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1/15/2013 

"I came across Modou at the Palm Beach Hotel, Kotu and booked him for a day in an area which he knows but which are unknown to other guides.The sites he knows are excellent, and he has a wealth of experience. He is also easy to get on with and has a nice, quiet personality. I have no hesitation in recommending Modou as a first-rate guide. In Gambia you have to have a guide, and Modou is one of the best I found, and very professional. He is passionate about his birds, and has very sharp eyes"

 

Andy M.
 

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15-4-2016

 

Bird Watching Kotu

We went on Friday April 15 with Modou Saidy on excursion in Kotu. It was very interesting. He told us a lot about the birds in the area and also about the local people and different tribes there are living in the Gambia.
He is a very intelligent man and we had a great trip on the river in a boat and a walk on the walking trail. We have seen a lot of birds.

We can recommended this tour to other tourist.

Kindly Greetings from 
Johan and Eline from Holland

 

 

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16-4-2016

Bird Watching Kotu

We had a wonderful trip with Modou after I met him a few times. He showed me the most beautiful birds that I never had seen when I was alone. We also went with Modou on a boat trip.

Modou is a nice man who loves his work very much and he sees nearly every bird. The trip is near the hotels. You don't need to travel for it and I have seen more birds than I was in Lamin lodge.

Fenneke, Holland

 

 

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2016

"Hi all - interesting that I cannot see much activity on The Gambia lately. We loved the Gambia for bird watching. The first time we went, in 2014 we went to Abuko Nature Reserve, Brufut Woods, Kotu Bridge and Tanji, with our excellent guide, Modou Saidy [http://www.gambia-and-senegal-birdstours.com]. When we returned this year, Modou took us a little bit further afield (still within 45 minutes drive) to Marakissa and Farasutu which were very good spots and worth the journey. We were lucky to see a large range of birds, especially with the help of Modou's keen eyes, ears and good local knowledge. In 2014 we spotted 100 species of bird in 3 bird trips. This year we increased the total number of birds spotted to 140. New birds arriving and settling in Gambia all the time. Happy to post more on what birds we've seen if anyone is interested."

Simon Ho UK

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December 2015.

 

"Modou is one of the best birders that I have spent a significant amount time in the field with. His ability to spot birds in the distance or in dense undergrowth is absolutely outstanding. I fully expected a good guide to be able to identify the birds by their calls or brief views and Modou more than met those expectations.

He is also very nice and personable. Always happy to go over the identification points, in some cases multiple times, to allow me to learn to be more independent.

Modou also enabled me, at my rather than his prompting, to understand more about the culture, history and life's challenges for the tribes and family units of The Gambia's residents."

Mark Cubitt, Linlithgow, UK. 2010

 

 

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 14 January 2014         

"We travelled to The Gambia as part of our world quest in search of waders with a very specific set of birds that we were hoping to find. In order to do this we felt it would be wise to contact beforehand a local bird guide with some experience and we were recommended to find Modou Saidy. It was a good move as Modou knew where we should look for all the birds we hoped to see and was also more than capable of identifying everything else we saw along the way without hesitation."

"The birds we realistically hoped to find were Senegal Thick-knee, Temminck’s Courser, Spur-winged Lapwing, Black-headed Lapwing and of course Egyptian Plover."

