Tag Archive | Osprey

Popenguine Raptor Fest (3.11.18)

A visit to Popenguine nature reserve a couple of weeks ago quickly turned into a exciting few hours watching a good variety of raptors – something we’re not much used to in this part of Senegal, where there are few sites that are good for raptors, and most of the time anything else than a Yellow-billed Kite, Osprey or Hooded Vulture will qualify as a good record. Here’s a short overview, in order of appearance!

As always, several Ospreys were to be seen in the reserve; a few birds usually spend the night on the mighty baobabs that dot the Popenguine savanna, and all day long Ospreys can be seen flying around the cliffs or fishing out at sea. Later that same day at the lagoon just south of Toubab Dialaw, we had a good count of some 29 birds, all visible at the same time (Balbuzard). Popenguine of course also had a few Yellow-billed Kites patrolling the area (Milan à bec jaune).

As we were looking for a Common Rock Thrush we’d briefly spotted on a ridge ahead of the footpath, we noticed first an immature Peregrine Falcon flying around, then a European Hobby – the latter a scarce migrant through Senegal so always a good find. Hobby was already seen at Popenguine around the same time last year by Miguel. This time round it looked like it was an actively migrating individual, just like a Common Kestrel that briefly made an appearance shortly after (Faucons pèlerin, hobereau et crécerelle).

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Miguel and Ross searching the skies for falcons

 

Next up was a Marsh Harrier circling in the distance, again probably a bird on its way to wintering grounds further south (Busard des roseaux). I’ve always thought that Popenguine would be a fairly strategic site to look for actively migrating raptors and other birds. Should be interesting to spend a few days here in October-November and February-March!

This Short-toed Eagle on the other hand was probably one of the 2-3 birds that typically spend the winter in the area around Popenguine and Guereo.

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Short-toed Eagle / Circaète Jean-le-Blanc

 

Far less expected than the previous species was a Bonelli’s Eagle, spotted by Gabriel as it arrived from the north-east and made its way towards the cliffs, at one point circling together with a couple of Ospreys. Initially we weren’t quite sure about its identity, wondering whether a juvenile African Hawk-Eagle could be ruled out, and a bit puzzled by the very pale appearance of this eagle. Luckily I managed a few record shots, a bit distant and hazy but they should do the trick. The plumage seems to still be within the variation of worn juvenile Bonelli’s Eagle, and African Hawk-Eagle can probably be ruled out based on the overall pale appearance, less dense barring on underwing, and absence of a clear dark band on the greater underwing coverts. A bit puzzling is the moult contrast on with fresh inner primaries growing, so maybe it is a second-year bird after all? Opinions welcome!

Yet another addition to my Senegal list – the next species will be number 500 🙂

I was actually expecting to see this species one day in the Djoudj, Trois-Marigots or elsewhere in the lower Senegal valley, the only area with more or less regular records in winter (mainly by Frédéric, who year after year has documented the presence of a few birds around Saint Louis and who nicely summarised the current knowledge about this scarce species in West Africa, in this post on Ornithondar).

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Bonelli’s Eagle / Aigle de Bonelli

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Bonelli’s Eagle / Aigle de Bonelli

 

After we’d reached the top of the cliffs, next up was this Eurasian Griffon which appeared to be actively migrating along the coastline, just like a second bird we’d see a couple of hours later that same morning near Yène.

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Eurasian Griffon / Vautour fauve

 

Barely a few minutes later, Gabriel strikes again with a young Lanner making a brief appearance, just as we were heading back towards the reserve entrance (Faucon lanier). That’s four species of falcons, not bad! In previous years we’ve also had Barbary Falcon near the cliffs, and surely Red-necked Falcon and Grey Kestrel must also occur at least occasionally, while in the wet season it may be possible to encounter African Hobby.

We thought we’d seen pretty much everything when at the last minute a Shikra was seen dashing over the pond (all but dry!), bringing our morning’s total to 11 birds of prey.

Besides all these hooked beaks, as always the nature reserve held quite a few other good bird, such as Gosling’s Bunting, Green-winged Pytillia, Sahel Paradise-WhydahBlue Rock Thrush, and Northern Anteater Chat. In the end we saw two different Common (=Rufous-tailed) Rock Thrushes, a scarce migrant in Senegal, see this post on our first encounter with the species, in February 2016 at… Popenguine! Also a decent flock of Pallid Swifts and a few White-throated Bee-eaters, both pretty good bonus species, while two Pygmy Kingfishers including at least one dark-billed juvenile provided proof that the species is breeding here.

