TRAVELLING NATURALIST TRIP REPORT
28th November to 12th December, 2003
Driver: Omar Tall
The amazing migration of butterflies
Dwarf Bittern at Marakissa Bridge
Breakfast under a Baobab
Heron roost on the boat trip, Senegal
Kaulak wetlands stop, Senegal
The stunning Exclamatory Paradise-whydahs flitting over elephant grass
Four-banded Sandgrouse seen on two evenings at Janjangbureh
Red-throated Bee-eaters, Bansang quarry
Martial Eagle looking like the back end of a donkey - the first of four birds seen
Friday 28th November
Yellow-billed Kites were sitting on the tarmac to greet us at Banjul Airport after an uneventful flight from Gatwick. Hundreds of Little Swifts were in the air, Pied Crows swooped around and jungle drums were beating to greet us. It was hot, noisy, chaotic, and above allÍ Africa.
We were soon at the Hotel Senegambia where Broad-billed Rollers were gathering in the trees as we waited for our luggage.
A walk after unpacking saw some of the group ticking nicely as we watched a flock of Brown Babblers, several Red-billed Hornbills, male Beautiful and Scarlet-chested sunbirds, House and Grey-headed Sparrows and a couple of Village Weavers.
A commotion on the other side of a hedge drew our attention to a piece of waste ground which was swarming with birds. Two stunning Yellow-crowned Gonoleks were seen, and heard calling in duet, while a White-crowned Robin-chat picked around with Brown Babblers in a compost heap. A couple of Red-cheeked Cordonbleu and six Lavender Waxbills were flitting around watched by Common Bulbuls and a female Grey Wood-pecker above in the branches of a dead tree.
A Common Buzzard was a puzzle for a while (it remained in the hotel grounds for the whole holiday) as was a distant Palm-nut Vulture.
Dinner was eaten outside and accompanied by the antics of several Gambian Epauletted Fruit-bats and a smaller unidentified bat. We retired to the sound of native dancers after a full tour briefing.
Saturday 29th November
Bijilo forest reserve and the Kotu Creek area
The first full day in a new destination is always great fun and today was no exception. Scores of new birds were seen, highlights being a Pearl-spotted Owlet, Blue-bellied Roller, Bearded Barbet, three Pomarine Skuas and, as an extraordinary bonus, millions of migrating African White butterflies.
Our morning started with a pre-breakfast walk around the hotel gardens which added Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird and Intermediate Egret to the ever-growing list.
We met guide Lamin Touray and driver Omar Tall and set off to the Bijilo Forest Reserve - all of two hundred yards away. The walk was quiet to start but soon we were happily watching birds such as Grey-hornbill, Red-billed Wood-dove, Bearded Barbet and Blue-bellied Roller. A small flock of Little Bee-eaters failed to live up to their name by slaying dragons (dragonflies that is) which were abundant. Two Levaillant's Cuckoos perched and preened while later in a similar leafless tree a pair of Northern Crombecs was watched.
Out at sea a passage of hundreds of Sandwich Terns was taking place. A few Gull-billed Terns were among them.
Mammals were also seen with an enchanting family of Gambian Sun Squirrels which had taken over the hollowed trunk of a topless palm and were playing follow-the-leader (theirs not oursÍ) plus a small troop of three Savannah (Green Vervet) Monkeys.
Lunch was delicious and cool, at the top of a sandy beach in the appropriately named Paradise Restaurant at Kotu Beach. Spice was added to the meal in the form of passing Pomarine Skuas and three Caspian Terns. But feature of the stop was the incredible sight of a blizzard in The Gambia - African White butterflies were streaming past in their hundreds of thousands. It would have been a good day to get married.
A walk past nearby rice fields was delayed by birds which popped up before us: Long-tailed Cormorant, Darter and a few Senegal Parrots started the show while Western Reef-heron, Little Egret, Squacco Heron and a badly oiled Grey Heron provided the supporting cast.
Birds of prey were represented by a Black-shouldered Kite and a Harrier-hawk which, sadly, was most uncooperative.
Lots of Yellow-billed Shrikes were seen on the walk as was a Double-spurred Francolin sitting in a tree showing its spurs. But star bird went to Daphne who found a Pearl-spotted Owlet, only to be ignored by the leader who was trying to show her something else.
A trip to the Kotu Ponds produced several species of wader including Green and Common Sandpipers, Greenshank, lots of Wood Sandpipers, Black-winged Stilts and also a Black Crake.
Sunday 30 November
Marikissa forest and Darsilami
We had our first experience of the real Africa today passing through several villages and stopping in a market town for 15 minutes as essential telephone calls were made to our lunch-stop river-camp. The hustle and bustle were extraordinary, colour was everywhere - women's dresses, men's dish-dashes - and we met children who soon became our 'Gambian friends'. The birding was good too with many Pallid Swifts overhead.
We stopped for two Grey Kestrels before entering the beautiful riverine forest at Marikissa. It was a little quiet but we saw an African Oriole on the way down to the river and Black Crake, African Jacana and a rather dull-looking Malachite Kingfisher.
The grass was as high as an elephant's eye - a result of the plentiful rains of the wet season - but we still pushed on through it to be rewarded with the find of a Village Weaver city - hundreds of nests in two acacia trees. A Yellow-billed Kite attempted to turn a nest into a lunch box but a cloud of birds leapt into the air crying in distress and the raptor moved off.
Failing to find Livingston (we presumed) our steps were retraced to the river when a Tawny Eagle came up over the trees. A Red-bellied Paradise-flycatcher was admired before we stopped to watch a man cutting palm fronds for use as roofing. As he climbed down the tree a small flock of Green Woodhoopoes flew past.
Lunch at the Marakissa River Camp was good but hit a hiatus as we waited for Lamin and Omar's fish to be delivered from the town (possibly to be caught from the sea also - Ed). We filled the time by admiring Wattled Plovers resting on the bank, Giant Kingfishers racing up and down (and perching above our heads) and Long-tailed Glossy-starlings screaming around the gardens. You leader caused pandemonium by discovering a small Nile Crocodile sunning itself on the bank where children often swim. It was the first ever seen at the camp and had to be observed by everyone who worked there - from the gatekeeper to the chef.
Our afternoon turned into a scorcher with temperatures above 35°C. This made searching Darsilami Creek difficult but we were rewarded with several Marsh Sandpipers, an Osprey (carrying a fish), four resting Senegal Thick-knees, and two Brown Snake-eagles.
A flock of Red Bishops had a Yellow-crowned Bishop in it. Quailfinches were heard but seen badly as they flew away, and several Zitting Cisticolas lead us a dance as we tried to get good views.
Bird of the day for many came late when we stopped at the Marakissa Bridge on the way back to the hotel. A Dwarf Bittern was seen, rather badly, perched in a palm tree. Close by was a Blue-breasted Kingfisher and our last studied birds of the day were three African Pied Hornbills spotted by Lamin. Two Nile Monitor Lizards, one chasing the other, almost killed themselves by racing in front of the bus.
Monday 1 December
Abuko nature reserve
Beautiful Abuko - The Gambia's premiere nature reserve and a wonderful place to spend a morning. Except that a morning is not long enough. We became absorbed by finding birds in the deep jungle thickets and before we were a quarter of the way around the reserve it was time to leave.
But the time was well spent. We had great views from the hide across Crocodile Pond (four were seen) where we recorded our first Violet Turacos and Fanti Sawwings. Giant Kingfishers, Black-headed Herons, and a Common Sand-piper were all seen in a picture-book setting of a lily-pond surrounded by deep jungle.
Walking through the forest Lamin was able to point out a pair of courting Collared Sunbirds, a roosting Verreaux's Eagle-owl, which blinked its pink eyelids at us, and Red-breasted Paradise-flycatchers.
The action was not limited to birds, either. A Striped Ground Squirrel was picking around in leaf litter while a few moments later a troop of Western Red Colobus threatened to disturb the Eagle-owl.
David and Joyce had elected to remain in the hide and were rewarded with views of Green Turaco. Joyce was the only beneficiary of a Snowy-crowned Scrub-chat found by your leader on the way back to the bus. It was with reluctance we dragged ourselves away to an excellent lunch at the Lamin Creek Lodge.
Wildlife is tops with Travelling Naturalist holidays but it came a bit too close when a small troop of Savannah Monkeys came into the lodge, tempted by peanuts fed to them by other guests, despite signs urging the contrary.
A lone Gull-billed Tern was seen over lunch but the road out was a better bet with lots of Village Weavers, two Little Bee-eaters and a Red-billed Firefinch noted by David.
We returned to the hotel for a siesta through the heat of the day and went out again at 6pm for a crack at nightjars. This expedition turned into farce and fame when, as we were searching for nightjars, Omar decided to follow us across sand dunes and the bus became bogged to the axles.
As we stood waiting for a bus Colonel B. Jaffa, Chief of Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces, pulled up in his people carrier and took us all back to the hotel. It was a squeeze to get us in but a great stroke of luck.
To cap it all, we had seen no nightjars and attempts to find Temminck's Courser resulted in great views of Black-headed Plover, poorer ones of Piapiac and scores of Cattle Egrets passing over to roost, but no sign of our quarry.
