Working for birds in Africa


Wed, 02/06/2013 - 15:06 -- abc_admin

Little Green Bee-Eater Merops orientalis, Segou, Mali

Image Credit: 
Lionel Sineux, April 2011

The following largely unconfirmed records were published in the Bulletins of the African Bird Club and are for information only.

from ABC Bulletin 26.1

Alpine Swifts Tachymarptis melba were observed in Bamako on 31 October 2018 (one) and near Kati, north of Bamako, on 28 November (c.32 flying east over the plateau, calling frequently). A male indigobird presumed to be a Barka Indigobird Vidua larvaticola was singing near Kati on 28 October; its song included several elements of Mali Firefinch Lagonosticta virata, a male of which was present nearby (BP). Both species were observed at the same location on 3 November (CS, eBird). Also of interest were 20 Grey Pratincoles Glareola cinerea along the Niger at Koulikoro on 20 November (CS & SP, eBird).

from ABC Bulletin 24.1

A probable Wahlberg’s Honeybird Prodotiscus regulus was observed at Narina farms, Koulikoro, north-east of Bamako, on 25 October 2016; the species was photographed in the same area in January 2010 (MCr).

from ABC Bulletin 23.2

An Iberian Chiffchaff Phylloscopus ibericus was singing in Bamako from 9 January 2016 until at least 15th (sound-recorded: www.xeno-canto. org/299401); the winter quarters of this Palearctic migrant are still poorly known and there are just a few records from Mali (BP)

from ABC Bulletin 22.2

A Freckled Nightjar Caprimulgus tristigma was singing in Bamako’s hippodrome neighbourhood, probably from a flat rooftop, before dawn on 14 - 21 February 2015; houses there are c.1.4 km from large rocky hills. At least one pair of Mali Firefinches Lagonosticta virata was encountered in Bamako National Park, on 11 April, where there were also two Mocking Cliff Chats Thamnolaea cinnamomeiventris and many Neumann’s Starlings Onychognathus neumanni; all three species are no doubt regular at this site, but the first two can be hard to find. 

from ABC Bulletin 20.2

A group of three House Sparrows Passer domesticus, one male and two females, was observed on a small building in Nampala, near the south-eastern corner of Mauritania, on 15 June 2013. The security situation in the country does not permit field outings at present, but a nightjar heard singing in the Sokolo area in June and December 2005 is now known to have been a Golden Nightjar Caprimulgus eximius, rather than Red-necked Nightjar C. ruficollis, as initially thought. 

from ABC Bulletin 20.1

A Blue-breasted Kingfisher Halcyon malimbica was observed in the outskirts of Bamako on 29 September 2012; the species reaches the northern edge of its range in Mali and there are few records for the country, with this apparently being the first from the Bamako area.

from ABC Bulletin 19.2

In February - March 2012, a flock of 44 African Skimmers Rynchops flavirostris was seen repeatedly on the same sandbank in the Niger River c.25 km south of Kangaba, towards the Guinea border. Also there were an immature Yellow-billed Stork Mycteria ibis and a Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferrugineus on 11 March. In early March, a Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus was photographed at Kangaba. In the capital Bamako, the old Arboretum (103 ha within a forest reserve of 2,100 ha) was given national park status, with new paths and facilities. The park, which was officially opened in September 2010, includes a semi-circular forested canyon that lies below the terraced outcrops of the Koulouba plateau. Koulikoro Firefinch Lagonosticta virata occurs; 6 - 8 were seen during a visit in March.

from ABC Bulletin 19.1

A Lesser Jacana Microparra capensis was photographed at Kangaba, south-west of Bamako (11°55’30”N 08°23’52”W) on 2 July 2011; this is a new locality for the species. An Osprey Pandion haliaetus was also present on the same date.


Mocking Cliff Chat Myrmecocichla cinnamomeiventris was found on rocky outcrops at the village of Missirikoro, near Sikasso, in April and June 2011. This is a new locality for this patchily distributed species.

In January 2010, three Wahlberg's Honeybirds Prodotiscus regulus were observed and photographed in a small valley 30 km south-west of Bamako. These are the first sightings in Mali of the species, for which there are few records in West Africa; full details will be published in this journal.

A Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala was observed near Bougini, east of Tombouctou (16°49’10”N 02°02’52”W), on 1 February 2009. Detailed field notes made in May 1999 and June 2008 by two observers suggest that Splendid Sunbird Cinnyris coccinigastrus is present in Bamako.

