Hello Africa!

We’re here!

It was a very long and exhausting day on Monday, but we made it to Senegal! The flight was on time and we collected our bags and made our way to the ferry crossing at the Gambia river. Our trusty bus driver, Alagie, had already crossed with the bus, and we were to make our way across as foot passengers. Unfortunately we just missed the ferry as we arrived and had to wait for an hour for the next one! Eventually we boarded the boat and settled in for a 40 minute trip. We were very excited to see dolphins on the way, which made our tiredness seem to disappear! We had some great views of the dolphins as the came closer and closer to the boat.

Ferry crossing! (S.Proud)

Ferry crossing! (S.Proud)

 

Exhausted, hungry and excited, we eventually made it to the Keur Saloum, a lovely hotel on the Sine Saloum delta with a pool and terrace. We spent the first five days of the trip there. Our first morning was taken up mostly with wandering the extensive, wooded grounds of the hotel, taking in the many birds, butterflies and monkeys that we saw.

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Veranda (K.Brookes)

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Green vervet monkey (K.Brookes)

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Woodland birding (K.Brookes)

 

On several occasions we went out on a little wooden boat looking for ospreys in the Sine Saloum delta, including potentially 32(11) who we found winters here. One day we spent all day in that little wooden boat. We went all the way to the Ile des Oiseaux, where we had a great view on approach of at least six ospreys all together on the shore, eating fish. We had a short walk along the shore to see the birds better, and then headed back to the boat and onto our next stop, which was lunch! We moored up on a lovely sandy beach and ate a picnic lunch on the shelter of a thatched canopy. We visited the island twice and sailed all the way around it, seeing dozens of ospreys sitting on perches, eating fish and flying in and out. We hoped that we would see male osprey 32(11) who we found in this area last year. He’s quite a nervous bird, which bodes well for his survival, but means he flies off as soon as boats draw near. However, we did manage to get a view of him and his blue ring one day!

 

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Lunch (K.Brookes)

In the boat! (C.Ditchburn)

In the boat! (J.Wright)

On the beach (S.Box)

On the beach (S.Box)

Beach (S.Proud)

Beach (S.Proud)

Juvenile male osprey amongst pink backed pelicans (J.Wright)

Juvenile male osprey amongst pink backed pelicans (J.Wright)

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Thanks to Chris Ditchburn we have these great maps showing where we travelled on our three different boat trips!

Boat trip one

Boat trip one – 16.9 miles

Boat trip two - 38.9 miles

Boat trip two – 38.9 miles

Boat trip three

Boat trip three – 31.1 miles

 

On another day we visited a woodland site, where we had a great walk up a sandy track looking out for all the birds in the trees and shrubs, of which there were many! Highlights include yellow weavers, a bearded barbet, Abyssinian roller, yellow-fronted tinkerbird and red-cheeked cordon bleu.

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(K.Brookes)

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Abyssinian roller (K.Brookes)

 

On two separate afternoons we headed out to a nearby lake, which was great for both birds and insects! There were several species of dragonfly, some butterflies, plus a giant kingfisher, pearl-spotted owlets, fire finches, dark-chanting goshawk and several ospreys fishing!

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Another great sighting was when we were back at the hotel grounds and were treated to a superb view of a skink! It was sitting quite happily in the undergrowth, not worried at all about the cameras that were pointed at it!

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Skink (K.Brookes)

 

We’ve had a great time in Senegal and tomorrow we are off to the Gambia again! Look out for the next update next week!

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Lunch! (S.Proud)

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Sunset (K.Brookes)

Moonlight on the river (S.Box)

Moonlight on the river (S.Box)