Tuesday 2 December
Old Cape Road and Bund Road
Watching egrets, waders, gulls and terns was the order of the day. We started with a hike across salt-flats off the Old Cape Road. Sand Martins were seen by some but everyone enjoyed 'scope views of Wattled and Spur-winged plovers roosting together. A Whimbrel, the first of about 30 during the morning, was found with them later.
Lamin took us to a site where a pair of his favourite birds - Yellow-throated Longclaw - was found in ridiculously long grass.
John saw and pointed out a Striated Heron which was rapidly putting distance between us and it, while a Grey Plover, again the first of about 30, was found on the return walk.
We went through a small but strongly-smelling fish drying place on our way to a beachside café where birds were roosting. The smell did not put off Redshank, Marsh Sandpiper or Little Bee-eater which were in the vicinity.
At the café we sorted out the gulls and terns on a roost, found two Slender-billed Gulls feeding with Eurasian Oystercatchers, and glimpsed a Ruddy Turnstone before it ran off out of sight. Two Malachite Kingfishers saw us away from the area and we headed for the busy Bund Road.
Here we stopped several times watching birds on rapidly covering mud-flats as the tide came in. Lots of waders were seen, including Sanderling, Curlew Sandpiper, Bar-tailed Godwits and Ringed Plovers. Highlight of the visit was the sight of three groups of Black Egret, totalling 30 in all, which flew past strongly.
Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters sat on wires opposite us and Pink-backed Pelicans rose to get over the obstacle as they glided down into the bay. Terns were plentiful with Royal, Caspian, Little, Sandwich and Gull-billed settled on the mud.
At the lunch stop we saw more Oystercatchers plus Lesser Black-backed Gull and Common Tern.
We enjoyed a short siesta before doing the day's log while watching Glossy starlings, Red-cheeked Cordonbleu and an African Thrush which came down to drink opposite your author's room. Broad-billed Rollers were chasing through the trees and a Yellow-crowned Gonolek was duetting in the deep bushes (surely two were needed to sing in duet? - Ed).
We finished the day with a relaxing stroll around the gardens, meeting a Savannah Monkey doing the same.
Wednesday 3 December 2003
Barra, Berending and Keur Saloum
Breakfast under a Baobab tree is a glorious way to recover from an early departure and a ferry crossing of the River Gambia. As we ate a great breakfast provided by West African Tours (plus a second from the hotel) we watched roosting terns and waders, including Little Tern and Ruddy Turnstone, in their hundreds. A pair of Red-necked Falcons was found eating a fish while lines of Cattle Egrets crossed the estuary.
The picnic had followed a 'comfort stop' using the police station facilities in Barra. This involved passing some shady-looking individuals in the cells and using loos in a courtyard behind. John was seen exiting the prisoners' loo while Daphne said that the facilities had been provided 'in the nick of time'. She was corrected - it was the Nick of Barra, your leader commented.
We were soon watching more new birds near the village of Essau - Northern Anteater Chats, Mottled Spinetails and wintering Whinchat. Another Palaearctic migrant which enjoys the winter in Senegambia is Melodious Warbler. We heard one and saw another at the Senegal hotel.
Moving on to Berending we had a thin time of it in an abandoned quarry but did get views of African Hawk-eagle. On a walk through savannah woodland to rice fields we found lots of familiar birds and added White-crested Helmet-shrike to our list. Raptors were plentiful but characteristically difficult. A pair of Grey Kestrels refused to be watched and a Martial Eagle high overhead disappeared far too quickly.
Taking a short-cut to the Dakar road we saw a beautiful Grasshopper Buzzard which displayed its stunning, subtle, rufous wings as it flew off. Our first Yellow-billed Oxpecker was found by Marion but we had difficulty in getting good views.
Leaving The Gambia and entering Senegal was a long-winded but smooth affair (which also involved your leader slinking behind a wall with a shady money-dealer to get local currency).
Looking for a place to stop for our second picnic we were delighted to see two parties of the beautiful Patas Monkey which can occasionally be seen in this area.
We pulled into the entrance lodge of a private game reserve and enjoyed spotless facilities, chairs under shade-giving trees and myriads of butterflies as we ate lunch (again with a meal from the hotel and another provided by West Africa Tours). Eurasian Griffon and Rüppell's Griffon were seen at a great height but provided little satisfaction.
Giving our spare food to the reserve workers, we headed off to the hotel at Keur Saloum where we unpacked before setting off for a walk around the vicinity. This added Bruce's Yellow Pigeon and Black-rumped Waxbill to the trip list.
It also added a number of birds to our new country list which, at the call-over, included three species with Senegal in the common name and five with it in the scientific.
Thursday 4 December
Missirah area and first pirogue trip
A delightfully relaxing day as we explored the Missirah area and went out into the mangroves on our first boat trip.
Starting at a ford just before the Nemaba Bridge, we saw our third troop of Patas Monkeys which gave better views than yesterday's. Many of the more familiar birds were seen, including 10 Senegal Thick-knees, when a familiar 'Chiswick, Chiswick' call was heard and a wintering White Wagtail, dropped in.
At the bridge we watched a swarm of House Martins dipping into the pool to wash and drink, accompanied by lots of Mottled Spinetails and a number of Red-rumped Swallows. After tasting the local ground-nuts we were fortunate to spot a Striped Kingfisher, a species which has exchanged fishing for gleaning grasshoppers and locusts.
Missirah is a bustling fishing town with a big fish-smoking industry next to which we saw a pair of White-rumped Seedeaters, Village Indigobirds and masses of Little Swifts nesting in an open-sided warehouse. Few raptors were up as we returned to the hotel for a delicious lunch but we did see several Grasshopper Buzzards and Grey Kestrels.
The pirogue trip later in the afternoon produced a succession of great birds with a bleached Purple Heron, a Mouse-brown Sunbird clinging to its nest and a Goliath Heron heading the cast. A sand-bar high tide roost-site held several Curlew, 120 Oystercatchers, terns, a couple of Slender-billed Gulls and two Yellow-legged Gulls.
The boat trip was relaxing, cool and exciting. In all we saw 25 species of which five were new to the trip. Herons featured well with Purple and Goliath as new birds, plus Curlew, Yellow-legged Gull and, bird of the day for some, Mouse-brown Sunbird clinging to the side of its tiny, flotsam-like nest.
We moored next to a mangrove-covered island which is used by herons and cormorants as a roost, notching up an impressive total:
Western Reef Heron 260
Little Egret 12
Cattle Egret 60
Intermediate Egret 1
Great White Egret 1
Long-tailed Cormorant 135
Pied Kingfisher 30
In addition, about 75 Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters and five Pink-backed Pelicans flew over as we waited. The roost might have been bigger but for three boats which arrived noisily and moored close to the island's mangroves.
Friday 5 December
Keur Saloum to Janjangburah (formerly Georgetown)
Travel days can be tough in Africa but this was an exception (until the last hour when we all were a little weary). Several stops were made in some of the Senegambia's best wetlands - Kaulak in Senegal and the Kau-ur on the north bank of the river.
Our first stop was due to a shout for about 20 Lesser Kestrels (the final count was 50), then a call went out as Chestnut-bellied Starlings were found - a few were on the top of bushes to the bus's port side. Great White Pelicans were seen flying right and to our amazement, a narrow line of white in the grass far down on the other side of the road turned out to be a vast gathering of birds - pelicans by the beak-full (Great White and Pink-backed) egrets, herons and a cloud of Whiskered Terns over the top. Marion called our attention to a line of birds in which we finally counted 19 Black Storks.
Marsh Harriers and a dark-phase Montagu's Harrier were quartering the fields, and a Greater Flamingo disturbed your author's bush-stop as it flew over. As if all this were not enough, we also had visitors at our feet - Brian pointed out a pair of Chestnut-backed Sparrow-larks while a small colony of African Silverbills was found too.
Eventually driving on we noted more flamingos in a huge lake a few minutes later, quickly followed by a Crested Lark at the roadside. A stop to examine a Dark Chanting Goshawk also produced views of Common Swift. And our last new bird before leaving Senegal was Great Cormorant, a line of which flew past as we crossed a tributary of the River Gambia. The local race has white running down the neck and over the chest to stop sharply.
Turning left at Farafenni to follow the newly improved north bank road, we passed under a tree with a colony of about 30 pairs of Yellow-billed Storks, quite a shock. We were soon in drier country where shallow pools acted like magnets to birds. Male Exclamatory Paradise-whydahs were common in places, making us gasp as they trailed their exotic broad tails behind them.
Lots were dinking in the pools and we soon added Namaqua Dove, Garden Warbler, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, to sightings of more common birds. Arriving at the Kau-ur wetlands was a mixed blessing as the birds were plentiful but road works were still in progress and we were eventually moved on. Not before the Travelling Naturalist luck had worked, however, as Collared Pratincole, Kittlitz's Plover, Little Stint and the blue-headed race of Yellow Wagtail were added to our list.
Lunch was a great picnic prepared by the hotel and taken in the shade of a huge tree. A vast amount of egg and tuna salad was left, despite our best efforts, and we presented it to a local family who sweetly sent us two maize cobs (before they knew what we were offering them) as a gift. Some of us went down to meet the family and have a go at pounding maize, a hot and tiring job.
While that was happening, John found a Splendid Starling while a Greater Honeyguide was pointed out by Lamin.
Our last major stop was to look for Painted Snipe at a well-known reedy pool. They could not be found but just as your leader was showing a Black Egret doing the umbrella trick with its wings to some of the group, John spotted two Egyptian Plovers which had landed on the road a few metres in front of the bus.
