Tag Archive | Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Baird’s Sandpiper – Second Record for Senegal

This post – including its title – was modified on 8/4 after we found what is supposed to be the same bird, and re-identified it as Baird’s Sandpiper rather than White-rumped. 

Last Sunday (25/3), during a routine Technopole visit with Miguel and Antonio, we picked up an odd looking sandpiper among a group of Common Ringed Plovers. Slightly yet noticeable larger than the numerous Little Stints that are currently present, it mainly stood out by its peculiar elongated shape, due to its long wings projecting well beyond the tail tip: could it be a Baird’s or White-rumped Sandpiper?

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Spot the intruder

 

Adrenaline levels rising fast, we quickly tried to get some pictures while studying the bird. When it moved next to a Little Stint, we could clearly see that this was not just another oddly shaped Little Stint but something different, and that it could only be one of those two American waders. It was closer in size to Common Ringed Plover, appearing intermediate between Little Stint and Dunlin. The bird was actively feeding now, probing for food in the mud, and we could see the moderately long and clearly down-curved bill (longer than Little Stint, but shorter than Dunlin), a faintly streaked breast, white underparts, brown-grey upperparts with some new scapulars in an otherwise seemingly very worn plumage. And then that elongated body shape combined with short black legs giving it a silhouette and posture unlike any other calidrids I’d seen thus far.

Then it took off – maybe because of yet another Peregrine blitz – and even though views were brief and quite distant, we each thought that we saw that the rump was mostly white (in fact it’s the uppertail coverts, but “White-uppertailcovered Sandpiper” somehow doesn’t sound quite right). This clinched the id for us even though none of use were fully familiar with the subtle differences between Baird’s and White-rumped, other than the difference in uppertail / rump pattern. I found what was most likely the same bird again on 8/4 (after not seeing it on two previous visits), and this time got much better views including of the rump in flight, which was not white at all: Baird’s Sandpiper!! So not a White-rumped after all… It just shows how one false impression in the field can lead to wrong conclusions, and that you should not take our id’s for granted! And that we still have lots to learn. It also explains why we were confused and felt that the bird looked more like Baird’s, but given that we thought we saw a white rump we could only announce it as a fuscicollis… Maybe when we saw the bird flying, rather in the distance, we were in fact somehow looking at a Curlew Sandpiper.

The distant pictures that follow show an overall fairly brown sandpiper with a diffuse yet clearly demarcated breast band and otherwise white underparts, a feature that actually fits Baird’s more than White-rumped. However, the pictures may be somewhat misleading as the impression in the field was of a slightly paler and colder-toned bird with less uniform plumage – for instance, the upper breast was finely streaked, incl. on the upper flanks. Some mantle feathers had already moulted and the crown was very finely streaked. That said, it appears that White-rumpeds in winter can have quite a bit of variation, some birds being browner overall and (almost) lacking any streaks on the flanks that are otherwise considered to be typical of the species – we found pictures of a few such birds online, e.g. here (IBC) as well as in this useful series of Baird’s and White-rumped from their wintering grounds in Argentina (beware though of the second Baird’s picture, which I think is actually a White-rumped Sand’). We suspect that this was a first-winter bird starting to moult into its first summer plumage, though without better pictures we can’t rule out that it was a full adult.

The bill shape appears subtly different from one picture to another, but the first photograph is probably the most accurate: fairly thick at the base and slightly curved. This fits Baird’s quite well, though many birds appear to have a more straight bill than this one (another reason why we were lead to believe it was White-rumped!).

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Baird’s Sandpiper / Bécasseau de Baird

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Baird’s Sandpiper / Bécasseau de Baird

 

The long wings, crossed like scissors, are quite well visible on this picture, as is the overall “flat” appearance of the species. The whitish supercilium extends well beyond the eye, a pro-fuscicollis feature, but apparently still ok for Baird’s. One may expect the primary projection to be longer, but there again there seems to be quite a bit of individual variation.

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Baird’s Sandpiper / Bécasseau de Baird

 

Unfortunately, the rump can’t quite be seen in this picture:

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A useful discussion on separation of Baird’s and White-rumped Sandpipers, even if it mainly focuses on birds in summer and autumn when most likely to show up in the UK, is to be found here. The European and North American field guides were surprisingly unhelpful when it comes to describing the variation in winter plumage of both species. I thus turned to Faansie Peacock’s excellent field guide to the Waders of Southern Africa, which provides a more relevant Southern Hemisphere perspective on wader identification. Along with the author’s other publications (LBJs, Pipits of Southern Africa) this easily ranks among the finest bird guides that are currently available¹. Let’s just hope that ornithodippiasis doesn’t get the better of him and that he can author many more books.

Anyway.

We moved to the main track as we were hoping to relocate our sandpiper given that it seemingly had landed in the area. After careful scrutiny of the numerous Little Stints, Curlew Sandpipers and Common Ringed Plovers (and finding a Buff-breasted Sandpiper in the process!), we ended up seeing it just as we were about to give up. Even worse pictures followed (distance, heat haze are the usual excuses) and the bird settled down to sleep, so we eventually moved on as we still wanted to check the other side of the main lake (where we saw Short-eared Owl and Copper Sunbird; other good birds at Technopole included an imm. Yellow-billed Stork, African Spoonbill, and Mediterranean Gull).

