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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.

Technopole_Herons_20200210_IMG_6197.JPG

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

Year in review: 2019

As is now a bit of a tradition on these pages, I’m again compiling a review of last year’s main birding events. Senegal’s bird year 2019 was a pretty good one, with the usual decent mix of new discoveries, rare vagrants, scarce migrants, range extensions and new breeding records.

First things first: last year saw the addition of two new species to the country’s avifauna, so rather similar to previous years – on average, there have been two additions per year during 2014-2018. First a Willcock’s Honeyguide in Dindefelo nature reserve found by Nik Borrow and his group in January, then the discovery of a small group of Cuckoo Finches at Kagnout in Casamance, in February by Bruno Bargain, Gabriel Caucal and Adrien de Montaudouin. As predicted back in 2018, both Dindefelo and Casamance are obviously key areas for finding new birds in the country. Both species are known to occur in neighbouring countries so these additions are not too much of a surprise, and will likely show up again in Senegal in coming years. These “firsts” bring the total number of species confirmed to occur in Senegal to 674, with seven additional species listed as requiring confirmation. The full checklist as per IOC taxonomy (v.8.1) may be found here.

Anomalospize parasite - Kagnout 17 Feb 2019 - GabrielCaucal

Cuckoo Finch  / Anomalospize parasite, Kagnout (B. Bargain)

 

Next up, the usual lot of vagrants: from North America, the now annual American Golden Plovers (Palmarin in April, and Yene in December), the country’s fourth Pectoral Sandpiper at Lac Mbeubeusse on 5.10, and a Lesser Yellowlegs wintering at Technopole – apparently the longest stay recorded in Africa (at least 71 days!), and most likely the same bird seen several years in a row now.  Two Laughing Gulls that were present at Technopole in April-May – an adult in breeding plumage and a first-summer bird – were the 6th and 7th records; the immature was also seen at Ngor on 22.5. Also at Technopole were at least two different Franklin’s Gulls, one in January and two in April-May including an adult displaying to other gulls. A Lesser Jacana was found by Vieux Ngom on 16.3 on the Lampsar, while a Spotted Creeper on 17.12 at Kamobeul (Ziguinchor) was another rarely recorded Afro-tropical vagrant. And finally from Europe, a Little Gull – possibly not a true vagrant but rather a very scarce winter visitor – was seen on 8.3 at Ngor, and a European Golden Plover was at Saloulou island (Casamance) on 25.2.

 

Scarce migrants included a few species of ducks that are rarely reported from Senegal, starting with these three Gadwalls found by Simon Cavaillès at Technopole in January, which were probably the same birds as those seen in December 2018 in The Gambia. A Eurasian Wigeon was present at the same time; while the latter is regular in the Djoudj, both ducks were apparently seen for the first time in the Dakar region.

gadwall_technopole_20190124_img_2210

Gadwall / Canard chipeau, Technopole, Jan. 2019 (BP)

 

Almost a year later this pair of Ferruginous Ducks on a small dam at Pointe Sarène near Mbour on 24.12 were a real surprise in this location. Apparently they didn’t stick around: earlier today (19.1.20) I had the chance to visit the dam again but no sign of our two Palearctic ducks…

FerruginousDuck_Mbodiene_20191224_IMG_5601 (2)

Ferruginous Duck / Fuligule nyroca, Mbodiene, Dec. 2019 (BP)

 

An African Crake found by Miguel Lecoq in a dry river bed at Popenguine NR on 12.7 was highly unusual. The two Short-eared Owls at Technopole in January (with one still here on 11.2) were possibly returning birds from the 2017-18 influx as they roosted in exactly the same location; another bird was found in the Djoudj on 26.12 by Vieux and Frank Rheindt. Perhaps more unexpected was a Marsh Owl that was actively migrating at Ngor on 8.10, coming from the north out at sea, but even more spectacular was the discovery of an Egyptian Nightjar by Frédéric Bacuez on his local patch at Trois-Marigots, on 23.10 (an early date and first in this location); in the Djoudj NP, a somewhat classic location for the species, three birds were seen several times from 23.11 up to mid December at least.

DSC_2991 - Egyptian Nightjar Trois Marigots 20191023- F Bacuez - small

Egyptian Nightjar / Engoulevent du désert, Trois-Marigots, Oct. 2019 (F. Bacuez)

 

A few Red-footed Boobies were again seen at Ngor: an adult on 3.7 and likely the same bird again on 22.7, then daily from 9-12.8 (with two here on 17.8), and again an imm. seen twice in November. These are the 5th to 7th records, a remarkable presence given that the first record was in October 2016 only! As usual, several Brown Boobies were seen as well but we didn’t get the chance to properly check on the birds at Iles de la Madeleine this past year. Other scarce seabirds seen from Ngor were a Balearic Shearwater (18.11), a Bulwer’s Petrel (5.12), several Leach’s Storm-Petrels (11 & 13.11), and some 30 Barolo’s/Boyd’s Shearwaters that passed through in August and September. A Baltic Gull (fuscus Lesser Black-backed Gull) at Technopole 27.1 was our first record here.

Quite a few birds were reported for the first time from Casamance by Bruno and friends, and several resident forest species that had not been seen in many years were “rediscovered” this past year, such as Black-shouldered Nightjar, Black Sparrowhawk, White-throated and Slender-billed Greenbuls, Flappet Lark, Red-faced and Dorst’s Cisticolas – the online Casamance atlast can be found here. Several Senegal Lapwings were again seen towards the end of the rains, and a Forbes’s Plover at Kagnout on 17.2 was definitely a good record as the species had previously been reported only on a few occasions from the Niokolo-Koba NP.

ForbesPlover - Casamance - Bargain - DSC05592 (Copier)

Forbes’s Plover / Pluvier de Forbes, Kagnout, Feb. 2019 (B. Bargain)

 

A Brown-throated (= Plain) Martin feeding over the lagoon at Technopole on 28.4 was a first for Dakar; this species is rarely seen in Senegal it seems. A few Moltoni’s Warblers were reported in autumn including at least one on 20.10 at Mboro, where Miguel also noted several northward range extensions such as Fine-spotted Woodpecker, Grey Kestrel, Splendid Sunbird, and Orange-cheeked Waxbill. The observation of two Mottled Spinetails some 15km south of Potou (Louga region) is the northernmost so far and seems to confirm the presence in this part of the country, following one in the same region in January 2018. A pair of Little Grey Woodpeckers at Lompoul and the discovery of Cricket Warbler in the Gossas area (Diourbel) are also noteworthy as they are just outside known distribution ranges for these two Sahelian species. More significant is the observation of a Long-billed Pipit on the Dande plateau near Dindefelo on 9.2, as this is the first record away from the Djoudj area, raising the possibility that the species is breeding in the vicinity.

Additional good records for the Dakar region included a White-throated Bee-eater on 12.8, a Red-breasted Swallow near Diamniadio on 11.10 and Grasshopper Warblers  at Yene lagoon on 8 & 15.12, as well as at Lac Tanma (Thiès region) on 27.10 – and more surprisingly, one was found aboard a sail boat some “400 Miles South West Of Dakar” on 13.9. Last year we documented oversummering of Yellow-legged and Mediterranean Gulls on the peninsula.

We also continued our modest efforts to survey breeding Black-winged Stilts at several sites in Dakar, Ziguinchor and Saint-Louis; the findings of these should be formally published later this year. The Horus Swift colony was visited on several occasions (Jan.-March and Nov.-Dec.) with further evidence of breeding. A pair of Tawny Eagles at their nest site on a high tension pylon near Ndioum, where they are known since at least 2015, were seen again in December by Frédéric and Jérémy. Yellow-throated Longclaw was found to be breeding at lac Mbeubeusse and probably at lac Rose as well: more on the species in this post.

