Sunday 24 December 2017

Hotel Baobab, Bamako

I found Hotel Baobab on where pictures and comments on its gardens looked promising. There are larger and more expensive hotels with bigger gardens but I felt good about this choice.

All I had to do was stand or sit for hours and see what turned up. The birding up until about 1 pm turned out the best. After this on both days, birding activity thinned out.

One of the first new species (for me in Mali) seen was bronze mannikin.

male bronze mannikin

I had seen this species in Dakar, Senegal a few years ago.

two male Bronze mannikin

I had forgotten that the female was quite different and it took me some time to realise I only had one species.

female bronze mannikin

Despite being a medium sized garden, more than half the birding activity was found in a cluster of four trees. I presume this was some sort of critical mass of cover for some species.

Le Baobab

It was in one of these trees that I observed a male village indigobird though I did see it or another one later in another part of the garden.

male village indigobird 1

This bird is a host parasite mostly with red-billed firefinch.

male village indigobird 2

I spotted a couple of definite female village indigobird in the garden too.

female village indigobird

However, the bird below did not obviously look like a female village indigobird to me. I suspect it is a female or immature of one of two whydahs which can be found in the Bamako area. Village indigobird and the two whydahs are all in the Vadua family and the famales and especially juveniles are difficult to separate. I had no takers when I posted three pictures of the bird below on birdforum so it will remain unidentified.

unidentified Vadua

At the other extreme, one of the easiest birds to recognise in the garden was common bubul. The only western palearctic wintering bird in the garden was a noisy western olivaceous warbler. This was not a tricky identification either.

common bulbul

I referred to a pale eyed weaver seen in the botanic gardens in a previous blog. I got better views and photographs of this weaver in the gardens of Le Baobab hotel.

Heuglin's masked weaver 1

It is Heuglin's masked weaver. Apart from the pale eye, the the streaks in the wing and the wing bar appear to me to be yellower and less buff than the similar Vitelline masked weaver.

Heuglin's masked weaver 2

It is towards the north western edge of it's range and is one bird I won't see in Mauritania.

first village weaver 

A much larger weaver in the garden was village weaver.

second village weaver

One of the birds had retained some breeding plumage.

red-billed firefinch

Given the number of village indigobird seen in the garden, it was no surprise to start seeing red-billed firefinch too.

African silverbill

Very briefly, two species passed through the garden. Neither stayed long and niether was seen on more than one occasion despite one and a half days birding in the garden. The first was African silverbill. It was seen in a distant tree.

northern grey headed sparrow

The second was northern grey headed sparrow. This was the only species of sparrow observed in the city. So far it appears Bamako has not been cursed with the invasion of house sparrow which is colonising Africa from the north. 

male beautiful sunbird

There were more regular visits from sunbirds. Very few were males in full or even partial breeding plumage. The beautiful sunbird above was an exception.

female-type beautiful sunbird

I have not done enough research to know whether this one above is a female beautiful sunbird or immature male. Certainly the throat looks darker than the illustration of females.

female scarlet-chested sunbird

While I had seen scarlet-chested sunbird in breeding plumage at the National Park, here was one female.

Finally, I will look at some of the larger birds observed in or around the garden.

pied crow

Pied crow never came in but was seen on near-by houses and flying over.

laughing dove

Once again, laughing dove was everywhere. As said before, this maybe the city's most common bird. It is certainly the city's medium/large bird.

distant shikra

It was worth keeping an eye out for birds flying over head especially just to the north of the gardens where the River Niger flows. I picked out some plain martin that way. I also got lucky observing a shikra. Interestingly it was in with the plain martin

Mali agama

Even in the hotel gardens there was other interesting wildlife. I caught up with a Mali agama again. I had seen one before on the road to Atar in Mauritania.

Overall on my trip to Mali I saw 65 species. I don't think that was too bad considering my safety first approach to site choice.

I was on a two week holiday which took me to Gran Canaria on the way back to Nouakchott. I saw a vagrant there. I will blog about that birding next.

Seen in or from the gardens of Hotel le Baobab
Black Kite (Yellow-billed)  
Feral Pigeon  
Speckled Pigeon  
Laughing Dove  
Senegal Coucal  
Little Swift  
Pied Crow  
Plain Martin  
Common Bulbul  
Western Olivaceous Warbler  
Scarlet-chested Sunbird  
Beautiful Sunbird  
Northern Grey-headed Sparrow  
Vitelline Masked-Weaver  
Heuglin's Masked-Weaver 
Village Weaver  
Red-billed Firefinch  
Bronze Mannikin  
African Silverbill  
Village Indigobird  

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