Northern Specials (Part I)

We recently teamed up with resident Saint-Louis birder Frédéric Bacuez (Ornithondar) and visiting Filip Verroens from Belgium, for an epic 4-day trip to Senegal’s northernmost regions, the Moyenne Vallée (“Middle Valley”) around Dagana, Podor and Gamadji Saré. While there’s enough meat to keep us busy for a few posts, I’m already sharing a few pictures, and you should read this great summary by Frederic (in French).

The Journey

We started off with a fairly long but enjoyable drive from Dakar to Dagana on our first day, picking up Fred at Louga from where we headed towards Keur Momar Sarr. A few stops en route including Lac de Guiers and Richard-Toll, plus the usual opportunistic sightings along the road. Day 2 consisted pretty much of non-stop birding from dawn to dusk, between Dagana and Gamadji Saré. The next day we further explored the Doué river, then had to start making our way back towards Saint-Louis, with a small detour via Podor and a large pond near Thille Boubacar. A late afternoon visit to the Ndiael “special avifauna reserve” was a real treat before we returned to more familiar grounds at Bango. On our last day, an early morning visit to the Saint-Louis sewage works with a quick extension to the Guembeul lagoons was very enjoyable and we could easily have spent the day around Gandiol, but it was soon time to head back to Dakar… A pit-stop at the forêt de Pout, a brief Technopole visit, and a final seawatch session at the Calao in Ngor further boosted the trip list, which ended up close to 200 species.


The Birds

I took way too many pictures (as usual) but will try to keep it rather brief here, though it’s difficult to focus on just a few species given how much we saw – and what we saw! Almost all of the northern specials were found, including Sennar Penduline-Tit (a lifer!), Fulvous Babbler (another one!), Little Grey WoodpeckerSeebohm’s and Isabelline Wheatears, Cricket Warbler, and much more.

‘Nuff said… without further ado, and in order of appearance: these are some of the stars of our first two days:

Day 1: Dakar – Mboro – Louga – Keur Momar Sarr – Richard-Toll – Dagana

  • Between Keur Momar Sarr & Richard-Toll, on the eastern shores of lac de Guiers:

Yellow-bellied Eremomela / Eremomele a croupion jaune


Sennar Penduline Tit / Remiz du Soudan


Lanner Falcon / Faucon lanier

  • Near the Richard-Toll airstrip:

Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse / Ganga à ventre brun


Day 2: Dagana – Bokhol – Fanaye – Taredji – Gamadji Saré

  • Forêt de Bokhol:




Northern Wheatear / Traquet motteux ssp. leucorrhoa


Chestnut-bellied Starling / Choucador à ventre roux

  • The Kooya region near Fanaye:

Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark / Moinelette à front blanc

  • Sand dunes near Taredji:

Cricket Warbler / Prinia à front écailleux


Cricket Warbler habitat (“arbustes à balai”)

  • Gamadji Saré, on the banks of the Doué river:

Red-throated Bee-eater / Guêpier à gorge rouge


Southern Grey Shrike / Pie-grièche méridionale






Egyptian Plover / Pluvian d’Egypte

As you can see, lots of really good birds and some great landscapes, and above all a true pleasure discovering parts of Senegal that I hadn’t visited before (next target: the South-East!).

The second part of this post will hopefully follow shortly, and will cover days 3 (Gamadji Saré – Podor – Thille Boubacar – Ndiael – Bango) and 4 (Bango – STEP Saint-Louis – Louga – Thiès – Dakar). And more northern specials!





6 responses to “Northern Specials (Part I)”

  1. David Broadley says :

    Thank you for whetting my appetite for a return trip to Senegal, fabulous birding

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