These records are largely unsubstantiated reports published in the Bulletins of the African Bird Club.
from ABC Bulletin 26.1
Records from July–December 2018 include the following. Great (Eurasian) Bitterns Botaurus stellaris were observed near Niamey on 17 November (one) and 1 December (two). A pair of Black Storks Ciconia nigra flying south over Niamey on 18 August were unusual both for the location and the early date. Osprey Pandion haliaetus records on the Niger River at Niamey from 28 October to 16 December may have concerned the same individual. Likewise, also in Niamey, Lizard Buzzard Kaupifalco monogrammicus observations made between 27 October and 3 November probably concerned the same, quite northerly individual. A Wahlberg’s Eagle Hieraaetus wahlbergi over Niamey on 29 September was also far north. A Little Crake Zapornia parva was found dead at Niamey pumping station on 1 November.
Up to four Temminck’s Stints Calidris temminckii were recorded near Niamey in December–January. A Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Merops persicus near Niamey on 10 November was the first record in Niger in many years (BFo). A Greater Honeyguide Indicator indicator near Maradi on 21 September was a first for the area (TK & BK). Red-chested Swallows Hirundo lucida near Niamey on 29–30 June provide potential evidence of a spread already registered elsewhere (BP). The first Yellow Wagtails Motacilla flava of the race flavissima for the country were noted at Goudel, near Niamey, on 17 November and 1 December. At least one adult male House Sparrow Passer domesticus was reported from Agadez on 15 November (BFo). For details on all of the above records see www.wabdab.org (per JBr). A group of Blackcap Babblers Turdoides reinwardtii was observed and sound-recorded (cf. www.xenocanto.org/447207) in ‘W’ National Park on 10 December (EL).
from ABC Bulletin 24.2
On 12 May 2016, a not-yet-fledged Pearl-spotted Owlet Glaucidium perlatum was found in southern Niger—surprisingly representing the first breeding record of this species for the country (Fig. 25; BK & TK). Between 4 and 19 December 2016, an expedition to investigate the relationships between Palearctic passerine migrants and trees in the Sahel, part of the ‘Living on the Edge’ project of Vogelbescherming (BirdLife Netherlands), observed four Eurasian Wrynecks Jynx torquilla, near Tessaoua, Bouza and Dogon Doutchi (two), respectively (RB, JvdK, HI & LZ per JBr; cf. www. wabdab.org). A brief visit to ‘W’ National Park on 22–25 December 2016 produced an Arabian Bustard Ardeotis arabs near the Niger River, two large flocks (one of at least 30 birds) of Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles exustus coming in midmorning to the Niger, a Eurasian Wryneck east of the Tapoa, a Moltoni’s Warbler Sylvia subalpina near the Niger Camp and a Rufous Cisticola Cisticola rufus calling and well seen near the Mékrou at Point Triple—the last two are confirmations of these species for the park. Blackcap Babbler Turdoides reinwardtii, found to be common on the Mékrou during recent visits, was also heard in thickets on the Niger at 12º30’N, and more Lesser Blue-eared Starlings Lamprotornis chloropterus were encountered on the Niger side of Point Triple (cf. Bull. ABC 24: 110–111) (RD, FD-L, JM & SM). On 14 January 2017, River Prinia Prinia fluviatilis and Greater Swamp Warbler Acrocephalus rufescens were sound-recorded at a small wetland near Harikanassou, along the Dallal Bosso River, Dosso district; these are the first records of both species away from the Niger and Komadougou Yobé Rivers (BP).
