A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about birds

Morning Boat Trip at Mandina Lodges

Such variety of bird life


View Galavanting in The Gambia 2019 on Grete Howard's travel map.

I get up early this morning to catch the sunrise – there is a beautiful mist rising over the river.

large_451f5d10-ab1f-11e9-a17e-a5fac96c6d9c.jpg

Sensing some movement out of the corner of my eye, I spot a new bird (to me) in amongst the foliage: a Mangrove Sunbird.

large_c26b5cf0-ab20-11e9-b8f3-4746ff9342aa.jpg

large_b17a28e0-ab2a-11e9-b41d-054acf267e93.jpg

large_19b163b0-ab2b-11e9-b41d-054acf267e93.jpg
Speckled Pigeon

Catching the sunrise was not the only reason I got up early today; we are off on a boat trip through the mangroves this morning.

large_f3a2fb90-ab32-11e9-8eea-bf548f098b53.jpg

It's a glorious sunrise.

large_01881c90-ab33-11e9-8eea-bf548f098b53.jpg

large_46e6e690-ab33-11e9-8ca2-dda305c53afc.jpg

An old boat lies moored near the lodge.

large_7819a860-ab33-11e9-8ca2-dda305c53afc.jpg

large_02ab4a60-ab34-11e9-8ca2-dda305c53afc.jpg

The water is very still, creating beautiful reflections.

large_2863f7c0-ab34-11e9-be09-ad4d3a6ccffc.jpg

Guinea Baboons

Just around the corner from the lodge, where our tributary meets a wider river, the trees are full of baboons. There are five different species of baboons worldwide, and the Guinea Baboons found here in The Gambia are the smallest.

large_8c72f030-ab35-11e9-8ca2-dda305c53afc.jpg

large_97053cb0-ab35-11e9-be09-ad4d3a6ccffc.jpg

These are a new (sub)species for us, and I am very excited to see and photograph them at such close quarters.

large_dfbb20f0-ab35-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg

large_39d38d20-ab36-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg

It looks like there may be more baboons here in the future.

large_8b8fc6b0-ab36-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg

large_d751b270-ab36-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg

I am so in love with their facial expressions.

large_935f0620-ab37-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg

large_75c0aaf0-ab38-11e9-b27b-a7ef9b801d84.jpg

large_7f6ba4b0-ab38-11e9-b27b-a7ef9b801d84.jpg

large_109dbf90-ab39-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg

large_2b50b010-ab37-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg
African Darter drying out his wings.

large_92299690-ab3b-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg
Great White Egret

large_92baf690-ab3a-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg
Green Backed Heron

large_ae50dac0-ab3d-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg
Blue Breasted Kingfisher

large_a9b6f560-ab3f-11e9-8f96-07292cb89a7a.jpg
Pied Kingfisher

large_2ad25b80-ab3b-11e9-be27-1318bc5c9e43.jpg
Rose Ringed Parakeet

large_59a25510-abb2-11e9-80c0-a35ef0010375.jpg
African Darter

A crocodile sunbathes on the bank of the river.

large_ab587650-abc1-11e9-b55c-99369f3affdd.jpg

He doesn't look too friendly.

large_acb31260-abc3-11e9-926f-4341c7f01ef6.jpg

I hope he didn't hear me and is coming for his revenge!

large_698e6470-abc4-11e9-926f-4341c7f01ef6.jpg

I am very excited to see this elegant and flamboyant Violet Turaco fly over – another new one for me.

large_ec5131a0-abc2-11e9-8f04-bbd37d9d28a6.jpg

One of the birds on my wish list when I came over here, was the Western Plantain Eater. Here they are two-a-penny!

large_be310600-abcd-11e9-857b-1f0192c86dd8.jpg

Oyster Factory

Oysters are big business around here, with the meat being eaten, and the shells burnt to make lime which is mixed with water to make house paint, and with sand to make cement. There are no wasted elements as anything left is used for chicken feed.

large_ca5b33c0-ae42-11e9-a015-3124cf46c30b.jpg
Oysters growing on the mangroves

large_af581250-ae42-11e9-a015-3124cf46c30b.jpg

large_3d7ec1f0-ae43-11e9-a015-3124cf46c30b.jpg

large_79a10310-abe0-11e9-9f85-9ffa941e925d.jpg
Pied Crows mobbing a Harrier Hawk

large_3059fc30-abfd-11e9-a63a-d366355bb4bb.jpg
Greenshank

large_cc67a190-abfd-11e9-a63a-d366355bb4bb.jpg
Spur Winged Plover

large_214391b0-abfe-11e9-a63a-d366355bb4bb.jpg
Senegal Thick Knee

large_9d3acc70-abfe-11e9-a63a-d366355bb4bb.jpg
Common Sandpiper

large_a2968cf0-ae46-11e9-824d-5b7f620de683.jpg
Whimbrel taking off

large_c53fec90-ae48-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg
Long Tailed Cormorant drying his wings out

And so the morning's boat trip is over, and we are back at the lodge in time for lunch.

large_af2899b0-ae49-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

I am absolutely fascinated by the bats in the ceiling of the restaurant.

large_ba96aac0-ae4a-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

Isn't he cute?

large_c526ad50-ae4a-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

Look at him yawn! ♥

large_cfe42880-ae4a-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

Today there is also a Speckled Pigeon in the rafters.

large_7c2bb450-ae4b-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

Mr Heron is back in position in amongst the mangroves as usual.

large_065b6030-ae4c-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

He is after the crabs, of course.

large_82b09970-ae4c-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

large_caa8d300-ae4c-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

I am not sure what is happening here – it looks like the big crab is stalking the little one.

large_477ab650-ae4d-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

large_5148c870-ae4d-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg

We return to the room for a little siesta, but find we are not alone.

large_62501b90-ae4e-11e9-9860-a7f20bc19665.jpg
This girl is looking down on us from the rafters.

It looks like she is raising a family.

large_95e68500-ae50-11e9-b611-6bef1c106185.jpg

I know every mother thinks their babies are the most beautiful in the world; but, I'm sorry, there is nothing remotely attractive about these chicks.

large_1f3b6140-ae51-11e9-b611-6bef1c106185.jpg

I drift into a light snooze, knowing that I am being looked over by the pigeon family.

Posted by Grete Howard 05:36 Archived in Gambia Tagged birds wildlife river sunrise africa crocodile hawk lunch forest birding pigeon dawn crabs baboons bats heron parakeet croc west_africa kingfisher cormorant oysters siesta gambia boat_trip bird_watching crows sunbird darter thick_knee plover sandpiper river_trip the_gambia the_gambia_experience greenshank plantain_eater wild_birds mandina_lodges makasutu mandina makasutu_forest guinea_baboons turaco oyster_factory Comments (6)

A lazy morning at Mandina Lodges

Taking it easy


View Galavanting in The Gambia 2019 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Coffee is delivered to each room every morning, at a time of your choice. We have ours outside at 07:30 this morning, while watching the beautiful sunrise over the river.

large_24125b40-9788-11e9-9d01-6339876fd7ff.jpg

large_2e102ff0-9788-11e9-9d01-6339876fd7ff.jpg

large_3871a870-9788-11e9-9d01-6339876fd7ff.jpg

large_419e4a70-9788-11e9-9d01-6339876fd7ff.jpg

large_4bdd6de0-9788-11e9-8bd4-d5513929c149.jpg

large_8df9b710-9788-11e9-8bd4-d5513929c149.jpg

large_c557afd0-978a-11e9-9b57-d3d79ba2aefd.jpg

We're not the only ones enjoying the sunrise.

large_Jenny.jpg

large_8bf94f00-978f-11e9-8bd4-d5513929c149.jpg

large_123ad0c0-9790-11e9-8bd4-d5513929c149.jpg

The morning goes something like this:

Breakfast
Bird watching
Walk around the grounds
Bird watching
Back to room
Sit outside
Birdwatching
Snooze

large_79f083b0-9789-11e9-8bd4-d5513929c149.jpg
Cheese and chilli omelette, sausage and beans = a great breakfast

large_4e8785a0-9790-11e9-8bd4-d5513929c149.jpg
Pied Kingfisher

large_e71db780-9790-11e9-8bd4-d5513929c149.jpg
Black Headed Heron

large_3a1668b0-9791-11e9-8bd4-d5513929c149.jpg
Another one of the fifteen cats at Mandina Lodges

large_0871dcd0-9792-11e9-8bd4-d5513929c149.jpg
Village Weavers and Red Eyed Dove in a plant pot on the island in the middle of the pool

large_2a43b310-9792-11e9-8bd4-d5513929c149.jpg
Laughing Dove

large_36d85f40-9792-11e9-8bd4-d5513929c149.jpg
Bats in the ceiling of the restaurant

large_7fbc0a40-9792-11e9-ac42-c7a3c962e9f7.jpg
The birds are fed every day

large_c285f890-9792-11e9-ac42-c7a3c962e9f7.jpg
Lovely bougainvillea in the grounds

large_fb528760-9792-11e9-ac42-c7a3c962e9f7.jpg

large_361e8fb0-9793-11e9-ac42-c7a3c962e9f7.jpg
Village Weaver

large_6e6ece10-984d-11e9-93e7-856a56062c50.jpg
Black Kite - it looks like he has caught something - a mouse maybe?

