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, 1910
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.The extended wingspan can measure up to three meters wide.With strong legs and web feet, they appear to run on water.At the breeding ground, a colony of youngsters wait for their parents to return for feeding. A Pelican chick testing the water.Various other birds share the pristine natural environment.
The 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.In recent years, conservation efforts have increased the number of birds visiting the sanctuary, including the star attraction of the park, the Pelicans.