from ABC Bulletin 24.1
Visits to the Mékrou River in ‘W’ National Park (= NP), south of La Tapoa, on 22 April, and to the lower Mékrou by boat on 28–30 July 2016, produced several records of interest. Five species appear to be new for Niger (cf. Giraudoux et al. 1988. Malimbus 10: 1–140; Niger Atlas database www.nibdab. org/db/viewspecies, accessed 9 November 2016; and J. Brouwer in litt. 2016): Narina’s Trogon Apaloderma narina (seen in tall riparian forest on the lower Mékrou on 30 July—common in ‘W’ NP in Benin); African Moustached Warbler Melocichla mentalis (very vocal in July—common in the park on the Benin side, reaches the Niger border on the lower Mékrou); Yellow-breasted Apalis Apalis flavida (common in riparian forest all along the Mékrou, recorded in both April and July); Splendid Sunbird Cinnyris coccinigastrus (a few holding territory in tall Khaya senegalensis in July—a rains visitor to the extreme north of Benin); and Black-winged Bishop Euplectes hordeaceus (a male in breeding plumage flying across the border on 30 July). Other noteworthy records include the following. An Arabian Bustard Ardeotis arabs was seen 5 km from the Benin border (at Point Triple) on 22 April. Yellowbill Ceuthmochares aereus proved to be common in thickets all along the lower Mékrou, being highly vocal in July.
The season’s last flock of European Bee-eaters Merops apiaster was noted on 22 April and is a new record for ‘W’ NP Niger. Short-winged Cisticola Cisticola brachypterus is largely absent from ‘W’ NP, but several were singing in marshy vegetation at the mouth of the Mékrou, which could represent its northern range limit. Winding Cisticola C. galactotes was singing at the Mékrou mouth—a new record for ‘W’ NP Niger. Blackcap Babbler Turdoides reinwardtii, previously unrecorded from ‘W’ NP in Niger, was common along the Mékrou (this confirms a single previous record for Niger claimed from dry country to the north, cf. Bull. ABC 23: 240). A flock of Lesser Blue-eared Starlings Lamprotornis chloropterus with several immatures was seen on the river on 29–30 July and is also a new record for ‘W’ NP Niger (FD-L & RD). In October House Sparrow Passer domesticus was found to be common at Diffa and its environs; it concerns a subspecies with grey rather than white underparts (EL per www. wabdab.org).
from ABC Bulletin 23.2
For the first half of 2016, no remarkable reports were received, but 4,404 historical records from the Makalondi area made during the period 1968–98 have been added to the West African DataBase (www.wabdab.org). The 311 species involved included at least two with no other records in Niger: Fanti Saw-wing Psalidoprocne obscura and Blackcap Babbler Turdoides reinwardtii (PS per JB).
from ABC Bulletin 23.1
Noteworthy breeding records for 2015 include the following. Two nests of Egyptian Vultures Neophron percnopterus were found in eastern Niger in August; unfortunately the species is hunted in that area, to be sold for black magic purposes in Nigeria. Lesser Striped Swallows Cecropis abyssinica were found breeding in a culvert near Galmi in August; this constitutes a range extension considerably east of Dallol Bosso, as well as the first nests on a man-made structure in Niger. A juvenile African Cuckoo Cuculus gularis was attended by a pair of Yellow-billed Shrikes Corvinella corvinella near Maradi in September, but was not seen to be fed by them. A month later in the same general area, a juvenile Levaillant’s Cuckoo Clamator levaillantii was being fed by Brown Babblers Turdoides plebejus. Also in October, a juvenile Didric Cuckoo Chrysococcyx caprius was attended by a male Little Weaver Ploceus luteolus at Niamey; this is the first proof of breeding of Didric Cuckoo in Niger since 1922 and the first record of Little Weaver as a host.
from ABC Bulletin 22.2
The Barbary Falcon Falco (peregrinus) pelegrinoides photographed at Galmi on 3 December 2014 proved to be one of a pair that remained until at least 28 January 2015.
from ABC Bulletin 22.1
Reports from the period July– December 2014 include the following. Expeditions organised by the Sahara Conservation Fund resulted in a second sighting of a Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos at Termit, on 6 December. A Rüppell’s Vulture Gyps rueppelli at Gadafawa, just south of the Aïr, on 24 October, is the northernmost record in more than 30 years. At Gadabeji, an adult Short-toed Snake Eagle Circaetus gallicus and an adult Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle C. beaudouini were photographed on 3 August, which proves that the two species can sometimes occur together. A dependent young Dwarf Bittern Ixobrychus sturmii was observed in rice fields near Niamey on 10 October—the northernmost breeding record in Niger to date. Also there, a dead male Spotted Crake Porzana porzana was found on 6 October; this is only the fourth or fifth record for Niger. An adult Barbary Falcon Falco (peregrinus) pelegrinoides photographed at Galmi on 3 December was the seventh record for Niger. Also there was a European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus on 22 October, three years to the day after the first records from Galmi; recent records from April–May 2012 demonstrate that Galmi is used as a staging area by this species on both its northbound and southbound migrations. House Sparrows Passer domesticus photographed in Mainé- Soroa on 31 October 2008 are clearly of a different subspecies to those in Chad photographed in September 2014.
