Tag Archive | Woodchat Shrike

Virée dans le delta, en images

Pas trop le temps pour écrire en ce moment (trop d’oiseaux à compter au Calao!) je voulais tout de même partager quelques clichés pris lors d’une nouvelle visite au Bas-Delta du fleuve Sénégal, au tout début du mois. En compagnie, bien sûr, du référent local et fin connaisseur de l’avifaune de la région – que dis-je, de la faune tout court –  Frédéric Bacuez. D’abord les environs de Bango et les Trois-Marigots, puis une journée dans le parc national du Djoudj avec Vieux, Miguel et Rosa en plus dans la bande, puis pour terminer une matinée dans la réserve de faune du Ndiael. Pas loin (voire un peu plus) de 200 espèces observées pendant notre long weekend ornitho, tous les détails comme d’hab sur eBird.

Sans plus tarder, voici donc en ordre chronologique une petite série d’images:

 

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Yellow-crowned Bishop / Euplecte vorabé (juv.?) le 1.11 dans la plaine de crue du fleuve, ici dans une rizière près de Mberaye et son canal de décharge

 

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La-dite rizière…

 

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…un Petit Gravelot (Little Ringed Plover) au bord d’une des nombreuses flaques résiduelles après les pluies, certes modestes ici, de ces derniers mois.

 

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Great Egret / Grande Aigrette, au bord de la “mare” de Ross-Bethio. Encore assez peu d’oiseaux ici mais tout de même déjà quelques canards: Pilet, Souchet, Sarcelle d’été.

 

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Crested Lark / Cochevis huppé (Djoudj), juste pour rendre hommage à ce sympathique passereau commun dans les zones côtières du pays, mais trop souvent ignoré par les ornithos…

 

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Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark / Moinelette à oreillons blancs, un couple près du Grand Lac dans le Djoudj…

 

BlackcrownedSparrowLark_Djoudj_20191102_IMG_4902

… puis dans la même zone, une femelle de Moinelette à front blanc (Black-headed Sparrow-Lark). Les deux espèces de moinelette, en plein dans la période de reproduction, sont cette année bien présentes dans la région et elles sont souvent facilement observables. Notez le plumage plus uniforme et plus clair que la femelle de l’espèce précédente.

 

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“Desert” Grey Shrike / Pie-grièche “du desert”, nom qui lui convient tout de même mieux, car après avoir été incluse pendant des années dans le groupe de la Pie-grièche méridionale, la rattacher à la Pie-grièche grise d’Europe centrale et du Nord me semble un peu farfelu. Ici très probablement le taxon elegans.

 

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L’autre Lanius du coin, la PGTR (Pie-grieche à tete rousse / Woodchat Shrike), en pleine mue de la queue. Notez également le contraste de mue entre d’un côté les tertiaires et primaires (très sombres au bord blanc bien marqué), et les secondaires brunes bien usées de l’autre.

 

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Northern Wheatear / Traquet motteux, dans le Djoudj également. Pas eu la chance de tomber sur un Traquet de Seebohm – plutôt restreint à l’extreme-nord apparemment – ni sur une cousine Isabelle, un neveu du Désert ou un oncle Oreillard…

 

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Eurasian Griffon / Vautour fauve imm., l’un des 113 (!) sujets rencontrés près du Grand Lac, d’abord tous au repos par terre et dans les quelques arbres parsemant la plaine, puis en vol lorsque le groupe a décollé avec les premiers thermiques de la matinée. Sans doute ces oiseaux venaient-ils d’y passer la nuit, après la grande traversée du Sahara. Peut-être l’un des plus grands groupes, si ce n’est le plus grand, jamais observé au Sénégal?

 

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Autre moment fort de la journée, cette Effraie des clochers (Barn Owl) qui niche dans l’un des miradors du Grand Lac, avec pour le moment trois oeufs déposés à même le sol de l’observatoire. Site de nidification pour le moins original!

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Barn Owl / Effraie des clochers

 

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L’observatoire “Tantale”, zone où nous avons de nouveau contacté la Gorgebleue, le Tarier d’Afrique, les Prinias aquatiques évidemment, et bien d’autres passereaux!

