Birding Tour Senegal: Supreme West African Birding

Dates and Costs:


03 – 18 December 2024

Price: €5,470   / £4,890 / $6,231 per person sharing, based on 4 – 9 participants.

Single Supplement: €540 / £483 / $615.


* Please note that currency conversion is calculated in real-time, therefore is subject to slight change. Please refer back to base price when making final payments.


Recommended Field Guide

(Please also read our blogs about recommended field guides for the seven continents here)

Tour Details

Duration: 16 days
Group Size: 4 – 8
Tour Start: Dakar
Tour End: Dakar

Price includes:

All accommodation
All meals from dinner on Day 1 to lunch on Day 16
Mineral water
International tour leader and local guide
Park entrance fees
All guide fees
Excursion costs and boat trips as indicated

Price excludes:

International flights to/from Dakar, Senegal
Travel insurance
Entry visas
Soft and alcoholic drinks (except water)
Gratuities (please see our tipping guidelines blog)
Gifts and other items of a personal nature

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Senegal: Supreme West African Birding

December 2024

Steeped in history, Senegal is a pleasantly delightful West African country that exceeds all expectations. Not only is the country safe, but also easy to visit, with a number of direct flights from Europe and North America. Most importantly for us however, are the birds.


Senegal birding tourThe highly sought-after Egyptian Plover is one of our premier targets on this exciting tour – several boat trips are undertaken looking for them!


Located in the transitional Sahel zone, which is an otherwise difficult habitat type to access, Senegal offers what is easily the most accessible sites for such highly prized Sahel birds as Quail-plover, Cricket Warbler and Golden Nightjar. Not to mention the incredible Egyptian Plover, which is one of the most sought-after birds in Africa, along with the most important gathering of Scissor-tailed Kite in the world – all of which we readily seek.


Senegal birding toursCricket Warbler, a Sahel special, is a highly prized bird we’ll be seeking on this tour.


This tour begins outside of the country’s bustling capital, Dakar, following which we transit to the northern reaches of the country. Bordering on the edge of the mighty Sahara Desert, we look for the first of our important targets, namely Golden Nightjar and Cricket Warbler. We will also attempt to track down other specials such as Sudan Golden Sparrow, Little Grey Woodpecker and Sennar Penduline Tit. A short stop at the vast Djoudj wetlands breaks our journey southwards. This is a majorly important overwintering site for ducks and other waterbirds, with birds numbering well into the tens of thousands. A vast wetland oasis on the edge of the Sahara Desert is not to be taken lightly. If luck is on our side, we will hopefully come across both the scarce Arabian and Savile’s Bustards, while also enjoying the likes of the majestic Black Crowned Crane and prized River Prinia in the surrounds.

We make a concerted effort to find the mega Quail-plover before we reach the south-eastern parts of the country. This is quite the change from the dry, sandy desert-like north, and exploring the massive Gambia River and the moist deciduous woodlands and riparian forests of Dindefelo will give us a large boost in species. This region hosts the incomparable Egyptian Plover, along with scarce Pel’s Fishing Owl, African Finfoot, Neumann’s Starling and Mali Firefinch. We can also find more iconic species here, such as Violet Turaco, Blue-bellied Roller, Northern Carmine Bee-eater and Narina Trogon, amongst many others. We conclude the tour with several days exploring various bits of the extensive Saloum Delta from our comfortable lodge. A trip to the massive Scissor-tailed Kite roost on Kousmer Island, which numbers into the thousands, is sure to be a contender for ‘bird of the trip’, and we will also dedicate some time, and boat trips, to looking for the rare White-crested Tiger Heron in the mangroves.


Senegal birding tourNorthern Carmine Bee-eaters are always a firm favorite on the tour!


Itinerary (16 days/15 nights)


Day 1. Arrival into Dakar

The day is set aside for your arrival into the capital city, Dakar. After arrival at its new Blaise Diagne International Airport, we will overnight in nearby Thiès. There are no formal plans for birding today, and you can arrive at your leisure.

Overnight: Thiès hotel


Day 2. Birding to St Louis

Our birding adventure in Senegal begins as we transit up to the historic coastal town of St Louis, where we call in for the night at our comfortable lodge. While we will mostly be driving today, we will be birding along the entire route up to St Louis, where we anticipate arriving in the late afternoon. We expect new birds to come in thick and fast, and we will concentrate our birding in various (and bird-rich) acacia thornveld patches (almost reminiscent of southern Africa’s Kalahari Desert). Here we will get acquainted quickly with some of Senegal’s more common arid birds which include the likes of Vinaceous Dove, Blue-naped Mousebird, Western Red-billed Hornbill and the extravagant Long-tailed Glossy Starling. We also hope to come across a few more special birds which may include the bright Abyssinian Roller, African Green Bee-eater, Vieillot’s Barbet, Senegal Batis, Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Pygmy Sunbird, and if we’re lucky, the scarce Little Grey Woodpecker. This route also traverses the best region in Senegal for vultures, and we’ll keep a beady eye on the sky for the likes of the rare Lappet-faced and Rüppell’s Vultures, while both White-backed Vulture and Griffon Vulture are usually more obvious. Should time allow, we may also do our first bit of ‘water birding’ near St Louis. This is a slightly unique habitat on the tour, as we don’t access any other coastal points on the route, and we will try to ensure we pick up as many of the shorebirds, gulls and terns as we can, the most important being the scarce West African Crested Tern.

Overnight: Ranch de Bango


Senegal birding tourVibrant Yellow-crowned Gonoleks add much to the surrounding arid landscapes.


Days 3 – 4. Birding Podor, and the edge of the Sahara Desert

From St Louis, we transit north to the small village of Podor, right on the border with Mauritania, and on the edge of the Sahara Desert, for two nights. Here a slew of important key species awaits us, as we spend our time birding in the greater Senegal River valley with its mix of dry acacia woods, scrubby thickets and sandy dune fields. Foremost amongst our targets will be the iconic Golden Nightjar and Cricket Warbler – arguably more easily accessed here than at any other point in their range. We will also ensure we dedicate some time to finding other specials from the dry north such as African Collared Dove, Black Scimitarbill, Fulvous Babbler, Sennar Penduline Tit, Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark, Black Scrub Robin, Chestnut-bellied Starling and Sudan Golden Sparrow. We also make time to spend at a few dedicated bird-photography hides, which provide us with unequaled views of many of the areas’ birds. Here flocks of Sudan Golden Sparrow vie for attention, while dainty Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu and African Silverbill try to avoid getting overwhelmed by the sparrows. Abyssinian Rollers and Western Red-billed Hornbills drop down to disperse the smaller birds, and Black Scrub Robins dart out from the thickets. If we are extremely lucky and get our timing correct, we may even watch as a Golden Nightjar comes down to drink in front of us!

Overnight: Mbantou hotel


Senegal birding tourSudan Golden Sparrows are a common sight in the far northern parts of Senegal.


Day 5. Transfer to the Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary

The Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a wetland of major importance. Given its proximity to the massive Sahara Desert, this vast freshwater wetland system houses thousands of waterbirds, many of which overwinter here from Europe, and serves as an important breeding ground for many others. We anticipate arriving in good time, allowing for an afternoon excursion to the aptly named Grand Lac. Combined with the cooling of the temperatures in the afternoon, the waterbird viewing will be immense here, and we are sure to bear witness to a magnificent spectacle comprised of thousands of waterfowl (mostly consisting of White-faced Whistling Duck, Garganey, Northern Shoveler and Northern Pintail), along with both Greater and Lesser Flamingos. These are just a few of a wide range of waterbirds we expect to see here. Additionally, the dry scrubby verges of Grand Lac is arguably the most reliable place in the country to find the rare Arabian Bustard, and the late afternoon period gives us a good attempt to hopefully find this scarce and declining bird.

Overnight: Campement Villageois du Djoudj


Senegal birding tourThe Djoudj wetlands support vast numbers of birds.


Day 6. Birding the Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary and Les Marigots

The full morning is spent within the Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary, as we seek out some of its other specials. Black Crowned Cranes are an important target species for us here, and with some dedicated scanning of the area we stand a good chance of finding them. We will need a bit of luck in finding the shy Greater Painted-snipe, as they stick to the reedy verges of the wetlands, while the incredibly localized and only recently described River Prinia fortunately shouldn’t present us with too much of a challenge, as they abound here. We will also include a boat trip to view the massive Great White Pelican breeding colony. Seeing these birds up close and personal is a true highlight! Additionally, we have another chance to try for the rare Arabian Bustard should we still ‘need’ it. As usual, wetland areas are very birdy, and we expect to tally up to 100 species, with a wide range of shorebirds, cormorants, herons, egrets, spoonbills, kingfishers, bee-eaters and warblers present.


Senegal birding tourBlack Crowned Crane are a feature within the Djoudj Bird Sanctuary.


Following lunch in the sanctuary, we transfer back to our comfortable St Louis lodge for the night. We ensure we arrive in good time, allowing us to try for another important target bird nearby – Savile’s Bustard. Like many of these birds, they are very sensitive to habitat change, and this species is sadly declining due to habitat loss.

Overnight: Ranch de Bango


River Prinia is another important target species here – fortunately they are common!


Day 7. Searching for the mega Quail-plover

We have a long transfer today, as we begin the journey to the south-eastern parts of Senegal – the next main area we’ll be focusing our birding on. One important bird, however, lies in between – Quail-plover. This mega African bird is rare and highly nomadic, and therefore highly sought-after. Senegal is easily the best destination to see this species, and sightings have been quite reliable over the last few years. We anticipate arriving into the area in time for a dedicated afternoon search. Finding this species is somewhat reminiscent of finding a needle in a haystack, and it will involve the group walking through the arid scrubby vegetation in the hope of ‘finding’ it. Obviously, there is a lot more to it, with the bird favoring a very specific micro-habitat, which we hone in on and explore until we find it.

