Postcards From Djoudj: A Pelican Paradise

A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His bill will hold more than his belican,
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week,
But I’m damned if I see how the helican.
~ Dixon Lanier Merritt, 1910dsc_0754

65 km North-east of Saint-Louis, Senegal and the edge of the Sahara lies the Parc National des Oiseaux du Djoudj (Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary). The UNESCO World Heritage Centre is a paradise for 1.5 million migratory birds that pass through each year.

The park has the world’s third greatest concentration of bird species; pelicans, egrets, hawks, cormorants, ducks, flamingos, herons, spoonbill, and other birds.

The ideal time to visit is during mating season, from November to April. By May, the water level is completely evaporated, leaving dry, barren fields.

At the dock, we boarded a pirogue for an hour and a half tour to see the enormous waterbirds, the Great White Pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus) in action. With fascination, we watched them fly graciously, hunt cooperatively, and scoop fish with their long bills.img_3256dsc_0766The extended wingspan can measure up to three meters wide.dsc_0765dsc_0706dsc_0864dsc_0777With strong legs and web feet, they appear to run on water.dsc_0716At the breeding ground, a colony of youngsters wait for their parents to return for feeding. dsc_0791A Pelican chick testing the water.dsc_0768Various other birds share the pristine natural environment.dsc_0825

dsc_0692The six thousand acres of freshwater lakes, canals, and sand banks is a fragile wetland ecosystem with a broad range of wildlife. We saw a crocodile and warthogs.DSC_0786.jpgdsc_0814In recent years, conservation efforts have increased the number of birds visiting the sanctuary, including the star attraction of the park, the Pelicans.

2 thoughts on “Postcards From Djoudj: A Pelican Paradise

    • Alison, I hope you get the chance to visit one day–you would be thrilled!–I’ve never experience anything like it before. It was sheer pleasure to be surrounded by the Pelicans, watching them in action, and in one of the most incredible wetland in the world:)- Ginette

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