They flew off before good 'scope views could be obtained but we soon located them and two more feeding and roosting on a muddy bank. The birds were stunning and much admired. The final count was five for the pool, an impressive sighting of this enigmatic bird.
The excitement was still high as we drove the last stretch to Janjangbureh with just a stop for a perched Lanner Falcon and a quick visit to the Wassu Stone Circle.
The last new birds of the day were a pair of Swamp Flycatchers and a Grey-headed Bush-shrike at the ferry terminal.
We were all tired when we arrived at the Baobulong Bush Camp but agreed that it had been a spectacular day.
Saturday 6 December
We spent a quiet day around the camp area. Nevertheless, a African Paradise-flycatcher seen above the breakfast table was a new bird for the trip. It was soon followed by others as we searched the local rice fields for Painted snipe, again unsuccessfully, although two flushed birds could have been this species.
The fields were hotching with herons and we added Black-crowned Night-heron and saw the first 20 of about 30 Squacco Herons for the day.
After a siesta back at the camp, the late afternoon was spent birding close to the Bird Safari Lodge where we should have stayed but the track down was impassable for our bus. An overwintering Common Redstart was found by Lamin and three Vieillot's Barbets were admired. Three Bearded Barbets also put in an appearance, one causing much debate as it appeared to have a lizard's tail sticking out of its beak. We finally realised that the unfortunate bird had a greatly elongated upper mandible which looked like an overgrown finger-nail.
Our main interest was to see sandgrouse but we enjoyed the general birding as we waited for dusk to fall. The wait was sweetened by finding two Stone Partridges dust-bathing on the path ahead and a Gabar Goshawk which flew almost over our heads. The reward itself was spectacular. No fewer than 20 Four-banded Sandgrouse flew in to feed on the track in front of us. Excellent views were had before the birds disappeared as night fell.
Sunday 7 December
Basse Santa Su and back
Bee-eaters and Basse are synonymous and the generality held out for us too. One of the highlights of the trip was to see scores (about 100 pairs) of Red-throated Bee-eaters in Banseng quarry. They were festooned about the trees and clinging to the many holes in a sandy quarry face.
The day almost revolved, not around bee-eaters but Painted-snipe, a species which has eluded us so far. We searched the Janjangbureh rice fields before breakfast (a pleasant way to start the day) and tried a number of places around Basse, but to no avail.
On the way to Basse we stopped at Banseng quarry where there were a few Red-throated Bee-eaters and the little pools were attracting numbers of drinking finches and weavers including Yellow-fronted Canaries, Bush Petronias and several Cinnamon-breasted Buntings.
The journey, which took us deep into The Gambia's Upper River Division, was punctuated with stops for raptors sitting in trees or wheeling in thermals. These included a Rüppell's Griffon, Lanner and several Dark Chanting Goshawks. Single Brown Snake Eagle, Gabar Goshawk and African Hawk-eagle were seen
Trying to see birds on the ground has proved impossible on this tour as the roadside undergrowth was so thick following the heavy and late rains. Evidence of the resultant flood was shown to us in Basse - the water level where we parked the bus high above the river would have almost covered the vehicle. The flood had washed away much of the accommodation at Fulladu Camp another site we had planned to spend a night.
Lamin knows the area well and took us on a hot walk across Prufu marshes to a clump of bushes where, to our delight, we saw about eight Northern Carmine Bee-eaters. A dead donkey en-route was attracting large numbers of scavengers, including one White-backed vulture. Two Marsh Harriers were quartering the rice fields which teemed with more common waterbirds.
The afternoon's Red-throated Bee-eater spectacle was almost missed as time had moved on and we were late for the ferry. But we stopped again at the quarry and there they were in all their glory. The short section to the ferry was done in only a few minutes leaving us plenty of time to pick up police officers from a nearby road-check and take them to Janjangbureh.
Monday 8 December
Pirogue trip and on to Tendaba
Long travelling days give lots of scope for casual observations and today was no exception. Our pirogue trip down river started with a short excursion to look for Finfoot, without success although a Red-necked Falcon was observed. On the main boat trip we were joined by a non-birding group but still managed to record lots of birds including Beaudouin's Snake-eagle, once considered a sub-species of Short-toed Eagle, but looking completely different, a singing Sedge Warbler and a Fine-spotted Woodpecker. And as we drew into the jetty at the end of our cruise a party of Pygmy Sunbirds was seen in a flowering tree.
We made several stops on the long drive to Tendaba, feeling sorry for our cruise companions who were going all the way back to the coast in the day. We broke our journey for comfort and birding stops.
The extensive rice fields at Jahally Pacharr were teeming with common marsh birds and produced specialities such as Black Coucal, Painted Snipe (at last and well worth the effort) Black-tailed Godwit and a singing Eurasian Reed-warbler.
Two Short-toed Eagles were found as we left the rice fields and a stop at a pretty lily-pond gave us Pygmy Goose. Several of us had started to doze when Marion called out for three huge Abyssinian Ground Hornbills which were sitting in a tree - the only but unlikely position we might have seen them this year.
We arrived at Tendaba at dusk and were greatly relieved to down a beer, shower, eat and fall into bed.
Tuesday 9 December
Kiang West national park and Tendaba airstrip
John was up with the Bulbul and spent half an hour overlooking the river before breakfast, recording a Caspian Tern for his reward. The rest of us had a more leisurely start.
We set off for Kiang national park at 8.30am on a 'bird safari' but decided to visit Tendaba airstrip on the way. What a good decision that was - the rear of a donkey spotted near a reed bed turned into a magnificent Martial EagleÍ what a start to the day. Having 'scoped it and watched the bird fly into a nearby tree we set of for the Kiang park.
A stop in acacia woodland proved most productive with Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaver and White-shouldered Black Tit, Senegal Batis and Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Striped Kingfisher and Four-banded Sandgrouse all giving good views.
Our last great bird of the safari was a Wahlberg's Eagle overhead. What should have been superb views turned into a disaster when our driver pulled up under a tree, completely hiding the bird from view.
After lunch and a siesta - in which Brian and Marion watched a Martial Eagle cruise by overhead as they swam in the pool - we went out to walk the airstrip (or at least part of it) and adjacent woodland. A Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike gave us all great 'scope views, eventually, and Rock Partridges were heard but not seen.
Two Plain-backed Pipits were found as we walked onto the airstrip and a Zitting Cisticola almost gave us good views.
Insects became the topic of conversation for a while when Brian and Marion pointed out several Spider-hunting Wasps doing just thatÍ they lay their eggs in spiders which are then eaten alive. As if this were not macabre enough, some of the wasps were followed closely by Ichneumon Flies which would lay their eggs in the same spiders. The flies' eggs hatch first and devour the wasp larvae inside the doomed spider. It's an odd old world, we decided.
Wednesday 10 December
Mangrove pirogue trip and back to the coast
The boat trip though mangrove creeks is one of the highlights of a birding visit to The Gambia. Africa time ensured that our 8.30am trip started promptly - at 8.50. It also lasted just over four hours as we motored against the River Gambia current to start and had the incoming tide against us from about half-way.
But the birds and animals were superÍ from the moment we approached the first creek we were enthralled. The first Woolly-necked Storks was seen - little did we know that the total would end at 20 for the morning. A pair of young Gambian Mongooses were on the bank but scurried off as we approached.
Slipping into the creek we pushed common birds such as Whimbrel and Greenshank ahead of us until little flocks were announcing our arrival noisily. Malachite and Blue-headed Kingfishers were seen in numbers as were Pied Kingfishers later in the cruise.
The beautiful chirrrrrup calls of European Bee-eaters announced the presence of about 60 of these Travelling Naturalist favourites - your author could not help smiling at the thought that he would be listening for them to arrive for the summer on the plains of Extremadura, Spain, in four months time.
Mouse-brown Sunbirds were plentiful judging from the calls but we saw only a few. Egrets were abundant and our total counts for Great White Intermediate and Western Reef were excellent.
Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters were seen at the same time as a big flock of House Martins. Confusion reigned as our boatman slid the long pirogue onto a mud bank and preceded to turn it around - we went back to be shown a Grey-headed Kingfisher posing in the mangroves.
A grey head looking at us from a deep gully turned out to be attached to our fourth Martial Eagle which flew to a nearby tree once the bird realised its discovery. It was a thrilling moment. Seconds later another vast bird took off in front of us - the first of two Goliath Herons.
A few Monitor Lizards had been seen and as we watched yet another, a troop of 15 Guinea Baboons, including an impressive male, was spotted by the crew.
The last new birds of the day were 40 wheeling White Pelicans over Tendaba Camp to welcome us back.
After refreshing and much needed drinks we left on the teeth-ratting journey to the coast. Just as we slipped onto the better coastal roads we stopped at a shrimp farm where two searches for Crowned Crane were unsuccessful although we did see our first Mosque Swallows.
It was a delight to slip into a good shower before a welcome dinner.
Thursday 11 December
Return to Abuko and on to Makasutu
Abuko nature reserve is the best forest site in The Gambia and we decided to spend the morning there again. Indeed, Joyce spent the time in a bird-hide at the top of the reserve adding Western Bluebill and Pygmy Kingfisher (which we all saw) to the trip list.