from ABC Bulletin 21.2
No noteworthy records from late 2013 - early 2014 were received. Older records that have surfaced recently include those of a Black Heron Egretta ardesiaca (fifth record for Niger) and a Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus (third record but certainly under-recorded), both observed at two different wetlands near Birni N’Konni by the Dutch Montagu’s Harrier Foundation expedition on 27 January 2007. Also noteworthy are a Secretary-bird Sagittarius serpentarius, now possibly extinct in Niger, photographed near Abalak in May 1985, and the fourth record of Little Owl Athena noctua, at Tezirzek in the Aïr Mountains in January - this species is also under-recorded: the local Touareg appear to know its call and burrowing habits well. Photographs can be viewed on the Niger Bird DataBase.
from ABC Bulletin 21.1
Due to ongoing security problems in the country only a few reports were received in the second half of 2013, including two Hottentot Teal Anas hottentota on 28 September and 27 October, as well as 1 - 2 House Sparrows Passer domesticus on 24 September, all in the south; there are fewer than 20 records of this species.
from ABC Bulletin 20.2
The current security situation means that recent reports are scarce. Evidence of migration across the Sahara was found for Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia and Slender-billed Gull Chroicocephalus genei, both of which were photographed at a pool on the eastern side of the Air on 26 January 2013, during a survey by the Sahara Conservation Fund. A Grey Pratincole Glareola cinerea was photographed on 22 June 2012 at Tam wetland on the Komadougou-Yobe River, at the border with Nigeria, 150 km from Lake Chad; the only other record of this species in Niger away from the Niger River, from 1975, was nearby. An African Thrush Turdus pelios also seen at Tam wetland on the same day is the first record east of Zinder. An old record has surfaced of a Baillon's Crake Porzana pusilla, trapped on 9 October 1987 at the edge of a wetland near Makalondi in the south-west; the only other country record was made 15 years later.
from ABC Bulletin 20.1
Records from April - December 2012 are as follows. Two juvenile Saddle-billed Storks Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis were photographed in W International Park on 22 April; this is only the second record of juveniles from Niger. The highlight of the period is undoubtedly the Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca, satellite-tracked from Hungary, which remained in south-west Niger during late November and early December; this is the first record of the species west of northern Cameroon. A Fox Kestrel Falco alopex was photographed on 3 September at the southern end of the Termit Range, in the newly gazetted, 97,000 km2 National Natural and Cultural Reserve of Termit - Tin Toumma; this is the northernmost record in Niger. A Greater Painted-snipe Rostratula benghalensis photographed near Mainé-Soroa on 20 June is the first record east of Dakoro / Maradi. A male white-phase African Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone viridis found 15 km south of Niamey on 27 May is the first record in the country outside W International Park.
Noteworthy records from earlier dates include the following. A Lesser Moorhen Gallinula angulata photographed at Galmi on 1 August 2011 is the first record in Niger east of the Niger River Valley. A Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe photographed in the Ténéré desert on 30 September 2010 proved to be of subspecies leucorhoa, which breeds in Iceland, Greenland and north-east Canada. A Lesser Blue-eared Starling Lamprotornis chloropterus caught and photographed after a storm at Galmi on 15 August 2011 is only the third record for Niger. One of the photographs donated by the Kusserow family is of an albino Sudan Golden Sparrow Passer luteus, observed at Mainé-Soroa for at least three days in March 2011.
