Footsteps in The Gambia


There was a time, when people would say to me that they were going back to the same place on holiday that they’d been to for the previous so many years, I would look at them and think why don’t you go somewhere different.  Well having just returned to The Gambia for the fourth time I can possibly see why this happens. We’ve stayed at different places each time we’ve stayed in The Gambia and they’ve all been great for different reasons. This time we stayed at Footsteps eco-Lodge and we were wonderfully looked after by David White and his staff (that includes Seven his dog).  We stayed in the Gunjur region in a lovely out of the way location, so stepping out of the gates of the lodge where we stayed and just wandering around the local area with just the wildlife and a few locals to pass the time of day with was perfect for us.

November was the earliest we’ve been to The Gambia and it was noticeable that certain birds weren’t there that we’d seen previously, only because they hadn’t arrived yet. The vegetation was still very green and dense due to the fact that it was right at the beginning of the dry season. An unseasonal downpour on our first night was a bit strange as we’d never experienced rain in The Gambia before so that’s another first for us. The rest of our stay was taken up with visiting various local bird watching sites and generally chilling out at footsteps where we were treated like royalty (I think having a surname of prince was the reason lol). So would we go back? Like a shot providing we can find enough time and money to go to all the other places we want go to as well.

Siege in Somerset ?

Well i have to admit i’ve heard a lot about the Somerset levels over the years but until now i’ve never been anywhere near them (so many places not enough time) .I have now rectified this by packing my bins and camera and rumbling down the motorway to Edington a tiny village about 5 minutes from a multitude of reserves( i know life can be tough but sometimes one has to make these sacrifices).When their is wildlife so close its definitely easier getting out earlier  in the morning and the reasonable weather helped (i know what a wimp i am). Anyway up nearly every morning a short drive and i was right in the middle of a multitude of reserves .Reeds ,Wildflowers,birds and bugs in abundance absolute heaven and as for the siege. Well according to springwatch a collective of Bitterns is a siege so if three is a collective heres my siege with a couple of other sightings.
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Poole Harbour

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When you arrive at a place and one of the first sights you see is a view like this one at RSPB Arne, of Poole Harbour you get the feeling it’s going to be a good weekend. It’s a great place to chill out and explore, and as well as Arne if you’re into wildlife or even just like nice walks there are places all around the harbour. There is also the added bonus of the national trusts little gem Brownsea Island in the middle of the harbour. A great little boat trip from Poole quay or Sandbanks and a wonderful place to explore. Nesting terns in spring and red squirrels (best seen in the autumn) among a mass of other things to be seen. So many places, need more time and money lol.

Tanzania 2014

DSC_9831 copyWell i’ve waited a long time to see all the large african mammals where they belong, so when I got the chance to go to Tanzania I did cartwheels around the room regained my composure then said “that would be very nice”.  After a nine hour flight that involved a change of planes at Nairobi airport we arrived at Kilimanjaro to be met by a very nice man from Leopard Tours who introduced us to our guide Amir (a real star). We had a three hour drive to our first accommodation just outside of Tarangire  National Park, then after freshening up straight into the park for our first taste of the wildlife, it was everything and more that we could hope for.  We had a mixture of wildlife wherever we went and what Amir didn’t know about wildlife wasn’t worth knowing although we did have to help a bit with the bird Id (nice to know we were useful sometimes). Our tour of Northern Tanzania took us in and out of four National Parks Tarangire, Serengeti, Ngorogoro Crater and Lake Manyara. Every park had familiar faces but also different things so all the bone jarring miles that we did was worth it (memo to myself take cushion to sit on next time landcruiser and rutted tracks took their toll). Meeting the Masai was interesting and seeing how people can adjust their  lives to live in the modern world without changing too many of their old customs and traditions is certainly thought provoking. We saw everything  from Kirks dik dik (a small antelope before anyone asks) to bull elephants(quite big), quite a selection of birds(missed a few but you have to to make it worthwhile  going back) reptiles  and insects I could go on forever .  All good things come to an end and after ten wonderful days we headed back home. I’d just like to say a special thanks to Amir a great guide and genuinely nice and interesting person, also to Across the Globe for organizing everything for us.The only problem now is where next!!!

Suffolk break

Well it doesn’t take much for me to shoot off somewhere, so a long weekend seemed an ideal excuse to shake the mothballs out of my tent and head off to Suffolk – RSPB Minsmere to be precise. It’s a wonderful place if you’ve never visited it because of a mixture of habitats and the various wildlife that go with it. Apart from being informed by my daughter that she didn’t think that Alison and I would go camping again (polite way of saying we’re too old) it was superb.  The weather was not great but hey its Britain and seeing so much wildlife can soon make you forget any rain. Like all good things it ended to quickly, so roll on the next break and what it will bring .

The Gambia 2014

Just returned from two weeks in the Gambia, its the first time I’ve been there in February previously been there November time and just like anywhere else its noticeable the different birds that have moved on and other birds in different non breeding plumage’s .

We traveled from Banjul to Basse looking for anything and everything, from sunbirds to seabirds.

We met the participants of the Budapest to Banjul rally it was like being caught up in the wacky races(for those not old enough to know what wacky races is it was a kids cartoon).

We came across snakes, crocodiles and one or two mammals among  the vast numbers of birds. Watching Bottle-nose Dolphins doing somersaults whilst eating breakfast upcountry at Tendaba camp had to be one of the highlights of the trip. Whilst being in a town that was drunk completely dry of beer in a couple of hours was one of the more unusual memories (nothing to do with me I might add it was the rally participants honest). Boat trips were a great way to explore some of the creeks and channels (although a bit hard on my backside maybe i need a bit more padding).

So apart from a very rough bumpy landing coming back into Gatwick, during which I  must have changed colour more times than a chameleon thanks to the gales that were blowing, it was a superb trip and I would recommend Gambia to anyone.