Overnight: Mbacké


Senegal birding tourThe unique Quail-plover is a mega African species, highly nomadic and thinly distributed. Senegal is arguably the easiest place to currently see this rare species
(photo Nigel Voaden, Wikimedia Commons).


Days 8 – 9. Birding and boat trips at Wassadou Camp

We have another opportunity in the morning of Day 8 to search for the enigmatic Quail-plover in the surrounding area, should we have failed to find it the previous afternoon. We will then settle in for the long drive to get to the famous (in birding terms!) Wassadou Camp, where we will spend two nights.

Scenically located on the Gambia River in south-eastern Senegal, this camp provides a great base from which to explore the surrounding area. We undertake several boat trips up and down the Gambia River as we seek out our primary target, the iconic Egyptian Plover. Fortunately, the plover is usually not too difficult to find, and being on the boat normally allows us to get up close and personal with them, enjoying unbeatable views! Other highly prized species to be found include African Finfoot, White-backed Night Heron and even Pel’s Fishing Owl (rare). We visit colonies of the bright Red-throated and Northern Carmine Bee-eaters along the river here, and as we saunter slowly along the river, we are assured of coming across a great many kingfishers – Pied, Malachite, Giant, Woodland, Blue-breasted, Grey-headed and, more rarely, Shining-blue Kingfishers, can all be found. A wide range of other more common waterbirds are also likely.


Senegal birding tourEgyptian Plover is a majorly important target on this tour. Fortunately, they are normally easy to find on the Gambia River from Wassadou Camp.


We will also explore the surrounding riverine vegetation, as it generally supports a wealth of other birdlife. First and foremost, we will try to track down the localized Adamawa Turtle Dove, and we will also have our first opportunity to see the spectacular Violet Turaco and the strange Oriole Warbler. Western Plantain-eater should be a dime a dozen, and we’re also likely to bump into a number of other species such as Broad-billed and the spectacular Blue-bellied Rollers, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, Northern Puffback, Red-shouldered Cuckooshrike, African Blue Flycatcher, Senegal Eremomela, Brown and Blackcap Babblers, Grey Tit-Flycatcher, Swamp Flycatcher, White-crowned Robin-Chat and Village Indigobird. A number of starlings are usually in evidence, and we should come across Bronze-tailed, Purple and Greater Blue-eared Starlings, in addition to the extravagant Long-tailed Glossy Starling, which we should already be familiar with. The area is also a magnet for raptors, and we need to keep an eye open for species such as Brown and Western Banded Snake Eagles, Wahlberg’s Eagle, African Hawk-Eagle and African Fish-Eagle, along with Shikra, Dark Chanting Goshawk and even Red-footed Falcon.

Overnight: Wassadou Camp


Bright Red-throated Bee-eaters will also feature from our boat trips at Wassadou.


Days 10 – 11. Birding Dindefelo, and the remote south-east

We journey to Kédougou following our time at the wonderful Wassadou Camp, where we base ourselves for two nights. The main purpose of coming to this remote town, right on the southern border with Guinea, is to give ourselves the best chance at finding some more localized birds – namely: Sun Lark, Neumann’s Starling and Mali Firefinch. We will concentrate our efforts around the Dindefelo waterfall, where the lush riverine forest seems a world away from all the dry habitat we’ve experienced so far throughout the rest of Senegal. The birding is excellent here and is likely to turn up other such specials as Guinea Turaco and Narina Trogon, while we will count ourselves fortunate if we come across the rare Willcock’s Honeyguide or Dybowski’s Twinspot. The wooded Guinea savannas blanketing this area are not to be ignored either, and it is within them that we’ll keep an eye out for further specials, including Fox Kestrel, Dorst’s Cisticola, Yellow-bellied Hyliota, Western Violet-backed Sunbird, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow Weaver, Sahel Paradise Whydah and Gosling’s Bunting.

Overnight: Kédougou hotel


Senegal birding tourFox Kestrel is one of the special birds of the Kédougou region we hope to come across.


Day 12. Birding to Tambacounda

We have a final morning of birding to spend in the greater Kédougou region, where we can search for scarce species we may not yet have seen, such as Sun Lark, before we’ll need to move on. Our journey takes us through the massive Niokolo-Koba National Park once again (we also journey through it on our way to Kédougou on Day 10), and while stopping is prohibited in the national park, we’ll hope to come across the massive Abyssinian Ground Hornbill and Bateleur whilst we’re transiting through. Eventually, we’ll reach our base at Tambacounda, where we’ll spend the night – essentially breaking the drive to the Saloum Delta.

Overnight: Tambacounda hotel


Day 13. Birding to the Saloum Delta, and Scissor-tailed Kites!

We make the journey back to Senegal’s coastline and the vast Saloum Delta. While we still have much driving to do today, we will have a full afternoon to spend birding around Ndiaffate. This arid area hosts many of the drier country birds we’ll be familiar with from the far north, such as Black-headed Lapwing, African Green Bee-eater, Desert Cisticola, Chestnut-bellied Starling and Pygmy Sunbird, amongst others. Additionally, Savile’s Bustard can sometimes be found. Our main purpose for birding around Ndiaffate is that it presents us with the opportunity to get to the nearby Kousmar Island. This site, located effectively in the middle of the Saloum River, houses the most important roosting area during the dry season for Scissor-tailed Kite, anywhere in their range. We ensure we arrive in good time in the later parts of the afternoon, and settle in as we watch first tens, then hundreds, and soon after, thousands of Scissor-tailed Kites gathering and plunging into their roost trees for the evening. This is an incredible spectacle to witness. Vast numbers of Lesser Kestrels also join the kites roosting here. No good things come easily though, we first to wade through a tidal section of the river (effectively wet and muddy beach sand – ankle deep), before taking a canoe across a deeper channel to reach the island. Once we’ve had our fill of this amazing spectacle, we’ll journey to Toubacouta, where we’ll arrive in the early evening.

Overnight: Keur Saloum Hotel


Senegal birding tourWe make a trip to Kousmar Island, where vast numbers of Scissor-tailed Kites come to roost.


Days 14 – 15. Birding and boat trips in the Saloum Delta

We have two full days to explore the wonderfully diverse birding in and around the Saloum Delta. Our primary target, and hopefully the last of our main Senegal specials, is the White-crested Tiger Heron. This is a rare resident of the sprawling mangroves on the delta, and we undertake several boat trips to best ensure we have every opportunity to see this special bird. As always, boat trips are generally excellent, and these ones are no different. Numbers of the comical Western Reef Heron typically overrun all the other species, but we’ll search for the huge Goliath Heron, and similar-looking Black Heron as well. Shorebirds are well represented, and we’re likely to get close-up views of common species such as Eurasian Whimbrel and Grey Plover, along with the likes of Common Redshank and Bar-tailed Godwit. Caspian and Gull-billed Terns patrol the waterways, and the peculiar Hamerkop is likely to feature as well. The boat trips also present us with a great opportunity to see the scarce and local Mangrove Sunbird. Raptors are well represented and, in particular, we’ll look for the rather uncommon Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle amongst all the other species. Good numbers of Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters can often be seen moving about over the delta.


Senegal birding tourWhite-crested Tiger Heron will be sought out in the mangroves of the sprawling Saloum Delta – we undertake several boat trips to look for it.



We will also ensure we spend some time birding in the woodlands surrounding the Saloum Delta, along with some of the excellent freshwater wetlands. Coveys of Stone Partridges run about in the wooded areas, while small groups of Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters flit about quietly, and the hulking Bearded Barbets search out fruiting trees. Dainty Lavender Waxbills keep to the thicker areas, as Fine-spotted Woodpeckers explore the many large trees in the area, as noisy flocks of Senegal Parrot commute overhead. We’ll also seek out Four-banded Sandgrouse, and the bright Yellow Penduline Tit, though both are scarce and difficult to find. More widespread African species on the limit of their ranges here can also be expected and include the likes of Green Wood Hoopoe, Greater Honeyguide, Grey Kestrel, Yellow-billed Shrike, African Golden Oriole, Glossy-backed Drongo, Piapiac, Northern Crombec, Anteater Chat, Beautiful Sunbird and Bronze Mannikin. This is also a good zone for over-wintering Palearctic migrants from Europe, and it is not uncommon to encounter many species, ranging from the numerous Common Chiffchaff to Melodious Warbler and Common Redstart. In the evenings, we may be serenaded by African Scops Owls and Pearl-spotted Owlets, as we enjoy our final dinners together.

Overnight: Keur Saloum Hotel


Senegal birding tourSenegal Parrots commute noisily through the woodlands surrounding the Saloum Delta.



Day 16. Transfer to Dakar, and evening departure

This is the last day of the tour, and while we may have a bit of time in the morning to spend birding around the Toubacouta area, we are likely to rather have a relaxed morning as we get ready for our departure later in the day. We make the drive back to Dakar, where the tour will come to an end at the Blaise Diagne International Airport, in the afternoon. We advise you to only book flights from this evening only.



Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors. In addition, we sometimes must use a different international guide from the one advertised due to tour scheduling.


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Senegal and The Gambia: West African Wildlife Adventure — Set Departure Trip Report

06 – 20 DECEMBER 2022

By Dylan Vasapolli

Egyptian Plover is a highly desireable species which showed extremely well on this tour!


