Technopole, Yoff and another American golden plover
At Dakar’s Technopole last Saturday (9 March) the most abundant waterbird was black-headed gull, with a few hundred, many sporting breeding plumage. Amongst them the now expected Mediterranean gulls numbered at least 6 second calendar year and one third calendar year birds. This peregrine (digi-scoped by Simon Cavaillès) was maybe the bird that roosts at the Hotel Ngor Diorama.
Simon and Jean-François Blanc also had this American golden plover last month at Djembereng, on the Casamance coast north of Cap Skirring. The bird was in the general area of the Casamance ecoparc. This is the fourth observation over the 2012/13 “winter” for Senegal, doubling the number of national records. Given the small amount of survey effort, one can only guess how many were actually present.
Rather suddenly the sea off Yoff is full of terns, mostly common terns and some sandwich terns, and associated pirogues. The birds feed in tight flocks, often close to the surf and sometimes sitting on the water.
They are presumably feeding on prey that becomes suddenly accessible in large quantities in small patches. A fisherman friend uses the word alevin, which my dictionary says is just any young fish. I think he has in mind something more specific, as march and april are apparently their period and their accessibility to terns is caused by them fleeing tuna. Hence the pirogues, fishing for the tuna and using the terns as an easier visual cue than the breaks on the water surface caused by the shoals of alevin.
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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, So is Iles de la Madeleine, and further afield the Saloum Delta at Palmarin (photos: B. Piot)
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