The rest of us saw many of the birds recorded on the last trip and added Didric Cuckoo, a young bird calling plaintively, and Grey-headed Bristlebill. We also added Sitatunga, Common Duiker and Bosc's Monitor Lizard to the non-bird list.
Makasutu was a wonderful place and we enjoyed a super lunch in the cool, thatched barns, with a little breeze running through. A White-faced Scops-owl roosting in an acacia gave splendid views, not only to us but also one or two of the other guests there.
Bird of the day came on a short boat-trip through the mangroves: a White-backed Night-heron was difficult to see in the dense thicket but most of us had good views, eventually.
A forest walk was quiet with Blue-bellied Roller plus Variable, Pygmy, Scarlet-chested and Beautiful sunbirds heading the list.
We were all pleased to learn that the camp may soon be able to accommodate Travelling Naturalists and after a final cup of tea we returned to the hotel.
Friday 12 December
Hotel grounds, Kotu and home
We had a poor early start with hustlers on the beach taking up our time rather than birds. A troop of five Savannah Monkeys was seen in the grounds. The last trip out to the Kotu stream was little better with a few common birds seen but in truth we were thinking about packing and home.
This was done and we set off for the airport at 11.30am and, after an uneventful wait in which flocks of Little Swifts circled the building, we returned to the UK.
The landing was interesting as our first approach was abandoned and we had to go around again to land at about 10.15pm.
Annotated List of Species
The order followed in this list is that of Dr James F. Clements: Birds of the World - A Checklist
GREBES Podicipediformes Podicipedidae
1 Little grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Kotu creek / sewage ponds, six on 29th; near Soma, two on 8th.
PELICANS Pelecaniformes Pelecanidae
2 Great white pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus
Kaulak marshes, Senegal, 100 on 5th; Tendaba boat trip, 40 on 10th.
3 Pink-backed pelican Pelecanus rufescens
Bund Road, 10 on 2nd; Kaulak marshes, Senegal, 100 on 5th; the airstrip, Tendaba, 50 on 9th; Tendaba boat trip and Pirang shrimp farm, 100 on 10th.
CORMORANTS Pelecaniformes Phalacrocoracidae
4 Great cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
Close to The Gambia border, 100 on 5th; Janjangbureh, 10 on 6th.
5 Long-tailed cormorant Phalacrocorax africanus
Up to 100 daily.
ANHINGAS Pelecaniformes Anhingidae
6 Darter Anhinga melanogaster
Kotu creek / sewage ponds, one on 29th; Marakissa River Camp, one on 30th; Bund Road, one on 2nd; boat trip, four on 8th; Tendaba boat trip, four on 10th.
HERONS, EGRETS & BITTERNS Ciconiiformes Ardeidae
7 Grey heron Ardea cinerea
Common: seen daily.
8 Black-headed heron Ardea melanocephala
Fairly common; seen on eight days.
9 Goliath heron Ardea goliath
First boat trip, one on 4th; Tendaba boat trip, two on 10th.
10 Purple heron Ardea purpurea
First boat trip, one on 4th;
11 Great egret Ardea alba
Darsilami Creek, two on 30th; Old Cape Road, three on 2nd; Kaulak marshes, Senegal, 15 on 5th; Janjangbureh, one on 6th; Prufu marshes, Basse, three on 7th; Jahally Pacharr rice fields, 20 on 8th; Tendaba, 15 on 9th.
12 Black heron Egretta ardesiaca
Bund Road, 28 flying past on 2nd; Kau-ur marshes, three on 5th; Prufu marshes, Basse, six on 7th; Jahally Pacharr rice fields, 25 on 8th.
13 Intermediate egret Egretta intermedia
Hotel Senegambia, Kotu creek / sewage ponds, singles on 29th; Darsilami Creek, one on 30th; Old Cape Road, one on 2nd; Kaulak marshes, Senegal, 25 on 5th; Janjangbureh, one on 6th; Prufu marshes, Basse, a few on 7th; Jahally Pacharr rice fields, two on 8th; Tendaba boat trip, 45 on 10th.
14 Little egret Egretta garzetta
15 Western Reef-heron Egretta gularis
Common daily in mangrove swamps, rice fields and tidal estuaries.
16 Squacco heron Ardeola ralloides
Kotu creek / sewage ponds, one on 29th; Darsilami Creek, one on 30th; Old Cape Road, one on 2nd; Janjangbureh, 30 on 6th, 15 on 7th; Prufu marshes, Basse, 15 on 7th; Jahally Pacharr rice fields, 40 on 8th; Tendaba boat trip, 12 on 10th.
17 Cattle egret Bubulcus ibis
Common / abundant daily; Tanji melon fields, scores flying over to roost on 1st; Fort Bullen, hundreds crossing the River Gambia on 3rd.
18 Striated heron Butorides striatus
Old Cape Road, one on 2nd; Janjangbureh ferry terminal, one on 5th; Janjangbureh, four on 6th; various River Gambia, 10 on 7th, 20 on 8th; Tendaba boat trip, four on 10th.
19 Black-crowned night-heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Janjangbureh, six on 6th, 10 on 7th; various sites, 20 on 8th; Tendaba boat trip, one on 10th.
20 White-backed night-heron Gorsachius leuconotus
Makasutu, one on11th.
21 Dwarf bittern Ixobrychus sturmii
Darsilami Creek, one on 30th.
HAMERKOP Ciconiiformes Scopidae
22 Hamerkop Scopus umbretta
Common - seen on 13 days.
STORKS Ciconiiformes Ciconiidae
23 Yellow-billed stork Mycteria ibis
Farafenni, 30 pairs on 5th; Tendaba boat trip, one on 10th.
24 Black stork Ciconia nigra
Kaulak marshes, Senegal, 18 on 5th.
25 Woolly-necked stork Ciconia episcopus
Tendaba boat trip, 20 on 10th.
26 Marabou stork Leptoptilos crumeniferus
Near Kau-ur marshes, 60 on 5th; near Soma, 40 on 8th; Tendaba, 20 on 9th.
FLAMINGOS Phoenicopteriformes Phoenicopterid
27 Greater flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber
Kaulak marshes, Senegal, 50 on 5th.
SWANS, GEESE & DUCKS Anseriformes Anatidae
28 White-faced whistling-duck Dendrocygna viduata
Kotu creek / sewage ponds, 40 on 29th; Darsilami Creek, 30 on 30th; Jahally Pacharr rice fields, two on 8th.
29 Spur-winged goose Plectropterus gambensis
A flock flew across Prufu marshes on 7th; the airstrip, Tendaba, one on 9th and three 0n 10th.
30 African pygmy-goose Nettapus auritus
Near Soma, two on 8th.
OSPREY Falconiformes Pandionidae
31 Osprey Pandion haliaetus
Darsilami Creek, one carrying a fish on 30th; Old Cape Road, 2, one carrying a fish, on 2nd; Kaulak marshes, Senegal, one on 5th; near Janjangbureh, one on 8th; Tendaba boat trip, four on 10th.
HAWKS, EAGLES & KITES Falconiformes Accipitridae
32 Black-shouldered kite Elanus caeruleus
Kotu creek / sewage ponds, one on 29th; Bijilo area, one on 30th.
33 Yellow-billed Kite Milvus migrans
Common - seen daily.
34 African fish-eagle Haliaeetus vocifer
Near Berending, one immature on 3rd; near Janjangbureh, immature on 8th.
35 Palm-nut vulture Gypohierax angolensis
Kotu creek / sewage ponds, five on 29th; Janjangbureh, three on 6th, one on 7th; near Janjangbureh, two on 8th.
36 Hooded vulture Necrosyrtes monachus
A few daily, sometimes hundreds.
37 White-backed vulture Gyps africanus
Road to Basse, 1) Prufu marshes, one on 7th; boat trip, one on 8th.
38 Rüppell's griffon Gyps rueppellii
Near Hotel Keur Saloum, one on 3rd; near Kaulak marshes, Senegal, road to Janjangbureh, singles on 5th; road to Basse, one on 7th; near Soma, two on 8th.
39 Eurasian griffon Gyps fulvus
Near Hotel Keur Saloum, one on 3rd.
40 Short-toed eagle Circaetus gallicus
Near Soma, two on 8th.
41 Beaudouin's snake-eagle Circaetus beaudouini
Near Soma, one on 8th.
42 Brown snake-eagle Circaetus cinereus
Marakissa Bridge, one) and Darsilami Creek, two on 30th; Berending savannah woodland, one on 3rd; Missirah area, three on 4th; three on journey, 5th; Janjangbureh, one on 6th; road to Basse, one on 7th; near Soma, one on 8th; one on 10th.
43 Western marsh-harrier Circus aeruginosus
Kaulak marshes, Senegal, two on 5th; Janjangbureh, one on 6th; Prufu marshes, Basse, two on 7th; Jahally Pacharr rice fields, one on 8th; Tendaba boat trip and Pirang shrimp farm, four on 10th.
44 Pallid harrier Circus macrourus
Hotel Keur Saloum, one on 3rd; Tendaba boat trip, one on 10th.
45 Montagu's harrier Circus pygargus
Kaulak marshes, Senegal, two including one dark phase on 5th; road to Basse, male on 7th; Kiang national park, one female on 9th; Tendaba boat trip, two on 10th.
46 African harrier-hawk Polyboroides typus
(Gymnogene) Common , recorded on nine days.
