Tag Archive | Technopole

Technopole updates – waders, gulls, and a hybrid heron

It’s been a while since I last talked about Technopole on this blog, so here’s a quick update on recent sightings at our favourite Dakar hotspot. I’ve been fortunate to visit several times in the last few weeks, most recently on August 22nd and September 2nd. At the end of August, the site was the driest it’s been in many years: barely any water left on what I usually refer to as the “central lake”. Only some shallow water remained on the far south end along the main road, and even less in the north-east corner close to the golf club house. Even the level of the large reed-fringed lake on the north-east side has dropped substantially.

As a result, there are far fewer birds around than would usually be the case at this time of the year, when the first rains start filling up the lakes again. There are now very few waders, herons and cormorants, hardly any ducks and fairly few gulls and terns (which is more usual during late summer). With the rains finally arriving in Dakar – though just four or five decent showers so far – the site has rapidly started filling up in the past two weeks and is becoming more attractive once again.

This is what it looked like roughly between June and the end of August: hardly any water!!

Technopole_20180610_IMG_2354

 

Despite the low water levels, diversity remains pretty high, with still some 70-75 species typically seen on recent visits. The highlight on Aug. 22nd was yet again a Franklin’s Gull among the flock of Slender-billed Gulls, most likely the same 2nd c.y. bird as in May and June, seen here for the fourth time (see this piece about the species’ status in Senegal and more broadly in West Africa).

Great White Pelicans are particularly numerous this year, with an impressive 650-700 birds present at the moment. They most likely come from the Djoudj colony; unlike in previous years the species is also present daily at Ngor, though in much lower numbers than at Technopole. And a few days ago I even had four flying over the house at Almadies, yet another garden tick.

Besides the ever-present Black-winged Stilts and Spur-winged Lapwings, (both still with several older chicks and quite a few locally hatched juveniles), Ruff is now the most numerous wader, though there are 30-40 birds only… compare with the ∼500 Ruffs counted last year in August! Also just four Black-tailed Godwits (also a Bar-tailed on Aug. 12th), single Whimbrel, Marsh Sandpiper, Dunlin, 4-5 Little Stints and just a handful of Sanderlings, while the first Curlew Sandpipers were seen on Sept. 2nd. On the same day, a Little Ringed Plover was present near the fishermen’s hut – there don’t seem to be many “autumn” records at Technopole of this species. A Kittlitz’s Plover was seen again on Aug. 22nd, following several records in previous months: could the species have bred at Technopole? In June we found a nest containing two eggs and several additional terrtitories near Lac Rose.

MarshSandpiper_Technopole_20180822_IMG_3084

Marsh Sandpiper / Chevalier stagnatile

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Scruffy Sanderling…  a moulting adult (Bécasseau sanderling ad. en mue)

 

On July 7th, a presumed hybrid Little Egret x Western Reef Heron was seen along the track leading to the golf course: interesting bird, as it may mean that there are mixed broods at the Parc de Hann colony, unless of course it was born in the Somone or another heronry. Or that it may be breeding there at the moment, as our bird was obviously an adult in breeding plumage, judging by the pink-reddish feet, bluish lores and long feathers extending from the back of the head. While difficult to judge, the bill length and shape also seems to be more like Little Egret. In addition to the features in the pictures below – in particular the whitish head, central neck and lower belly – we noted a fair amount of white on the wing, mainly towards the base of the outer hand.

WesternReefxLittleEgret_Technopole_20180707_IMG_2889

Presumed hybrid Little Egret x Western Reef Heron / probable hybride Aigrette garzette x Aigrette des récifs

WesternReefxLittleEgret_Technopole_20180707_IMG_2895

Head shot of same bird

Now compare with this typical Western Reef Heron, photographed during my most recent visit to Technopole:

WesternReefHeron_Technopole_20180902_IMG_3152

Western Reef Heron / Aigrette des récifs

Our bird corresponds to presumed hybrids found in southern Europe and in Morocco, though we can’t rule out the possibility that it is in fact a rare dark morph Little Egret, as these do seem to exist… mcuh remains to be learned about these egrets! For more on the identification of Western Reef Heron and Little Egret, see Dubois and Yésou’s article in British Birds (1995).

Talking of herons, here’s a breeding-plumaged Great Egret: note the entirely black legs and feet as well as the mostly dark bill, with just the some yellow still apparent on part of the lower mandible. The bare skin around the eye and on the lores could be described as pale turquoise, though it transitions from light green to more bluish tones. Quite amazing how these birds completely change the colour of their bill and legs during breeding season!

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Great Egret / Grande Aigrette

 

Besides the above waterbirds, Technopole of course holds lots of good other birds: at the moment, there are a few Broad-billed Rollers that appear to be breeding, and other wet-season visitors such as Woodland Kingfisher and Diederik Cuckoo are also around. And while breeding wasn’t confirmed this year, Red-necked Falcon is still seen on most visits, usually flying around or actively hunting. Zebra Waxbill was more of a surprise, as I’d only seen this species on a few occasions in winter. The lack of rain may have prompted these birds to wander about and somehow make it to Technopole.