large_cab2f3e0-984d-11e9-9bee-3bd38be59c8c.jpg
Black Necked Weaver

large_a4c350a0-9850-11e9-ac51-5f6a481d866d.jpg
Beautiful water reflections in the river

large_b6844c40-9850-11e9-ac51-5f6a481d866d.jpg
Long Tailed Cormorants

large_c6438470-9850-11e9-ac51-5f6a481d866d.jpg
David at the poolside

Lunch

We eat our lunch in the shady bar, while watching a Whimbrel trying to catch a crab on the mud flats. The crab gets away several times before the bird finally managed to grab it.

large_b2f4b5a0-aa53-11e9-a738-95d34bf32211.jpg

large_c8431dc0-aa53-11e9-a738-95d34bf32211.jpg

large_d2364410-aa53-11e9-a738-95d34bf32211.jpg

large_dceb5ad0-aa53-11e9-a738-95d34bf32211.jpg

The crab has lost its claw.

large_e65c58d0-aa53-11e9-a738-95d34bf32211.jpg

He still managed to escape though.

large_6049e0e0-aa54-11e9-a738-95d34bf32211.jpg

But not for long.

large_80953e30-aa54-11e9-a738-95d34bf32211.jpg

large_d9dac5d0-aa5b-11e9-a3ee-258caae35491.jpg

A Grey Heron wants to get in on the action.

large_ba1ed210-aa6d-11e9-b750-399c01e62ba1.jpg

large_4a6bc7a0-aa6f-11e9-912e-13124a98c8b2.jpg

large_9dd05a00-aa6f-11e9-912e-13124a98c8b2.jpg

large_4a4aae40-aa73-11e9-9018-c58cb3404e07.jpg

As well as a Western Plantain Eater.

large_1bc12ff0-aa72-11e9-9018-c58cb3404e07.jpg

large_a71e5f50-aa72-11e9-9018-c58cb3404e07.jpg

Time for another siesta.

Posted by Grete Howard 08:52 Archived in Gambia Tagged birds reflections dog river cat sunrise breakfast kite wild africa forest birding coffee bats crab heron dove whimbrel west_africa weaver gambia omelette bird_watching cormorants the_gambia the_gambia_experience plantain_eater wild_birds mandina_lodges makasutu mandina makasutu_forest water_reflections Comments (8)

Lazy afternoon at Mandina Lodges

Taking it easy in the shade


View Galavanting in The Gambia 2019 on Grete Howard's travel map.

After lunch we retire to the room, and I notice to my horror that my legs have come up in a dreadful rash with red skin and little blisters. It is burning, stinging and itching so much that I jump straight in the shower, hoping the cold water will relieve it. It doesn't. Smothering it in antihistamine, I take myself off to a shady spot on the terrace while David goes on a boat trip with Nicola and AJ, our guide.

large_9b580060-977e-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg

large_a833ab30-977f-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg

As a result of previous severe sunburn, I now have an area on my shins that suffer from photosensitive dermatitis, hence why I do not want to expose my legs to the sun this afternoon.

large_7339b270-ac6b-11e9-b47d-49499d08ff05.jpg

I spend the time with my long lens pointing at the sky, trying to catch flying birds while keeping out of the sun. The wind has dropped and it is blisteringly hot. Literally in my case.

large_d66a8790-977e-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
Hooded Vulture

large_428712e0-977f-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
Long Tailed Cormorant

large_652d2910-977f-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
Oyster collectors

large_50a7b640-977f-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
Black Headed Heron

large_74840280-977f-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
Some strange, elongated fish in the river.

large_852e0fe0-977f-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
White Throated Bee Eater

large_93fa3580-977f-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
Collecting firewood

large_b6eb8580-977f-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
Black Kite

large_0613a6b0-9780-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
Western Plantain Eater

large_1788f350-9780-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
Pied Crows

large_3b507f10-9780-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
Bearded Barbet

large_46da4af0-9780-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
They are funny looking birds when they fly

large_55e37990-9780-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
A much bigger bird. Although we are fairly near the airport, the flights are so infrequent that they do not bother us.

large_7d27a8f0-9780-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
Whimbrel

large_92db6290-9780-11e9-9055-b9dff0e39a40.jpg
Common Swift

large_df34fa70-9780-11e9-8c65-4d7430b725eb.jpg
Pied Crow

large_ca20dc30-9780-11e9-8c65-4d7430b725eb.jpg
More oyster collectors returning home

large_a5edbd60-9780-11e9-8c65-4d7430b725eb.jpg
Pied Crows into the setting sun

As soon as David returns, we have a shower and sit on our private deck with a drink before dinner. The chef came round to the room earlier to take our orders for this evening.

large_25e87f00-9781-11e9-8c65-4d7430b725eb.jpg
Starter - Vegetable Spring Rolls

large_345ebc70-9781-11e9-8c65-4d7430b725eb.jpg
Chicken and rice for main course

large_44790cf0-9781-11e9-8c65-4d7430b725eb.jpg
Dessert is Banana Fritter and Ice Cream

When we return to the room, we find that the mosquito net over the bed has been lowered while we were eating, and the room is thankfully very much cooler now, which will hopefully aid sleep tonight.

Posted by Grete Howard 16:41 Archived in Gambia Tagged birds boat wildlife airport crow kite birding plane canoe heron vulture whimbrel west_africa cormorant barbet gambia boat_trip blisters bird_watching rash firewood swift spring_rolls itching bee_eater wildlife_photography plantain_eater dermatitis red_skin mandina_lodges makasutu rive floatinf_lodge oyster_collectors collecting_firewood dug_out_canoe banana_fritter mosquito_net Comments (4)

Bakotu Hotel - Mandina Lodges

Transfer Day


View Galavanting in The Gambia 2019 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Transfer day. After a leisurely breakfast, we get picked up for the transfer to our next – and last – lodge on this trip. The journey takes the best part of an hour, with the last half on dirt tracks that the driver describes as “African Massage”.

Mandina Lodges

The modest track leading down to the lodge from the main road is not indicative of the opulence that meets us at the lodge. Linda, the manager, greets us warmly and gives us a briefing about the lodge and its surroundings. I am a little disappointed that we do not have a private guide as advertised in the brochure, but share with a single lady from the UK. I can, however, understand the desire to keep staffing levels down this late in the season, especially as this evening there are only five of us staying.

large_323fa210-9736-11e9-93fd-c32880f86c34.jpg
Reception area

Porters take our luggage as we are shown to the room along elevated wooden boardwalks.

large_98901b80-9736-11e9-93fd-c32880f86c34.jpg

The rooms are nicely spread out to allow for plenty of privacy.

large_32775710-973a-11e9-9958-0537f1a43bef.jpg

There are nine rooms at Mandina, including four floating lodges, one of which we are staying in.

large_c2cdde00-9745-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg
Our lodge is # 3

large_553c9ef0-9743-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

As we are in the third room from the main public area, there is just one lodge beyond ours. The gangway from the main boardwalk leading across to our room varies in steepness according to the level of the tide.

large_c02e0d30-9742-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

The gangplank leads to a floating terrace where there are two sunbeds, plus a covered area with a couple of chairs and a table.

large_e5ac2290-9742-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

Another gangplank leads across to the room itself, which is also floating on the river.

large_0c757ca0-9743-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

The room has a small balcony that wraps itself around on three of the four sides, offering great views up, down and across the river.

large_3d966420-9743-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

large_0b7c6180-9741-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

The wood panelled inside is spacious with a four poster bed in the centre of the room.

large_9684f650-9743-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

large_a15f4850-9743-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

The en suite bathroom is open to the elements out the back of the room.

large_caeb44d0-9743-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

A preservation order forbids the owners to bury pipes under the lodges, so the toilet is fitted with a de-compostable plastic bag which takes a bit of getting used to. It is changed every day, but flushing it can be a little awkward, and the sound when you pee is rather disconcerting.

large_13eb2a60-9744-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

Once we have settled in, we check out the large free form swimming pool.

large_4aafdb40-9744-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

large_5908ccb0-9744-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

large_75b4bc20-9744-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

We're amazed to see a Pied Kingfisher nonchalantly sitting at the edge of the pool.

large_e751bf70-9746-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

He dives down into the pool, not for food, but to cool down in the hot, midday sun.

large_416856e0-9747-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

Dotted around the pool are covered sunbathing areas (or rather shady areas to get away from the sun), again spaced apart for privacy.

large_ae125c80-9744-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

There is also a firepit, surrounded by chairs for sharing stories and keeping cosy on those chilly winter evenings.

large_efce3630-9744-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

A large wooden deck leads down to the river, where the lodge's boats are moored.

large_0faf38f0-9745-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

large_1b449d90-9745-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

The restaurant features large, heavy metal chairs and ornate mosaic decorations on the floor.

large_5cda2a90-9745-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

We saunter down to the bar area, where there is a little bit of a cooling breeze.

large_7c252780-9748-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

large_fd2f79d0-9747-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

large_08646ef0-9748-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

David is delighted to find the bar stocks cider, while I choose a non-alcoholic ginger drink with a real punch.

large_29f396e0-9748-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

Fancy going all the way to West Africa to drink British cider!

large_bdd747c0-9749-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

large_34be3170-9748-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg
My ginger punch looks like mud but tastes delicious.

