The last few birds

I couldn't really leave Senegal without having seen a cricket warbler, an African swallow-tailed kite, or an African pygmy goose, so some serious bird-watching had to be squeezed in to my last few weeks in the country.

Some birds are easier to find than others, of course, and generally the ones I had still to see were the elusive ones.  So I was happy to persuade a British bird-watching company to let me join them for a few days of their Senegal trip, so that I could get to the hard-to-reach Trois Marigots area of northern Senegal.  In fact they were such a nice bunch of people that I was sad not to be able to stay with them for their entire ten days, but the three days were pretty satisfactory with great sightings of Savile's bustards, African pygmy geese, African scrub warbler and the rare Little grey woodpecker.

This last weekend it was time to hunt down the African swallow-tailed kite.  Until recently there was thought to be a total population of only 1,000 - 10,000 of this beautiful, nomadic bird (stretching right across the Sahel belt of Africa), but then in 2007 a roost of around 20,000 of them was discovered on a small island in the salt flats of central Senegal.  Peak numbers are there from December - February, before the birds begin to migrate further south to breed, but on 2 March there still seemed to be many thousands, some flying right over my head, so close to me that I couldn't use the binoculars.  The roost was shared with an even greater number of Lesser kestrels, and there were Peregrine falcons, Ospreys and Montagu's harriers around too so it was a real feast of raptors.

I don't have the right camera (or ability!) to photograph birds flying at speed, so cannot show you the kite, but here is a rather poor quality photo of another raptor - the Red-necked falcon - I am lucky enough to be able to watch this pair in their palm tree roost from my balcony every morning.

I had no luck with the cricket warbler but then they say it is always good to have a reason to return somewhere!


Anonymous said...

I am a father now to a lovely 5 year old little boy who is the spitting image of me and the light of my life! His mother is Indian, and he has the best looks of both our blood! If you are ever in London look me up. Just google my name and surname plus lloyds of london and you will find me. Barney

Louise said...

Wow Barney! I cannot imagine you as a father - how time passes, eh? Looks like you have a good job too (had to google you straight away, of course...).

It would be good to meet up again so I will look you up next time I'm in London.