YellowthroatedLongclaw_LacRose_20190629_IMG_4250

Yellow-throated Longclaw / Sentinelle à gorge jaune, lac Rose, June 2019 (BP)

 

In July we found several additional pairs of Turati’s Boubou right on the border with Guinea-Bissau, a bit further to the south of the site where Bruno initially found the species, in October 2018 near Ziguinchor. Also in Casamance, breeding was confirmed for Common Buttonquail, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, and a whole range of other species.

Another noteworthy record is that of a group of 113 Eurasian Griffons in the Djoudj NP on 2.11 – apparently the largest flock ever recorded in Senegal! This surely reflects the general increase in numbers of what used to be a rather scarce species it seems – read up more on the status of this vulture in Senegal in this post on Ornithondar.

EurasianGriffon_Djoudj_20191102_IMG_4893

Eurasian Griffon / Vautour fauve, Djoudj NP, Nov. 2019 (BP)

 

As usual, a few interesting ring recoveries were obtained, including several returning birds, providing further evidence for site fidelity and local movements between key sites for e.g. Black-tailed Godwits and Ospreys of course, but also for a Eurasian Spoonbill from Spain – more on this in a future post. Gull-billed Tern from the Neufelderkoog colony in northern Germany was also a good recovery, just like the many Sandwich Terns that we managed to read at Technopole in April-May with birds originating from Ireland, the UK, the Netherlands and Italy! Also of note were a French Black-headed Gull, the first colour-ringed Greenshank and wing-tagged Marsh Harrier in our ever-growing database, and last but not least the first recovery of a Croatian-ringed bird in Senegal, an Audouin’s Gull seen at three sites in Dakar in January and February.

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Audouin’s Gull / Goéland d’Audouin “A5”, Technopole, Feb. 2019 (BP)

 

During 2019 I was fortunate to continue our regular coverage of Technopole but also for the third consecutive year of seabird migration at Ngor, and managed a few trips further afield: the northern Saloum delta (Simal, Palmarin), three trips to Casamance (January, May, July), the Petite Côte (at long last explored the lagoons at Mbodiene!), the Langue de Barbarie and Trois-Marigots in April, the Djoudj and other parts of the lower Senegal valley (November), and finally Toubacouta in December. Oh and a memorable day trip on a successful quest for the enigmatic Quail-Plover!

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Quail-Plover / Turnix à ailes blanches (BP)

 

Other blog posts this past year covered the status and distribution (and a bit of identification!) of Seebohm’s Wheatear, Iberian Chiffchaff, and Western Square-tailed Drongo.

SeebohmsWheatear_GamadjiSare_20180105_IMG_8288

Seebohm’s Wheatear / Traquet de Seebohm, 1st winter male (BP)

 

Another series focused on recent ornithological publications relevant for Senegal, in three parts. I’m not sure how I managed but in the end I was involved in quite a few articles published in 2019: the autumn migration of seabirds at Ngor and the status of Iberian Chiffchaff in West Africa (the latter with Paul Isenmann and Stuart Sharp) in Alauda, the first records of Eurasian Collared Dove and of Turati’s Boubou in Senegal (the latter with Bruno Bargain) published in Malimbus, and finally two papers in the Bulletin of the African Bird Club: a short piece on the hybrid shrike from lac Tanma in 2017 (with Gabriel Caucanas), and a review of the status of the Short-eared Owl in West Africa, following the influx during winter 2017/18.

 

Many thanks to all visiting and (semi-)resident birders who shared their observations through eBird or other channels, particularly Miguel, Frédéric and Bruno. The above review is of course incomplete and probably a bit biased towards the Dakar region: any additions are more than welcome and will be incorporated!

 

 

Seawatching Ngor – October & November 2019

We’re entering the final stretch of this year’s seawatch season, but before we wrap things up in a few weeks, it’s time for a quick overview of October and November. As for August and September, below is a comparison of the 2019 counts with those from the previous two years. Even if observer effort and coverage were quite different in those three years, it’s clear that there are important variations from year to year, both in terms of phenology and in terms of abundance of many of the seabirds that migrate past the Dakar peninsula. Prevailing weather conditions, and in particular dominant wind direction (and wind force), of course have a strong influence on the intensity of visible seabird migration, though other factors are also at play for certain species. Annual variations in breeding success of skuas are well documented and probably explain some of the annual differences that we see here in Dakar.

CalaoSeawatch_20191110

Essential seawatch equipment!

 

This year’s coverage was again pretty good for October (28 sessions on 24 days, similar to Oct. 2017) but less so for November (15 sessions on 12 days), though we did manage to do longer counts during both months, especially in November. But let’s start with October:

Species

2019

2018

2017

Cory’s/Scopoli’s Shearwater

86

0

232

Sooty Shearwater

631

1,035

2,534

Manx Shearwater

20

8

29

Shearwater sp.

24

4

22

Wilson’s Storm-Petrel

0

0 96

Northern Gannet

3 2

1

Brown Booby

0

1 0
Oystercatcher

24

20 18

Common Ringed Plover

2 0

5

Whimbrel

32 4

8

Bar-tailed Godwit

8

0 10
Turnstone

6

0 0
Ruff

0

0 12
Dunlin

0

0

2

Sanderling

16

6

0

Little Stint

6

0 0

Common Sandpiper

4 0

0

Greenshank

0 0

1

Common Redshank

3 5

0

Grey (Red) Phalarope

12

0 78

Audouin’s Gull

77 21

55

Lesser Black-backed Gull

3

18 2
Yellow-legged Gull

1

0

0

Large gull sp.

8 0

7

Slender-billed Gull

6

1 4

Grey-headed Gull

2 0

0

Sabine’s Gull

1,081

178 2,970

Arctic/Common Tern

3,768 1,094

4,296

Roseate Tern

6

14 54
Little Tern

65

7

78

Sandwich Tern

2,479

905 1,313

Lesser Crested Tern

299 113

150

African Royal Tern

457

198 57
Caspian Tern

22

20

9

Black Tern

1,059 333

2,735

Whiskered Tern

1

0 1

Bridled Tern

1 0

0

Bridled/Sooty Tern

1

0 0

Great/South Polar Skua

60 11

66

Pomarine Skua

763

85 1436

Arctic Skua

486 198

339

Long-tailed Skua

47

21 32

Skua sp.

476 182

1138

Total birds

12,045 4,484 17,880

Number of days

24

10

26

Number of hours

37h30′ 19h00′

28h20′

 

October was relatively quiet compared to previous years, mostly because conditions were not so favourable during the last 10 days of the month, hitting an absolute low on Oct. 31st when only 68 birds were counted in one hour… With hardly any wind, far fewer Sooty Shearwaters and Pomarine Skuas than usual were noted (Puffin fuligineux, Labbe pomarin). Most terns however were more numerous, possibly due to a later passage than in previous years, particularly for African Royal, Lesser Crested and Sandwich Terns (Sternes royales, voyageuses, caugeks). With just over 1,000 birds, the passage of Sabine’s Gull was fairly average though still very enjoyable on two days: 220 in 2h45’ on Oct. 12, and 315 in 3h20’ on Oct. 17 (Mouette de Sabine). Among the rarer species, an ad. Bridled Tern was seen on Oct. 12 (+ a distant Bridled or Sooty on Oct. 8; Sterne bridée).

