Friday 6 April 2012

Hottentot Teals and African Purple Swamphens at pools south of Khartoum

There is a group of small reed-fringed pools near the entrance to the Capo Dairy beside the road that passes from the Fenti Golf Course to the KICS Riding Stables. I have passed it on many occasions and often wondered what it might hold. A previous visit produced little of interest, other than some Common Moorhens, but my visit today with Juha and Eleonora was my first chance to check it during migration time. Within a few minutes of arriving at the first pool we had spotted a Hottentot Teal, an African Purple Swamphen, several Little Grebes and some Squacco Herons. Nikolaus mentions only one previous record of Hottentot Teal in Sudan (Khartoum, 1981), plus one from South Sudan (which is very surprising given that this is a more southerly species). Nikolaus also mentions only one record of African Purple Swamphen (from Kosti), with no records from South Sudan.

Hottentot Teals with Little Grebe, pools south of Khartoum 6th April 2012

African Purple Swamphen, pools south of Khartoum 6th April 2012

At the other pools we found at least three more Hottentot Teals, another African Purple Swamphen and some Common Moorhens. We flushed a large group of White-faced Whistling-Ducks, plus several wader species flew up. There were also a number of Acrocephalus warblers around, with only Reed and Sedge Warblers identified with certainty.

Eurasian Reed Warbler, pools south of Khartoum 6th April 2012

Although small, this site is clearly worth regular visits. We couldn't figure out exactly what the pools were for, but assume that they are something to do with sewage as there are no houses in the immediate vicinity. They have clearly been there for quite a long time. There are few pools of this nature in Sudan holding water all year, so there could be many interesting birds here that are not found elsewhere. I would be particularly interested in trying some mist-netting to find out what warblers are around, and I would also like to visit at dawn or dusk to listen out for calling crakes or rails.

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