Here’s a picture from this morning 8/4, where the bill appears less curved and thinner at the end, and it clearly is all black (which all fits Baird’s perfectly):

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Baird’s Sandpiper / Bécasseau de Baird

Baird’s is a rare vagrant to Africa, with just a single claim from Senegal (Dec. 1965 in or near the Djoudj, as per Borrow & Demey, but I could not find the original reference so far), one from The Gambia (Nov. 1976), plus a record from November 1987 in Nouakchott but which was not retained by Isenmann et al. As such it seems that our bird is the first record for the subregion.

White-rumped Sandpiper is equally rare, with most continental records from South Africa during winter. In West Africa, there appear to be just a handful of records: one from Cote d’Ivoire (Oct.-Nov. 1988), and two from Ghana (Dec. 1985 & 2012). Given that it’s relatively frequent in Western Europe in autumn, and that in the Cape Verde and other East Atlantic islands the species is also quite regular, surely they must be pretty much annual visitors to West Africa. More generally, one can only speculate how many American and other vagrants truly pass through Senegal each year.

Both species are long-distance migrants, breeding in the Nearctic tundra, and spending the winter in South America.

The same goes for the Buff-breasted Sandpiper; this bird was likely one of the two that were seen on most visits between 13/1 and 19/2, but then again it may also have been a new bird that was just passing through.

 

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Buff-breasted Sandpiper / Bécasseau rousset

 

So now we just need to find a proper Calidris fuscicollis, and finally add it to the national list.

In fact, how many bird species have been sighted in Senegal thus far? We’ll try to answer that question in a future blog post!

 

¹ Peacock, F. 2016. Chamberlain’s Waders. The Definitive Guide to Southern Africa’s Shorebirds. 256 p., Pavo Publishing. See the author’s website for more info. 

 

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Technopole update, Lac Rose & more

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Lots going on at Technopole at the moment, and hardly any time to write… pretty much as usual.

So here’s a quick update and a few pics, starting with some of the highlights:

  • The two obliging Buff-breasted Sandpipers are still present, seen each time in the area behind the fishermen’s cabin. The country’s 7th or 8th record, and also by far the longest staying birds.
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Buff-breasted Sandpiper / Becasseau rousset

  • This may be getting boring now and a bit of a déjà-vu, but yet again a Lesser Yellowlegs showed up in Dakar. This one was photographed on 8/2/18 by J. Dupuy and posted on observation.org; as far as I know this is the 8th record for Senegal and the third for Technopole (after singles in August 2015 and January 2016). Yesterday morning, a visit with French birders Gabriel and Etienne allowed us to relocate the bird, a very nice adult coming into breeding plumage:
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Lesser Yellowlegs / Chevalier a pattes jaunes

  • Almost just as good, and another first for Technopole (232 species on the list now), was this Common Shelduck – not totally unexpected given the small influx that took place this winter, but still a very good record and always nice to see this pretty duck showing up on my local patch. Unlike its name suggests, it’s definitely not common in Senegal, as there appear to be only about nine previous (published) records, two of which were also obtained this winter.
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Common Shelduck / Tadorne de Belon

  • Along the same lines, another scarce species showed up at Technopole recently, possibly still the same as the one I saw at the end of December: a Jack Snipe on 12 & 19/2. Only a few Garganeys are present at the moment, but Northern Shovelers are still numerous these days. At east three Eurasian Teal were with the preceding species (two males on 27/10, and a pair on 10/2).
  • Remember that influx of Short-eared Owls? Well it looks like it’s not finished yet, with the discovery of no less than seven (maybe even more!) Short-eared Owls roosting together, on 3/2, by Edgar and Jenny Ruiz (at least two birds were still in the same place on 18/2).

Switching categories now – ring reading! Even with such a diversity and sheer numbers of ducks, waders, terns, gulls to go through, we’re still paying attention to ringed birds. And making very modest contributions to our knowledge of migration strategies, survival rates, and much more – one bird at a time. Since the start of the year we’ve been able to read about 50 rings of more than 40 different birds, mostly Audouin’s, Lesser Black-backed and Slender-billed Gulls, but also a few more original species:

  • The flock of 170-180 Avocets that are still present contains at least two colour-ringed birds, both from SW Spain where they were ringed as chicks in… 2005! That’s nearly 13 years for both birds – a respectable age, though it seems that this species can live way longer that that: the record for a British (& Irish) Avocet is nearly 24 years (impressive… though not quite as much as a that 40-year old Oystercatcher!). Interestingly, “RV2” had already been seen at Technopole five years ago, by Simon, but no other sightings are known for this bird.
  • A few Black-tailed Godwits are still around though the majority has now moved on to the Iberian Peninsula from where they will continue to their breeding grounds in NW Europe. Reading rings has been difficult recently as birds tend to either feed in deeper water, or are simply too far to be read. This one below is “G2GCCP”, a first-winter bird that hatched last spring in The Netherlands and which will likely spend its first summer here in West Africa.  Note the overall pale plumage and plain underparts compared to the adult bird in the front, which has already started moulting into breeding plumage.
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Black-tailed Godwit / Barge a queue noire

  • Mediterranean Gulls are again relatively numerous this winter, with some 8-10 birds so far. As reported earlier, one bird was ringed: Green RV2L seen on 21 & 27/1, apparently the first French Med Gull to be recovered in Senegal.
  • The Caspian Tern “Yellow AV7” is probably a bird born in the Saloum delta in 2015 – awaiting details.
  • The regular Gull-billed Tern U83, ringed as a chick in 2009 in Cadiz province, seems to be pretty faithful to Technopole: after four sightings last winter, it’s again seen on most visits since the end of January.