Long-tailed - Pomarine Skua - DSC_2305 - B Mast

Pomarine & Long-tailed Skuas, off Ngor, Oct. 2018 (Bruce Mast)

 

November was a different story: with a fairly similar number of hours spent counting birds from the Calao terrace, almost double the number of birds were counted than in 2017. A much stronger passage was noted for many species: Cory’s/Scopoli’s Shearwaters (56,438 birds counted: almost twice the 2017 number and triple that of 2018!), Great Shearwaters, Sooty Shearwaters, Northern Gannets, and Pomarine & Arctic Skuas (Puffin cendré / de Scopoli, Puffin majeur, fuligineux, Fou de Bassan, Labbes pomarins et arctiques). Because we were present on less days but spent more time per session, it’s hard to compare with previous years, though it’s clear that at least some of these species were more numerous, such as the Gannets that passed through en masse from the 10th onward (max. 1,223 birds in 90’ on Nov. 20!), which is far earlier than in previous years when peaks were noted from the end of the month and in December. The higher number of skuas and Sooty Shearwaters are also at least in part explained by the later passage, properly starting only around November 10th rather than in the last week of October. Only one Long-tailed Skua was identified during this period, at the very start of the month, bringing this season’s total to 489 birds.

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Scopoli’s Shearwater, off Ngor, April 2017

 

The peak passage of Cory’s/Scopoli’s Shearwaters took place during Nov. 10-16, with up to 4,020 birds passing through per hour during the morning of the 10th. While slightly less intense in previous years, the highly concentrated passage took place almost exactly during the same period. It’s really remarkable how this species pair is completely absent up to the very last week of October: the first 45 birds were seen on Oct. 28th with just a handful in subsequent days, then 638 in 1h15’ on Nov. 4th and 215 in 1h45’ the following day, then literally exploding just a few days later (unfortunately no observations were made during Nov. 6-9). Our counters nearly overheated, thumbs hurting! In comparison, the migration pattern of Sooty Shearwater for instance is very different, showing a very long and diffuse migration season (end August – mid December) without a clearly defined peak.

Corys-ScopolisShearwater_2019_daily_chart

Daily average number of Cory’s & Scopoli’s Shearwater per hour (2019). The dotted lines and grey markers indicate extrapolated data; red markers are based on actual counts

 

Besides this really impressive flow of the shearwaters, the highlights in November were our first (ever!) Leach’s Storm Petrels (Océanite cul-blanc), the good number of Great Shearwaters of course – confirming that quite a few pass through Senegalese waters at this time of the year – a fine Balearic Shearwater (Nov. 18; Puffin des Baléares), and an imm. Red-footed Booby seen twice flying past the Calao (Fou à pieds rouges). Another big surprise and clearly one of my highlights was a huge Killer Whale (Orque) swimming past at mid-range, apparently heading SW – not my first here at Ngor, but this one was really impressive, nicely showing its massive dorsal fin.

November summary:

Species

2019

2018

2017

Cory’s/Scopoli’s Shearwater 56,438 18,593 30,836
Great Shearwater 125 32 0
Sooty Shearwater 1,174 573 526
Balearic Shearwater 1 0 0
Manx Shearwater 5 4 1
Shearwater sp. 16 31 2
European Storm-Petrel 0 0 1
Leach’s Storm-Petrel 3 0 0
Storm-Petrel sp. 10 0 0
Northern Gannet 3,896 1,239 60
Brown Booby 0 2 3
Red-footed Booby 1 1 0
Oystercatcher 0 0 2
Common Ringed Plover 0 0 1
Grey Plover 1 0 0
Whimbrel 9 4 0
Bar-tailed Godwit 5 0 0
Grey Phalarope 1 0 26
Audouin’s Gull 255 514 40
Lesser Black-backed Gull 37 2 17
Yellow-legged Gull 3 0 0
Large gull sp. 47 0 5
Slender-billed Gull 10 1 1
Sabine’s Gull 144 13 226
Arctic/Common Tern 1,272 836 764
Little Tern 14 14 1
Sandwich Tern 313 105 178
Lesser Crested Tern 2 7 18
African Royal Tern 19 9 2
Caspian Tern 3 1 2
Black Tern 29 3 321
Catharacta Skua sp. 32 23 5
Pomarine Skua 2,917 2,144 1,819
Arctic Skua 149 66 76
Long-tailed Skua 1 1 9
Skua sp. 149 60 313
Total birds 63,833 21,984 33,033
Total days 12 21 20
Number of hours 33h 30h30′ 28h

 

November 11th clearly was one of our most memorable Seawatch sessions ever: in just 3 hours, we counted an impressive 12,492 birds belonging to 23 species, a remarkable diversity at this time of the year: check out our eBird checklist here!

Once again, needless to say that Dakar clearly ranks as one of the top seawatch spots in the world!

 

 

Seawatching Ngor – September 2019

I count myself extremely lucky to live just a few minutes away from what must surely be one of the best seawatch sites in the world. What other capital can compete with Dakar on that front? It does make it hard not to go out there every day, especially at this time of the year when so many migrants can be seen from this privileged spot. And I’m fortunate to have a very flexible work schedule that allows me to spend an hour or so counting seabirds before heading to the office! I’m obviously spending too much time at the Calao at the moment… but then again it’s always better being out birding in the field than sitting behind a desk (especially when The Field is a comfortable terrace, sat under a sun umbrella with a cup of decent coffee).

Anyway, time for the September numbers:

  • 25 days
  • 38 hours
  • 20,109 birds belonging to 36 species counted (total so far: 27,303 birds!)

This is a much better coverage than in previous years, and as a result the number of birds counted is higher for most species; Lesser Crested Tern is the main exception due to a later than usual passage, which only started properly at the very end of the month, picking up rapidly during the first few days of October (Sterne voyageuse).

As usual, here some of the highlights: good numbers of Manx Shearwater (also two possible Balearics… unfortunately too distant and poorly seen), and several Macaronesian Shearwaters including at least one that seemed right for Boyd’s (Puffins des Anglais et de Macaronésie). Sooty Shearwater passage was clearly more intense, or at least more visible, than last year, probably because of more favourable winds (Puffin fuligineux).

Numerous terns were counted of course, with the four most common species – Common & Arctic, Sandwich, Black Terns – accounting for nearly 90% of the twenty thousand birds counted this month (Sternes pierregarin et arctique, caugeks, Guifette noire). Roseates continued to pass through almost daily, up to 12 BPH (that’s birds per hour!), and so did Little Tern: with 304 birds in September, far more were seen than in previous years (and the passage continues: on 5.10 a total of 31 birds were seen in one hour, including a flock of 22) (Sternes de Dougall et naine). A Bridled Tern on the 4th is so far the only one of the season (Sterne bridée).

sandwichtern_ngor_20160925_img_5344_edited

Sandwich Tern / Sterne caugek, Ngor, Oct. 2016

 

September is also peak month for Sandwich Tern (Sterne caugek), which passes through daily in double or even triple digits (that’s BPH). The peak at the end of the month is clearly visible on this chart combining 2017 and 2018 data:

SandwichTern-Ngor_2017-18_chart

Hourly average number of Sandwich Terns per decad, 2017 & 2018

 

Now for some slightly more advanced data viz’ fun: I tried to find a clever way of visualising the intensity of bird migration at Ngor alongside wind speed and wind direction. The chart below shows average “BPH” per day as histograms (primary axis: number of birds) and wind speed as the dotted line (secondary axis: knots), while the colour represents the wind direction: dark green for WNW to N winds, pale green for SW to W winds, and orange for SSW to ENE. One would expect the highest number of birds during the favourable winds, i.e. higher wind speed from a WNW to N direction, and less so on days with little wind and/or with winds coming from the “wrong” side. That does seem to be the case on most days, but not always… though in general it’s fair to say that days with stronger NW winds usually see the highest number of birds, and also a higher diversity of species. Shearwaters, skuas, Sabine’s Gulls and most terns are largely influenced by these conditions, which can rapidly change from day to day or even within the same day. A good site to check out wind forecasts is Windguru.

