Monday, 23 March 2015

New blog with posts on birding in Sudan and neighbouring countries

I was recently contacted by Ben, a birder from Belgium. He is working in several countries in the region, including Sudan, and he recently made his first visit here. Unfortunately, his arrival coincided with a trip I was making to the UK, so we did not have a chance to meet up. Fortunately, he has a blog for his birding trips (, and he wrote up a nice report of his trip to Sudan, which included some good sightings. He has also written some interesting reports for his visits to neighbouring countries. He will be returning for future trips and I hope I am around next time to go birding him. I will certainly be following his blog to know what he has been seeing on his travels.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Gull movements at Jebel Aulia

I was down at the 'Escape' camp at Jebel Aulia at the weekend with my family and some friends. There was little time for birding as it was mainly a time for camping, relaxing and chatting, while eating one of Pantelis' amazing spit-roast lambs. However, there were good birds around without having to search for them, including two Egyptian Plovers feeding along the beach in front of us and a couple of Pied Kingfishers.

Egyptian Plover, Jebel Aulia 21st February 2015

Pied Kingfisher, Jebel Aulia 21st February 2015

I noticed some groups of gulls moving north along the reservoir. Once I found my binoculars I was able to identify four groups of Slender-billed Gulls totalling about 40 birds. There were also some large gulls moving through as individuals and in small groups, with about half being Yellow-legged Gull and half Lesser Black-backed Gull, with maybe 10 to 15 of each. By the time I found my camera I had missed the Slender-bills, but I managed a few distant shots of the Yellow-legged Gulls.

Yellow-legged Gull, Jebel Aulia 21st February 2015

Caspian Tern, Jebel Aulia 21st February 2015

Friday, 13 February 2015

Some recent photos from Khartoum Sewage Pools, by Mohamed Ismael

Mohamed Ismael visited Khartoum Sewage Pools on Thursday and sent me these photos to post.

Gargany, Khartoum Sewage Pools 12th February 2014

Common Moorhen, Khartoum Sewage Pools 12th February 2014 

Hottentot Teal, Khartoum Sewage Pools 12th February 2014

Little Grebe, Khartoum Sewage Pools 12th February 2014

Crested Coot, Khartoum Sewage Pools 12th February 2014 

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Second visit to Omdurman Islamic University

This was my first proper trip out since my winter break in Cambodia. Marwa and I decided to return to the small sewage site at Omdurman Islamic University that we discovered back in May, and we were joined by Mohamed Ismail. Once again, we were impressed with this site. Although it is small it has a thick reed bed with a good selection of birds. We have only ever been able to get brief views of one Hottentot Teal chick at Khartoum sewage pools, so we were surprised how open they were in Omdurman. We estimated that we saw about 15 chicks that appeared to be from four different pairs. We also had our first sighting of an African Purple Swamphen at this site, though it was no surprise that they are present. We have now recorded them at all four of the sewage sites we are studying and they are clearly a common bird in the region in suitable habitat.

Hottentot Teal with chicks, Omdurman Islamic University 31st January 2015

African Purple Swamphen, Omdurman Islamic University 31st January 2015

There were a few other good birds present, including a Common Redshank, some Common Snipe, and a Common Swift.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

December visit to Bahri

Marwa and I were at Bahri Sewage Pools again last weekend. We caught lots of Northern Masked Weavers and Sedge Warblers, plus a few Reed Warblers and other birds. The weavers had all moulted out of breeding plumage and were in bright, fresh non-breeding plumage. A few juveniles were still in the final stages of wing and tail moult.

Freshly moulted Northern Masked Weaver, Bahri Sewage pools 12th December 2014

Little Bee-eater, Bahri Sewage pools 12th December 2014 

There were a few other good birds around including four Southern Pochards, a couple of Tufted Ducks, four White-tailed Plovers, some Glossy Ibises, and three Eurasian Coots. A Little Swift was our first at the site.

Southern Pochards and Tufted Ducks, Bahri Sewage pools 12th December 2014

Netting in Sennar

This is a slightly late report of a trip to Sennar on 28th and 29th November. My main aim was to check on the Cinnamon Weaver population there and to try and catch some. The breeding season was clearly over and none of the males were in breeding plumage. Birds were in small to medium sized groups and flying around between the tops of the acacia bushes and were generally quite hard to catch. I caught only 5 birds, all of which were juveniles and 4 of which were undergoing primary moult. I caught a few other good birds, though nothing I haven't caught there before. There were particularly big numbers of Red-billed Queleas around, which limited how many nets I could put up, as I spent most of my time trying to extract them from the nets. I have seen them here before, but never in such big numbers, and this is the first time I have experienced how big a pest they can be.

Barred Warbler, near Sennar 28/29 November 2014

Juvenile Cinnamon Weaver, near Sennar 28/29 November 2014

Great Reed Warbler, near Sennar 28/29 November 2014

Isabelline Shrike, near Sennar 28/29 November 2014

Malachite Kingfisher, near Sennar 28/29 November 2014

female Red-billed Firefinch, near Sennar 28/29 November 2014

Red-billed Quelea, near Sennar 28/29 November 2014

Sudan Golden Sparrow, near Sennar 28/29 November 2014

Tawny-flanked Prinia, near Sennar 28/29 November 2014

Yellow Wagtail, near Sennar 28/29 November 2014

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Look out for tagged Great White Pelicans

The Great White Pelicans that visit us each year arrive from Eastern Europe and Turkey, with the biggest Palearctic population breeding in the Danube Delta of Romania. However, there has been a decline in numbers in recent years and Ron Efrat is studying them to find out more about their movements and general biology. Ron has wing tagged a number of birds and put satellite transmitters on some others. The satellite transmitters shows that some have already come to Sudan and this will give him valuable data on where they visit and on how long they stay in each place.

Tagged Great White Pelican

The majority of his birds have wing tags, as shown in the picture, and these can only be tracked by observers in the field. If anyone gets a chance to view any Great White Pelicans, please check them for tags and send me the details so that I can pass them on to Ron. Any additional information, such as flock size, habitat, etc, would be very useful. It will be great to find out more about the birds that visit us here in Sudan and to help improve our knowledge of this declining species.