Salt Flat & Marshland Birds
Jinack Island in The Gambia offers diverse salt flat and marshland habitats that attract multiple bird species, making it an excellent location for birdwatching. The island’s geographical diversity and unspoiled beauty also provide unique opportunities for studying and researching other wildlife, flora, and fauna.
Seasonal Saline Flats
The saline flats within Niumi National Park are primarily located on the landward side of the mangrove belt. However, on Jinack Island, low-lying areas experience seasonal flooding from rainwater, forming temporary shallow lakes. As the rivers recede, these water bodies gradually dry up through evaporation, resulting in increased salt concentration.
The associated vegetation in these areas is predominantly halophytic, including species such as Sesuvium portulacatrum, Philoxerus vermiculatus, Sporobulus spp., and Paspalum vaginatum. The shrubby Tamarix senegalensis occurs on the fringes, occasionally accompanied by Elaeis guineensis and Avicennia africana.
Seasonal Saline Marshes
Areas surrounding the saline flats and backing the mangrove forest sometimes develop as seasonal saline marshes. These marshes contain a combination of halophytic species and various species of cyperaceae. As the dry season progresses, these areas gradually dry out, and vegetation cover diminishes.
Seasonal Freshwater Marshes
Due to the overall low-lying topography of Niumi National Park, significant areas are subject to freshwater flooding during the rainy season. Many of these areas are utilized for seasonal rice cultivation, such as the headwaters of Ker Jatta and Duniajoe bolongs.
On Jinack Island, extensive areas immediately west of the villages of Kajata and Niji flood during rainfall and support a freshwater marsh plant community. These areas serve as the main rice fields on the island. Similar linear flood plains exist approximately 1 kilometer west of Mbollet Bah and west of Kanuma. During the dry season, some vegetable production takes place in these areas with irrigation from shallow hand-dug wells. The headwaters of various bolongs, both large and small, support seasonal freshwater marshes.
As the dry season progresses, most of these areas completely dry out or experience increased salinity due to evaporation and saline intrusion. The vegetation associated with these seasonal freshwater marshes is similar to that described for seasonal creeks.
Gambia Bird Watching Holidays, Trips & Tours
For a brief outline of the birding and birdwatching opportunities available throughout the year, follow the provided link – African Bird Watchers Calendar