"We arrived at our hotel and as we entered the complex we were met by Modou waiting for us at the gate. We agreed to meet him immediately after dropping off our bags for a short walk around the neighbouring Kotu area eager to get the list underway. As we emerged from the hotel once again, we immediately came across a Spur-winged Lapwing in Kotu creek alongside a Eurasian Whimbrel. As we walked, we planned our tactics for the next few days and soon we found ourselves at Kotu Bridge. Immediately on arrival there was a Senegal Thick-knee showing well on the mud.  We felt very fortunate to have seen this bird that easily, but then noticed, lurking around in the mangrove roots, many of these handsome birds sticking to the shade in the very hot sun. There were a few other waders around and Elis set off to photograph as many as possible while Modou and I plotted. Presently I looked up and saw Elis gesticulating in our direction, the message being to go to her immediately. I sensed that an exciting moment was imminent and as we approached she told us she had found another Wader Quest bird namely Black-headed Lapwing and sure enough there were four of them in among the Spur-winged and African Wattled Lapwings. We were certainly off to a flying start with three of the five potential species under the belt in the first afternoon! Modou had organised a driver for our stay who we met us the next morning; our destination was to be the Bijilo sand spit where many waders roost. Timing and punctuality are not things that the Gambians are good at. Modou was very good as was his driver, but as we arrived at our destination where we were to hire a boat, the owner of the boat was just leaving for breakfast; we’d just have to wait. Eventually our man returned and he with another redoubtable crew member and the launch team dragged our fibreglass boat to the water’s edge and we set off for the spit. As we neared the island sand spit we could see many gulls and a few waders on the sand. I must admit that the numbers of birds was disappointing particularly the waders but we soon saw Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Common Ringed Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit with the highlights being a single Kentish Plover and a Curlew Sandpiper in addition. We returned to the hotel and a little later, as the afternoon was beginning to cool, Modou arrived to escort us on a walk to the sewage ponds, not everyone’s idea of fun I suppose, but for birders and especially waderphiles like ourselves, this promised to be rather exciting. We soon added African Jacana to our list and got reasonably close views of Wood Sandpiper and there were Spur-winged Plovers and Black-winged Stilts vying with each other to be the most photographable birds on the planet."

"The following day was the beginning of our upriver adventure, Modou had it all planned out and negotiations had been completed by him between us and the driver and all was set. We were very excited about the prospect of seeing Egyptian Plover. The trip did not start well. The driver had gone ahead and made the river crossing the night before fearing that he would be unable to get the vehicle across in the morning, with very good cause as it happens, so we had booked a taxi to take us to Banjul. The taxi driver was running on Gambia time and arrived half an hour late. When we finally arrived at the Banjul ferry terminal we did so just in time to see the ferry that we had planned to board steaming out of the dock. Normally this would not have mattered unduly as there are two ferries that run concurrently, crossing each other mid river, but on this day two of the three available vessels were in dry dock and so we now had to endure a three hour wait on the dock for the sole remaining ‘serviceable’ ferry to return; looking at the queue of vehicles that had built up, it was clear that our driver and Modou had made the right decision sending the vehicle over the day before. As we waited Modou kept busy by phoning a few friends and colleagues to find out exactly where the Egyptian Plovers were being seen, to our horror he reported to us that they were no longer at the Kaur wetlands where we had hoped to catch up with them. This now meant that we would have to drive all the way up to Basse to stand a chance of seeing them. The good news was that the guy that reported that the birds were at Basse was watching them as he was speaking on the phone. This news would inevitably increase the cost of the trip and frantic negotiating started all over again with me getting more and more agitated all the while. The driver was shrewd, he knew how much these birds meant to us, but his suggested price was ridiculous and eventually with Modou’s help we got him down to a price that was more reasonable. Modou made copious phone calls and arranged accommodation for us at Georgetown that night. Eventually our ferry arrived and we battled our way aboard, not for the faint hearted this ferry crossing especially when there is a limited service. We made it onto the vehicle deck and then to the stairs that take you to the upper passenger deck and found ourselves a place to sit. As we waited for our departure we watched some skuas harassing the gulls along the beach."

"We disembarked in Barra after what seemed like a slow crossing and walked a good way into the town in order to meet our driver, who was not a happy bunny. He had looked at a map and had discovered we were going even further than he thought and wanted to negotiate our deal all over again. I indicated to Modou that although it may look as though I was in no position to negotiate I was having none of it and somehow he persuaded the driver to begrudgingly continue muttering what I assumed to be oaths under his breath. As we left the town we realised the wisdom of his travelling over the day before, some of the lorries in the queue for the ferry would be lucky if they got passage within three days we were informed. Once on the open road it was decided that we should not stop as we were now at least three hours behind schedule, the exception being of course if we saw a wader, like a courser for example, along the route and although the driver was what I would call steady, his pace was sufficiently high to make that extremely unlikely I felt. I was beginning to doze as the sun beat down on me through the vehicle window, I had been watching the degraded savannah and farmland pass for some time, and it had had a soporific effect upon me."

