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Kartong Bird Observatory in Gambia

KBO Contact Address:
Kartong Bird Observatory

Kartong Village
Kombo South, West Coast
The Gambia, West Africa

Tel no: +220 733 2225


The Gambia's Kartong Bird Observatory (KBO) overlooks a disused sand mine. During the rainy season the pits fill with rainwater creating one of the best bird watching sites along the coast of The Gambia.

The ringing of birds started in 1996 in Kartong with the ground-breaking efforts of John High and Mike King. In order to continue their work a team of professional ringers from the UK has now established a permanent ringing unit in Kartong.

Bird Watching At KBO:
Over 260 bird species have been recorded at Kartong. The wetlands form the focus of their recording local. Other neighbouring habitats include, Savannah scrub, foreshore, cultivated rice fields, sand dunes, remnant of high forest and tidal mud flats. The wetlands hold water all year, although the water levels are greatly reduced after April this fresh water is an irresistible lure for water birds and migrants.

The widespread rush beds and reeds offer breeding sites and roost refuge for some species which are otherwise problematic to find in The Gambia. Many of the bird species here are quite approachable and provide superb photo opportunities for ornithologists.

Among the many birds recorded are the Brown Noddy, Dwarf Bitten, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, African Crake, Cassin's Honeybird, Allen’s Gallinule, Little Bitten, African Reed Warbler, Painted Snipe, Hooded Vultures, Osprey, Black-crowned and the Crane, Pygmy Goose among others. Palaearctic migrants includes the Great Reed Warbler, Temminck's Stint, Lesser Kestrel, European Roller, Marsh Sandpiper,  Woodchat Shrike and the Wryneck. What is arguably the most impressive event of the day is the heron roost. Just before sunset between 900 and 1,600 herons from eight species fly to the reeds to feed and sleep.

Bird Ringing:
In one year they had ringed in excess of 2,800 birds belonging to 120 species. A significant number of these species have been captured in large numbers allowing them to create new sexing and ageing criteria for an avifauna that is little studied. They have captured many migrant birds from the Palearctic eco-zone and they hope to enhance knowledge of their migration patterns through this sub-region of West Africa and further afield.

The Kartong Bird Observatory has regular bird ringing courses for bird ringers from the United Kingdom and aim to expand the courses to include ringers from other countries. Each course sponsors a selection of Gambian pupils to acquire useful work experience learning the techniques of bird ringing.

Services & Facilities:
They have a range of services for visitors to Kartong. Their broad local knowledge means they can enhance your visiting experience in a number of ways.

•  Bird Guiding
They welcome everyone visiting Kartong even if their interest in ornithology is minimal. They offer guided birding trips around their recording area and beyond if there are particular species birders are looking for. KBO provides escorted boat trips along the Halahin River to see the spectacular bird life there. They have the contacts for the best Gambian bird guides and can help organise birding trips throughout the rest of The Gambia.

• Bush Walking

• Photography

• Gambian Cooking

Location: 13-05'05N 16-45'39W
The Kartong Bird Observatory (K.B.O) is located on the west side of Kartong village next to the wetland area. If you are driving into Kartong from the north, turn right off the main highway just after the village sign post then continue for about 1km along the dirt track. KBO is sign posted on the left.

Opening Hours:

Accommodation & Food:
They do not provide accommodation for bird watchers at KBO but they can organise stays at local Lodges.

KBO can provide food and drinks at their cafe-bar. A pair of binoculars can also be provided. They also sell a range of prints, cards prints and birding DVDs.
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