Dark Chanting Goshawk and 4 White-throated Francolins.

Egyptian Plover near Basse.

 

   The market at Basse & the River Gambia from Gouloumbou/Gouioumbo Bridge.

12th February.

An early morning stroll around the garden of the hotel in Tambacounda, seeing a Little Green Bee-eater, Red Bishops, Grey-headed Sparrows and Grey Hornbills.

After breakfast we departed on the road south-east for a one night stay in Niokolo Koba National Park

We stopped just outside of the town to view an eagle soaring overhead, a Beaudouin's Snake-Eagle, along the way there were lots of doves, Abyssinian Rollers, starlings, finches, Red-billed and Grey Hornbills, and I also saw 2 White-throated Francolins, 7 Double-spurred Francolins, 4 Bearded Barbets, 3 Abyssinian Ground Hornbills, a Grasshopper Buzzard, a Harrier-Hawk and a Brown Snake-Eagle.

We stopped for a break at the Ouassadou (now called Wassadougou) Bridge over the River Sanone where we saw a Banded Snake-Eagle, here we left the main road and headed south on a dirt track, at times we pasted quite open habitat, and also areas of dense bush, where the minibus driver told us to close all the windows to keep out Tsetse Flies, along the way I saw a Black Crake, a Double-spurred Francolin, a Red-throated Bee-eater, a Common Sandpiper, a Monitor Lizard, a Blue-breasted Kingfisher, 2 Gonoleks, 3 Western Grey Plantain-Eaters, a Black-billed Wood-Dove, a Swamp Flycatcher and lots of Red-headed Queleas.

Abyssinian Roller.

As we approached our destination, the camp at Sementi, the track gave way to a large grassy marsh full of mammals and birds.

Here we saw 10 Bohor Reedbuck, a Striped Ground Squirrel, around 40 Guinea Baboons, 7 Bushbuck, 11 Kob, 30+ Defassa Waterbuck, about 35 Sitatunga and 14 Warthogs.

Of the birds there was a Dark Chanting Goshawk, several Little Green Bee-eaters, 4 Four-banded Sandgrouse, a Palldi Harrier, 2 Western Grey Plantain-Eaters, 30+ Red-throated Bee-eaters, and while watching the bee-eaters I saw an all black bee-eater, unfortunately only briefly and only the upper parts as it swooped infront of me and then headed away over the marsh, a Black Bee-eater, not conclusive on such a view and it would be several hundred miles north of its main range in Guinea.

I also saw around 75 Helmeted Guineafowl, a West African Little Sparrowhawk, 2 Bearded Barbets, lots of Spur-winged Geese and African Jacanas, 6 Hadada Ibises, Black-winged Stilts and Piapiacs. 

Reaching Sementi we were shown to our huts and then met-up for lunch. Sementi is on the edge of the marsh and overlooks the Gambia River, where I saw a White-crowned Plover (also called White-headed Lapwing), a Pied Kingfisher and running around infront of me on the paths between the huts were 2 Egyptian Plovers.

                                        Kob.                                                                                     Kob and Waterbuck at Niokolo Koba

After lunch we got back in the minibus for an excursion along a track to the east of Sementi which ended at a spot called Lion Camp, which firstly edged the marsh and then for the most part followed the river. The first bird seen was a Bateleur preening in a tree, I also saw a Black-headed Heron, several Wood Sandpipers and Snipe, 6 Blue-bellied Rollers, a Martial Eagle, 2 flava wagtails, a Green Sandpiper, Cattle Egrets, Squacco Herons, a Wahlberg's Eagle and I also saw another 10 eagles soaring very high, 2 Yellow-billed Egrets, a Shikra, 2 Grey Kestrels, a Pintail, a Red Patas Monkey, a Spur-winged Plover, a Cardinal Woodpecker, a Beautiful Sunbird, a Village Indigobird, 5 Orange-cheeked Waxbills, a Cinnamon-breasted Rock Bunting, 2 Melodious Warblers, several White-backed Vultures, 5 Black Crowned Cranes, 20+ Comb Ducks, several White-faced Whistling Ducks, a Saddle-billed Stork, 2 African Fish Eagles, an African Hobby and 9 Stone Partridges.