This roughly two-week-long tour both began and ended in the tiny West African country of the Gambia, but was largely focused on Senegal, with almost all of the birding happening within Senegal. More specifically, this tour was designed to give us the best possible chances for many of the iconic Sahelian specials, like Quail-plover, Golden Nightjar, Cricket Warbler and Egyptian Plover, amongst others, while also trying for some local regional specials like White-crested Tiger Heron and enjoying the massive Scissor-tailed Kite roost in southern Senegal.

Cricket Warbler is a major special of the Sahel zone, occurring only in the far north of Senegal.

This tour took place at the start of the northern hemisphere’s winter and we experienced good, albeit, extremely warm conditions throughout the tour. Although the heat left us feeling tired occasionally, it had no impact on the birding opportunities throughout the tour. We did extremely well in finding almost all the route’s possible specials, with the only notable exception being Savile’s Bustard, which eluded us on numerous days. All the other hoped-for birds, like Quail-plover, Golden Nightjar, Cricket Warbler, River Prinia, Black Crowned Crane, White-crested Tiger Heron and Egyptian Plover showed well. Witnessing thousands of Scissor-tailed Kites coming in to their island roost in the early days of the tour was a major highlight. We also spent some time in the massive and relatively wild Niokolo-Koba National Park, and added several mammals to our list including an incredibly rare sighting of one of the last remaining ‘West African’ Lions. While we knew it was special, it was only after the fact that we realized just how special, with virtually no tourists having ever seen this almost extinct subspecies of Lion, and only a handful of researchers ever sighting it. One of our ultimate memories however, would be the fantastic boat trip conducted at the Wassadou Camp, where raptors, bee-eaters, kingfishers and bright Egyptian Plovers all took turns stealing the show.

The tour produced a good number of birds, with the total bird list reaching a little over 300 species, and was supplemented by several mammals as well. This was our first operated tour to this region, following a previous scouting tour, and sorting a few teething issues will allow us to run this tour even more smoothly in the coming years. A detailed daily account of the tour follows below, and the full species lists can be found at the end of the report.

Seeing one of the last remaining wild ‘West African’ Lions was exceptional and a true privilege. This specific subspecies of Lion is on the edge of extinction, with fewer than 200 individuals thought to occupy parts of West Africa. Very little is known about this subspecies, including how widespread they are, and their exact population size. Very few sightings exist of these Lions, and even their dedicated researchers count themselves extremely fortunate to see them.

Detailed Report

Day 1, 06th December 2022. Arrival in Banjul, and transfer to Toubacouta

The tour started off leisurely, taking in the sights and sounds of the sprawling Senegambia Hotel, outside of Banjul, Gambia – with all the clients having arrived the previous evening. Here we got our first looks at species such as Western Plantain-eater, Green Wood Hoopoe, Western Red-billed Hornbill, Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat along with our first raptors, most notably Hooded Vulture and Grey Kestrel. After breakfast, we gathered our things and checked out, bound for the ferry that would take us across the Gambia River, and eventually into Senegal. Some stops were made along the way at some of the coastal wetlands, where we added a number of waterbirds to our list. Of special note were shorebirds including both Common Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwits, Red Knot, Ruff and Marsh Sandpiper. Good numbers of Western Reef Herons danced about in the shallows, whilst a few of the similar Black Heron also made an appearance. Larger waterbirds like Pink-backed Pelican and African Spoonbill were also present. The ferry trip across the river was enjoyable, and gave us views of both Parasitic and Pomarine Jaegers, along with the sought-after West African Crested Tern and a surprise Red-necked Falcon. Before long, we were at the Gambia-Senegal border, and after a bit of haggling, we were through and bound for the Saloum Delta at Toubacouta.

We checked into our perfectly suited lodge, before heading off on a boat trip out into the mangroves of the Saloum Delta. The rare White-crested Tiger Heron was our primary target for the boat trip. We began our exploration by slowly working the quieter backwaters, carefully scanning the mangroves as we went along. Mudbanks on the river held an array of shorebirds, and here we added the likes of Eurasian Curlew and Common Redshank, along with Gull-billed Tern. Both Pied and Malachite Kingfishers obliged, as did the likes of Little and Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters. Various other waterbirds kept showing, like Hamerkop, but our main target remained elusive. A Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle showed well overhead as did groups of the bright Senegal Parrot, and we also found a big mixed roost of Black and Yellow-billed Kites. With the sun setting, we eventually had to make the call, and began making our way back, all the whilst, plotting our next plan of attack. With the dock in sight a short distance away, we couldn’t believe our luck when we spotted our quarry – a White-crested Tiger Heron perched in the open allowing everyone to take in its subtle beauty. With our first major target of the tour already under our belts, following an action-packed first day, we settled in for our first evening together!

White-crested Tiger Heron is a rare species on the edge of its range in Senegal.

Day 2, 07th December 2022. Birding Toubacouta and surrounds

Our success of the previous day meant we could spend the day exploring the wooded area surrounding Toubacouta, searching for a different suite of birds. A short pre-breakfast morning walk got off to a good start, with a family of shy Stone Partridges calling from right outside our lodge. After a bit of searching, we were able to spot a few birds through the long grass. We also found more widespread species such as Senegal Coucal, African Grey Woodpecker and Northern Crombec. Resuming our birding after breakfast, we were in for a treat once again, with an excellent spell of birding. A group of Bearded Barbets showed well, feeding in a fruiting tree, before a pair of bright Yellow-crowned Gonoleks stole the limelight for a bit. A few Mottled Spinetails moved about overhead, and we also tracked down the likes of Black-billed Wood Dove, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Lavender Waxbill and a feisty Pearl-spotted Owlet. More open areas produced our first Senegal Thick-knees, along with Piapiacs, Anteater Chats, Village Indigobirds and several stunning Abyssinian Rollers. A group of Patas Monkeys were a surprising sight and a welcome distraction from the birding. With the heat rising, the bird activity quietened down and a few raptors were noted overhead – Osprey, African Harrier-Hawk, Hooded Vulture, Lizard Buzzard, Yellow-billed Kite, and another sighting of the scarce Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle. We took this as our cue to head back, where we had a short siesta over the midday period.

Senegal Parrots were conspicuous in the wooded areas in the southern parts of the country.

We resumed our birding later in the afternoon, once things had begun to cool down. Things were quiet initially, but gradually picked up and we enjoyed a fine spell of birding once more to cap off a great day. A fine Klaas’s Cuckoo kicked things off, before we lucked into a Vieillot’s Barbet perched in the open that gave us great views! As we carried on, we added the likes of African Grey Hornbill, Purple Roller, African Golden Oriole, Glossy-backed Drongo and the massive Long-tailed Glossy Starling. We then ran into a bird party that gave us the first of our European migrants. The party was dominated by numbers of Western Olivaceous Warblers and Common Chiffchaffs, but we also eked out a fine Melodious Warbler along with Northern Black Flycatcher and Common Redstart. We also finally got some good views of Beautiful Sunbird and finished our birding with the locally scarce Purple Starling. After dinner, a short owling walk delivered great views of African Scops Owl.

Day 3, 08th December 2022. Transfer to Kaolack, and visiting the Scissor-tailed Kite roost

Our morning started off in familiar turf, as we explored the excellent woodlands around our lodge before breakfast. The birding was good, and we improved on our views of Stone Partridge from yesterday, and added species such as Greater Honeyguide, Yellow-billed Shrike and a stunning Fine-spotted Woodpecker. A Pearl-spotted Owlet also showed well and we got our first views of the noisy Double-spurred Spurfowl. After breakfast, we gathered our things and checked out – bound for Kaolack. We spent a little while looking for Savile’s Bustard at several sites along the way – though none turned up this bird. We instead had to be content with others like Crested Lark, Whinchat and Northern Wheatear. Waterbirds were well represented again, and we also enjoyed several Black Storks frolicking about in some of the wetlands with the numerous Western Reed Herons. Raptors too showed well, and we added the likes of Short-toed Snake Eagle and Dark Chanting Goshawk, while also enjoying repeat views of Red-necked Falcon, amongst others. Thanks to a road closure, it took a little longer than we anticipated to get into Kaolack, where we would check into our fine hotel, on the edge of the estuary, and have lunch.

Following lunch, we headed off towards N’diaffate and the Kousmar Island, where we would spend the late afternoon watching thousands of Scissor-tailed Kites coming in to roost – one of Senegal’s main birding attractions! We started off our afternoon birding the dry thorny scrub around N’diaffate. New birds rolled in thick and fast in this new environment, and we quickly found specials like Chestnut-bellied Starling and Pygmy Sunbird, and some more careful searching also yielded the stunning African Green Bee-eater along with Black-headed Lapwing, Woodchat Shrike, Common Whitethroat, White-billed Buffalo Weaver, African Silverbill and White-rumped Seedeater. We again searched here for Savile’s Bustard, without luck.

We then made our way over to Kousmar Island, which involved taking a boat across the small channel, and then wading through the mud to get to the other side. Once there, we began our wait for the birds, and before long, the first Scissor-tailed Kites started to show really high up in the sky. Before we knew it, thousands of kites had materialized out of nowhere, and began settling into the surrounding trees, coming down in waves and almost crash landing into the trees. It was a thrilling experience, and one we all thoroughly enjoyed watching! During our time here, we also enjoyed several other birds like Senegal Coucal, the scarce African Collared Dove, Shikra, Lesser Kestrel and Lanner Falcon. A Northern White-faced Owl taunted us by calling out of sight nearby and remained unseen. After having had our fill, we waded through the mud and left the island, taking in some of the waterbirds we were familiar with that had gathered for the evening. Just before we reached our hotel at dusk, we found a Greyish Eagle-Owl perched on a roadside pole (well spotted, Alessio!). We then settled in for the evening following a good day out.

Watching thousands of Scissor-tailed Kites coming in to their roost was very special.