A morning out to Lac Rose on 11/2 with visiting friends Cyril and Gottlieb was as always enjoyable, with lots of good birds around:

  • The first Temminck’s Courser of the morning was a bird flying over quite high, uttering its typical nasal trumpeting call. The next four were found a little further along, while yet another four birds were flushed almost from under the car, allowing for a few decent pictures:
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Temminck’s Courser / Courvite de Temminck

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Temminck’s Courser / Courvite de Temminck

  • The now expected Greater Short-toed Larks were not as numerous as last year, with a few dozen birds seen, sometimes side by side with Tawny Pipit. No Isabelline nor any Black-eared Wheatears this time round, but one of the Northern Wheatears was a real good fit for the leucorrhoa race from Greenland (& nearby Canada and Iceland).
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Greater Short-toed Lark / Alouette calandrelle

  • As usual, a few Singing Bush Larks were about, though not very active and as always quite difficult to get good views of as they often remain close to cover, even sheltering under bushes.
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Singing Bush Lark / Alouette chanteuse

  • Quite surprisingly, we saw lone Sand Martins (twice), a House Martin, and especially Red-rumped Swallow – the latter a long-awaited addition to my Senegal list. Already on the move, or are these hirundines overwintering in the area?
  • A final stop on the edge of the plain, where the steppe transitions into the dunes on one side and a seasonal pond (now dry) on the other. Here we found a couple of species that I’d seen in the same spot before, particularly two that have a pretty localised distribution in western Senegal it seems: Yellow-fronted Canary, and Splendid Sunbird. Also seen here were another Red-necked Falcon, Mottled Spinetail, Vieillot’s Barbet, etc.
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Splendid Sunbird / Souimanga eclatant

  • And plenty of gulls by the lake! First time I see this many gulls here, with at least 800 birds, mainly Audouin’s (ca. 350) and some 500 Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Lots of ringed birds of course, but most were too far and we didn’t take the time to go through the entire flock.

 

And elsewhere in Dakar…

  • A “Pallid HeronArdea (cinerea) monicae was found by Gottlieb and Cyril at Parc de Hann on 13/2 (but not relocated yesterday…). A rare Dakar record!
  • Seawatch sessions at Ngor continue to deliver good species, most notably good views of several European Storm-Petrels these past couple of weeks. Lots have been seen along the Petite Cote (Saly, Somone, Toubab Dialaw) recently, and especially at the Gambia river mouth where several dozen birds were counted.

 

 

Business as usual (enfin, presque) au Technopole… 21/1

Visite de routine du dimanche matin au Technopole, avant-hier avec Miguel.

Tout comme ces dernières semaines, il y a plein de monde sur notre hotspot urbain favori: très nombreux limicoles profitant des conditions de nourrissage idéales en ce moment, plusieurs centaines de canards dans la partie la plus profonde du plan d’eau central, un groupe de flamants, spatules, des pélicans des deux espèces, des centaines de laridés, etc. etc.

Janvier, c’est le mois du comptage international des oiseaux d’eau Wetlands, donc on s’est dits que ce serait intéressant de faire un décompte aussi complet que possible. Pas facile! Il y a des groupes d’oiseaux dans tous les sens, pour certains en partie cachés par la végétation et les îlots, et de surcroît tout ce monde bouge en continu, dérangés à tour de rôle par des rapaces (notamment un Busard des roseaux et un Faucon crécerelle), chiens et pêcheurs. On prend chacun quelques espèces ou on se partage la zone en secteurs afin de faciliter le dénombrement, qui nous occupera bien pendant plus de trois heures.

On commence par les plus faciles: cinquante-cinq Pélicans gris, trente-deux blancs  (Great White & Pink-backed Pelican), dix-neuf Spatules blanches (Eurasian Spoonbill), cinq Bihoreaux (Black-crowned Night-Heron), puis juste à côté au pied des palétuviers une Foulque (! Eurasian Coot), douze Flamants,… Les limis ensuite, avec l’Echasse blanche (Black-winged Stilt) en tête: 1’420 individus! J’avais estimé leur nombre à la louche, lors de mes précédentes visites, à 700-900 Echasses, mais n’avais jamais pris le temps de faire une comptage proprement dit. Effectif impressionnant!! Sur la photo ci-dessous il y en a à peu près 200…

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Black-winged Stilt / Echasse blanche

 

Toujours beaucoup de Pluviers argentés (min. 49) et d’Avocettes (107); au moins 18 Gavelots pâtres, 6-7 Petits Gravelots et 665 (!) Grands Gravelots. (Grey Plover, Avocet, Kittlitz’s, Little Ringed & Common Ringed Plover)

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Common Ringed Plover / Grand Gravelot

 

Environ 300 Barges à queue noire (Black-tailed Godwit), apparemment en légère augmentation par rapport au début du mois, avec plusieurs individus qui commencent à arborer leur livrée nuptiale. Pas moins de 830 Combattants variés (Ruff)… puis là tout d’un coup, devant nous, deux délicats limicoles surgissent de nulle part: des Bécasseaux roussets! (Buff-breasted Sandpiper!)