from ABC Bulletin 19.2
Records from December 2011 - May 2012 are as follows. A juvenile Long-crested Eagle Lophaetus occipitalis and a Temminck’s Stint Calidris teminckii, both photographed at Tam wetland on 4 December, are the first records for the south-east. A Rock Pratincole Glareola nuchalis was seen at Tapoa, in W International Park, on 8 December; of the seven records for Niger, this is the first away from the Niger River. European Nightjars Caprimulgus europaeus were displaying and singing at Galmi in early May. Up to seven Masked Shrikes Lanius nubicus were reported between 5 December and 21 February near Mainé-Soroa, where they are apparently regular ‘winter’ visitors. House Sparrow Passer domesticus has made a huge westward range extension: a male was observed at Soubdou, 200 km west of the previous westernmost record at Mainé-Soroa, on 28 December, and since 9 February seven records have been submitted of up to seven individuals of both sexes, in the hospital grounds at Galmi, 550 km further west still. It would be interesting to know if House Sparrows are also spreading in northern Nigeria, and which subspecies is involved. Two House Buntings Emberiza striolata at a quarry at Hamdara, 60 km east of Zinder, on 8 December, are the most southerly in Niger to date.
The gift of bird photographs mentioned in previous Recent Reports is slowly being sorted. Pictures recently uploaded to the Niger Bird Database include a Denham’s Bustard Neotis denhami near Goudoumaria on 16 August 2010; the first record for the country of Harlequin Quail Coturnix delegorguei, caught at night on the edge of Mainé-Soroa on 6 July 2010; the first and second records of Three-banded Plover Charadrius tricollaris, at a temporary wetland south-west of Mainé-Soroa on 7 October 2010 and near Koublé, south-east of Gouré, on 8 December 2011; and a Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus found dead near Mainé-Soroa in October 2010, the fourth record for the country.
Uploaded old records to the Niger Bird Database include three firsts for the country: a Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis near Arlit in March 2002; a Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus near Niamey on 21 October 1989; and a group of 30 - 40 Lesser Blue-eared Starlings Lamprotornis chloropterus, including juveniles, along the Niamey–Say road on 9–22 July 1989. Other noteworthy records include a Baillon’s Crake Porzana pusilla in the Tara irrigation area, near Gaya, on 5 March 2002; a male and female Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse Pterocles lichtensteinii between Iférouane and Arlit on 19 March 2002; and three Black-faced Quailfinches Ortygospiza atricollis near Niamey on 12 February 1989, with another 12 there in December 1989 (second and third records).
from ABC Bulletin 19.1
The following records are based on new entries in the Niger Bird DataBase. The first confirmed record of African Black Swift Apus barbatus for Niger was supported by a photograph taken at cliffs near Gouré, in the south-east, on 25 June 2011. There are eight previous claims, since 1989, all but one in May - September (rainy season) and all near cliffs with potential breeding cavities. In the same area on the same day several White-rumped Swifts A. caffer were observed, the first outside the south-west, and possibly breeding. Just north of Gouré and Kéllé, a Desert Eagle Owl Bubo ascalaphus with two just fledged young and a White-crowned Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucopyga were seen on 1 May 2011; these are the southernmost records for both species in Niger.
An ornithological visit to the future reserve of the Termit Massif (16°N 11°E) during the first half of September 2011, organised by the Projet Antilopes Sahélo-Sahariennes and the Sahara Conservation Fund, produced 78 species, amongst them 42 Palearctic migrants, in six days, including Ruff Philomachus pugnax (drinking after crossing the Sahara), Pallid Swift Apus pallidus (nesting within a natural cavity in a sandstone cliff), Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba, a Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava (seeking shade under one of the cars), a Common Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos, a Whinchat Saxicola rubetra, Rüppell’s Warbler Sylvia rueppellii and Sardinian Warbler S. melanocephala. A visit to W International Park on 21–23 September produced several pale Wahlberg’s Eagles Aquila wahlbergi, an African Hobby Falco cuvierii and a juvenile African Cuckoo Cuculus gularis.
During an ornithological training course for tourist guides at W International Park, from 28 November to 4 December 2011, the following species were observed in the Niger part: Black Stork Ciconia nigra (nine), Western Banded Snake Eagle Circaetus cinerascens, a calling Blue-spotted Wood Dove Turtur afer (the first substantiated record since Giraudoux et al. 1988; the call was compared on the spot with the Chappuis recording), a pair of Verreaux’s Eagle Owls Bubo lacteus, Grey-rumped Swallow Pseudhirundo griseopyga, Yellow Penduline Tit Anthoscopus parvulus, Black-faced Firefinch Lagonosticta larvata (clearly established in the park), and Exclamatory Paradise Whydah Vidua interjecta and its host Red-winged Pytilia Pytilia phoenocoptera. One of the guides also provided a convincing description of a Brown-chested Lapwing Vanellus superciliosus he saw in the park in December 2010 while guiding a visiting birder, who apparently photographed the bird.