The bar overlooks the mud flats around the mangroves, which are dry when we arrive, but as we stay for a while drinking and enjoying some lunchtime sandwiches, the water rises with the tide.

large_6dca1330-9748-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

large_89273b80-9748-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

The mud appears to be moving, and on closer inspection we see hundreds of little Fiddler Crabs.

large_059c0ab0-9749-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

large_4f1231b0-9749-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

Odd looking Mudskippers, who appear to have legs, fins and wings, also frolic in the shallow waters.

large_dcc590a0-974a-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

The flowerpots attract Red Billed Firefinches.

large_428d2b00-974b-11e9-ba79-cf0087b70e4e.jpg

After lunch we retire to our new home for a siesta in the midday heat.

Posted by Grete Howard 03:27 Archived in Gambia Tagged birds africa pool bar birding crabs swimming_pool cider west_africa kingfisher transfer siesta boardwalks finch gambia firepit bird_watching the_gambia the_gambia_experience firefinch wild_birds bakotu kotu mandina_lodges makasutu mandina floating_lodge makasutu_forest four_poster_bed outside_toilet mangoves mud_flats fiddler_crabs muskippers Comments (6)

Baku Creek

Another lazy-ish day


View Galavanting in The Gambia 2019 on Grete Howard's travel map.

The plan this morning is to take the path from the Observation Deck, through the mangroves, onto the main road and down to the bridge.

large_9c4a2250-95ee-11e9-a982-bb4670ac45ee.jpg

large_88631260-95ee-11e9-a982-bb4670ac45ee.jpg

large_a477a700-95f2-11e9-bced-f5956b27f189.jpg
Village Weaver

large_b0a246c0-95f2-11e9-bced-f5956b27f189.jpg
Hooded Vulture

large_c563ff40-95f2-11e9-bced-f5956b27f189.jpg
Long Tailed Glossy Starling

The trail meanders along the edge of the creek and heads for the road, but ends in a builders yard, obviously private property. There is a gate, but it is locked, so there is no way for us to join the road here, so we end up having to walk all the way back to the observation deck and through the hotel again.

large_bbd8f420-95f3-11e9-bced-f5956b27f189.jpg

large_b729d910-95f5-11e9-bced-f5956b27f189.jpg

In the hotel grounds we spot some Green Vervet Monkeys, including a very young baby clinging to his mum.

large_e34496c0-95f5-11e9-bced-f5956b27f189.jpg

large_ebdfce30-95f5-11e9-bced-f5956b27f189.jpg

Out on the road we are amused to see a sign for Tesco Mini Market – in reality a small shack selling bottled water, ice cream and a few essentials.

large_0a8af390-95f7-11e9-8647-99f7a1b22cbc.jpg

Having spend the last four days almost exclusively in the company of birds, Kotu is proving a bit of a culture shock. Outdoor cafés are full of fat, middle aged cougars with tattoos, piercings, bleach blonde hair and the obligatory toyboy Gambian hanging on their arms. We hurry past to reach the bridge over Kotu Creek, a well known bird watching spot.

large_7b59f880-95f9-11e9-b3cc-473c6ea95583.jpg
Pink Backed Pelican

The place is teeming with the gorgeous little Long Tailed Cormorants:

large_cac12910-95fa-11e9-b3cc-473c6ea95583.jpg

large_4b0f88f0-95fb-11e9-b3cc-473c6ea95583.jpg

large_21ca8b10-95fc-11e9-b3cc-473c6ea95583.jpg

large_96d41750-95fc-11e9-b3cc-473c6ea95583.jpg

large_27006580-95fe-11e9-b3cc-473c6ea95583.jpg
Pink Backed Pelicans, African Spoonbills, Long Tailed Cormorant and Great Egret

large_01740600-9603-11e9-a328-fb2232dd2377.jpg
Grey Heron, Sacred Ibis and Marsh Sandpiper

large_7c2f6560-9603-11e9-a328-fb2232dd2377.jpg
African Spoonbills

large_f0286c00-9603-11e9-a328-fb2232dd2377.jpg
Common Redshank

large_4d7bdef0-9604-11e9-a328-fb2232dd2377.jpg
Pink Backed Pelican

large_d36ca8a0-9604-11e9-a328-fb2232dd2377.jpg

large_279cef70-9605-11e9-a328-fb2232dd2377.jpg
Sacred Ibis and Grey Headed Heron

large_9ee08d30-9605-11e9-a328-fb2232dd2377.jpg
Senegal Thick Knee

We are approached by a couple of guides offering their services, but we are pleased to find they are much more likely to take “no” for an answer than the people we encountered during our visit to The Gambia 23 years ago.

Lunch

Back in the hotel, I request my food “extra spicy. Gambian spicy, not tourist spicy”. It still only arrives as a 2-3 on Grete's scale of 10.

large_bab3b360-9606-11e9-a328-fb2232dd2377.jpg
Cheese and chilli omelette

large_cbd70f70-9606-11e9-a328-fb2232dd2377.jpg
Burger and chips

large_d5832530-9607-11e9-a328-fb2232dd2377.jpg
Refreshing fruit juice - youki?

After having asked for our food “extra spicy” at lunch, we are amused when we return to the room to find this large pack of toilet rolls sitting on our patio table. Are they trying to tell us something?

large_ca468ef0-9607-11e9-a328-fb2232dd2377.jpg

We are chilling in the room with a drink and some snacks when we overhear someone outside mentioning the name “Mandina Lodges”. Our ears prick up, as we are waiting to hear about what time our transfer to Mandina will be tomorrow. Yesterday we waited for 45 minutes for the rep to turn up (at the advertised time), but he didn't show. This afternoon, however, he is here, although he's knocking on our neighbour's door instead by mistake, so we go out and ask if he is looking for us. At least we now know that we are leaving here at 10:30 in the morning.

Dinner

large_7d06dcd0-9607-11e9-a328-fb2232dd2377.jpg
Chicken Saté

large_8c055d10-9607-11e9-a328-fb2232dd2377.jpg
Seafood mornay with crepe

We spend the rest of the evening chilling on our private patio with a few drinks.

Posted by Grete Howard 05:41 Archived in Gambia Tagged birds monkeys trail birding heron egret vulture ibis pelican spoonbill whimbrel mangroves west_africa starling weaver cormorant tesco spicy gambia bird_watching nature_trail thick_knee sandpiper vervet_monkey the_gambia gambia_experience bakotu bakotu_hotel kotu observation_deck kotu_creek tesco_mini_market toilet_rolls Comments (7)

Lazy Day at Bakotu

Chillin'


View Galavanting in The Gambia 2019 on Grete Howard's travel map.

David wakes up feeling flu-like this morning, and as I am still suffering badly with Photographer's Elbow, we decide to take it easy today, starting with a stroll down to the observation deck after breakfast.

large_35cfbf40-95d9-11e9-8a5f-7df357b56748.jpg
Can't decide what to have for breakfast

large_5ea9a7a0-95ca-11e9-aebb-b5e985c324f8.jpg

large_728e94b0-95ca-11e9-aebb-b5e985c324f8.jpg

The elevated deck looks out over mangroves and the now dry river beyond, with a boardwalk weaving its way along the edge of it.

large_7e64abd0-95ca-11e9-aebb-b5e985c324f8.jpg

I was hoping to spend some time here watching wading birds this morning, but my feathered friends seem to have other ideas.

large_3ac83c30-95d3-11e9-baa0-d9d90cd057f5.jpg
Grey Headed Gull

large_47015ae0-95d3-11e9-baa0-d9d90cd057f5.jpg
Spur Winged Plover

large_57d6be00-95d3-11e9-baa0-d9d90cd057f5.jpg
Senegal Thick Knee

Not sure what is going on here, with one of the birds lying down completely flat as the other one approaches – some sort of mating ritual maybe?

large_7f265f10-95d3-11e9-baa0-d9d90cd057f5.jpg

large_872f8fb0-95d3-11e9-baa0-d9d90cd057f5.jpg
Grey Headed Gull

After a somewhat disappointing bird watching session, we escape the heat and retire to the air conditioned room where we doze, chat and read for a while.

large_1ccb2cf0-95d9-11e9-8a5f-7df357b56748.jpg
It is somewhat warm today

I end up lunching on my own as David is still not feeling very good (the most dull and bland burger ever!), and afterwards I take a stroll through the gardens. The hotel grounds are beautiful, very well laid out with lots of flowers and trees with meandering walkways.

large_51a39b00-95d5-11e9-baa0-d9d90cd057f5.jpg

large_5b949e70-95d5-11e9-baa0-d9d90cd057f5.jpg

large_669c4200-95d5-11e9-baa0-d9d90cd057f5.jpg

large_6f51df40-95d5-11e9-baa0-d9d90cd057f5.jpg
Sacred Ibis

large_d3742e10-95d5-11e9-baa0-d9d90cd057f5.jpg
Western Red Billed Hornbill

large_49412a00-95d9-11e9-8a5f-7df357b56748.jpg
I make a new friend

More relaxation follows, then drinks on our own little terrace outside our room before dinner.

large_eefad000-95d8-11e9-8a5f-7df357b56748.jpg

large_fd8f43d0-95d8-11e9-8a5f-7df357b56748.jpg
Chicken Yassa - very, very tasty, more than makes up for the disappointing burger at lunchtime.

