Thursday 4 October 2012

Sudan, Sahel zone – E. Sudan, Kassala & Gash Delta region 14º 30’N - By Peter Dare

Sudan, Sahel zone – E. Sudan, Kassala & Gash Delta region  14º 30’N 
Annual rainfall  400 mm

Kassala mountain, from the west, September (1958)     

White Storks resting near Eritrean border, September (1958)

Some 60 miles east of the Atbara river and below dome-like jebels (granitic inselbergs), are Kassala and c.2,800 km² of the Gash river delta cultivations watered by the ephemeral flood from the nearby Eritrean mountains during July-September. Beyond, to eastward, are the barren-looking Red Sea Hills.

This is the first significant stop-over area in autumn for Palaearctic migrants that have crossed the desert terrain of NE Sudan. Brief visits (September) found several thousand Yellow Wagtail (several forms) feeding in the delta; also European Swift, Sand Martin and European Swallow and Hoopoe; a Hobby (with desert locust swarm), and occasional Short-toed Eagle, Little Egret and European Roller.  Across the verdant plains were Montagu’s Harrier, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, White Stork flocks, numerous Isabelline and Northern Wheatears; with Woodchat and Red-backed Shrikes in bushy places, also Hoopoe. Small rain pools attracted occasional Glossy Ibis, Grey and Purple Herons, Garganey and White-winged Black Tern as well as a few waders: Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Greenshank, Wood and Green Sandpipers, Black-tailed Godwit and Ruff. Gardens with shrubberies and trees in Kassala held Spotted Flycatcher, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Garden and Olivaceous Warblers, Black-eared Wheatear, Thrush-Nightingale and Common Redstart (eastern race samamisicus). Wintering birds seen were Pallid and Marsh Harriers, Common Kestrel, Masked Shrike and Short-toed Lark.

African species noted around this district included: Black-headed Heron, Little and Cattle Egrets, Abdim’s and Marabou Storks, White-headed, Rűppell’s Griffon, Hooded and Egyptian Vultures, Black-breasted Harrier-Eagle, Chanting Goshawk, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Blackhead Plover, Little Swift, Pale Crag Martin sp., Laughing Dove, Red-billed Hornbill, White-throated and Little Bee-eaters, Speckled and Blue-naped Mousebirds, Long-tailed Dove, White-bellied Barbet, Crested Lark, Ethiopian Swallow, Pygmy Sunbird, White-vented Bulbul, Black Bush Robin, Rűppell’s Long-tailed and Violet Starlings, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Red-fronted Apalis, Pied Crow, Yellow-backed Weaver, Pin-tailed Whydah , Red-billed Quelea, Red Bishop, Crimson-rumped Waxbill and Red-cheeked Cordon-Bleu. On the Gash River near the border were a few White Pelican and Hammerhead storks.                                                                             
P.J.Dare 2010

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