Tag Archives: Gambia birdwatching

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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Check out our bird pool and bird hide!

21 Dec

As you know, one of the most fantastic things about Balaba Nature Camp is its beautiful birds. The Gambia is famous for its birds – in fact, many tourists come especially to see them. Lamin has worked hard at Balaba to maintain the trees and unspoilt forest around us, which has become increasingly important as the area around us is being deforested at an alarming rate. We have always put out containers for the birds to drink from (usually a plastic container cut in half!), but last year you may remember Lamin decided to build a larger pool next to the forest edge to encourage some of the shyer birds. This was a great success, so this year he thought it was time to build a concrete one instead.

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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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We have an unusual bird!

27 Feb

At Balaba Nature Camp we have worked hard to keep the environment as natural as possible. When Lamin first came to live here nearly 20 years ago he lived here alone, with no near neighbours, in unspoilt forest. Monkeys, deer and hyenas were regular visitors, and people thought he was ‘crazy’ for wanting to live here! He has managed the trees very carefully here, ensuring that they are felled when necessary, and planting fruit trees such as bananas, oranges and other citrus fruits, and straight malinas which are great for use as timber. But he has kept the trees, and the whole compound is a beautifully shaded haven.

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The Story of the Little White-Faced Owl

6 Jan
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This blog post is especially for my lovely granddaughter Alyssa, because I know her mum reads all the blog entries to her, but if you are very good, I’m sure she won’t mind if you read it too!
 
 THE STORY OF THE LITTLE WHITE-FACED OWL 
This is a true story, that happened in The Gambia in April 2012. In The Gambia, the toilets are different from the toilets in the UK – they don’t have water in them, but people dig a huge pit instead, so that everything can turn back to soil again. You might wonder what a toilet pit has to do with a story about a little White-Faced Owl, but if you read on you will find out. Lots of visitors are interested on how the toilets work in The Gambia, so Lamin dug a special pit so that they could see what it looks like.
One day Numo (Lamin’s brother), came and told us that a little White-Faced Owl was in this big pit behind one of the huts. We went to look, and sure enough, sitting in the corner was a very small owl, who wasn’t looking at all happy. He glared hard at us and hissed very crossly. We thought that he may need a rest before flying away, but the next day he was still there, so we thought we had better rescue him.
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