"Suddenly I heard through the dim mists of semi-consciousness Modou instruct the driver to stop. The car gently slowed and Modou urged him to stop more promptly. The driver then muttered something like ‘this is not a bicycle you know’ and put the vehicle into reverse. We seemed to go an awfully long way backwards before Modou instructed him to stop once more. Modou spent a moment scanning a weedy field while Elis and I waited wondering what was going on.     “Temminck’s courser!” he announced with little effort to hide his pride.     We looked at a vast scrubby field and saw nothing, at least nothing that resembled a courser, Temminck’s or otherwise. We jumped out of the car and Modou tried to give us directions. We still could not see this bird. We headed out into the field and eventually I identified the plant to which Modou was referring in his directions and saw underneath it in in the shade what could, quite conceivably be a courser. As we approached, Elis and I saw the Temminck’s Courser as it moved away from the shade. Quite suddenly there were two of them! We watched them as they ran about in the bright sunlight almost disappearing when they stood still."

"I am not given to bouts of profanity generally, but as Modou came towards us with a broad grin on his face he was evidently feeling some degree of pride and not without good cause, as I said to him “How the **** did you see that from a moving car?” Modou’s keen eye had got us a bird that I doubt we would have seen otherwise and certainly not if we had been on our own. This success boosted the mood in the car and we trooped on slightly more animated than before and even dared to feel optimistic that we would, despite all assurances to the contrary, find the Egyptian Plovers where we had hoped they would be in the f

 

Alan ,January 2011


The hotel and staff are as good as most of these reviews say, and the whole concept of the hotel as small clusters of buildings surrounded by tropical vegetation works very well. Yes, we saw the monkeys too - and a mongoose which actually came down to take some bread we'd put on our garden wall. A couple of monitor lizards visit regularly, and the staff are keen to make sure you see them. In reception, in fact, they keep a list of wildlife onsite. For naturalists generally, it's a good place to be.
Our room was basic but comfortable. We did not have, nor did we need a fan: the windows were louvred, with a flyscreen outside, and the sea breezes were enough to keep the nights cool enough for sleep. You'd need a fan if nights were warm.
Our room was at the edge of the complex, and several species of bird came to the trees around us. There was a "nature walk" constructed by the hotel which led to apartments with a roof-top observation deck. This overlooked the mangroves and the mudflats when the tide was out in the creek. From here you could see a variety of waders as well as the ubiquitous kites and vulures. A short walk from this path takes you to the golf course, where again there is a host of birds.
Even better, the hotel is a three minute walk from Kotu Stream where the official bird guides are based, and where you can watch pied kingfishers hover before diving into the creek. A short walk into the adjacent paddy fields is all that's needed to see - in our experience - 48 different species including a hamerkop, broad-billed and blue-bellied rollers, yellow-crowned gonolek, Senegal parrot, little bee-eater . . . .
This being our first visit, we used the services of a guide, Modou Saidy, who has been trained and accepted as a member of the Gambian Bird Guide Association. His knowledge and skills were priceless (without him we wouldn't have seen the two sleeping long-tailed nightjars and the Verraux's eagle owl in Brufut Wood). He was totally reliable and made all the arrangements for travel to various locations (not usually in the guidebooks, and often to locations where the small entrance fee went to the local village).
We took some reading books and pencils without any clear knowledge of how we'd choose a school to give them to. Modou sorted that too, by taking us to his old school, a building with 1400 children, no electricity and two standpipes. We now know that exercise books, erasers and pencil sharpeners would have been welcome.

Using guides like Modou is certainly one way of getting to see and at least partially understand Gambia away from the tourist areas, but it's a saddening and humbling experience at times, though one lifted enormously by the generosity and friendliness of the people. They are amazing.

 

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