During a waterbird census of the Inner Niger Delta using a light aircraft, on 6–21 January 2008, counts included 3,275 Long-tailed Cormorants Phalacrocorax africanus, 10,570 Squacco Herons Ardeola ralloides, 98,960 Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis, 3,780 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 10,945 Intermediate Egrets E. intermedia and Great Egrets E. alba, 2,605 Purple Herons Ardea purpurea, 11,800 Grey Herons A. cinerea, eight Black Storks Ciconia nigra, 3,644 White Storks C. ciconia, 2,707 Glossy Ibises Plegadis falcinellus, 331 Sacred Ibises Threskiornis aethiopica, 5,815 Fulvous Whistling Ducks Dendrocygna bicolor, 64,804 White-faced Whistling Ducks D. viduata, nine Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca, 5,854 Spur-winged Geese Plectropterus gambensis, 1,902 Knob-billed Ducks Sarkidiornis melanotos, 213,355 Northern Pintails Anas acuta, 540,865 Garganey A. querquedula, 9595 Northern Shovelers A. clypeata, 25,365 Ferruginous Ducks Aythya nyroca, 34,712 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa, 40 Pied Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta, 177,435 Ruff Philomachus pugnax, and 10,900 Black-winged Stilts Himantopus himantopus; 40,980 egrets Egretta ssp. and herons Ardea ssp. were too distant to be specifically identified.

Other January records include a Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus north of Sévaré on 17th, two Arabian Bustards Otis arabs on 13th (seen from the aircraft), and 23 Greater Painted-snipe Rostratula benghalensis at a waterhole near Sandou on 19th. European Turtle Doves Streptopelia turtur were well represented this year with flocks numbering tens or hundreds of individuals observed in the Inner Niger Delta, and the species was also encountered near Konna and in south Gourma. House Buntings Emberiza striolata were found in the hills south-east and east of Sévaré on 16th and 19th.

On 7-8 March 2007, five Seebohm’s Wheatears Oenanthe oenanthe seebohmi were observed or trapped in the vicinity of Nioro, near Mauritania’s southern border; the only previous records are from the Tombouctu / Gossi area.

During a waterbird census of the Inner Niger delta using a light aircraft, on 9-21 January 2007, the highest numbers since at least 1991 were recorded for several species, including Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides (13,700 individuals, against 12,532 in 2006, which was already a record: Bull. ABC 14: 100), Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis (121,100; 69,690 in 2006), Little Egret Egretta garzetta (19,133), Intermediate Egret E. intermedia and Great Egret E. alba (11,445; 6,500 in 2006), Grey Heron Ardea cinerea (9,831; 8,145 in 2006), and Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca (15,066; 13,590 in 2006). Additional counts included 2,856 Purple Herons Ardea purpurea, 507 White Storks Ciconia ciconia, 2,338 Glossy Ibises Plegadis falcinellus, 6,450 Spur-winged Geese Plectropterus  gambensis, only 10,612 Northern Pintails Anas acuta, 226,250 Garganey A. querquedula (815,800 in 2006), 11,775 Black-winged Stilts Himantopus himantopus, 337 Egyptian Plovers Pluvianus aegyptius, 2,930 Spur-winged Lapwings Vanellus spinosus, 98,265 Ruff Philomachus pugnax and only 5,990 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa; 22,170 egrets Egretta ssp. and herons Ardea spp. were too far to be specifically identified. Two Eurasian Spoonbills Platalea leucorodia were observed c.10 km north of Mopti on 18th.

During a waterbird census of the inner Niger delta using a light aircraft from 9-23 January 2006, the highest numbers since at least 1991 were recorded for several species, including Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides (12,532 individuals), Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis (69,690), Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia and Great Egret E. alba (6,500), Grey Heron Ardea cinerea (8,145), Spur-winged Goose Plectropterus gambensis (7,895), Garganey Anas querquedula (815,800), Northern Shoveler A. clypeata (13,940), Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca (13,590) and Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus (12,190). Other interesting records include nine Black Storks Ciconia nigra observed on 21st (apparently the third record for the inner Niger delta), three male Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope on 19th, 35 Common Teal A. crecca (this species has been almost certainly seriously underestimated until now), a Marbled Duck Marmaronetta angustirostris on 18th and 250 Common Pochards Aythya ferina.

