Technopole mid-May – more surprises!
It really just doesn’t stop at the moment. Each visit to Technopole brings new birds, including several pretty good ones.
An adult Franklin’s Gull seen on 14/5 was one of these. This American gull used to be a regular Technopole visitor in 2011-2013, with up to five different birds roaming the peninsula. There was at least one record in 2014 (6-16/3/14, P. Robinson; J.-F. Blanc), then again an adult seen three times between 15/3 and 3/5/15 (J.-F. Blanc; BP). Finally, the most recent record was in June 2016 when an adult was photographed by visiting Dutch birders (details on observado). All these records may well refer to a single bird that’s still hanging around in West Africa, maybe even the same as the one seen on the beach in Nouakchott last month by resident birder Rob Tovey.
American Golden Plover has been present for more than a month now, with two immatures still present on 14/5 and one on 21/5 (but none this morning 25/5). This time I only managed a distant record shot…
Remember that fine Red-necked Phalarope that was present on 22-23/4? Well, a month later (21/5), we found another one! It was still present this morning. Same type of bird (a male or female moulting into breeding plumage), but obviously not the same individual since pictures show that this new one has more of a white eye-brow than the first one and appears less dark overall, suggesting a later moult stage. Here again, only a blurry picture as the bird was seen relatively far out and was mostly feeding in a shallow pool behind one of the gull flocks. When feeding, it rapidly spinned around on itself in typical phalarope fashion, a well-known behaviour that I’d never had the privilege of watching. Check!
Besides the Franklin’s Gull, three new birds for the season were noted, all migrants that seem to be scarce yet regular visitors to Technopole at this time of the year: first of all a Yellow-billed Stork feeding in a group of egrets and herons that also included an African Spoonbill. Both species were still there this morning. The stork flew off soon after we’d found it, only to land in the reed-fringed pool just on the other side of the track (Pikine side). We went over to have a look and soon noticed a second bird, also a young individual. The two pictures below each show a different bird.
As we were watching the nearby gulls and waders, Miguel noticed that a flock of 18 Greater Flamingos were present on the far south end of the main lake, right next to the road. These are the first I see here since last year’s raining season. Feeding conditions are now pretty good it seems, with low water levels, so let’s see how many others will join them in coming weeks (and why not with a Lesser Flamingo mixed in the flock!).
The number of waders is less impressive now than a month ago, but still: with several dozens Common Ringed Plovers, Sanderlings and Greenshanks along with a few hundred Black-winged Stilts (including the first chicks of the year, only a few days old!), a few Black-tailed and even three Bar-tailed Godwits and Ruffs, one doesn’t get bored here. Especially when the now regular Peregrine swoops in from time to time and causes birds to move around a lot…
At one point, a mixed flock landed on a mudflat right in front of us: mostly Sanderlings and Ringed Plovers, but also a few Curlew Sandpipers, a lone Little Stint, and at one point eight Kittlitz’s Plovers settled down. The pictures below highlight the great variation in plumage types among these little waders, ranging from drab winter-plumaged or immature birds to full-blown summer adults. The Sanderlings in particular are really exquisite at the moment. One bird was colour-ringed but just wouldn’t show its left leg, making it impossible to get a proper reading (bird in the center in the first picture below).
There were also a few colour-ringed Sandwich Terns (blue and yellow rings) and Slender-billed Gulls but only a couple of the latter were close enough to be read. On these last few visits there have been up to 10 tern species, including a splendid adult White-winged Tern and one species that was new to my Technopole list: Roseate Tern! First a first-summer bird on 14/5, then this morning when I noticed four fine adults as they flew off from within one of the tern roosts, only to disappear high up towards Yoff… great sighting though of a species that I usually see migrating past Ngor.
Talking of which – this morning I scanned the ocean for about an hour at the Calao in Ngor. Things are really quiet now – not even a single Skua – but then when you least expect them to show up, two Great Shearwaters passed by and flew around a bit. Quite distant, but close enough to recognize the sharply demarcated dark hood. While there are a few records from June, as far as we know this would be the first May record for Senegal.