Complete eBird checklist available here.

The bird list for the Popenguine reserve now stands at some 198 species, at a minimum that is: I listed more than 20 other species as being most likely present, but which apparently remain to be confirmed. More on that over here.

Oh and then there were the butterflies – pure magic! Thousands and thousands of butterflies everywhere, especially along the track up the cliffs. With every footstep, small clouds of butterflies would explode, while a constant stream of butterflies was passing by the cliffs. Our visit clearly took place during peak migration season of Painted Lady which were the vast majority, and to a lesser extent some pieridae. And loads of dragonflies! Difficult to capture on camera but if you look carefully at the image below you’ll get a bit of a sense of what I’m trying to explain here.

 

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Popenguine cliffs… & many butterflies

 

 

 

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Ngor spring migration: May 2018

 

Following on our April summary, here’s a brief update on results from last month’s short but regular seawatch sessions from Ngor, as usual all from the Club Calao terrace. Managed a total of 10 sessions between May 10th and May 26th, with more good stuff to report on, including a lifer!

Again, no pictures other than a few old ones that I’m recycling here… and yet again a pretty dull species list.

 

Wilson’s Storm-Petrel (Océanite de Wilson): unidentified storm-petrels were regularly seen in small numbers, and most likely referred to this species.

Cape Verde Shearwater (Puffin du Cap-Vert) were seen in good numbers on most days, feeding off Ngor or flying NE, with a max. of at least 540 birds in one hour on 26th. Not as many as last year when the maximum counted on a single day exceeded 5,000 birds (!), but the pattern of appearance and behaviour of birds is very much in line with the previous season.

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Cape Verde Shearwater / Puffin du Cap-Vert, off Ngor, April 2018

 

Cory’s / Scopoli’s Shearwater (Puffin cendré / de Scopoli): at least three on 26th when there was a remarkable diversity of shearwaters, with five species noted. Probably also a few on 11th, 14th and 15th but too far or seen too briefly to positively identify.

Two to five Great Shearwater (Puffin majeur) seen flying NE amidst the other shearwaters on 26th – remarkably similar to last year’s record of two birds on May 25th, noted as “apparently migrating north” and thought to be the first May record – see the short paper we published in the latest volume of Malimbus on a “wreckage” of Great Shearwater in the the occurrence in Senegal & Gambia (Barlow et al. 2018), PDF available here on my ResearchGate page.

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Great Shearwater / Puffin majeur, off Kayar, Nov. 2017

 

Sooty Shearwater (Puffin fuligineux): a few seen on 18th, 21st and 26th, with at least 12 birds on the latter date: these records suggest that this Southern Hemisphere breeder is slightly more numerous later in spring.

Boyd’s / Barolo Shearwater (Puffin de Boyd / Macaronésie): one on 21st seen at fairly close range was identified as  Barolo Shearwater – for once it was close enough and I was able to follow it over quite a distance. Probably a bird en route to its breeding grounds. Another one, also flying north-east, was either baroli or boydi. The taxonomic situation of these small black and white shearwaters is complex and seems to be constantly changing. with BirdLife and HBW now treating both taxa as subspecies of Audubon’s Shearwater (Puffinus lherminieri). Either way, these are apparently quite rare spring records, though Dupuy (1984) lists what was then known as “Little Shearwater” as an uncommon offshore “summer” visitor. Boyd’s Shearwater breeds exclusively on the Cape Verde islands (only about 5,000 pairs!), while Barolo’s breeds further north on the Macaronesian islands where it is known from Madeira, the Azores, the Selvagems, and the Canary Islands, with a total breeding population of the same order of magnitude.

Northern Gannet (Fou de Bassan): seen in small numbers on most days; all but one were immature birds (and one on 15th may actually have been a Cape Gannet, but I couldn’t rule out a 4th year Northern Gannet as I didn’t see the underwing pattern…).

Red-footed Booby (Fou à pieds rouges): a species I’d never seen before but somehow expected to show up one day at Ngor, two were seen feeding in the surf just beyond the Ngor islet on 17th, nicely showing their pink (not red!) feet, bluish bill and uniform brown plumage. One was seen again the following day and what I assume are the same two birds (both dark morph adults or near-adults) on 22nd, when they appeared to take off from the islet where they may have spent the night. Third record for Senegal! More on this species, which will likely show up more frequently in coming years, in this recent post.

