The beautiful Egyptian Plover in Gambia by Steve Garvie.
Abyssinian Roller photographed in Gambia by Nick Cobb.
The lists below are relevant to the northern winter when numerous birds which nest in Europe are present in The Gambia, species which help swell this tiny country's bird list to 570+.
White-backed Night Heron, Egyptian Plover (Oct-Jan with numbers usually at a peak in November, declining to a few by mid-January, often at Basse only by then), and Abyssinian and Blue-bellied Rollers. Also a chance of African Pygmy Goose, Savile’s Bustard (north of river), African Finfoot, Black Crowned Crane, Greater Painted Snipe, Brown-necked Parrot, Adamawa Turtle Dove, Standard-winged Nightjar, White-fronted Black Chat, White-winged Black Tit and Sudan Golden Sparrow (north of river).
White-faced Whistling Duck, Ahanta Francolin, Reed (Long-tailed) Cormorant, African Darter, Great White and Pink-backed Pelicans, Western Reef Egret, Black, Black-headed, Goliath and Squacco Herons, Hadada Ibis, African Spoonbill, Hamerkop, African Fish Eagle, Osprey, Hooded, Palm-nut, Ruppell’s Griffon and White-backed Vultures, Long-crested and Tawny Eagles, Beaudouin's, Brown and Western Banded Snake Eagles, Lizard Buzzard, African Harrier Hawk, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Grasshopper Buzzard, Bateleur, Lanner and Red-necked Falcons, Grey Kestrel, Black Crake, Senegal and Spotted Thick-knees, African Wattled, Black-headed and Spur-winged Plovers, Black-winged Stilt, African Jacana and many other shorebirds, Grey-headed and Slender-billed Gulls, Caspian and Royal Terns, Four-banded Sandgrouse, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, doves, Senegal Parrot, Green and Violet Turacos, Western Grey Plantain-eater, Klaas’s Cuckoo, Senegal Coucal, Greyish (Spotted) and Verreaux’s Eagle Owls, Long-tailed Nightjar, Mottled Spinetail, Blue-breasted, Giant, Malachite and Pied Kingfishers, Blue-cheeked, Golden (European), Little, Red-throated, Swallow-tailed and White-throated Bee-eaters, Broad-billed and Rufous-crowned Rollers, Hoopoe, Green Woodhoopoe, Black Scimitarbill, African Grey, African Pied and Red-billed Hornbills, Bearded and Vieillot’s Barbets, Greater Honeyguide, Fine-spotted Woodpecker, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, Senegal Batis, White Helmetshrike, Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Black-crowned Tchagra, Brubru, Northern Puffback, Yellow-billed Shrike, African Golden Oriole, African and Red-bellied Paradise Flycatchers, African Blue Flycatcher, Piapiac, Chestnut-backed Sparrow Lark, Pied-winged and Wire-tailed Swallows, Fanti Sawwing, Yellow Penduline Tit, Grey-headed Bristlebill, Yellow-throated Leaf Love, Little Greenbul, Oriole Warbler (Moho), Senegal Eremomela, Green and Northern Crombecs, Green Hylia, Yellow-breasted Apalis, cisticolas, Red-winged Warbler, Northern Anteater Chat, Snowy-crowned and White-crowned Robin Chats, Blackcap Babbler, glossy starlings, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Beautiful, Copper, Mouse-brown, Pygmy, Scarlet-chested and Splendid Sunbirds, Black-winged and Northern Red Bishops, weavers, Exclamatory (Long-tailed) Paradise Whydah, Lavender and Orange-cheeked Waxbills, and Black-faced Quailfinch. Also a chance of Marabou and Woolly-necked Storks, Martial Eagle, White-spotted Flufftail, Allen's Gallinule, White-fronted Sandplover, Bronze-winged and Temminck’s Coursers, Audouin’s and Kelp Gulls, Yellowbill, Black Coucal, African and Northern White-faced Scops Owls, African Wood Owl, Grey-headed, African Pygmy, Shining-blue, Striped and Woodland Kingfishers, Northern Carmine and Little Green Bee-eaters, Grey-headed and Sulphur-breasted Bush Shrikes, and Western Bluebill.
A chance of Hippopotamus, Guinea Baboon, Green Vervet, Patas and Western Red Colobus Monkeys, Senegal Bushbaby, Warthog, Cape Clawless Otter, Maxwell's Duiker, Western Bushbuck and Straw-coloured Fruit Bat.
The brilliant Blue-bellied Roller by Martin Goodey.
The peak time for birds is November to March, during the 'high' and dry season which usually lasts until May. November is the most reliable time for Egyptian Plover, the presence of which is dependent on water levels. The temperature is usually high, especially in March-April, but a little lower during December and January.
Helm Field Guide: Birds of Senegal and The Gambia by N Borrow and R Demey. Helm, 2012.
Birds of The Gambia and Senegal by C Barlow, T Wacher and T Disley. Pica Press, 2005 (Second Edition).
Birds of Western Africa by N Borrow and R Demey. Helm, 2014 (Second Edition).
Birds of Africa south of the Sahara by I Sinclair and P Ryan. C Struik, 2011 (Second Edition).
Finding Birds in The Gambia by D Gosney. Easybirder, 2012 (book and/or DVD).
The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals by J Kingdon. Bloomsbury, 2015 (Second Revised Edition).
The Kingdon Pocket Guide to African Mammals by J Kingdon. Bloomsbury, 2016 (Second Edition).
The Kingdon Guide to African Mammals.
Where to watch birds in Africa by N Wheatley. Helm, 1995.
Don’t know which country/countries to visit in Africa? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them on the continent, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.
Many trip reports, some for Gambia, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Gambia. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Gambia' below.
The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.
There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.
While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and they are popular with people with partners with different interests. Individuals, partners and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more for a custom tour than an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.
Tour companies who run organized tours to Gambia include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.