Malick Suso - Gambian Bird Guide


Birdwatching in the Gambia
What are we likely to see?

Some of the world's most interesting and exotic birds in close up including representatives of many families not found in Britain! Gambia's species includes all residents, migrants and vagrants. If you're into 'lists' then with Malick's guidance you can expect between 125 and 150 for a three day trip, but if you work really hard and get lucky then 200 is very feasible.

A brilliant but exhausting day in the south or east of England in early May might offer up 125-135, exceptionally 140. And it won't include Verrauxs Eagle Owl, Long Tailed Nightjar or Egyptian Plover. So the richness of habitats and their accessibility do provide for a great diversity of bird species but it's not just about the totals, it's about the experience.

Martial Eagles and Pelicans

Obviously the sheer density of birds is greater here than in the UK and many of the species are 'tamer' meaning that you get better views of them. Some are pretty spectacular, the Turacos, Sunbirds and Parrots are brightly coloured but then so too are the humbler Fire Finches, Waxbills and Cordon Bleus, all cage-bird regulars at home. If size is important, both Martial Eagles and Verrauxs Eagle Owls are commonly seen as are two species of pelican and the remarkable Goliath Heron.

From birders' birds to the enigmatic

On the wacky front the long legged Black-Winged Stilts are everywhere, Standard Winged Nightjars fit the bizarre bill and if mad hairdos are for you then look no further than the White-Crested Helmet Shrike. And in the 'birders bird' stakes there are Painted Snipe, Egyptian Plover, Carmine Bee-Eater and the truly enigmatic Pels Fishing Owl.

Spectacles abound too, Black Kite and Egret roosts in the mangroves and huge numbers of gulls and terns along the coast. But often the real gems are the unexpected little things, a good view of the flamboyant but shy Yellow Crowned Gonolek, a cluster of sunbird species around some flowers, a Giant Kingfisher catching its prey or an eye-to-eye with a Chanting Goshawk. With such a richness and density of birds and wildlife you can't fail to enjoy yourself in The Gambia.

Birds from the Gambia
Images courtesy of Chris Packham