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Red-footed Booby / Fou à pieds rouges off Kayar, Oct. 2016 (B. van Gemerden)

 

Brown Booby (Fou brun): just one record so far, of an immature (2nd c.y.) on 14th. Looks like the Iles de la Madeleine birds – if they are indeed still present – don’t wander around the peninsula too much.

A few Great While Pelicans were regularly seen, flying about or resting out at sea (and once on the islet), and on 26th a Pink-backed Pelican made an appearance (Pélicans blancs et gris).

Other than an Oystercatcher on 20th and three Whimbrels on 11th (and a few Common Sandpipers), no more waders were seen during May (Huîtrier pie, Courlis corlieu, Chevalier guignette).

Long-tailed Skua (Labbe à longue queue): following several records in the latter half of April, at least three were identified on 11th, one on 18th, and one on 26th – confirming that spring migration of this species occurs up to the end of May off Senegal. Pomarine and Arctic Skuas were much scarcer than in April, with just three records for the former and five for the latter species.

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Long-tailed Skua / Labbe à longue queue imm. off Ngor, April 2017

 

Audouin’s Gull (Goéland d’Audouin): up to three birds seen in any one session, though no notable active migrants as was the case in April; all were immature birds.

Sabine’s Gull (Mouette de Sabine) were recorded up to May 22nd, with four records of 1-9 actively migrating birds. Other gull species included 10 Grey-headed Gulls flying NE on 20th, and three Slender-billed Gulls on 22nd. A single Lesser Black-backed Gull was seen on 22nd, when a probable Kelp Gull was also present.

Single Bridled Tern (Sterne bridée) were seen feeding and flying around quite close to shore on 11th and 15th, bringing the total to three birds so far this season.

Lesser Crested Tern (Sterne voyageuse): seen twice (17th & 20th), unlike African Royal Tern (Sterne royale) which remained present in decent numbers throughout. Caspian Tern (Sterne caspienne) was seen just once, on 22nd.

Roseate Tern (Sterne de Dougall): following a decent passage in April, just one seen on 17th, though others may have passed through further offshore amidst Common and Arctic Terns (Sternes pierragarin et arctique). These two species were seen almost daily, but again in much smaller numbers than in April.

Three Whiskered Terns (Guifette moustac) flew past on 11th, followed by two White-winged Terns (Guifette leucoptère) on 21st. Black Terns (Guifette noire) were less numerous than in April, except on May 11th when about 300 birds were counted.

Let’s see what June brings! Assuming that I manage to make it out to the Calao…

 

Ngor spring migration: April 2018

Quick update on this past month’s seawatch sessions from Ngor, as there have been a few good species lately. As usual, most of these are from short sessions at the Calao, with a few from Pointe des Almadies and from a mini-pelagic on April 22nd. Here’s a rather dull species list, but given that still fairy little is known about the phenology of spring seabird migration off Dakar, I thought it would be worthwhile reviewing them here. I don’t really have any recent pictures to illustrate these records, except for a really poor header picture of a Sabine’s Gull actively migrating past the Pointe, and a few older pics that I’m recycling in this blog post.

So here we go:

Cape Verde Shearwater (Puffin du Cap-Vert): the first few birds were seen on 3.3 (min. 2), then ca. 20 on 16-17.3, and a regular presence was noted throughout April when seen during most sessions from 4th, typically 50-100 birds feeding offshore, at most ca. 490 birds on 27th (but just a handful the next day and none seen on 29th!).

Scopoli’s Shearwater (Puffin de Scopoli): at least one during our boat trip on 22.4, with Cory’s or Scopoli’s noted from Ngor on 28th (as well as on March 3rd & 11th).

Sooty Shearwater (Puffin fuligineux): first seen on 16.3, then again singles on 31/3 and 7/4, and at least three birds on 20th. Not much… and note that we didn’t see a single bird  during our boat trip.

European Storm-Petrel (Océanite tempête): after a good presence during the first half of February, the species was seen again on 22.4 from the boat, with a minimum of two birds.

