Bearded Barbets on Our Fig Tree

Bearded barbet

Here at Balaba Nature Camp we’re lucky enough to have a fig tree right next to our kitchen. When the figs begin to ripen, the tree is alive with birds, all coming to tuck into the feast. This week we’ve seen: village weavers, common bulbuls, African thrush, brown babblers, blackcap babbler, African green pigeon and violet turacos all enjoying themselves. (The chickens have also had a go, but that’s another story…)

But the highlight of our week has been to see the bearded barbets.


Our Western Bluebills are still visiting!

Western Bluebill

After an absence of ten months in the UK, due to complications from a broken wrist, I’m very pleased to be back in The Gambia at Balaba Nature Camp again. Whilst I was away, Lamin has extended the bird pool and widened the window so more people can see clearly – it also makes it much easier to take photographs.

We still have many birds visiting the pool regularly, including an African Harrier Hawk, Shikra, Lizard Buzzard, a pair of Western Bluebills, Violet Turacos and many more. So I hope to be sharing many more photographs and more news with you over the coming weeks.

I’m also planning to add to the pages on this site, telling you more about some of the lesser-known spots to see the beautiful birds of The Gambia.

We’re delighted that our pair of Western Bluebills are still visiting regularly, and although this isn’t the best photo in the world, I’m pleased I did manage to get a shot of them both together – it’s not as easy as you’d think!

A pair of Western Bluebills

Our pair of Western Bluebills taking a dip

Some birds visiting recently

Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher

We have had lots of beautiful birds visiting us at Balaba Nature Camp recently. Here are a few photos of some of our visitors.

It’s great to have so many lovely birds coming in regularly.

Visitors to our bird pool

Red-billed Hornbill

At Balaba Nature Camp this year we have revamped our bird pool, converting it from a plastic sheet to a concrete pool. We also have a dish of water at a higher level, which was meant to be for the smaller birds, but in practice the larger birds also try and get into it as well. Now the dry season is well underway, we have been getting some lovely birds visiting. Yesterday I saw 18 species in an hour.


Our Red-billed Hornbill

Red-billed Hornbill Gambia

Here at Balaba Nature Camp we have a pair of Red-billed Hornbills nesting in one of our trees. I knew very little about how these beautiful birds nest, but I know a lot more now that I’ve investigated the Red-billed Hornbill nesting habits, I’ve discovered it’s truly amazing!

I’ve written a more detailed post on my other blog called ‘Life in The Gambia’, so if you want to more about Red-billed Hornbills, do take a look. Naturally, I’ll keep you updated about the progress of our nesting pair.

Gambian birds in February 2014

Lavender Waxbills at our birdbath

This month I have managed to fit in quite a lot of birdwatching, and it’s been great to see some new birds. I have tried hard to sped a little time each day watching birds here at Balaba Nature Camp, and I’ve seen a few birds that I haven’t seen here before, including the Yellow-throated leaflove and of course, the rare Western Bluebill that I wrote about in my last post. The Western Bluebill is continuing to visit every day, but so far we haven’t seen a female, so we are keeping a close watch to see if she appears!


Western bluebill at Balaba Nature Camp, Gambia

Western bluebill, Balaba Nature Camp, Gambia

It seems that I started my site in the nick of time. At Balaba Nature Camp we have had a bird that is rarely seen!

For the last few days, we have had a small bird coming regularly to one of our bird baths. It was very nervous, and until today I hadn’t been able to get a photo, but today it stayed for longer, even having a quick splash around in the bird bath, and I managed to take some photos.


A perfect afternoon

IMG_0044 copy

Today I spent the perfect afternoon watching the birds flock to one of our bird baths, to have a drink or take a dip. We are well into the dry season here, so water is difficult to find. However, this has the advantage that the birds are always ready to come and enjoy the water we put out for them (occasionally joined by a squirrel, lizard or even one of our many chickens!).

This afternoon, amongst others, I have seen:

Village weavers

Village weaver

Village weaver