After dinner we return to our outside patio where we sit and chat to the lovely night guard for a while before tucking in for the day.

Posted by Grete Howard 12:26 Archived in Gambia Tagged birds flowers cat relaxation hot seagull chilling ibis west_africa gull gambia bird_watching thermometer thick_knee plover hibiscus bakotu bakotu_hotel kotu observation_deck pre_dinenr_drinks Comments (3)

Marakissa River Camp

Another Birdie Heaven


View Galavanting in The Gambia 2019 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Marakissa River Camp

Abdoulie takes us to this delightful camp for refreshments and bird watching. The camp is set on the riverside (there is a hint in the name), and features many different species. We spend a couple of delightful hours here, nipping between the covered terrace overlooking man made water pools, and the river below.

large_f02923a0-7cba-11e9-ad19-2175bfbad4d2.jpg
Abyssinian Roller

large_0149c090-7cbb-11e9-ad19-2175bfbad4d2.jpg
Yellow Billed Shrike

large_1205a840-7cbb-11e9-ad19-2175bfbad4d2.jpg
Beautiful Sunbird, preening

large_2592d860-7cbb-11e9-ad19-2175bfbad4d2.jpg
Purple Glossy Starling

large_33165160-7cbb-11e9-ad19-2175bfbad4d2.jpg
Yellow Throated Leaflove

large_4163f830-7cbb-11e9-ad19-2175bfbad4d2.jpg
Red Cheeked Cordon Bleu

large_538dc7c0-7cbb-11e9-ad19-2175bfbad4d2.jpg
Lesser Honeyguide

large_613a4c90-7cbb-11e9-ad19-2175bfbad4d2.jpg
Piapiac (AKA Black Magpie)

large_70d50cd0-7cbb-11e9-ad19-2175bfbad4d2.jpg
Scruffy Looking Village Weaver

large_bed06dd0-7cbb-11e9-ad19-2175bfbad4d2.jpg
Western Plantain Eater

large_8c8d9b90-7cbb-11e9-ad19-2175bfbad4d2.jpg
Black Crake

large_a0309da0-7cbb-11e9-ad19-2175bfbad4d2.jpg
Giant Kingfisher

Kingfisher Diving

While we are down at the river's edge, I spot a Pied Kingfisher in the corner of my eye, just about to dive into the water. I swing my camera around and manage to grab a quick shot as he carries his lunch away.

large_3163a2e0-7cbc-11e9-ad19-2175bfbad4d2.jpg

Having devoured the fresh snack, he comes back, sitting on a nearby branch, contemplating his next move.

large_4efa1960-7cbc-11e9-ad19-2175bfbad4d2.jpg

Feeling hungry again, he hovers over the river, hoping to spot a fish.

large_5bc083f0-7cbc-11e9-ad19-2175bfbad4d2.jpg

Bingo! Not only did he manage to catch one (just – he is barely holding on to it by the tip of its head), but he also speared a dead leaf.

large_66269050-7cbc-11e9-ad19-2175bfbad4d2.jpg

large_6fc8b070-7cbc-11e9-ad19-2175bfbad4d2.jpg

Which is now stuck on his beak.

large_7a2a9e20-7cbc-11e9-ad19-2175bfbad4d2.jpg

large_61f2ea20-7dab-11e9-ae55-6b7dcc59b212.jpg
Speckled Pigeon

large_7eadf4c0-7dab-11e9-ae55-6b7dcc59b212.jpg
Palm Nut Vulture

large_90890810-7dab-11e9-ae55-6b7dcc59b212.jpg
Western Reef Heron

large_ac95b4d0-7dac-11e9-80c8-c9859bf198bb.jpg
African Black Kite

large_fd93a770-7dac-11e9-80c8-c9859bf198bb.jpg
Great White Egret

Back up at the terrace we are joined by the two Dutch ladies we met at Brufut and Tanji. It seems that we are all doing a very similar birding circuit.

large_1acdc7d0-7cd6-11e9-8391-23d1dd589dbb.jpg
African Thrush

large_cf112150-7cd7-11e9-8391-23d1dd589dbb.jpg
Blue Bellied Roller

large_32dc2fc0-7cd5-11e9-b558-932777b13c29.jpg
Beautiful Sunbird

large_b349b060-7cd5-11e9-8391-23d1dd589dbb.jpg
The female sunbird is nowhere near as colourful as the male

large_48cbb9e0-7cd5-11e9-b558-932777b13c29.jpg
Orange Cheeked Waxbill

large_54889c50-7cd8-11e9-a684-f7239b046cf9.jpg
Red Billed Firefinch

large_8a7c4f50-8912-11e9-825d-9175a862e404.jpg
A squirrel joins in the fun

Having had our fill of birdies this morning, we head back to the lodge, getting stuck in a very hot car as we hit a traffic jam along the way.

Lunch

It is lovely to see lots of people have come for lunch here at Tanji today – a big birding party plus a few other couples. We get a very warm welcome from our favourite waitress Awa, who throws her arms out and shouts our names as soon as she sees us. She has drastically changed her appearance from yesterday by going from long, black hair to extremely short, pillarbox red! It suits her. Mind you, she is such a pretty girl she'd look good in anything.

large_b272dec0-8912-11e9-825d-9175a862e404.jpg
Butter fish in a delicious spicy sauce, served with chips.

We are watched during lunch by a troupe of the local Green Vervet Monkeys, as well as a couple of birds

large_c8aba6e0-8912-11e9-825d-9175a862e404.jpg

large_62e3c8f0-8913-11e9-825d-9175a862e404.jpg
Red Billed Firefinch

large_7bae1160-8913-11e9-825d-9175a862e404.jpg
Grey Backed Camaroptera

After a delightful siesta, we spend the rest of the afternoon chatting to Haddy, the owner of Tanji Eco Bird Lodge, hearing all about her plans for the property as well as solving all the world's problems. As you do.

Dinner

Dinner is a low key affair again as usual, with just the two of us and staff.

large_a1d0f240-8913-11e9-825d-9175a862e404.jpg

large_b0575c50-8913-11e9-825d-9175a862e404.jpg
Chicken Yassa

After dinner we retire to our room to let the staff go home while David and I share a few drinks on the balcony, going over the delights of the day.

Posted by Grete Howard 03:45 Archived in Gambia Tagged birds monkeys wildlife kite wild africa birding squirrel roller heron vulture west_africa kingfisher starling shrike finch gambia bird_watching sunbird eco_lodge vervet_monkeys thrush cordon_bleu wildlife_photography the_gambia tanji the_gambia_experience cordon_blue piapiac crake plantain_eater firefinch waxbill tanji_bird_eco_lodge abdoulie marakissa leaflove marakissa_river_camp wild_birds kingfisher_diving camaroptera siest haddy chicken_yassa Comments (2)

Afternoon at Tanji Bird Eco Lodge

Finally: the Bluebill.


View Galavanting in The Gambia 2019 on Grete Howard's travel map.

After a great morning's birding at Abuko, we return to Tanji Bird Eco Lodge for the rest of the day. First of all I want to catch up on emails as I didn't really have much time last night – almost as soon as we'd got the password, we were off to the room where there is no wifi.

Communication completed, I go to my favourite seat in the house: overlooking the bird baths. The staff are busy refilling the various pools, and the birds are making a racket from the surrounding trees, excited at the prospect of a dip and a drink.

I, on the other hand, am waiting patiently for the Bluebill to appear. We saw him here on the first day, but it was too dark to take photos at the time, and he hasn't been back since. So we wait. And wait. And wait.

