Shorebirds hotspot : Keur Waly Ndiaye wetland

Amongst my favourites birding spots around Ndiaffate is what I use to call ‘Keur Waly Ndiaye wetland’. This oxbow lake on the edge of the Saloum River extends on 6.5 km length from Keur Waly Ndiaye to Bandoulou. It fills with water during the rainy season and remains interesting for birds all year round.

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Keur Waly Ndiaye wetland map (image GoogleEarth); green circles indicate most interesting watchpoints

typical landscape of Keur Waly Ndiaye wetland with Spoonbills in the background. picture Frédéric Vaidie

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This site is very attractive for shorebirds. Despite average overall numbers diversity is remarkably high and steady. It is possible to get very decent views of most of wintering waders species from Europe at each visit: Common Greenshank, Common Redshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Little Stint, Black-winged Stilt, Ruff, Common Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Kittlitz’s Plover in addition to resident Senegal Thick-knee, Collared Pratincole, Black-headed Lapwing and Spur-winged Lapwing. More irregularly Spotted Redshank, Curlew Sandpiper, Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Avocet, African Wattled Lapwing and Painted Snipe are encountered.

Thi site is good to get very instructive species comparisons:

Chevalier stagnatile et aboyeur

Marsh Sandpiper (left) with Common Greenshank

It’s not rare to have nice surprises like this Temminck’s Stint watched in January 2014.

Bécasseau de Temminck

Temminck’s Stint

Last January an adult Lesser Yellowlegs was present from January 3rd to 12th (at least). 4th record for Senegal, my second in Kaolack’s region after this bird at Kaolack saltpans in March 2013. Any chance it could be the same individual?

Chevalier à pattes jaunes

adult Lesser Yellowlegs

Chevalier à pattes jaunes avec Chevalier stagnatile

Lesser Yellowlegs with Marsh Sandpiper

Another very interesting observation of January is a group of 2 Jack Snipes hiding with a Common Snipe in mudflats. This very elusive species had never been recorded in the Saloum before and is rarely seen in Senegal.

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Jack Snipe, a rare visitor to Senegal

Keur Waly Ndiaye wetland is of course also interesting for other birds, passerines and non-passerines. Typical birds of open savannah are present. Most of herons and egrets species can be seen, and African Darter as well.

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African Darter, a regular visitor to the wetland in low numbers

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Black-crowned Night Heron, always hiding in tamarisk

Tamarisk bushes and thorntrees deserve a look for passerines. Western Bonelli’s Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, African Quailfinch and others can be seen along with rarer Bluethroat, Wryneck or Western Orphean Warbler.

Western Bonneli's Warbler

Western Bonelli’s Warbler, a rather common european visitor

It is a good place for raptors as well. Close roosting Lesser Kestrels, African Swallow-tailed Kites and Montagu’s Harriers are common, Short-toed Eagle, Brown Snake Eagle and Barbary Falcon can be seen.

All in all, Keur Waly Ndiaye wetland is a perfect roadside stop, providing very pleasant bird walk in the morning en route to the Saloum Delta or before an evening visit to Kousmar raptors roost.

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classic bird landscape at Keur Waly Ndiaye: terns, gulls, shorebirds, herons, egrets and storks

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Mixed flocks of Spoonbills is a regular sight (two ringed birds from France with an italian bird), here with Common Greenshanks and Pink-backed Pelicans

If you visit this place please transmit your observations (simon dot cavailles at gmail dot com).

Simon

décembre dans la région de Kaolack

Le mois de décembre passé dans la région de Kaolack a été riche en surprises. Je n’étais jusqu’alors jamais venu aussi tôt durant la saison sèche. Les niveaux d’eau n’étaient pas aussi hauts que je l’aurais espéré, à cause de la très courte saison des pluies en 2014, mais les paysages conservaient encore des traces de vert et beaucoup de végétation au sol.

Comme l’an dernier, un affût près d’une mare temporaire m’a permis d’observer dans de superbes conditions un groupe de cigognes noires. Sur les 35 oiseaux présents trois portaient des bagues, toutes de République Tchèque. Parmi les nombreuses autres espèces présentes se trouvaient quelques oiseaux peu communs dans le secteur comme un ibis sacré, un crabier chevelu et une aigrette ardoisée.

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Cigogne noire adulte

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Cigogne noire juvénile, baguée en République Tchèque

Aigrette ardoisée 1

Aigrette ardoisée en pêche

Spatule blanche

Spatule blanche

Le dortoir de faucons crécerellettes et élanions naucler de l’île de Kousmar s’est révélé très intéressant à cette époque. Avec les températures fraîches de début et de fin de journée, les oiseaux arrivent au dortoir à des altitudes de vol raisonnables, et quelques faucons quittent le dortoir plus tard, permettant des observations plus faciles. Les tannes concentrent par contre moins d’oiseaux en pré-dortoir.

