Working for birds in Africa


Fri, 01/25/2013 - 12:19 -- abc_admin

Senegal Thick-knees Burhinus senegalensis, Saly, Senegal

Image Credit: 
Sue Walsh

Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Ramsar Site. It is a wetland of 16,000 ha situated in the Senegal river delta and comprises a large lake surrounded by streams, ponds and backwaters which form a sanctuary for large numbers of waterbirds including Purple Heron Ardea purpurea, Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax, African Spoonbill Platalea alba, Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo, Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus, Black Crowned Crane Balearica pavonina, both Lesser Phoeniconaias minor and Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber, plus a wide range of ducks and waders, some in very high concentrations, including White-faced Whistling Duck Dendrocygna viduata, Garganey Anas querquedula and Ruff Philomachus pugnax. Arabian Bustard Ardeotis arabs may also be seen at Djoudj on occasions. Over 300 species have been recorded in total. The area is accessible by road from St Louis and it is open all year round, although many parts of the park are inaccessible during the rainy season, when the area is also popular with mosquitos. Accommodation and camping are available and viewing can be done by foot, vehicle or pirogue. Bicycles are available for hire in the park. There are tour guides available in the park and at the hotels and tourist office in St. Louis. It is possible to hire a bush taxi from St. Louis to get to Djoudj, whilst several hotels in the town offer day trips.

Ndiaël Faunal Reserve is an alluvial basin in the floodplain of the Senegal river and is a Sahelian environment with seasonal lakes. Birds in the area include European White Stork Ciconia ciconia, Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus, Arabian Bustard Ardeotis arabs, Cream-coloured Courser Cursorius cursor, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles exustus, Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus, Greater Hoopoe-Lark Alaemon alaudipes and Black-crowned Sparrow Lark Eremopterix nigriceps. The reserve is accessible from Saint Louis off the road to Richard Toll. There are no roads in the reserve, only seasonal tracks that change every year and the area should only be accessed with a local guide and a 4x4 vehicle.

Les Trois Marigots are a series of lakes near Saint Louis and south of the Ndiaël which offer some superb birdwatching. Birds found in this area include Black Egret Egretta ardesiaca, African Pygmy Goose Netapus auritus, Denham's Bustard Neotis denhami, Arabian Bustard Ardeotis arabs, Savile's Bustard Eupodotis savilei, many wader species, Spotted Thick-knee Burhinus capensis, Cream-coloured Courser Cursorios cursor, Temminck's Courser C. temminckii, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles exustus, Verreaux's Eagle Owl Bubo lacteus, Black-faced Quailfinch Ortygospiza atricollis and, immediately south of Marigot Three, Little Grey Woodpecker Dendropicos elachus and Sennar Penduline Tit Anthoscopus punctifrons. The area can be accessed a few kilometres north of Saint Louis from the road to Richard Toll. As with the Ndiaël the area has no roads, apart from one track which crosses Marigot One, and should only be entered with a local guide and a 4x4 vehicle. Accommodation is available at the Ranch de Bango near Saint Louis and they can also supply vehicles and guides for their guests to visit the Trois Marigots and Ndiaël areas, Tel: 00221 961 1981, Fax 00221 961 3684.

Niokolo-Koba National Park hosts some 80 species of mammal and 330 species of bird which include White-faced Whistling Duck Dendrocygna viduata, Spur-winged Goose Plectropterus gambensis, Bateleur Terathopius ecaudatus, Martial Eagle Polemaetus bellicosus, Denham's Bustard Neotis denhami, Egyptian Plover Pluvianus aegyptiacus, Violet Turaco Musophaga violacea and Abyssinian Ground Hornbill Bucorvus abyssinicus. The immediate area around the upper reaches of the Gambia river offer species such as Woolly-necked Stork Ciconia episcopus, Beaudouin's Snake Eagle Circaetus beaudouini, Stone Partridge Ptilopachus petrosus, African Finfoot Podica senegalensis, Standard-winged Nightjar Macrodypterix longipennis, Shining-blue Kingfisher Alcedo quadribrachys, Red-throated Bee-eater Merops bulocki, Oriole Warbler Hypergerus atriceps, Grey Tit-Flycatcher Myioparus plumbeus, Sulphur-breasted Bush-Shrike Telophorus sulfureopectus and Orange-cheeked Waxbill Estrilda melpoda. The park is accessible from Tambacounda by road and there is an airstrip at Simenti. There is accommodation at Simenti, Niokolo-Koba and Badi, and several camping grounds. The best time to visit is between December and May. The park does not normally open until mid-December each year due to flooding from the seasonal rains.

