Working for birds in Africa


Thu, 08/28/2014 - 12:11 -- abc_admin

Most visitors to South Sudan are likely to go to Juba, the capital. There are certainly plenty of good birding opportunities around Juba as described in a recent article by Mark Mallalieu - see ABC Bulletin 20(2) pp 156 - 176. In total, 323 species were identified over a two year period within a radius of 50 km of Juba. These included 8 species of conservation concern and 27 biome-restricted species. Juba lies on the west bank of the White Nile, some 127 km north of the Uganda border. The areas visited include the Juba Game Reserve within which is an IBA, Jebel Kujur. A further IBA, Badingilo is 60 km north-east of Juba, and just outside the survey area. 

A host of interesting species were recorded which include the following: African Cuckoo Hawk Aviceda cuculoides; Ruppell's Griffon Vulture Gyps rueppellii, Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus; Eleonora's Falcon Falco eleonorae; Lesser Moorhen Gallinula angulae; Rock Pratincole Glareola nuchalis; Meyer's Parrot Poicephalus meyeri; White-crested Turaco Tauraco leucolophus; Icterine Warbler Hippolais icterina; Emin's Shrike Lanius gubernator; Yellow-billed Oxpecker Buphagus africanus and Red-winged Pytilia Pytilia phoenicoptera.

An article by Marc de Bont documents bird observations in the extreme south-east of South Sudan over a two year period - see ABC Bulletin 16(1) pp 37 - 52. 310 species were identified which included 9 species of conservation concern and 47 biome-restricted species. Interesting species recorded included the following: Egyptian Vulture;Neophron percnopterus; Lappet-faced Vulture Torgos tracheliotus; Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga; Denham's Bustard Neotis denhami; White-cheeked Turaco Tauraco leucotis; Gambaga Flycatcher Muscicapa gambagae and Hunter's Sunbird Nectarinia hunteri.

Abyei is located on the border between Sudan and South Sudan and has been an area witnessing lots of political unrest. (Abyei is claimed by South Sudan but currently controlled by the northern Sudanese government.) The area is however rich in bird species including Hamerkop Scopus umbretta, Woolly-necked Stork Ciconia episcopus, Knob-billed Duck Sarkidiornis melanotos, African Pygmy Goose Nettapus auritus, Bateleur Terathopius ecaudatus, White-Headed Vulture Trigonoceps occipitalis, Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus, Denham's  Bustard Neotis denhami, Spotted Thick-knee Burhinus capensis, Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius, Woodland Kingfisher Halcyon senegalensis, Grey-headed Kingfisher H. leucocephala, Northern Carmine Bee-eater Merops nubicus, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill Bucorvus abyssinicus, Vieillot's Barbet Lybius vieilloti, Lesser Honeyguide Indicator minor, Pale Flycatcher Bradornis pallidus, the beautiful Silverbird Empidornis semipartitus, Yellow-crowned Bishop Euplectes afer and Little Weaver Ploceus luteolus.

The Sudd must hold vast concentrations of waterbirds and the highest population of Shoebill Balaeniceps rex but access is presumably extremely difficult. 

The following description from Samuel Baker’s trip to discover the source of the Nile in 1863 might be of interest. "There is no more formidable swamp in the world than the Sudd. The Nile loses itself in a vast sea of papyrus ferns and rotting vegetation, and in that foetid heat there is a spawning tropical life that can hardly have altered very much since the beginning of the world; it is as primitive and hostile to man as the Sargasso Sea. Crocodiles and hippopotamuses flop about in the muddy water, mosquitoes and other insects choke the air, and the Balaeniceps rex and other weird waterbirds keep watch along the banks — except that here there are no ordinary banks, merely chance pools in the forest of apple green reeds that stretches away in a feathery mass to the horizon".

Read the ABC feature article about the Shoebill

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