Last Sunday I paid an early morning visit to Yène-Tode, but despite the recent rains the lagoon is still largely dry and didn’t hold many birds… The first few puddles had formed, but I reckon it’ll take several more decent showers before the lagoon fills up again. The highlight were two Spur-winged Geese, a species that is rarely seen in the Dakar region and that somehow manages to largely avoid Technopole. To be continued!

 

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White-faced Whistling-Duck / Dendrocygne veuf (Technopole 2.9)

 

 

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Franklin’s Gull in Senegal & West Africa

A new observation of a Franklin’s Gull at Technopole, on May 20th, prompted me to have a closer look at the records of this American species in Senegal and more generally across West Africa. I’ve been compiling records of Nearctic vagrants for some time now, which I may use one day to write up a formal publication on the topic – the list currently includes 83 records of 18 different species and some patterns are starting to emerge.

No less than 21 of these records are of Franklin’s Gulls, though these correspond to at least 36 different observations (one record can refer to a bird seen over several dates). As such, this is by far the most frequent American vagrant seen in Senegal. It’s actually been annual at Technopole since 2011, year that saw the arrival of three different birds. In the following three years, at least five different birds were regularly seen, to the extent that Franklin’s Gull became an expected feature at Technopole during that period (I was lucky to see one of these birds in July 2012, during a visit with Paul). It’s been quite difficult to determine how many records there actually are, as it’s not always clear when multiple records relate to a single bird, and whether the recent spring sightings at Technopole (2015 – 2017) may also be all of just one returning adult.

Here’s the most recent bird:

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Franklin’s Gull / Mouette de Franklin, Technopole, 20.5.18

This year’s bird is clearly not a returning adult, as it appears to be a second calendar year (“first summer”) bird. Ageing Franklin’s Gull is not always straightforward – see K. M. Olsen’s comment in this short post by Paul – but I think this bird can be fairly safely identified as a second year bird, based on the head pattern (adults such as last year’s should have a completely black hood) combined with a small amount of white in the primary tips – and note active moult of primaries.

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Franklin’s Gull / Mouette de Franklin, Technopole 20.5.18

This is what we have in terms of records so far – corrections and additions welcome!

  1. 29.5.83 Delta du Saloum, Fatick, paired with Grey-headed Gull, sitting on nest (Erard et al. 1984)
  2. 17.1.86 Ile de Gorée, Dakar, first winter (F. Baillon) (Baillon & Dubois 1992)
  3. 24.4.86 Delta du Saloum, Fatick, among Grey-headed Gulls (C. Devisse) (Baillon & Dubois 1992)
  4. 3.12.88 Plage de Hann, Dakar, adult (J. J. Blanchon, P. J. Dubois, J. P. Pillion) (Baillon & Dubois 1992)
  5. 18.2.91 Plage de Hann, Dakar, first winter (P. J. Dubois, P. Le Maréchal et al.) (Baillon & Dubois 1992)
  6. 28.2.07 Saint-Louis, adult (J. Piette; H. Dufourny; ABC Recent Reports Vol. 14(2) & 15(1))
  7. Oct. 2008 Ngor, Dakar (French seawatch team)
  8. 26.1.11 Bao Bolon, Kaolack, 2nd year (R. Ottvall et al. – trip report here)
  9. 24.7 – 1.8.11 Technopole, two 2nd year (P. Robinson)
  10. 5.8.11 Technopole, 2nd year, different from previous two birds (P. Robinson)
  11. 29.10.11 Yoff, Dakar (P. Robinson)
  12. 11.2.12 Technopole (J.-F. Blanc, S. Cavaillès)
  13. 3.5 – 18.8.12 Technopole, up to three seen min. nine times (P. Robinson, S. Cavaillès, BP)
  14. 18.5.12 Almadies, Ngor, near lighthouse Pointe des Almadies, seen from boat (P. Robinson)
  15. 16.4 – 4.8.13 Technopole, up to four seen min. eight times (P. Robinson et al.), also one on 18.8 at lac Mbeubeusse (P. Robinson, G. Citegetse et al.)
  16. 6-16.3.14 Technopole, adult (P. Robinson; J.-F. Blanc)
  17. 15-20.3.15 Technopole, adult (BP; J.-F. Blanc)
  18. 3.5.15 Technopole, adult (BP) – possibly the same as in March, or a different bird (and treated as such in this list).
  19. 13.7.16 Technopole, adult (W. Hagemeijer, M. van Leeuwen; photo on observado.org)
  20. 14.5.17 Technopole, adult (BP)
  21. 20.5, 10.6, 7.7, 22.8 & 20.9.18 Technopole, 2nd year (BP, M. Lecoq, G. Caucanas)

There’s obviously a clear increase in the number of records in the last eight years, even since 2007 after which this neat gull was not seen during two years only. The arrival of up to five different immature birds in 2011-2014 is noteworthy and as far as we know this was unprecedented in Africa. With the exception of this year’s bird, it’s quite possible that the single adults seen at Technopole since 2014 all refer to one or more of these original five, spending the winter further south and moving back north through Senegal in spring.

The near-absence of records prior to 2011 doesn’t mean much, since observer coverage was much lower then, so it’s hard to say anything much about longer term trends: the increase in records is probably in a large part related to increased observer pressure, particularly in Dakar where the majority of records are from. This also makes more sense, rather than that it reflects a real increase in records, considering that Franklin’s Gull is a species that’s said to be declining, particularly in the U.S.