47 Lizard buzzard Kaupifalco monogrammicus
Darsilami Creek, one on 30th; near Berending, one on 3rd; Missirah area, one on 4th; Kaulak marshes, Senegal, Kau-ur marshes, singles on 5th; Janjangbureh, one on 6th; near Soma, one on 8th.
48 Dark chanting-goshawk Melierax metabates
Near Kaulak marshes, Senegal, and near Kau-ur marshes, singles on 5th; Janjangbureh, two on 6th; road to Basse, three on 7th; Kiang national park, one on 9th.
49 Gabar goshawk Micronisus gabar
Janjangbureh, one on 6th; road to Basse, one on 7th; near Soma, one on 8th; Kiang national park, one on 9th.
50 Shikra Accipiter badius
Fairly common, seen on seven days.
51 Grasshopper buzzard Butastur rufipennis
Near Berending, one on 3rd; Missirah area, four on 4th; three pn journey 5th; Kiang national park, three on 9th.
52 Eurasian buzzard Buteo buteo
Hotel Senegambia grounds, one daily throughout the visit.
53 Tawny eagle Aquila rapax
Marakissa forest, one on 30th; Berending woodland, one on 3rd.
54 Wahlberg's eagle Aquila wahlbergi
Kiang national park, one on 9th.
55 African hawk-eagle Hieraaetus spilogaster
Berending savannah woodland, two on 3rd.
56 Martial eagle Polemaetus bellicosus
Berending savannah woodland, one on 3rd; airstrip Tendaba, one on 9th; the airstrip, Tendaba, one on 9th; swimming pool, Tendaba, one overhead on 9th; Tendaba boat trip, one on 10th.
FALCONS & CARACARAS Falconiformes Falconidae
57 Lesser kestrel Falco naumanni
Kaulak marshes, Senegal, 50 on 5th.
58 Grey kestrel Falco ardosiaceus
Hotel Senegambia, one on 29th; Marakissa area, three on 30th; Old Cape Road, one on 2nd; Barra, two on 3rd; Missirah area, four on 4th; one on journey 5th; Janjangbureh, one on 6th; road to Basse, three on 7th; near Soma, three on 8th.
59 Red-necked falcon Falco chicquera
Fort Bullen, two devouring a fish on 3rd; boat trip, three separate individuals on 8th; Tendaba boat trip, one on 10th.
60 Lanner falcon Falco biarmicus
Near Kau-ur marshes, one on 5th; road to Basse, one on 7th.
61 Peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus
Bund Road, one on 2nd.
PHEASANTS & PARTRIDGES Galliformes Phasianidae
62 Double-spurred francolin Francolinus bicalcaratus
Kotu creek / sewage ponds, one in a tree on 29th; Darsilami Creek, one on 30th; Hotel Keur Saloum, one on 3rd; Missirah area, one in a tree on 4th; several on journey 5th; Janjangbureh, several heard on 6th; near Soma, one on 8th; the airstrip, Tendaba, two on 9th.
63 Stone partridge Ptilopachus petrosus
Janjangbureh, two on 6th; one, possibly two, heard on 7th; boat trip, heard on 8th; the airstrip, Tendaba, several heard on 9th.
RAILS, GALLINULES & COOTS Gruiformes Rallidae
64 Black crake Amaurornis flavirostris
Kotu creek / sewage ponds, one on 29th; Massakissi forest, one on 30th; Kau-ur marshes, one on 5th; Prufu marshes, Basse, one on 7th; near Soma, one on 8th.
JACANAS Charadriiformes Jacanidae
65 African jacana Actophilornis africanus
Marakissa forest, three on 30th; Abuko nature reserve, one on 1st; Kau-ur marshes, 60 on 5th; Janjangbureh, 10 on 6th; Jahally Pacharr rice fields, eight on 8th.
PAINTED-SNIPES Charadriiformes Rostratulidae
66 Greater painted-snipe Rostratula benghalensis
Jahally Pacharr rice fields, two on 8th.
OYSTERCATCHERS Charadriiformes Haematopodidae
67 Eurasian oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
Old Cape Road and Bund Road, 10 on 2nd; Fort Bullen, four on 3rd; Missirah area, 10), first boat trip, 120 on 4th.
AVOCETS & STILTS Charadriiformes Recurvirostridae
68 Black-winged stilt Himantopus himantopus
Kotu creek / sewage ponds, 60 on 29th; Darsilami Creek, 15 on 30th; Old Cape Road, five on 2nd; Janjangbureh, two on 6th and 7th; Jahally Pacharr rice fields, 20 on 8th; the airstrip, Tendaba, 10 on 9th.
THICK-KNEES Charadriiformes Burhinidae
69 Senegal thick-knee Burhinus senegalensis
Widespread and common; seen on eight days.
70 Egyptian plover Pluvianus aegyptius
Near Kau-ur marshes, five on 5th; Basse Santa Su, six on 7th.
71 Collared pratincole Glareola pratincola
Kau-ur marshes, 50 on 5th.
LAPWINGS & PLOVERS Charadriiformes Charadriidae
72 Spur-winged plover Vanellus spinosus
Abundant: seen daily.
73 Black-headed lapwing Vanellus tectus
Tanji melon fields, three on 1st; journey, 20 on 5th.
74 (Senegal) Wattled lapwing Vanellus senegallus
Marakissa River Camp, three on 30th) Darsilami Creek, one on 30th; Tanji melon fields, two on 1st; Old Cape Road, 10 on 2nd; Missirah area, two on 4th; Jahally Pacharr rice fields, 15 on 8th; the airstrip, Tendaba, one on 9th; Pirang shrimp farm, eight on 10th.
75 Grey plover Pluvialis squatarola
Old Cape Road and Bund Road, 20 on 2nd; Fort Bullen, six on 3rd; Missirah, 10), first boat trip, 20 on 4th; Tendaba boat trip, one on 10th.
76 Common ringed plover Charadrius hiaticula
Old Cape Road and Bund Road, 30 on 2nd; Missirah area, 3), first boat trip, five on 4th; Near Kau-ur marshes, one on 5th.
77 Kittlitz's plover Charadrius pecuarius
Kau-ur marshes, 10 on 5th.
SANDPIPERS Charadriiformes Scolopacidae
78 Black-tailed godwit Limosa limosa
Kaulak marshes, Senegal, one on 5th; Jahally Pacharr rice fields, two on 8th.
79 Bar-tailed godwit Limosa lapponica
Old Cape Road and Bund Road, 15 on 2nd; Missirah area, three on 4th.
80 Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
Old Cape Road and Bund Road, 30 on 2nd; Fort Bullen, 3), Hotel Keur Saloum, four on 3rd; Missirah area, 5), first boat trip, 15 on 4th; Tendaba, one heard on 9th; Tendaba boat trip, 25 on 10th.
81 Eurasian curlew Numenius arquata
First boat trip, 10 on 4th.
82 Common redshank Tringa totanus
Darsilami Creek, one on 30th; Old Cape Road and Bund Road, 10 on 2nd; Fort Bullen, one on 3rd; Missirah area, three on 4th; Tendaba boat trip, three on 10th.
83 Marsh sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis
Darsilami Creek, three on 30th; Old Cape Road, two on 2nd; Kau-ur marshes, three on 5th.
84 Common greenshank Tringa nebularia
Common, recorded on 12 days.
85 Green sandpiper Tringa ochropus
Kotu creek / sewage ponds, 30 on 29th; Darsilami Creek, one on 30th; Missirah area, one on 4th; Kau-ur marshes, one on 5th; Janjangbureh, 10 on 6th and 7th; Jahally Pacharr rice fields, one on 8th.
86 Wood sandpiper Tringa glareola
Kotu creek / sewage ponds, 20 on 29th; Old Cape Road, two on 2nd; Kau-ur marshes, two on 5th; Janjangbureh, three on 6th and 7th; Jahally Pacharr rice fields, 10 on 8th; Tendaba boat trip, one on 10th.
87 Common sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Common - seen on 12 days.
88 Ruddy turnstone Arenaria interpres
Old Cape Road, one on 2nd; Fort Bullen, 50 on 3rd; boat trip, 20 on 4th.
89 Sanderling Calidris alba
Bund Road, two on 2nd; Fort Bullen, hundreds on 3rd.
90 Little stint Calidris minuta
Kau-ur marshes, one on 5th.
91 Curlew sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
Bund Road, two on 2nd; Missirah area, three on 4th.
SKUAS Charadriiformes Stercorariidae
92 Pomarine skua Stercorarius pomarinus
Kotu creek / sewage ponds, three on 29th.
93 Arctic skua Stercorarius parasiticus
Hotel Senegambia, one chasing a gull on 28th.
GULLS Charadriiformes Laridae
94 Yellow-legged gull Larus cachinnans
First boat trip, two on 4th.
95 Lesser black-backed gull Larus fuscus
North of Kotu beach, one on 2nd; Fort Bullen, six on 3rd.
96 Grey-headed gull Larus cirrocephalus
Hotel Senegambia, two on 28th; Kotu creek / sewage ponds, 20 on 29th; Old Cape Road and Bund Road, 100+ on 2nd; Fort Bullen, hundreds on 3rd; Missirah area, 20 on 4th; Kaulak marshes, Senegal, three on 5th; Pirang shrimp farm, 10 on 10th.