Day 4, 09th December 2022. Searching for Quail-plover

An early start saw us departing the hotel before dawn, in order to reach the site for Quail-plover, some distance away, before it got too warm. Quail-plover is one of the enigmas of the African birding world, occurring sparsely in the Sahel belt, and nowhere common, or predictable. It requires much walking, through harsh desert-like terrain in the hope of flushing or spotting the bird. Covering ground is the name of the game, and it is very much like looking for a needle in a haystack. Senegal, however, has proven to be one of the more reliable sites in recent years, and we hoped to tap into this. We arrived in the cool of the morning, and set out to follow our devised game plan – quite simply walking through the habitat until we saw one. The birds were active and surprisingly diverse despite the harsh and barren terrain, and we saw many different species ranging from Namaqua Doves to Blue-naped Mousebirds and from Black-crowned Tchagras to Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Larks. Great Grey Shrikes perched atop small bushes, fighting for suitable perches with Anteater Chats and Abyssinian Rollers, while Desert Cisticolas danced around them and Black Scrub Robins dashed for cover between them all. Taller trees, which were sparsely spread through the area, yielded the likes of Western Orphean and Western Subalpine Warblers, along with the desirable Sudan Golden Sparrow, Cut-throat Finch and Sahel Paradise Whydah. We also managed to find a few Horsfield’s Bush Larks, an excellent species, but nothing that resembled a Quail-plover. Then, we flushed a bird from behind us, and managed to get onto it, but sadly, it turned out to be a Common Quail. We persisted until the heat was almost unbearable, and on lunch time, we opted to call it a day – returning to our hotel for an afternoon break – having vowed to try again the next day. Some exploring of the saline estuary in front of our hotel gave us Slender-billed Gull, amongst the hordes of more common Black-headed, Grey-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, along with the now familiar suite of waterbirds including various herons, egrets, pelicans and shorebirds.

Day 5, 10th December 2022. Transfer to St Louis, with Quail-plover along the way

Armed with a long drive ahead of us as we transferred to St Louis, along Senegal’s northern coastline, we set off early this morning. We made a slight detour along the way at the Quail-plover fields we had spent the better part of yesterday searching, to have one more go. Taking in our learnings from yesterday, as to where the best habitat was, we headed straight to the area where we thought we would have the best chance, and almost immediately struck gold when we flushed our targeted Quail-plover. We were able to track where the bird went down, and we carefully searched this area, enjoying some brief views of the bird scuttling around with its unique gait, before it flushed once more. Although we would have all enjoyed more prolonged views, we were satisfied, and left the bird in peace, having been successful in our quest for one of Africa’s most highly sought-after, and enigmatic birds! On our way back to the vehicle, we also stumbled onto a Common Buttonquail, which gave us really good views as it walked around. We also enjoyed a similar suite of species to what we had the previous day with Black-headed Lapwing, Abyssinian Roller, Great Grey and Woodchat Shrikes, Horsfield’s Bush Lark, Chestnut-bellied and Greater Blue-eared Starlings, White-billed Buffalo Weaver, Speckle-fronted Weaver and Sudan Golden Sparrow. A shy Eurasian Wryneck was another good find! The rest of the day was spent travelling, with us reaching our lovely beach-side lodge in St Louis in the late afternoon. We did not see too much of interest along the route, bar a flock of Griffon and White-backed Vultures. We settled in for the evening, following our successful quest!

Day 6, 11th December 2022. Transfer to Podor, birding en route and Golden Nigthjar

This was going to be a long day, as we transferred to our most-northerly point in Senegal, the small village of Podor. The primary reason for visiting this small outlying point was to give us a good chance of seeing another highly sought-after bird, Golden Nightjar, which has a small and somewhat difficult-to-access world range. While Golden Nightjar is the primary reason for the visit here, the area is virtually on the edge of Sahara Desert, and several other species are best sought here as well, such as Cricket Warbler and Sennar Penduline Tit, amongst others. We started off our morning birding around the ‘Marigots’ – a series of freshwater pools, surrounded by dry plains and thorn scrub, outside of St Louis. This is the primary site for Savile’s Bustard, and we would spend a few hours searching it out. This was also our first proper exposure to the dry thornveld country of northern Senegal, and we raked in new birds quickly. A bold Senegal Batis called from the treetops, while a pair of Brubrus showed well, and a dainty Yellow-bellied Eremomela also came to investigate us. Migrants were well represented with numerous Common Whitethroats and Common Chiffchaffs present, along with Western Orphean, Western Subalpine and Western Bonelli’s Warblers also present in smaller numbers. After some effort, we also tracked down a group of Orange-breasted Waxbills which showed well, but try as we might, we couldn’t find a bustard. With time against us we pressed on, stopping for a massive flock of Great White Pelicans before having a quick lunch at Richard Toll.

African Green Bee-eaters were a bright addition to the dry scrub.

Following our lunch, we resumed our journey to Podor, exploring a few of the thorny scrub patches hoping for a few of our other target species. However, with the mercury well over 40 degrees Celsius, bird movement was virtually non-existent, though we did find species such as Gabar Goshawk, Blue-naped Mousebird, African Green Bee-eater, Vieillot’s Barbet, Little Weaver and the scarce migrant, Red-throated Pipit. Sadly, our rooms at the lodge were given away to government officials, and it meant we were somewhat in the dark as to our alternative accommodation options. Things worked out well in the end, as we were ushered to a far superior lodge, set in a prime birding area! We had lost a bit of time with all of this, and as soon as we were settled, we resumed our birding by heading for the Diatar Track, where we would be trying for another of Africa’s most sought-after birds, Golden Nightjar. Arriving in the late afternoon, we quickly set off to see if we could find a bird roosting on the ground in the daylight. The surrounding area is filled with various ponds and rivers, and meant there were generally vast numbers of waterbirds moving about. We took in the waterbirds as we searched, but our attempts to find the nightjar were futile. With the area cloaked in darkness now, we changed tactics, and were rewarded with good views of a Long-tailed Nightjar, which also began calling. And then we had our main target, Golden Nightjar, in the torchlight, as it flew around us calling. The bird was a bit flighty, and we were unable to obtain views on the ground as it kept landing in a very dense, bushy area, however content with our excellent and close-up flight views, we left the bird in peace, and all breathed a huge sigh of relief. We settled in for the evening, enjoying a good meal and a cold beer, after a long and successful day.

Day 7, 12th December 2022. Birding Podor and transfer to Djoudj National Park

Our early morning was spent exploring the area around our excellent lodge, which had a network of bird photography hides. The few folks who were up early were also aptly rewarded with an excellent Golden Nightjar, which began their day with a bang! Bright Sudan Golden Sparrows dominated the birds coming down to the various bird hides, and while we waited, we also picked up Western Red-billed Hornbill, Long-tailed Glossy Starling, Black Scrub Robin, Speckle-fronted Weaver, African Silverbill, Vitelline Masked and Black-headed Weavers, Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu and Red-billed Firefinch. The thorny scrub around the lodge was heaving with birds, and we also enjoyed the likes of Mourning Collared Dove, Senegal Thick-knee, Abyssinian Roller, African Green Bee-eater, Vieillot’s Barbet, Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Chestnut-bellied Starling, Common Redstart and another Red-throated Pipit. After breakfast, we bid this incredible birding lodge farewell, heading into the surrounding area.

A bright male Sudan Golden Sparrow perches close to one of the bird hides.

Well aware of what the heat could be like in the exposed dunes later on, we focused on that habitat first, and our main target, Cricket Warbler. It proved to be the right choice, as within minutes of walking out into the dunes, we picked up on a calling Cricket Warbler, and were reveling in excellent views a short while later. A large flock of Black-crowned Sparrow-Larks was present in the area as well, and we notched up further views of Yellow-bellied Eremomela and a few pairs of Cut-throat Finch. Moving into the nearby tall acacia woodland, which was a welcomed relief from the already hot sun, we couldn’t have kicked things off any better than by finding a pair of Northern White-faced Owls, virtually immediately after we stepped out of the car. One of our outstanding major targets for this area, Little Grey Woodpecker, was found early on and put on a good show. A vocal Black Scimitarbill sang from the treetops while bright Abyssinian Rollers and African Green Bee-eaters dashed around us. We enjoyed a good spell of birding with several of our now familiar migrant warblers being seen, along with various doves, starlings, sunbirds and seedeaters, but try as we might, we couldn’t locate any Sennar Penduline Tits, our last major target for the area. A quick stop in at the nearby village of Gamadji Sare gave us the hoped-for Horus Swifts – which breed in the riverbanks here, despite being well out of their previously known range. We slowly started working our way back towards Richard Toll, and eventually the Djoudj National Park area where we would be overnighting, exploring a few spots for our still-missing penduline tits. As it so often happens, we had arrived at our last possible stop for this species, and after having explored the area, and all but given up, we lucked into a small group of the very scarce and sought-after Sennar Penduline Tits feeding from virtually above the car.

Cricket Warbler is a major target on this tour, and put on a fine show for us.

After another quick lunch, we set off for the Djoudj area, arriving in the mid-afternoon. The Djoudj National Park is made famous by its vast wetlands and lakes, which houses mind-blowingly high numbers of migrant waterfowl – various ducks and shorebirds number into the tens of thousands. Additionally, having such vast wetlands in this otherwise very dry landscape also attracts birds from all over, and quite simply, a great deal of birds abound. A few stops on our way in at some of the outlying water bodies gave us our first sampling of what was to come. Small numbers of shorebirds were present, along with others like Black and Yellow-billed Storks, numbers of Western Marsh Harriers, along with several of jewel-like Malachite Kingfishers.