 

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Femelle (ou jeune?) Tarier d’Afrique / African Stonechat

 

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Une jeune Cigogne noire (Black Stork), espèce d’observation quotidienne pendant ce long weekend, ici au repos dans les cultures non loin du Djoudj.

 

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Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse / Ganga à ventre brun, couple dans la réserve de faune du Ndiael – un site classique pour l’observation de cette espèce toujours aussi agréable à voir!

 

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Le Ndiael

 

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Booted Eagle / Aigle botté de forme sombre, vers Mboro sur la Grande Côte

 

 

 

Unseasonal visitors…

During our most recent excursions, we obviously looked out for those colourful Afro-tropical migrants that typically arrive in June-July, moving north with the rains – think cuckoos, rollers, kingfishers, etc. We saw some of course, especially at Wassadou but even in the bone-dry landscapes of Gossas and Diourbel, where we had migrants such as Diederik Cuckoo and Grey Hornbills.

Less expected were a number of breeders from the Western Palearctic that are now supposed to be in full breeding mode, so I thought it would be interesting to review these here. Of course, numerous “WP” species that winter in Senegal can be seen here year-round, but these are mostly waterbirds such as Eurasian Spoonbill, Black-tailed Godwit, Audouin’s Gull and other waders, gulls and terns. Many young birds of these species will actually remain in West Africa during their first summer, and from the end of June it’s quite normal to see early returnees, particularly for waders that failed their breeding season and left Europe early.

A Western Marsh Harrier (Busard des roseaux), probably a young female, flew over the flock of Greater Flamingos and other waterbirds that we’d just been counting at Lac Mbeubeusse, one of the niayes wetlands on the Cap-Vert peninsula, then landed in a reedbed. Some summer observations are known from both Senegal (“a few birds summer”, Morel & Morel) and Mauritania (June-August; Isenmann et al.), and Barlow & Wacher mention that occasional non-breeders are seen “during the rains” (a rather vague way to refer to summer, which doesn’t really tell us whether the records were actually during summer or whether they refer to regular migrants in September & October!).

Also here on the same day (23.6) was at least one immature Purple Heron (Héron pourpré) which may be either an oversummering bird of European origin, or a wandering African bird – I’m yet to figure out whether the species breeds anywhere nearby, though it’s clear that in potential breeding areas such as Technopole the species is absent during ~March to early August (further south, I have records from May-June, in Kolda and Toubacouta).

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Purple Heron / Héron pourpré imm., Mbeubeusse, June 2018

 

Still at Mbeubeusse – a decent birding site I’d never visited before despite being not far from Dakar! Never too late… – we also saw a winter-plumaged Knot (Bécasseau maubèche), feeding together with a group of Grey Plovers and a handful of Greenshanks and Redshanks. (Pluvier argenté, Chevaliers aboyeur et gambette). While the latter three species are more or less to be expected at this time in Senegal, the summer record of Calidris canutus may be noteworthy.

Two subadult Yellow-legged Gulls (prob. 3rd c.y.; Goéland leucophée) were at Lac Rose on 23.6, resting together with a group of some 500 Lesser Black-backed and 200 Audouin’s Gulls (Goélands bruns et d’Audouin), several of which were ringed including a Portuguese bird that I’d already seen back in April at Technopole. Also in the group were two or three Kelp Gulls (Goéland dominicain). Yellow-legged Gull is rather scarce here at any time of the year so it was a nice surprise to see these; apparently the species has been “recorded in all seasons” in Senegambia (Barlow & Wacher). Both birds seemed to be typical nominate birds (i.e. from southern Europe) rather than atlantis birds from the Macaronesian islands.

A week earlier at Wassadou and along the road from Tambacounda to the Niokolo-Koba, we noted a good presence of Common & Pallid Swifts (Martinets noir et pâle), which appears to be not unusual at this time of the year since non-breeding birds are said to move north with the rains from their “wintering” grounds over the forest zone of West Africa. There are however few June records (e.g. Barlow & Wacher give a presence of Pallid Swift from July-September and November-January). Even more exciting was the presence of several Mottled Swifts (Martinet marbré) at Wassadou, the first June record of a “difficult” bird in the region – there appear to be less than 10 records for Senegal in total, all of which are from the Niokolo-Koba area. The one below was seen by my Swiss friends in the PNNK earlier this year.