Wilson’s Storm-Petrel (Océanite de Wilson): at least six were seen on 22.4, again during our boat trip. Unidentified storm-petrels migrating past the Calao on 7th (min. 8), 11th (3), 20th (3) and 29th (1) were likely this species, though others can’t be ruled out – when seen from land, these birds can be incredibly difficult to identify due to either the distance or the very brief sightings as they always fly low over the water surface and are typically seen only for a second or two before they disappear again in between waves.

Northern Gannet (Fou de Bassan): at most ca. 175 on 31.3, with numbers gradually decreasing throughout April. Curiously, no marked NE-ward passage was noted.

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Northern Gannet / Fou de Bassan, Ngor, April 2017

 

Grey (Red) Phalarope (Phalarope à bec large): four migrating on 29th was a good spring record! Other than these, the only waders seen during this period were a few groups of Whimbrel (Courlis corlieu).

Long-tailed Skua (Labbe à longue queue) single adults passing through on 20, 21 & 25.4, two on 26th, and an immature flew past on 29th. Pomarine and Arctic Skuas were seen in small numbers on most days, many of which were flying NE (though rarely more than five in any one session).

Lesser Black-backed Gull (Goéland brun): usually present in small numbers, either feeding in the surf or migrating past Ngor. There was obviously a peak around mid-March, with 107 passing through in just 40 minutes on 16.3, and 52 in half an hour the next day.

Audouin’s Gull (Goéland d’Audouin): typically between one and five birds seen on any one session, but on 16.3 there were 27 (incl. three adults) migrating past in 40 minutes and 14 the following day (in 30 minutes) – thus coinciding with the peak of the previous species.

Sabine’s Gull (Mouette de Sabine): after the first five on 4.4, becomes increasingly frequent towards the end of the month, with a max. of ca. 40 during our 22.4 boat trip, and 31 on 27th in just one hour. Actual numbers must be quite a bit higher as this species mostly passes through far out, typically in small groups. Sometimes a few birds would migrate closer to shore, and occasionally some would be feeding or resting just in front of the Calao. Other gull species included a surprising flock of 31 Grey-headed Gulls flying NE on 27th, and six Slender-billeds at Pointe des Almadies the following day.

Bridled Tern (Sterne bridée): one passing to the NE at fairly short range on 26.4 was a very nice surprise, as I’d only seen the species once before here (and more generally, away from the Iles de la Madeleine breeding grounds). It also appears to be an early date for the species, as it is typically seen in May-July. My only previous Ngor record was of three birds flying SW on 10 June ’16. Sauvage & Rodwell give the range of 27/4 – 9/7 for PNIM, and A. R. Dupuy recorded the species no less than eleven times from Pointe des Almadies from 26 May to 14 July ’92.

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Bridled Tern / Sterne bridee, Iles de la Madeleine, June 2017

 

Lesser Crested Tern (Sterne voyageuse): seen in small numbers throughout the month, with a good max. of at least 178 birds passing through on 9th, in just 65 minutes. African Royal Tern (Sterne royale) was seen on most days, typically in small numbers. Much less frequent were Caspian Tern (Sterne caspienne; singles on 31.3 and 28.4) and Little Tern (Sterne naine; one on 6.4, and a group of 16 migrating on 29th).

Roseate Tern (Sterne de Dougall): first seen on 31.3, then regular until the middle of the month with a max. of no less than 56 on 9th in just over an hour. Also singles on 26th and 28th. Most birds were actively migrating, with a few feeding locally with the mixed tern flock.

Arctic Tern (Sterne arctique): the first four birds were seen on 16.3, becoming regular from the end of March and seen on most sessions in April, max. ca. 70 on 24th though numbers probably higher as 1) species difficult to count, and many common/Arctic terns noted.

White-winged Tern (Guifette leucoptère): one flew past on 16.3, and a fine adult in summer plumage was feeding among the numerous Black Terns on 28.4 (Guifette noire). The latter species is seen pretty much during every session, with a maximum towards the end of the month: probably more well over 1,200 birds on 28th. An adult Whiskered Tern (Guifette moustac) was seen on 22nd, flying NE.

That’s about it for now.

On the raptors front, Osprey has been a regular sighting, as always during winter, until 31.3 at Ngor, after which one was seen on 13.4 at Mamelles and on 14.4 at PNIM. A few young birds may still hang around of course. The wintering pair of Peregrines was last seen on 20.4 roosting on the Diarama hotel, and two birds were seen roosting in the Mamelles cliff on 22.4 – pretty intriguing!