We checked into our accommodations, and set off for our afternoon birding around the entrance of the park. The lake was just inundated with birds, with the numbers of White-faced Whistling Ducks numbering into the tens of thousands. When the flock lifted, the sky blackened with their wheezy calls filling the air – a truly special sight to behold. Both Greater and Lesser Flamingo were present as were Great White and Pink-backed Pelicans and African and Eurasian Spoonbills – giving us all excellent comparative views. Shorebirds were well represented, with stand-out sightings going to the likes of the many Black-tailed Godwits present, along with smaller numbers of Dunlin, Little Stint and Kittlitz’s Plovers. Some careful scanning of the reedy verges yielded a few sought-after Greater Painted-snipe, along with a shy Little Bittern and a showier Sedge Warbler. A Western Yellow Wagtail patrolled the edges, while both Gull-billed and Whiskered Terns were seen cruising over the deeper parts of the lake. Several Black Crowned Cranes flying over the horizon with the sun setting behind them, rounded off another very successful, but long day of birding with our highest daily total of the trip – just shy of 120 species.

The Djoudj wetlands team with birds during the winter period. Here White-faced Whistling Ducks dominate the numbers in this photo, with smaller numbers of Greater and Lesser Flamingos and Pied Avocets also present.

Day 8, 13th December 2022. Birding Djoudj National Park

We would be spending the day in and around the Djoudj National Park, and set off early to maximize our time outside in the cool of the morning before the overpowering heat kicked in. We enjoyed the masses of birds around the entrance lake briefly on the way in – with the vast numbers of White-faced Whistling Ducks flying about making some spectacle. Smaller marshy areas nearby held a surprising number of Greater Painted-snipes – nearly 20! – and gave us a few other warblers including Common Reed Warbler, Greater Swamp Warbler and a singing Savi’s Warbler. Winding Cisticola was common, and we soon found the prized River Prinia here as well! As we progressed deeper into the park, we enjoyed far better views of Black Crowned Crane than what we had experienced the previous evening, with several close flybys and perched views. Another of our major targets here was the very scarce Arabian Bustard, and once we entered to the drier plains section of the park, we began our search. We kept at it regularly, as we transitioned through these dry sections of the park. A stop at the massive Grande Lac was a welcomed relief from the bustard scanning. Sadly, by the time we had reached the lake, it was already late morning with the sun almost unbearable and the wind swirling dust all around. The bulk of the birds were deep out on the water, yet we could still discern many thousands of Northern Pintails, Northern Shovelers and tens of thousands of Garganeys. Vast numbers of Greater and Lesser Flamingo were also present. Numbers of Ospreys worked the shoreline, as did a Short-toed Snake Eagle, while both Pied and Malachite Kingfishers were present over the water as well. Little Bee-eaters took a liking to the surrounding vegetation and were a regular sight, as were migrant Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters. A Western Barn Owl roosting in one of the bird hides was an interesting sight. Our return through the park, as we headed back to our lodge for an afternoon break, again failed to produce the scarce Arabian Bustard.

Black Crowned Cranes are a regular feature of the Djoudj wetlands.

Following a breather from the sun, wind and dust, we spent our late afternoon soaking up the incredible waterbird spectacle from the park entrance area once more. In addition to our now familiar suite of waterbirds that were present, which included our estimate of some 50,000 White-faced Whistling Ducks, we added Fulvous Whistling Duck, Kentish Plover, Ruff and Intermediate Egret. Arguably even more impressive than the whistling ducks, was the continuous stream of Red-billed Queleas passing by – for nigh on 25minutes. But not just single birds, vast flocks that cast a shadow, with a very rough guestimate of the number being more than ten million birds! The importance of this national park is highlighted not only by the vast diversity of waterbirds present here, but by the incredibly high numbers of birds utilizing the area, and we felt privileged to have been able to experience this spectacle.

Seeing the incredible numbers of White-faced Whistling Ducks in the Djoudj wetlands left a lasting impression on all of us.

Day 9, 14th December 2022. Travel to Kaolack, birding en route

Today was set aside as a travel day, as we began the long two-day journey to get to the very east of Senegal and the Niokolo-Koba National Park. We would transit roughly half the distance today, to Kaolack, where we were earlier in the trip. We set off early in the morning, enjoying a few stops for various waterbirds as we worked our way out of the Djoudj National Park area. Savile’s Bustard had given us the run-around on all our previous attempts, and we had a final go at the main Marigots site near St Louis. We didn’t have the luxury of time, and were only able to spend an hour or so birding the area. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be and we couldn’t turn anything we saw into our bustard target. A group of Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse was a welcomed sight, while several River Prinias were also conspicuously working the area, and the large Great Reed Warbler was added to our list. Dry-country birds like Senegal Batis, Black-crowned Tchagra and Chestnut-bellied Starling were all enjoyed, as were numbers of Orange-breasted Waxbills and Western Yellow Wagtails. Just as we were getting ready to go, a pair of African Fish Eagles gave us a good show. The rest of the day was spent travelling, with little else of interest being seen. We arrived in Kaolack as the sun set, and just in time to see France advance through to the FIFA World Cup final, much to the delight of the Senegalese.

Day 10, 15th December 2022. Transfer to the Niokolo-Koba National Park

Another transfer day lay ahead, with us completing the long journey to get to the Niokolo-Koba National Park. We set off early, making good progress to Tambancounda. Roadside stops gave us a few new birds such as Little Grebe and Hooded Vulture, along with others like Sahel Paradise Whydah and Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark. As we neared the park, the vegetation started changing, and we entered the typical Guinea savannah woodlands, that exist in this more wooded portion of the country. Here we said goodbye to our faithful bus for a short while, as we loaded up on our open game viewing vehicle, and made our way into the park. It was still a fairly long way to go in the park until we reached our camp, and we kept our stops to a minimum. A fine Bateleur perched next to the road warranted a stop, as did a pair of delightful Four-banded Sandgrouse. We arrived at our camp in the late afternoon, set on the banks of the Gambia River, where we would spend the next two nights. Some late afternoon birding around the camp was superb as it gave us our first Egyptian Plover feeding on the sandbar opposite the camp, along with a few of the scarce White-crowned Lapwing.

Day 11, 16th December 2022. Birding the Niokolo-Koba National Park

We awoke to a surprisingly chilly morning – so much so that we were all scrabbling for extra clothes, and set off on a short birding walk around the camp. Activity was good, and we quickly got onto our hoped-for Violet Turacos, which showed well. We also saw various other more common and widespread woodland species such as Green Wood Hoopoe, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Cardinal Woodpecker, Yellow-billed Shrike and Long-tailed Glossy Starling. After a quick breakfast, and some coffee to warm ourselves up, we headed off on our morning game drive. Early stops gave us our first Red-throated Bee-eater and White-crested Helmetshrike, before we finally got some excellent views of the stunning Blue-bellied Roller (we had seen birds previously on the tour, but always very poorly). We headed out to a vast open grassy area, which gave us our first large mammals for the park – namely Waterbuck, Kob and African Buffalo. We also picked up the likes of Singing and Short-winged Cisticolas, and Black-winged Bishops here.

A trip to another research camp on the Gambia River produced far better views of the prized Egyptian Plover for us. Here a pair of these birds were engaging in some territorial action with several Spur-winged Lapwings. We also managed to pick up the scarce Adamawa Turtle Dove flying across the river, while scanning its banks gave us our first Grey-headed Kingfisher, and we improved our views of Red-throated Bee-eater. Moving away from the river into the surrounding woodlands, these early highlights were followed up by a few large bird parties. Here, we picked up African Golden Oriole, Senegal Batis, Northern Puffback, African Paradise Flycatcher, Northern Crombec, numbers of the dainty Senegal Eremomela, Willow Warbler, Northern Yellow White-eye, Brown Babbler, European Pied Flycatcher and Sahel Bush Sparrow, as a flood of new birds onto our trip list. With the heat increasing dramatically, we headed for another camp in the park, and explored the dense riverine thickets there. Here we did well to find Brown-throated Wattle-eye and African Blue Flycatcher lurking in the thickets. The raptors were also out and about by now, and we enjoyed seeing species such as African Harrier-Hawk, Bateleur, Long-crested Eagle, Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle, Lizard Buzzard, Red-chested Goshawk, Shikra and African Fish Eagle, all moving about. We then retired back to our camp for lunch and an afternoon rest.

Abyssinian Rollers were always a firm favorite with the group – and it’s not hard to see why!

We explored the area around our camp again the afternoon, but the birding was on the quieter side. A Pearl-spotted Owlet was picked up, as was a fine Red-shouldered Cuckooshrike while the riverine vegetation gave up a stunning Blue-breasted Kingfisher. Then, some incredible excitement followed as a Lion began roaring from very nearby, and a short while later, the Lion was spotted on the opposite side of the river. We enjoyed good, scope view of this incredibly rare mammal in Senegal. To put this in perspective, it was the first sighting of this cat for the entire camp, which also has a large research contingent that are permanently based there. The global cat conservation organization, Panthera, have been monitoring Lions in the park since the early 2010s, and there are only a handful of documented camera trap sightings – let alone actual real-life views! They currently estimate the total Lion population of the park to be between 20-30 individuals. Perhaps of even more significance is the genetic differentiation that these ‘West African’ Lions show to the more widespread ‘African’ Lions. Indeed, these ‘West African’ Lions have been decimated almost to the point of extinction, and researchers estimate the total world population of this subspecies to be under 200 individuals. We would count ourselves extremely fortunate being able to see one of the last ‘West African’ Lions, with very few other people having been privy to this sighting. Still reeling from our incredibly fortunate chance encounter with the Lion, we settled in for the evening and another good meal. A short night-walk followed, but was quiet on the bird side of things, but did give us a fine African Civet wandering around the camp.