Noteworthy observations made in August 2006 at Agoufou, c.35 km north of Hombori (15°35’N 01°47’W), include Quail-plover Ortyxelos meiffrenii (regular), Mottled Swift Tachymarptis aequatorialis (a few), Alpine Swift T. melba (one), Cricket Warbler Spiloptila clamans (common) and Desert Cisticola Cisticola aridulus (common, though not marked for the area on the map in Borrow & Demey, 2004, Field Guide to the Birds of Western Africa).

On 2-3 January 2006 at least six small Sylvia warblers that were identified as Spectacled Warblers Sylvia conspicillata were observed in the Sokolo area. Distinctive features included pink underparts with a contrasting white throat, a very distinct whitish eye-ring and grey-brown upperparts in males, whilst females had a weaker eye-ring and paler, duller underparts. There is only one previous record for Mali.

Noteworthy records from the Sokolo area on 12-14 January 2005 include a Yellow-breasted Barbet Trachyphonus margaritatus and two Lesser Whitethroats Sylvia curruca. Records new for the area of Sadiola, south of Kayes, in the little-visited extreme west of the country, near the Senegalese border, include Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius, Neumann's Starling Onychognathus neumanni and Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild.

The following records are from field work by Robert Dowsett and Francoise Lemaire in 2004 and were published in the Bulletin of the African Bird Club 12(1).

A five-week expedition, from 21 May to 23 June 2004, mainly prospected the poorly-known south and south-west. Additions to the country list were Forbes's Plover Charadrius forbesi (one on a laterite pan near Sagabari), Thick-billed Cuckoo Pachycoccyx audeberti (heard near Madina Diassa and Farako, near Sikasso), Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird Pogoniulus bilineatus (heard at the Woroni waterfalls, south of Sikasso), and Spotted Creeper Salpornis spilonotus (seen near Kalana, south of Yanfolila).

Very few species of Guineo-Congolian rainforest were found at all, and then only in the far south, i.e. Green Turaco Tauraco persa and White-bellied Kingfisher Alcedo leucogaster in the Farako gallery and, most surprisingly, a pair of Buff-spotted Woodpeckers Campethera nivosa in the wide gallery on the Baoulé-sud near Madina Diassa. A number of species characteristic of dry gallery forest elsewhere appear far more widespread in Mali than hitherto known, including African Finfoot Podica senegalensis, Narina's Trogon Apaloderma narina and Adamawa Turtle Dove Streptopelia hypopyrrha (the last two discovered as recently as in 2002), Blue-breasted Kingfisher Halcyon malimbica, Oriole Warbler Hypergerus atriceps and Yellow-breasted Apalis Apalis flavida. White-backed Night Herons Gorsachius leuconotus were seen and heard at three sites (Kouoro bridge on the Banifing, east and south of Kangaba). A group of 7–8 Magpie Mannikins Spermestes fringilloides was feeding on the seeds of the wild bamboo Oxytenanthera abyssinica south of Sagabari; the ecology of this species has not been studied in West Africa, but in south-eastern Africa it is well known to feed almost exclusively on bamboo seeds. A Dorst's Cisticola Cisticola dorsti was in full song in open woodland near Kalana, next to a pair of Red-winged Warblers Heliolais erythroptera; the latter species is rare in Mali. Whistling Cisticola Cisticola lateralis, almost unrecorded in Mali, was found commonly in the far south-west (Madina Diassa and Nalla) north to the Baoulé crossing west of Négala. Near Madina Diassa still, a pair of Mottled Spinetails Telacanthura ussheri and Pied-winged Swallows Hirundo leucosoma were breeding in the same baobab, albeit using different entry holes. The extensive grass plains of the south-west (Ouassoulou Balé, Fié rivers) were home to substantial populations of Croaking Cisticola Cisticola natalensis, Black-backed Cisticola C. eximius, Orange-breasted Waxbill Sporaeginthus subflavus and other grassland specialists like Swamp Nightjar Caprimulgus natalensis for which there are few records in Mali. The little-known Mali (Kulikoro) Firefinch Lagonosticta virata was found to be particularly common in dry thicket on the large rocky mountain north-west of Kita, and was also noted near Siby and in Bamako Botanic Gardens.