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Buff-breasted Sandpiper / Bécasseau rousset

Ils se laisseront bien observer même si leur comportement nerveux fait qu’ils sont difficiles à suivre et à photographier, courant rapidement sur la vase sans jamais s’arrêter. Ils se nourrissaient essentiellement sur la vase sèche en bordure des ilots enherbés, un peu derrière la cabane des pêcheurs. Nos deux yankees disparaissent aussi subitement qu’ils ne sont apparus, pour revenir d’un coup au même endroit un peu plus tard. Je suis d’ailleurs persuadé que lors de ma précédente visite j’ai vu passer un de ces oiseaux en vol: ne l’ayant vu que brièvement et l’oiseau ayant disparu loin au fond, je n’ai pas osé l’annoncer comme tel… donc j’étais bien content de pouvoir confirmer!

C’est la septième ou huitième donnée pour le pays, selon si on considère l’oiseau vu en janvier dernier au Lac Rose comme nouvel arrivant ou bien comme l’un des trois individus trouvés en décembre 2017. Petit résumé des précédentes observations ici.

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Buff-breasted Sandpiper / Bécasseau rousset

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Buff-breasted Sandpiper / Bécasseau rousset

 

On continue le comptage avec les bécasseaux: 75 Cocorlis, au moins 242 Minutes (sans doute bien plus!), et un minimum de huit Variables, une douzaine de Sanderlings, et enfin six Maubèches. Chez les chevaliers, le Sylvain est le plus nombreux (+40), suivi par les Aboyeurs, Stagnatiles, Gambettes, Guignettes et l’habituel Culblanc (ce dernier dans le même coin qu’une Rhynchée peinte, déjà vue la semaine précédente). (Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Dunlin, Sanderling, Knot, Wood Sandpiper, Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Greater Painted-Snipe)

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Wood & Marsh Sandpiper / Chevalier sylvain & stagnatile

 

Maintenant au tour des mouettes, goélands et sternes – douze espèces en tout, essentiellement des Goélands railleurs (450) et bruns (près de 200; Slender-billed & Lesser Black-backed Gull). Avec comme souvent quelques trucs plus rares dans le tas: un Goéland leucophée (Yellow-legged Gull) adulte, quatre ou cinq Mouettes mélanocéphales (Mediterranean Gull), tous de premier hiver, dont un oiseau porte une bague verte avec inscription blanche! On arrive tout juste à la déchiffrer, RV2L. Cet oiseau bagué en tant que poussin en juillet 2017 sur l’ile de Noirmoutier (Vendée, France) fournirait du coup la première reprise de bague pour l’espèce au Sénégal. Un autre oiseau français avait déjà été contrôlé en Gambie en mars 2015, mais pour le reste il n’y a apparemment pas de reprises de Mouettes mélanocéphales en Afrique de l’Ouest. On est ici vraiment en limite de l’aire d’hivernage régulier donc très peu d’oiseaux sont vus au Sénégal, pour la plupart des individus dans leur premier hiver en région dakaroise. Cette espèce coloniale très étudiée en Europe – un peu comme les Goélands d’Audouin du bassin méditerranéen – cela devait arriver tôt ou tard qu’un oiseau bagué pointe le bout du bec chez nous.

On arrivera également à déchiffrer les bagues de deux Goélands railleurs, un Goéland d’Audouin, une Sterne hansel (U83, déjà vu l’hiver dernier) – tous espagnols – et une Barge à queue noire hollandaise. (colour-ringed Slender-billed & Audouin’s Gulls, Gull-billed Tern, Black-tailed Godwit)

Ensuite les canards, d’habitude faciles à compter au Technopole car ils sont rarement présents en nombre. Cette saison c’est différent: depuis octobre, on voit plus de Sarcelles d’été (Garganey) que ces dernières années, et depuis le début du mois il y a une quantité inhabituelle de Canards souchets (Northern Shoveler). En effet, on arrive à environ 420 souchets et 110 sarcelles – là aussi, de beaux effectifs pour le site! A mettre en relation avec le manque d’eau sur d’autres zones? J’allais presque oublier les Grèbes castagneux (Little Grebe), pour lesquels on fait encore péter le score: pas moins (et en fait plutôt plus) de 527 individus.

Apres tout cela, on en a enfin terminé avec les oiseaux d’eau, pour un bilan de plus de 6’000 individus de 61 espèces différentes. Qui dit mieux?