There is nothing at Lion Camp except for a small grassy area surrounded by bush which in former times is where hunters used to pitch their tents, before setting out to hunt Lions. Asking our guide if it was OK to walk around, he said yes, Lions are very rare in the park and haven't been reported from here in years.

The bush was quite thick at Lion Camp and it was difficult to see into, so we left to return the way we had come, a few minutes later as we drove above a dried up gully a male and female Lion walked into view, below and parallel to us at about 30 metres distance, walking at an unhurried pace they were in view for several minutes before disappearing into the bush again.

On the way back I added to the day list, seeing a Palm-nut Vulture, 10 Pink-backed Pelicans, a Marsh Harrier, a Blue-breasted Kingfisher, several Yellow-fronted Canarys, a Blue Duiker and a Black-bellied Bustard.

Arriving back at Sementi we saw a huge sleeper-coach, which was full of German tourists, who were very unhappy at our Lion sighting, as they had been travelling around the park for days and had not seen one.

 

 

Photos: Gambia River from Sementi.

 

             Below: Red-throated Bee-eaters. Bateleur.  

13th February.

An early start with a look around the camp at Sementi and viewing the adjacent marsh. I saw around 50 Spur-winged Geese, Cattle Egrets, 2 Yellow-billed Shrikes, Double-spurred Francolins, Wood Sandpipers, Snipe, lots of doves, Helmeted Giuneafowl, 2 White-cowned Plovers, 7 Senegal Thick-knees, a Common Sandpiper, 2 Black Flycatchers, 6 Red-cheeked Cordon-bleus, lots of Vitelline Masked Weavers and running around on the paths and perch on the wall overlooking the river 5 Egyptian Plovers, an African Fish Eagle, 10 Waterbuck, 2 Blue Duikers, several Red-billed and Grey Hornbills and Red-throated Bee-eaters.

After breakfast we had a quick trip down to the River Gambia where we saw a Hippopotamus, a Hamerkop, various starling species, 3 Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weavers and a Splendid Sunbird.

Returning to Sementi we packed up the mini-bus for the long drive back to Banjul.

We made a stop at Ouassadou / Wassadougou bridge where I saw Little Green Bee-eaters, a Hamerkop, an Egyptian Plover, a Nile Monitor, a Grey Heron and 

3 Egyptian Mongooses. Later, before we crossed in to The Gambia I saw 2 Abyssinian Ground Hornbills.

We really didn't have time to stop on the journey except for lunch and arrived back at the Atlantic Hotel after dark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos: River Gambia from Sementi.

 

             Egyptian Plovers.

  

14th February.

At the Atlantic Hotel in Banjul, The Gambia, the rest of the group left today, I stayed on for another four days to try to arrange a boat for a future BBC project.

15th February.

As it was Sunday I couldn't do anything about finding the BBC a boat, so I arranged for a taxi to take me to Abuko and collect me late afternoon. In the bushes at the entrance were Callitrix Green Monkeys, Gambian Sun Squirrels and overhead 30+ Mottled Spinetail Swifts.

I made my way to the hide were I saw 2 African Spoonbills, 12 Black-headed Herons, a pair of Spur-winged Plovers with 4 chicks, 19 Nile Crocodiles and 4 much smaller crocodiles which I took to be Dwarf Crocodiles. The hide overlooks the pool and during the time I was there lots of birds came in to drink, including Red-billed or Blue-spotted Wood-Doves, Black-billed Wood-Doves, 3 Little Greenbuls and 9 Olive, now called African Thrushes. I also saw a Hamerkop, several Hooded Vultures, 4 Squacco Herons, a Western Reef Heron, 2 Common Sandpipers, 2 Green Sandpipers, a Wood Sandpiper, 3 Harrier-Hawks, 12 Night Herons, 3 African Darters, 2 Red-necked Buzzards, 2 Long-tailed Cormorants, a Yellow-billed Stork, a Great White Egret, a Grey Heron, 4 Pied Kingfishers and 4 Monitor Lizards which at the time were classified as Nile Monitors but are now a seperate species called Ornate Moniter.

