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Birds and breakfast: A Dawn River Trip

17 Apr

Here at Balaba, we’re only a few kilometres from the border with southern Senegal. Ten minutes’ drive and we’re in the border village of Kartong, which lies next to the Allahein River which forms the border. In fact, we have to go through immigration control every time we go to buy fish at the beach!

But one of my favourite activities is to go for a dawn river trip to see the birds, followed by breakfast on the beach. It’s one of the attractions that we offer to our tourists, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been myself. So since our friend Naomi, together with her family, was staying with us for a few days, we decided to do the trip.

It meant Lamin and I were up before six, boiling water for tea and collecting plates, cups, knives etc, together to take with us. We also need mats to sit on, all kinds of spreads for our bread, and of course, I needed my camera and binoculars. The birds are always quite active in the mornings, and there are fabulous birds such as the African Fish Eagle and ospreys to see.

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The Red-Billed Hornbill at Balaba Nature Camp

8 Nov

Behind this ordinary-looking mud-blocked hole is a truly amazing story.

Red-billed Hornbill Gambia

Hidden away in one of the Rhun Palm trees here at Balaba Nature Camp is the nesting hole of a pair of Red-billed Hornbills. Until two weeks ago I had no idea about how Red-Billed Hornbills nest, and the more I’ve found out, the more amazed I am. So I thought I would share the story with you.

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How to make a bird pool the Gambian way

20 Apr

Here at Balaba Nature Camp we have several bird baths around the camp to attract the beautiful birds that live around us. One of our pools is sited right next to the forest edge, especially to encourage the shy birds, and this has been a real success. We have lots of birds visiting every day. However, over the last few days, some of the bigger birds have been trying to have a bath in our rather small bird bath! These tend to be quite shy birds, such as the Violet Turaco and the Western Grey Plantain Eater.

Don't you think you're a bit big for that bird bath?

Don’t you think you’re a bit big for that bird bath?

So Lamin thought it might be a good idea to try and build a larger pool which might give them a better chance of having a bath.

So here is your step-by-step guide to building a bird pool Gambian-style. (I should explain that my camera went on strike while I was photographing, and some of the earlier ones didn’t save properly, so the photos only start some way into the instructions!)

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