97 Slender-billed gull Larus genei
Old Cape Road, two on 2nd; Fort Bullen, one on 3rd; Missirah area, 2), first boat trip, two on 4th.
TERNS Charadriiformes Sternidae
98 Gull-billed tern Sterna nilotica
Off Bijilo Forest, three on 29th; Darsilami Creek, one on 30th; Lamin Creek, 1on 1st; Old Cape Road and Bund Road, 10 on 2nd; Fort Bullen, 24), Hotel Keur Saloum, one on 3rd; Kau-ur marshes, one on 5th; Tendaba boat trip, one on 10th.
99 Caspian tern Sterna caspia
Off Kotu creek, four on 29th; Darsilami Creek, one on 30th; Old Cape Road and Bund Road, 10 on 2nd; Fort Bullen, 10 on 3rd; first boat trip, six on 4th; Tendaba, one on 9th.
100 Sandwich tern Sterna sandvicensis
Hundreds off-shore on 29th; Old Cape Road and Bund Road, 30 on 2nd; Fort Bullen, hundreds on 3rd; first boat trip, 70on 4th.
101 Royal tern Sterna maxima
Hotel Senegambia, two on 28th; Bund Road, 10 on 2nd; Fort Bullen, 100), Hotel Keur Saloum, three on 3rd; Missirah, 5), first boat trip, 25 on 4th.
102 Common tern Sterna hirundo
North of Kotu beach, one on 2nd.
103 Little tern Sterna albifrons
Bund Road, three on 2nd; Fort Bullen, one fishing within feet of us on 3rd.
104 Whiskered tern Chlidonias hybridus
Kaulak marshes, Senegal, 50 on 5th.
SANDGROUSE Pterocliformes Pteroclidae
105 Four-banded sandgrouse Pterocles quadricinctus
Janjangbureh, 21 on 6th, eight on 7th; Kiang national park, four on 9th.
PIGEONS & DOVES Columbiformes Columbidae
106 Rock dove Columba livia
A few in villages.
107 Speckled pigeon Columba guinea
108 Eurasian turtle-dove Streptopelia turtur
Janjangbureh rice fields, three on 6th.
109 Red-eyed dove Streptopelia semitorquata
110 Vinaceous dove Streptopelia vinacea
111 Laughing (Palm) dove Streptopelia senegalensis
112 Black-billed wood-dove Turtur abyssinicus
Marakissa forest, two on 30th; Hotel Senegambia, one on 2nd; Kau-ur marshes, three on 5th; Janjangbureh, one on 6th; near Soma, several on 8th; Kiang national park, 10 on 9th.
113 Blue-spotted wood-dove Turtur afer
Bijilo Forest, two on 29th; Abuko nature reserve, one on 11th.
114 Namaqua dove Oena capensis
Massakissi road, two on 4th; Kau-ur marshes, 10 on 5th; near Soma, five on 8th; Kiang national park, six on 9th.
PARROTS Psittaciformes Psittacidae
115 Rose-ringed parakeet Psittacula krameri
Recorded on nine days.
116 Senegal parrot Poicephalus senegalus
Common - seen on nine days.
TURACOS Musophagiformes Musophagidae
117 Guinea (Green-crested) turaco Tauraco persa
Abuko nature reserve, two on 1st.
118 Violet turaco Musophaga violacea
Abuko nature reserve, 10 on 1st, two on 11th; Makasutu, one on11th.
119 Western plantain-eater Crinifer piscator
Seen commonly on 13 days.
CUCKOOS & COUCALS Cuculiformes Cuculidae
120 Levaillant's cuckoo Clamator levaillantii
Kotu creek / sewage ponds, two on 29th; Berending savannah woodland, two on 3rd; Kau-ur marshes, one on 5th; Janjangbureh, one heard on 7th; near Soma, two on 8th.
121 Dideric cuckoo Chrysococcyx caprius
Abuko nature reserve, one immature on 11th.
122 Black coucal Centropus grillii
Jahally Pacharr rice fields, one on 8th.
123 Senegal coucal Centropus senegalensis
OWLS Strigiformes Strigidae
124 White-faced scops-owl Ptilopsis leucotis
Hotel Senegambia, one on 30th; Makasutu forest, one on 11th.
125 Verreaux's eagle-owl Bubo lacteus
Abuko nature reserve, one on 1st.
126 Pearl-spotted owlet Glaucidium perlatum
Kotu creek / sewage ponds, one on 29th.
SWIFTS Apodiformes Apodidae
127 Mottled spinetail Telacanthura ussheri
Essau, six on 3rd; Missirah area, 30 on 4th; Kau-ur marshes, 10 on 5th.
128 African palm-swift Cypsiurus parvus
Bijilo Forest, two on 29th; Kau-ur marshes, 60 on 5th; road to Basse, 60 on 7th; several sites, 100+ on 8th; Kiang national park / Tendaba, 30 on 9th.
129 Common swift Apus apus
Kaulak marshes, Senegal, three on 5th.
130 Pallid swift Apus pallidus
Lots over villages on 30th.
131 Little swift Apus affinis
Observed on 11 days.
132 White-rumped swift Apus caffer
Abuko nature reserve, 10 on 1st.
KINGFISHERS Coraciiformes Alcedinidae
133 Malachite kingfisher Alcedo cristata
Marakissa forest Darsilami Creek, singles on 30th; Old Cape Road, two on 2nd; Kau-ur marshes, one on 5th; Basse jetty, one on 7th; Jahally Pacharr rice fields, one on 8th; Tendaba boat trip, 10 on 10th.
134 African pygmy-kingfisher Ispidina picta
Abuko nature reserve, one on11th.
135 Grey-headed kingfisher Halcyon leucocephala
Tendaba boat trip, one on 10th.
136 Woodland kingfisher Halcyon senegalensis
Kotu creek / sewage ponds, one on 29th.
137 Blue-breasted kingfisher Halcyon malimbica
Marakissa bridge, one on 30th; boat trip, one on 8th; Tendaba boat trip, two on 10th.
138 Striped kingfisher Halcyon chelicuti
Missirah area, one on 4th; Kiang national park, two on 9th.
139 Giant kingfisher Megaceryle maxima
Marakissa River Camp, three on 30th; Abuko nature reserve, two on 1st.
140 Pied kingfisher Ceryle rudis
Common - seen on 14 days.
BEE-EATERS Coraciiformes Meropidae
141 Red-throated bee-eater Merops bulocki
Bansang quarry, a stunning 100 pairs at nest holes and in trees on 7th.
142 Little bee-eater Merops pusillus
Kotu creek / sewage ponds, six on 29th; Lamin Creek, two on 1st; Old Cape Road, one on 2nd; Missirah area, three on 4th; boat trip, five on 8th.
143 Blue-cheeked bee-eater Merops persicus
Bund Road, 30 on 2nd;, one on 3rd; first boat trip, 75 overhead on 4th; Jahally Pacharr rice fields, four on 8th; Tendaba boat trip, 31 on 10th.
144 European bee-eater Merops apiaster
Tendaba boat trip, 60 on 10th.
145 Northern carmine bee-eater Merops nubicus
Prufu marshes, Basse, 12 on 7th.
ROLLERS Coraciiformes Coraciidae
146 Abyssinian roller Coracias abyssinica
Common, seen on 11 days.
147 Rufous-crowned roller Coracias naevia
Near Berending savannah woodland, two on 3rd; Missirah area, six on 4th; Kaulak marshes, Senegal, two on 5th; near Soma, one on 8th.
148 Blue-bellied roller Coracias cyanogaster
Bijilo Forest, 1), Kotu creek / sewage ponds, two on 29th; Old Cape Road, one on 2nd; various sites including 20 at Berending savannah woodland, 25 on 3rd.
149 Broad-billed roller Eurystomus glaucurus
Hotel Senegambia, up to 25 nightly; Old Cape Road, one on 2nd; Hotel Keur Saloum, three on 3rd; road to Basse, two on 7th; 10 on 8th.
SCIMITARBILLS Coraciiformes Phoeniculidae
150 Green woodhoopoe Phoeniculus purpureus
Hotel Senegambia, two on 29th; Marakissa area, six on 30th; Abuko nature reserve, five on 1st; Berending savannah woodland, four on 3rd; Kau-ur marshes, 10 on 5th; near Soma, one on 8th; Pirang shrimp farm, three on 10th.
151 Black scimitar-bill Rhinopomastus aterrimus
Kiang national park, one on 9th.
HORNBILLS Coraciiformes Bucerotidae
152 Red-billed hornbill Tockus erythrorhynchus
153 African pied hornbill Tockus fasciatus
Marakissa area, three on 30th; Abuko nature reserve, one on11th.
154 African grey hornbill Tockus nasutus
Bijilo Forest, one on 29th; Abuko nature reserve, one on 1st; Kau-ur marshes, 10 on 5th; travelling, one on 8th.
155 Abyssinian ground-hornbill Bucorvus abyssinicus
Near Soma, four in trees on 8th.
BARBETS Piciformes Capitonidae
156 Yellow-fronted tinkerbird Pogoniulus chrysoconus
Hotel Senegambia, one on 29th, on on 2nd.
157 Vieillot's barbet Lybius vieilloti
Janjangbureh, three on 6th; Kiang national park, two on 9th.
