Au revoir la Teranga

Our regular readers will have noticed that it’s been very quiet on this blog in recent months, so it’s about time I published an update here. There’s a simple reason for the lack of recent posts: after just over five years in Dakar, it was time to move on. Three weeks ago we landed in Laos where we will be based for the foreseeable future, marking the start of a new adventure here in Vientiane. And the end of a pretty amazing experience living in Senegal.

Moving on is of course bittersweet, as I will certainly miss the fabulous bird life that Senegal has to offer, yet at the same time I’m excited to discover the birds and culture of Laos. Even if we’re currently living in rather unsettling and unpredictable times, to say the least. Many of you will be reading this while confined at home, but being extremely busy with my work here I’ll need to keep it short… somehow writing this post is actually the one that I’ve struggled the most with so far – it’s been sitting in my drafts for about three weeks now.

Over the past five years I managed to visit all but one of the country’s regions – sadly I never made it to Matam! – and was lucky to see a good deal of its birds, 530 species to be precise, 527 of which I saw during 2015-2020. A few other numbers: some 52,500 records “collected”, four additions to the country list, about 1,040 sound recordings posted on xeno-canto, tons of poor quality bird photographs, countless happy hours in the field…

Wassadou

Wassadou Happy Hour

 

There are of course a few specials that I didn’t get to track down, such as Golden and Egyptian Nightjar, White-throated Francolin or Denham’s Bustard to name but a few, and I somehow managed to never visit Kousmar (pretty unbelievable right?) and the Niokolo-Kobo proper (I was happy enough exploring Wassadou on three occasions), but these are all good reasons to one day come back of course. That said, I’m not very optimistic about the state and future of Senegal’s environment, and while this is not the time to expand on this, there have been many frustrating, sad and upsetting moments when confronted on an almost daily basis with the ongoing destruction of natural habitats, with the ever-increasing pollution levels, and with the population’s general indifference and ignorance when it comes to nature and wildlife conservation.

BaraPiafs_Wassadou_20180617_IMG_2732

The birds of Wassadou / le bar à piafs

 

Senegal certainly has treated us well and I feel privileged to have had the chance to explore the country these past few years. I tried to promote birding in Senegal and think I made some modest contributions to the “body of ornithological knowledge” both through this blog (149 posts!) and through a number of papers, 14 to be precise, something we’ll try to continue doing in coming months (years?). The absence of recent posts on SenegalWildlife is definitely not for a lack of ideas or material… just need to find the time to write up stuff, be it here in these pages or elsewhere.

Lots of good memories, of encounters with birds of course but also of places and people, too many to start listing here. Unexpected finds, and some unexpected birding settings.

 

IMG_1036 (2).JPG

Birding the Saloum delta (yes that’s me in my pyjamas in a bath tub on the edge of a mud flat, one of those randomly surreal settings one may find oneself in… only in Senegal!) – Picture by Jane Piot

 

Despite the crazy busy few weeks leading up to our departure from Dakar, I was of course keen to go back out to some of my favourite spots: Popenguine, Technopole, Mbeubeusse, Lac Rose, and of course Le Calao for my daily dose of seawatching.

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Egret feeding frenzy at Technopole, 10 February 2020

 

And as always there were some good birds to be seen here, some of which were quite unexpected. During my last visit at Technopole on the morning of our departure (8.3), a pair of Eurasian Teals was a nice find. My final ring reading here was of a French Eurasian Spoonbill ringed in the Camargue colony in 2016… with now +600 ring readings in my little database, there’s definitely enough material to write up another post on this topic. An immature Brown Booby on 21.2 and 5.3 at Ngor was pretty classic at this time of the year. Much less expected was a fine Cream-coloured Courser on the steppe near lac Rose on 20.2, apparently the first record for the Dakar region. It was loosely associating with a few Temminck’s Coursers, a classic species here, just like the handful of Greater Short-toed Larks that were present the same day. A few days earlier, a Temminck’s Stint at Mbeubeusse (16.2) was yet another scarce migrant to show up at this prime location for waders. And during our last visit to Popenguine (23.2) a Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver was a good record from this location, of a species that is rarely reported away from the south-east and that in fact I’d only seen once before in Senegal, near Kedougou.

CreamcolouredCourser_LacRose_20200220_IMG_6234

Cream-coloured Courser / Courvite isabelle, lac Rose, Feb. 2020

 

Thanks to our followers and regular readers.

Take care, stay safe, flatten that curve.

Au revoir le pays de la Teranga, à la prochaine!

 

PNLB_201904_IMG_3118

Saloum Sunset, Simal

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21 responses to “Au revoir la Teranga”

  1. Lisa Kennedy says :

    Wow, Bram, a new adventure half a world away from Africa! I wish you all the best with this next exciting chapter in your life. And I hope you will continue to post your excellent and interesting blogs from your new home in Laos. Keep an eye open for falcons (ten species in Laos) and I hope you get to see a fairy-bluebird. Stay safe, keep well and keep us posted!

