October23rd   Leave a comment

I have been away in Senegal visiting the Sahel and refamiliarising myself with a lot of birds that I can now longer see because of the current trouble in northern Nigeria. It was a pleasure to see chiff-chaff, common redstart, nightingale, tawny pipit, yellow wagtail, pied flycatcher, spotted flycatcher and a host of other migrants in the hot acacia woodland, either there already for the winter or staging through on their way to the savannah further south. And of course the waders – Senegal has a lot of wetlands – and every pool has 20 or so wader species, with most of them being European migrants. The unexpected highlight though was the sea watching. Five species of skua with hundreds passing every day to really help you get your eye in. I realise I have been too conservative in my identification of pomarine skuas in the past: many of my possible Crail pomarine skuas, seen at a distance, were probably definite. The terns were great too – common, arctic, sandwich, roseate, little and black, but amongst royal, lesser crested, white winged and Caspian so each one needed careful scrutiny. Like the pomarine skuas, seeing over 500 black terns passing at sea in the last week under all light conditions should allow me to pick up them more regularly when they pass Crail far out. There were one or two more familiar juvenile gannets as well, but looking a long way from home. They will all have been born around the UK or the North Sea, but some had made it all the way down already. It’s hard to avoid the connectivity between Scotland and Africa. Perhaps the most poignant reminder: a common redstart two weeks ago at Kilminning, and then one last Wednesday flying in to attempt to land on our small boat 21 km out from Dakar. I hope it made its relatively few final last kilometres to the African mainland.

Goldcrest

Goldcrest

I did a quick tour of the fields behind Crail and Kilminning this morning to get my eye back in to Crail. Despite some easterlies and rain showers it was quite quiet. Some chiff-chaffs and a blackcap among the goldcrests and a flock of four barnacle geese flying over. The theme of it being fairly quiet the last couple of weeks continues. Nothing turned up that would have been new to my year list: I have got away lightly being away from Crail in peak rare migration time. The season is not yet over yet and I have a feeling something very good is just around the corner. I just hope it turns up before I return to Africa in a couple of weeks following the migrants again.

Posted October 23, 2016 by wildcrail in Sightings

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