Birding trips from Farakunku Lodges
These are the best sites for ‘Coastal’ birding all within a short drive from the lodges. Distances are approximate. We provide the transport and a registered and experienced local bird guide at an inclusive price. Lunch stops are built into any full day’s programme but drinks and food are paid for separately.
Please contact us for more details and prices or if you have any questions.
ABUKO Nature Reserve
Distance 25 kilometres. Best as a half day morning trip with an early start and ideally can be combined with lunch at Lamin Lodge followed by an hour or so in Lamin Rice fields (see below)
Abuko offers three habitats… a gallery forest, savannah woodland with 4 photo hides plus a large water pool with a shaded viewing veranda. You are likely to see, amongst many others, White- backed Night Heron, Black- crowned Night Heron, Striated Heron, Black-headed Heron, Grey-headed Bristle bill, Yellow-throated Leaflove, Western Blue bill, Pied Hornbill, Variable/Beautiful/Splendid Sunbirds, Black Kite, Claas’s Cuckoo, Hamerkop, Giant Kingfisher, Buff-spotted Woodpecker, African Jacana ….and more.
ABUKO plus LAMIN Rice Fields
Distance 27 kilometres from Farakunku (or combine with Abuko) A wetland area located opposite Abuko Reserve, farmed by the local women and especially good for water birds in the watermelon season (November-January) as well as a few overhead raptors. Likely sightings include: Common Red shank, Common/Wood/Green Sandpipers, Black Egret, Western Reef heron, Northern Black flycatcher, Hooded Vulture, Fork-tailed Drongo….
TANJI Bird Reserve
Distance 8 kilometres. A half day morning trip with an early start which can easily be combined with Brufut Woods later in the afternoon (see below) The reserve contains open areas with some Gingerbread plums, Acacia scrub, Rhun palms, a large wooded area and the Tanji lagoon and seashore. There is not much deep shade so be prepared! On the shoreline you will see many species of tern and wader, in the thick bush beside the lagoon you should spot Pygmy kingfisher, Giant and Pied Kingfisher, and Grey-headed Bushshrike. Fruiting trees attract African Green Pigeon and Violet Turaco. In the more mature wooded area there are Osprey, Northern Puffback and White-crested Helmet Shrike.
Distance 12 kilometres. A half day trip which could be combined with Tanji Bird Reserve (see above) for a full day with a lunch break at Nyana’s Restaurant overlooking Tanji Lagoon by the sea shore. An area protected by the West African Bird Study Association and the community of Brufut village. Late afternoon/early evening is a good time to spot a roosting White-faced Scops owl and African Scops owls. Other birds to spot are: Long-tailed Nightjar, African Golden Oriole, Four-banded Sandgrouse, Emerald Cuckoo, Diederik Cuckoo, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Tawny Eagle, Booted eagle, Short-toed Eagle ….
An area very close to the lodges, this woodland between the coast road and the sea is good for sightings of overhead raptors as well as smaller species in the trees. Typical sightings include Woodchat Shrike, Gabar Goshawk, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Brown Snake Eagle, Martial Eagle, Grey backed Caroptera, Northern Red Bishop…
Kotu Ponds, Cycle Track, Fajara Golf Course
This is in the tourist hotel area, so be prepared for a busier day ‘people wise’. The ponds are reed beds for sewage filtration and attract Black headed heron, White-faced Whistling duck, Pied kingfisher, African Jacana, Black Egret etc A pleasant walk along the cycle track to Kotu passes wet grazing land, mature palm plantations and open views to the sea with many birds en route such as Blue bellied Roller, Great White Egret, Pearl Spotted Owlet. The Golf course is home to a wide range of birds and is accessible with care only with your approved guide.
Faraba Banta Bush Track
Distance 40 kilometres. The track itself is 10 kilometres in length and either all, or sections of which, can be walked with a pick up at the other end…this can be agreed on the day.
Open woodland with many tall trees and unspoilt countryside. Excellent for raptors such as Martial Eagle, Gabar Goshawk and Brown Snake Eagle. Walking through the middle part of the day , although hot, will provide the better sightings as the birds take advantage of the thermals. This trip could also be combined with a morning trip to Pirang (see below) which would make a long but productive day( picnic lunch required as no restaurants in the vicinity).
Faraba Banta bush track, Bonto Woods, Pirang Ponds
and Rice Fields
Distance: 35 km. Located near Pirang village south of Brikama and beside a mangrove-lined creek joining the River Gambia. Many water birds both resident and migrant including Pink Pelican, Great Pelican, Lesser Flamingo, African Spoonbill, Black-Crowned Cranes, Ruddy Turnstone, Pied Avocet. The rice fields offer a wide range of species, including Plain-backed Pipit, Bearded Barbet, Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Woodchat Shrike…
DARSILAMI Forest and Wetlands (Marakissa)
Distance: 30 kilometres. Travelling South from Brikama, along a 6km dirt road, a little-visited area of mature woodland and savannah, all part of an eco- conservation project in a protected area. The river Allahein runs through the area and lunch can be taken at Marakissa River Camp on a meander of the river. The dam has created wetlands that offer a good range of birds well into the dry season. Particularly good for different species of Kingfisher, raptors, rollers and migrating waders. Black Crake are normally spotted by the bridge near the river camp as well as various species of Snipe and Heron. Yellow-throated Leaf-love and Hammerkop plus many more abound.
Tujereng Woodland, Kotu Pondsand Cycle Track
Combines two different destinations as above, without the Golf Course, which may not always be accessible for birders (depending on golfing activities!)
Kartong sand mines trip
A unique site comprising salt pans, flooded sand quarry, savannah scrub, rice fields, wetlands, reed and rush beds, remnant of high forest, sand dunes, foreshore, tidal mud flats and coastal creeks.
You will see some of the rarer species such as: Egyptian Vulture, Great Bittern, Little Greenbul, Red winged Pytilia, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Bonelli’s Warbler, Orphean Warbler, Greater painted Snipe, Lesser Moorhen, Little Bittern, Dwarf Bittern, and many more.
The Hooded Vulture (now an endangered species) Wing Tracing Project is carried out here.
For more details see the web site www.kartongbirdobservatory.org
NB 1. There are other more well known and popular birding sites such as Bund Road near Banjul, Bijilo Forest and Fajara Golf course, but which can be more touristy with subsequent hassle. Let us know if you would like to go to these locations.
NB 2. We know of several less well documented birding areas that we can take you to for independent bird watching such as at Bonto Woods, Kabafita, Tumani Tenda, the bolong at Gunjur, Mandinari and the dunes and sand mine ponds of Kartong. You will be hard pressed to do it all!
NB 3. Don’t forget we have collected over 200 bird species identified within walking distance of our lodges too!
Farakunku Lodges and many of these sites feature in this book and DVD available from the easybirder.co.uk website.