Below is an attempt to plot the number of observations (not records!) and the number of birds involved, based on available data up to early June 2018.

FranklinsGull_Records_Year

Here’s one of the 2011 birds from Technopole, thought to be second year:

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2nd c.y. (30.7.11, Paul Robinson)

This one is from barely a week later, and is thought to be an adult moulting into winter plumage:

Franklins_3

ad.? (5.8.11, Paul Robinson)

And here’s the adult in full breeding plumage from May 2012 at sea off Almadies. Besides the all-dark hood, note the greater amount of white in the wing tips compared to immature birds:

franklins_1

Franklin’s Gull / Mouette de Franklin, Almadies, May 2012 (P. Robinson)

 

Trying to unravel any seasonal patterns is tricky with so few records, though in recent years it’s clear that most birds show up between March and August, with the most recent observations all from March, May and July. There are only a couple of October records, none from September and November, and at least since 2013 there’s no evidence of wintering birds (if there were any on the Dakar peninsula, we’d probably see them at least from time to time at Technopole!). On the chart below, I’ve included birds that were seen over multiple months in each of the months’ totals, hence the sum of records exceeding 21.

FranklinsGull_Records_Month

 

The breeding record from the Saloum delta is of course intriguing, and it’s not excluded that more attempts have occurred again since the 1983 record.

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Franklin’s Gull outnumbering Slender-billed and Lesser Black-backed Gull on 23.7.13 at Technopole! (Paul Robinson)

 

Records from elsewhere in West Africa are much rarer than in Senegal: in Mauritania, one was seen on 27.1.06, followed by a second record on 17.4.16, both at Banc d’Arguin (Bull. African Bird Club 23: 238), then a third on 23.4.17 in Nouakchott (see Robert Tovey’s account on the find here). In The Gambia, Franklin’s Gull was seen in 1984, on 17.1.02, and again on 8-9.2 until 15.3.05 at least; all records are from Banjul. The first for Ghana was an adult on 8.5.11 on the Sakumono lagoon on the outskirts of Accra.

Nine records are known from Morocco, the most recent one being a first-winter bird on 12.2.16 at Oued Souss (Agadir) – so clearly not one of the Senegal birds as these were all adults by then.

Elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa, there are several records from South Africa, at least two from Mozambique, one from Congo-Brazzaville (one on 14.11.15 at the Kouilou-Niari River), at least one from Burundi, UgandaMalawi, Namibia and Zambia, and the species is also listed as a vagrant to Ascension island and Tristan da Cunha. And the first for the Seychelles was seen on 7.5.17. They really do wander about!!

FranklinsGull_rangemap_xenocantoFranklin’s Gull – now known as Leucophaeus pipixcan –  is a widespread colonial breeder on the prairies of northern North America, wintering mainly in coastal regions on the Pacific coast of South America (Colombia – Chile; range map xeno-canto). It’s a regular vagrant to Europe, and stragglers have been recorded as far as Kazakhstan, Australia and New Zealand, even Antarctica.

 

A few references

Baillon, F. & P.J. Dubois, 1992. Nearctic gull species in Senegal and The Gambia. Dutch Birding 14:49-503

Érard, C, Guillou, J.-J. & Mayaud, N., 1984. Sur l’identité spécifique de certains laridés nicheurs au Sénégal. Alauda 52:184-188

www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Franklins_Gull/lifehistory

 

 

Technopole 29/4: Goélands dominicains & co.

Sortie dominicale de routine au Technopole avant-hier 29/4, avec comme presque toujours quelques observations intéressantes à la clé.

A commencer par ces trois Goélands dominicains (Kelp Gull), espèce rarement observée au Technopole et à Dakar de manière générale : en scannant un groupe de laridés essentiellement composé de Goélands d’Audouin (quelques 85 inds. en tout, un bel effectif pour le site; Audouin’s Gull), un oiseau costaud sort du lot et lorsque j’arrive à voir son bec massif, je peux confirmer qu’il s’agit bien de Larus dominicanus, pas de doute possible cette fois. Un individu adulte ou presque, de taille nettement supérieure aux quelques Goélands bruns (Lesser Black-backed Gull) dans le même groupe, au bec énorme, un manteau bien sombre, et des pattes grises très claires tirant vers le vert. L’iris sombre est conforme à la ssp. vetula (Goéland du Cap, Cape Gull). A côté de lui se tiennent deux immatures avec la même structure et des pattes de la même couleur que l’adulte, soit trois Dominicains en tout. Les deux jeunes ont un âge similaire, ayant un plumage de type “2e cycle”, donc dans ce cas précis ce seraient des oiseaux nés en 2016. A part la taille et la forme du bec, la couleur des pattes est diagnostique et permet de rapidement repérer l’espèce au milieu de groupes de Goélands bruns, qui ont des pattes jaunes (adultes et subadultes) ou roses (immatures). Les trois oiseaux sont visibles sur la photo ci-dessous.

Pour plus d’infos sur l’identification des Goélands dominicains, voir notamment cet article de Jiguet et al. paru dans Birding World (2002), et aussi ici pour ce qui est des oiseaux de premier cycle.