Our patience pays off, and just before lunch he rocks up. What a beauty!

large_fad24b10-73c8-11e9-89ab-d51e5d8da64f.jpg
Western Bluebill

Lunch

When Sarra asked last night what we wanted to eat for lunch today, we both craved curry and I suggested shrimps. The chef went out to buy them especially this morning, and very good they are too; quite spicy. Mmmm

large_46af9690-7ae6-11e9-a1a3-7fa613fad983.jpg

The pain in my arm - photographer's elbow – has not abated any during the morning, so I text my good friend John (who is also my chiropractor) for advice. He suggests getting a bottle of cold beer and holding it against the painful area, then drink it afterwards. Now you know why we love him so much!

large_ac6be650-7ae6-11e9-a1a3-7fa613fad983.jpg

large_b5698910-7ae6-11e9-a1a3-7fa613fad983.jpg

Being a glutton for punishment, I forego resting my arm, and head back to the bird pool. After a short while, David retires to the room for a siesta, and I ask him to grab me a bottle of water from the bar before he goes. Awa, our delightful waitress, gets him a cold one from the fridge, and he brings it over for me before he leaves.

Finding that the seal is broken when I go to open the bottle, I assume that David has taken a swig out of before giving it to me, and continue to glug around a third of a litre in one go. It is mighty hot here, and keeping up the fluids is important.

Five minutes later a distraught Awa comes running out, and with obvious horror in her voice asks: “The water? You haven't drunk it...?”

When she sees how much is missing from the bottle, she is full of distressed apologies, but promises that I won't get ill as she takes away the offending bottle (of what I now hope is 'only' tap water and nothing more sinister) and brings me a fresh, SEALED one.

With the thought still in the back of my mind of what the unclean water might do to my tummy, I concentrate on the birds again.

large_7d056e20-7ae8-11e9-a1a3-7fa613fad983.jpg
A scruffy Common Bulbul

large_979f1f60-7ae8-11e9-a1a3-7fa613fad983.jpg
African Thrush

large_52d8a850-7ae9-11e9-8e4f-fdfe903fa50f.jpg
Angry looking Black Necked Weavers

large_b6a356b0-7ae8-11e9-a1a3-7fa613fad983.jpg
Blackcap Babbler with photobombing friend

large_c883c130-7ae8-11e9-a1a3-7fa613fad983.jpg
Snowy Crowned Robin Chat showing off his beautiful markings

large_f3898c70-7ae8-11e9-a1a3-7fa613fad983.jpg
Village Weaver doing his best Village Idiot impersonation

Bath time Fun

large_2487f7d0-7ae9-11e9-8e4f-fdfe903fa50f.jpg

large_399dead0-7ae9-11e9-8e4f-fdfe903fa50f.jpg

large_450fe8f0-7ae9-11e9-8e4f-fdfe903fa50f.jpg

With the thought of the potentially contaminated water I drank now dominating my mind, I am becoming increasingly paranoid, and I start analysing every real or imagined 'feeling' in my stomach. As an IBS sufferer, I am used to my tummy being talkative and uncomfortable after eating, but is this something more foreboding? When after another twenty minutes or so, I hear donkey-like noises from my belly, I decide to go back to the room while I still can.

Wise move. I only just made it. A good excuse for a siesta, I guess.

Dinner

After the customary Duty Free drinks on the balcony, we head down to the restaurant for dinner. Having ordered it last night, we know exactly what's on offer this evening. Thankfully it seems that the little 'episode' earlier was just that, and I feel fine again now. Phew.

large_425feeb0-7aea-11e9-bcac-3d81cb39d3b4.jpg
Fish Dodoma - absolutely delicious!

The jewel in the crown of Tanji Bird Eco Lodge is undoubtedly its staff. Awa and Adama, who are gorgeous inside and out, are twins and have only recently started working here at Tanji, but have already carved out a little niche for themselves with their bubbly personality and service mindedness.

large_cab9f030-7aea-11e9-bcac-3d81cb39d3b4.jpg

Another highlight this evening is the resident spider in the toilet by the restaurant, about the size of my splayed palm.

large_c1f430e0-7aeb-11e9-bcac-3d81cb39d3b4.jpg

large_ccfee1b0-7aeb-11e9-bcac-3d81cb39d3b4.jpg
He's a beauty!

The lodge is situated inside a bird reserve of the same name, and with no other habitation for miles around, there is next to no light pollution here and the stars are really out in force this evening. Despite feeling decidedly tipsy, I attempt some astrophotography before going to bed.

large_5ef4de40-7aeb-11e9-bcac-3d81cb39d3b4.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 12:53 Archived in Gambia Tagged birds beer africa dinner stars west_africa siesta bulbul astro gambia bird_watching eco_lodge shrimps night_photography upset_tummy starry_night astro_photography astrophotography thrush the_gambia tanji babbler robin_chat tanji_bird_eco_lodge abuko gambia_experience bluebill photographer's_elbow water_bottle fish_dodoma starry_sky Comments (2)

Abuko

Big day today: Lifer # 1000


View Galavanting in The Gambia 2019 on Grete Howard's travel map.

I spent most of the night tossing and turning, trying to find a position that didn't hurt my arm. That'll teach me for spending so long at the waterhole photographing the birds. Not. I even struggle to bring my hand up to my face this morning, affecting washing, brushing my teeth and hair, and eating. Photographer's elbow. A bit like a tennis player having played in an all day tournament after normally just having a game once or twice a week. The pain won't stop me going out taking photos of birds though.

Abuko

This morning Malick is taking us to Abuko. He's decided that we are going to be better off walking along the plantations just on the outskirts of the woods, rather than inside the thick forest itself, where the conditions will be rather difficult in terms of photography: dark and too many branches in the way. Sounds good to me.

large_fcdcc380-7338-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg

large_e5507950-7338-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg

large_f1299db0-7338-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
Onions

large_c922c520-7339-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
Bitter Tomato

large_df0a11e0-7339-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
Sweet Potato

large_ee887080-7339-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
Mango

large_fc48f280-7339-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
Tapping the palm toddy

large_2b3346c0-7341-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg

large_38d12590-7341-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg

large_43f59ff0-7341-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Scarecrow. Or should that be scaredog?

large_5db544e0-7341-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
I don't think the strips of cloth hung from this pole to keep the birds away from the crops are working too well.

We almost immediately spot birds in the trees and on the ground. As before, any lifers (new species to me) will be denoted with *

large_3eb8a850-7339-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
Sacred Ibis

large_4dc1afe0-7339-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
African Grey Hornbill

large_659c4120-7339-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
Hooded Vulture

large_89b34c70-7339-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
Blue Breasted Kingfisher*

large_a243e740-7339-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
Grey Woodpecker*

large_b17e8620-7339-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
Woodland Kingfisher

large_175589d0-733a-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
Spur Winged Plover

large_5fc08260-733a-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
Striated Heron

large_90014310-733a-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
Black Crake

Malick warns us to be careful as we step over the ants who are making their way along a well-defined path.

large_c0148b20-733a-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg

large_d7498d90-733a-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg

large_e411a5d0-733a-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
African Jacana

large_0b3777c0-733b-11e9-bcc1-930d38e69529.jpg
Senegal Coucal

large_9d80c7a0-733e-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
White Billed Buffalo Weavers*

large_b05ecc00-733e-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Two different species of Egrets - Intermediate and Cattle

large_c70ee700-733e-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Squacco Heron

large_d588a6e0-733e-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Black Heron

large_eeaf6730-733e-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
David testing out his directional microphone, hoping to cut out some of the "click click click" he normally gets on his videos from my photography.

large_1cd250f0-733f-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Blue Bellied Roller*

large_2fd47f20-733f-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Giant Kingfisher with a Tilapia in his beak

large_45043bb0-733f-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Rose Ringed Parakeet

large_5868ae20-733f-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Pied Crow

large_64f65570-733f-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Gull Billed Tern*

large_79dcacf0-733f-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Red Eyed Dove

large_8e40b510-733f-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Long Tailed Cormorant

large_a2c95c30-733f-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Senegal Thick Knee*

This is a very special and important moment in my birdwatching mission – my 1000th lifer!

Ta da!

While I have been interested in seeing and photographing birds for a very long time, it is only in the last 13 years or so that I have taken it to the next level and making a point of identifying and recording the birds I see. I would not consider myself a serious birder, but I am an ardent list-maker, so to make 1000 different species makes me jubilant and proud.

large_1088cca0-7341-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Little Bee Eater

large_8602a6e0-7341-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Hammerkop

large_afe0ec10-7c97-11e9-8a03-bd7d481cd39d.jpg
Broad Billed Roller

large_bcc18b60-7341-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Hooded Vulture

large_ccb60460-7341-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Reef Heron

large_da0d1630-7341-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Purple Heron

large_e86b10b0-7341-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Long Tailed Cormorant

large_f5e2f0f0-7341-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg
Great White Egret

I came to The Gambia with a very short wish list, consisting of only three species that I really wanted to see: Western Bluebill, Western Plantain Eater and the Abyssinian Roller. Having ticked off the first two yesterday, Malick promised me the roller today. He succeeded in spotting it, and the bird put on a delightful display for us.

large_4dea3060-7342-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg

large_72fd00d0-7342-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg

large_648a45d0-7342-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg

large_843f2f80-7342-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg

large_8da8b370-7342-11e9-9c75-33f8621fa256.jpg

The perfect finish to a perfect morning's birdwatching. Thank you Malick.