 

 

#223 @Technopole

Quatre semaines déjà depuis ma dernière visite au Technopole: il était grand temps de rattraper ça! Retour sur le site donc ce matin, pour deux heures bien remplies sur place en agréable compagnie de Miguel. Un peu rapide comme visite mais on voulait encore passer au Calao voir ce qui se passe en mer aujourd’hui.

Grands Gravelots, Bécasseaux minutes, variables et sanderlings, quelques sternes et goélands, un Balbu qui se pose dans l’eau pendant quelques instants, un petit groupe de Flamants roses en train de se nourrir, puis tiens!… un Phalarope à bec large répéré par Miguel, d’abord au bord d’un tout petit îlot, pas trop loin de nous, puis il s’envole pour se poser hors de vue. Peu après, on le voit réapparaître lorsqu’il rejoint une bande de Guifettes noires: étonnante similarité en termes de plumage! Les nuances de gris/noir, le dessous blanc, même la “virgule” grise sur le haut des flancs, l’épaule noire… presque tout y est, comme s’ils avaient enfoui la même livrée. Notre oiseau était sans doute un adulte, d’après les quelques plumes rousses restant sur l’arrière des flancs. Il se tenait dans le secteur de la cabane à pecheurs.

Voici l’une de mes photos floues en guise de documentation de cette première observation technopolienne (vous l’aurez compris, c’est donc la 223e espèce vue sur le site).

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Grey (Red) Phalarope / Phalarope à bec large

Cette observation, plus attendue que celles de son cousin à bec étroit au printemps dernier, intervient en plein dans la période de migration postnutiale de l’espèce. Nicheur de la toundra arctique (les plus proches se trouvent dans le NE du Canada et en Islande), cet oiseau hiverne au large dans l’Atlantique et le Pacifique. Il est apparemment présent par milliers devant les côtes ouest-africaines. D’ailleurs j’en ai observé un l’autre jour depuis la terasse du Calao, filant plein SO, plus certainement au moins un groupe de quelques dizaines d’individus il y a quelques jours, mais trop loin pour certifier l’espèce à coup sûr.

Pour le reste, une jeune Spatule blanche, deux voire trois Faucons chicqueras, un Tournepierre, deux Chevaliers stagnatiles, deux Mouettes rieuses parmi les Goélands railleurs, un seul Goéland brun, quelques Sternes naines et… une Sterne de Dougall de 1er été. Ce plumage n’est pas illustré dans les guides de terrain classiques, mais au moins dans Olsen & Larsson (Les Sternes d’Europe et d’Amérique du Nord, 1994; en Néerlandais) on a une description assez complète qui semble confirmer notre identification. La structure de l’oiseau, ressemblant globalement à la Sterne pierregarin mais avec un bec bien plus long, plus droit et plus fin, et une queue relativement longue (non visible sur la photo), semble caractéristique, tout comme l’allure en vol. Le plumage plus blanc, notamment sur le manteau et les ailes, le bec tout sombre (juste la base est d’un rouge écarlate très foncé), et les pattes rouges sombres correspondent également. Les oiseaux de 1er été sont censés etre “pratiquement comme des adultes”, mais certains individus, comme le nôtre, ont encore les petites couvertures sombres.  Curieusement cet individu a une petite pointe pâle (jaune?) au bout du bec, rappelant ainsi la Sterne caugek.

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Roseate Tern / Sterne de Dougall

 

Autre sterne, autre gabarit, mais plumage assez similaire: un adulte (à gauche) et un jeune (de dos) de Sterne naine, ici au repos parmis les Bécasseaux variables:

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Little Tern / Sterne naine

 

Pour une fois, la Talève d’Afrique se montre à découvert:

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African Swamphen / Talève d’Afrique

 

Les premières Mouettes rieuses sont maintenant de retour, ici l’un des deux oiseaux en compagnie de deux Sternes hansels:

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Black-headed Gull & Gull-billed Tern / Mouette rieuse et Sterne hansel

 

Et donc ce Balbu de 2e année qui est venu se poser un moment dans l’eau, juste derrière la Club House.

