The first rains in Dakar
This weekend saw the first electric storm and heavy rains overnight in Dakar on early Saturday morning, a second, smaller storm on Saturday night and Sunday morning and drizzle during a Sunday morning visit to Technopole; one of two visits this weekend.
Perhaps a victim of the rains was this kittlitz’s plover chick, next to a still active scrape with one egg. This is the first recorded breeding for Senegal away from the Senegal River Delta, though as with many such records, it is difficult to believe this is the real state of affairs, more a matter of other observations being undocumented.
On a more cheerful note, black-winged stilt chicks of various ages abound. The sequence of photos below shows an unusual nest on top of a rock – most are on earth mounds constructed by the birds – along with the young chicks, egg from perhaps the same brood and the parents. Note the brown back of the female, showing the “broken wing” distraction display and the black backed male. I should say that these photos were taken from the road, not unnecessarily disturbing the birds, the adult quickly returning to its nest as can be seen from the photo.
There have been a very few breeding attempts in Senegal, but this year at Technopole seems to be the first documented success, though birds probably bred there last summer.
A pair of greater painted snipe see today, probably a resident species here, have been so far elusive in giving any evidence of breeding.
Other waders of northern breeding origin are a mix of a few summering birds and the first returning migrants. The dull plumaged summering black-tailed godwits are now supplemented with the first brighter adults, pictured here at a distance, with 57 birds counted. It is now known from satellite tagged Dutch birds that some godwits move rapidly over 48 hours from the Netherlands to Senegal as early as late June, then leaving early in January to southern Europe, sometimes via the Niger delta in Mali. However, field observations such as this weekend’s can still help in teasing out the details of how and where most godwits are passing their time here.
The gull and tern numbers continue to be impressive. It can be said with a bit more confidence than for the breeding records that the c150 Audouin’s gulls, all sub-adult birds from 2010 and 2011, represents a real increase in summering birds south of the Sahara and a West African summer record count. Several had Spanish rings. Amongst the Audouin’s, a second year Mediterranean gull, following observations here in May, also suggests a first West African summering record for this species. Finally, for rarity officionados, the Frankin’s gulls first seen here almost 12 months ago, that should now be nearer to Florida, are still here. At least what I assume are the same three, now moulted out of the full summer plumage of late May, were all together on Saturday.
Flemming observed Technopole’s species 181, Anhinga or African darter, late last month and its re-sighting in flight over the golf club lake rounded off a good weekend. In the reed (Typha) fringing that lake, greater swamp warbler and three little bitterns were nice sightings. The first is certainly and the second probably a rainy season breeding species here.
Thanks to Simon Cavaillès for accompanying us on Saturday.