Gambia Bird Watching – Salt Flat & Marshland Birds
Multiple bird species and good birding can be found in the many different salt flat and marsh land habitats on Jinack Island in The Gambia. As well as bird watching, the geographical diversity and un-spoilt beauty of the Island provides special opportunities for the study and research of other wildlife, flora and fauna.
Seasonal Saline Flats
The saline flats which are found within Niumi National Parks are distributed primarily on the landward side of the mangrove belt. On the island of Jinack however low lying areas are seasonally flooded by rainwater forming temporary shallow lakes. After the rivers receded, the subsequent drying up of these water bodies primarily through evaporation results in increasing salt concentration.
The associated vegetation is essentially halophytic with Sesuvium portulacatrum, philoxerus vermiculatus, sporobulus spp and Paspalum vaginatum, the shrubby Tamarix senegalensis occurs on the fringes along with occasional Elaeis guineensis and Avicennia africana.
Seasonal Saline Marshes
Areas peripheral to and often part of the saline flats and backing the mangrove forest in places develop as seasonal saline marshes with a combination of halopytic species and various cyperaceae. As the dry season commences, these areas undergo progressive desiccation and the vegetation cover dies back.
Seasonal Freshwater Marshes
With the overall low-lying topography of Niumi National Park, considerable areas are subject to flooding through freshwater runoff during the rainy season. Many of these areas are utilized for seasonal rice cultivation such as the headwaters of Ker Jatta and Duniajoe 35 bolongs.
On the island of Jinack there are extensive areas immediately west of the villages of Kajata and Niji which flood through rainfall and support an essentially freshwater marsh plant community.
These areas form the main rice fields on the island. A similar linear flood plain exists ca 1km west of Mbollet Bah, and a simillar area is found to the west of Kanuma. In the dry season some vegetable production is conducted in these areas with irrigation from shallow hand dug wells. The head waters of the various bolongs both large and small support seasonal fresh water marshes.
As the dry season advances most of these areas desiccate entirely or undergo an increase in salinity through evaporation and saline intrusion. The vegetation associated with these seasonal freshwater marshes is similar to that referred to under seasonal creeks above.