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Elanion naucler adulte

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Faucon crécerellette mâle adulte

Les différentes sorties sur Kousmar m’ont permis d’observer quatre nouvelles espèces pour l’île : pipit des arbres, pouillot véloce, vautour oricou et une belle surprise avec un phalarope à bec large. Si ce dernier est commun en mer au passage, les données dans l’intérieur des terres sont rares.

Phalarope à bec large

Phalarope à bec large

Vautour oricou

Vautour oricou de deuxième année

Une autre surprise a été d’observer durant la même semaine deux individus différents de faucons de Barbarie. Le premier individu a été vu sur Kousmar à deux reprises à huit jours d’intervalle. Il s’agit de la deuxième mention pour l’île après celle d’un immature vu en juillet 2010. Le second a été observé neuf kilomètres au sud-ouest, à Keur Waly Ndiaye, où il chassait les limicoles sur un plan d’eau.

Noter que les deux oiseaux sont immatures.

Faucon de Barbarie 1

Individu de Kousmar

Faucon de Barbarie 2_2

Individu de Keur Waly Ndiaye, noter les différences de mue et de dessin de la tête par rapport à l’oiseau de Kousmar

Faucon de Barbarie 2_1

individu de Keur Waly Ndiaye

Le faucon de Barbarie niche au Maghreb. Les immatures se dispersent jusqu’au Sénégal où il est noté comme rare. C’est une espèce qui affectionne les zones arides. Ces quelques observations semblent montrer que cette espèce est plus commune qu’on ne le pense, toute la difficulté étant de le différencier du faucon pèlerin.

Simon

Technopole and Cap Manuel 16 March

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As the water levels in Technopole continue to fall, the golf course is now accessible, though with perhaps too much standing water for golfers (see photo below). The painted snipe (three today, including this male) continue to frequent the tamarisk-bordered pool to the right of the main track, just before the submerged tennis courts. The golf course itself has plenty of Jacanas and purple swamp-hens grazing on the damp grassland, whilst black crakes were also out in the open on the edge of the tennis courts.

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The main lake, visible from the fishermen’s hut just after the Sonatel building, continues to have good numbers of white-faced whistling ducks, plus a handful of garganey. The gathering of gulls is still predominantly black-headed gulls in smart summer plumage, today with one second calendar year Mediterranean gull.

After Technopole we briefly visited Cap Maneul, where a path follows the foot of the cliffs north from the Savanna hotel to a car park with old gun emplacements. The mix of soft and volcanic cliffs and scrub looks promising and has previously attracted short-toed eagle, osprey and peregrine. We were not lucky today, but saw huge numbers of Sandwich terns offshore, many resting on the water in the late morning, but with birds spread out towards the Iles de la Madeleine and providing extra interest to the already beautiful view. Large numbers of terns sitting on the water is not something I associate with the species in Europe, but here is a common enough sight with common and black terns far offshore. From dusk observations off Ngor and now these birds, I suspect the Sandwich terns roost on the sea overnight. The photo below, taken with my phone though a telescope, gives a general impression of the distant spectacle.

capmanuel

Paul

 

 

 

Technopole water levels drop and the gulls return

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For the first time in six months the water levels are low enough to walk across to the golf course club house and the fisherman’s hut on the main lake, almost without wading. Near the latter, islands  are beginning to reappear, as are the  gulls that have been in recent months flying straight over the site. Amongst a hundred or so black-headed gulls in breeding plumage, what I guess is one of the original 2012 Franklin’s gulls appeared (second from left). Rarer for Technopole (and  a site tick for me) was  this fine adult yellow-legged gull in the centre of the picture. West African birds are thought to be of Azores origin, but I am unsure of the sub-specific status of this bird. Any helpers?

Eleswhere on the site a marsh harrier, rare here, was  hunting the edges of the  northern, deep water lake and two female painted snipe were under their usual tamarisk bush to the right of the golf course path with a few wood sandpiper and ruff, all very approachable.

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It was a later afternoon visit around 18h, unsual for me, and white faced whistling ducks seemed to be flying in to roost, with a total  of c300, along with three garganey.

Paul

Birds on the move, Palmarin and Dakar

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The above photo of a wrestler training on the beach at Palmarin at sunset is a token image to compensate for the fact I forgot to pack my camera on the latest trip to Palmarin. Most of our time was spent on observation of gulls on the mudflats. A group of a  hundred or so avocets  included one ring-coded bird that appears to be of Danish origin, though I await confirmation. Conservatively tens of thousands of red-billed queleas were streaming south along the coast in flocks big enough that the sound created by their wing beats alerted us as we stared down our telescopes. In the other direction, conservatively hundreds of barn swallows were moving low and north. Although we saw the occasional bird in January in the Senegal River delta this year, barn swallow is primarily a migrant in Senegal. Morel gives dates of August to October and February to May. For Djoudj, Rodwell notes spring migration from 26 January, with most birds moving north in March and April and a daily maximum of 300.  On the limited evidence, the Palmarin movement is therefore quite large and early.