A gift of bird photographs taken mostly in eastern Niger revealed the first record in the country since 1936 of European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus, of which several were seen at Galmi in October 2011. Also among the photos was the first record for Niger of Wattled Starling Creatophora cinerea - a group of five or more with at least two males in breeding plumage.
from ABC Bulletin 18.2
The following records are based on new entries in the Niger Bird DataBase. Most remarkable was the sighting of a second-calendar year Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos of the dark North African subspecies homeyeri on 20 November 2010 at Termit; previous records from Niger are all from the Aïr, >300 km away. Observations of Black-bellied Bustard Lissotis melanogaster and Savile’s Bustard Lophotis savilei in Parc International du ‘W’ on 9 May 2006 constitute the seventh and the 54th records entered in the NiBDaB respectively. According to Giraudoux et al, Savile’s was known only from ‘W’, whilst Black-bellied had a wider distribution in southern Niger. In the NiBDaB, post-1988, the reverse is the case: Black-bellied records are only from ‘W’ and 50 km north, whilst Savile’s has a rather wider distribution as far north as Gadabeji. Visual confusion between the two species is likely and records of these two species from Niger demand closer scrutiny. An observation of African Green Pigeon Treron calvus in Parc International du ‘W’ on 19 March 2011 is the first record for the country since the 1980s. The Centre de Recherches par le Baguage des Populations d’Oiseaux (CRBPO) in Paris generously made data available on more than 2,800 birds ringed in Niger. During ringing projects in 1999 - 2003, mostly in the valley of the Niger River at Ndounga, 15 km south-east of Niamey, and at Parc International du ‘W’, a Spotted Crake Porzana porzana was ringed on 14 February 2003 (first record for Niger); four Little Crakes P. parva (only four other records); 36 Bluethroats Lusciana svecica (only one previous record), including one of the nominate subspecies; ten Savi’s Warblers Locustella luscinioides (first records for Niger; two further records since and one earlier one to be followed up); and a Grasshopper Warbler L. naevia on 31 March 2002 at Kollo (first record for Niger).
Records submitted to the Niger Bird DataBase since the previous Recent Reports include the following. A Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus of the nominate race was photographed in a tree in the Tin Toumma desert on 29 September 2010. A nest of Fox Kestrel Falco alopex containing three eggs was photographed near Niamey in late May and early June. Also uploaded were photographs of a Little Crake Porzana parva at Goudel near Niamey. With two records of first-winter Blue Rock Thrushes Monticola solitarius from the Dallol Bosso on 19 February 2006, there are now seven records of the species from Niger, including one photographed. The subspecific identification of a male House Sparrow Passer domesticus, photographed at Mainé- Soroa on 1 March 2010, is still a matter of debate, with tintiganus or domesticus most likely.
The highlight of early 2010 was the presence of 'Dorottya', a satellite-tracked Saker Falcon Falco cherrug, which mostly remained c.50 km north of Zinder. The falcon was seen twice during a research project into its ecology in February. The sighting of another Saker Falcon in Nguigmi, on 13 November 2009, has been accepted. Arguably as stunning was the appearance of photographs of an adult Greater Kestrel F. rupicoloides, probably of the subspecies fieldi, taken at Termit, in the south-east, during a Sahara Conservation Fund expedition in February 2009. The nearest known records of this species are from Sudan on the border with Ethiopia, 2,500 km away.
