GUEMBEUL NATURE RESERVE, A PRINT FROM THE PAST.

The Gembuel Faune Reserve is one of the best places in the world to spot some of the most threatened mammal species that inhabit the Sahara and the Sahel area: damma oryx, dama gazelle, dorcas gazelle and Addax.These species have been reintroduced in the wild here.The reserve is also a good site for birding, with more than 200 species of birds: flamingoes, black-tailed godwit, European spoonbill, slender-billed gull, little stint and pied avocets among others.

This small reserve is located about 10 km from Saint Louis.I rented a taxi to get there due that there is no public transportation.The trip took about 30 minutes.The entrance fee was about 2 euros and a park guide costed about 6 euros.Once there you can see some animals in small enclosures near the entrance.

I went with a guide along a small trail that leads to the lake.Along the way we saw a warthog and a few individuals of gazelle’s dorcas.They were quite shy and difficult to capture in a shot.Once we arrived in the swamp area we saw the first individuals of oryx damma.

This species was more gregarious that gazelle dorcas, and we saw them in groups of 5 to 10 individuals.This species seemed to be a bit easier to approach and this allowed me to take some good shots.

 

Oryx Damma are very sociable and can travel in herds of up to 40 individuals.They eat mainly grass, foliage, shrubs and succulent plants.They are adapted to desert and semi-desert areas by a metabolism that enables them to function in high temperatures, without sweating.They can cool down the blood when it passes through the nasal passage before reaching the brain.Other animals like foxes and hares that live in the desert are adapted in a similar fashion by cooling their blood when circulating along their long ears and legs.

Oryx Damma,or Scimitar Oryx, was once widespread in the Sahara Desert and semi-desert areas of the Sahel.Chad and Niger used to concentrate large herds.Unfortunately, this species was hunted almost to extinction mainly for its horns and meat.Unfortunately, only very few individuals survive in Chad and Niger and some have recently been reintroduced in Tunisia, Morocco and Senegal.

Patas Monkey was another mammal that i could get close views. A small herd appeared near the lake.They were quite active running and feeding on grass and fruits on the ground.

This terrestrial species of monkey is found widespread in the Sahel zone, although in low densities.Its main habitats are grasslands and woodlands.They feed on grasses, seeds, fruits, berries and beans. They are very sociable,usually in groups of about 15 individuals.

Although my main purpose here was to see mammals, some birds caught my attention.I got great views of an African Grey hornbill perched on a tree and of a Namaqua Dove that i spotted near the trail.

An African Spur Tortoise walking near the lake was the icing on the cake ! This species of tortoise is native in the Sahara and the Sahel and its status is considered vulnerable.

The trail continue around the lake but i didn’t explore farther.Anyway, i spent a half day in this beautiful and quiet place and i got great views of some of the animals that i was looking for.

Next stop Toubacouta, a little town that i use as a base to explore the Delta du Saloum NP.See you soon my friends !!

 

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A WALK ALONG SAINT LOUIS HARBOUR

I spent the following afternoon  walking along Saint Louis harbour. Grey-headed gulls were very abundant.They were roaming and flying over the garbage left near the coast.

This species of gull can be found in South America and part of Africa, south of the Sahara.They are non- migratory birds, although some disperse in short distances out of the breeding season.They usually breed in large colonies from April to May.The individuals of these pictures are the summer adult form.Notice the dark red bill and legs,the grey hood and the white tips on the wings that are visible when flying.

A solitary Western Reef Egret was another nice bird seen in this area.It was a dark grey morph with a distinct white throat and yellowish beak and legs.This bird is mainly found in coastal Africa,Middle East until India.They usually live in shallow waters and feed on fish,crustaceans and molluscs.They can move actively or standing still when looking for prey.

The Western Reef Egret in Western Africa is considered a subspecies and it breeds from April to September.The individual that i captured in this shot was looking actively for small preys.

Next stop, Reserve de Faune de Guembeul, one of the few places in the world where you still can see some of the most threatened Saharan mammals in the wild.

See you soon my friends !!!