BPH-Wind_Chart_September2019.JPG

Disclaimer: nothing scientific here, just fooling around with Excel!

 

Arctic Skuas continued to pass through on a daily basis, and Long-tailed Skuas were seen on 13 dates, mainly at the start and at the end of the month, with a max. of 61 birds in 2h15′ on the 4th (Labbes arctique et à longue queue). The four Catharacta skuas were seen in the last week of the month but as usual could not be identified down to species level (Great or South Polar Skua, Grand Labbe/Labbe de McCormick).

A usual, waders were fairly well represented this month: Whimbrel and Oystercatcher remain the most frequent migrants and thanks to the regular rains this autumn there has been a good diversity of waders in general, including my first Grey Plovers here and regular sightings of migrating Turnstones (Courlis corlieu, Huîtrier pie, Pluvier argenté, Tournepierre). Red Phalaropes were seen on five occasions in relatively modest numbers (Phalarope à bec large).

Oystercatcher_Ngor_20170930_IMG_4931

Oystercatcher / Huîtrier pie, Ngor, Oct. 2017

 

Table with September totals for 2019, 2018 and 2017:

Species

2019

2018

2017

Cory’s/Scopoli’s Shearwater 2 0 0
Sooty Shearwater 271 87 393
Balearic Shearwater 0 0 1
Manx Shearwater 98 6 60
Boyd’s/Barolo Shearwater 9 16 1
Shearwater sp. 51 22 34
Storm-Petrel sp. 1 0 0
Northern Gannet 0 1 1
Brown Booby 0 4 3
Oystercatcher 51 20 16
Whimbrel 211 75 78
Eurasian Curlew 0 0 2
Bar-tailed Godwit 4 1 8
Grey Plover 2 0 0
Common Ringed Plover 0 2 0
Turnstone 33 2 0
Dunlin 0 0 40
Sanderling 12 0 25
Little Stint 1 0 0
Common Sandpiper 1 0 0
Greenshank 1 0 0
Common Redshank 3 1 1
Grey (Red) Phalarope 163 133 1
Audouin’s Gull 21 1 3
Lesser Black-backed Gull 1 15 1
Kelp Gull 1 0 0
Large gull sp. 1 5 0
Slender-billed Gull 6 1 1
Grey-headed Gull 0 1 2
Sabine’s Gull 95 43 123
Arctic/Common Tern 11,161 4,100 4,500
Roseate Tern 144 89 35
Little Tern 304 57 76
Sandwich Tern 2,425 2,080 1,928
Lesser Crested Tern 61 147 95
African Royal Tern 295 305 219
Caspian Tern 10 13 19
Black Tern 3,870 2,187 2,342
Sooty Tern 0 1 0
Bridled Tern 1 0 0
Great/South Polar Skua 4 1 2
Pomarine Skua 13 5 35
Arctic Skua 400 172 142
Long-tailed Skua 215 265 59
Skua sp. 167 64 226
Total birds 20,109 9,922 10,472
Number of days 25 17 15
Number of hours 38h35′ 24h50′ 20h30′

 

In addition to the seabirds, as usual a few other species were noted on active migration: a Purple Heron on 10.9 and more surprisingly two Squacco Herons the next day coming from out at sea. Common Swifts were spotted on at least three occasions (max. 66 on 11.09, migrating low over the ocean), while a Hoopoe was seen on 8.9 and a Sand Martin on 12.9 (Heron pourpré, Crabier, Martinet noir, Huppe fasciée, Hirondelle de rivage). What appeared to be a juv. Barbary Falcon was seen several times from 4 – 12 Sept., with a Peregrine also here on 9th (Faucons de Barbarie et Pèlerin). This provided for some action as both birds were regularly seen hunting pigeons and other birds; on the 6th it was a juv. Common Cuckoo (or at least I assumed it to be this species and not African Cuckoo) which was seen coming on land from Ngor island or islet, chased by the Barbary Falcon only to disappear into the Calao gardens and never to be found again… (Coucou gris).

PurpleHeron_Ngor_20170924_IMG_4800

Migrating Purple Heron / Héron pourpré en migration, Ngor, Sept. 2017

 

That’s all for now – let’s see what October brings (Pomarine Skuas! Sooty Shearwaters! Sabine’s Gulls!). Conditions are expected to be good in the next few days.

The August report can be found in this post.

 

 

 

Seawatching Ngor – August 2019

An update on this autumn’s seabird migration at Ngor is long overdue, so here we set off the season’s summary with the month of August. I managed to count migrants during 18 hours spread out over 16 sessions, starting with the first on August 9th, straight after coming back to Dakar from a short break Up North. As usual I tried to do relatively brief sessions (usually about an hour) as often as possible, typically early morning about an hour after sunrise. And always from the Club Calao terrace, of course.

Calao_20190831_IMG_4524

View from the Calao terrace, 31 August 2019

 

With some 7,100 birds counted, numbers passing through during August were about average in comparison with previous years. The few highlights so far were a Great Shearwater (Puffin majeur) flying SW on the 10th which I believe is the first August record, more than usual ‘Macaronesian’ Shearwaters (=Boyd’s or Barolo, Puffin “de Macaronésie”) with no less than 21 birds spread out fairly evenly throughout the period, and again a decent amount of Long-tailed Skuas (Labbe à longue queue). So far, 226 of these elegant pelagic skuas passed through, compared to 213 in August 2018; last year a record 500 were logged during the entire season. Top day was the 20th when I counted a very honorable 84 birds in just one hour, surprisingly during modest NNW wind – always impressive seeing loose flocks of up to 15-20 birds, usually including several adults. None were seen the following two days but during 24-26th there were 89 in 4h35′. Last year the peak passage was during the first decad of September when no less than 217 were counted in just 75′ on 2.9.18, so it’s possible that quite a few more Long-tails will pass through in coming weeks, though this will in part depend on wind conditions: moderate to strong winds from W to NW are usually required to see this species in double or even triple digits (in 2017, hardly any were seen, as shown in the chart below where the dashed line is 2017 and the dotted line 2018; solid line is hourly average per decad).

LTS_Ngor_Chart2017-18

 

Other pelagics included early Sooty Shearwaters (Puffin fuligineux) with seven birds during 24-26 August, and three Sabine’s Gulls (Mouette de Sabine) on the 20th. September and October should see many more of these two species! In contrast with last year when more than a thousand birds were seen in August when conditions were good for this species, just three Red Phalaropes (Phalarope à bec large) were detected this past month, though I had the first small flock this morning Sept. 1st, about 15 towards the SW and one coming in from the N and landing at sea. Of course many must have passed through these past few weeks, just too far off-shore for them to be seen from the coast.