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Audouin’s, Lesser Black-backed & Kelp Gulls / Goélands d’Audouin, brun & dominicain

 

Clive Barlow et Tim Dodman se sont penchés sur la population ouest-africaine, dont le petit noyau se trouve dans le delta du Saloum où l’espèce niche de manière régulière depuis 1980 au moins, lorsqu’un couple présumé mixte G. dominicain x G. brun fut trouvé sur l’Ile aux Oiseaux. Par la suite, des nidifications par des couples purs sont prouvées dès 1983 par Erard et al. Quelques individus fréquentent régulièrement la Gambie et la Mauritanie, et s’y reproduisent parfois, peut-etre aussi en Guinée-Bissau? Et avec l’intérêt grandissant que portent les ornithos européens au Sahara occidental – ou Sahara atlantique marocain, selon quel point de vue politique on adopte! – l’espèce est vue plus ou moins régulièrement en très petits effectifs plus au nord sur le continent, et il y a même quelques observations récentes au Portugal et en France. Clive et Tim émettent l’hypothèse que notre petite population isolée soit établie par quelques oiseaux égarés depuis l’Afrique australe (Afrique du Sud / Namibie), et que cette population soit maintenant autonome sans qu’il n’y ait de mouvements réguliers entres les populations australes et celle d’Afrique de l’Ouest. Il y aurait ainsi entre 20 et 50 couples dans la région. Une étude génétique est en cours ou du moins est-elle prévue, sauf erreur.

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Kelp Gull / Goéland dominicain

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Kelp Gull / Goéland dominicain ad. & imm. (même oiseau que sur la photo précédente

 

En région dakaroise, ce goéland hautement côtier est assez régulièrement signalée par des observateurs de passage, mais je ne suis pas sûr que toutes les observations soient réellement fiables… D’après mes propres données de ces trois dernières années le Goéland dominicain est très peu fréquent. Cela dit, je ne suis pas un larophile et si je faisais plus attention à ce groupe difficile que sont les grands goélands, j’en verrais probablement plus souvent!

Ainsi, Niklas Holmström et collègues en signalent pas moins de 20 entre le 13 et le 27/10/03 devant Ngor, mais un seul entre le 3 et le 16/10/05. Une équipe danoise en compte même 57 en « en migration vers le sud » du 22 au 29/10/04 – vraiment étonnant vu que l’espèce n’est présente qu’en très faibles effectifs plus au nord, et qu’en plus ils ne signalent aucun Goéland brun alors que c’est l’espèce dominante à cette période. En 2010, on passe à des effectifs plus raisonnables me semble-t-il, avec trois individus entre le 30/9 et le 8/10 (R. Lebrun) et autant du 25 au 31/10/10 (P. Crouzier & co.). Plus récemment, un Goeland dominicain est rapporté le 24/2 de Ngor par un groupe de naturalistes belges.

Pour ma part, ma seule autre observation au Technopole datait du 6/8/17, d’un immature que j’avais identifié comme dominicain et dont je reprends une des photos floues ci-dessous (l’autre est ) – commentaires bienvenus! Puis avec Manuel en février dernier on a également soupçonné un dominicain, mais trop loin et pas de photos pour confirmer l’identité de l’oiseau. Idem les 11 et 30/8/17 lorsque des probables dominicains passent devant Ngor.

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Probable Kelp Gull / Goéland dominicain (6/8/17)

 

Autre observation intéressante, celle d’un probable Heron « pâle », la sous-espèce monicae du Héron cendré qui ne niche qu’au Banc d’Arguin et peut-être ailleurs sur les côtes en Mauritanie et que certains considèrent même comme une espèce à part entière (“Pallid” or “Mauritanian” Heron). L’aspect très clair était frappant, et malgré la distance on arrive à bien voir les petites stries noires, fines et courtes, sur le cou qui comme le reste des parties inferieures parait presque aussi blanc que la Grande Aigrette. Le manteau était d’un gris pâle à l’exception d’une tache plus sombre à « l’épaule ». Il y a juste le dessin de la tête qui peut sembler un peu top contrasté pour un monicae classique, mais en regardant de près les quelques photos d’oiseaux mauritaniens cela semble encore rentrer dans la normale pour cette sous-espèce. Pour compliquer la chose, il y aurait des oiseaux intermediaires, et peut-être que c’est donc aussi le cas pour notre oiseau du Technopole (visibement un adulte nuptial). Bien entendu je suis preneur d’autres avis!

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Grey Heron / Heron cendré ssp. monicae (?)

 

Il doit s’agir d’un des ardéidés les plus rares au monde, la population totale ne comptant que quelques milliers d’individus, avec une aire de répartition très restreinte. Si c’est bien un mauritanien, alors il s’agirait de ma première observation d’un oiseau manifestement rare à Dakar. Ces derniers mois il y a eu au moins deux autres observations dans la région : un le 13/2 au parc de Hann (Gottlieb Dandliker, Cyril Schönbächler; photo ci-dessous) et un le 24/2 aux Iles de la Madeleine (M. Demeulemeester et al.). Monicae est plus fréquente en hiver dans les zones côtières du nord du pays, notamment autour de la Langue de Barbarie et Saint-Louis, mais même là le taxon reste d’observation plutôt aléatoire. Les observations d’Ornithondar permettent d’en savoir plus sur le taxon dans le Bas-Delta, et de comparer les photos avec l’oiseau du Technopole: articles bien instructifs ici et .