Additional reports from December 2009–June 2010 include the following. Quite far north are records of breeding Bateleur Theratopius ecaudatus (fledgling at nest with adults) and of a single Savile's Bustard Lophotis savilei, both at Gadabeji in March. A Spotted Sandgrouse Pterocles senegallus with three young was seen at Gadafaoua, south-east of Agadez, in June. Also noteworthy is the finding of a nest with two eggs of Golden Nightjar Caprimulgus eximius, on 1 June at Taguedoufat, 100 km southeast of Agadez. The recently opened Niger Bird DataBase website, is already paying dividends. Singing Dunn's Larks Eremalauda dunni were reported east of Termit on 15 December. Eurasian Golden Orioles Oriolus oriolus passed through Mainé-Soroa during the second half of April and Masked Shrikes Lanius nubicus were quite frequent there in February. House Sparrows Passer domesticus appear to be well established and spreading in south-east Niger. The country's first record was from Djado in the far north-east in 1970; the second concerned a single male in Nguigmi, north-east of Lake Chad, on 21 August 2003. Although a search for this species at the latter site in 2005 was unsuccessful, a single was seen there on 22 April 2006. Four years later, on 20 April 2010, 'lots' were coming every day to a waterbowl in the same town, and a pair was reported from a petrol station in Mainé-Soroa, 100 km west of Lake Chad, on the border with Nigeria, in February.
During a field trip by the Sahara Conservation Fund Termit project 44 Great White Pelicans Pelecanus onocrotalus were seen on 16 August 2009 north of Gouré, in south-east Niger; there are very few recent records in Niger, all of singles or very small groups. In autumn 2009, a satellite-tracked Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus flew from Romania to its wintering grounds in Angola via Niger. Photographs of a juvenile taken near Termit on 20 February 2004, whilst one or two other individuals were observed nearby, subsequently came to light; this was very early in the year, suggesting that some may winter in West rather than southern Africa. A Eurasian Hobby F. subbuteo from Germany took a similar route via Niger to Angola and Zambia in autumn 2008; of this species, too, there are only a handful of observations in Niger.
A Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus of the subspecies rufescens, photographed near Niamey in November 2008, represents the first recent positive record; this taxon is not shown as occurring in Niger by Borrow & Demey (2001. Birds of Western Africa) and Giraudoux et al. (1988. Avifaune du Niger. Malimbus 10:1–140) mention it only in very general terms. Thiollay (1977. Distribution saisonnière des rapaces diurnes en Afrique occidentale. Oiseau & R.F.O. 47: 253–285), however, mentioned it as nesting in small numbers in rocky areas from Dogondoutchi to the Aïr, and possibly also in trees. On 25 May 2008, a Western Olivaceous Warbler Hippolais opaca was photographed at Termit, which is rather far east for this species.
Records from November 2007 - March 2008 include the following. In November, several Rüppell’s Sylvia rueppelli and Sardinian Warblers S. melanocephala were observed at Termit; both are under-reported species that winter in the drier parts of Niger.
During an ornithological training course for park guides in W International Park (Bénin, Burkina Faso, Niger) in February, 14 Black Storks Ciconia nigra were seen in the Niger part of the park. Two Red-winged Warblers Heliolais erythropterus were identified at Tapoa; this is only the second record for the country. A pair of Coqui Francolins Francolinus coqui was seen outside the park north of Tapoa. African Finfoot Podica senegalensis, Violet Turaco Musophaga violacea, Grey- rumped Swallow Pseudhirundo griseopyga (second record for Niger) and White-crowned Robin Chat Cossypha albicapilla were recorded near Point Triple. Oriole Warblers Hypergerus atriceps were also there and at the campsite on the Niger River (two duetting adults in a group of five). At Pérélégou, Red-winged Pytilias Pytilia phoenicoptera and associated Exclamatory Paradise Whydahs Vidua interjecta were observed.
A visit to Kokoro Wetland northeast of Tahoua produced a Lesser Jacana Microparra capensis on 23 February - which was unusually far north. Also quite far north was a juvenile Greater Honeyguide Indicator indicator near Niamey in March. Further noteworthy sightings from the Niamey area in February - March included Yellow-breasted Barbet Trachyphonus margaritatus, Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla, Desert Lark Ammomanes deserti with young and Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius (few records in Niger).
