Along the Petite Cote

As I have had some unanticipated time in Senegal I have been able to give myself a long weekend to see a little of Senegal’s “Petite Côte”. The white sand beaches, mostly undeveloped, stretch for some 130km south of Dakar, and last weekend I travelled down to the furthest point. This took eight hours on public transport (partly the queues to leave Dakar and partly the unsurfaced roads), but by the time I arrived I felt as though I was a million miles away from the capital. Outside of Dakar, Senegal is a beautiful country.

I stayed in a nice lodge in Palmarin for two nights, from where I wondered around the nearby fishing village of Djifer, took a pirogue trip amongst the mangrove creeks, and sat on a horse whilst it walked along the beach for an hour or so (during which time my guide and I saw one other person, a local fisherman).

I then travelled up the coast to Mbodiene, a small undeveloped village but with a couple of lodges on its outskirts, nicely positioned on the edge of a coastal lagoon. I was one of three people staying there, along with the owners, a family of three eagle owls that live in one of the baobab trees on the property and a chameleon that lives in the bougainvillia. The prophet’s birthday was being celebrated that night, in typical Senegalese fashion with singing and drumming so I was glad we were quite a distance from the village as I did manage some sleep.

It was not meant to be a serious bird-watching weekend, but of course knowing how prolific Senegal’s birdlife is I did take my binoculars and bird book. There was other wildlife too – I saw a hyena, a jackal, two monitor lizards, the chameleon and an unidentified snake, but also such a great number of birds that I felt compelled to list them. For those without a serious interest in birds, look away now!

Purple heron
Grey heron
Goliath heron
Pink-backed pelican
Great white pelican
European spoonbill
Common ringed plover
Ruddy turnstone
Spurwinged lapwing
Little stint
Bar-tailed godwit
Senegal thick knee
Fish eagle
Great egret
Cattle egret
Western reef egret
Pied kingfisher
Black-winged stilt
Beautiful sunbird
Variable sunbird
Abyssinian roller
Little bee-eater
Northern crombec
Yellow-crowned gonolek
Northern grey-headed sparrow
House sparrow
African grey hornbill
Red-billed hornbill
Long-tailed cormorant
Caspian tern
Royal tern
Gull-billed tern
Grey-headed gull
Crowned lark
Yellow wagtail
White wagtail
Village weaver
White-billed buffalo weaver
Long-tailed glossy starling
Namaqua dove
Laughing dove
Red-chested swallow
African palm swift
Tawny-flanked prinia
Black scrub robin
Reed warbler
Senegal coucal
Verreaux’s eagle owl
Red-billed quelea
Black-rumped waxbill
Pied crow
Green wood hoopoe
Grey woodpecker
Double-spurred francolin
Hooded vulture

+ a nightjar (unidentified species) and more waders and gulls than those listed.

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