Trying to catch up with recent trips, this post will focus on our short stay in Palmarin, from Nov. 24-26, when I joined visiting friends from Geneva at the tail end of their 2-week trip. Of course I wish I could have joined them for the entire length of the trip (they saw no less than 320-ish species!) but I was already fortunate enough to spend a couple of days up North in the Djoudj and Saint-Louis, then to join them a week later in the Saloum delta.
In addition to the unexpected observation of a Buff-breasted Sandpiper, we saw a good number of other interesting species here, confirming once again the importance of the area for a vast range of both Afrotropical and Palearctic species. Among the highlights were the adult Saddle-billed Stork that I already mentioned in the previous post; a small colony of African Spoonbills with several chicks in the nest, high up in a lone baobab; the thousands of waders – an impressive 28 species including several Knot, a Grey Phalarope, and a handful of White-fronted Plovers; even more gulls (Audouin’s and Lesser Black-backed of course, but also a Kelp Gull and a Yellow-legged Gull both picked up by Bastien); Northern White-faced Owl; the usual Quailfinches; and this time round also some great sightings of the local Spotted Hyenas:
Quailfinch was one of the species the group was particularly keen on seeing, which wasn’t all too difficult given how frequent these tiny birds are here, as long as one is in suitable habitat. Seeing them properly, and not just flying over in typical hurried fashion, was more of a challenge but we did ultimately succeed. In the process, we found two extremely well camouflaged nests, each containing several eggs.
Quite a few vultures were encountered in the Palmarin / Samba Dia / Joal area, mostly Hooded, White-backed and Ruppell’s Vultures, but also a couple of immature Eurasian Griffons, including the one below, and a single Palm-nut Vulture.
In addition to the vultures, lots of other raptors were spotted: Osprey and Yellow-billed Kites of course, and Montagu’s and Marsh Harriers, Black-shouldered Kite, Beaudouin’s Snake-Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, African Harrier-Hawk, Shikra, Gabar and Dark-chanting Goshawks, Peregrine, Barbary Falcon, Grey Kestrel, and finally Red-necked Kestrel.
Several European passerines that spend the winter over here were found to be actively moulting (though admittedly this was seen only after studying the pictures!). In the examples below, note the fresh tail feathers and primaries that are still growing on this young Woodchat Shrike, and the regenerating primaries in the Melodious Warbler underneath.
Just like in November 2015, several Red-throated Pipits were found, in exactly the same spot as last year. I suspect that this is a fairly localised and scarce species in Senegal, as I haven’t see them anywhere else yet. This area also held a surprise pair of Greater Short-toed Larks, a species that doesn’t usually comes this far down south (they’re regular in the north, e.g. at Ndiael fauna reserve). Along the same lines, the observation of a Tufted Duck near Diofior on 24/11 was a good record this far south in Senegal.
A much more common migrant is Yellow Wagtail, mainly flavissima from the British Isles but flava and iberiae also seem to be present in Palmarin. This individual, a moulting male, had an unusually contrasting plumage.
On the local front, here’s a juvenile White-billed Buffalo-Weaver, lacking its distinctive white bill as it’s still a very young bird, followed by a Yellow-billed Oxpecker (always a pleasure!).
This female Long-tailed Nightjar was flushed in the gardens of the Djidjack lodge (a place I’d highly recommend: friendly owners, great food, good accommodation, and a lush garden full of birds).
Also there were at least two Northern White-faced Owls, a Pin-tailed Whydah (surprisingly perhaps, only my first in Senegal), the usual migrant passerines (Common Redstart, Western Olivaceous and Subalpine Warblers, but also Blackcap), Gambian Epauletted Fruit-bats, and much more.
We’ll be back!
(and finally, I can’t resist the urge to include another picture of the star bird)