The Gambia........6th to 13th November 2020

A West African Paradise


Egyptian Plover
The Gambia has long been a popular birdwatching destination. Situated on the coast of West Africa, it is one of the continent’s smallest countries, but it has an impressive avifauna and therefore offers visitors from Europe an ideal introduction to the colourful world of African birds: hornbills, turacos, bee-eaters, sunbirds, barbets, weavers, waxbills and many more. At the same time, we should see in a very different setting, many species familiar to us in Europe, migrants that will have recently travelled south to spend the winter here.
The first days will be spent in an excellent hotel on the Atlantic coast and from this base we will visit some of the numerous excellent birdwatching sites available nearby. There should also be opportunities for birding in the hotel grounds which hold an impressive number of species.
Then, for a real Avian Adventure, we’ll follow the north bank of the Gambia River to Morgan Kunda Lodge for a two night stay. This recently-built lodge is wonderfully located to give easy access to the mangrove-lined creeks that we will explore by boat. It also provides a base from which we can travel further up river to look for Egyptian Plover, surely high on the 'wanted list' of every birder visiting The Gambia.

Little Bee-eaters
Day 1: A morning flight from UK to Banjul and then transfer to our hotel. There should be time later in the day for some local birding around Kotu Creek where Senegal Thick-knee, Black-headed & Western Reef Herons, Pied Kingfisher, Spur-winged Lapwing, Little Bee-eater and Wire-tailed Swallow are just a few of the likely species.
Overnight - Senegambia Beach Hotel

Pied Kingfisher
Days 2 & 3: We’ll spend these two days birding close to the coast. Depending on local advice at the time we will choose between visits to Pirang, Marakissa, Abuko, Brufut, Tujering, Yundum and several other excellent woodland and wetland sites. Among the many species that we will be looking for are such colourful delights as Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Green & Violet Turacos, Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Beautiful Sunbird and Blue-bellied Roller; a long list of raptors might include African Fish Eagle, Palm-nut Vulture, Bateleur, Brown Snake Eagle, Shikra and Wahlberg's Eagle. Owls should also feature with Verreaux's Eagle Owl, African Scops, Northern White-faced Owl and Pearl-spotted Owlet among them. On the beach at Tanji, we will hope to find a few Kelp, Audouin's & Slender-billed Gulls or Caspian Terns among the many Grey-headed Gulls.
Overnight - Senegambia Beach Hotel

Abyssinian Ground Hornbill
Day 4: An early departure this morning for our journey up river that starts with a ferry crossing of the Gambia River to Barra. From there our journey by road following the north bank of the river, will be punctuated by numerous stops for birding and straightaway we should see species which are not present on the south side, such as Northern Anteater Chat. We will pass by several wetland areas where Collared Pratincole, White-faced Whistling Duck, Pink-backed Pelican and Black Heron should be possible as well as various waders and terns. Overhead there is a good chance to see African White-backed Vulture and and Rüppell’s Griffon.
As with our coastal hotel, the grounds of Morgan Kunda Lodge are also excellent for seeing small birds such as Pygmy & Scarlet-chested Sunbirds but in the near vicinity we will also hope to see species such as Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Beaudouin's Snake Eagle, Grasshopper Buzzard, Four-banded Sandgrouse and Black Crowned Crane.
Overnight - Morgan Kunda Lodge

Kittlitz's Plover
Day 5: Today we will be exploring further along the north bank of the river as we search in particular for Egyptian Plovers. In the past, these very special birds which are plovers in name only, were placed in the same family as pratincoles and coursers but they are now regarded as the sole member of the family Pluvianidae. They are sometimes referred to as 'Crocodile Birds' for their alleged symbiotic relationship with crocodiles. There should be much else to see in the wetlands including Spur-winged Lapwing, Kittlitz's Plover, African Pygmy-goose, African Wattled Lapwing and Comb Duck as well as various herons and more familiar waders such as Ruff and Curlew Sandpiper.
In this area, roadside waterholes attract various small birds to drink and bathe and amongst them we might hope to see Namaqua Dove, Exclamatory Paradise Whydah, White-rumped Seedeater, Cut-throat, Sudan Golden Sparrow, Red-billed Quelea and Gosling's Bunting.
Overnight - Morgan Kunda Lodge

African Finfoot
Day 6: This morning we will explore part of the Baobolon Wetland Reserve, a tidal wetland complex on the Gambia River consisting of six major bolons (tributaries), tidal estuaries, and three distinct wetland ecosystems: mangrove forest, saltmarsh and savanna woodland. Among our targets here will be African Finfoot, African Blue Flycatcher, Mouse-brown Sunbird, White-backed Night Heron and the very difficult to see White-crested Heron but there should also be Goliath Heron, Pied, Grey-headed, Blue-breasted & Malachite Kingfishers, White-throated Bee-eater and many 'common' waders such as Whimbrel and Common Sandpiper.
Eventually we will cross the river to Tendaba Camp on the south bank. The dry savannah habitat here is very different and we will spend time looking for species such as Brown-backed Woodpecker, Senegal Batis, Brubru, Standard-winged Nightjar and Spotted Thick-knee and as well as various larks and pipits.
Overnight - Tendaba Camp

Brown-rumped Bunting
Day 7: We return to the coast today, a journey of about 150 km, stopping on the way for birding as time allows. As before, we will take local advice but potential birding sites on the way include Kiang West National Park, Farababanta Bush Track, Brumen Bridge, Bambakuno and Campanti.
Overnight - Senegambia Beach Hotel

Day 8: There should be plenty of time this morning for some local birding, giving an opportunity to look for any species we might have missed in the area. This might involve visiting new sites or going back to one or two that we went to earlier in the tour.

Tour Ref: AA2021

Cost:
£2,195
Deposit: £400
Single Room Supplement: £170

Leaders: Peter Dedicoat & Local Guide

Max. Group: 8 plus Leaders

Includes: Tourist class charter return flights (UK-Banjul-UK), accommodation based on twin occupancy with en suite, all meals, transfers and transportation by minibus and services of leaders.

Excludes: Travel insurance, drinks and items of a personal nature.
Africa & the Middle East