En plus des passereaux hivernants classiques – Bergeronnettes printanières, Pouillots véloces, Fauvettes passerinettes, Phragmites des joncs – il y avait ce matin aussi un Traquet motteux. (Yellow Wagtail, Common Chiffchaff, Western Subalpine Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Northern Wheatear)

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Yellow Wagtail / Bergeronnette printanière

 

Sinon bonne présence de l’Hirondelles de Guinée, avec une troupe considérable (+38!) qui évoluent au-dessus de la zone, et dont plusieurs individus semblent collecter de la boue pour le nid. Aussi quatre Toureterelles masquées, quelques Martinet des palmes et une petite troupe d’Erémomèles a dos vert, trois espèces assez rarement vues au Technopole. (Red-chested Swallow, Namaqua Dove, Palm Swift, Senegal Eremomela)

Terminons enfin avec une espèce très commune et généralement ignorée par les ornithos (moi en premier), alors qu’elle fait partie d’une des famille d’oiseaux les plus remarquables de la planète: les corvidés. Extrêmement intelligents, ces oiseaux sont connus pour leur esprit curieux, joueur et inventif – au point où il y a des espèces, comme le Corbeau calédonien qui détiendrait la palme des oiseaux les plus smart, fournissant l’un des très rares exemples d’animaux sachant fabriquer et utiliser des outils (avec des modeles variables d’une région à une autre! Et qui disait que “Culture” était un trait purement humain?). A ce sujet, je vous recommande vivement l’excellent The Genius of Birds par Jennifer Ackerman. Mais je divague… là, on observe le manège de deux Corbeaux pies posés non loin et qui semblent s’intéresser de près à un bout de plastique (?). Simple curiosité, envie de jouer, ou intérêt purement culinaire?

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Pied Crow / Corbeau pie

 

 

L’année ornithologique sénégalaise 2017 / Year in review

Comme cela semble une tradition chez les bloggeurs, je me suis pris au jeu de faire une petite revue de l’année 2017, ornithologiquement parlant bien sûr. On parlera évidemment des vraies raretés, mais aussi de l’exploration de quelques coins peu connus, des données de nidification et d’extension d’aire, et j’en passe. Pas facile en tout cas de résumer les points forts de ces douze derniers mois, non seulement parce qu’il y en a pas mal, mais aussi du fait que pour beaucoup d’espèces le statut réel au Sénégal reste encore à préciser: répartition, phénologie, statut et tendances. Difficile aussi de couvrir un pays entier quand on n’est que 3-4 ornithologues réellement actifs à y résider!! Il manque certainement des obs importantes dans ma synthèse – qui sera forcément incomplète – donc si vous avez des compléments ou des corrections je les ajoute volontiers.

D’abord les grosses raretés:

Ensuite, quelques autres migrateurs rares – Rare migrants:

  • Le Puffin majeur est vu à Ngor le 25/5 (2 inds.), une rare donnée “printanière”, alors qu’un passage important – et étonnant par la date – a lieu début décembre. Great Shearwater: two at Ngor on 25/5 were apparently the first May record, while a strong passage was noted early December. 
  • Un Grand Cormoran de la ssp. maroccanus était lui aussi à Ngor, sur les enrochements, les 2 et 15/12. Great Cormorant at Ngor in December. 
  • Plusieurs Bondrées apivores sont notées entre le 9/10 et le 5/11, avec un autre même à fin décembre, alors que c’est une espèce apparemment rarement vue, en tout cas dans l’ouest du pays: Dakar, Toubacouta, Guéréo/Somone et Popenguine. Several Honey Buzzards in October and early November between Dakar and the Saloum, with another bird at Somone in late December. 
  • Deux Aigles de Bonelli sont vus dans la région des Trois-Marigots en novembre-décembre, où un imm. était déjà présent en fevrier, confirmant ainsi la présence régulière en très petit nombre dans le nord-ouest du pays. Ornithondar continue avec les rapaces, sous la forme d’un Vautour percnoptère noté le 25/12, espèce qui a aussi vu des effectifs importants dans le Boundou en fin d’année. Two Bonelli’s Eagles and an Egyptian Vulture near Saint-Louis.
  • Deux petits rallidés peu vus au Senegal ensuite: la Marouette poussin surtout, trouvée à Boundou les 4-5/11, mais aussi celle de Baillon au Djoudj (7/2) à la STEP de Saint-Louis (25/12), qui pourraient bien concerner un hivernant ou un oiseau de passage et non un local. Two little marsh skulkers that are rarely reported from Senegal, though they are probably quite frequent on migration, are Little Crake at Boundou, and Baillon’s Crake near Saint-Louis.
  • Plusieurs espèces peu fréquentes dans la région de Dakar sont vues pour la première fois au Technopole: Goéland dominicain, Flamant nain, Phalarope à bec large, Bengali zebré, Souimanga pygmée, Rolle violet, Hibou des marais, Pouillot ibérique. Egalement un Bec-en-ciseaux le 4/6 et une Sarcelle d’hiver le 9/11, avec d’autres migrateurs peu fréquents comme le Goéland leucophée et la Bécassine sourde à l’appui. A number of scarce species in the Dakar region were reported for the first time from Technopole: Kelp Gull, Lesser Flamingo, Grey Phalarope, Zebra Waxbill, Pygmy Sunbird, Broad-billed Roller, Short-eared Owl, Iberian Chiffchaff. Also African Skimmer and a Eurasian Teal, while other uncommon migrants seen at the site include Jack Snipe, Yellow-legged Gull.
  • Le 29/10, un Blongios de Sturm est à la lagune de Yène, endroit par ailleurs très fréquenté cet automne par les canards et limicoles. A Dwarf Bittern, along with good numbers of ducks and waders, was seen at Yene lagoon.
  • Un Martinet à ventre blanc est vu le 13/10 à Boundou, et le 13/11 il y en avait deux à Popenguine, où jusqu’à neuf Hirondelles de rochers étaient présentes en novembre-décembre. Alpine Swift at Boundou and at Popenguine, where up to nine Crag Martins were seen in Nov.-Dec.
  • L’Hypolais pâle, un hivernant probablement régulier mais rarement détecté au Sénégal, était à Palmarin le 19/2, alors que deux oiseaux sont identifiés le 28/12 près de Guéréo (dans la même zone qu’en mars 2016 – une coïncidence?). Eastern Olivaceous Warbler – probably regular, but very rarely detected. One was at Palmarin on 19/2, while two birds were at Guereo (Somone) on 28/12 (where one was seen in the same area in March 2016 – a coincidence?)
  • Une Pie-grièche isabelle est signalée près de Gossas (vers Ouadiour) le 28/11. Isabelline Shrike near Gossas on 28/11. 
  • Un hybride Pie-grièche à tête rousse x écorcheur le 26/8 au Lac Tanma était une première non seulement pour le pays mais apparemment aussi pour le continent africain. Hybrid Woodchat x Red-backed Shrike at Lac Tanma, apparently a first such record for Africa.
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Baillon’s Crake / Marouette de Baillon