Red Phalarope - DSC_2276 - B Mast

Typical view of a migrating Red Phalarope, low over the waves… Off Ngor, Oct. 2018 (Bruce Mast)

 

What was most likely the same Red-footed Booby (Fou à pieds rouges) was seen daily from 9th-12th, usually flying past at close range and sometimes feeding just behind the surf, with two birds together on Aug. 17th. I also twice saw one in July so it’s quite possible that at least one of these two immatures – both dark morph, as all others seen so far – oversummered around the peninsula.

As usual, the most frequently seen wader was Whimbrel, with just a handful of Oystercatchers and Bar-tailed Godwits each (Courlis corlieu, Huîtrier pie, Barge rousse). The lower number of waders compared to the past few years is probably due to the late arrival of the rains and a four-day gap in my presence during the last week of the month (waders tend to be seen mostly during and just after spells of rain here).

Whimbrel_Ngor_20170930_IMG_4932

Whimbrel / Courlis corlieu, Ngor, Oct. 2017 (BP)

 

The table below lists all species with totals for the month, with 2017 and 2018 numbers to compare with. Note that the vast majority of the ‘Comic’ Terns were Arctic, and the higher number of Roseate Terns is possibly explained by the fact that I may feel more confident identifying these birds (Sterne arctique/pierregarin, Sterne de Dougall). Oftentimes, Roseates are migrating 2-3 birds together, usually mixed in with Arctic Terns.

 

Species

2019

2018

2017

Wilson’s Storm-Petrel 0 157 0
Cape Verde Shearwater 0 100 1
Great Shearwater 1 0 0
Sooty Shearwater 7 0 0
Boyd’s/Barolo Shearwater 21 3 0
Shearwater sp. 3 6 4
Red-footed Booby 2 0 0
Oystercatcher 8 8 6
Whimbrel 127 340 437
Bar-tailed Godwit 6 1 49
Turnstone 0 4 13
Red Knot 0 28 0
Ruff 0 1 5
Sanderling 0 0 16
Curlew Sandpiper 0 0 4
Little Stint 0 0 4
Grey (Red) Phalarope 3 1,123 0
Common Sandpiper 0 7 1
Common Redshank 1 1 1
Audouin’s Gull 7 0 0
Lesser Black-backed Gull 0 0 1
Yellow-legged Gull 0 1 0
Large gull sp. (prob. Kelp Gull) 1 0 2
Slender-billed Gull 1 0 1
Sabine’s Gull 3 12 6
Arctic/Common Tern 3,878 4,500 1,399
Roseate Tern 56 44 10
Little Tern 23 56 28
Sandwich Tern 462 343 463
Lesser Crested Tern 4 40 41
African Royal Tern 342 585 166
Caspian Tern 10 14 1
White-winged Tern 0 1 0
Black Tern 1,803 2,160 774
Bridled Tern 0 4 0
Catharacta Skua sp. 0 0 1
Pomarine Skua 3 1 2
Arctic Skua 59 94 24
Long-tailed Skua 226 213 25
Skua sp. 46 18 17
Total birds 7,103 9,865 3,502
Number of days 16 22 13
Number of hours 18h05′ 26h20′ 17h05′

 

Meanwhile at Technopole, the lagoons are finally starting to fill up again now that we’ve had a few decent showers, though a lot more will be needed to ensure that the site remains wet all through the dry season. There’s a good diversity of waders again and breeding activity is at its peak for many of the local species. Striated Heron for instance is now very visible, and last Sunday I saw a pair feeding a recently fledged young at the base of one of the Avicennia stands on the main lagoon, while Spur-winged Lapwing juveniles are all about, Zitting Cisticolas are busy tending their nest, and this morning a small flock of juvenile Bronze Mannikins was seen (Héron strié, Vanneau éperonné, Cisticole des joncs, Capucin nonnette).

Several wader species are starting to pass through again, such as Common Ringed Plover, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper and Marsh Sandpiper (Grand Gravelot, Bécasseau minute, Bécasseau cocorli, Chevalier stagnatile). It’s also peak season for Ruff, with a very modest max. so far of 148 counted this morning (Combattant varié).

On the gulls & terns front, a Mediterranean Gull was still around on 18 & 25.8, probably one of the two immatures that were seen in May-July and apparently completing its summer stay here (these are the first summer records for the species in Senegal), while the first juvenile Audouin’s Gulls of the year were also seen last Sunday, Aug. 25th (Mouette mélanocéphale, Goéland d’Audouin, . This morning a White-winged Tern was of note, as were 24 Little Terns resting with the other terns or feeding above the main lake (Guifette leucoptère, Sterne naine). Three Orange-breasted Waxbills and three Long-tailed Nightjars on 11.08 were far less expected (Bengali zebré, Engoulevent à longue queue).

This morning’s eBird checklist has all the details.

 

CommonRedshank-Ruff_Technopole_20190901_IMG_4541

Redshank & Ruff / Chevalier gambette & Combattant

CurlewSandpiper_Technopole_20190901_IMG_4560

Curlew Sandpiper / Bécasseau cocorli juv.

 

 

 

Petite revue de la bibliographie ornithologique sénégalaise, 2016-2019 (Troisième partie)

Cette troisième et dernière partie de notre petite série sur la littérature ornithologique sénégalaise concerne la documentation des divers ajouts à l’avifaune du pays. Les publications qui suivent décrivent donc les « premières » pour le pays, par ordre chronologique de publication.

Ces articles ont été publiés dans l’un ou l’autre des deux revues de prédilection pour ce type de notes, soit le Bulletin de l’African Bird Club et Malimbus de la Socété d’ornithologie de l’Ouest africain (à laquelle, en passant, chaque ornitho qui s’interésse à l’avifaune du Sénégal ou de manière plus large de l’Afrique de l’Ouest devrait adhérer!).

20190814_193312-1

 

Pour une liste complète des nouvelles espèces de ces douze dernières années, voir ce billet; voir aussi les parties I et II de notre revue bibliographique.

 

  • Première mention du Merle obscur pour le Sénégal: Benjumea & Pérez 2016. First record of Eyebrowed Thrush Turdus obscurus for Senegal and sub-Saharan Africa. Bull. ABC 23: 215-216.

Découverte fortuite incroyable, le 10/12/15 dans un jardin d’hôtel, par deux ornithos espagnols en marge d’une de leurs missions d’étude dans le PN de la Langue de Barbarie. Il s’agit de la deuxième mention de cette espèce sibérienne sur le continent africain, alors qu’elle hiverne normalement en Asie du sud-est, la première provenant de Merzouga au Maroc en décembre 2008. Comme quoi presque n’importe quel migrateur à longue distance d’origine paléarctique peut se retrouver égaré dans nos contrées… et comme quoi, ça sert de toujours avoir un appareil photo à portée de main!

 

  • Delannoy 2016. Les premières observations de l’Alouette à queue rousse Pinarocorys erythropygia au Sénégal. Malimbus 38: 80-82.

La première observation documentée de cette alouette peu connue a été faite dans le Boundou du 10 au 12 novembre 2015, suivant deux observations antérieures non encore publiées formellement, toutes deux du Niokolo-Koba: la première en février 1985, la deuxième en novembre 1992.

C’est donc une alouette à rechercher en hiver dans le sud-est du pays, mais son apparition est probablement très aléatoire, étant une espèce à caractère erratique qui se trouve ici tout à fait en limite de son aire “hivernale” régulière. Elle fréquente les savanes arborées ouvertes tout comme des zones cultivées, affectionnant particulièrement des zones récemment brûlées.

 

  • Première observation de la Bergeronnette à longue queue au Sénégal: Pacheco, Ruiz de Azua & Fernández-García 2017. First record of Mountain Wagtail Motacilla clara for Senegal. Bull. ABC 24: 88-89.

