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Gambia Bird Watching Information

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The Gambia, in West Africa, is renowned around the world as a bird watcher's paradise. In the early part of this century, thousands of ornithologists have come to observe through their binoculars over 560 bird species of dazzlingly plumed birds.

Seasonal Bird Migrations:
Long-crested EagleNotwithstanding the Gambia's small territory it has a considerable and heterogeneous avian population both resident and Palearctic migratory birds. This unexpected phenomenon is due in part to the Gambia's geographical location in West Africa, and the large river and its accompanying banks. The country's location means that it is on the line of flight of two double migrations. The first from the north in October which returns March / April of the following year. For these migratory European birds it is the first life sustaining strip of green after the long flight south along the arid coast of northwest Africa. The second from the south at the start of the rains,  June / July, of birds from the equatorial regions of Africa, which come to the Senegambia Valley in time for the breeding season, of which the  Gambia could be said to form the central focal point, at any rate from a bird's-eye view.

These avian visitors from the equatorial regions  exit The Gambia at the end of the rainy season, with their departures extended between the months of October to January. The country's native species population is therefore given a boot during these months, though the rise due to the Palearctic visitors is usually only a matter of a few days or weeks. On the other hand the June to July influx lasts the whole of wet period, with migratory species coming in to settle to find a mate and reproduce.

Quick Tour:
Even from your hotel sunbed ornithologists can spot birds from their balcony or from the pool. The Senegambia and Kairaba hotels based in Kololi are best for this method as they have extensive garden grounds next to a marine environment. Widespread are pied crows and a few vultures. Red-billed Senegal Fire-finches feed around tables and common on manicured lawns are Cattle egrets, glossy starlings and swifts grace most of the grounds.

Long-tailed shrikes and blue-cheeked bee-eaters perch on telephone lines in the Greater Banjul area. Greenshanks, turnstones, sandpipers, redshanks and sanderlings paddle along the river's banks. At Abuko there are severally coloured barbets, lily trotters, weaver birds rollers, fork-tailed drongo, parrots, ahanta francolin, pin-tailed whydah,  fanti-saw-wing swallow  violet turaco and over 270 other native and itinerant species.

Along the river pied kingfishers dive, with wings tucked back, onto their unsuspecting fish prey. Magnificent River eagles can be seen perched on trees while pelicans can be spotted roosting on top of dense mangroves or wading slowly to clear from the path of passing boats. Further inland Double-spurred francolin (Francolinus bicalcaratus).

Bird Guide:
Even for the amateur bird watcher Gambian birds are fairly easy to spot, being conspicuously coloured and vocal. If however, if you want to learn more about the country's bird population you would be advised to seek out a professional local ornithologist who can guide you on good locations to spot certain species. You can either join a specialist tour operator for group trips or by hiring an independent local tour guide. These guides can meet you at the Abuko Centre or outside the West African Bird Studies Association (WABSA) at Kotu Stream.

Contact Local Bird Guides:

Local Guide Name:   Telephone:
Gambia Bird
Guide Association

Ansuman Drammeh
Lamin Sanyang
Modou Barry
Musa Manneh
Mustapha Kassama
NB: phone numbers sometimes change ownership. You are best advised to use the services of the Bird Guide Association instead.

List of Birding Sites:
Below are some of the best and highly recommended birding hotspots were a large and varied number of species tend to be concentrated.

Abuko Nature Reserve

Basse Santa Su

• Bansang Quarry

Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve

Bintang Bolon Lodge

Brufut Woodland

• Bund Road (Banjul)

• Cape Creek (Cape Point)

• Cycle Track

Fajara Golf Course

• Faraba-Banta Bush Track

Janjangbureh / Georgetown

• Kampant Rice Fields

Kartong Sand Mine

• Kaur Wetland

Kiang West National Park

Kotu Pond

• Lamin Lodge

Makasutu Forest

• Marakissa River

Niumi National Park

• Old Yundum

• Pakali-Ba Bridge

• Panchang Swamp

Pirang Shrimp Farm

Tanji Bird Reserve

Tendaba Camp

See also Nature Reserves

Ongoing Conservation Projects:
• West African Bird Study Association
• Operation Desertification Control
• Rehabilitation of the Botanical Gardens
See also
Gambia Experience
Bird Watching Holidays
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