Two new species for Dakar?
We were back on the local birdwatching patch of Dakar’s Technopole on Saturday 8 April for a brief afternoon visit. The shallow lake and marshland west of the Sonatel offices, usually the most interesting for birds, is now dry over large areas. Waders and wildfowl are few, though there were still some garganey and shoveler and several adult moorhen looking very unlikely to cross the Sahara. More abundant were gulls, predominantly a few hundred slender-billed gulls, most adults coming into breeding plumage,, with still c60 Audouin’s gulls, 95% second calendar year birds and no adults, and one second year Mediterranean gull. The only remaining terns were gull-billed and Caspian.
Two surprise species, on an island with a few pink-backed and great white pelicans, were an immature marabou stork and two adults and an immature yellow-billed stork. They were distant , but as new species for Technopole (177 and 178), their photos are included here.
Juvenile yellow-billed stork in flight
Immature marabou stork
Back home, a check of the literature showed both to be new for the one degree (c 100 x 100 km) square of Dakar, covering the lakes of the Niayes and the Petite Côte north of Mbour. The 1 degree square is the scale at which the distribution of birds was mapped for all records up to around 1980 by Gérard and Marie-Yvonne Morel. This was updated at the same scale for records up to 1994 here. After that, records become dispersed, so any statement that a species has not been recorded could be wrong. Both are wandering species with their nearest breeding locations several hundred kilometres away, in Djoudj (yellow-billed stork, or is it now breeding in the Delata du Saloum?) and The Gambia (marabou stork). Further proof that every migrant species eventually finds Technopole!
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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 (photos: B. Piot)
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