A five-day tour in the Sahel, from Douentza to Gao, on 14–19 June, produced many records of interest. Pharaoh's Eagle Owls Bubo ascalaphus were heard at the cliffs near Douentza and Hombori (a significant south-westward range extension) and a pair was seen on a small rocky escarpment 6 km east of Gao. Golden Nightjars Caprimulgis eximius were found closely associated with rocky hills, from Douentza to Gao; their churring song was tape-recorded and positively identified for the first time, as dawn playback brought the birds into view within 6–10 m of observers until it was almost full daylight. Hundreds of Pallid Apus pallidus and Mottled Swifts Tachymarptis aequatorialis were feeding noisily around all large cliffs from Douentza to Hombori and also came to drink in pools a long way from water, as in the Gourma. Several Kordofan Larks Mirafra cordofanica were in song in sand dunes south-west of Gao, where the spiky grass Schoenefeldia gracilis was dominant. Species of interest in the Gourma, between Douentza and Benzéma, included Quail-plover Ortyxelos meiffrenii and Fulvous Babbler Turdoides fulva; the latter was, as expected, far more common in arid woodland near Gao. A River Prinia Prinia fluviatilis was seen at Gao on the edge of the Niger; this constitutes only the second record for the country. An Olivaceous Warbler Hippolais pallida seen as late as on 17 June in an Acacia hedge in Gao might belong to the Afrotropical population from Nigeria / Niger not yet proven to breed in Mali).

The following observations by Mary Crickmore were published in the Bulletins of the African Bird Club Volume 11 2004 (CRICKMORE, M. 2004) . These records are from the Sokolo area, 14°44'N 06°00'W, in July and September 2003: Savile's Bustards Eupodotis savilei were heard frequently making their advertisment call day and night. Ten Egyptian Plovers Pluvianus aegyptius were observed at Pont Alatoona on 22 September. In July, a Singing Bush Lark Mirafra cantillans, at least four Zitting Cisticolas Cisticola juncidis and two Desert Cisticolas C. aridulus were seen displaying. On 7 December 2003, an Orphean Warbler Sylvia hortensis and an albino Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator were seen in the Sokolo area; the albino was almost entirely dirty white, with a grey wash on mask, wings and tail, where the normal adult, of which several wintered in the area, is black.

Noteworthy records from the north, from February 2004, some of which represent slight range extensions as compared to the maps in Birds of Western Africa (Borrow & Demey 2001), include a Eurasian Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus south of Tombouctou on 20th, a Lesser Moorhen Gallinula angulata also in the Tombouctou area on 19th, 350 Spotted Sandgrouse Pterocles senegallus in the Gao area on 16th, two African Palm Swifts Cypsiurus parvus in Gao town on 18th, a female Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala at Gao on 17th (apparently the first record for Mali), six Yellow-billed Oxpeckers Buphagus africanus in the Hombori area on 18th, and six Yellow-crowned Bishops Euplectes afer along the Niger River at Gao on 18th.

The following records are from field work by Robert Dowsett and Francoise Lemaire in February 2002. They were published in the Bulletin of the African Bird Club Volume 9 Number 2 August 2002 (DOWSETT, R. & LEMAIRE, F. 2000) .

Adamawa Turtle Doves Streptopelia hypopyrrha were singing and displaying at the confluence of the Bafing and Balé Rivers on the border with Guinea, as well as on the Manding Plateau. Singing Black-shouldered Nightjars Caprimulgus nigriscapularis were found on the Manding Plateau and in the south. Narina's Trogon Apaloderma narina was found near the Guinea border at the Bafing-Balé confluence, and Simple Greenbul Chlorocichla simplex was on the Baoulé Sud River, near Madina-Diassa. A Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata was observed on the delta near Sari-Mama on 1 March. Dorst's Cisticola Cisticola dorsti was found to be common in the south and Bafing area, thus records of Red-Pate Cisticola C. ruficeps from this area are doubtless erroneus. Brown Sunbird Anthreptes gabonicus and Tropical Boubou Laniarius aethiopicus were recorded from gallery forest on the Baoulé Sud. Dybowski's Twinspot Euschistospiza dybowskii was seen on the Manding Plateau and Black-bellied Firefinch Lagonosticta rara at several southern localities. In addition, several species rarely recorded previously were found to be not uncommon, including Great Bittern Botaurus stellaris (Yanfolila and Delta), Blue-breasted Kingfisher Halcyon malimbica and Yellow-breasted Apalis Apalis flavida (throughout gallery forest in the south).

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