Saturday morning at le Technopole
With the temperatures rising, the other two authors out of town and work binding me to Dakar, today’s blog comes just from an hour’s visit to Technopole, Dakar’s suburban wetland, to take in some fresh air. It is always a busy scene. Jola fishermen from Casamance wade with hand nets in the lakes to catch “wase”, the fresh growth of grass is being gathered and a few fields are being prepared for vegetables, although there have been no rains this week and still only 3 dates with rain this month in Dakar. As one of the fishermen said, it is not “la verte Casamance”, but if you live in Dakar and want to birdwatch, it is a good escape.
Last weekend’s Franklin’s gulls were at the same location, associating with a few slender-billed gulls, common terns and gull-billed terns. Flemming discovered there were two when looking at his photos of the find, but I had yet to see both together, so it was nice to get them in the same picture. I am checking with colleagues, but it looks as if both are first summer (hatched 2010) birds.
Black-winged stilts are very probably breeding, though I have yet to find a nest or young. Several birds were dive bombing and feigning broken wings in the wet grassland. It is a rare and irregular breeder in Senegal and this would be the sixth documented year of attempts since the first in 1977, so another exciting find for Technopole in July.
Migrant waders are increasing. A rather lazy count today gave an estimate of 250 birds of 12 species, excluding c100 Senegal thick-knees and uncounted spur-winged plovers. In decreasing abundance, the species were black-tailed godwit, black-winged stilt, wood sandpiper, ruff and greenshank, with single figures of curlew sandpiper, green sandpiper, common sandpiper, marsh sandpiper, whimbrel, redshank and ringed plover.
Back home at Virage, the first osprey I have seen here since April flew past the house. Birds do summer in Senegal, but are not the daily sighting from the breakfast table they are in winter.
A photo from 24 July, showing one of the Franklin’s gulls with a first summer Audouin’s gull.
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The defunct, twin volcanoes of Mamelles, in Dakar’s Ouakam arrondissement, with Cape Verde Shearwaters and Bottle-nosed Dolphins. The rocky coast of Dakar, forming the Cap Vert Important Bird Area, is an outstanding site for seabirds (photo: P. Robinson). Technopole and its numerous waders, herons, gulls, terns and other waterbirds (including Greater Flamingos when conditions are right) is one of the best sites for birds in the greater Dakar region, So is Iles de la Madeleine, and further afield the Saloum Delta at Palmarin (photos: B. Piot)
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