Tout cela pour dire qu’en gros, aussi bien l’identification que le statut et la distribution au Sénégal restent encore à préciser! On trouvera quelques infos résumées sur la page dédiée au Héron cendré sur le site du groupe HeronConservation.

PallidHeron monicae - Parc de Hann - 20180213 - G Dandliker

Grey Heron / Heron cendré ssp. monicae, Parc de Hann 13/2/18 (G. Dandliker)

 

Troisième espèce inattendue, vue par chance alors que j’étais en train de quitter le site : six Bengalis zébrés (Zebra [Orange-breasted] Waxbill). Ce sympathique petits passereau avait été vu pour la première fois au Technopole en janvier-mars 2017, et depuis j’ai pu en voir également à Yène, plus précisément le 1er janvier dernier. On peut donc supposer que ce nicheur du Bas-Delta sénégalais et du Saloum soit un erratique plus ou moins régulier dans la région dakaroise.

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Zebra Waxbill / Bengali zébré

 

Pour le reste, il y a de nouveau un petit groupe de Flamants roses (10 ind.), les premiers poussins d’Echasses blanches – juste trois pour le moment, déjà vus le 21/4 – et plusieurs adultes en train de couver; également un poussin de Vanneau éperonné; quelques Bécasseaux variables et surtout une bonne présence de Sanderlings (+150) et de Sternes caugeks notamment; une Hirondelle de rivage retardataire; et toujours quelques Spatules blanches et d’Afrique (Greater Flamingo, Black-winged Stilt, Spur-winged Lapwing, Dunlin, Sanderling, Sandwich Tern, Sand Martin, Eurasian & African Spoonbill). Sinon assez peu de limicoles, la plupart des chevaliers, pluviers, combattants et autres bécasseaux étant de retour en Europe maintenant: on attend déjà leur retour, d’ici deux mois à peine pour les avant-coureurs. Par contre, il y a toujours autant de Bihoreaux gris: une bonne trentaine (Black-crowned Night-Heron).

Le Souimanga cuivré est vu à chaque sortie en ce moment, et la semaine passée il y avait également un superbe mâle de Souimanga éclatant, photo ci-dessous (Copper & Splendid Sunbird).

SplendidSunbird_Technopole_20180421_IMG_1801

Splendid Sunbird / Souimanga éclatant

 

 

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?

WhiterumpedSandpiper_Technopole_20180325_IMG_1448

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!).

WhiterumpedSandpiper_Technopole_20180325_IMG_1465

Baird’s Sandpiper / Bécasseau de Baird

WhiterumpedSandpiper_Technopole_20180325_IMG_1460

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.

WhiterumpedSandpiper_Technopole_20180325_IMG_1453

Baird’s Sandpiper / Bécasseau de Baird

 

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

WhiterumpedSandpiper_Technopole_20180325_IMG_1451

 

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):

BairdsSandpiper_Technopole_20180408_IMG_1676

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.

 

BuffbreastedSandpiper_Technopole_20180325_IMG_1506

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. 

 

Technopole update, Lac Rose & more

MediterraneanGull_Technopole_20180205_IMG_9041

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.
BuffbreastedSandpiper_Technopole_20180205_IMG_9113

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:
LesserYellowlegs_Technopole_20180219_IMG_9570

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.
CommonShelduck_Technopole_20180219_IMG_9541

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.
BlacktailedGodwit_Technopole_20180205_IMG_9159

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:
TemmincksCourser_LacRose_20180211_IMG_9295

Temminck’s Courser / Courvite de Temminck

TemmincksCourser_LacRose_20180211_IMG_9298

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).
GreaterShorttoedLark_LacRose_20180211_IMG_9270

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.
SingingBushLark_LacRose_20180211_IMG_9215

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.
SplendidSunbird_LacRose_20180211_IMG_9317

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.

 

 

Yène 17/12: a rare duck, more waders & migrants

And Yène delivers again!

I went back to our little hotspot on Sunday morning to see what new there was to be found – and whether I could relocate three vagrant ducks that Miguel and colleagues spotted here the previous weekend (my first proper Sengalese twitch!). The lagoon is quite literally shrinking by the day at the moment, so not very much water is left by now – meaning that all waders and other remaining water birds were fairly concentrated in a small-ish area, not all of which is visible from the main viewpoints.

There were tons of waders so it took some time to go through them and count or estimate each species, resulting in the following totals:

  • A few hundred Black-winged Stilts (2-300?), still five Avocets
  • More than 320 Common Ringed Plovers, again at least two Little Ringed Plovers, but also a couple of Kentish and at least 39 Kittlitz’s Plovers; also several Grey Plovers
  • At least 70 Marsh Sandpipers was a pretty high count, even for Senegalese standards (I actually can’t remember ever seeing so many – at one point, about 50 birds were feeding in a single group). Unusually, Marsh Sandpiper was actually the most abundant Tringa wader. Technopole also has more than usual at the moment. There were about 30 Wood Sandpipers, and a handful each of Greenshanks, Redshanks, and Green Sandpipers.
  • About 60 Ruff scattered throughout
  • 200 Sanderling, 120 Little Stints, ca. 30 Dunlin, one Curlew Sandpiper
  • One Turnstone and Bar-tailed Godwit each
  • Three Common Snipes

The Pintails, Garganeys, Shovelers and even the White-faced Whistling Ducks seem to have left as the lagoon is probably too shallow now. Instead there are now three Common Shelducks! I didn’t see them at first, but after about half an hour of sifting through the waders, they were suddenly there, actively feeding on the opposite end of the lagoon and seemingly feeling quite at home here! Maybe they’ll end up staying for a few more days or weeks, until the lagoon dries up.

