New January 2011 bird trip report from central west Senegal

Many thanks to Richard Ottvall, ornithologist at Lund University in Sweden, for letting us publish his report on the trip he lead for Avifauna, linked to the Swedish Birdlife partner Sveriges Ornitologiska Forening, to Senegal and The Gambia in January 2011.  The full report is here. The text is in Swedish, but with a full species list with English and scientific names and some excellent photos it is well worth browsing.

I have picked out a few Senegal highlights below from my perspective,  given some context and copied two photos from the report. You can see the photos in better quality if you go to the original report. The trip covered parts of Senegal known to ecologists as the West Central Agricultural Region (east and north of Dakar, sometimes referred to as the peanut basin) and Agricultural Expansion Region, south of Kaolack, as well as more traditional wetland sites, giving it an intersting angle.

Yellow-throated longclaw (5 at Lac Rose) was the trip’s biggest rarity. This is the first published Senegal record I can find since 1990, also “north of Dakar”, which is at the northern edge of the species’ global range. The same general area (“in the coastal region 20km east of Dakar”) is mentioned by the Morels for several observations in the 1960s and 1980s, so tentatively (based on once a decade observations!) this is Senegal’s most regular area for the species. Also at Lac Rose two good counts provided more evidence of the increasing numbers of Audouin’s gulls (50) wintering along the coast north of Dakar and the regularity of greater flamingos (500) in important numbers in the lakes north of Dakar (Lacs Rose, Tanma and Mbaouane). The Important Bird Areas (IBA) report for Senegal, published in 2001, speculated on the regularity of greater flamingo in this section of the Niayes IBA. In Dakar, a roseate tern off Ngor was notable. There are very few winter records of this species, better known from spring migration through Dakar and the Petite Côte, though it may be overlooked. Also likely to be overlooked is red-throated pipit, which is new to Technopole (Dakar). It is best known from northern Senegal on spring migration.

Lappet-faced vulture (adult) photo Per Lindquist. This nicely shows the diagnostic single pale line at the front of the underwing and pale thighs. 

The West Central Agricultural Region still has regular sightings of lappet-faced vulture, classified as globally Vulnerable, though it is not certain to be seen on a drive, as it apparently used to be. The status of “frequent” in this area in the review of Senegal data to 1994 is unlikely to be true now and the Swedish group’s single observation, between Kemeber and Touba, is typical of other recent observations from road trips.

Savile’s bustard in flight. Photo Per-Anders Bertilsson. A female showing the combination of black belly and white chest.

Savile’s bustards have always been the most widespread bustard in Senegal and may even be expanding into intensive agricultural and grassland. However, they are not easy to locate and photograph (they remain a “target species” for birders), so sightings and the evocative calls of these birds east of Sokone and at Lompoul must have been exciting.

Finally, preceding a number of records of the american vagrant Franklin’s gull in Dakar in July and August 2011, the report has photos of a bird that appears to be, like the Dakar individuals, in its second calendar year, found at Bao Bolon, south-east Kaolack. This is now the most regularly confirmed Nearctic species in Senegal.

Paul

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