A Secretary Bird Sagittarius serpentarius was seen near Tilia, north of Tahoua, in September 2006; this is the first record from Niger in decades. A single Banded Martin Riparia cincta was seen on 7 June 2004 just north of Magaria, south of Zinder. A Lesser Swamp Warbler Acrocephalus gracilirostris in the same area, on 8 June 2004, constitutes the first record from Niger; the species is considered common around Kano, Nigeria, 150 km to the south. The Wheatear Expedition to Niger, Mali and Mauritania in February-March 2007, from the Vogelwarte in Wilhelmshaven, reported a female Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala near Agadez and three Sennar Penduline Tits Anthoscopus punctifrons near Abalak; the paucity of records for these species in Niger is doubtless a reflection on the lack of observers.
The most exciting news is that satellite studies have shown a juvenile Eleonora's Falcon Falco eleonorae passed through north-eastern Niger during its southbound migration and an adult female crossed the south-west northbound; in mainland West Africa, this species is a very rare vagrant, known only from northern Mauritania, in November, and, more recently, Côte d’Ivoire, in March (Bull. ABC 8: 147). In the Agadez region, visits to a number of wetlands in early December 2006 turned up a Barbary Falcon Falco pelegrinoides at Chinziganen, and a Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala and two Rüppell’s Warblers S. rueppelli at Chinwalmban. The second Montagu’s Harrier expedition to Niger in January - February 2007 reported a Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola from a wetland near Birni N'Konni; if accepted, this would be a first for Niger and apparently only the second for West Africa, the first being from Senegal, in January 1999 (cf. Bull. ABC 8: 139–140). Also reported were a mixed group of 43 African Spoonbills Platalea alba, including many immatures, and 23 Eurasian Spoonbills P. leucorodia at Tabalak; breeding Desert Eagle Owls Bubo ascalaphus desertorum near Abalak; a Common Quail Coturnix coturnix west of Birni N’Konni and also midway between Niamey and Dosso; a number of Greater Hoopoe Larks Alaemon alaudipes in the Agadez region (surprisingly few recent observations); at least six Mourning Wheatears Oenanthe lugens near Diffa, far south of their known wintering grounds in the Aïr; a group of six Sennar Penduline Tits Anthoscopus punctifrons near Abalak; a pair of Desert Sparrows Passer simplex near Agadez; and six Red-winged Pytilias Pytilia phoenicoptera at a waterhole in the south of Parc Régional du W.
Details of the three Hottentot Teal Anas hottentota reportedly shot near Zinder during sampling of wild birds as part of H5N1 avian influenza monitoring in early 2006 have been received: they were collected at Chemagaji (13°30’N 09°50’E) on 28 February 2006 and were the only Hottentot Teal at the site, which consists of several pools in the desert.
The following records are from the period May–October 2006. Twelve occupied nests of Intermediate Egrets Egretta intermedia on 5 August, at Les Rôniers in Niamey, constitute the first confirmed breeding record of this species in Niger. It is unclear whether an immature Purple Heron Ardea purpurea at Saga the next day was also due to local breeding (unconfirmed for Niger) or involved a second calendar-year bird that did not return to Europe. An adult European Hobby Falco subbuteo reported from Les Rôniers on 17 September would be only the third record for Niger. Three male Ruffs Philomachus pugnax at Saga on 16 July are a very early observation. A Mottled Swift Tachymarptis aequatorialis on 4 June, at the Tapoa Hotel in ‘W’ National Park, would be the third record for Niger, all since August 2004. A pair of Blackstarts Cercomela melanura feeding young in the Dallol Bosso on 3 August and two adult Yellow-billed Oxpeckers Buphagus africanus feeding two juveniles, at Dougel Kaina opposite Kolo, surprisingly constitute the first confirmed breeding records for Niger. A Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus at Les Rôniers on 2 September would be the second record for Niger.
The following records are from the period October 2005-May 2006. At the Mare de Guidan Kara wetland, 30 km north-west of Birni N’Konni, the following species unusual for Niger were seen on 16 January: two Black-necked Grebes Podiceps nigricolllis, six Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope, four Common Teal A. crecca, three Common Pochards Aythya ferina, 262 Ferruginous Ducks A. nyroca and three Tufted Ducks A. fuligula; the water in the wetland is too saline for livestock and for agriculture. On a photograph taken in November 2005 at a wetland near Damana, between Baleyara and Filingué, a White-backed Duck Thalassornis leuconotus (third record for Niger) and a Hottentot Teal Anas hottentota (c.10 previous records) can be seen. It is said that three Hottentot Teal were shot near Zinder during sampling of wild birds for the H5N1 avian influenza monitoring in February-March.