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Osprey / Balbuzard

 

Au Calao, près d’une heure et demie de suivi permet de comptabiliser quelques Puffins fuligineuxLabbes arctiques et pomarins (27 au total), sept espèces de sternes (en majorité des arctiques: +500), un Fou brun, un jeune Goéland d’Audouin, et deux espèces bien moins attendues: d’abord un Héron pourpré seul qui atterrit derrière l’îlot, puis un 2e individu venant du nord (donc depuis le large!) avec trois Hérons cendrés; peu après c’est une Huppe fasciée qui prend exactement le même chemin que celle vue en début de semaine: arrivée du large, elle passe entre l’îlot et l’île de Ngor, puis est perdue de vue (s’est-elle posée sur l’île?). Comme quoi y a pas que les oiseaux marins qui passent devant Ngor!

Et pas que les oiseaux d’ailleurs: hier un petit groupe de dauphins, et ce matin pour la 4e fois depuis fin août il y avait deux baleines, cette fois bien plus au large que les fois précédentes. Difficile de se prononcer sur l’espèce… peut-être le Rorqual de Brydes, ou encore Sei, ou Fin, voire la Baleine de Minke (Petit Rorqual)… Si je m’y connais un peu en oiseaux, c’en est autrement pour le mammifères marins sur lesquels j’ai tout à apprendre! Le peu que je peux en dire c’est que lorsque les baleines viennent à la surface, toujours très rapidement, on ne voit qu’une petite partie du dos, montrant une nageoire dorsale bien distince et nettement courbée vers l’arrière. Une seule fois un individu a sorti la queue avant de plonger. Le souffle est peu volumineux et de forme plutot triangulaire; en général ils se montrent à plusieurs reprises en l’espace de quelques minutes, puis disparaissent pendant 15-20 minutes avant de refaire surface un peu plus loin.

 

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Les Monticoles de Popenguine (13/02)

Les falaises du Cap de Naze entre Popenguine et Guereo sont connues depuis longtemps comme site d’hivernage du Monticole bleu, cette espèce méditerranéenne partiellement migratrice qui atteint ici sa limite méridionale en période d’hivernage. C’est aussi le site le plus fiable pour l’Hirondelle de rochers hivernant dans le pays, et apparemment aussi, en saison des pluies, pour le Martinet à croupion blanc (caffre) que j’ai pu y voir en septembre dernier. Une visite sur place avec Boris samedi dernier était donc l’occasion de passer un peu plus de temps dans la réserve et de chercher les “merles bleus” (à ne pas confondre, comme le font les gens du coin, avec les Merles métalliques!). C’est depuis le village de Guereo que nous sommes partis, en fin d’après-midi, en longeant les crêtes jusqu’à Popenguine avant de regagner notre point de départ par la plage.

Avant même d’avoir commencé à grimper le chemin qui mène en haut des falaises, un oiseau de la taille d’un merle vole devant nous: un Monticole de roche! Ça commence bien… d’autant plus que cette espèce est probablement plus difficile à trouver que son cousin bleu. Hivernerait-il ici? En consultant le Morel & Morel, je constate qu’il y a déjà eu plusieurs observations sur ce site même, bien que l’espèce semble généralement très peu détectée au Sénégal: seules douze observations étaient connues au moment de l’article de Sauvage & Rodwell soit jusqu’en 1994 (et la rubrique “News” des pages Sénégal de l’African Bird Club contient une observation de début février 2005 entre Kaolack et Tambacounda). Addendum nov. 2018: j’ai trouve une vidéo sur la Internet Bird Collection d’un Monticole de roche mâle datant du 20/1/2010 à… Popenguine. Et en novembre 2018, nous avons de nouveau pu observer un individu dans la réserve – comme quoi le site semble un des meilleurs au Sénégal pour voir ce migrateur assez rare. 

En avançant, un Bruant d’Alexander peu farouche, apparemment un juvénile, se montre sur le sentier, le premier de toute une série vue pendant notre tournée. J’ai d’ailleurs pu voir ce sympathique petit oiseau a chacun de mes visites, souvent avec plusieurs males chanteurs repartis dans les éboulis au pied de la falaise. Bruant de qui au juste? Jusqu’à récemment ce taxon était généralement considéré comme une sous-espèce du Bruant cannelle (Cinnamon-breasted Bunting) qui vit principalement en Afrique australe et orientale et dans le Sud de la Péninsule arabe. Si les différences de plumage sont assez marquées, il en est moins avec le chant et le cri qui sont très similaires, sinon identiques, entre les deux espèces (j’ai récemment pu enregistrer plusieurs chanteurs près de Bamako, à écouter en cliquant ici). Alors, “simples” sous-espèces, ou réellement des espèces à part entière? Peu importe, ce sont des piafs bien sympathiques!

