Friday 22 December 2017

River Niger, Bamako

On my third day in Bamako, I visited the south bank of the River Niger in Bamako. I had organised an escort from the staff of the hotel. He was a tall and young man. The idea was that he should deter any petty criminals.

As it happens I met with nothing but friendliness from all the Malians I saw. However, it was better safe than sorry give the governmental travel warnings.

The River Niger is beautiful, tranquil and wide. There is small scale farming on the alluvial plots of land next to the river. Apparently these are all under water from July to October.

It was these that we walked through.

pied kingfisher

The birding was not fantastic but it was a way of adding to my Malian list those types of birds which require water-based habitat.

Pied kingfisher was one of the first birds seen. 

pied kingfisher hovering

And the species was seen in more places as we walked along the river bank.

the River Niger, Bamako

Dotted along the small agricultual plots at regular intervals were yellow wagtail.

 wagtail with pink legs 

First winter grey wagtail is difficult to separate from first winter yellow wagtail of the sub-species flava. The latter has the greyest and least olive or green back of all young yellow wagtail. However, this bird was a very long tail and crucially has pale pink legs.

If it is a yellow wagtail then the legs have picked up the mud from the surrounding ground. You can see the pink mud it may have picked up. I think either identification is unsafe.

common sandpiper

The water in most places was very clean except in isolated pools. Common sandpiper prefers cleaner water out of the trio of common sandpiper, wood sandpiper and green sandpiper. It was the most regularly seen of the three sandpipers.

In one place, there were a few ponds with lilies growing. True to form, an African jacana was observed.

African jacana

There was a squacco heron in the same area.

Yellow-billed kite retreat a long way south from Mauritania progressively thinning out after the rainy season. The same happens in Mali though Bamako is already further south than any part of Mauritania.

yellow-billed kite

I was not surprised that a few still remained in Bamako in early December.

After a break, we returned to the river and walked westward from the bridge this time.

The terrian was moe open and rockier. 

little egret 1

A little egret was seen. This is another bird with a close confusion species. It is more elegant and usually has more contrasting yellow feet than the very similar western reef heron. The bill is usually all grey and more slender too. Both are possible in Bamako. I put this one down as a little egret.

little egret 2

A couple of long-tailed cormorant flew by before I eventually found one resting.

long-tailed cormorant

The pool with the cormorant was good for other species too.

greenshank and wood sandpiper

As well as a large number of black-winged stilt, it was the only place I found greenshank and a wood sandpiper.

spur-winged lapwing

Spur-winged lapwing was there too. It was the only type of lapwing seen on the trip.

On December 7th, I changed hotel to be closer to the airport. I chose the Le Baobab as it had a good sized garden. It proved to be a good choice not only for its amenties but for its secure and varied birding.

I will blog about it next.

River Niger, Bamako December 6th 2017
Long-tailed Cormorant  
Little Egret  
Squacco Heron  
Striated Heron  
Black Kite (Yellow-billed)  
Black-winged Stilt  
Spur-winged Lapwing  
African Jacana  
Common Sandpiper  
Common Greenshank  
Wood Sandpiper  
Gull-billed Tern  
Laughing Dove  
African Palm-Swift  
Pied Kingfisher  
Abyssinian Roller  
Crested Lark  
Barn Swallow  
Western Yellow Wagtail
Grey wagtail  

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