Blog by Karanta Camara, President of The Birds Watchers Association, 2018
I am really excited to be writing this blog because tomorrow I travel up river on tour with my team to research in preparation for the tourist season starting this month. Follow me closely for my new photos and videos of birds and bird watching sites you will be able to visit when you book your bird tour with me. You can also see all media on my facebook page.
We reached Morgan Kunda Lodge located in the Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve, Jarjari Village, North Road. On our first day from the lodge we saw Chestnut Crown Sparrow Weaver, White Crested Helmet Shrike and Quefinch, we also went out in the woods of Jirong, Katchang and Gemma Sari in the North.
Along our travels so far we have seen Square Tail Drongo, Bruce’s Green Pigeon and Pintail Whyda we are having a great time in the North visiting sites we’ve not visited before.
Over the next few days we encounter:
A beautiful area of rich green welcomes great species of birds, we are really enjoying the tour and this site is close to Gimmansari Village where we had our morning birding.
We moved onto a very productive waterhole where we spotted Savile’s Bustard and Cinnamon Breasted Bunting and Exclamatory Paradise Whyda.
We then went on to have a great afternoon at N’jaw where we countered four Egyptian Plovers.
The White Crown Plovers were still at Kaur Wetland the morning we visited.
We continued our tour to see:
Cinamon Breasted Bunting yesterday afternoon by the waterhole.
White Backed Vultures, Black Crowned Cranes and Red Billed Quellias at Sambang, the best site for Cranes in their numbers.
Absynian Ground Hornbill, Yellow Crowned Bishop and White Fronted Black Chat at Katchang and Jirong Woods at North Bank
We are enjoying our stay at Morgan Kunda Lodge, setting off each morning after breakfast. The food is very good, a mix of local Gambian and European cuisine. The stay is very comfortable, making use of the viewing platform within the grounds of the lodge and the staff are very helpful and welcoming.
Over the next few days we also saw:
A Beautiful Sunbird being released shortly after treatment from injury sustain by knocking himself against a car mirror by the road side. He is happy and back to life thanks to the quick response from The Gambia Bird Watchers Association members at their Head Quarters at Kotu.
A White Crested Helmet Shrike at Jirong Woods, this newly discovered site is a must-see area if you want more spectacular views of these fabulous species. You can see more of the video here.
Speckle Fronted Weaver is one of the highlights of Jajari/Tallia Woods and farmlands which are also good for NightJars Savil’s Bustard close to the border with Senegal. You can stay at Morgan Kunda Lodge, the best place for your birding tour of the North.
Colony of Red Throated Bee Eaters at Wassu sand pitch, a perfect day trip from Morgan Kunda Lodge via Kaur Wetland, where you will also pick the most iconic species of the area like The Egyptian and White Crowned Plovers, Exclamatory Paradise Whydas and loads of Eagles. I would be so excited to show you these sites on my tour this winter to take you around these secret locations, as the saying goes ‘the early bird catches the worm’, be amongst the first birders to visit these sites! You can see more of the video here.
Another Grey Eagle Owl a regular night visitor at Morgan Kunda Lodge, the place I will be spending most of my tours to explore the North Bank Region. Cinnamon Breasted Bunting is also relatively common there.
Carmine Bee Eater, Carlet Chested Sunbird, White Crown Plover and Long Crested Eagle.
Take a look at Red Beak Hornbill having a dry sand bath at Kotu. You can see more of the video here.
Black Crowned Crane feeding in the rice fields of Sambang, you cannot miss these birds here they are not threatened and the best time for them is 5pm or early morning you can find up to 20 or more of them in the area.
Giant Kingfisher at Kotu is the biggest kingfisher in The Gambia.
Marabou Stork at Nyinian Sambang at their roosting tree.
Monitor Lizards and Banded Mongoose at Brufut Wood.
Violet and Green Swallow at Marakissa Wood and Brufut Wood.
Grasshopper Buzzard, Golliath Heron, White Throat Bee Eater and Immature White Backed Night Heron via a boat trip at Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve in the North.
Take a look at the stunning umbrella fishing techniques by Black Egret at Kotu. You can see more of the video here.
Golden Tailed Wood Pecker also at Kotu
So here we are, almost the last breakfast at Morgan Kunda Lodge, North Bank Region. This season is open for business, I will have most of my stay here during my tours in the North and you will be privileged to see rural Gambia featuring many differences from the coast. I look forward to seeing you soon!