Cette mention de Dindéfélo en mars 2015 reste pour le moment la seule pour le pays, bien qu’il soit possible que cette bergeronnette soit un visiteur non-nicheur plus ou moins régulier dans l’extrême sud-est du pays, dans les contreforts du Fouta-Djallon. A rechercher aux abords du fleuve Gambie et des ruisseaux de vallons autour de Kédougou.

 

  • Observations remarquables du Sénégal, dont la première de l’Engoulevent pointillé: Blanc et al. 2018. Noteworthy records from Senegal, including the first Freckled Nightjar Caprimulgus tristigma. Bull. ABC 25: 58-61.

En plus de la description des observations de l’engoulevent, espèce maintenant considérée comme résidente à Dindéfélo et sans doute dans des milieux similaires dans les environs, les auteurs rapportent des données nouvelles concernant l’Engoulevent doré (dans le Khelkom), à Dindéfélo le Drongo occidental (encore le Drongo de Ludwig à l’époque, auparavant connu uniquement de la Casamance), le Traquet de Heuglin (nicheur sur le plateau de Dande) ainsi que le très discret Sénégali à ventre noir, et enfin le Bihoreau à dos blanc et le Martin-pêcheur azuré au bord du fleuve Gambie à Mako. Ces deux derniers sont depuis plusieurs années assez régulièrement observés dans cette région, notamment autour de Wassadou.

Avec l’espèce précédente, le Trogon narina et deux indicateurs différents, Dindefelo détient clairement la palme en tant que hotspot pour la découverte de nouvelles espèces pour le pays.

 

  • Première donnée du Fou à pieds rouges au Sénégal: Moran et al. First record of Red-footed Booby Sula sula for Senegal. Bull. ABC 25: 213-215.

Le 19/10/16, un Fou à pieds rouges immature a été photographié à environ 10 milles marins au nord de Dakar, lors d’une sortie en mer en marge du PAOC, observation que nous avions déjà rapportée ici. Depuis, pas moins de quatre mentions supplémentaires sont connues, toutes autour de la presqu’île du Cap-Vert: un oiseau en janvier 2018 au PNIM, puis trois fois à Ngor en 2018-2019 dont quelques oiseaux ayant stationné pendant plusieurs semaines ou même mois (deux ind. en mai-juin 2018, un en novembre 2018, et un vu régulièrement en juin-août 2019 dont encore ce 12/8 comme les quatres jours précédents!).

Avec l’augmentation des effectifs aux Iles du Cap Vert on peut s’attendre à d’autres observations dans le futur.

RedfootedBooby_Dakar_20161016_BarendvanGemerden - 2

Red-footed Booby / Fou à pieds rouges, au large de Dakar, Oct. 2016 (B. van Gemerden)

 

  • Première observation d’une Frégate superbe pour le Sénégal: Piot & Lecoq 2018. First record of Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens for Senegal. Bull. ABC 25: 216-218.

Notre observation de fin avril 2017 reste pour le moment la seule confirmée pour le pays. Bien qu’il puisse s’agir d’une des deux dernières femelles des Îles du Cap-Vert (où l’espèce ne niche plus depuis 1999), une origine néotropicale semble plus probable. Le site de reproduction le plus proche de l’Afrique de l’Ouest est l’île de Fernando de Noronha, situé au nord-est du Brésil à environ 2’650 km de Dakar. D’autres données de frégates dans la sous-région concernent des observations en Gambie (Frégates superbes en 1965 et 1980, puis une frégate sp. en 2005) et au Ghana (Frégate aigle-de-mer F. aquila en 2010, espèce aussi notée aux iles du Cap-Vert en 2017 et donc également d’apparition possible dans les eaux sénégalaises). A quand la prochaine mention dans le pays?

MagnificentFrigatebird_IlesdelaMadeleine_20170429_IMG_1811

Magnificent Frigatebird / Frégate superbe f., PNIM, April 2016 (BP)

 

  • Première donnée du Pipit farlouse au Sénégal: Piot 2018. First record of Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis for Senegal. Malimbus 40: 67-69.

Le 1er janvier 2018, j’ai la chance de trouver un Pipit farlouse aux abords de la lagune de Yène sur la Petite Côte non loin de Dakar. Bien que l’identification ait été confirmée par les cris caractéristiques de l’espèce, plusieurs personnes semblent toujours douter de l’identité de cet oiseau, me disant qu’il s’agit plutôt d’un Pipit à gorge rousse… Le plumage assez contrasté de cet oiseau de permier hiver peut effectivement faire penser à cette espèce, mais d’autres critères et notamment l’absence de stries sur le croupion (visibles sur photo, comme celle-ci) permettent d’éliminer le Pipit à gorge rousse, tout comme le cri d’ailleurs qui est très différent. L’espèce étant connue du sud de la Mauritanie, l’apparition d’un Pipit farlouse égaré au Sénégal n’est pas bien étonnante.

MeadowPipit_Yene_20180101_IMG_7862 (2)

Meadow Pipit / Pipit farlouse, Yene, Jan. 2018 (BP)

 

En plus de ces sept publications, plusieurs autres sont sous presse ou sont sur le point d’être soumis et seront publiés dans les mois à venir : l’Indicateur de Wahlberg vu plusieurs fois en 2018 (Caucanas et al.), le Gonolek de Turati en 2018 (Bargain & Piot) et l’Anomalospize parasite en février 2019 (Bargain, Caucal & de Montaudouin) tous les deux découverts en Casamance, et enfin la Tourterelle turque en 2016 (BP).

Il y a aussi quelques premières obs encore non encore publiées formellement, notamment nos Martinets horus (rédaction prévue!) de l’an dernier et l’Indicateur de Willcocks de février dernier. Tout comme des mentions un peu moins récentes d’oiseaux qui pour le moment ont été observés une seule fois dans le pays (Epervier d’Europe, Milan royal, Grue cendréeBécasseau d’Alaska) mais dont je doute qu’une publication verra un jour le jour, bien malheureusement…

Quoiqu’il en soit, je vous tiens bien entendu au courant de la suite!

 

Je me permets de terminer en faisant un peu de pub pour une autre publication sur les oiseaux du Sénégal, dans un tout autre registre de celles qui précèdent mais toute aussi intéressante : un recit de voyage naturaliste sous forme de magazine auto-édité par mes amis Frédéric et Jérémy. Truffée de superbes photos, des textes riches en informations pertinentes et anecdotes diverses, c’est bien plus qu’un simple rapport de voyage, où chacun trouvera quelque chose à son goût. De Dakar au Djoudj en passant par les Trois-Marigots, le Gandiolais, et bien d’autres encore!

A decouvrir (et à commander) ici

20190816_180340-1

 

 

Petite revue de la bibliographie ornithologique sénégalaise, 2016-2019 (Deuxième partie)

Si les publications passées en revue dans la première partie étaient en grande partie issues d’études scientifiques menées par des chercheurs académiques, les articles présentés ici sont pour la plupart rédigés par des ornithologues de terrain et de passionnés d’oiseaux fréquentant régulièrement le pays ou qui, comme moi, ont la chance d’y résider et de pouvoir apporter des contributions, certes modestes, à nos connaissances de l’avifaune. Finalement il y aura encore une troisième partie, sinon cet article serait un peu trop long et risquerait de devenir un peu trop ennuyeux!