Day 12, 17th December 2022. Birding Niokolo-Koba National Park, and transfer to Wassadou Camp

We had a short transfer today, as we left behind the wild Niokolo-Koba National Park, and transferred to the famous (at least amongst birders) Wassadou Camp, which is a little further downstream on the Gambia River. We didn’t have to rush much today, and thus took a morning birding walk around camp to start the morning. We improved on our views of Violet Turaco and Pearl-spotted Owlet, and enjoyed many other species we had seen previously as well, ranging from the massive Bearded Barbet to the elegant Fine-spotted Woodpecker. A Shining-blue Kingfisher dashed along the river, and a lucky few managed to see a Saddle-billed Stork flying overhead. After breakfast, we gathered our things, and loaded up, for a final drive through the park and out towards the entrance gate, where our trusty bus and driver would be waiting. Although the best part of the morning was over, we had a few productive stops picking up a large flock of Bruce’s Green Pigeon, along with the scarce Yellow-bellied Hyliota. We improved on our views of Senegal Eremomela and also found a few Lesser Blue-eared Starlings, before we bumped into a lovely Abyssinian Ground Hornbill walking along the track. Her partner was a little further up the road, and they had a younger bird in tow as well. We thoroughly enjoyed our sighting before they melted away into the dense Guinea savanna woods. As is so typical with birding, we then ran into another group of three Abyssinian Ground Hornbills a short while later. Content and satisfied, we bade farewell to this incredible park.

Abyssinian Ground Hornbills were a target bird for the Niokolo-Koba National Park, and several groups showed well in the end.

We only had a short distance to travel, and stopped at an agricultural burn to see what birds were around. As expected, large numbers of the strange Grasshopper Buzzard were dotted all around, waiting for critters escaping the fire. The air above was also filled with birds, and we reveled in our first Northern Carmine Bee-eaters, though the bulk of the numbers were made up of Common Swifts. Careful scanning through the many Common Swifts also gave us several Pallid Swifts, along with the likes of Mottled Spinetail which we had seen previously on the tour. We checked in at Wasadou Camp, had a delightful lunch, and took a short break in the heat of the day. Later in the afternoon, we reconvened for our much-anticipated boat trip on the Gambia River.

Northern Carmine Bee-eaters are always a delight to see.

The trip started off well, with our main target, Egyptian Plover, showing exceptionally well. While we had seen this bird over the past few days in the Niokolo-Koba National Park, there were no photographic opportunities possible due to the distance of all the sightings. This species is one of the most sought-after shorebirds in Africa, given its status of being monotypic and the sole member of its family. Its looks aren’t all that bad either! After we’d had our fill of the Egyptian Plovers, we focused on some of the other birds around, spending time with large numbers of both Red-throated and Northern Carmine Bee-eaters, along with a vast array of kingfishers – Pied, Giant, Malachite, Woodland, Grey-headed and Blue-breasted Kingfishers all showing well. We also spent a while tracking down the shy White-backed Night Heron, in addition to the much more common and widespread Black-crowned Night Heron. Adamawa Turtle Dove is another important bird of the area, and we far improved on our views here, compared with what we managed in the park the previous day. Raptors were also present along the river, and we notched up African Fish Eagle, Osprey, African Harrier-Hawk, Wahlberg’s Eagle and African Hawk-Eagle. Bronze-tailed Starling, Swamp Flycatcher and Blackcap Babbler were all further new birds. We also enjoyed a close-up sighting of a Hippopotamus, but the shy African Finfoot and rare Pel’s Fishing Owls were nowhere to be found. We settled in for the evening, following another good day out in the field.

The highly sought-after Egyptian Plover posed well in the beautiful golden afternoon light.

Day 13, 18th December 2022. Birding Wassadou Camp, and transfer to Gambia

Armed with another long drive and a border crossing, we were up early and explored the woods surrounding the camp in the morning for a short while. It was a birdy morning, with lots of our regular species all present. We did well to add the large White-crowned Robin-Chat to our list which showed superbly, and enjoyed the likes of Brown-throated Wattle-eye, Senegal Eremomela, Singing Cisticola and Blackcap Babbler once more. Oriole Warbler played hide-and-seek with us, and ended up winning – despite our best efforts at trying to lure it out of its dark thickets.

After loading up, we settled in for the drive as we made our way to the Senegal-Gambia border, from where we would leave this wonderfully birdy country behind. A few stops were made along the way for several raptors, with the standout species being Dark Chanting Goshawk. West African Swallows greeted us at the border, and after the expected delays and inconveniences, we found ourselves having lunch in Basse, in the Gambia. The high level of water in the river meant the usual Egyptian Plovers were nowhere to be seen. As we journeyed to Janjanbureh, also known as MacCarthy Island, we made a few stops along the way, and rapidly built our Gambia list with additions like Red-throated Bee-eater, Abyssinian Roller, Bearded Barbet, Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark, Long-tailed Glossy Starling, Cut-throat Finch and Sahel Bush Sparrow, amongst others. We found ourselves on the island in the late afternoon, and did a short bit of birding in the area. African Green Pigeons sat in the exposed branches at the tops of the trees, while a pair of Red-necked Falcons hunted over some open agricultural lands giving us superb views! We saw a wide range of other birds including Fine-spotted Woodpecker, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, White-crowned Robin-Chat and Lavender Waxbill, before calling it a day. We enjoyed watching the sunset over the Gambia River one last time. A night walk after dinner was excellent, with many Long-tailed Nightjars all showing extremely well.

Point-blank views of multiple Long-tailed Nightjars rounded up the day.

Day 14, 19th December 2022. Transfer to Banjul, birding en route

This was our last full day of the tour, as we covered almost the entirety of the Gambia (showing just how small a country it is), bound for the capital, Banjul, where the tour would conclude. Favorites such as Yellow-crowned Gonolek and Beautiful Sunbird started proceedings as we hit the road. A number of stops were made, as we searched for various birds we had yet to see. A pair of Abyssinian Ground Hornbills were a surprising sighting as we went along, and raptors were out in force, as we enjoyed great sightings of Brown Snake Eagle, Western Banded Snake Eagle, Martial Eagle and Lanner Falcon, along with other species we had seen previously on the tour including African Harrier-Hawk, African Hawk-Eagle, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Grasshopper Buzzard, Grey Kestrel and Red-necked Falcon. Bright African Green Bee-eaters flitted about in the wooded areas and Bruce’s Green Pigeons dashed between the trees, while some lily-covered ponds gave us our first African Pygmy Goose. We managed to finally eke out an Oriole Warbler at our last chance, while our views of Red-tailed Leaflove left us wanting a bit more. We rolled into Banjul and checked into our hotel in good time, and settled in for our final dinner, thinking back to all the great birds we had experienced on this tour. The first of the departures began this evening following dinner.

Day 15, 20th December 2022. Birding Abuko Nature Reserve, and departure

This was the departure day, but with the rest of the group only departing later in the day and into the evening, this gave us the full morning to spend birding nearby, and we opted for the Abuko Nature Reserve. This wonderfully forested reserve, located just a stone’s throw away from the airport, is an urban refuge and provides access to some tricky species. Foremost of these is Western Bluebill, and it would be our main target. We began things off with a Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher, and a few Olive-naped Weavers. A short while later, a faint whistle gave away the presence of a Western Bluebill, but it took us a little while to track it down. Our patience was rewarded with great views, as the bird hopped into the pathway, and gave us incredible views, albeit briefly. We spent some time with the bird, and enjoyed our views as it moved between thickets, feeding out in the open for brief periods of time. A pair of loud Oriole Warblers were nearby, and we had some great looks at these birds too. As we went along, we successfully managed to track down Guinea Turaco and Yellow-breasted Apalis, while a few Fanti Saw-wings flicked about overhead, while a Buff-spotted Woodpecker didn’t hang around for long. Some flowers attracted several dapper Copper Sunbirds, while a large feeding group of Lavender Waxbills rounded off our time birding the reserve, and for the trip. The rest of the group departed in the evening.

I would like to thank all the participants who joined this set departure birding tour and for contributing to making this tour the success it was.

The incredible Scissor-tailed Kite roost, where we watched thousands of these birds settling in for the evening, was a special moment for all of us!

Without further ado, here are the top birds on the trip, as voted for by the participants:

  1. Egyptian Plover
  2. Northern Carmine Bee-eater
  3. Scissor-tailed Kite
  4. Golden Nightjar
  5. Cricket Warbler
  6. Martial Eagle

Some honorable mentions go to:

  • Abyssinian Roller
  • Swallow-tailed Bee-eater
  • River Prinia
  • Abyssinian Ground Hornbill
  • White-crested Tiger Heron
  • Black Crowned Crane

Bird ListFollowing IOC 12.2

Birds ‘heard only’ are marked with (H) after the common name, all other species were seen.

The following notation after species names is used to show conservation status following the IUCN Red List:
CR = Critically Endangered, EN = Endangered, VU = Vulnerable, NT = Near Threatened.

