A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about the gambia

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)

Home to Gatwick

The Gambia here we come


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

After having to cancel our trip to Norway recently while looking after my terminally ill father: culminating in his death at the end of a long and stressful period of our lives; I felt the need to book something. Anything. I didn't want to have to spend time planning a 'proper' adventure, but I did want to go somewhere reasonably exotic. Having contemplated a return to The Gambia a couple of times in recent years (we first visited in 1996), it seemed a perfect destination: hot, sunny, relaxing, comfortable, friendly, excellent bird watching and not too long a flight.

So here we are, in the car on the way to Gatwick for an overnight stay before our early morning flight tomorrow.

Premier Inn at Gatwick Manor

After checking in to the hotel, we crack open a bottle of something alcoholic in the room (we do like to have a little tipple while we are getting ready) before sauntering down for an early dinner. We find there are no vacant tables in the restaurant, but the bar is reasonably empty, so we eat our food there instead.

540b5db0-6ccc-11e9-9a81-9be379f12513.jpg477970a0-6ccc-11e9-9a81-9be379f12513.jpg

With mostly traditional pub dishes on the menu, I choose carefully. It is not that I don't like traditional food, but when I go out to eat I prefer to have dishes that I would not normally have at home.

large_a16d64e0-6ccc-11e9-9a81-9be379f12513.jpg
Very tasty mushrooms in Stilton and black peppercorn sauce on toasted sour dough bread for starter.

large_ae57f940-6ccc-11e9-8cb3-738d8b1bd51a.jpg
Battered halloumi and chips. One of my frustrations with classic pub menus is that so much of it is deep fried (why not just simply grill the halloumi rather than adding extra grease and calories?) and most things seem to be served with chips, which I am not overly keen on.

large_baba4ad0-6ccc-11e9-8cb3-738d8b1bd51a.jpg
David, having more of a traditional palate than me, chooses pie and chips for his main course.

large_c734df50-6ccc-11e9-8cb3-738d8b1bd51a.jpg
My choux bun with Prosecco strawberries is disappointing. The berries appear to have come out of a tin and there is too much cream for my liking. David fares much better with his apple and sultana crumble with a hint of cinnamon. As usual David asks for custard and ice cream, but unlike most other places we have eaten over the last few years, he get charged extra for one of them.

Almost as soon as we have finished eating, we retire to the room to make sure we get some sleep before tomorrow's early start. Watch this space for further updates from The Gambia.

Posted by Grete Howard 09:36 Archived in England Tagged dinner gatwick gambia premier_inn gatwick_manor the_gambia pub_food halloumi pie_and_chips Comments (2)

(Entries 13 - 16 of 16) Previous « Page 1 [2]