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Gosling’s Bunting / Bruant d’Alexander

 

On continue de suivre le sentier longeant le sommet des falaises, et à tour de rôle on observe Circaète Jean-le-Blanc (en migration active?), Agrobates roux et podobé, un Pririt du Sénégal, un couple de Beaumarquets melba (ma première observation au Sénégal), une ou deux Pie-grièche à tête rousse et autres Fauvettes grisettes.

Point de merle bleu par contre… pensant encore rentrer bredouille sur ce coup, ce n’est qu’en arrivant au bout de la plage de sable, avant de passer dans les rochers volcaniques, que je repère un oiseau sombre au sommet de la falaise. C’est bien lui – un beau mâle de Monticole bleu, observant tranquillement les environs depuis son promontoire surplombant la mer… La photo ci-dessous est prise depuis la plage donc à bonne distance de l’oiseau, probablement 80-100 mètres (le sommet du Cap de Naze s’élève à 74m). On fait donc un doublé inattendu avec les deux espèces de Monticola hivernants!

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Blue Rock Thrush / Monticole bleu

 

Mais justement, qu’en est-il du statut du Monticole bleu – le “solitaire” – au Sénégal? Paul Robinson a déjà bien résumé la situation suite à une visite en 2012, donc je reprends ici l’essentiel: En dehors de Popenguine, les seules falaises côtières d’envergure sont celles des Mamelles à Dakar, ou quelques données anciennes sont connues, mais c’est peut-être faute de recherches spécifiques qu’il n’y a rien de plus récent. Morel & Morel font bien état d’une population de quelques dizaines d’hivernants sur la côte (Cap-Vert, Gorée, Popenguine), d’une présence hivernale dans le contre-bas du Fouta-Djalon à la frontière guinéenne, et de plusieurs observations isolées sur des bâtiments, faute de relief. A Popenguine, l’espèce serait présente de mi-octobre (dixit l’ornitho local Sonko) à début avril (Morel & Morel) mais des estivages ont été notées dans les années ’80. Une reproduction régulière à Popenguine serait vraiment étonnante eu égard de son aire de répartition typiquement méditerranéenne, et les seuls indices, à notre connaissance, sont anciens et n’ont pas apporté de preuve concrète. Peut-être que les observations de 1983 et ’84, même si des comportements nuptiaux ont été observés, se rapportaient à des estivants occasionnels.

Pas le temps de s’attarder beaucoup plus car le soleil se couche vite et on veut rentrer au lodge des Manguiers de Guereo avant la tombée de la nuit. On croise encore un Courlis corlieu et deux Rolliers d’Abyssinie, puis on regagne le village.

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Whimbrel / Courlis corlieu

 

Le lendemain matin, on se retrouve à l’aube – malgre le liqueur de Warang de la veille – pour partir cette fois dans la lagune de Somone, facilement accessible à pied depuis les Manguiers. A peine sortis du périmetre du lodge, on repère un puis deux jeunes Loups africains peu inquiets par notre présence. Un peu plus tard, on les reverra trotter dans la mangrove.

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African Wolf / Loup africain

 

En parcourant un ilot dans la lagune, on tombe sur trois Balbuzards posés au sol. Vérification faite, l’un d’eux est bagué en couleurs et après un moment on arrive enfin à déchiffrer l’inscription sur la bague orange: “5 [point] V”. Cette femelle a ete baguée en juin 2012 comme poussin au nid par Rolf Wahl en Forêt d’Orléans (Loiret), le bastion de l’espèce en France continentaleª. Depuis, elle a été vue en janvier 2013, novembre 2013 et février 2014, à chaque fois à la Somone. Bel exemple de fidelité au site d’hivernage!

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Osprey / Balbuzard pêcheur femelle “5 . V orange”

 

Peu de limicoles et de laridés de ce côté de la lagune, mais tout de même quelques migrateurs à se mettre dans les jumelles: un Martinet pâle, quelques Hirondelles de fenêtre et de rivage, encore une Pie-grièche à tête rousse,… Egalement une Rousserolle turdoïde entendue dans la mangrove, espèce apparemment peu signalée au Sénégal.

 

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Abyssinian Roller / Rollier d’Abyssinie

 

Pour finir je ne résiste pas l’envie de partager cette photo d’un Sphinx du Liseron, malheureusement mourant, prise aux Manguiers de Guereo.