    • bram says :

      Thanks Lisa! Will do – though I’ll need some time to get up to speed on the birds of Laos, one species at a time 🙂 I only have limited experience here in South-East Asia but can’t wait to get my bins on more skulking phylloscopus, pittas, fairy bluebirds and so much more. I do intend to post the occasional blog on Senegal, and hope that some of my colleagues will do the same as we’d want to keep the blog alive. Best wishes – Bram

  2. John Rose says :

    Thanks so much Bram for all you have done for wildlife study and conservation in Senegal, hoping that a way will be found to keep the “Senegal Wildlife” flame alive. John Rose

    P.S. Perhaps some readers may be interested in our study of the Niokolo-Koba lions (https://threatenedtaxa.org/index.php/JoTT/article/view/5549). If there were interest I could prepare an updated summary in French for the blog?

    • bram says :

      Thanks a lot John for your kind note. We’ll definitely find a way to keep the site alive though the frequency of new blog posts will certainly be reduced. I’m sure that a lot of readers will be interested in the PNNK lions study, so yes please! A summary and a few pictures would be fantastic, and a great way to further promote the park.

  3. Antonio Araujo says :

    It was great meeting you in Dakar Bram. Keep feeding your passion and getting others involved. All the best to you and your family in Laos.

    • bram says :

      Thanks Antonio! Likewise, a pleasure to have met you and to spend a little bit (not enough!) of time with you in the field. Hope you and family are all well.

  4. Louise says :

    Will someone be coming here to take your place? To keep up the blog?

    • bram says :

      Unfortunately not for now, but if anyone is interested I’d be happy to discuss of course! I do hope that we’ll have some content coming from the past or occasional contributors, and I will do my best to post something every now and then.

  5. Irene Gaye says :

    Thanks for all of your blog!!! I am sorry to read you will no longer be writing this white pape, as we ar building a home in Yenn Todde and learned snout the lagoon from your writings!! Good luck on your new venture!!! Irene Gaye

    • bram says :

      Thank you Irene. Bonne chance avec vos explorations de la lagune de Yene, j’espere que l’hivernage sera bon et que la lagune sera pleine cette annee.

  6. Jérémy Calvo says :

    Merci Bram pour cette mine d’informations sur les oiseaux du Sénégal que tu laisses derrière toi !!
    Bonne continuation au Laos et j’espère qu’on se re croisera vite par là-bas en Asie ou quand tu rentreras en France.
    Est ce qu’on aura droit à un blog laotien ??
    Bon apprentissage des nouveautés aviaires asiatiques !

    • bram says :

      Merci cher ami! Pas de projet de blog Laos, pour le moment je préfère encore travailler un peu la matière qui me reste du Sénégal (ça ne manque pas!) et surtout prendre le temps de comprendre les oiseaux laotiens!

  7. Filip says :

    Hey Bram, ik dacht al, het is zo stil ginds? Niet alleen bedankt voor je deskundige safari in N-Senegal enkele jaren terug, maar ook voor de mooi geïllusteerde en interessante posts op deze blog! ‘t is mooi geweest! Het beste in Laos voor u en uw familie!

    • bram says :

      Bedankt Filip! Hoop dat het ginder wat gaat, maak er het beste van in de huidige omstandigheden…

  8. Bakary Dieye says :

    Désolé de ne pas t’avoir rencontré.Chapeau bas pour le travail effectué et je te souhaite de belles aventures au Laos !

    • bram says :

      Merci beaucoup Bakary – idem, dommage qu’on ne se soit pas rencontrés, et bonne continuation à vous à Thies!

  9. westernpeninsula says :

    Hey Bram it’s been great reading the blog and seeing the understanding of where to go for birdwatching in Senegal and what to see grow. It’s a fabulous resource now. And very nostalgic for me as an ex Dakarois! Good luck with the next adventure. I’ll try to do better than last year in contributing a few articles and keeping the Senegal Wildlife flame alight!

    • bram says :

      Thanks Paul, hope to read you soon indeed! And thanks also for giving me the opportunity to take over the blog after you left, it’s been a great experience and it certainly motivated to keep learning and studying Senegal’s birds (and learn a thing about two about blogging and managing WordPress!)

  10. Rick says :

    Hi Bram,

    Welcome to Laos! Like you, I am an ardent birder using eBird. I saw your first lists on eBird and you already got some great observations in during your first weeks.

    Hope to meet you sometime in Vientiane,

    Rick
    https://ebird.org/profile/NjMzNzg1

    • bram says :

      Thanks Rick for your note, hope to meet you in person soon – when the current madness is over, hopefully not too long now… I’ve been dying to get out of town and discover some of the local birds but guess I just need to be patient and stick to the fields and wetlands around That Luang…

  11. karpfenloch says :

    Cher Bram, Les oiseaux du Sénégal ont perdu leur meilleur ambassadeur. Bon vent pour le Laos. Paul Isenmann.

     

     

     

     

    > Message du 27/03/20 01:40 > De : “Senegal Wildlife” > A : paul.isenmann@orange.fr > Copie à : > Objet : [New post] Au revoir la Teranga > >WordPress.com

    bram posted: “Our regular readers will have noticed that it’s been very quiet on this blog in recent months, so it’s about time I published an update here. There’s a simple reason for the lack of recent posts: after just over five years in Dakar, it was time to move on”

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