Lake Darkoye and the Sahel Burkina Faso
Lake Darkoye in March Burkina Faso
Ouagadougou Classified Forest Situated near the centre of Ouagadougou, this site consists of small patches of scrub and tree savanna, savanna woodland and small riparian forests. It is currently the focus of considerable efforts by the government to establish it as a recreational nature area. The site is worth a visit for those that only have a short time to spend birding in Burkina Faso as well over 200 species have been recorded in the area and a few hours birding can provide many West African specialities e.g. Senegal Coucal Centropus senegalensis, Abyssinian Roller Coracias abyssinicus, Red-throated Bee-eater Merops bulocki, Senegal Eremomela Eremomela pusilla, Black-crowned Tchagra Tchagra senegalus, Yellow-crowned Gonolek Laniarius barbarus and Yellow-billed Shrike Corvinella corvina. Some less common species such as Long-crested Eagle Lophaetus occipitalis, Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus, Jacobin Cuckoo Clamator jacobinus, Bearded Barbet Lybius dubius and African Golden Oriole Oriolus auratus may also be found.
Loumbila Reservoir is some 30 km to the north-east of Ouagadougou. A recent visit here produced a number of Palearctic migrants including Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava, Bluethroat Luscinia svecica, Common Whitethroat Sylvia communis, Isabelline Shrike Lanius isabellinus (first for Burkina Faso) and Woodchat Shrike L. senator. Waders were represented by Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula, Black-headed Lapwing Vanellus tectus, Little Stint Calidris minuta, Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia and Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos. This is a large reservoir but the shores nearest to the main road are a good area for seeing birds.
Two sites to the south and south-east of Ouagadougou were also productive. One is at Bagre, a dam on the White Volta, another massive body of water. Sightings in this area included Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark Eremopterix leucotis, Rufous Scrub-Robin Cercotrichas galactotes, Cut-throat Finch Amadina fasciata, African Silverbill Euodice cantans and Cinnamon-breasted Bunting Emberiza tahapisi. The second was in the grounds of, and adjacent to, a monastery called Koubri. A substantial river flows here, and there were plenty of good birds in the surrounding bush and overgrown farmland - more Palearctic migrants like Bluethroat Luscinia svecica, Rufous Scrub-Robin Cercotrichas galactotes and various warblers but also Little Green Bee-eater Merops orientalis, Greater Honeyguide Indicator indicator and Speckle-fronted Weaver Sporopipes frontalis.
Gonsee Classified Forest This suburban forest is a half-hour drive from Ouagadougou on the road heading eastward to Fada N'Gourma. If time is limited, one could spend half-a-day birding here where you may find Grasshopper Buzzard Butastur rufipennis, White-bellied Bustard Eupodotis senegalensis, Savile's Bustard Eupodotis savilei and White-throated Bee-eater Merops albicollis. A visit after dusk is recommended when Spotted Thick-knee Burhinus capensis, Four-banded Sandgrouse Pterocles quadricinctus, Northern White-faced Owl Ptilopsis leucotis, Long-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus climacurus or the mythical Standard-winged Nightjar Macrodipteryx longipennis may be visible in car headlights.
Lake Darkoye is one of the largest lakes of the Lake Oursi-Lake Darkoye Important Bird Area and occurs in steppe to the west of the town of Markoye in the far north of the country. Lake water levels vary from year to year depending on the rainfall and associated run-off in the July to September period. A correspondent reports recent sightings of the following species from this area: Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus; Northern Pintail Anas acuta; Garganey Anas querquedula (up to 3,000 in flight in March); Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata; Little Crake Porzana parva; Black Crowned Crane Balearica pavonina; Lesser Jacana Microparra capensis; Greater Painted-snipe Rostratula benghalensis; Cream-coloured Courser Cursorius cursor; Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida; European Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur (up to 2,000 in 2003/04 but absent in 2004/05), Eurasian Scops Owl Otus scops; Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla; Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris; Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe; Black-eared Wheatear O. hispanica; Orphean Warbler Sylvia hortensis; Subalpine Warbler S. cantillans and Sennar Penduline Tit Anthoscopus punctifrons.
Nazinga Game Ranch Situated 200 km south of Ouagadougou along the Ghana border, the Nazinga Game Ranch occupies 91,300 hectares. Up to 330 bird species have been recorded including seven species of stork, 43 species of diurnal raptor, five species of nightjar, seven species of bee-eater and 14 species of swallow and martin. Due to its southerly location, Nazinga is a good place for finding Afro-tropical migrants or birds in the northernmost part of their range e.g. Bateleur Terathopius ecaudatus, Western Banded Snake Eagle Circaetus cinerascens, Verreaux's Eagle Owl Bubo lacteus, Violet Turaco Musophaga violacea, Mottled Spinetail Telacanthura ussheri, Sulphur-breasted Bush Shrike Telophorus sulfureopectus, Heuglin's Wheatear Oenanthe heuglini, Grey Tit-Flycatcher Myioparus plumbeus and Brown-rumped Bunting Emberiza affinis. Palearctic migrants, raptors, waders and insectivores will also be present from October to March.
Mare aux hippopotames This site is located some 50 km north of the city of Bobo-Dioulasso in the upper Mouhoun valley. Over 240 species of birds have been identified at this site and some species which are difficult to observe elsewhere in Burkina Faso can be found here without too much trouble e.g. Lesser Jacana Microparra capensis, Red-headed Lovebird Agapornis pullarius and Oriole Warbler Hypergerus atriceps. Narina Trogon Apaloderma narina has been seen on several occasions.
W National - ArIi National - Singou complex Situated at the extreme south eastern edge of the country, this is the largest remaining wilderness in the country and the area available for wildlife extends into Benin and Niger. The Gobnangou cliffs which run for 50 km along the north of the park provide important nesting sites for raptors like Rüppell's Griffon Vulture Gyps rueppellii and White-headed Vulture Trigonoceps occipitalis. Specialities like Golden-tailed Woodpecker Campethera abingoni, Red-faced Cisticola Cisticola erythrops, Croaking Cisticola C. natalensis, Rock-loving Cisticola C. aberrans, Ashy Flycatcher Muscicapa caerulescens and Gambaga Flycatcher M. gambagae can also be found in the area.
Bérégadougou HilI and Banfora Cliffs Situated in south-western Burkina Faso, north of the town of Banfora, Bérégadougou Hill covers 15,000 ha, of which 5,000 ha is a forest reserve. Many forest birds can be found easily including Square-tailed Drongo Dicrurus ludwigii, Yellow-breasted Apalis Apalis flavida and Black-necked Weaver Ploceus nigricollis. Violet Turaco Musophaga violacea, Blue-bellied Roller Coracias cyanogaster and Green-headed Sunbird Cyanomitra verticalis can be found at Karfiguela Falls. 16 of the 32 species of the Sudan-Guinea Savanna biome which occur in Burkina Faso have been recorded here including Fox Kestrel Falco alopex, White-crowned Robin-Chat Cossypha albicapillus, Blackcap Babbler Turdoides reinwardtii and Grey-headed Oliveback Nesocharis capistrata.