Whos a pwetty boy then?

Whos a pwetty boy then?

While David Attenborough may have brought the natural world into our living rooms, the BBC’s Springwatch series has been about encouraging us to get closer to the nature around us, away from the TV and into gardens, local parks or the countryside.

The show’s most popular presenter, Chris Packham, is famous for his quirky style, a love of indie music, and an instantly recognizable lisp. He fails to hide an inner mischievous schoolboy, the kind who would play truant to go hunting for grass snakes. But birds are Packham’s first love, and his alternative demeanor belies the serious naturalist who is Vice-President of the RSPB, President of the Hawk Conservancy Trust, and acclaimed for his studies of kestrels in the UK.

It is then a real opportunity to spend time with Packham as he leads his annual birdwatching tours for The Gambia Experience in February 2013. With a maximum of 17 places on each trip, it’s a genuine chance to learn from his extensive knowledge of wildlife. Those looking to improve their photography skills should also note that Packham is an expert photographer.

‘I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been to The Gambia, but I know it’s more than 15 – and I still think of it as one of the best birding destinations anywhere in the world,’ says Packham in his introduction to the trips, who highlights the area’s people, safety and of course wildlife as the reasons why Gambia is his favourite place to visit.

There are two three-day tours that can be booked separately or together. You can get a taste of what to expect from this blog from an earlier tour in 2009, or by visiting The Gambia Experience website. The 2013 itineraries include exploring the Abuko nature reserve, walking tours of the Kotu stream, and a boat trip, enabling you to see water birds and the added bonus of an occasional dolphin.

If you’re wondering what the bird is in our picture, it’s the African Grey Hornbill, and it could be one you see on the tour, as well as Bearded Barbets, Laughing Doves, Senegal Thick-Knees and Spur Winged Plovers, to name but a few. If you can’t make the dates with Packham, additional bird-watching tours can also be booked throughout the winter with Gambian guide Malick Suso – Packham’s local guide of choice.

Chris Packham Birdwatching Tours are available as a supplement from ?425 per person in addition to your hotel and flight costs. The birdwatching trip will run from 15th February 2013, now with a second departure on 22nd February 2013. For more information visit www.gambia.co.uk/chrispackham

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