Cap Vert is the most westerly point in Africa and the peninsula on which Dakar stands. The tip projects 50 km out to sea from the main north-south line of the coast, offering exceptional opportunities for seawatching, especially in autumn. Possibilities for Senegal seawatching can be found at this reference and in the African Bird Club Bulletin, see reference (iii) and at Seawatching in Senegal. Many species can be seen, especially by taking a boat out to the continental shelf. Such boats can be hired from operators along the beach of N'gor. Otherwise, good land-based viewing can be had from the cliffs of the Ile d'Ngor, the beach at Yoff, the Hotel L'Ocean and the Pointe d'Almadies. Typical species at various times of the year include Cory's (Cape Verde) Shearwater Calonectris (diomedea) edwardsii, Great Shearwater Puffinus gravis, Wilson's Storm-petrel Oceanites oceanicus, Northern Gannet Sula bassana, often in large numbers, Brown Booby Sula leucogaster, Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus, Great Skua Catharacta skua, South Polar Skua C. maccormicki, Sabine's Gull Larus sabini and Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii.

Iles de la Madeleine can be visited in a day-trip from Dakar; pirogues can be hired from the park headquarters along Dakar's Corniche Ouest, not far from Soumbedioune. The highlight of a trip is to see Red-billed Tropicbirds Phaethon aetherus, which breed here amongst the rocks. A couple of pairs of Bridled Tern Sterna anaethetus also breed here, other seabirds can be seen and the plateau of the island supports typical birds of semi-arid scrub. Breeding colonies of Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo can also be found in these isles. Snorkelling is also very worthwhile in the island's small lagoon.

Sine Saloum river delta is south of Dakar and the National Park can be accessed by road from Kaolack. The park has large areas of mangroves, secondary forest and grasslands. There are many raptor species in the area including Dark Chanting Goshawk Melierax metabates, Grasshopper Buzzard Butastur rufipennis, African Hawk Eagle Hieraaetus spilogaster and Grey Kestrel Falco ardosiaceus. Other species found in the area include Black-headed Heron Ardea melanocephala, Four-banded Sandgrouse Pterocles quadricinctus, Blue-spotted Wood Dove Turtur afer, Pearl-spotted Owlet Glaucidium perlatum, White-crowned Robin-Chat Cossypha albicapillus, and Pygmy Sunbird Hedydipna platura. Accommodation can be found at the Sine Saloum hotel or at the Bandiar camp. It should be noted that there are Tsetse fly in some of the central areas of the park.

Parc National de la Langue de Barbarie IBA is situated about 25 km from St Louis. It consists of a 20 km length of intertidal flats and sand dunes on a spit formed across the mouth of the Senegal river. The government decided to cut it in summer 2003 in order to relieve flooding in St Louis. We understand that the environmental effects however are rather devastating for the whole area as the original cut of 20 m has widened to 300 m and is still expanding. We believe the Government is now considering reclosing the gap although the cost would be enormous. The impact of this has not really affected the Isle des Oiseaux which is part of the National Park and which contains a large breeding colony of Slender-billed Gulls Larus genei, Caspian Sterna caspia, Royal S. maxima and Sandwich Terns S. sandvicensis. It is a very small island in the middle of the Senegal river about one hundred metres across and is also a good roost for many species of waterbirds, pelicans as well as other gull and tern species. Very occasionally Sooty Tern S. fuscata arrives but rarely before late April / May and Kelp Gull L. dominicanus is occasionally seen. The island is closed to all people so a boat must be hired (which is easy to do) in order to sail around it. Entrance tickets must be paid for when entering the National Park. It is not clear where this entrance is but a guard is stationed opposite the island on the mainland. In fact the birds can be observed from the mainland as it a only a matter of 70 metres or so to the island. The actual Langue is an important tern breeding area but they don't arrive before late April.

Other recommended sites are Gueumbeul, Somone Lagoon and some of the Niayes.

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