A Bat Hawk Macheiramphus alcinus was seen attacking fruitbats in Niamey on 2 October, and two individuals were observed at dusk near the Grand Hotel on 25 May. The Montagu Harrier Circus pygargus expedition in January-February 2006 quadrupled the number of observations of the species in Niger to more than 100. Fifty Lesser Kestrels Falco naumanni were counted in the Dallol Bosso at Birni N’Gaoré on 15 January.
A Little Crake Porzana parva was photographed at Goudel ricefields (13°53'N 02°05'E) on 5 March. Two Temminck's Stints Calidris temminckii were seen at Daïkana-Daïberi (14°18'N 01°47'E) on 18 February). Four Great Snipe Gallinago media and a Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus were at Saga, near Niamey, on 7 January. A single White-bellied Bustard Eupodotis senegalensis was seen near Birni N’Konni on 18 January, and many were heard near Guidan Roumji, north-west of Maradi, on 19 January. On 18 February, during a fall of migrants due to very dusty conditions, a Cardinal Woodpecker Dendropicos fuscescens was reported near Tillabéri; the only previous report of this species from Niger is in a publication from 1950 on Tamasheq names of animals, without any other details. An Orphean Warbler Sylvia hortensis was found at Daïberi on 18 February. On 19 January, a Fiscal Shrike Lanius collaris was observed near Guidan Roumji, and a Red-backed Shrike L. collurio east of Birni N’Konn.
The following species, for which there are few published records in Niger, were observed in the south-east in September-October 2005. A Black Stork Ciconia nigra was c.20 km north of Diffa on 4 October. A Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina flew east of Maine-Soroa on 7 October. An African Hobby Falco cuvierii was chasing grasshoppers near Maine-Soroa on 24 September. A White-rumped Swift Apus caffer was noted north of Diffa on 27 September and another, with Little Swifts A. affinis, at Diffa on 6 October; these are the first records from eastern Niger, all previous records being from the south-west. A pair of River Prinias Prinia fluviatilis was nest building at the Komadougou Yobé River, Diffa, on 23 and 29 September, and another was by the River Niger at Tillabéry on 11 October; these would constitute the first definite records for the country, if accepted. A Yellow-spotted Petronia Petronia pyrgita was found west of Diffa on 26 September.
Following the first observations of Mottled Swift Tachymarptis aequatorialis and Alpine Swift T. melba in 2004, Mottled and possibly also Alpine Swifts were seen on 25 October 2005 just east of Arlit, in a mixed flock with Common Swifts Apus apus, Pallid Swifts A. pallidus and a Little Swift A. affinis. A photograph of a possible African Black Swift Apus barbatus in the same flock is still being examined. The latter species has not yet been confirmed for Niger, although there are more than ten probable observations during the rainy season, including possible breeding in caves in the Dallol Bosso, 100 km east of Niamey.
Three species new to Niger were reported in 2003: Red-chested Cuckoo Cuculus solitarius, heard 43 km west of Diffa on 25 September, Grassland Pipit Anthus cinnamomeus, seen 44 km north-east of Tahoua on 25 July and Buff-bellied Warbler Phyllolais pulchella, found 39 km west of Diffa on 25 September. Noteworthy sightings from the Diffa area in September 2003 include a Clapperton's Francolin Francolinus clappertoni on 23rd, a Kurrichane Buttonquail Turnix sylvaticus on 24th with another on 26th and a Little Grey Woodpecker Dendropicos elachus on 23rd.
A pair of African Pied Wagtails Motacilla aguimp (on the bank of the Niger River) and two Black-eared Wheatears Oenanthe hispanica were observed at Niamey on 24 January 2004; although these species are not uncommon in the area, documented sightings are scarce. Two Isabelline Shrikes Lanius isabellinus, seen on 19 September 2003 near Tanout, appear to represent the second record for Niger.