Friday 25 October 2013

More netting at Soba Sewage Pools

I returned to Soba Sewage Pools today to catch some more Northern Masked Weavers. Once again I had a lot of success, catching 21 weavers using only a single net. These were all new birds, with no re-traps from last week. This suggests there are a lots in the area. Nearly all were in heavy moult. I also caught a few other species of interest.

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Soba Sewage Pools 25th October 2013

Common Sandpiper, Soba Sewage Pools 25th October 2013

Northern Red Bishop, Soba Sewage Pools 25th October 2013

Willow Warbler, Soba Sewage Pools 25th October 2013

Greater Blue-eared Starling, Soba Sewage Pools 25th October 2013

Although I was not carrying binoculars or carrying a camera while netting, I was also able to see an African Purple Swamphen, plenty of Common Moorhens, and a Hottentot Teal. 

Saturday 19 October 2013

Netting at Soba Sewage Pools

I decided to try some netting today at the Soba Sewage Pools in the hope of catching some Northern Masked Weavers. There were a lot of juvenile birds around and many of the adults were in moult, suggesting it is the end of the breeding season for them. I managed to catch 17 weavers in total. They were easy to catch and I could have caught many more, but I am taking lots of measurements and I had to keep closing the two nets I was using to concentrate on collecting this biometric data.

Moulting male Northern Masked Weaver, Soba Sewage Ponds 19th October 2013

Juvenile Northern Masked Weaver, Soba Sewage Ponds 19th October 2013

As expected, there were plenty of other good birds caught in the net, though I was less inundated than I was earlier in the week at Sennar and on this occasion more than half of the birds caught were weavers. There was one of each of the birds caught below, plus a Namaqua Dove, a couple of House Sparrows and a couple of Northern Red Bishops.

Spur-winged Lapwing, Soba Sewage Ponds 19th October 2013

African Mourning Dove, Soba Sewage Ponds 19th October 2013

Wood Sandpiper, Soba Sewage Ponds 19th October 2013

Sedge Warbler, Soba Sewage Ponds 19th October 2013

Thursday 17 October 2013

Sennar Birding and Netting

I have just returned from 4 nights in Sennar, which lies on the Blue Nile about 250km South of Khartoum. My main interest was a study I am conducting there on Cinnamon Weavers, but in this posting I will refer more to the other birds seen or captured during netting activities.

It is usually quite easy to drive on Fridays as the traffic is generally quite light, but with Eid approaching the roads were unusually busy with people heading home to see families. On the way down I saw my first Bataleur in Sudan, just north of Wad Medani. As always, there were lots of Pied crows on this section of the road, though it was a surprise to see no others further south. Similarly, I saw several Ruppell's Starlings around Wad Medani, but none further South. Greater and Lesser Blue-eared Starlings were also conspicuous in their absence throughout the trip, suggesting they may have left early this year. Other birds seen only on the drive there and back were African Grey Hornbill, Yellow-billed Stork and Marabou Stork (just south of Khartoum).

Once in Sennar I went straight to work in finding a study site for Cinnamon Weavers and soon located a place just north of the city. From here on my main interest was the weavers, but I also had the chance to see some good birds in the area, which was mainly crop farmland a couple of km from the Blue Nile. There were a number of species here that are much less commonly seen further north. A few are pictured below:

Abyssinian Roller, Sennar October 2013

Black-headed Lapwing, Sennar October 2013

Black-shouldered Kite, Sennar October 2013

Red-backed Shrike, Sennar October 2013

Speckled Mousebird, Sennar October 2013

Yellow-breasted Barbet, Sennar October 2013

It was exciting to finally get some nets up near a Cinnamon Weaver colony. There seemed to be birds everywhere and I knew that I would catch some good stuff. Unfortunately, although I only had 4 nets, the birds came so quickly that I struggled to handle them all on my own and I often had to shut the nets to slow things down. Net-fulls of House Sparrows and Northern Red Bishops kept me occupied, plus quite good numbers of Cinnamon Weavers, each one of which took a long time to process as I was taking lots biometric data. In most cases I only had time to take a quick snapshot of other species before immediately releasing them. It was still great fun to handle these amazing birds:

African silverbill, Sennar October 2013

Yellow Wagtail (beema), Sennar October 2013

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Sennar October 2013

Common Whitethroat, Sennar October 2013

Female Sudan Golden Sparrow, Sennar October 2013

Male Sudan Golden Sparrow, Sennar October 2013

Laughing Dove, Sennar October 2013

Little Weaver, Sennar October 2013

Northern Red Bishop, Sennar October 2013

Namaqua Dove, Sennar October 2013

Nile Valley Sunbird, Sennar October 2013

Red-billed Firefinch, Sennar October 2013

Vinaceous Dove, Winding Cisticola and Yellow-crowned Bishop were all my first sightings in Sudan and with all three of them the first I knew of them being there was when I pulled them from the nets. Other first sightings for Sudan included Grasshopper Buzzard and Woodchat Shrike, while Grey-headed Kingfisher was only my second sighting.