Shelduck_Yene_20171217_IMG_6631

Common Shelduck / Tadorne de Belon 1st c.y.

 

Not a species I thought I would ever see here: despite its name, it’s definitely not common in Senegal! With only six published records it should be considered a real vagrant to the country. The regular winter range of Tadorna tadorna extends along the Moroccan coast, with very small numbers reaching as far south as Mauritania, though apparently the species remains pretty rare even in the Banc d’Arguin NP. Olivier Girard very conveniently summarised the status of the species in West Africa, in a short paper published in the African Bird Club Bulletin in 2009¹. In his overview, he lists 28 records, almost half of which are from Mauritania, and just five from Senegal. One was apparently overlooked despite being published in the well-known “Annotated check-list of birds occurring at the PNOD, 1984-1994” by Rodwell and colleagues, while the location of another record is incorrect.

As far as we know, no other records have been published nor have any been reported to the ABC, on eBird, or on observado.org since Girard’s summary. As such, these should be all previous Shelduck records for Senegal:

  • Seven, Delta du Senegal, 27/12/73 (Morel & Morel)
  • Two immatures at Djoudj NP, 21/1/74 (Morel & Morel)
  • Two on 12-28/2/90 in the Djoudj NP (M. Fouquet in Rodwell et al. 1996)
  • 15 in the Djoudj NP, January 1996 (Yesou et al. 1996)
  • One in Djoudj NP, Jan. 1997 (Triplet et al. 1997)
  • Two on 5/1/97 at Yène-Todé lagoon (= in Dakar region and not “Siné-Saloum” as incorrectly stated by Girard.

And so now, more than 20 years later, we have three first-year birds from 9 to 17/12/17 at Yène-Todé, again! (see also note below for two more records in early 2018)

It’s intriguing that there are so many more old records, given that observer coverage surely must have improved in the last 20-30 years – and that mid-winter waterbird counts are systematically conducted in the Djoudj and most other large wetlands (I really ought to get access to the database with past counts, as there don’t seem to be any published reports available?). What’s more, Shelducks have been on the increase in many parts of their Western European range, so one would logically expect more birds to show up in this part of the world. Maybe milder winters push fewer birds to the southern end of their range, or the populations that have increased are more sedentary than others? In better-watched Mauritania, at least during the first decade of the 21st century, there are just six records listed since 2000, one of which was near the border with Senegal in the Aftout es Saheli in January 2007, while elsewhere in the delta, Shelducks were seen in December 1995 and three times between Nov. ’98 and Jan. ’99: not much!! Three records each are known from Mali, Ghana and Niger, with one from Guinea (January 2006).

 

Addendum 2/2/18: eight birds were seen at the Grand Lac in the Djoudj NP on 17/1 (C. Ruchet, Y. Menétrey, I. Ndiaye), quite possibly the same group that was sighted on 30/12/17 in the Diawling on the other side of the border. The first for Technopole was on 18-19/2/18 (E. Regala Ruiz, J. Ruiz, BP, G. Caucal, E. Rogeau), confirming the small influx that occurred during the 17/18 winter.

 

Shelduck_Yene_20171217_IMG_6636

Common Shelduck / Tadorne de Belon

 

So what else was about? Glossy Ibis is still present (at least 3 ind.), and now no less than 28 European Spoonbills, most of which arrived from the NW and landed in the central part of the lagoon. As usual there were several Osprey and Marsh Harriers, plus an immature Short-toed Eagle hunting around the lake’s edge, a pair of Red-necked Falcons roosting on a tree, and a Common Kestrel (and on 9/12, Miguel & co. had a fine Barbary Falcon).

The flock of gulls and terns held the usual Caspian, Royal, Sandwich and Common Terns, but just a few Audouin’s Gulls, LBBGs, Slender-billed, Grey-headed and Black-headed Gulls this time round.

Just like on my last visit, Red-throated Pipit was present on the lagoon’s edge: I first heard its sharp pssiiiii call in the SE corner, then briefly saw (and heard) what was probably a second bird, a few hundred meters further. Two Tree Pipits were also present.

Other migrant songbirds included Yellow Wagtails of course, plus Northern Wheatear, Subalpine Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, and Woodchat Shrike.

All in all, another very enjoyable morning out at Yène!

Technopole update

A Technopole pit-stop on the way back to Dakar resulted in yet more waders, with still some 300 Black-tailed Godwits around (just one ring could be read, as most birds were feeding or resting in deeper water) and lots of other waders. On my previous visit, we managed to read six rings, mostly in this flock of BTGs feeding on land:

BlacktailedGodwit_Technopole_20171203_IMG_6580

The water levels are already quite low and I’d reckon that they are about the same as in April 2017: let’s hope that the site doesn’t completely dry up by the end of the dry season!!