158 Bearded barbet Lybius dubius
Bijilo Forest, one on 29th; Abuko nature reserve, one on 1st; Missirah area, one on 4th; Janjangbureh, three on 6th, one with greatly overgrown upper mandible; road to Basse, one on 7th; the airstrip, Tendaba, four on 9th.
HONEYGUIDES Piciformes Indicatoridae
159 Greater honeyguide Indicator indicator
Near Kau-ur marshes, one on 5th; Janjangbureh, one on 8th; Tendaba, one on 9th.
WOODPECKERS Piciformes Picidae
160 Fine-spotted woodpecker Campethera punctuligera
Boat trip, one on 8th; Kiang national park, one on 9th.
161 Cardinal woodpecker Dendropicos fuscescens
Bijilo Forest, one on 29th; Kiang national park, one on 9th.
162 Grey woodpecker Dendropicos goertae
Hotel Senegambia, one on 28th; Bijilo Forest, 2), Kotu creek / sewage ponds, two on 29th; Hotel Keur Saloum, one on 3rd; Missirah area, three on 4th; Janjangbureh, one on 6th; Kiang national park, one on 9th; Abuko nature reserve, one on11th.
LARKS Passeriformes Alaudidae
163 Chestnut-backed sparrow-lark Eremopterix leucotis
Kaulak marshes, Senegal, pair) Kau-ur marshes, pair on 5th.
164 Crested lark Galerida cristata
Kaulak marshes, Senegal, one on 5th; Pirang shrimp farm, two on 10th.
SWALLOWS Passeriformes Hirundinidae
165 Sand martin Riparia riparia
Old Cape Road, three on 2nd; Kau-ur marshes, 10 on 5th.
166 Red-chested swallow Hirundo lucida
Common local swallow; seen on 10 days.
167 Mosque swallow Hirundo senegalensis
Pirang shrimp farm, two on 10th.
168 Red-rumped swallow Hirundo daurica
Common around villages; seen on six days, especially when travelling.
169 House martin Delichon urbica
Missirah area, 100 on 4th; Tendaba boat trip, 100 on 10th.
170 Fanti sawwing Psalidoprocne obscura
Abuko nature reserve, three on 1st.
WAGTAILS & PIPITS Passeriformes Motacillidae
171 White wagtail Motacilla alba
Missirah area, two on 4th; Kaulak marshes, Senegal, three on 5th; Tendaba, three on 9th and 10th.
172 Yellow wagtail Motacilla flava
Kau-ur marshes, one on 5th; Janjangburah rice fields, four on 6th; Pirang shrimp farm, 6, including one M.f. flavissima, on 10th.
173 Yellow-throated longclaw Macronyx croceus
Old Cape Road, two of Lamin's favourite bird on 2nd.
174 Plain-backed pipit Anthus leucophrys
The airstrip, Tendaba, two on 9th.
CUCKOO-SHRIKES Passeriformes Campephagidae
175 Red-shouldered cuckoo-shrike Campephaga phoenicea
Near the airstrip, Tendaba, one on 9th.
BULBULS Passeriformes Pycnonotidae
176 Common bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus
177 Little greenbul Andropadus virens
Abuko nature reserve - two heard on 1st; one seen on11th.
178 Yellow-throated greenbul Chlorocichla flavicollis
(leaflove) Janjangbureh, heard on 6th; near the airstrip, Tendaba, one heard on 9th.
179 Gray-headed bristlebill Bleda canicapilla
Abuko nature reserve, one on 11th.
THRUSHES Passeriformes Turdidae
180 African thrush Turdus pelios
Hotel Senegambia, 2+ daily; Bijilo Forest, one on 29th.
CISTICOLAS & ALLIES Passeriformes Cisticolidae
181 Zitting cisticola Cisticola juncidis
Darsilami Creek, three or more on 30th; Old Cape Road, one on 2nd; Missirah area, three on 4th; various sites, five on 5th; the airstrip, Tendaba, one on 9th.
182 Tawny-flanked prinia Prinia subflava
Bijilo Forest, one on 29th; Lamin Creek, one on 1st; near Berending, one on 3rd; Missirah area, one on 4th.
183 Yellow-breasted apalis Apalis flavida
Abuko nature reserve, one on 1st, two on 10th.
184 Oriole warbler Hypergerus atriceps
Bijilo Forest, one on 29th; boat trip, one singing on 8th.
185 Green-backed (Grey-backed) Camaroptera brachyura
camaroptera Kotu creek / sewage ponds, one on 29th; Abuko nature reserve, singles on 1st and 11th; Hotel Keur Saloum, one on 3rd; Kiang national park, one on 9th.
OLD WORLD WARBLERS Passeriformes Sylviidae
186 Sedge warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
Janjangbureh, one singing on 8th; boat trip, one heard on 8th.
187 Eurasian reed-warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus
Jahally Pacharr rice fields, one singing on 8th.
188 Greater swamp-warbler Acrocephalus rufescens
One heard singing at a roadside marsh on 5th.
189 Melodious warbler Hippolais polyglotta
Berending savannah woodland, 1), Hotel Keur Saloum, one on 3rd; Missirah area, one on 4th; Kiang national park, three singing on 9th.
190 Northern crombec Sylvietta brachyura
Bijilo Forest, two on 29th; near the airstrip, Tendaba, one on 9th.
191 Garden warbler Sylvia borin
Kau-ur marshes, on 5th; pool near Kau-ur marshes, one on 5th.
OLD WORLD FLYCATCHERS Passeriformes Muscicapidae
192 Swamp flycatcher Muscicapa aquatica
Janjangburah ferry terminal, two on 5th; Janjangburah rice fields, five on 6th; boat trip, five on 8th.
193 Snowy-crowned robin-chat Cossypha niveicapilla
Abuko nature reserve, one on 1st.
194 White-crowned robin-chat Cossypha albicapilla
Hotel Senegambia, one on 28th, six on 29th and 30th; Basse Santa Su jetty, one on 7th; boat trip, one on 8th.
195 Common redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus
Janjangbureh, male on 6th.
196 Whinchat Saxicola rubetra
Essau, one on 3rd; Missirah area, one on 4th.
197 Northern anteater-chat Myrmecocichla aethiops
Essau and near Berending, 15 on 3rd; Missirah area, four on 4th.
WATTLE-EYES Passeriformes Platysteiridae
198 Brown-throated Platysteira cyanea
(Common) wattle-eye Abuko nature reserve, four on 1st, two on 11th.
199 Senegal batis Batis senegalensis
Kiang national park, three on 9th.
MONARCH FLYCATCHERS Passeriformes Monarchidea
200 Black-headed (Red-bellied) Terpsiphone rufiventer
paradise-flycatcher Marakissa forest, one on 30th; Abuko nature reserve, three on 1st, four on 11th.
201 African paradise-flycatcher Terpsiphone viridis
Janjangbureh, one on 6th.
BABBLERS Passeriformes Timaliidae
202 Blackcap babbler Turdoides reinwardtii
Hotel Senegambia, four on 28th and 12th; Bijilo Forest, 6), Kotu creek / sewage ponds, 10 on 29th; Marakissa forest, 10 on 30th; boat trip, two on 8th.
203 Brown babbler Turdoides plebejus
Up to 30 seen daily.
TITS Passeriformes Paridae
204 White-winged black-tit Melaniparus leucomelas
Kiang national park, three on 9th.
SUNBIRDS & SPIDERHUNTERS Passeriformes Nectariniidae
205 Mouse-brown sunbird Anthreptes gabonicus
First boat trip, one at its nest on 4th; Tendaba boat trip, one seen, 20 heard on 10th.
206 Collared sunbird Hedydipna collaris
Abuko nature reserve, three on 1st.
207 Pygmy sunbird Hedydipna platura
Singes at Janjangbureh and Jahally Pacharr rice fields on 8th; Tendaba boat trip, two on 10th.
208 Scarlet-chested sunbird Chalcomitra senegalensis
Hotel Senegambia, one on 28th; Abuko nature reserve, one on 1st; boat trip, five on 8th; near the airstrip, Tendaba, one on 9th; Makasutu, two on 11th.
209 Beautiful sunbird Cinnyris pulchellus
Commonest sunbird recorded on 12 days.
210 Variable (Yellow-bellied) Cinnyris venustus
sunbird Kotu creek / sewage ponds, six on 29th; Berending savannah woodland, one on 3rd; Missirah area, one on 4th.
ORIOLES Passeriformes Oriolidae
211 African golden oriole Oriolus auratus
Marakissa forest, one on 30th; Berending savannah woodland, Hotel Keur Saloum, singles on 3rd; near the airstrip, Tendaba, one on 9th.
SHRIKES Passeriformes Laniidae
212 Woodchat shrike Lanius senator
Missirah area, one on 4th.
213 Yellow-billed (Long-tailed) Corvinella corvina
shrike Kotu creek / sewage ponds, 20 on 29th; Darsilami Creek, one on 30th; Old Cape Road, 10 on 2nd; Missirah area, one on 4th; Janjangbureh, five on 6th.
BUSHSHRIKES & ALLIES Passeriformes Malaconotidae
214 Northern puffback Dryoscopus gambensis
Tendaba boat trip, one gave fleeting views on 10th.
215 Black-crowned tchagra Tchagra senegala
Bijilo Forest, one calling lazily on 29th; Missirah area, one heard on 4th.
