Recent Technopole Records
I visited Technopole 5 times in the past 5 weeks, most recently yesterday with visiting friends Jérôme and Boris from Switzerland. Water levels are still very high following the abundant rains from 2015 but have started receding, creating favourable conditions for waders, gulls and terns in particular, so I will try to go back regularly as there’s always something interesting to see here!
The highlight of these latest visits was first of all a series of colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwits, with at least four Dutch birds and one English bird. This species is considered to be of particular conservation concern (near-threatened, “NT”) by the IUCN because it is rapidly declining in many parts of its breeding grounds, mainly due to habitat loss, intensification of agriculture, and changes in grassland management. Despite a growing Icelandic population and a large breeding range, serious declines have been reported both in North-Western Europe and in Eastern Europe. The ring recoveries of the Dutch birds are not unusual, but the English recovery is more significant since this bird is part of a new research program which only started last year. It was ringed as a breeding female on 13 May 2015 at the Nene Washes, the species’ main breeding site in the UK. According to data from the RSPB only 54-57 pairs breed in England. Up to about 300 godwits have been present these past few weeks and the fact that the same colour-ringed birds were seen over a period of at least two weeks now suggests that the same flock hangs around at the moment. Dutch birds typically have a “flag” ring in combination with four colour rings on both legs, whereas the UK birds have one ring with a black E combined with three colour rings, as can just about be seen in the picture below. To be continued!
Yesterday we were also lucky to come across a Lesser Yellowlegs, which seems to be the 2nd record for Technopole, and 6th for Senegal. Or could it be the same bird as the bird that I found on August 15 last year? We first spotted it on the far end of the pool behind the Dakar Golf Club house, which at the moment is the best site for waders, gulls and terns. It then flew off together with a Greenshank, only to be found again as we were leaving the site an hour or so later, when we spotted it flying back towards the original site along with a few Common Redshanks. In general, it seems that wader numbers have started to build up now that water levels have slowly started dropping. Ducks on the other hand remain scarce so far, with just a handful of White-faced Whistling Ducks most of the time and the occasional Garganey.
Also of interest is a rare breeding record of Little Grebe, with two begging chicks (almost adult-sized) seen together with an adult on January 4th when I visited the far end of the golf course towards the NE corner of Technopole, together with Bob Cumming from Canada. There appear to be only two documented breeding records for the Dakar area, from December and January (per Morel & Morel and Sauvage & Rodwell). This species is present pretty much year-round in varying numbers, with highest counts typically in late winter, and it is likely that breeding regularly occurs.
A Marsh Harrier on January 4th was a good winter record for Technopole; on the same day we also had a brief sighting of a Little Bittern, several Purple Herons, many Squacco Herons (at least 80 were seen on Dec. 13th, but it’s likely that at least a couple of hundred were present), while yesterday there were again quite a few European Spoonbills.
Yesterday we also visited lakes Tanma and Retba (Lac Rose); especially the former produced a lot of great sightings: at least 5-600 Garganeys, a few dozen Shovelers, 4 or 5 Knob-billed Geese (female-type… maybe young from a local family?), 4-500 Avocets, a fine Booted Eagle, two Short-toed Eagles, one or two Lesser Kestrels, at least 25 Ospreys, ca. 90 Collared Pratincoles, several Yellow-bellied Eremomelas (see our post from last October’s visit), a good density of Woodchat Shrikes, a quietly singing Common Nightingale and many of the usual suspects. At Lac Rose the highlight was a flock of around 1400 Greater Flamingos.
No bird pictures from yesterday’s trip as the camera’s battery stayed at home… so below is a selection of recent Technopole pics.