Mottled Swift, P.N. N. K., Sénégal-6277 - Patrick Albrecht - small

Mottled Swift / Martinet marbré, Niokolo-Koba NP, 20.2.18 (P. Albrecht)

 

Perhaps more surprisingly than the preceding species, two European Bee-eaters (Guêpier d’Europe) were feeding and flying around pretty much all afternoon on 23.6 in Almadies, Ngor, regularly calling in the process and as such giving away their presence above and near my house. I’d never seen the species before in Dakar (though I have seen them not far, along the Petite Côte in autumn), so this was a highly unexpected record. Paul Isenmann and colleagues mention that the species is present in Mauritania from July/August to October, and March to May/June, but I didn’t find any references to summer records in Senegal or Gambia. Probably just a coincidence, but earlier the same day we saw our first Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters in the Dakar region, at Lac Rose (Guêpier de Perse). Perhaps these were birds en route to their breeding grounds in northern Senegal?

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European Bee-eater / Guêpier d’Europe (seen here on wintering grounds in coastal Casamance, March 2017)

 

A single House Martin (Hirondelle de fenêtre) at Wassadou on 15 & 16.6 was also remarkable: a very late migrant, an oversummering bird, or a wanderer that decided not to bother going all the way to Europe? The species has been recorded Oct. – June and I’ve seen birds as late as 28/5 at Technopole, but it’s clear that there are very few records from late June and July.

A Melodious Warbler (Hypolaïs polyglotte) photographed by Gabriel in the Niokolo-Koba park, at campement du Lion, on 17.6 is another rare mid-summer record of a species that typically arrives from mid-August and depart by May at the latest. Gabriel recently saw the species in the Boundou community nature reserve as well, so it seems that quite a few are staying around during summer. More generally, one can only wonder how many of these Palearctic passerines are here at the moment. Putting things in perspective, the observations in this post are all by just 3 active resident birders in the country…

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Melodious Warbler / Hypolaïs polyglotte, Niokolo-Koba, June 2018 (G. Caucanas)

 

A few kilometres further north, Miguel and I observed a Western Olivaceous Warbler (Hypolaïs obscure) at Wassadou, feeding in bushes on the edge of the Gambia river, on 16.6. This is of course a common to very common winter visitor throughout the country, and there are records from all month, so maybe not as surprising as the previous species. Now often called Isabelline Warbler, it is also known to be summering at Nouakchott (June-July) with no noticeable break between pre- and postnuptial passages (spring: March – May/early June, autumn: July-October; Isenmann et al. 2010).

A couple of days later near Diourbel, we had a Woodchat Shrike (Pie-grièche à tête rousse), apparently a first-summer male: the forehead is extensively black and mantle seems mostly jet-black (both features indicative of males), while the moult limit between the adult-type dark wing feathers and juvenile brownish unmoulted primary coverts and flight feathers are typical of 2nd calendar year birds (more on ageing & sexing the species here, from Blasco-Zumeta & Heinze’s excellent series on the topic). The presence of this species in Senegal is fairly similar to Western Olivaceous Warbler. An adult Great Spotted Cuckoo (Coucou-geai) earlier that day near Gossas was assumed to be an African rather than a northern migrant, though we can’t be sure of course; the date is consistent with the arrival of this cuckoo on its Sahelian breeding grounds (a couple of weeks later I had another adult, actively calling, though a bit further east: along the Niger river near Niamey).

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Woodchat Shrike / Pie-grièche à tête rousse, near Diourbel, June 2018

 

Voilà for now; for me it’s time to migrate north for a couple of weeks (though no breeding for me this summer); I’ll be back towards the end of the month. And maybe find some time to finish a few blog posts that have been dormant in my draft folder for a while now… Thanks for reading!