Common name Scientific name
Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)
White-faced Whistling Duck Dendrocygna viduata
Fulvous Whistling Duck Dendrocygna bicolor
Spur-winged Goose Plectropterus gambensis
Knob-billed Duck Sarkidiornis melanotos
Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca
African Pygmy Goose Nettapus auritus
Garganey Spatula querquedula
Northern Shoveler Spatula clypeata
Northern Pintail Anas acuta
Guineafowl (Numididae)
Helmeted Guineafowl Numida meleagris
New World Quail (Odontophoridae)
Stone Partridge Ptilopachus petrosus
Pheasants & Allies (Phasianidae)
Common Quail Coturnix coturnix
Double-spurred Spurfowl Pternistis bicalcaratus
Nightjars (Caprimulgidae)
Golden Nightjar Caprimulgus eximius
Long-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus climacurus
Swifts (Apodidae)
Mottled Spinetail Telacanthura ussheri
African Palm Swift Cypsiurus parvus
Common Swift Apus apus
Pallid Swift Apus pallidus
Little Swift Apus affinis
Horus Swift Apus horus
Turacos (Musophagidae)
Western Plantain-eater Crinifer piscator
Violet Turaco Tauraco violaceus
Guinea Turaco Tauraco persa
Cuckoos (Cuculidae)
Senegal Coucal Centropus senegalensis
Levaillant’s Cuckoo Clamator levaillantii
Klaas’s Cuckoo Chrysococcyx klaas
Sandgrouse (Pteroclidae)
Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles exustus
Four-banded Sandgrouse Pterocles quadricinctus
Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)
Rock Dove Columba livia
Speckled Pigeon Columba guinea
Adamawa Turtle Dove Streptopelia hypopyrrha
African Collared Dove Streptopelia roseogrisea
Mourning Collared Dove Streptopelia decipiens
Red-eyed Dove Streptopelia semitorquata
Vinaceous Dove Streptopelia vinacea
Laughing Dove Spilopelia senegalensis
Black-billed Wood Dove Turtur abyssinicus
Namaqua Dove Oena capensis
Bruce’s Green Pigeon Treron waalia
African Green Pigeon Treron calvus
Rails, Crakes & Coots (Rallidae)
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Black Crake Zapornia flavirostra
Cranes (Gruidae)
Black Crowned Crane – VU Balearica pavonina
Grebes (Podicipedidae)
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Flamingos (Phoenicopteridae)
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus
Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor
Buttonquail (Turnicidae)
Common Buttonquail Turnix sylvaticus
Quail-plover Ortyxelos meiffrenii
Stone-curlews, Thick-knees (Burhinidae)
Senegal Thick-knee Burhinus senegalensis
Spotted Thick-knee Burhinus capensis
Stilts, Avocets (Recurvirostridae)
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta
Plovers (Charadriidae)
Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellus spinosus
Black-headed Lapwing Vanellus tectus
White-crowned Lapwing Vanellus albiceps
African Wattled Lapwing Vanellus senegallus
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
Kittlitz’s Plover Charadrius pecuarius
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus
Egyptian Plover (Pluvianidae)
Egyptian Plover Pluvianus aegyptius
Painted-snipes (Rostratulidae)
Greater Painted-snipe Rostratula benghalensis
Jacanas (Jacanidae)
African Jacana Actophilornis africanus
Sandpipers, Snipes (Scolopacidae)
Eurasian Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa
Red Knot Calidris canutus
Ruff Calidris pugnax
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
Sanderling Calidris alba
Dunlin Calidris alpina
Little Stint Calidris minuta
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
Common Redshank Tringa totanus
Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
Coursers, Pratincoles (Glareolidae)
Temminck’s Courser Cursorius temminckii
Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)
Slender-billed Gull Chroicocephalus genei
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus
Grey-headed Gull Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus
Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica
Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia
West African Crested Tern Thalasseus albididorsalis
Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis
Common Tern Sterna hirundo
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida
Skuas (Stercorariidae)
Pomarine Jaeger Stercorarius pomarinus
Parasitic Jaeger Stercorarius parasiticus
Storks (Ciconiidae)
Yellow-billed Stork Mycteria ibis
Black Stork Ciconia nigra
Saddle-billed Stork Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis
Anhingas, Darters (Anhingidae)
African Darter Anhinga rufa
Cormorants, Shags (Phalacrocoracidae)
Reed Cormorant Microcarbo africanus
White-breasted Cormorant Phalacrocorax lucidus
Ibises, Spoonbills (Threskiornithidae)
African Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus
Hadada Ibis Bostrychia hagedash
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia
African Spoonbill Platalea alba
Herons, Bitterns (Ardeidae)
White-crested Tiger Heron Tigriornis leucolopha
Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus
White-backed Night Heron Gorsachius leuconotus
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Striated Heron Butorides striata
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides
Western Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Black-headed Heron Ardea melanocephala
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
Great Egret Ardea alba
Intermediate Egret Ardea intermedia
Black Heron Egretta ardesiaca
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Western Reef Heron Egretta gularis
Hamerkop (Scopidae)
Hamerkop Scopus umbretta
Pelicans (Pelecanidae)
Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus
Pink-backed Pelican Pelecanus rufescens
Ospreys (Pandionidae)
Osprey Pandion haliaetus
Kites, Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)
Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus
Scissor-tailed Kite – VU Chelictinia riocourii
African Harrier-Hawk Polyboroides typus
Palm-nut Vulture Gypohierax angolensis
Hooded Vulture – CR Necrosyrtes monachus
White-backed Vulture – CR Gyps africanus
Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus
Short-toed Snake Eagle Circaetus gallicus
Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle – VU Circaetus beaudouini
Brown Snake Eagle Circaetus cinereus
Western Banded Snake Eagle Circaetus cinerascens
Bateleur – EN Terathopius ecaudatus
Martial Eagle – EN Polemaetus bellicosus
Long-crested Eagle Lophaetus occipitalis
Wahlberg’s Eagle Hieraaetus wahlbergi
African Hawk-Eagle Aquila spilogaster
Lizard Buzzard Kaupifalco monogrammicus
Gabar Goshawk Micronisus gabar
Dark Chanting Goshawk Melierax metabates
Red-chested Goshawk Accipiter toussenelii
Shikra Accipiter badius
Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus
Black Kite Milvus migrans
Yellow-billed Kite Milvus aegyptius
African Fish Eagle Haliaeetus vocifer
Grasshopper Buzzard Butastur rufipennis
Barn Owls (Tytonidae)
Western Barn Owl Tyto alba
Owls (Strigidae)
Pearl-spotted Owlet Glaucidium perlatum
African Scops Owl Otus senegalensis
Northern White-faced Owl Ptilopsis leucotis
Greyish Eagle-Owl Bubo cinerascens
Mousebirds (Coliidae)
Blue-naped Mousebird Urocolius macrourus
Hoopoes (Upupidae)
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops
Wood Hoopoes (Phoeniculidae)
Green Wood Hoopoe Phoeniculus purpureus
Black Scimitarbill Rhinopomastus aterrimus
Ground Hornbills (Bucorvidae)
Abyssinian Ground Hornbill – VU Bucorvus abyssinicus
Hornbills (Bucerotidae)
Western Red-billed Hornbill Tockus kempi
African Grey Hornbill Lophoceros nasutus
Rollers (Coraciidae)
Purple Roller Coracias naevius
Abyssinian Roller Coracias abyssinicus
Blue-bellied Roller Coracias cyanogaster
Broad-billed Roller Eurystomus glaucurus
Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)
Grey-headed Kingfisher Halcyon leucocephala
Striped Kingfisher Halcyon chelicuti
Blue-breasted Kingfisher Halcyon malimbica
Woodland Kingfisher Halcyon senegalensis
Malachite Kingfisher Corythornis cristatus
Shining-blue Kingfisher Alcedo quadribrachys
Giant Kingfisher Megaceryle maxima
Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis
Bee-eaters (Meropidae)
Swallow-tailed Bee-eater Merops hirundineus
Little Bee-eater Merops pusillus
Red-throated Bee-eater Merops bulocki
African Green Bee-eater Merops viridissimus
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Merops persicus
European Bee-eater (H) Merops apiaster
Northern Carmine Bee-eater Merops nubicus
African Barbets (Lybiidae)
Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird Pogoniulus chrysoconus
Vieillot’s Barbet Lybius vieilloti
Bearded Barbet Lybius dubius
Honeyguides (Indicatoridae)
Greater Honeyguide Indicator indicator
Woodpeckers (Picidae)
Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla
Buff-spotted Woodpecker Pardipicus nivosus
Fine-spotted Woodpecker Campethera punctuligera
Little Grey Woodpecker Dendropicos elachus
Cardinal Woodpecker (H) Dendropicos fuscescens
African Grey Woodpecker Dendropicos goertae
Caracaras, Falcons (Falconidae)
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Grey Kestrel Falco ardosiaceus
Red-necked Falcon Falco chicquera
Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus
African & New World Parrots (Psittacidae)
Senegal Parrot Poicephalus senegalus
Old World Parrots (Psittaculidae)
Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri
Wattle-eyes, Batises (Platysteiridae)
Senegal Batis Batis senegalensis
Brown-throated Wattle-eye Platysteira cyanea
Bushshrikes (Malaconotidae)
Grey-headed Bushshrike Malaconotus blanchoti
Orange-breasted Bushshrike Chlorophoneus sulfureopectus
Black-crowned Tchagra Tchagra senegalus
Northern Puffback Dryoscopus gambensis
Yellow-crowned Gonolek Laniarius barbarus
Brubru Nilaus afer
Vangas & Allies (Vangidae)
White-crested Helmetshrike Prionops plumatus
Cuckooshrikes (Campephagidae)
Red-shouldered Cuckooshrike Campephaga phoenicea
Shrikes (Laniidae)
Yellow-billed Shrike Corvinella corvina
Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor
Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator
Figbirds, Old World Orioles, Piopios (Oriolidae)
African Golden Oriole Oriolus auratus
Drongos (Dicruridae)
Glossy-backed Drongo Dicrurus divaricatus
Monarchs (Monarchidae)
Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone rufiventer
African Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone viridis
Crows, Jays (Corvidae)
Piapiac Ptilostomus afer
Pied Crow Corvus albus
Fairy Flycatchers (Stenostiridae)
African Blue Flycatcher Elminia longicauda
Penduline Tits (Remizidae)
Sennar Penduline Tit Anthoscopus punctifrons
Larks (Alaudidae)
Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark Eremopterix nigriceps
Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark Eremopterix leucotis
Horsfield’s Bush Lark Mirafra javanica
Crested Lark Galerida cristata
Bulbuls (Pycnonotidae)
Little Greenbul Eurillas virens
Red-tailed Leaflove (H) Phyllastrephus scandens
Common Bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus
Swallows, Martins (Hirundinidae)
Fanti Saw-wing Psalidoprocne obscura
Sand Martin Riparia riparia
Wire-tailed Swallow Hirundo smithii
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Red-chested Swallow Hirundo lucida
Common House Martin Delichon urbicum
West African Swallow Cecropis domicella
Crombecs, African Warblers (Macrosphenidae)
Northern Crombec Sylvietta brachyura
Leaf Warblers (Phylloscopidae)
Western Bonelli’s Warbler Phylloscopus bonelli
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
Reed Warblers & Allies (Acrocephalidae)
Greater Swamp Warbler Acrocephalus rufescens
Great Reed Warbler (H) Acrocephalus arundinaceus
Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
Common Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus
Western Olivaceous Warbler Iduna opaca
Melodious Warbler Hippolais polyglotta
Grassbirds & Allies (Locustellidae)
Savi’s Warbler (H) Locustella luscinioides
Cisticolas & Allies (Cisticolidae)
Singing Cisticola Cisticola cantans
Winding Cisticola Cisticola marginatus
Short-winged Cisticola Cisticola brachypterus
Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis
Desert Cisticola Cisticola aridulus
Tawny-flanked Prinia Prinia subflava
River Prinia Prinia fluviatilis
Cricket Warbler Spiloptila clamans
Yellow-breasted Apalis Apalis flavida
Oriole Warbler Hypergerus atriceps
Grey-backed Camaroptera Camaroptera brevicaudata
Yellow-bellied Eremomela Eremomela icteropygialis
Senegal Eremomela Eremomela pusilla
Sylviid Babblers (Sylviidae)
Western Orphean Warbler Curruca hortensis
Western Subalpine Warbler Curruca iberiae
Common Whitethroat Curruca communis
White-eyes (Zosteropidae)
Northern Yellow White-eye Zosterops senegalensis
Laughingthrushes & Allies (Leiothrichidae)
Brown Babbler Turdoides plebejus
Blackcap Babbler Turdoides reinwardtii
Hyliotas (Hyliotidae)
Yellow-bellied Hyliota Hyliota flavigaster
Starlings, Rhabdornises (Sturnidae)
Greater Blue-eared Starling Lamprotornis chalybaeus
Lesser Blue-eared Starling Lamprotornis chloropterus
Bronze-tailed Starling Lamprotornis chalcurus
Purple Starling Lamprotornis purpureus
Long-tailed Glossy Starling Lamprotornis caudatus
Chestnut-bellied Starling Lamprotornis pulcher
Oxpeckers (Buphagidae)
Yellow-billed Oxpecker Buphagus africanus
Thrushes (Turdidae)
African Thrush Turdus pelios
Chats, Old World Flycatchers (Muscicapidae)
Black Scrub Robin Cercotrichas podobe
Grey Tit-Flycatcher Myioparus plumbeus
Northern Black Flycatcher Melaenornis edolioides
Swamp Flycatcher Muscicapa aquatica
Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat Cossypha niveicapilla
White-crowned Robin-Chat Cossypha albicapillus
European Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca
Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra
African Stonechat Saxicola torquatus
Anteater Chat Myrmecocichla aethiops
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
Sunbirds (Nectariniidae)
Pygmy Sunbird Hedydipna platura
Scarlet-chested Sunbird Chalcomitra senegalensis
Beautiful Sunbird Cinnyris pulchellus
Variable Sunbird Cinnyris venustus
Copper Sunbird Cinnyris cupreus
Old World Sparrows, Snowfinches (Passeridae)
Sahel Bush Sparrow Gymnoris dentata
Northern Grey-headed Sparrow Passer griseus
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Sudan Golden Sparrow Passer luteus
Weavers, Widowbirds (Ploceidae)
White-billed Buffalo Weaver Bubalornis albirostris
Speckle-fronted Weaver Sporopipes frontalis
Little Weaver Ploceus luteolus
Black-necked Weaver Ploceus nigricollis
Vitelline Masked Weaver Ploceus vitellinus
Village Weaver Ploceus cucullatus
Black-headed Weaver Ploceus melanocephalus
Red-billed Quelea Quelea quelea
Yellow-crowned Bishop Euplectes afer
Black-winged Red Bishop Euplectes hordeaceus
Northern Red Bishop Euplectes franciscanus
Waxbills, Munias & Allies (Estrildidae)
Bronze Mannikin Spermestes cucullata
African Silverbill Euodice cantans
Lavender Waxbill Glaucestrilda caerulescens
Black-rumped Waxbill Estrilda troglodytes
Cut-throat Finch Amadina fasciata
Orange-breasted Waxbill Amandava subflava
Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu Uraeginthus bengalus
Western Bluebill Spermophaga haematina
Red-billed Firefinch Lagonosticta senegala
Indigobirds, Whydahs (Viduidae)
Village Indigobird Vidua chalybeata
Sahel Paradise Whydah Vidua orientalis
Wagtails, Pipits (Motacillidae)
Western Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
White Wagtail Motacilla alba
African Pied Wagtail Motacilla aguimp
Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus
Finches, Euphonias (Fringillidae)
White-rumped Seedeater Crithagra leucopygia
Yellow-fronted Canary Crithagra mozambica
Species seen: 317
Species heard: 5
Total recorded: 322


