Casamance trip, 11-15 October

Northern Red Bishop / Euplecte franciscain, Diembering, Oct. 2016  (B. Piot)

No time for an extensive trip report, but still wanted to share a few of the highlights and a number of pictures from our recent family trip to coastal Casamance. We first spent a night in the town of Ziguinchor, then moved to the village of Diembering just north of Cap Skirring where we spent 3 nights in the excellent Akine Dyioni ecolodge, set in a perfect spot in the dunes between the village and the beach. Lots of great birds, good food, a private (well, almost) beach… what else can one wish for?

Casamance’s capital Ziguinchor is quite a birdy town: Pink-backed Pelicans are all over the place (including at least one colony near the airport), Hooded Vultures everywhere, several colonies of Yellow-billed StorkWhite-breasted and Long-tailed Cormorants, and African Darters in the middle of town, and of course quite a few birds can be seen along the Casamance river (which also seems to be full of dolphins!).

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Yellow-billed Stork / Tantale ibis

The unique Palm-nut Vulture – the only frugivorous vulture species in the world – can be seen flying over the river, such as this adult with its conspicuous black-and-white plumage.

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Palm-nut Vulture / Vautour palmiste

Several Wire-tailed Swallows were hanging out on the waterfront near our hotel in Ziguinchor, including this fine adult (presumably a female given the short tail streamers).

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Wire-tailed Swallow / Hirondelle à longs brins

Many species reach their northernmost distribution around Diembering, which has a decent coastal forest, lagoons, dunes and good farmland – and as such a good mix of birds! Especially the forest holds a few “specials” which in Senegal are largely restricted to Casamance, such as Ahanta Francolin, African Pied HornbillGreen Hylia, Grey-headed Bristlebill, Red-bellied Paradise-Flycatcher, Olive Sunbird, and many more.

And of course lots of other good birds, including the neat Oriole Warbler – a “lifer” that I finally managed to see, right within the lodge gardens. The latter also had Klaas’s and Diederik Cuckoos, Yellow-throated Leaflove, no less than five sunbird species (Green-headed, Beautiful, Splendid, VariableCopper Sunbird), Brown-throated (Common) Wattle-eye, Black-necked WeaverBlue-billed (African) Firefinch, etc.

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Oriole Warbler / Noircap loriot

Every visit to the fields, rice paddies and small wetlands around the lodge yielded something new: Lizard BuzzardGrey Kestrel, Northern White-faced Owl, African Green Pigeon, West African Swallow, Short-winged Cisticola, Bronze-tailed Starling and Orange-cheeked Waxbill to name but a few. The header picture of this post shows a Northern Red Bishop displaying in one of the paddies, which also had a few Yellow-crowned Bishops. On the northern migrants front, besides the various waders, gulls and terns, there were several European Bee-eaters around, as well as Osprey, Pallid SwiftYellow Wagtail, Northern Wheatear, Whinchat, Common Redstart, Western Olivaceous Warbler, and Willow Warbler.

This juvenile Rufous-breasted Swallow – my first in Senegal – was a nice treat one morning as I was heading out to the forest.

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Rufous-breasted Swallow / Hirondelle à ventre roux

A flash of red amidst a flock of Village Weavers: Vieillot’s Barbet

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Vieillot’s Barbet and Village Weavers / Barbican de Vieillot et Tisserins gendarmes

An obliging male Fine-spotted Woodpecker was seen at Djiromaithe (near Mloump). Also here were several Blue-bellied Rollers, Northern PuffbackYellow-mantled Widowbird and so on.

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Fine-spotted Woodpecker / Pic à taches noires

Below is one of many Hooded Vultures seen during our trip, often a few dozen together. On the beach at Diembering there were usually several of these vultures feeding on stranded fish – a behaviour that is not known from Dakar but which seems pretty typical further south along the Senegambian coast. A few White-backed Vultures were noted, while the much scarcer White-headed Vulture was seen at Djiromaithe.

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Hooded Vulture / Vautour charognard

We also visited the Pointe Saint-Georges, which at this time of the year involves a pleasant one-hour boat trip through a bolong and along the Casamance river. Lots of birds of course, but also several Bottlenose Dolphins swimming around the pirogue (but alas no Manatees!).

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Bottlenose Dolphin / Grand Dauphin (J. Piot)

4 responses to “Casamance trip, 11-15 October”

  1. Paul Isenmann says :

    M. Piot, Bravo pour toutes ces observations. J’aimerai bien entrer en contact avec vous pour vous envoyer mon livre sur les oiseaux de Mauritanie!

    • bram says :

      Merci beaucoup pour votre commentaire. Je vous contacterai par email – cela m’interesse bien entendu de pouvoir disposer de votre livre sur la Mauretanie! (et a propos, pour nos eventuels lecteurs: j’utilise deja parfois l’atlas en ligne http://atlasornmau.org/).

  2. Vic Paine says :

    Some excellent photos there

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