216 Common (Yellow-crowned) Laniarius barbarus
gonolek Hotel Senegambia, several seen and heard calling in duet most days there; Bijilo Forest, two on 29th; Old Cape Road, two 'dueting' on 2nd; Hotel Keur Saloum, two on 3rd; Missirah area, 2), first boat trip, two heard on 4th; Janjangbureh, four on 6th.
217 Gray-headed bushshrike Malaconotus blanchoti
One at the Janjangbureh ferry terminal on 5th.
HELMETSHRIKES & ALLIES Passeriformes Prionopidae
218 White helmetshrike Prionops plumatus
Berending savannah woodland, four on 3rd.
DRONGOS Passeriformes Dicruridae
219 Fork-tailed drongo Dicrurus adsimilis
Kotu ponds, two on 29th; Marakissa forest, 23 on 30th; Berending savannah woodland, two on 3rd; Janjangbureh, three on 6th; road to Basse, two on 7th; road to Tendaba, one on 8th; the airstrip, Tendaba, four on 9th.
JAYS & CROWS Passeriformes Corvidae
220 Piapiac Ptilostomus afer
Tanji melon fields, three on 1st; Janjangbureh, one on 6th; road to Tendaba, one on 8th.
221 Pied crow Corvus albus
Common daily on the coast, eventually in Senegal, and on 7th near Bansang Quarry.
STARLINGS Passeriformes Sturnidae
222 Greater blue-eared Lamprotornis chalybaeus
glossy-starling Hotel Senegambia, 10 or so daily.
223 Lesser blue-eared Lamprotornis chloropterus
glossy-starling Hotel Senegambia, max six daily; Janjangbureh, two on 6th.
224 Bronze-tailed glossy-starling Lamprotornis chalcurus
Hotel Senegambia, two on 28th, two on 29th, one on 1st; the airstrip, Tendaba, three on 9th.
225 Splendid glossy-starling Lamprotornis splendidus
Near Kau-ur marshes, one on 5th.
226 Purple glossy-starling Lamprotornis purpureus
Hotel Senegambia, one on 29th; Bansang quarry, one on 7th; Kiang national park, one on 9th.
227 Long-tailed glossy-starling Lamprotornis caudatus
Recorded daily with a maximum of 30 in one flock on 30th.
228 Chestnut-bellied starling Lamprotornis pulcher
Kaulak marshes, Senegal, 10 on 5th.
229 Yellow-billed oxpecker Buphagus africanus
Senegal, two on 3rd, four on 4th; Janjangbureh, 10 on 6th and 18 on 7th; near Tendaba, two on 8th; Pirang shrimp farm, two on 10th.
OLD WORLD SPARROWS Passeriformes Passeridae
230 House sparrow Passer domesticus
Recorded on only five days during the trip.
231 Grey-headed sparrow Passer griseus
232 Bush petronia Petronia dentata
Missirah area, six on 4th; Kaulak marshes, Senegal, three on 5th; Janjangbureh, two on 6th; Bansang Quarry, 10 on 7th.
WEAVERS & ALLIES Passeriformes Ploceidae
233 White-billed buffalo-weaver Bubalornis albirostris
Common to abundant daily, recorded on 13 days.
sparrow-weaver Plocepasser superciliosus
Kiang national park, six on 9th.
235 Spectacled (Black-necked)
weaver Ploceus ocularis
Kotu creek / sewage ponds, female on 29th; Lamin Creek, 10 on 1st.
236 Village weaver Ploceus cucullatus
237 Yellow-crowned bishop Euplectes afer
Darsilami Creek, one on 30th.
238 Orange (Northern red) bishop Euplectes franciscanus
Darsilami Creek, 15 on 30th; Janjangbureh, 40 on 6th; near Soma, 20 on 8th.
WAXBILLS & ALLIES Passeriformes Estrildidae
239 Western bluebill Spermophaga haematina
Abuko nature reserve, one on 11th.
240 Red-billed firefinch Lagonosticta senegala
Darsilami Creek, one on 30th; Lamin Creek, three on 1st; Hotel Keur Saloum, two on 3rd; Missirah, two on 4th; Janjangbureh, 10 on 6th.
241 Red-cheeked cordonbleu Uraeginthus bengalus
Quite common - recorded on 10 days.
242 Lavender waxbill Estrilda caerulescens
Hotel Senegambia, six on 28th, one on 1st; Hotel Keur Saloum, two on 3rd; Basse Santa Su jetty, one on 7th.
243 Black-rumped waxbill Estrilda troglodytes
Most common waxbill inland, recorded on five days.
244 African quailfinch Ortygospiza atricollis
Darsilami Creek, six on 30th; Pirang shrimp farm, one on 10th.
245 African silverbill Lonchura cantans
Kaulak marshes, Senegal, four on 5th.
246 Bronze mannikin Lonchura cucullata
Kotu creek / sewage ponds, two on 29th; Darsilami Creek, two on 30th; Lamin Creek, two on 1st; Janjangbureh, six on 6th.
247 Village indigobird Vidua chalybeata
Common inland. Seen on seven days up-river.
248 Pin-tailed whydah Vidua macroura
Roadside scrub on the way to Abuko nature reserve, two on11th.
249 Long-tailed (Exclamatory)
paradise-whydah Vidua interjecta
Kaulak marshes, Senegal, Kau-ur marshes, 20 on 5th.
FINCHES Passeriformes Fringillidae
250 White-rumped seedeater Serinus leucopygius
Missirah, one on 4th; Bansang quarry, three on 7th.
251 Yellow-fronted canary Serinus mozambicus
Roadside, two on 3rd; Missirah area, two on 4th; pool near Kau-ur marshes, 30 on 5th; Bansang quarry, 30 on 7th.
TRUE BUNTINGS Passeriformes Emberizidae
252 Cinnamon-breasted bunting Emberiza tahapisi
Pool near Kau-ur marshes, six on 5th; Bansang quarry, four on 7th.
SQUIRRELS Rodentia Scuridae
1 Striped ground squirrel Xerus erythropus
Abuko nature reserve, one on 1st; near Soma, one on 8th.
2 Gambian sun squirrel Heliosciurus gambianus
Bijilo nature reserve, 3 on 29th.
MICE, RATS, VOLES & GERBILS Rodentia Muridae
3 Gambian Rat Cricetomys gambianus
One semi-paralysed youngster at Makasutu on 11th.
4 Brown rat Rattus norvegicus
Senegambia Hotel, one on 29th.
MONGOOSES Carnivora Herpestidae
5 Gambian Mongoose Mungos gambianus
Two, possibly immatures, on mud-flats at the edge of the mangrove swamp, Tendaba boat trip on 10th.
OLD WORLD FRUIT BATS Chiroptera Pteropodidae
6 Gambian epauletted fruit bat Epomophorus gambianus
Several each evening at the Senegambia Hotel, seen roosting at Kau-ur Saloum; also calling at the Baobulong Camp, Janjangbureh.
OLD WORLD MONKEYS Primates Cercopithecidae
7 Western red colobus Colobus badius
Abuko nature reserve, 10 on 1st, 20 on 11th; boat trip, 22 on 8th; Tendaba, 10 on 10th.
8 Guinea Baboon Papio cynocephalus
Party of 15 plus huge male on pirogue trip, 10th.
9 Savannah monkey Cercopithecus aethiops
Bijilo nature reserve, four on 29th; Abuko nature reserve, two on 1st; near Bansang quarry, one on 7th; various sites, 10 on 8th; Hotel Senegambia, party of five on 12th.
10 Patas monkey Erythrocebus patas
Road to Keur Saloum, 23 on 3rd; Keur Saloum delta, 30 on 4th; near Kau-ur wetlands, 16 on 5th; near Tendaba, eight on 8th.
APES Primates Hominidae
11 Human Homo sapiens
Common daily; several grotesque specimens at Kotu Beach restaurant on 29th.
ANTELOPE, SHEEP & GOATS Artiodactyla Bovidae
12 Sitatunga Tragelaphus spekii
Male in Abuko nature reserve on 11th.
13 Bush (Common) duiker Sylvicapra grimmia
One in Abuko on 11th.
AMPHIBIANS & REPTILES
1 African Toad Bufo regularis
Common at the Hotel Senegambia and Baobulong Camp.
2 African Bullfrog sp
Lots seen at a bridge on the Prufu marshes on 7th.
3 Yellow-headed Agama Agama agama
Common daily but few in their breeding attire.
4 Gecco sp
Two species, one similar to Moorish Gecco, seen on five days.
5 Lizard sp
One large specimen on 5th.
6 Nile Monitor Lizard Varanus niloticus
Common daily. Some huge specimens seen on the boat trip down from Janjangbureh on 8th.
7 Bosc's Monitor Lizard Varanus exanthematicus
Several of these smaller, more brightly marked monitors found in Abuko nature reserve on 11th.
8 Nile Crocodile Crocodylus niloticus
One small animal at Marakissa River Camp on 30th, Abuko nature reserve, four on 1st and two small animals on 11th.
1 Mud Skipper sp Seen commonly on mangrove mud banks throughout the trip.
Having no field guide we were forced to guess at some of the species seen. However, the dominating feature of these insects were the vast migrations seen, especially during the early days of the tour.
1 African Monarch Dananus chrysippus
Seen daily but with one vast swarm at the Janjangbureh rice fields on 8th.
Tim Earl, Guernsey, December 2003.
© The Travelling Naturalist 2003