Working for birds in Africa

Introduction

Fri, 01/25/2013 - 22:38 -- abc_admin

There is plenty to attract the keen birdwatcher to Sudan were it not for major concerns over safety. One can only hope that the situation improves sufficiently to allow greater travel in this country. Sudan is not a country where you will see the huge range of species on offer in East Africa but the Nile which flows through the capital Khartoum is a major migration corridor and birdwatching in this area will provide a good range of species and some surprises.

Most visitors to Sudan will either stay in Khartoum or pass through the city and they should take the opportunity to see something of the variety of bird life that occurs there. Although the Three Cities (Khartoum, Omdurman and Bahri) lie in acacia and desert scrub habitat, the presence of the Nile makes the area a haven for birds. The number of resident species is limited but includes Black Scrub-Robin Cercotrichas podobe and White-headed Babbler Turdoides leucocephala in wooded areas, while Green-backed Heron Butorides striata and Egyptian Plover Pluvianus aegyptius occur along the Nile. The main interest of the area lies in the wide range of Palearctic migrants passing through or remaining in the area, and the intra-African migrants that follow the rains north from about April. Large numbers of the following species have been seen: Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides; Black-headed Heron Ardea melanocephala; European White Stork Ciconia ciconia; Abdim's Stork C. abdimii; Demoiselle Crane Anthropoides virgo as well as several species of duck, gull, tern and hirundine. Less common species include Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus, Senegal Thick-knee Burhinus senegalensis, Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba, Malachite Kingfisher Alcedo cristata and Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Merops persicus.

Green areas of the city adjacent to the Nile attract Gabar Goshawk Micronisus gabar, Long-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus climacurus, European Bee-eater Merops apiaster, Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus, Hoopoe Upupa epops, Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla, Thrush Nightingale Luscinia luscinia, Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus, Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata and Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis.

The north-east coast near Port Sudan holds Brown Booby Sula leucogaster, Western Reef Heron Egretta gularis, Osprey Pandion haliaetus, Saker Falcon Falco cherrug, Demoiselle Crane Anthropoides virgo, Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus, Sooty Gull Larus hemprichii, White-eyed Gull L. leucophthalmus, Black-crowned Sparrow Lark Eremopterix nigriceps and the Erkowit mountains near Port Sudan have Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis, Tawny Eagle A. rapax, Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni, Egyptian Plover Pluvianus aegyptius, Little Swift Apus affinis, White-crowned Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucopyga, Abyssinian White-eye Zosterops abyssinicus, Pygmy Sunbird Hedydipna platura, Fan-tailed Raven Corvus rhipidurus, Brown-necked Raven C. ruficollis and Rüppell's Weaver Ploceus galbula.

The river banks at Kosti / Rabak are good for Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia, Goliath Heron Ardea goliath, African Openbill Stork Anastomus lamelligerus, Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio, African Jacana Actophilornis africanus, Black-headed Vanellus tectus and Long-toed Lapwing V. crassirostris, Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida and Wire-tailed Swallow Hirundo smithii to mention a few species. Renk Town and Kosti along the White Nile have similar species but more chance for Marabou Stork Leptoptilos crumeniferus, African Fish Eagle Haliaeetus vocifer, Dark Chanting Goshawk Melierax metabetes, Northern Carmine Bee-eater Merops nubicus, Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu Uraeginthus bengalus, Senegal Coucal Centropus senegalensis and in the old fig trees on the Nile bank a few remaining Bruce's Green Pigeon Treron waalia (beautiful!).

Near Debebait and Dilling (Nuba Mountains) in South Kordofan State one can find species such as Brown Snake Eagle Circaetus cinereus, African Hawk Eagle Hieraaetus spilogaster, Grasshopper Buzzard Butastur rufipennis, Red-necked Falcon Falco chicquera, Clapperton’s Francolin Francolinus clappertoni, Helmeted Guineafowl Numida meleagris, African Grey Hornbill Tockus nasutus, Meyer's Parrot Poicephalus meyeri, Rufous-crowned Roller Coracias naevius, Green Wood-hoopoe Phoeniculus purpureus, Brown-backed Woodpecker Picoides obsoletus, Mosque Swallow Hirundo senegalensis, Nothern Anteater-Chat Myrmecocichla aethiops, Cricket Warbler Spiloptila clamans, Brown Babbler Turdoides plebejus, Brubru Nilaus afer, Yellow-billed Shrike Corvinella corvina, Black-crowned Tchagra Tchagra senegalus, Chestnut-bellied Starling Lamprotornis pulcher, Piapiac Ptilostomus afer, Fan-tailed Widowbird Euplectes axillaris, White-billed Buffalo-Weaver Bubalornis albirostris, Speckled-fronted Weaver Sporopipes frontalis, Green-winged Pytila Pytilia melba and Golden-Breasted Bunting Emberiza flaviventris.

Abyei is located on the virtual border between north and south Sudan and has been an area witnessing lots of political unrest. (Abyei is claimed by South Sudan but currently controlled by the northern Sudanese government.) The area is however rich in bird species including Hamerkop Scopus umbretta, Woolly-necked Stork Ciconia episcopus, Knob-billed Duck Sarkidiornis melanotos, African Pygmy Goose Nettapus auritus, Bateleur Terathopius ecaudatus, White-Headed Vulture Trigonoceps occipitalis, Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus, Denham's  Bustard Neotis denhami, Spotted Thick-knee Burhinus capensis, Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius, Woodland Kingfisher Halcyon senegalensis, Grey-headed Kingfisher H. leucocephala, Northern Carmine Bee-eater Merops nubicus, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill Bucorvus abyssinicus, Vieillot's Barbet Lybius vieilloti, Lesser Honeyguide Indicator minor, Pale Flycatcher Bradornis pallidus, the beautiful Silverbird Empidornis semipartitus, Yellow-crowned Bishop Euplectes afer and Little Weaver Ploceus luteolus.

The purpose of this document is to provide a summary of Sudan and its birds for birders interested in the country and potentially planning a visit. The information has been put together from a number of sources and it is intended to add new information as it becomes available. As such, readers are welcome to submit contributions by e-mail to info@africanbirdclub.org. You should note that the names of birds used in this document are those of the African Bird Club checklist.

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