Mammal List

Mammals ‘heard only’ are marked with (H) after the common name, all other species were seen.

The following notation after species names is used to show conservation status following the IUCN Red List:
CR = Critically Endangered, EN = Endangered, VU = Vulnerable, NT = Near Threatened.

Common name Scientific name
Rabbits and Hares (Leporidae)
African Savanna Hare Lepus victoriae
Squirrels and Relatives (Sciuridae)
Striped Ground Squirrel Euxerus erythropus
Gambian Sun Squirrel Heliosciurus gambianus
Old World Monkeys (Cercopithecidae)
Guinea Baboon Papio papio
Common Patas Monkey Erythrocebus patas
Green Monkey Chlorocebus sabaeus
West African Red Colobus – EN Piliocolobus badius
Cats (Felidae)
Lion – VU Panthera leo
Civets, Genets, Linsangs and allies (Viverridae)
African Civet Civettictis civetta
Hyaenas and Aardwolf (Hyaenidae)
Spotted Hyaena (H) Crocuta crocuta
Mongooses and Fossa (Herpestidae)
Marsh Mongoose Atilax paludinosus
Banded Mongoose Mungos mungo
Canids (Canidae)
African Golden Wolf Canis lupaster
Hogs and Pigs (Suidae)
Common Warthog Phacochoerus africanus
Hippopotamuses (Hippopotamidae)
Hippopotamus – VU Hippopotamus amphibius
Bovids (Bovidae)
African Buffalo Syncerus caffer
Western Bushbuck Tragelaphus scriptus
Waterbuck Kobus ellipsiprymnus
Kob Kobus kob
Species seen: 18
Species heard: 1
Total recorded: 19




This is a sample trip report. Please email us ([email protected]) for more trip reports from this destination.

Importantly, although this is a Senegal birdwatching tour, the tour starts and ends in Banjul in neighboring The Gambia. The Gambia has an excellent tourism infrastructure, and this allows us to make a great birding circuit out through the key bird sites of Senegal and finally back through The Gambia to our start and end point of Banjul. The majority of time will see us birding in Senegal (from the late afternoon of Day 1 until the morning of Day 11), the remaining time (the majority of Day 1, the afternoon of Day 11, all of Day 12, and until our departure on the morning of Day 13) will see us traveling through and birding, as time permits, in The Gambia. However, for a thorough birding tour of The Gambia, we recommend our very relaxed and easy The Gambia: Gateway to Africa Tour which is an excellent introduction to birding in Africa as a whole and combines excellently with this Senegal tour.

This small group tour will be undertaken in a comfortable vehicle perfectly designed for the tour. There will be some longer walks during the tour, but these will be carried out at an easy pace on generally flat ground, however some of the sites may be sandy or muddy.

Throughout our tour we will stay in comfortable and safe hotels in both The Gambia and Senegal, including a final night at the wonderful Senegambia Beach Hotel (a birder’s paradise). During the rest of the tour we will experience more remote bush camps which will get us closer to the best wildlife in both countries. These camps are comfortable, safe, and well equipped for visitors (this is not a “camping trip” tour).

Temperatures during our tour will be hot to very hot. In coastal areas, day temperatures are typically 86–95 oF (30–35 oC), falling, eventually, to around 70 oF (21 oC) at night. Humidity is generally low unless we encounter an overcast day where the temperature will be lower but humidity significantly higher. Our visit to inland areas of Senegal will see the temperatures climb further and we can expect 95–104 oF (36–40 oC), falling, eventually, to around 75 oF (24 oC) at night. Humidity will be higher in the forested areas around the Niokolo-Koba National Park.

‘Senegal and The Gambia is a delightful destination and is full of birds. For those that have not experienced Africa before, it is an excellent introduction to African birding. The river trips are wonderful and it is difficult to know where to look first with bee-eaters, kingfishers of multi colors assaulting the mind. Dylan is a very able leader whom we enjoy travelling with as his African birding knowledge is first class as well as having a delightful personality well able to overcome problems that inevitably arise in African countries. The climate of sun and heat is a welcome relief of grey, cold miserable weather experienced in the northern hemisphere in winter. Accommodation is basic but adequate and local eateries are interesting but would not win any medals for hygiene.’


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