 

DJOUDJ NP,A SPECTACULAR BIRDING SITE

Senegal was my next destination after Mauritania.To reach Senegal i crossed the river by boat from the infamous Rosso town.I got a 3 months stamp on arrival on the check point easily, although i had to struggle among people pushing to try to get theirs.Amidst this confusion, someone tried to open my bag,although i noticed it rapidly and fortunately he/she didn’t succeed.

Senegal is a very interesting country with very good birdlife ( more than 600 species of birds and no endemics ) and fascinating traditions.Roads are poorly maintained and dusty, although better than the ones that i saw in Mauritania.The main mode of transportation that i used was a sept-place ( shared taxi ), usually more frequent and a bit more comfortable than buses.The cars are rusty old Peugeots and sometimes i had to open the door with ropes.A very interesting experience indeed !! 🙂

The most famous and remarkable national parks are Djoudj, Delta du Saloum and Niokolo Koba.The first two national parks are excellent for waterfowl while Niokolo Koba is good for forest species and African mammals.

Djoudj is a superb wetland area designated World Heritage Area.It hosts about 400 species of birds,including many migrant species ( with more than 1.5 million migratory birds !! ). It’s specially remarkable the population of pelicans and flamingoes.

The starting point to visit the park was Saint Louis.This is a beautiful town with lots of buildings with ancient French colonial style and sandy streets.The atmosphere is very relaxed and friendly.I would say it’s one of my favourite cities in Africa.

From my hotel i arranged a taxi to Djoudj.Taxi,entrance fee and a boat ride with birding guide costed me about 100 euros.Next morning the driver picked me up at the hotel at 9:00 am.We reached in the park in one hour and a half aprox.We wait for the boat and the guide for a while and we joined other group of people.The boat trip started with the company of this friendly tern.

 Something that caught my attention was the significant number of individuals of great white pelican.See the juvenile on the second picture below.

There were also huge number of  white-faced whistling duck and an important population of African spoonbills ( notice its conspicuous red patch around its grey beak on the second picture below ) sometimes mixed with some Eurasian Spoonbills.

Spur-winged duck was a quite abundant beautiful bird, usually in small groups of 3 or more individuals.This bird is found only in Subsaharan Africa.

A solitary African Jacana was another remarkable bird that i saw near the shore

Yellow-billed Stork, with its striking red and yellow colors on the beak and head, was a common sight along the wetlands.

We spotted an African fish eagle, with its white and brown body and conspicuous yellow beak, perched on dead branches while exploring its surroundings looking for prey.

I took a shot of an African darter,also called snake bird, while swimming and fishing .

Other animal that we spotted in the park was a warthog.I always love to see mammals in their natural habitat, so it was a nice addition in my wildlife list.

One of the animals that impressed me the most was the Nile Crocodrile that inhabits the wetlands.These are some of the largest individuals of crocodriles i have ever seen.

The day was extremely hot but the bird sightings totally overcame any nuisance.I enjoyed a lot in the park, not only for the number of species of birds seen,but for the huge numbers of individuals of most of them !!!

Next stop Saint Louis, with some pictures of my feathery friends that i took near the harbour !!! See you soon my friends !!! 🙂

 

DJOUDJ NP, SENEGAL. BIRD CHECKLIST APRIL 2016

Great white pelican

Pink-backed pelican

Long-tailed cormorant

Great cormorant

African darter

Black-crowned night heron

Squacco heron

Cattle egret

Western Reef egret

Little egret

Great egret

Purple heron

Grey heron

Hamerkop

African Sacred ibis

Yellow-billed stork

African spoonbill

Eurasian spoonbill

Greater flamingo

Lesser flamingo

White-faced Whistling duck

Knob-billed duck

Spur-winged duck

Osprey

African fish eagle

Yellow-billed kite

Common krestel

Black crake

Purple swamphen

Common moorhen

African jacana

Black-winged stilt

Spur-winged lapwing

Grey-headed gull

Caspian tern

Sandwich tern

Pied Kingfisher

Crested lark

Other animals:

Warthog

Nile crococrile