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Convolvulus Hawk-Moth / Sphinx du Liseron (Agrius convolvulvi

 

ª Pour en savoir plus sur l’historique du Balbuzard en France et en Forêt d’Orléans, lisez cette synthèse sur ornithomedia.

PS du 21.02: à propos des Balbuzards hivernant au Sénégal, voir la note de Frédéric Bacuez sur ornithondar, tombé le même jour que l’article ci-dessus.

3,100 km on Osprey wings.

Previously published on the blog Quest of Quist in 2009.

It is the time of the year when we should lean back and search the skies for migrating Ospreys, which are already a daily presence along the coast at Dakar.

In December 2008, Professor Dr. Bern U. Meyburg requested my assistance to retrieve a GPS transmitter from an Osprey, which had died in the Sine Saloum delta in Senegal. This gave me some insight into a fantastic migration story.

Through his programme, Raptor Research, Professor Meyburg has for many years studied the migration of raptors between breeding areas and the wintering sites, in  recent years with the use of solar powered GPS transmitters.

Photo by Frank Burchett

On the 21st of June 2008, an Osprey was trapped and fitted a small GPS transmitter, no.81340. This happened at Lake Müritz in northern Germany only 16 kilometers from the place where it was ringed as a nestling 8 years earlier.  Four times daily the GPS transmitter would upload position, speed, heading and altitude of Osprey 81340 on its 3,100 km migration route from northern Germany to Senegal.

Osprey 81340 migration route - provided by Raptor Research

Osprey 81340 started its southwestern trip across Northern Germany, into Holland, Belgium, through France and across Spain. Then it did something unusual. Instead of taking the short route over the strait of Gibraltar, which offers only 15 km open water, it crossed the Iberian coastline near the Spanish/Portuguese border and headed into the Atlantic by night. It did not turn towards the African Continent until much further south in Morocco.

Osprey 81340 continued south in Morocco, left the coastline and crossed Western Sahara and Mauritania inland. By October it reached northern Senegal.

Once again Osprey 81340 did something unusual.  According to Professor Meyburg the majority of Ospreys have small winter home ranges along rivers in Senegal or the Gambia. But in October and November 81340 stayed for a long while at the Atlantic coast approximately 130 km north of Dakar. Professor Meyburg asked me to explore the area based on coordinates.

It was an arid area – quiet different to Osprey 81340’s flush and green breeding area in Germany. Behind a white sand beach was a 200 – 300 meter broad belt of wind bent trees. This was where 81340 rested. And behind the tree belt was semi-desert (photo). There were a few villages but not many people.  The nearest tarmac road is 30 km to the east.

In mid December Osprey 81340 left its sandy and windy beach and continued east of the Dakar peninsula and flew via the coastal region south of Dakar towards the Sine Saloum delta. Shortly before Christmas, Professor Meyburg unfortunately received a telephone call that Osprey 81340 had been found dead in the Sine Saloum delta.  (His telephone number was printed on the GPS).

Professor Meyburg asked me to retrieve the GPS transmitter and I went to an area inland of Joal-Fadiouth, where I met the finder and his family. The finder told me that he was out fishing with cast net in the delta (photo), when he discovered Osprey 81340 perch ill or exhausted in one of the mangrove bushes. When he returned a couple of hours later the bird was dead and the finder secured the GPS transmitter and its rings.

The Finder and his family. GPS in hand.

The finder and his family were poor people. Their diet consisted almost entirely of locally produced couscous, because rice was too expensive. They got protein by eating small carp caught in the delta. A pig was bound behind one of the huts. It waited (not with glee) for a festival. A pig is an unusual domestic animal in Senegal. The Finder and his family were Catholics in the 89% Muslim country.

But what did Osprey 81340 actually die off? This was discussed thoroughly in the African Bird Club’s mail group. According to Professor Meyburg it had only flown very short distances in the days up to its death. Not distances which in any way could exhaust it.

It was suggested that it by accident could have become tangled in fishing net while foraging, but I did not see fixed net installations at all where the bird was found, and this did not tally with the finder’s explanation.

How Osprey 81340 really died will remain a mystery. But perhaps, when it comes to it, an Osprey is not necessarily on top of the food chain.

Anyway, the brave bird did 1,300 km from Lake Müritz in Germany to Sine Saloum delta in Senegal.

Flemming.