My Significant Birthday in Gambia.

Celebrating my “significant” birthday at Footsteps.

When my wife Sue, asked me whether I would like to have a party or go away for my 60th birthday, I replied without any hesitation, that I would like to spend it in The Gambia and more specifically at Footsteps Eco lodge. As things turned out I also had a fantastic party at our local pub before flying out to The Gambia for wildlife watching by day and protracted celebrations during the evenings.

Birthday in Gambia

So, the big day arrived and we left Footsteps with local guides for a full and very productive day’s birding at a selection of the less well known sites. Some difficult to find species such as White-spotted Flufftail and Brown-necked Parrots were spotted taking us to a total of 85 species of bird that day along with some interesting reptiles including a Skink and Monitor Lizards. Back at Footsteps we got great views of Pygmy Kingfisher and Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher as well as frequent glimpses of an African Goshawk.

See a list of birds Steve Keightley and myself compiled back in 2014 here

Pygmy kingfisher at freshwater pool

That evening we had a great party at Footsteps joined by the many friends that I have made in The Gambia on my previous nine trips.  David had laid on a Cora player and who serenaded us whist we enjoyed drinks on what turned out to be one of the hottest evenings of that season. We then enjoyed a veritable banquet organised by Sue, David and Footsteps talented chefs. The final course was my birthday cake; a delicious chocolate cake that became known as the chocolate puddle cake as it began melting before our eyes in the forty plus degrees of heat that evening!

birthday in Gambia

I really did not expect any more presents, but David presented me with a magnificent carving that “Six Fingers” had made of a Heron feeding its’ chick, made from one piece of wood. Heather had painted me a lovely picture in The Gambian style and Colin and Binta Cross donated a day’s guided birding at Kartong Bird Observatory, which on the day included a lot of beer!

Needless to say, the day after my birthday was spent chilling out around the lodge and nearby forests nursing a bit of a sore head.

I think of The Gambia as my second home and I can’t wait for November when we go back and stay at Footsteps again.

Ian Misselbrook

September 2017.

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