Wednesday 20 December 2017

Day two at Mali National Park, Bamako

On my second day in Bamako (December 5th), I returned to the National Park. However, unlike the day before I spent most of my time outside the well watered botanical gardens. Instead I mostly visited the northern part which is dry bush and trees up a slope.

There were early successes. Western grey plaintain eater was seen flying from tree to tree usually in small groups.

western grey plantain eater

Another bird which was first detected in flight was Neumann's starling. This is a bird of sahel slopes and so was in classic terrain.

Neumann's starling

This was another lifer on the trip. There are isolated pockets of this species in south east Mauritania so this was good practice ahead of seeing this species there in the future.

ground squirrel

Seeing a ground squirrel is considered lucky and so it would be. I soon came across a mobile mixed flock of weavers and lavender waxbill which I followed into thick bush under a small group of tall trees. I flushed a Senegal parrot here. I had thought the botanical gardens was a more likely place to see this species.

I wasn't so lucky as to see a Mali firefinch in the mixed flock. This was a possibility as it has been seen at this site on occasions.

slopes on the north side of the national park

I climbed upwards and at one stage almost walked into a small group of stone partridge.

The woodland became generally thicker as I climbed. I saw a shikra dart away. Within a dense piece of woodland I observed my only black-spotted wood dove on the trip.

yellow-fronted canary

Standing and watching a budding tree brought dividends. Several yellow-fronted canary visited and then I saw another lifer in a scarlet-chested sunbird.

scarlet-chested sunbird 1

It was a male in full breeding plumage.

scarlet-chested sunbird 2

After nearly three hours I returned down the slopes to the botanical gardens. I returned to some of the places that had given some success the day before. In the central lawned area, a pair of senegal coucal were observed again.

senegal coucal

The large mixed flock was missing though. 

I also returned to the place at the edge of the botanical gardens which interfaces with rows of dry bush.

The day before, the water sprinklers had been switched on and many passerines had come down to drink and bathe. The sprinklers weren't on this time even though it was the same time of day. Nevertheless, I stayed at the same small pool as the day before. It had not dried up over-night.

male red-billed firefinch 1

On day one, I had seen African yellow white-eye, lavander waxbill and vitelline masked weaver there. On day two, a pair of red-billed firefinch turned up but alas no Mali firefinch.

male red-billed firefinch 2

I stayed over 45 minutes in the vain hope of its arrival.

female red-billed firefinch

A large Nile Monitor walked across the path from one part of the dry bush to another.

Out of the bush and onto the path, also came yellow-crowned gonolek and in the same place as the day before. However, this time I got reasonable photos of this very attractive bird.

two yellow-crowned gonolek

I was fortunate that one of the birds came right into the open.

yellow-crowned gonolek

Back in the main body of the gardens, I found the only green-backed camaroptera of my stay in Mali.

green-backed camaroptera 1

For such a small bird, it was very brave. It came much closer than a metre to me as I stood still while it was hopping along a small, low decorative hedge.

green-backed camaroptera 2

At one stage it was almost at my feet.

green-backed camaroptera 3

Before I finished, I made one last foray into the lower parts of the dry bush.

Here, I came across a pair of snowy-capped robin-chat but like in day one this bird continued to evade the camera. This is a shame as it is almost as attractive as yellow-crowned gonolek.

female red-billed firefinch

There were more red-billed firefinch.

As I headed down and out of the gate for the evening, I photographed a long-tailed starling which wins the prize for the noisiest bird in the gardens.

long-tailed starling

The birds seen were sufficiently different from the first day to justify my decision to bird the park again. Although safety concerns limited my options.

On December 6th, I managed to arrange a local escort while I birded the south side of the River Niger. I will blog about that next.

Day 2 at the National Park - December 5th
Stone Partridge  
Laughing Dove  
Black-billed Wood-Dove  
Western Plantain-eater  
Western Red-billed Hornbill  
Ring-necked Parakeet  
Senegal Parrot  
Yellow-crowned Gonolek  
Yellow-billed Shrike  
Green-backed Camaroptera (Grey-backed)  
Brown Babbler  
Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat  
Neumann's Starling  
Long-tailed Glossy Starling  
Greater Blue-eared Starling  
Pygmy Sunbird  
Scarlet-chested Sunbird  
Yellow-fronted Canary  
Vitelline Masked-Weaver  
Lavender Waxbill  
Red-cheeked Cordonbleu  
Red-billed Firefinch  

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