Book reviews:    A birdwatcher's guide to The Gambia

A birdwatcher's guide to The Gambia
Rod Ward
1 871104 04 1
Prion Ltd
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This book is not a birding field guide as most of the other books reviewed on this website. It is not an identification guide with drawings or photographs of bird species. There are a few black and white drawings of birds in it but these are merely art. So if this is not a field guide in the usual sense, then what is it? It is a book written by an experienced birder with a very good knowledge of The Gambia. If you plan to visit The Gambia for a birding trip and you are organising everything yourself, then don't leave home without it. I found out about this book from an english birder through an internet newsgroup. He had used the book in The Gambia and he was very positive about it. From personal experience I can know say theat I fully agree with him.

book8b.jpg (32411 bytes)The book has a general introduction about The Gambia with helpfull tips for first timers. There is even some information about popular hotels in The Gambia seen from a birders viewpoint. After this about 20 page general (but very helpfull) introduction, the main birding sites in the country are described one by one.

Each site is decribed in general first, followed by some information about the location and how to get there. This is very helpfull information if you are travelling on your own. I used this book a lot together with a detailed map of the the country, which I had both ordered well before the trip. Therefore I was able to study the country in advance. With the help of this book, it was as if I had already been in the country before. Everything seemed so familiar as it was just in the places as described in the book. Each sites also has a strategy paragraph indicating when is the best time to visit and what else to take into consideration. Then there is a large birds paragraph, describing the different species you will be likely to encounter. Most sites also have a large site map showing exactly what it looks like and what the best way is to walk around. In the back of the book there is a selective bird list with short descriptions of the more common birds and a full species list for the twitchers.

Conclusion: If you are a serious birder or wildlife photographer and you are planning a trip yourself to The Gambia, then this book is a must. Please order the book in advance and study it a lot. Once in Africa it will save you a lot of time and you'll find everything to be exactly as described in the book. If you plan just to do some bird watching in the hotel garden, then this book is maybe not what you are looking for. Otherwise very much recommended !!!

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