More of a surprise was an adult African Spoonbill (also two Europeans) resting on one of the islets, its deep crimson face just about visible. Surprising, because it’s not a frequent visitor to Technopole, and so far my only records have been in April and May.

A Common Moorhen with a very young chick, confirming local breeding of the species. Other than that, lots of Lesser Black-backed Gulls (+300), a few Audouin’s Gulls, a White-winged Tern feeding among the Black Terns, at least two Knot, lots of Ruff, etc. An adult male Peregrine Falcon may be the same bird that I see almost daily on the Diarama hotel.

Peregrine_Technopole_20171217_IMG_6652

Peregrine / Faucon pèlerin

 

¹ Girard, O. 2009. Le Tadorne de Belon Tadorna tadorna en Afrique de l’Ouest. Bull ABC 16: 180-183.

 

 

La lagune de Yenne-Tode

Comme je le disais déjà dans l’article sur le Chevalier à pattes jaunes de la semaine dernière, la lagune de Yenne est en ce moment un site incroyablement riche en oiseaux. Au point où l’on y trouve actuellement plus d’oiseaux qu’au Technopole¹ – autant dire que ça cartonne!

Lorsque le site est rempli d’eau comme c’est le cas cette année, on trouve là une impressionnante diversité d’oiseaux. Rien qu’en quatre visites en l’espace d’autant de semaines, nous avons pu détecter la présence de pas moins de 144 espèces… Il ne doit pas y avoir beaucoup de sites dans la région de Dakar où il est possible de voir plus de 100 espèces en une matinée! Autant dire que c’est notre site favori du moment.

Il semblerait cependant que la situation soit très variable d’une année à une autre, comme en témoignent les deux articles de Paul dans lesquels il est question de cette zone: lire ici (octobre 2011) et là (octobre 2013), deux visites lorsque le site était largement en assec. Quoiqu’il en soit, cette lagune mérite bien d’être protégée et préservée, alors qu’actuellement elle ne bénéficie d’aucun statut de protection… ce qui vaut bien malheureusement pour la plupart des zones humides autour de la capitale: Technopole, les lacs de Malika et Mbeubeusse, les niayes du secteur Lac Rose – Kayar – Tanma, etc. A Yenne, les travaux routiers ont visiblement changé la dynamique hydraulique, et les premiers signes annonciateurs d’extension de la zone d’habitation à venir sont déjà là, y compris DANS une ancienne partie de la lagune.

Pour s’y rendre, voir Google Maps. A noter que le nom du site peut aussi s’écrire comme Yène Tode, Yene-Todé, et autres variantes. La visite pourrait se faire en combinaison avec une virée du côté de Popenguine ou de Toubab Dialaw, voire avec le Lac Rose qui n’est pas très loin, mais il faut prévoir 2-3 heures au minimum.

Yenne_20171113_IMG_5712

 

Dans cette vaste zone humide on trouve en ce moment des canards en nombre, avec plus d’un millier d’individus de six espèces en tout lors de nos quatre visites ces dernières semaines: Dendrocygne veuf (plus de 500 le 18/11!! Et deux canetons âgés de deux semaines le 21/10, ML), +90 Canards souchets, +420 Sarcelles d’été, même des Canards pilets (env. 20 le 13/11). Le 29/10, Miguel a eu la chance de trouver une famille (locale?) de Canards à bosse et, surtout, une Oie-armée de Gambie, palmipède visiblement rare dans la région dakaroise. Mais ce sont donc surtout les canards européens dont les effectifs sont impressionants: à mettre en relation avec le manque d’eau sur d’autres zones humides, comme le lac Tanma mais surtout le Bas-Delta du Sénégal, qui connaîtrait un déficit pluviométrique important cette année?

Yenne_20171113_IMG_5743

 

Les limicoles aussi profitent de cette grosse mare temporaire: plus d’une douzaine de Jacanas à poitrine dorée se nourrissant sur les nénuphars (y compris deux jeunes probablement nés localement), bien entendu les éternels Vanneaux éperonnés mais aussi à tete noire, ces derniers dans les parties plus sèches de la zone. Samedi dernier il y avait aussi cinq Avocettes, et de nombreuses Echasses blanches bien sûr, tout comme les Grands Gravelots mais aussi pour une fois des Petits Gravelots ainsi que quelques dizaines de pâtres, tout comme un Gravelot à collier interrompu vu samedi dernier. Les vasières abritent aussi pas mal de Pluviers argentés, quelques Barges à queue noire et une rousse, 5 Courlis corlieux le 29/10, des Becasseaux sanderlings, minutes, variables, cocorlis, et même maubèches… Cette dernière espèce semble d’ailleurs plus fréquente que d’habitude cet automne. Les sympathiques Tournepierres à collier se baladent entre tout ce beau monde, cherchant un caillou ou un coquillage à retourner… tandis que Chevaliers stagnatiles, aboyeurs, gambettes, sylvains, culblancs, et guignettes fréquentent les secteurs légèrement plus profonds du plan d’eau principal, tout comme plus d’une centaine de Combattants variés. Quelques Bécassines des marais se cachent dans la vegetation, tout comme au moins trois Rhynchées peintes.

