Birding in The Gambia

Birding in The Gambia

170 different species in 10 days

Birding in The Gambia is always a fullfilling experience! In 2013, just as the birds fly south to escape the British winter, so did we… to The Gambia. As well as lots of sunshine, we saw more than 170 species of birds (not being ‘listers’, we lost count after that)!

Blue-breasted kingfisher

The trip was pretty exclusively to watch birds, and everything good that you’ve ever heard about birding in The Gambia is true.

Sadly, in The Gambia the vast majority of most other classically African wildlife was shot out by Edwardian times.

Here's a little film I cut together of some of the things we did – mostly walking quietly through warm forests and paddling slowly along mangrove-lined creeks, usually with one of a number of excellent bird-guides we found without even trying.

We were lucky enough to see a pleasingly high proportion of the species we’d ogled most longingly in our bird book, including the fabulously named yellow-fronted tinkerbird and zitting cisticola.

A shikra (also known as the little banded goshawk) sat right outside our room as soon as we arrived, various species of bee-eater all over the place, white-crowned robinchats, yellow-crowned gonoleks and various sunbirds in the hotel gardens, lizard buzzards, three kinds of roller, five kinds of kingfisher and a stunning male red-bellied paradise flycatcher. Highlights were numerous and to list any more would surely bore all but the keenest birder!

For more photos of our trip, including birds, bats, monkeys and some shots that survived of people and places, please do have a peep at Moth's Flickr pages.

We travelled with Gambia Experience and stayed at Kairaba Beach Hotel (comfortable international class with superb location & gardens full of birds) and Mandina Lodges (stylish, quirky Africanesque deep in Makasutu forest and favoured by Chris Packham).

Recommended bird guides

  • Malick Suso 002209921720
    Malick is the guide Chris Packham (again) uses. He’s a bit more expensive than some of the others but is an excellent communicator, brought a scope and, quite rightly, has a helluva reputation.
  • Babucarr Sanyang 00220 7321890
    We absolutely loved Babu. So gentle a manner and with quiet confidence and infinite patience. We found him quite by chance and if we return will seek him out again. Superb.
  • Bakary Bojang (‘Charlie’) 002207255796
    Charlie is knowledgable and approachable, and we liked him very much.
  • Aladdin Jammeh 00220 9921986 or 7924977
    Aladdin is based at the Kairaba Hotel and everyone seems to have heard of him! He’s very witty.
  • Ammaji, known as ‘AJ’ If you’re staying at Mandina Lodge, try to make sure that your allotted guide is AJ. He actually sought us out because he could tell how keen we were on wildlife. He’s kind, patient, tenacious, a real gentleman and after 3 days walking with him, a good friend. 100% Top Bloke.
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