In the trees around the hide and on the walk along the eastern side of the pools I saw lots of Common Bulbuls, a Yellow-throated Leaf-Love, 3 Western Grey Plantain-Eaters, 2 Grey-headed Bristle-bills, several Black Kites, 3 Pied Hornbills, a Little Egret, 3 Green Wood-Hoopoes, 3 Fanti's Saw-wings, 4 Red-bellied or Black-headed Paradise-Flycatchers, a Senegal Puff-back Flycatcher now known as Senegal Batis, an African Golden Oriole, 8 Black-necked Weavers, 3 Green-backed Camaropteras, 2 Black Flycatchers, 2 Scarlet-spectacled Wattle-Eyes, 

4 Western Bluebills, several Red-billed Firefinches, lots of Village Weavers, 2 Grey-headed Sparrows, several Bronze Mannikins, at least one Black-headed Weaver, Red-cheeked Cordon-Bleus, 3 Beautiful Sunbirds and a Western Baboon.

At the southern end of the reserve was a recently acquired large area of scrub (which has probably matured and grown up now), here I saw 4 Little Bee-eaters, 2 Pied-winged  Swallows, a Milky or Verreaux's Eagle-Owl even at a distance it's pink eyelids stood out, 2 Grey Hornbills, African Palm Swifts, 4 Double-spurred Francolins, a Tawny-flanked Prinia, 7 Red-billed Hornbills, a Black-headed Bush-Shrike or Black-crowned Tchagra, a Lavender Waxbill, a Brown Babbler, 2 Melodious Warblers, several Scarlet-chested Sunbirds, a Spotted Honeyguide, a Grey Woodpecker, a Striped Ground Squirrel, an African Paradise-Flycatcher, 4 Leaf-Loves, 3 Bushbucks and 2 Cattle Egrets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos: Right: Little Greenbul. 

             Bellow: African or Olive Thrush, Harrier-Hawk,                                Ornate Monitor, Milky Eagle-Owl,

                           Grey Hornbill.

 

Nile Crocodiles

Black-billed Wood-Dove

16th February.

In Banjul and a visit to the town centre, around the harbour I saw lots of Little Swifts and several Red-chested Swallows.

17th February.

My last day in The Gambia, from the hotel beach I saw Little and Common Terns and Grey-headed Gulls.

After breakfast I spent the morning at Abuko seeing a Wood Sandpiper, lots of Night Herons, an African Darter, Spur-winged Plovers, a Great White Egret, a Western Reef Heron, lots of Callithrix Green Vervet Monkeys, a Long-tailed Cormorant, a Grey Heron, a Cattle Egret, 3 probable Dwarf Crocodiles and 3 Nile Crocodiles, an Ornate Monitor, Black Kites and Hooded Vultures, 2 African Spoonbills, a Pied Kingfisher, 6 Western Red Colobus Monkeys, a Little Greenbul, a Palm-nut Vulture, a Giant Kingfisher, a Squacco Heron, a Harrier-Hawk, 2 Yellow-billed Shrikes, 5 Ring-necked Parakeets, 2 Fork-tailed Drongos and lots of doves. 

In the southern scrubby area was a Whinchat, lots of Red Bishops, 2 Purple Glossy Starlings, 2 African Hobbys, a Little Bee-eater, African Palm Swifts, a Black-shouldered Kite, 6 Grey-headed Sparrows, 4 Wattled Plovers, a Variable Sunbird, 2 Senegal Coucals, 3 Double-spurred Francolins, a Coppery Sunbird, lots of Village Weavers, a Blackcap Babbler, 5 Scarlet-chested Sunbirds, Red-billed Hornbills, 2 Western Grey Plantain-Eaters, a Red-breasted Paradise-Flycatcher and a Cranshay's Hare.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos: Immature Night Heron.

  

             Callithrix Green Vervet Monkey.

 

             Western Red Colobus Monkey.

 

             Squacco Heron.

© 2014  Nigel Tucker. All rights reserved.

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