Working for birds in Africa


Wed, 01/23/2013 - 18:04 -- abc_admin

Rice fields from the air, Niger River, Ndounga, 10 km south of Niamey

Image Credit: 
Joost Brouwer

The IBA section should be consulted for site and logistics details.

Other good birding spots in and around the capital, Niamey.

The irrigation areas around Niamey are always nice to go bird watching. One can take the road to Kollo and a bit beyond to Sibéri and turn into the irrigation areas along the river anywhere. Especially good is the Saga irrigation area (13°27'N 02°09'E ) only 7 km from the centre of Niamey. Take the Kollo road and 1-2 km past Saga, turn right where you see a canal with a large pumping station at the other end or take a bush taxi to this point. Just drive or walk around. There are lovely little wetlands in various low-lying places, although these, too, are being reclaimed little by little. More than 110 species have been recorded here, including Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio and Allen's Gallinule and P. alleni, Greater Painted-snipe Rostratula benghalensis and Great Snipe Gallinago media, as well as bee-eaters, rollers and kingfishers.

You can also go to the Goudel irrigation area (13°32'N 02°02'E) on the northern side of town. Drive or take a taxi to Goudel and turn left into the irrigation area either just before or a bit after the Hotel les Rôniers. The irrigation area on the right bank (rive droite) immediately to the south of the Kennedy Bridge in Niamey (13°29'N 02°06'E) is also quite nice and within walking distance from the hotels in the centre of town. Just check about walking back to your hotel after dark.

Good bush and tiger bush habitat can be found along the sealed road to Torodi and Ouagadougou. On the Torodi road there are three small hills just beyond the checkpoint outside Niamey (13°29'N 02°03'E) not rich in species but they may provide Fox Kestrel Falco alopex, Spotted Eagle Owl Bubo africanus, Plain Nightjar Caprimulgus inornatus and Blackstart Cercomela melanura. Further along the same Torodi road 15 km out of town, there is excellent tigerbush (13°29'N 02°02'E) with a good chance of e.g. Savile's Bustard Eupodotis savilei. During the rainy season you will no doubt hear this species' piping call long before you see it. You may also see Quail-plover Ortyxelos meiffreni or Bronze-winged Courser Rhinoptilus chalcopterus. Just before Kobadié there is a lovely wetland a couple of hundred metres off the road on the west side. Park your car or hop off the bush taxi before the bridge just north of the town. I hope the tall Kayacedra senegalensis trees haven't all been cut in the meanwhile.

There is similar bush habitat along the sealed road to Say. For a great wetland area take the run-off east to ICRISAT Sahelian Centre about 35 km along the Say road, continue on about 6 km past the entrance to ICRISAT (the road veers north-east at the corner of the fence) and just before you go down to Dougel Kaina on the river turn right to a disused irrigation area below the cliffs (13°16'N 02°20'E). Park your car and just walk around in this lovely spot for waterbirds and colourful bush birds. A 4WD vehicle is normally not necessary unless there has been much rain.

Another pleasant drive is through the Dallol Bosso. For this trip go 70 km along the road to Dosso to Birni Gaouré, north for 80 km via the gravel road on the left just the other side of Birni to Yéni and Baléyara (through the Dallol Bosso), and then the sealed road 110 km back to Niamey. You are virtually guaranteed to see Fox Kestrels Falco alopex at the various cliffs in the Dallol and during the rainy season various species of swallows and swifts that nest in hollows in the cliffs. There will be lots of other birds, too. During the dry season you could perhaps try this drive in a sedan (turn back if it gets too tricky), but during the rains you will need a 4WD for sure.

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