Posted by Grete Howard 06:36 Archived in Gambia Tagged birds crow birding mango ants roller woodpecker heron egret vulture ibis parakeet dove west_africa kingfisher plantations garlic cormorant sweet_potato tilapia gambia bird_watching hornbill hammerkop thick_knee coucal tern the_gambia malick_suso crake afraica abuko bitter_tomato palm_toddy scarecrow 1000th_lifer lifer life_tick Comments (3)

Afternoon at Tanji

Making a splash


View Galavanting in The Gambia 2019 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Afternoon at Tanji Bird Eco Lodge

As soon as we get back to Tanji Bird Eco Lodge from our birdwatching at Brufut this morning, we head for the bird baths, of course.

large_cb393b60-7270-11e9-b9dd-9fa932472dbf.jpg
Black Necked Weavers

large_30b62640-7273-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg
African Silverbill

large_57449a30-7273-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg
Common Bulbul

large_7f86d8a0-7273-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg
Red Bellied Paradise Flycatcher

large_9a71b720-7273-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg
Snowy Crowned Robin Chat

large_b5e1cb30-7273-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg
Western Red Billed Hornbill

large_fa9030f0-7273-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg
Common Wattle Eye

large_113f6190-7274-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg
Red Billed Firefinch

large_2f31b3b0-7274-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg
Village Weaver

large_425154f0-7274-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg
Grey Headed Bristlebill

large_5df968f0-7274-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg
African Thrush

Lunch

As I said yesterday, we are the only overnight guests at the lodge, although other visitors come for a drink or just to watch the birds at the bath; including the two Dutch ladies we saw this morning at Brufut. For lunch, however, there is just the two of us, and we sit at one of the tables on the ridge overlooking the sea beyond.

large_cd150370-7274-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg

large_24799a40-7275-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg

large_d93fca40-7274-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg

large_e5592bf0-7274-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg

large_f4bdc100-7274-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg

large_356d33c0-7275-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg
Fish with spicy sauce

After lunch I return to the paddling pool while David goes to the room for a siesta. The girls have been in to make the bed and have lovingly created some more designs with flower petals.

large_8847fcb0-7275-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg

large_c1be11f0-7275-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg
Black Necked Weaver

large_d91f2d70-7275-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg
Red Cheeked Cordon Blue

large_f0eaa380-7275-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg
Village Weaver

large_023d7400-7276-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg
There is quite a pool party going on.

large_39cacc10-7276-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg
Black Billed Wood Dove

All through the afternoon, birds come and go, different species, some of which are familiar to me, but many of whom I'd not seen before this morning. I am absolutely captivated by the goings-on and can't tear myself away.

large_86cbee90-7276-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg
This poor little bulbul has a bent beak, and I am not sure if it is a birth defect or whether he has collided with a window or similar. He is still alive, so is presumably able to survive on soft fruits and suchlike.

large_c32a56b0-7276-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg
The Little Bee Eaters dart in from the confines of the trees, swoop down for a brief dip in the cool water and once again return to the safety of the woods. All in the blink of an eye.

large_0c735330-7277-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg
Blue Spotted Wood Dove

I am particularly fascinated by the splashing in the shallow water. Dialling in rapid shooting on my camera, I fire off picture after picture after picture of the weavers (mainly) cleaning their feathers.

large_d2321e60-7279-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg

large_e8ebaf40-7279-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg

large_2eb85640-727a-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg

large_6b0f2170-7273-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg

There is even a squirrel who makes a brief appearance at the water hole.

large_0ae0c4f0-727a-11e9-b272-c5c5da951ab8.jpg

Feeling a slight twinge in my elbow from spending the last ten hours or so photographing birds (taking nearly 5000 pictures in the last 24 hours while holding a heavy lens in the air); I figure it is about time to call it a day. Popping into the bar on the way back to the room, I grab the last three Cokes to go with the Duty Free rum for me, and the last beer for David; for us to enjoy a little snifter in the room before dinner. It looks like we have drunk the bar dry. Again. This seems to be a fairly regular occurrence on our travels.

large_711a7fa0-730a-11e9-a188-37f823c7e7f7.jpg

Dinner

By the time we wander down to the restaurant for something to eat, the bar has thankfully been restocked, and we can both enjoy a beer with our food tonight.

large_e17af630-730a-11e9-a188-37f823c7e7f7.jpg

large_f41c3fb0-730a-11e9-9292-49f7508d38ab.jpg

large_0482db70-730b-11e9-9292-49f7508d38ab.jpg

Sarra, the manager, comes over for a chat and asks: “You want wine? I'll get you wine for tomorrow”.

Followed by “We have internet, a service we offer to The Gambia Experience. 200 Dalasi for the duration of your stay”.

As I do like to be in touch with the world (really?), I reply with gusto “Great. What's the password?”

“I will go and get it”.

Sarra proceeds to walk over to a pile of papers and start to rummage. Nothing. He pokes around in the bar. Still nothing. Continuing his search in the kitchen, it is apparent he still has not found what he is looking for. Nor in the office. Eventually he wanders off to one of the bedrooms, presumably still looking for the elusive piece of paper with the code on it.

The food arrives, but still no wifi password. Oh well, it is not that important anyway.

large_2d2d6c10-7320-11e9-ac40-1b2e091db21f.jpg
Chicken and chips, Gambian style. The chicken is served in a delicious sauce, but I am missing my veggies. I find the vast majority of restaurants, both in the UK and abroad, serve far too few vegetables with their meals for my liking.

Just as we finish our food, Sarra comes back with the password and I am yet again in touch with the world.

Acutely aware that we are the only guests in the lodge, we vacate the restaurant and retire to our room for the night so that the staff can go home. Before we go, we ask for an extra duvet to put on the bed - not something I expected to do here in the Gambia.

The room is eerily dark, with the only sound coming from the crashing waves and rustling palms. Pure heaven.

Posted by Grete Howard 16:47 Archived in Gambia Tagged birds africa birding flycatcher dove wifi weaver bulbul gambia bird_watching hornbill eco_lodge thrush bee_eater the_gambia tanji robin_chat bristlebill the_gambia_experience cordon_blue firefinch tanji_bird_eco_lodge tanji_bird_reserve bird_photography wood_dove wifi_password Comments (1)

Brufut

So many lifers


View Galavanting in The Gambia 2019 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Yet again Lariam (malaria prophylaxis) upsets my sleep with a series of bad dreams: while faced with a plethora of colourful birds, my camera refuses to operate despite repeatedly and frustratingly pressing the shutter. I wake up agitated and distressed, realise it is thankfully just a dream and return to sleep. And the dream. The same horrid dream. This repeats itself time and time again and by the time the alarm goes off at 6am, I am exhausted.

Birding Pool

Knowing we are too early for the breakfast, and will be out for most of the morning, we grab some snacks from our bags and head to the bird pool to wait for the guide to arrive.

large_663ca710-724d-11e9-9946-1f4fd5f117ee.jpg

As it is still fairly dark, photography is almost impossible, so we just sit and enjoy until Malick turns up.

Police Check Point

We pre-booked Malick – Chris Packham's birding guide of choice - through The Gambia Experience before we left home, just to make sure we had a couple of days of serious birding organised. Having someone who knows where to go and the transport to take us there is half the battle.

As with so many African countries, The Gambia has its fair share of Police Road Blocks where they check the drivers' paperwork. It also acts as an opportunity to investigate the birds that hang around here, feeling on rubbish left behind.

large_3f708680-7250-11e9-9946-1f4fd5f117ee.jpg
Yellow Crowned Gonolek

large_61229fc0-7250-11e9-9946-1f4fd5f117ee.jpg
Red Cheeked Cordon Blue

large_74a87ce0-7250-11e9-9946-1f4fd5f117ee.jpg
Red Bellied Paradise Flycatcher

large_871521d0-7250-11e9-9946-1f4fd5f117ee.jpg
Western Red Billed Hornbill

large_96ceb4b0-7250-11e9-9946-1f4fd5f117ee.jpg
Brown Babbler

Brufut

Our destination for today, however, is Brufut, a community-organised bird sanctuary protected by the West African Birds Study Association.

