African skimmer at Technopole (where else…)
This blog has become, by accident rather than intent, mostly a diary of observations at Dakar’s Technopole. This will change, but first another…..
Late July sees the number of returning Palearctic waders increasing. New in this week were the first whimbrel, spotted redshank and common sandpiper, whilst ruff and wood sandpiper passed 20 each and autumn’s first osprey appeared. The big surprise was in the gull and tern roost, where 2 sub-adult African skimmers have been for at least two days. The birds refused to skim, but otherwise looked superb in flight and eccentric when resting, with the huge lower mandible.
The status of the species in Senegal is mysterious. The Morels provides evidence of breeding on the Senegal River in the Middle reaches near Matam in 1964; typical nesting habitat with riverine sand bars. Since then, though the area is seldom visited by birders, there is nothing. The nearest Important Bird Area, requiring regular counts of 100 or more, is in Gabon. The January African Waterbird Census going back to 2000 provides no records closer that Equatorial Guinea. There have been two large counts on the Senegalese coast at the Delta du Saloum, most recently of more than 400 in September 1992, the origins of which are presumably Guinea or further south, though in most years there are no birds reported. More typical is a Senegalese birding colleague who has seen the species once in a life of 20 years’ birding on the coast. The species is now on the global Red List as Near Threatened, though its African fate depends more on that of the larger East African populations. It is species 183 for Dakar Technopole.