Vinaceous Dove, Sennar October 2013

Winding Cisticola, Sennar October 2013

Yellow-crowned Bishop, Sennar October 2013

And finally, the birds I had been waiting so long to capture, measure and ring - the Cinnamon Weaver:

Male Cinnamon Weaver, Sennar October 2013

Female Cinnamon Weaver, Sennar October 2013

I hope to publish some more on my Cinnamon Weaver study soon, plus I hope to get back for another visit in the not-too-distant future.

Bor: South Sudan - By Terry Barry

It was sad to say goodbye to Terry Barry when he left Khartoum back in May. His next job was a short posting in Bor, which is a town about 100km north of Juba in South Sudan. He was there for three months between June and September, where he was staying on the UNMISS compound, and he sent me the following report of his sightings. He saw some great birds and it is nice to have a report from a new and little known area. He is now back in Wales where he is starting a PhD in International Politics and we all wish him the best of luck with it.
Tom Jenner

UNMISS compound Bor South Sudan (from 11/06/3013 – 06/09/2013)

The compound has green spaces including some small ponds and a small lake with surrounding vegetation – hence there are quite a wide variety of African bird species.  I have been on a few night walks after 20.00 and there are land mammals around – seen two foxes and a mongoose.

Interesting to note was the bird population of different species on the compound changed over these three months of the rainy season. Examples: in June there were Lesser Blue-eared Starlings which then disappeared and then reappeared at the end of August. Black-billed Kites were common on the compound in June but very few by August. The Grey-headed Kingfisher was really common in June/July but then seemed absent and ‘replaced’ by Woodland kingfisher. Some birds were only present on the compound for a number of days like the Grey-backed Fiscal, or a number of weeks such as the group of Black-crowned Cranes. Some increased steadily in number as the wet season progressed such as the African Openbills and White-faced Ducks. Others remained quite constant in high numbers throughout the three months such as the Marabou Storks and Hooded Vultures.

1)    Long-tailed Cormorant
2)    Hammerkop – small groups on compound
3)    Grey Heron (individuals)
4)    Black-headed Heron (individuals – some seem young)
5)    Purple Heron (just one juvenile)
6)    Great White egret
7)    Little Egret
8)    Cattle Egret (roost in their hundreds in trees in compound)
9)    Squacco Heron
10)Black-crowned Night-heron 
11)African  Sacred Ibis (maybe hundreds on compound – roost alongside Cattle Egrets)
12)Hadeba Ibis (very common on compound)
13)Marabou Storks (many particularly hanging around garbage-burning area)
14)African Openbill
15)Woolly-necked Stork (one individual)
16)Yellow-billed Stork
17)White-faced Duck
18)Comb Duck
19)Yellow-billed Kite
20)African Fish Eagle
21)Hooded Vulture – most common vulture in compound
22)White-backed Vulture 
23)African Harrier Hawk
24)Dark Chanting Goshawk
25)Long-crested Eagle
26)Red-necked Falcon
27)Helmeted Guineafowl
28)Black Crowned Crane (group of 5 which stayed for a few weeks in July/August))
29)African Jacana (on lake)
30)Senegal Thick-knee
31)African Wattled Lapwing
32)Common Sandpiper
33)African Mourning Dove
34)Vinaceous Dove
35)Black-billed Dove
36)Namaqua Dove
37)White-browed Coucal
38)African Palm Swift
39)Speckled Mousebird
40)Blue-naped mousebird
41)Pied Kingfisher
42)Malachite Kingfisher
43)African Pygmy-kingfisher
44)Grey-headed Kingfisher
45)Woodland Kingfisher
46)Northern Carmine Bee-eater
47)Little Green bee-eater
48)Black-billed barbet (27/6/13 – small family group -3)
49)D’Arnaud’s Barbet
50)Grey Woodpecker
51)Ethiopian swallow
52)Red-shouldered Cuckooshrike
53)Fork-tailed Drongo
54)Pied Crow
55)Dark-capped Bulbul
56)African Thrush
57)White-browed (Heuglin’s) Robin-chat
58)Spotted Palm-thrush
59)Winding Cisticola
60)Tawny-flanked Prinia
61)Northern Crombec?
62)Grey-backed Camaroptera
64)African Paradise-flycatcher (white and rufous morph)
65)Western Black-headed Batis
66)Grey-backed Fiscal
67)Black-headed Gonolek
68)Lesser Blue-eared Starling
69)Ruppel’s Starling
70)Scarlet-chested Sunbird
71)Beautiful Sunbird
72)Northern Grey-headed Sparrow
73)Speckle-fronted Weaver
74)Northern Masked Weaver
75)Little Weaver
76)Red-headed Quelea
77)Red-billed Quelea
78)Northern Red Bishop
79)Yellow-crowned (Golden) bishop
80)Green-winged Pytilia
81)Red-billed Firefinch
82)Red-cheeked Cordonbleu
83)Black-rumped Waxbill
84)White-rumped Seed-eater