Soit pas moins de 29 (!) espèces de limicoles pour l’instant, et je suis sûr qu’il nous en manque encore des réguliers, comme l’Huîtrier pie ou le Vanneau caronculé.

AfricanJacana_Yenne_20171113_IMG_5718

African Jacana / Jacana a poitrine doree

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Avocet(te)

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Marsh Sandpiper / Chevalier stagnatile

Ruff_Yenne_20171113_IMG_5749

Ruff / Combattant varié

Du côté des laridés et des sternes, on trouve un peu de tout: quelques Mouettes à tête grise et surtout des rieuses et des Goélands raillers, parmi lesquels samedi dernier se trouvaient au moins quatre Mouettes mélanocéphales; le Goéland d’Audouin tout comme quelques Goélands bruns doivent être réguliers ici. Plusieurs centaines de Sternes caugeks semblent régulièrement utiliser le site comme reposoir, accompagnées par quelques royales, voyageusescaspienneshansels, naines et pierregarins en petit nombre. Les Guifettes noires étaient assez nombreuses fin octobre surtout, lorsque Miguel a aussi pu identifier une leucoptère.

MediterraneanGull-CaspianTern_Yenne_20171118_IMG_6084

Caspian & Sandwich Tern, Slender-billed & Mediterranean Gull / Sterne caspienne & caugek, Goélands railleurs, Mouette mélanocéphale

 

Les grands échassiers ne sont pas en reste: hérons et aigrettes de toutes sortes bien sûr, dont les Herons pourpré et mélanocéphale et le Crabier chevelu, et même un Blongios de Stürm (Least Bittern!), à ma connaissance la première obs dakaroise. C’est Miguel qui a eu la chance de se retrouver nez à nez (à bec?) avec ce minuscule héron, un jeune individu, juste le temps de faire une photo témoin. Samedi dernier il y avait également au moins trois Ibis falcinelles – mes premiers de l’automne – et 1-2 Spatules blanches sont observées lors de nos deux dernières visites.

Parmi les autres oiseaux d’eau, citons les deux espèces de pélican, la Talève d’Afrique (une le 29/10), même la Foulque macroule (deux les 21 et 29/10, ML) et le Grèbe castagneux qui est nicheur ici. Et il doit bien de temps à autre se cacher une marouette dans la végétation palustre!

Il y a aussi les Balbuzards bien sûr, mais aussi plusieurs Busards des roseaux, un Circaète Jean-le-Blanc (13 & 18/11), Shikra (29/10), et samedi dernier aussi ce que nous avons identifié comme un jeune Circaète de Beaudouin, un Faucon lanier, et un Faucon chicquera.

Les passereaux migrateurs paléarctiques abondent en ce moment, que ce soit dans les acacias et tamaris (Rougequeue à front blanc, Fauvettes passerinette et grisette, Hypolaïs polyglottePouillots véloce et fitis) ou dans les scirpes et les abords du plan d’eau (Phragmite des joncs, Bergeronnettes grise et printanière, Pipit des arbres, Traquet motteux). Des visites régulières lors de l’hiver nordique révèleront sans doute d’autres passereaux encore.

Parmi les locaux, citons entre autres l’Alouette chanteuse, le Moinellette à oreillons blancs, la Veuve à collier d’or ou encore l’Astrild cendré. Le Cou-coupé semble relativement commun, y compris dans le village même. Deux Pipits à dos uni sont identifiés par Miguel le 29/10. Et aussi, bien curieusement, le Bruant d’Alexander! Le 18/11 nous avons eu la surprise de voir un jeune oiseau posé au bord de la lagune, bien loin de ses milieux de prédilection rocailleux. Sans doute un individu en dispersion depuis les collines de Toubab Dialaw (où il pourrait nicher) ou les falaises de Popenguine.

Enfin, une mention speciale pour le Coucou-geai et le Martinet pâle vus le 29/10, et cette Tourterelle pleureuse le 18/11.

BlackcrownedSparrowLark_Yenne_20171113_IMG_5726

Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark / Moinelette à oreillons blancs

 

 

¹ Et justement au Technopole, quoi de neuf me demanderez-vous? Rien de bien exceptionnel lors de mes trois dernières visites! Tout de même un ajout à la liste: le Souimanga pygmée vu le 8/11 près du Club House. Des ornithos de passage y ont récemment noté la Rhynchée peinte que je n’ai pas vue depuis un bon moment ici, et aussi et surtout le Faucon de Cuvier qui ne figurait pas encore sur la liste. Le niveau d’eau est déjà assez bas, ce qui fait que les conditions sont bonnes pour bon nombre de limicoles (dont 10 Maubèches le 19/11) et de laridés (première Mouette mélanocéphale de la saison le 19/11) mais aussi pour les canards qui sont présents en nombres plus importants que ces trois dernières années: jusqu’à 45 Sarcelles d’été, 90 Canards souchets (premiers le 8/10), et même cinq Pilets dimanche dernier. Par contre, ça risque de s’assécher rapidement au cours des prochains mois, donc je doute qu’il restera beaucoup d’eau au printemps prochain… à suivre.