Before we reach the woods themselves, we stop near some habitation at the edge of a few plantations and take a short walk to see what species can be found around here. We are very excited to spot so many 'lifers' (species new to us, indicated by * below) in such a small area.

large_9869aa90-7251-11e9-9946-1f4fd5f117ee.jpg
Yellow Billed Shrike*

large_b80a9710-7251-11e9-9946-1f4fd5f117ee.jpg
Stone Partridge*

large_cc462fa0-7251-11e9-a3a7-6571d9103ad3.jpg
Piapiac*

large_f1062520-7251-11e9-a3a7-6571d9103ad3.jpg
White Crowned Robin Chat*

large_017d3ba0-7252-11e9-a3a7-6571d9103ad3.jpg
White Faced Whistling Ducks

large_11e31410-7252-11e9-a3a7-6571d9103ad3.jpg
Greater Honeyguide*

large_2f4c11f0-7252-11e9-a3a7-6571d9103ad3.jpg
Village Weaver

large_40098040-7252-11e9-a3a7-6571d9103ad3.jpg
Blue Bellied Roller*

large_53f63580-7252-11e9-a3a7-6571d9103ad3.jpg
Senegal Wattled Plover*

large_cf911f70-7252-11e9-afff-5bb465524a0a.jpg
Black Crake

large_9ef05280-7254-11e9-9946-1f4fd5f117ee.jpg
Long Tailed Glossy Starling

large_fd5c9a60-7252-11e9-afff-5bb465524a0a.jpg
Fine Spotted Woodpecker*

large_1f125d20-7253-11e9-afff-5bb465524a0a.jpg
African Jacana

large_2d5f8ec0-7253-11e9-afff-5bb465524a0a.jpg
Pied Crow

large_3a9f9620-7253-11e9-afff-5bb465524a0a.jpg
White Billed Buffalo Weaver*

large_64a7ee90-7253-11e9-9946-1f4fd5f117ee.jpg
Greenshank

large_1fa92970-7254-11e9-9946-1f4fd5f117ee.jpg
Spur Winged Plover

large_88b64750-7253-11e9-9946-1f4fd5f117ee.jpg
Beautiful Sunbird (female)

large_9b74b5c0-7253-11e9-9946-1f4fd5f117ee.jpg
Bearded Barbet

large_b6ec1cd0-7253-11e9-9946-1f4fd5f117ee.jpg
Splendid Sunbird (female)

large_0d3fdfe0-7254-11e9-9946-1f4fd5f117ee.jpg
Copper Sunbird*

large_3a6d4610-7254-11e9-9946-1f4fd5f117ee.jpg
Intermediate Egret

large_4f158320-7254-11e9-9946-1f4fd5f117ee.jpg
Northern Red Bishop in non-breeding colours*

large_6a8e22b0-7254-11e9-9946-1f4fd5f117ee.jpg
Variable Sunbird (female) The female sunbirds all look very similar.

large_8d10ab50-7254-11e9-9946-1f4fd5f117ee.jpg
Common Sandpiper

large_b34629d0-7254-11e9-9946-1f4fd5f117ee.jpg
Pied Kingfisher

large_c07ede30-7254-11e9-9946-1f4fd5f117ee.jpg
Black Headed Heron

The plantations include such crops as cashew nuts and mango trees.

large_148ccff0-7255-11e9-9946-1f4fd5f117ee.jpg
Unripe cashew fruits with the nuts not yet having developed - they will be hanging down below when ripe

large_2bb1f3e0-7255-11e9-9946-1f4fd5f117ee.jpg
Mango fruits

Brufut Woodland Bar

We continue to an area known as Brufut Woods, where there is even a bar serving drinks. Fearing that they may not be open this late in the season, Malick had already contacted them by phone earlier, to make sure they put the kettle on.

large_9e7fa7a0-725a-11e9-b8c5-bd5ea3f4388b.jpg

large_28ed9500-725b-11e9-a924-b7bdbc1413a1.jpg

A number of benches are set out, overlooking an area with several bird baths in the trees and on the ground. I notice that rather than putting out food for the birds so that they become dependent on humans for feeding, only water is provided. I like that.

large_176b9e30-725b-11e9-a924-b7bdbc1413a1.jpg

This is the civilised way of photographing the birds.

large_39416c10-725b-11e9-a924-b7bdbc1413a1.jpg

large_47ecc340-725b-11e9-a924-b7bdbc1413a1.jpg

We spend the next couple of hours watching, photographing, and listening to the birds, seeing their family squabbles, how they interact with each other and some obvious pecking orders.

As before, any lifers are denoted with *

large_b06b8e60-725b-11e9-837f-a9c9550f0e7c.jpg
Red Cheeked Cordon Bleu

large_00899660-725e-11e9-822d-1352a03e610c.jpg
Senegal Coucal

large_1ade7670-725e-11e9-822d-1352a03e610c.jpg
Black Billed Wood Dove*

I usually have a wish list of birds (or animals) I wish to see when we travel, and this is one of only three on my list this time:

large_47d7fb60-725e-11e9-822d-1352a03e610c.jpg
Western Plantain Eater*

large_94fa1360-725e-11e9-a924-b7bdbc1413a1.jpg
Bronze Mannikin

large_277269e0-725f-11e9-b8c5-bd5ea3f4388b.jpg
Yellow Throated Leaflove*

large_e6b2d510-725f-11e9-a924-b7bdbc1413a1.jpg
Laughing Doves

large_0d099730-7260-11e9-a924-b7bdbc1413a1.jpg
Common Bulbul

large_466fa6e0-7260-11e9-a924-b7bdbc1413a1.jpg
Red Billed Firefinch (female)

large_705f9550-7260-11e9-a924-b7bdbc1413a1.jpg
Black Necked Weaver*

large_8ab8bb20-7260-11e9-a924-b7bdbc1413a1.jpg
Greater Honeyguide*

large_b06a1580-7260-11e9-a924-b7bdbc1413a1.jpg
Lavender Waxbill*

large_fce2a710-7260-11e9-a924-b7bdbc1413a1.jpg
Orange Cheeked Waxbill*

large_1eb20c50-7261-11e9-a924-b7bdbc1413a1.jpg
African Thrush*

large_3e2be8d0-7261-11e9-b36d-0de8a4c5fbef.jpg
Splendid Sunbird

large_51b918f0-7261-11e9-b36d-0de8a4c5fbef.jpg
Hooded Vulture

We employ the services of a local guide to help us go in to the woods to look for the Long Tailed Nightjar which is often found in this area. After a short moment of concern when the bird is not where he saw it half an hour earlier (as nocturnal birds, nightjars don't tend to move far during the day unless they are spooked), he spots it on the ground, very well camouflaged.

large_c0fbc370-7261-11e9-b8c5-bd5ea3f4388b.jpg

We start making our way back to the main road, along dirt tracks frequented by more animal carts than vehicles.

large_ec5ca700-7261-11e9-a924-b7bdbc1413a1.jpg

But first, Malick wants to check out some palms on the way.

large_1464c2a0-7262-11e9-a924-b7bdbc1413a1.jpg

large_2d282d40-7262-11e9-b8c5-bd5ea3f4388b.jpg
Grey Woodpecker*

Having seen them here in the last couple of days, this is what he was looking for:

large_5c3d8d50-7262-11e9-b8c5-bd5ea3f4388b.jpg
Red Necked Falcons*

And so ends a very productive morning's birdwatching. Now back to the lodge for the rest of the day.

Posted by Grete Howard 08:41 Archived in Gambia Tagged birds crow africa birding coffee mango woodpecker heron egret vulture dove malaria west_africa kingfisher starling plantations weaver falcon shrike bulbul dreams finch barbet gambia lariam nightjar bird_watching hornbill sunbird jacana cashews coucal plover thrush sandpiper life_list robin_chat mefloquine malaria_prophelaxis malaria_tablets nightmares disturbed_sleep police_check_point chris_packham malick_suso the_gambia_experience gonolek cordon_blue brufut brufut_woods piapiac whistling_ducks honeyguide crake glossy_starling greenshank red_bishop mango_trees cashew_nuts cashew_trees plantain_eater mannikin firefinch waxbill Comments (4)

Gatwick to Tanji

Better late than never


View Galavanting in The Gambia 2019 on Grete Howard's travel map.

As expected, the hotel room was way too hot overnight (it is a common problem with Premier Inns) and I didn't sleep very well. The benefit of this is that I will then hopefully sleep on the plane, making the flight go quicker.

After dropping off the car at the valet parking, we head for the Titan check in desk. It is a number of years since we travelled on a charter flight, and I am concerned about my hand luggage which is full of camera equipment and borderline as far as the weight limit goes. To mitigate this, David is carrying one of my lenses in his backpack, and another in his coat pocket, whereas I slip all the batteries in my pocket and wear one of the cameras around my neck with yet another lens on it.

As it turns out, all this worry has been for nothing – they don't even give the hand luggage a second glance, yet alone weigh it.