Woodchat x Red-backed Shrike / Pie-grieche a tete rousse x ecorcheur

Woodchat x Red-backed Shrike / Pie-grieche à tête rousse x ecorcheur

Quelques autres observations intéressantes: effectifs records, nouvelles donnes sur la répartition – Other sightings: record numbers and new range data

  • Parmi les autres “premières” pour la réserve naturelle communautaire du Boundou se trouvent bon nombre de migrateurs paléarctiques comme la Spatule blanche (Eur. Spoonbill) ou le Becasseau cocorli (Curlew Sandpiper) et même un Fuligule nyroca (4-5/11; Ferruginous Duck), mais aussi quelques africains, migrateurs (Blongios de Sturm, Least Bittern), erratiques (Courvite à ailes bronzées, Bronze-winged Courser) et résidents (Gladiateur de Blanchot, Grey-headed Bush-shrikeBruant à ventre jaune, Brown-rumped Bunting).
  • Le Puffin du Cap-Vert est présent en fin d’hiver au large de Dakar, comme d’habitude, mais un effectif important est noté le 18/4 lorsque pas moins de 5’500 oiseaux se nourrissent devant Ngor. Cape Verde Shearwater: a max. of ca. 5,500 birds were feeding off Ngor on 18/4.
  • L’observation d’un Phaéton à bec rouge adulte sur l’Ile aux Oiseaux de la Langue de Barbarie les 7-12/4 était pour le moins insolite. Red-billed Tropicbird on the Langue de Barbarie’s “Bird Island” on 7-12/4.
  • Un Ibis hagedash survole la maison aux Almadies, Dakar, le 23/8, alors que l’espèce semble toujours présente sur la Petite Côte avec plusieurs observations en octobre. Hadada Ibis: one on 23/8 flying over Almadies, Dakar, and several observations at Somone and Saly. 
  • Le Marabout d’Afrique est vu aux Trois-Marigots (14/4), soit dans une région du pays où l’espèce est maintenant très rare semble-t-il. Marabou Stork at Trois-Marigots. 
  • Un Aigle huppard adulte a survolé le Lac Tanma tout en criant, le 1/10, donc hors de son aire regulière dans le pays. A Long-crested Eagle flew over Lac Tanma while calling, away from its regular range in Senegal
  • L’effectif d’environ 300 Foulques macroules le 16/5 à Ross-Bethio (près du Djoudj) est surprenant à cette période de l’année. A Dakar, il y en a eu deux au Lac Mbeubeusse le 7/10 et autant à Yène-Todé les 21-29/10. Around 300 Eurasian Coots were at Ross-Bethio on 16/5, a high count especially at this time of the year; in the Dakar region, two records of two birds. 
  • Un Trogon narina est de nouveau observé dans la réserve naturelle de Dindéfello (16/2), soit le seul site d’où l’espèce est actuellement connue, suite à sa découverte en 2010. J’allais aussi ajouter deux Bulbuls à queue rousse signalés dans la forêt de galerie au même endroit (3/2) et publiés dans le Bulletin de l’ABC, mais à en lire le rapport de voyage des observateurs on constate que l’identification est loin d’être certaine. Narina’s Trogon was seen again at Dindéfello, the only site in Senegal where the species, which was first recorded here in 2010, occurs. Two Leafloves were reported from the gallery forest here, but it seems that identification is far from certain despite being published in the ABC Bulletin.
  • Le Moineau domestique est maintenant bien implanté à Tambacounda semble-t-il, et l’espèce est vue pour la première fois au Boundou: l’expansion continue! House Sparrow now well established in Tambacounda and reported for the first time at Boundou. 
  • A Lompoul, le Petit Moineau est vu début janvier puis de nouveau confirmé à la fin de l’année, avec plusieurs oiseaux dont des chanteurs, bouchant ainsi un trou dans l’aire de répartition connue. Bush Petronia was found early January and confirmed again at the end of the year, thus filling a gap in the known distribution range.
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Cape Verde Shearwater / Puffin du Cap-Vert

Quelques donnees de nidification intéressantes – Interesting breeding records:

  • Le Canard à bosse a de nouveau niché au Lac Tanma (f. avec 12 canetons le 1/10); le Dendrocygne veuf a niché au même endroit et à la lagune de Yène. Knob-billed Duck noted breeding again at Lac Tanma, where also White-faced Whistling Duck, which also bred at Yene. 
  • Pas encore de nidification, mais des observations intriguantes de plusieurs Fous bruns dont des couples visiblement formés et montrant un comportement territorial, aux Iles de la Madeleine en avril-mai surtout – à suivre! Au même endroit, 5-6 couples de Sternes bridées étaient présents en juinBrown Boobies showing signs of breeding behaviour (but no confirmed breeding) at Iles de la Madeleine, where 5-6 pairs of Bridled Tern were present in June.
  • La nidification de la Gallinule poule-d’eau est confirmée au Technopole, tout comme celle – déjà constatée dans le passé – de la Talève d’Afrique. Moorhen confirmed breeding at Technopole, where African Swamphen was also seen breeding once again. 
  • Les Echasses blanches ont eu une très bonne année au Technopole, alors que la nidification a été attestée de nouveau dans le Djoudj. Black-winged Stilts had a bumper year at Technopole, while breeding was noted in the Djoudj. 
  • Toujours pas de preuve de nidification (faute d’avoir investi le temps qu’il faudrait!), mais les Tourterelles turques du parc de Hann sont toujours présentes – avis aux amateurs! Still no proof of breeding, but the small population of Eurasian Collared Doves in Dakar is still around. 
  • Un jeune Coucou jacobin vu en octobre près de la Somone constitue une rare donnée de nidification certaine (voire la première?) pour le pays. Un autre juvenile est vu à Patako début novembre Jacobin Cuckoo fledgling near Somone. 
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Bridled Tern / Sterne bridee

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Jacobin Cuckoo / Coucou jacobin

Et enfin, parlons un peu des coins peu connus ou peu explorés – Little explored areas:

  • L’un de ces sites est la forêt de Pout près de Thiès, que nous avons visitée en juin (Circaète brun, Pintade de Numidie, Oedicnème tachard, etc.), et plus encore la forêt de Patako près de Toubacouta, explorée par Miguel en novembre.
  • En Casamance, nous avons pu faire des observations à Kolda en mai, avec observations entre autres du Grébifoulque et du Rale perlé, deux especes rarement notées en Casamance même si elles doivent y être régulières. Egalement en Casamance, on a pu voir des Faucons crécerellettes et un Busard pâle en migration active près de Cap-Skirring, alors qu’à Diembering on a pu confirmer p.ex. la présence de l’Apalis à gorge jaune (+ Phyllanthe capucin et quelques autres spécialités forestières à l’écoparc). Gabriel de son côté a pu visiter la région de Vélingara, avec notamment l’observation d’un Bihoreau à dos blanc. African Finfoot & White-spotted Flufftail at Kolda in Casamance. There appear to be very few, if any, recent records from Casamance even though the species is likely to be widespread. Also in Casamance: Cap Skirring – Lesser Kestrel and Pallid Harrier; ecoparc near Diembering: Yellow-throated Apalis, Capuchin Babbler, etc. Also a White-backed Night-Heron near Velingara. 
  • Quelques visites dans la steppe, les dunes et les niayes près du Lac Rose, trop peu visitées par les ornithos, ont produit des observations d’hivernants peu courants à cette latitude, comme l’Alouette calandrelle, le Traquet isabelle, ou encore le Traquet oreillard A few visits to the steppe, dunes and niayes near Lac Rose, rarely visited by birders, yielded several interesting records of winter visitors that are reputed to be mostly restricted to northern Senegal: Greater Short-toed Lark, Isabelline Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear.
  • Enfin, en 2017 nous avons pu mener ce qui doit être le premier suivi systématique sur l’ensemble de la saison de migration d’automne des oiseaux de mer, devant Dakar. Les faits marquants comprennent notamment un effectif record de Mouettes de Sabine, un passage impressionnant de Puffins cendrés et de Scopoli, un Puffin de Boyd et un Puffin des Baléares, et bien plus encore – résumé complet iciLast but not least, in 2017 we conducted what was the first extensive seabird migration monitoring effort in Senegal (and more generally in West Africa it seems), with regular observations made from the mainland at Ngor between the end of July and the end of December. Highlights included a record number of Sabine’s Gulls, strong passage of Cory’s and Scopoli’s Shearwater, a Boyd’s Shearwater, a Balearic Shearwater, and much more. 
African Finfoot / Grebifoulque

African Finfoot / Grebifoulque

Que nous apportera 2018? Dans tous les cas, avec un nouvel ajout à la liste nationale des le 1er janvier, l’année a bien commencé!

 

 

 

18/12: Nearctic Waders

As if one Nearctic wader weren’t enough, today I was lucky to find two transatlantic vagrant species. We had planned a family weekend at Lac Rose which we haven’t visited in a long time, but a change in plans meant that we had to cancel our reservation at the Gite du Lac Rose. As I had my mind set on a few sites that I wanted to explore near Lac Rose, I decided to make the trip there this morning – and wasn’t disappointed!

