Forests in the sand

We are almost at the end of our extended Osprey trip to West Africa! We have had such a wonderful time. Our final few days have been spent at Tanji in the Gambia. We arrived on Thursday 21st January, after driving from Tendaba. The first thing we did upon arrival was visit Tanji Marsh, a great place for Ospreys, and also a place where we knew there was a Rutland bird wintering, who we hoped we would see. We were not disappointed! As we scanned through the numerous Ospreys sitting on stumps in the marsh, we came across a dark-breasted female, with a blue ring on her right leg… sure enough, it was 5F! 5F fledged from a nest at Rutland Water in 2012, and 30(05) is her mum!




We saw around 20 birds in total, 10 all at once sitting near each other on the stumps! What an amazing place!

P1730051---blog P1730758---blog P1730934---blog P1740017---blog

We visited the marsh several times over the three and a half days we were in the area. One of the birds we saw this year was 8XU, a German male. The Osprey team first saw this bird here as a juvenile in January 2014. He was sitting in a distant tree, watching an unringed adult female who was feeding from a needle-fish. The bird will be three years old this year, and should have returned to his natal grounds for the first time in 2015. How brilliant to see him here again, and know that he has successfully migrated here, home, and back again!




On Friday morning, we went on a boat trip out to Bijoli Island. The island is a mere spit of sand, but it was a gold-mine for Ospreys! We saw about ten in total, some fishing, some eating fish on the sand, some perched. There were also several other bird species around, Caspian Terns, a plethora of Gulls, Sanderlings, Turnstones, Ringed Plovers, and a Pomarine Skua flew past! Several Turnstones were cheekily trying to steal fish from the Ospreys as they ate, and one Gull managed to take off with the tail of a fish – straight out of the Osprey’s mouth!

P1730388---blog P1730382---blog P1730381---blog P1730362---blog P1730355---blog P1730348---blog P1730265---blog

The eco-camp we stayed at was very close to a beach, and we had a lovely walk down it to a lagoon, where we saw several Ospreys!

P1740179 P1730566---blog 4N7A7806---blog



We also visited another lovely beach, where we stood beneath the shade of a pine tree to watch a great number of Ospreys come to fish just off the shore. One Osprey fished incredibly close to us in the shallow waves as we wandered steadily down the beach – it caught an enormous fish, and was so close binoculars were not necessary!

4N7A8049-- 1-blog 4N7A8051-2--blog 4N7A8056-3--blog 4N7A8060-4--blog 4N7A8062-5--blog 4N7A8064-6--blog 4N7A8065-7--blog 4N7A8066-8--blog 4N7A8067-9--blog 4N7A8068-10--blog 4N7A8072-11--blog 4N7A8074-12--blog

For those of you who are wondering, the title of this blog is courtesy of Paul Stammers, and pertains to the beautiful tree-like patterns the receding tide carves into the sand. See the photos below by Kayleigh.

IMG_1858 IMG_1864 IMG_1865

We would like to say a huge thank you to the group of volunteers who were with us for ten days at the beginning of this trip. It seems like such a long time ago that you left us! We thoroughly enjoyed spending time in your company, it was great fun and you are all fantastic. We would also like to thank JJ, our brilliant guide, for his help and guidance throughout our trip.

We hope you have all enjoyed reading all about our African adventures, and seeing John’s superb photographs!

4N7A8597--blog 4N7A8611---blog 4N7A8630---blog 4N7A8637---blog 4N7A8749---blog

7 responses to “Forests in the sand”

  1. Sue Jones

    Brilliant post!

  2. Mike Simmonds

    Kayleigh you must be absolutely over the moon with the results of this trip. Thank you for all your reports which have been just as you promised before leaving. Safe journey home. Thanks to John and ‘Lord Stammers of Lyndon’!.

  3. Alison Copland

    Stunning photos and excellent blog. I really want to go to Senegal and The Gambia now! Glad you had such a wonderful trip.

  4. Valerie Webber

    Superb blog Kayleigh as usual and superb photos , thank you so much

  5. Alice Dovell

    Thankyou Kayleigh for another brilliant blog. Have really enjoyed all of then and particularly yours and Johns photos, just fantastic. How wonderful to see 5F again 🙂 I bet youll be sorry to leave that beautiful place. You were lucky to have had such a brilliant guide. Safe journey home to you all

  6. Jenny Cartwright

    Great reports and photographs from your journey to Africa. Our ospreys certainly live a very different life there, sharing their fish with other birds and sitting round in groups in the hot sun, very laid back.

    Your sand photographs are lovely Kayleigh, so glad you all had such a fruitful time and seen birds that you know so well.

  7. Suzie

    I wonder … amongst all the unringed Ospreys that you met … if one of them was our beautiful Maya? We’ll never know of course but I like to think that she spends the winter somewhere special!