Friday, 4 March 2016

Farms on Tuti Island, Khartoum

My birding on the inland farms on Tuti started well with a flock of blue-naped mousebird feeding heartedly on some fruit.

blue-naped mousebird 1

This was the first of four flocks I came across during the day.  You can see the eponymous blue napes in the photos.

blue-naped mousebird 2

The last time I met this bird was in Senegal.

cattle egret

In a near-by tree, cattle egret were still roosting when I arrived. 

female beautiful sunbird 1

Lower down the same tree was a female beautiful sunbird which I had actually seen once before in Senegal.

female beautiful sunbird 2

I managed much better sightings of common bulbul than previously at Sunut Forest.

common bulbul

A mobile flock of weavers flew by but I followed to where they landed. Most birds were village weaver which is a relatively large weaver.

Village weaver

Other and slightly smaller birds were associating with them. Some types of young and female weavers look very like house sparrow and Sudan golden sparrow. The birds below remain unidentified.

house sparrow?

Soon after the weavers, I observed the only African silverbill of the whole trip.

African silverbill

There were at least two types of brood parasite on the farms. I spotted a village indigobird and several pin-tailed whydah, both male and female.

Village indigobird

Village indigobird is a brood parasite. It only parasitises two species and only red-billed firefinch is found in Sudan. It was seen on Tuti Island too.

female pin-tailed whydah

Pin-tailed whydah parasitises a wider range of Estradid finch particularly waxbills apparently.  

male pin-tailed whydah

northern masked weaver

Village weaver was not the only weaver seen on Tuti Island. A small number of northern masked weaver were also observed.

crested lark

Crested lark is ubiquitous in the countries where I profess my greatest expertise: MENA (Middle East North Africa). It was no surprise to see it on Tuti.

black bush robin

Black bush robin were numerous in the wooded areas in the farms. They seem to inhabit roughly the same habitat as Cretzschmar's babbler which is also known as white-faced babbler.

Cretzschmar's babbler

This babbler is very noisy and once the call is known they are easy to trace and find.

cut throat finch

One of the lifers for me on the trip was cut throat finch which seems to like perching out in the open.

white-browed coucal

White-browed coucal on the other hand is much larger bird which hides as soon as it is discovered. However it often leaves its head out in a position to see its surrounds. This bird is well known to me from sightings in south west Saudi Arabia.

rufous bush robin

Two migrants which I am very familiar were seen on the island. I found two rufous bush robin and two black-eared wheatear. Both wheatears were of the pale throated morph.

graceful prinia 1

Two other familiar birds were graceful prinia and Namaqua dove. I only managed to gain photos of these birds at the end of the day's session. 

graceful prinia 2

The reasons for the late photos were different. Graceful prinia were mostly keeping out of the direct sunlight which Namaqua dove wasn't that common.

female Namaqua dove

I enjoyed this session but my time in Sudan was all too short. Yet even with such a short birding opportunity I have now have 65 species on my new Sudan country list. Tuti Island made the biggest contribution to this.

I am grateful to Tom Jenner for advice on where to visit and on some identifications. Tom was based in Khartoum until recently. 

Species seen on Tuti Island

Grey Heron  
Little Egret  
Cattle Egret  
Yellow-billed Kite  
Egyptian Plover  
Black-winged Stilt 
Spur-winged Lapwing 
Little Ringed Plover  
Common Sandpiper 
Marsh Sandpiper 
Temminck's Stint 
Little Stint  
Spotted Sandgrouse     (flock seen flying over the Nile heading north)
African Mourning-Dove 
Laughing Dove  
Namaqua Dove 
White-browed Coucal  
African Palm-Swift  
Blue-naped Mousebird  
Eurasian Hoopoe  
Pied Kingfisher  
Little Bee-eater  
Masked Shrike  
Crested Lark  
Plain Martin  
Common Bulbul  
Graceful Prinia  
Lesser Whitethroat  
Cretzschmar's Babbler  
Black Bush-Robin  
Rufous Bush-Robin  
Black-eared Wheatear  
Variable Sunbird  
Western Yellow Wagtail 
White Wagtail  
House Sparrow  
Northern Masked-Weaver 
Village Weaver 
Red-billed Firefinch  
Cut-throat  Finch
African Silverbill  
Pin-tailed Whydah 
Village Indigobird  


  1. Interesting. I like that babbler - reminds me of a Laughingthrush.

  2. Re your Plain Martin sighting, wouldn't this be Brown-throated Martin, as opposed to Plain or Grey-throated? I guess it depends on what Mr Clements thinks.

  3. It is called brown-throated martin by many but not Mr Clements

  4. I'm glad you had a good time in Khartoum, Rob. Its just a shame you didn't have a bit more time to explore further. In five years of regular birding I never saw Pied Avocet despite many visits to good habitat, though everyone else seemed to bump into them except me.
    Unfortunately, Variable Sunbird is not found so far north as Khartoum and I think your bird is a female Beautiful Sunbird. I'm pleased you got the three main target species for the Khartoum area: White-headed Babbler, Egyptian Plover and Northern Masked Weaver. Cinnamon Weaver would have been an outside possibility (I only saw it a couple of times in Khartoum State, though common further south), but would have been almost impossible to pick up in non-breeding plumage. You'll have to go back for that one.