On s’intéresse ici donc essentiellement au statut et à la répartition des oiseaux du Sénégal, avec dans l’ordre taxonomique les publications suivantes, toujours pour la période 2016-2019:

  • Mortalité massive de Puffins majeurs le long de la côte de la Gambie en juin 2011, et observations récentes au Sénégal: Barlow, Piot & Fox 2018. Great Shearwater Ardenna gravis mass mortality in The Gambia in June 2011, recent observations from Senegal, and evidence for migration patterns. Malimbus 40: 10-20.

Au moins 103 Puffins majeurs sont trouvés rejetés sur 7 km de plages en Gambie en juin 2011, constituant les premières données de l’espèce pour ce pays. Les mesures biométriques à partir de 18 crânes sont présentées et nous résumons les observations publiées pour le Sénégal, la Mauritanie et les îles du Cap-Vert, tout en rapportant de nouvelles informations pour le Sénégal (issues de mes suivis de la migration devant Ngor!). Les mouvements de Puffins majeurs suivis par satellite depuis les sites de reproduction de l’Hémisphère Sud vers l’Atlantique Nord ainsi que leurs stratégies de nourrissage au cours de leur migration sont discutés. La faim est proposée comme cause probable de la mort des oiseaux échoués.

Nous avons également pu contribuer des données récentes obtenues à Ngor à deux autres articles récents traitant d’observations d’oiseaux de mer en Gambie, rédigés par nos collègues gambiens Clive Barlow et Geoff Dobbs :

  • Barlow 2017. First proof of Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus in The Gambia, May 2012. Malimbus 39: 56-58 [Première preuve pour le Puffin fuligineux en Gambie, en mai 2012]
  • Barlow & Dobbs 2019. New observations of five species of pelagic seabirds in The Gambia in early 2018, with information from previous years. Malimbus 41: 32-40 [Nouvelles observations de cinq espèces d’oiseaux de mer en janvier-février 2018 en Gambie].
GreatShearwater_Pelagic_20171115_IMG_5887

Great Shearwater / Puffin majeur, Ngor, Nov. 2017 (BP)

 

  • Le Grèbe castagneux, aujourd’hui une espèce reproductrice résidente en Gambie, avec une aire de reproduction au Sénégal étendue: Barlow, Piot & Bargain 2018. Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis now a breeding resident in The Gambia, with an expanded breeding range in Senegal. Malimbus 40: 47-54.

Nous rapportons ici l’historique du Grèbe castagneux en Gambie et au Sénégal, en fournissant des données nouvelles sur la reproduction et de nouveaux sites de nidification depuis 2001. L’utilisation de plans d’eau artificiels en tant que sites de nidification contribue à l’extension de la saison de reproduction ainsi que de l’aire de répartition dans cette région.

LittleGrebe_map_v4_labels_noOSM

Sites de nidification du Grèbe castagneux au Sénégal et en Gambie

 

  • Taille de la population et phénologie de reproduction du Phaéton à bec rouge aux Iles de la Madeleine: Diop et al. 2019. Population Size and Breeding Phenology of Red-Billed Tropicbirds (Phaethon aethereus) on Iles de la Madeleine, Senegal. Waterbirds 42: 100-106.

La phénologie de reproduction et la répartition dans les sites de nidification des phaétons ont fait l’objet d’un suivi du 6 juin 2014 au 18 mai 2016 dans le PN des Îles de la Madeleine, avec des visites tous les 15 jours pour enregistrer les nids actifs et leur contenu. Ngoné et ses collegues trouvé jusqu’à 76 sites de nidification mais seulement 49 étaient actifs en 2014-2015 et 45 en 2015-2016. Les phaétons se reproduisent tout au long de l’année, mais le nombre de nids actifs a culminé d’octobre à janvier, ce qui peut être lié au caractère saisonnier de l’upwelling océanique. Les nids ont été regroupés dans quatre zones et leur répartition et leur occupation peuvent être liées à la direction du vent pendant le pic de reproduction saisonnier d’octobre à mai. Le succès de reproduction était généralement élevé (62,9% en 2014-2015 et 47,3% en 2015-2016) par rapport aux autres colonies se reproduisant dans des eaux moins productives. Étant donné la singularité et la petite taille de cette population, une surveillance, une gestion et une protection stricte sont nécessaires pour garantir sa viabilité.

  • Effectif exceptionnel de Vautours percnoptères observé au Sénégal en novembre 2017, avec historique et actualisation de son statut au Sénégal et en Gambie: Caucanas, Piot, Barlow & Phipps 2018. A major count of the Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus in Senegal in November 2017, with notes on its history and current status in Senegal and The Gambia. Malimbus 40: 55-66.

Nous rapportons l’observation d’un groupe de 30 Percnoptères d’Egypte le 26/11/17 dans la RNC du Boundou, soit le groupe le plus important jamais documenté au Sénégal et en Gambie et l’un des plus importants pour le Sahel. En déclin rapide dans la plus grande partie de son aire de répartition, nous dressons un état des lieux des observations et données obtenues par suivi GPS depuis la première mention en 1913, et nous proposons qu’elle soit considérée comme migratrice peu fréquente ne nichant pas dans ces deux pays, étant régulière seulement dans l’extrême est du Sénégal.

  • Déclin d’une population urbaine de Vautours charognards sur 50 ans à Dakar: Mullié et al. 2017. The decline of an urban Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus population in Dakar, Senegal, over 50 years. Ostrich 88: 131-138.

A Dakar, comme dans de nombreux centres urbains de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, les Vautours charognards ont toujours été des charognards urbains caractéristiques. Le récent déclin dans d’autres parties de l’Afrique a motivé, en 2015, son inscription sur la Liste rouge de l’UICN comme espèce menacée « En danger critique d’extinction ». Comme nous l’avons déjà rapporté, nous avons mené une enquête sur son statut actuel à Dakar afin d’effectuer une comparaison avec les données disponibles depuis un demi-siècle. Une forte baisse (>85%) a été notée, la population estimée passant de 3’000 individus en 1969 à seulement 400 en 2016. Ce déclin correspond aux chutes constatées ailleurs en Afrique mais contraste avec les populations apparemment stables de la Gambie à la Guinée. Les causes probables sont 1) une urbanisation galopante entraînant une perte de sites d’alimentation et une réduction de la disponibilité de nourriture, 2) un empoisonnement accru de chiens sauvages due à une recrudescence de la rage et 3) une disparition accrue des arbres appropriés pour la nidification et le repos.

HoodedVulture_Technopole_20190610_IMG_4209

Hooded Vulture / Vautour charognard, Technopole, June 2019 (BP)

 

  • Voies de migration de la population méditerranéenne de la Sterne voyageuse: Hamza et al. 2017. Migration flyway of the Mediterranean breeding Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis emigrates. Ostrich 88: 53-58.

Un programme de baguage a été mis en place de 2006 à 2012 dans les colonies de Libye, soit les seules sites en Méditerrannée. A partir d’un total de 1354 couvées baguées à l’aide de bagues métalliques et/ou couleurs, 64 ont été retrouvées le long de leur voie migratoire ou sur leur aire d’hivernage.