Wondertree Restaurant

Duty Free purchase comes next, then breakfast.

large_Wondetree.jpg

large_99692b60-6cce-11e9-a895-df288f20f0ed.jpg
David's full English

I order pancakes with bacon and syrup.
large_af88c630-6cce-11e9-8cb3-738d8b1bd51a.jpg

Flight

Boarding is simple and straight forward and we strike lucky with a row to ourselves.

large_e775ca70-6cce-11e9-9a81-9be379f12513.jpg

As we settle in, ready to relax for the next six-and-a-half hours, our hearts sink a little when the captain comes on the intercom with an announcement: “Things don't seem to be going too well for us this morning; we have developed a technical fault and have to go back to the stand to get an engineer to check it out.”

Oh dear.

One hour later, he updates us: “We're ready to go, air traffic control is ready, but Eurocontrol is not ready”.

At this point he switches the engine off to save fuel, which of course means no A/C. The cabin becomes hotter and hotter and hotter as people's patience wears thinner and thinner. After some (uncomfortable) time, he reassures us: “I am aware that you guys are getting rather warm back there...” and switches the power back on.

More time passes before the next announcement: “A restricted no-fly zone has cropped up in the south of France, so our flight path needs re-routing.”

More waiting time.

That sorted, we are informed that “we need a courier to push us out from the stand and they are all at the other side of the airport”.

At this point the lady across the aisle from us becomes very irate, shouting obscenities, calling the captain a liar, refusing to switch her phone off etc. While I understand that nerves are getting frayed and tempers short, that sort of outburst is not doing her – or us – any favours.

We finally take off two hours and twenty minutes late. What should have been a 6 and a half hour flight, now becomes nearly nine hours of having to sit in this tin can.

The flight itself is reasonably painless after all that, with quite good food (spicy chicken noodles and a very nice chocolate and orange mousse). Wine, of course, has to be bought – and paid for – separately. I guess we have been spoilt over the years with scheduled long haul flight where everything is included.

Banjul Airport

The modern terminal building has been added since we were last here; in fact, it is not fully completed yet. We are last in the queue for immigration, but it doesn't matter as the luggage has only just started to arrive when we get out there.

Some things have never changed since we were here last, 23 years ago: porters wishing to change the British coins they have been given as tips into notes which they are then able to convert into Dalasi, the local currency. I am happy to oblige.

My bag arrives and we watch everyone else collect theirs, one after the other. Still no sign of David's. Some bags go round and round, again and again, but David's is not one of them. More and more people are leaving the baggage area and heading for the customs and exit. Still no sign of David's bag. With only a handful of passengers still remaining around the carousel, all apparently in possession of their luggage, the belt stops. Without David's case. After a few tense moments, I spot it, partly hidden by the curtain at the entrance to the belt, stopping just short of actually coming into the baggage area. Phew.

Tanji Bird Lodge

As expected, we have a private minibus transfer to the hotel. Our accommodation for the first five days is in a very small eco-lodge with just eight rooms, and it soon becomes apparent that we are the only tourists staying here for those nights.

large_05edf3d0-6e8f-11e9-9754-e343323fa0bb.jpg

The lodge is all very open plan, with a thatch-covered bar and tables in amongst the trees as well as on a ridge overlooking the ocean for eating and drinking.

large_7dc4a9d0-6e8f-11e9-9754-e343323fa0bb.jpg

large_a75190b0-6e8f-11e9-9754-e343323fa0bb.jpg

large_236a52a0-6e8f-11e9-9754-e343323fa0bb.jpg

A meandering path leads us to the four simple brick huts housing two rooms in each.

large_e7a15740-6e8f-11e9-9754-e343323fa0bb.jpg

There is no A/C in the room, but it has been designed with a high domed ceiling to help disperse the heat, and with slatted windows, the sea breezes are allowed to flow through.

large_01f09200-6e90-11e9-9754-e343323fa0bb.jpg

The inside is basic but adequate, featuring a narrow double bed which has been lovingly strewn with flower petals. In all the years we've travelled and all the hotels we've stayed in, this is a first for us. We have had petals on the bed before, of course, but never has it spelled out our name – such a special and personal touch.

large_32658210-6e90-11e9-9754-e343323fa0bb.jpg

large_3ea72c40-6e90-11e9-9754-e343323fa0bb.jpg

large_5ab5f150-6e90-11e9-9754-e343323fa0bb.jpg
Domed ceiling

The bathroom has a shower and toilet but no running hot water (we were fully aware of that when we booked), and we cannot seem to manage to get any water out of the shower hose, only through the tap. Cold bucket showers it is then. In this heat, that can be quite refreshing, and is an excellent way to preserve water.

large_8f1d9f60-6e90-11e9-9754-e343323fa0bb.jpg

Bird Baths

But first things first: bird watching. The lodge is set inside Tanji Bird Reserve, and have enticed birds to visit the grounds by providing a series of bowls and pools filled with water. To encourage human visitors, chairs and benches are available for us to sit on as we watch our feathered friends come to bathe and drink; with strategically placed tables for our drinks too of course.

large_f6436a30-6e90-11e9-84af-55d28e7ceac6.jpg
David's preferred way to spot birds

We see a surprising amount of birds in the short time we are here this afternoon (by the time we get settled in to the room, we only have around half an hour left of daylight). They come to bathe and drink, or maybe just hang around with their mates. Here is a small selection:

large_07843950-6e91-11e9-84af-55d28e7ceac6.jpg
Blue Spotted Wood Dove

large_2acc0dc0-6e91-11e9-84af-55d28e7ceac6.jpg
Blackcap Babblers

large_6f488e10-6e91-11e9-84af-55d28e7ceac6.jpg
Red Eyed Dove

large_eb009cf0-6e91-11e9-84af-55d28e7ceac6.jpg
Village Weavers

large_fe7f2710-6e91-11e9-84af-55d28e7ceac6.jpg
Snowy Crowned Robin Chat

large_143551b0-6e92-11e9-84af-55d28e7ceac6.jpg
Black Necked Weaver and Grey Headed Bristlebill

large_30e33cf0-6e92-11e9-84af-55d28e7ceac6.jpg
Laughing Dove

Dinner

As is the Howard tradition, we enjoy a Duty Free tipple in the room before going down to the restaurant for dinner. We find it surprisingly chilly, with a cool wind, to the point of wearing a fleece. We never expected that in The Gambia; in fact, while packing we contemplated whether or not to bring any type of warm clothing at all. Just as well we did.

large_cb898a20-6e92-11e9-9754-e343323fa0bb.jpg

As the sun goes down, some interesting clouds appear, later taking on a muted pink hue from the setting sun.

large_10aafd00-6e93-11e9-998d-7db86ed5b984.jpg

large_1c6575d0-6e93-11e9-998d-7db86ed5b984.jpg

With us being the only two guests in the lodge this evening, catering is down to what they have in the kitchen, which is fish and chicken.

large_64373ba0-6e93-11e9-998d-7db86ed5b984.jpg

We choose butter fish, which is thankfully de-boned and absolutely delicious. I have mine with rice while David orders chips.

large_955cde10-6e93-11e9-998d-7db86ed5b984.jpg

With a glass or two of the local beer, of course. While the main religion here in The Gambia is Islam, they are a secular nation and quite liberal – the country even has its own brewery.

large_f3b05be0-6e93-11e9-84af-55d28e7ceac6.jpg

Being situated inside a bird reserve, there is no light pollution here. Walking back to the room in almost complete darkness, we are glad to see someone has been to the room and switched our outside light on while we were eating dinner. How thoughtful.

We have only had a couple of beers each this evening, but David really struggles to get the key in the lock. s we are fiddling, a knock from behind the door makes me jump – there is someone in our room! Then it dawns on us: this is not our room. It seems we have tried to enter the room where the manager was sleeping. Oops. Sheepishly we continue to our own room and make a mental note of leaving the outside light on tomorrow night.

Being used to a super-king sized bed at home, we worry that the four-foot bed in this place is going to feel rather cramped. Surprisingly, it doesn't, but it is somewhat chilly this evening so we reluctantly grab the duvet from the cupboard and put on the bed. While the bed is narrow, the duvet is miniscule. It is basically a single quilt inside a double cover. It looks like we will have to cuddle up all night, then.

Once the lights are out, the room is pitch black. The sort of blackness that you cannot imagine without having experienced somewhere with absolutely no light whatsoever. Your eyes never get used to it. You cannot see anything. At all. I make sure my torch is within groping distance, and drift off to sleep.

The Gambia Experience featuring Tanji Bird Eco Lodge

Posted by Grete Howard 10:59 Archived in Gambia Tagged birds hotel flight airport breakfast dinner birding dove weaver gatwick titan bird_watching delay valet_parking check_in bajul charter_flight wondertree tanji tanji_bird_lodge bird-bath babbler robin_chat bristlebill butter_fish narrow_bed Comments (4)

(Entries 25 - 36 of 84) Previous « Page 1 2 [3] 4 5 6 7 » Next