Abyssinian Roller.

08th April 2018
The Abyssinian Roller is fairly common in The Gambia but these birds like all Rollers are quite shy and difficult to approach. I wasn’t having much luck getting close to them when Susan and I were out walking with our guide ‘Mas’. I called him Mas for short, his proper name is Masaneh Sanyang.

Mas pictured outside our accommodation.


Mas was without doubt the best bird-guide I have ever been out with. He had really incredible eyesight and with his recognition of bird calls and songs combined with his uncanny bird mimicry made him a formidable birder. We were fortunate to have hired his services for six days as part of our holiday package and we extended this to eight days because we were so impressed with his ability. I have heard a few bird-guides names banded about in The Gambia over the years, these guides that are linked to bird tour companies and the likes of Chris Packham etc but if any of them are better than Mas then I would like to see them. He is forty six years old and he told me that a lot of these bird-guides that are leading people on bird trips currently were still in school when he was a bird-guide. Everywhere we went the other guides were in deference to him, he really commanded respect. Susan and I got on really well with him and every day out with him was an experience. We knew we were in for something special when on our first day with him we met him outside the gates of our accommodation and he started calling birds in using his mimicry, in about a minute he had a tree full of birds in front of us, we didn’t know where to look!! At the end of one of our days out we were driving along and he said do you still want Abyssinian Roller, I said yes and he turned off the road and pulled up quietly alongside a bird that I hadn’t seen but he obviously had. He cut the engine and the bird stayed put allowing me to take some shots, a great end to the day.