Technopole 14 July
The black-winged stilt breeding season is in full swing on the main lake. These chicks were the most photogenic, whilst there were also adults still on nests and two flying juveniles, distinguishable from the adults by their dull bown back and grey-green, not pink, legs. The 50 days or so from egg laying to flight puts the start of the breeding season at the last week of May.
The numbers of black tern (c40), wood sandpiper (c30) and ruff (c10) have increased since last week and newly arrived Palaeractic migrants were the first common redshank (1) and marsh sandpiper (2) of the autumn here.
New for Technopole and species 193 were two blue-cheeked bee-eaters that flew north, feeding on the wing and first detected, as often with bee-eaters, from their flight call. This is an inter-African migrant that moves north before the rains to breed in the Sahel, so this Technopole observation fits an expected pattern. Indeed my last sighting was of birds in mid-June nesting near Richard Toll in northern Senegal, in holes in a small sand quarry, alongside white-throated and little bee-eaters.
The mix of gulls and terns in the usual area north of the Sonatel building included the African skimmer and three Franklin’s gulls (2 adult breeding and one adult winter). The behaviour of the two breeding plumaged adults suggested that, even if they had not attempted to breed, they were in some sense a pair; one bird flew in to join the other, there was some calling with raised beaks, the adult winter bird was chased off and the two breeding plumaged birds later settled on the water together. In North American bird atlas field work, this would be classified as probable breeding!