Back in  Dakar, the prolonged N/NE winds that have been around Beaufort 5/6 for three weeks continue. I have not looked long at the sea, but  the numbers of northern gannets has increased off Yoff, with hundreds, mostly second calendar year birds, visible, many fishing, in a single scan.

Paul

Kaolack 12 janvier

En ce début d’année les marigots temporaires contenant encore de l’eau attirent de nombreux oiseaux en quête de nourriture. J’avais repéré quelques jours plus tôt un de ces trous d’eau le long de la route principale, où s’affairait un petit groupe de Cigognes noires. J’y ai posté mon affût avant le lever du jour, en espérant pouvoir les observer dans de bonnes conditions.

Malgré la taille très modeste du marigot la diversité d’espèces présentes est grande. Avant le lever du jour, un couple de Rhynchées peintes s’active à découvert avant de disparaître dans la végétation dès les premiers rayons du soleil. C’est le moment choisi par les autres limicoles pour rentrer en action. Les plus présents sont les Chevaliers sylvains, dont un individu qui suit systématiquement une Bécassine des marais pour la parasiter. Sont également présents les Chevaliers culblanc, guignette, aboyeur, arlequin et stagnatile.

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Chevalier stagnatile, arlequin et aboyeur

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Chevalier sylvain et Bécassine des marais

Seulement deux espèces de passereaux sont présentes : les Bergeronnettes printanières et les Astrild-cailles à face noire.

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Bergeronnette printanière

Un groupe de Cigognes noires viendra se mêler aux Grandes Aigrettes et Aigrettes intermédiaires présentes. Farouches, elles décolleront à plusieurs reprises pour ne rester au final que quelques minutes à pêcher.

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Parmi la dizaine d’oiseaux présents, l’un d’eux est porteur d’une bague. Après renseignements, il s’avère que l’oiseau a été bagué poussin en 2011 au sud-ouest de Prague, en République Tchèque. Il a déjà été contrôlé au Sénégal l’an passé à quelques kilomètres d’ici (P. Pilard, N. Saulnier, M. Bourgeois).

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Une dizaine de jours plus tard le marigot, quasiment asséché, est abandonné par les cigognes. Un groupe d’au moins cinquante Cigognes noires fréquente la forêt de Velor, une quinzaine de kilomètres à l’ouest. Les oiseaux vus près de Kaolack s’y sont peut-être joints.

Simon

And it is now 2014!

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Verreaux’s eagle owl (www.gregpoole.co.uk)

It has been a bad lapse to not keep up to date with a wildlife  sightings blog for two months. In early December, before my Christmas break, two new sightings (African reed warbler and long-tailed nightjar)  brought the Technopole list to 200 species since this blog started two years ago.

I have often visited the picturesque fishing cove of Ouakam in Dakar, but so far ignored the cliffs to the north (right as one looks out to sea). A scramble along their foot in mid-January produced two young peregrines, so with the adult bird still on the Hotel Ngor Diorama, at least three are wintering in north-west Dakar.

My second visit to the sparsely vegetated sandy Sahel within 5-10km east of the bridge at Richard Toll on the main N2, south of the road, again produced cricket warblers, though many more and better views than previously. This is a site for the species discovered by French birders in 2010 and like them we also saw cream-coloured and temminck’s coursers and noted the high densities of northern wheatears.  A few yellow wagtails picturesquely followed livestock and other paleacrtic passerines, giving brief and difficult views as they flitted from one interior of a bush to the next, were mostly Sylviidae; many common whitethroats, several orphean warblers and one spectacled warbler. Frequent hoopoes, all of the nominate Palearctic race, a couple of tawny pipits, many sand martins and the occasional barn swallow completed the migrant list. As on the last visit, it took a very close approach to a dense Balanites bush to flush a group of fulvous babblers, so  perhaps quite a few are lurking.

On to Palmarin where artist Greg Poole (www.gregpoole.co.uk) found and took these excellent photos ( digiscoping with his iphone through his telescope) of Verreaux’s eagle owls in a baobab with buffalo weaver nests; not a  rare species, but always fun to find and something of a birding tourist’s favourite.

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In the same area of sparsely wooded savanna he flushed a  quail plover, another birders’ target species whose elusive behaviour makes it impossible to say much about its true status in Senegal.

The more open areas of Palmarin had the usual good mix of raptors: montagu’s and marsh harriers, common and lesser kestrels, black-shouldered and swallow-tailed kite, short-toed eagle, peregrine and ospreys. Two button quails were another surprise in the same short grassland habitat.

We stayed at nearby Djiffer, where a barn owl roosted in the campement grounds and pomerine skuas harassed a mix of terns, including a roseate tern, feeding on fishing discards. Roseate terns are much better known off Senegal on both migrations and winter records remain scarce, but it is an easily overlooked species. Amongst the familiar waders  and terns on the saline lagoons, now mostly dry and with considerably reduced numbers of birds, a count of c200 little terns was notable.

Paul

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