Friday, 20 August 2010

Land birds at Technopole, Dakar, Senegal

Senegal parrot, Technopole, Dakar

People usually visit Technopole for the water birds but if they do they miss half of the story. It is rich in land birds too. Many can be found in the allotment gardens tended by local people, in the scattered trees or on the ground. You need your ears and eyes to work in all directions. I was lucky enough to see a group of Senegal parrot but there were many other birds too.

Landscape at Technopole, Dakar

You can see some of the better habitat for land birds on the far bank of the above picture.

We cannot talk about land birds in Dakar without mentioning the black kite. It is sometimes called yellow billed kite in Africa because the local sub species has a yellow bill. Moussa estimates their population in Dakar at 7,000. A few of these roam Technopole. I suspect their abundance is the reason there are so few pigeons compared with most other cities worldwide.

Black kite, Technopole, Dakar

Black kite are not the only raptors in Technopole. There are a few hooded vulture. I saw most (six or so) near two holding tanks (man made mini-reservoirs). These mini- reservoirs ironically are places were many birds choose to drink rather than in the main Technopole wetlands. It was here I saw a wood sandpiper among the other assorted land birds. This was the first sign that there were European waders about; of which I saw many later in the week.

Hooded vulture, Technopole, Dakar

While I am mentioning carrion birds, I should tell you there are also pied crow around. The one below was on top of a failed building project. The builders had built too close to the water. Damp and sinking had taken place leaving a deserted building. This failure may be part of the reason the area has survived without development.

Pied crow, Technopole, Dakar

Aside from the Senegal parrot were other exotic birds (or exotic to me). Several times I glimpsed beautiful sunbird and scarlet chested sunbird. But I never managed a good photogrpah- not on this day or succeeding days.

Perhaps the most common land birds were finches and their relatives. Indeed the first birds that we saw on entering the area were a flock of silverbill (with one or two bronze mannikin).

Silverbill, Technopole, Dakar

There were plenty of black headed weaver in the bigger trees.

Male black headed weaver. Technopole, Dakar

One of the most attractive birds was the diminutive red billed firefinch. It also seemed to be in pairs and was most often seen foraging on the ground.

Male and female red billed firefinch, Technopole, Dakar

Red billed quelea with pied kingfisher in the background

Not a brilliantly focued picture but see above for a male red billed quelea (which are common in the locality) with pied kingfisher behind him at the water's edge.

The next picture below shows two male red billed quelea in much better focus but unfortunately without the same backcloth.

The final finch relative that we saw was house sparrow. This bird is invading Africa from the north. Moussa told me it first arrived in Dakar in the early 1980s. Now it everywhere in the city including Technopole.

Two male red billed quelea, Technopole, Dakar

The prize sighting of the whole day (and for me the second best of the week) was a river prinia. This bird has a poorly known distribution. Identifying it was just like being back in Libya. You have to trust your (well mine and Moussa's) judgment because you have no distribution map to help It's like the more common tawny flanked prinia (which we also saw there and elsewhere) but is much greyer on top and much whiter below. I was very pleased the bird was so confiding.

River prinia, Technopole, Dakar

A much more common bird is the Senegal coucal which we meet on several occasions here and later.

Senegal coucal, Technopole, Dakar

During my stay I saw several new species (for me) of dove - I hate the term "lifer".  At Technopole there were both African collared dove and African mourning dove. The picture below is of the latter. The former has a head colour (washed pink) which is the same as its body.

African mourning dove, Technopole, Dakar

Finally I have to tell you there is one bird I seem to see wherever I go birding (which has been mostly in Azerbaijan, Libya and Bulgaria) and that is the crested lark. Up it popped several times at Technopole.Is this bird following me?

Crested lark, Technopole, Dakar

List of all birds seen at Technopole (with thanks to Moussa Diop)

Pink-backed pelican
Great cormorant
Long-tailed cormorant
Cattle egret
Grey heron
Black heron
Western reef egret
Little egret
Intermediate egret (probable)
Great white egret
White-faced whistling duck
Pied crow
Hooded vulture
Black kite
Purple swamphen
African Jacana
Water thick-knee (slight doubt that it was Senegal thick knee)
Spur-winged plover
Common redshank
Black-winged stilt
Grey headed gull
Caspian tern
African mourning dove
Laughing dove
Senegal coucal
Woodland Kingfisher
Grey headed Kingfisher
Pied Kingfisher
Little bee-eater
Senegal parrot
Red billed hornbill
Village weaver
Black headed weaver
Red-billed firefinch
African silverbill
Bronze Mannikin
Red-billed quelea

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