Cependant, les auteurs écrivent que « le Sénégal et la Gambie sont au cœur de l’aire d’hivernage, » affirmation erronée rectifiée par Dowsett & Isenmann 2018 (Wintering area of the Libyan breeding population of Lesser Crested Tern. Alauda 86: 65-68) qui démontrent que la principale zone d’hivernage se trouve en Guinée-Bissau et en Sierra Leone. Bien que quelques dizaines à quelques centaines d’oiseaux hivernent bel et bien en Sénégambie, l’essentiel des nicheurs libyens hiverne donc un peu plus au sud. Cela n’enleve cependant en rien la conclusion de Hamza et collègues, comme quoi « la conservation de cette population particulièrement localisée et menacée ne réclame pas seulement une protection des sites de reproduction mais également celle des escales migratoires et des sanctuaires d’hivernage»

Lesser Crested Tern / Sterne voyageuse

Lesser Crested Tern / Sterne voyageuse portant une bague posée en Libye, Ngor, May 2013 (P. Robinson)

 

  • Un afflux de Hiboux des marais en Afrique de l’Ouest pendant l’hiver 2017/18: Piot 2019. An influx of Short-eared Owls Asio flammeus in West Africa in winter 2017/18.  Bull. ABC 26: 206-212 [publication prévue dans le prochain numéro, en septembre].

Pendant l’automne 2017 et l’hiver 2017/18, un afflux sans précédent a eu lieu en Afrique de l’Ouest et particulièrement au Sénégal ; des observations ont également été réalisées en Gambie, en Guinée-Bissau et en Mauritanie. Entre début novembre 2017 et mi-avril 2018, 22 observations concernant au moins 24 oiseaux ont été rapportées: ceux-ci ont peut-être hiverné plus au sud que d’habitude en raison des rudes conditions hivernales en Europe de l’Ouest. Les effectifs fluctuent probablement aussi en fonction des densités d’acridiens au Sahel, où une part importante du régime alimentaire peut être constituée d’insectes. L’espèce devrait y être considérée comme un migrateur régulier et un hivernant localement peu commun en petit nombre, avec des variations interannuelles importantes. La rareté des observations dans la région est probablement due aux habitudes crépusculaires et nocturnes de l’espèce, et aussi à une présence très limitée d’observateurs.

ShortearedOwl_Technopole_20171231_IMG_7729

Short-eared Owl / Hibou des marais, Technopole, Dec. 2017 (BP)

 

  • L’étude par géolocalisateurs révèle que le Martinet unicolore des Canaries hiverne en Afrique de l’Ouest équatoriale: Norton et al. Geolocator study reveals that Canarian Plain Swifts Apus unicolor winter in equatorial West Africa. Publié sur le site de l’African Bird Club (je suppose qu’un article formel suivra; cliquez le lien pour obtenir le PDF).

Même s’il ne s’agit pas d’une étude sénégalaise, elle a toute son importance pour nous: en effet, le suivi par géolocalisateurs a montré que le Martinet unicolore hiverne dans la zone forestière de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, et que l’espèce fait partie de l’avifaune du Sénégal. C’était sans doute l’une des grandes découvertes de ces dernières années – tout comme nos Martinets horus, dont un article portant sur notre étonnante trouvaille de janvier 2018 est en cours de préparation.

En juillet 2013, 16 Martinets unicolores, espèce endémique des Canaries qu’on pensait lagement sedentaire (ailleurs, vu seulement dans les régions cotières du nord-ouest de l’Afrique), ont été équipés de géolocalisateurs dans deux colonies de reproduction sur Tenerife. (Un géolocalisateur, minuscule appareil électronique pesant moins d’un gramme, mesure l’intensité du rayonnement solaire et l’heure, et enregistre ces données pendant une année; au retour de l’oiseau, celles-ci permettent de reconstituer son itinéraire). Parmi ces 16 individus, deux ont par la suite été retrouvés dans la colonie. Les deux oiseaux ont passé la majeure partie de l’hiver dans les forêts de l’est du Libéria. Ils ont quitté la colonie en octobre et novembre respectivement, et ont parcouru au moins 2’600 km pour hiverner, passant toute la période d’hivernage jusqu’en mars-avril 2014 dans les forêts de la Haute-Guinée au Libéria, en Guinée et en Côte d’Ivoire. La route migratoire prénuptiale comprenait le passage dans plusieurs pays où l’espèce n’avait là non plus jamais encore été signalée, dont le Sénégal, la Gambie, la Guinée-Bissau et la Sierra Leone. L’étude souligne l’importance de l’écosystème forestier de la Haute-Guinée pour au moins certains Martinets unicolores, les oiseaux passant plus de la moitié de l’année dans ce hotspot de biodiversité. Elle montre également qu’il devrait donc être possible d’observer cette espèce in natura au Sénégal, notamment en automne et au printemps, même si l’identification sera forcément délicate.

  • La Fauvette de Moltoni au Sénégal et en Afrique de l’Ouest: Piot & Blanc 2017. Moltoni’s Warbler Sylvia subalpina in Senegal and West Africa. Malimbus 39: 37-43.

Récemment élevée au rang d’espèce après la révision taxonomique du complexe des Fauvettes passerinettes, l’aire d’hivernage de la Fauvette de Moltoni était en grande partie inconnue. A la suite d’observations récentes au Sénégal, où sa présence a été enregistrée annuellement depuis 2013, nous avons passé en revue les observations faites en Afrique de l’Ouest : celles-ci suggèrent que l’espèce est largement répartie dans le Sahel, du Sénégal au Nigéria. Il semble que l’espèce soit plus abondante à l’est de cette zone, cependant l’aire de répartition précise et son abondance nécessitent plus de recherches, tout comme ses stratégies de mue et de migration.

  • Rose et al. 2016. Observations ornithologiques au Sénégal. Malimbus 38: 15-22.

Cinq observations d’espèces rares ou peu communes sont décrites, toutes de janvier 2015, dont on peut cependant se poser la question si une publication était réellement nécessaire, car leur simple inclusion dans la rubrique des observations récentes de l’ABC aurait sans doute suffi. Quoiqu’il en soit, les auteurs relatent les observations d’un Onoré à huppe blanche dans le delta du Saloum (où l’espèce est maintenant assez régulièrement vue, à Toubacouta), d’un Hibou des marais aux Îles de la Madeleine, d’un Engoulevent du désert au Djoudj, d’un Martin-pêcheur azuré au Niokolo-Koba, et d’un Sirli du désert dans le Ndiael. La prédation d’un Héron garde-bœufs par un Aigle martial, ainsi que l’histoire de vie d’une Barge à queue noire baguée, sont également rapportées.

Black-tailed Godwits / Barges a queue noire

Dutch and English colour-rigned Black-tailed Godwits / Barges à queue noire baguées aux Pays-Bas et en Angleterre, Technopole Jan. 2016 (BP)

 

Deux autres notes courtes sont également à mentionner ici, la première traitant de notre observation d’une pie-grièche hybride du lac Tanma en 2017 (Piot & Caucanas 2019. A hybrid shrike Lanius in Senegal; publication prévue dans le prochain bulletin de l’ABC), l’autre d’une observation de plusieurs Travailleurs à bec rouge à env. 100 km au large de la côte sénégalaise, soit la donnée la plus éloignée du continent jusqu’à présent (Quantrill, R. 2017. Red-billed Queleas Quelea quelea at sea off Senegal. Bull. ABC 24: 216).

Puis au moins deux articles supplémentaires traitant du statut et de la distribution d’oiseaux au Sénégal sont prévues pour publication ces prochains mois, dans la revue Alauda : le premier sur les quartiers d’hiver et les voies de migration du Pouillot ibérique (Isenmann & Piot), le second sur les résultats de nos suivis 2017 et 2018 de la migration des oiseaux de mer à Ngor (première partie prévue en décembre, 2e partie en début d’année prochaine).

La troisième et dernière partie de notre petite série sur la literature ornithologique sénégalaise concernera la documentation des divers ajouts à l’avifaune du pays.