I’ll report on some of the more interesting sightings in an upcoming post (think Tawny Pipit, Singing Bushlark, Brown Babbler etc.), but for now I just want to share a few pictures of no less than three BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS. I found these pretty birds while scanning a grassy plain where I’d seen a few Kittlitz’s Plovers, 32 to be precise, while on my way back to the lake (I’d been exploring the area to the north-east of the lake). The sandpipers appeared to loosely associate with this flock, and were constantly feeding in hurried fashion. I was of course hoping to find something special in this area, say a Cream-coloured Courser that came down with the cold weather of the last few days, or more Greater Short-toed Larks, but didn’t think I’d come across three of these beauties.

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Kittlitz’s Plover… and a Buff-breasted Sandpiper / Gravelot pâtre et Bécasseau rousset

Could they be new arrivals, or have they been hanging around here for a while now? It may well be that they end up spending a few weeks in the area, given the late date for passing migrants, plus the habitat here seems to be just perfect for this species, and definitely more typical than the mudflats at Palmarin where we found Senegal’s second Buff-breasted Sandpiper barely three weeks earlier. In fact, could it be that this is exactly the same spot where the country’s first record was obtained in April 1985?

buffbreastedsandpiper_lacrose_20161218_img_6985

Getting decent pictures was tricky – first because of the distance (I spotted the group while counting the plovers, from the car), then because of the wind and especially the restlessness of all three birds, which just wouldn’t stop moving. The picture above is the only one of reasonable quality that shows all three birds together, and it quite nicely illustrates today’s windy conditions.

The obliging sandpipers allowed for a fairly close approach, up to approx. 20 meters at times, and the only time they flew up was when a local dog – perhaps realising that I was somehow particularly interested in these three little birds – decided to start chasing the sandpipers! Luckily it lost interest after a couple of minutes, and the trio settled again and continued feeding.

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Buff-breasted Sandpiper / Bécasseau rousset

All content to have found not one but three American sandpipers close to home, and wondering just how many vagrant waders show up in Senegal every year, I decided to make a real quick stop at Technopole on the way back home. Main purpose was to check whether I could relocate last week’s Jack Snipe, but of course things rarely go according to plan here… This time, while doing a quick scan of the waders behind the golf club house, a fairly dark Pluvialis plover caught my attention. It was partially concealed in a group of Black-tailed Godwits, but the contrasting plumage with a pale supercilium, dark cap and obvious “smudge” across the breast all shouted American Golden Plover!

AmericanGoldenPlover_Technopole_20161218_IMG_6959.jpg

Plover sp., Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Senegal Thick-knee / Pluvier sp., Combattant, Barge à queue noire, Oedicnème du Sénégal

I eventually managed to get better views, including of the wing tip, revealing an important primary projection and primaries extending beyond the tail tip. Getting good views was tricky but I ended up getting a few usable pictures, which I thought at the time should be sufficient to document this potential 10th record for Senegal and 4th for Technopole, if I counted correctly.

However… looking back at these pictures now more than a year later (I’m updating this post in April 2018), I’m much less confident and I feel that the bird is too grey, too bulky and especially the bill is too heavy for American Golden Plover. Probably a slightly unusual Grey Plover after all?

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American Golden Plover / Pluvier bronzé

No more time to go look for the snipe, though as it turned out I ended up getting back home more than an hour later than planned thanks to two flat tires which took a while to get fixed at a local vulcanisateur in nearby Pikine. Surely the odds of getting two flat tires at the same time (and obviously with just one spare tire in the boot) are close to those of finding an American wader species in Senegal… lucky day!

I won’t be able to return to either site before the end of the year, but it may well be that both the sandpipers and the plover stick around for a while.

To be continued, hopefully.

 

…and continued it has! A few days ago (this edit was made on 25.12) , I learned that Frederic Bacuez (ornithondar) found a Buff-breasted Sandpiper on 8.12 though it was positively identified only on 21.12 when Fred saw it again in the same spot, in the lower Senegal delta close to St. Louis. Which means that in the space of 4 weeks, a total of 5 of these sandpipers were spotted in Senegal, bringing the total to 4 national records. Real influx, or just pure luck (being in the right place at the right time kind of thing)? It doesn’t seem like autumn 2016 was particularly “good” for the species in Europe, but in France, about a dozen were reported in September – slightly more than usual I believe – though there were just two (at least) in the Azores this autumn. As usual, several were reported in Spain, including at least one in the Canary Islands (Tenerife, 29.10). The Netherlands had at least 8 records between the end of July and October (as per Dutch Birding).

Another addendum (Jan. 5th) is needed here as I just came across another Buff-breasted Sandpiper record, this one from 1994, and which was overlooked by Borrow & Demey (2015) – and which probably was published too late to include in Sauvage & Rodwell’s paper (1998). Indeed, five birds were seen near Palmarin on 2.12.94 by an expedition organised by the Danish Ornithological Society, as published in Malimbus 19:96-97: “Four of them were feeding together on short grassland and in some shallow ponds close to the shore. The fifth was observed simultaneously c. 1 km to the north, by other members of our group. The birds were very unafraid and we could approach to 20 m.” (Kenneth Bengtsson 1997: Some interesting bird observations from Mauritania and Senegal). Strictly speaking, these observations would qualify as two separate records, meaning that with this new information, we now have 3 old records (1965 and 1994) and 3 from 2016, bringing the national total to 6 records involving 11 birds.