Encore le Technopole after the rain

Yesterday morning, (August 3), as a treat I took the pirogue to Ile de N’Gor on the second day of Ramadan and sat on a favourite rock for two hours, seawatching at the famous point.

Early August is not a period people have watched here, so anything would be interesting, though my expectations were not high, having seen very few seabirds during the last three weeks from the apartment or on trips  to the beach fish market at Yoff. I was unfortunately not surprised, seeing only less than a hundred royal terns flying in no dominant direction, single figures of Sandwich tern and white-breasted cormorant and  no birds fishing. The tern roost at Calao remains empty.

In the early evening the  first big rains of the year reached Dakar, causing a  river outside the apartment. Today the morning visit to Technopole saw a big increase in water levels and waterbirds, though some of the waders might just be squeezed into fewer suitable shallow waters. Amongst the big birds, the main increases were in great white egrets (400+)  and pink-backed pelicans (c80). Ruff and wood sandpiper each passed 100, though black -tailed godwits were fewer  than recently.

The picture shows a typical view of wood sandpiper in the wet grassland fringing the main lake. New wader species were  a juvenile kentish plover (new species for Technopole) and a female painted snipe, for which I eventually got this poor record shot.

The female is the colourful partner in this polyandrous species, laying eggs in several nests where  all incubation is done by  the males.

The small group of gulls and terns included the now regular two Franklins gulls, a first summer/second winter Audouin’s gull, but new for this season for me a white-winged black tern and a first winter little tern. As with roseate tern, discussed in the previous blog entry, the ageing of terns in West Africa at this time of year  is not always obvious. This bird, for which I have no photo, had a strong dark carpal bar, but what would a first summer bird look like? Is there a  distinct first summer plumage? There is a  small breeding population, not always located each year, in the Sine Saloum, which it seems reasonable to think is the area of origin of  many of the gulls and terns dropping in here. It is intriguing and frustrating to wonder what could be being seen along the rest of Senegal’s coast at the moment, while no-one is watching!

This very approachable green-backed heron in breeding plumage (red legs, yellow around eye (lores) , all black bill) fishing rounded off the visit.

Paul

p.s. This evening my first flock of returning whimbrel (18) flew high along the beach at Yoff Tonghor.

p.p.s. 5 August at Technopole produced a  rather similar collection of birds, with c500 great white egrets and 150 pink-backed pelicans in the western corner, one of the Franklin’s gulls, 1 roseate tern  and 2 first summer/second winter Audouin’s gulls in the gull and tern flock and a female painted snipe near where yesterday’s bird was seen.

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