Friday, 23 April 2010
Lekki Conservation Centre, Lagos, Nigeria
A sunbird with a green head flashed across the front of the hide. I checked my Helm field guide and noted that it was a Green-headed Sunbird.
Little Greenbul. It is a dark, drab bird whose only distinguishing feature is that it has no distinguishing features.
I turned left at the crossroads. The boardwalk ended and an overgrown trail continued through the drier part of the forest. I had to walk much of this section bent over and brushing through vegetation that had encroached on to the path. It made me feel very intrepid, but you don’t see much when you are bent over so.
For some, the term “pishing” or “spishing” may be unfamiliar. In the world of bird-watching, we make peculiar squeaks and hisses in an effort to whet a bird’s curiosity. The bird may then approach closer to investigate where the noises are coming from and what they might mean, then the bird-watcher can get a better look at it.
In Nigeria, a similar “tssst” (usually used within restaurants and bars to attract the staff), means “Come here, I want you”. While the Nigerian tradition is to hiss discretely, the sound carries and has an attention grabbing quality. We bird-watchers tend to pish loudly and extravagantly, becoming frantic and causing any passing Nigerian to consider us extremely rude and impatient. I once found myself in embarrassing confusion with the groundsman in the hotel gardens in Abuja, Nigeria. It took some time to explain that I was trying to attract the attention of a bird and not him. He walked off, shaking his head, muttering in a rich, dark voice, “You white-men have not enough to do!”
The centre is not a busy place on a Thursday morning though. I had the forest to myself and the only other visitors were some school children who were kept cooped up in the centres education room. Poor things.
Bird species; 23
Long-tailed Cormorant 1, Western Cattle Egret 10, White-faced Whistling Duck 2, Yellow-billed Kite 4, African Harrier-hawk 1, Black-crowned Crane 1, African Jacana 2, Red-eyed Dove 20, Senegal Coucal 1, White-throated Bee-eater 30, Little Green Bee-eater 2, Allied Hornbill 6, Common Bulbul 30, Little Greenbul 2, Swamp Palm Bulbul 14, African Thrush 2, Collared Sunbird 2, Green-headed Sunbird 2, Carmelite Sunbird 3, Superb Sunbird 1, Pied Crow 2, Black-necked Weaver 2, Vieillot’s Weaver 8.
Mammal species; 1
Mona Monkey 30