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Transparent utfyllnad Birding in the Dakar area
Text by Betsy Hopkins, Senegal Birders Club
Kittlitz's Plover at Technopole.
Photo: Martin Oomen, 2005
Birding in Senegal can begin right on the Cap Vert peninsula, where the capital city Dakar, and the international airport are located. This densely populated area is nevertheless an active, if unlikely, haven for many of the species found in the region. This is understandable when one realizes that little more than two decades ago there were still relatively undisturbed habitat zones on the peninsula which included some secondary growth light woodlands, extensive reed marshes and coastal tidal pools.
   As the city, and more recently residential suburbs, have grown up around, and sometimes within, these zones, a few have remained intact – although admittedly, no longer undisturbed. If the Birder can set his sights beyond the all too evident physical disturbances that a city of two million plus inhabitants would be expected to create, a virtual treasure trove of West Africa's avifauna is there for the enjoying! Dakar definitely affords urban birding opportunities at their best.

Dakar – a good place for microbirding
Upon arrival, be sure to check out your hotel gardens. Many of the hotels are located along the coast. Beautiful Sunbirds will be flashing by as they enjoy the tropical foliage, brightly colored Village Weavers may be nesting in the palm trees around the pool and the alarmed cries of Spur-winged Plovers will let you know YOU are being carefully watched! Don't be surprised to hear Rose-ringed Parakeets flying over on a regular basis and the brilliant yellow and green Senegal Parrots only slightly less frequently. On the beaches you may see various kinds of Egrets (Little, Cattle, Intermediate, Great White) and herons (Black, Western Reef, Striated, Squacco, Grey – and even occasional Purple) as well as both Great and Long-tailed Cormorants. Depending on the time of year, smaller waders abound, including Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers and several types of Sandpipers. Around the port area, you may also see flocks of Pelicans soaring high.
   There are always Yellow-billed Black Kites enjoying the thermals in the skies over Dakar. Among the scavengers, Pied Crows and Hooded Vultures are also numerous in the city.

From left: Pied Kingsfisher and Grey-headed Kingsfisher, Technopole. Photos: Johan Stenlund, 2004.

Senegal boasts in the area of 660 species, 1/3 of which are migrants, mainly Palearctic. The region supports such diversity due to a number of factors. A primary factor which puts it on the map for so many species is its location as a crossroads between the Sahel and drier Sahara region to the north, and the more humid semi-tropical south. This convergence lends itself to presenting numerous habitats. Birds living in everything from desert grasslands to the ocean find a comfortable home in Senegal! Those migrating find welcome green before or after (depending on which direction they are going) the vast expanses of the Sahara. Several large protected areas, including the Parc National de Djoudj on the Senegal River in the north and the Parc National de Niokolo Koba on The Gambia River in the east, as well as the huge area around the Sine-Saloum Delta all also encourage proliferation of both species and numbers of birds. (Information taken from The Birds of the Gambia and Senegal, 1997. Barlow, Wacher and Disley, Sussex: Pica Press. pp 1-7).

Senegal Thick-knee at Technopole..
Photo: Björn Johansson, 2005.

Technopole – the "hottest" site in Dakar
When planning your birding strategy, there is one place you must not miss before you either go offshore for some pelagic birding, or go into the interior to visit some of the National Parks. This is the Technopole. This area of 200 hectares (450 acres) is situated along the north-side of the autoroute leading off the Cap Vert peninsula (about 20 minutes from Calao with a taxi ride!), just a few kilometers from center city or from the airport. Set aside for development as a combined cyber-technical center and an 18-hole golf resort, it has been protected (unlike surrounding areas) from residential development. A combined mosaic of drier sandy flats, and extensive reed marshes surround the golf course area. With an extensive system of diking, large lakes have been carefully added to the area, attracting in certain months huge numbers of birds. A summer migration of Black Terns in 2003 was estimated over a period of 3 weeks in the tens of thousands. Depending on the time of year, hundreds of Greater Flamingos have visited the naturally salty lakes near the Golf Clubhouse. During a typical morning or late afternoon visit, up to 50 species can be easily seen in an hour or so. Birders in the Senegal Birders Club have visited the Technopole regularly over the past 5 years, keeping a record of what has been seen. Over 150 species have been recorded to date. A visit to the Technopole is an excellent way to get introduced to many of the common birds you'll see elsewhere in the country, and also to see at close-range some of the less common ones you'll want to be looking for.

The large wetland area in the western part of Technopole. Photo: Niklas Holmström, October 2005.

Checklist to the birds at Technopole (PDF 26 KB) – Updated 21 October 2005
This list, which contains 153 bird species recorded at Technopole, is compiled by Niklas Holmström with great help from Betsy Hopkins.
Further information about birding at Technopole (PDF 15KB) – Updated 23 October 2005
The text is written by Betsy Hopkins, and would be useful for everyone who plan to visit the area!

Please check the Photo Gallery for more views and and bird photos from Technopole!

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