Senegal – Birds of Sine Saloum

Posted at: April 21, 2024

When he retired as an engineer, Jean-Louis Bonnot decided to sail around the world for a deep dive into nature photography. He sent us some images from Senegal, where he tested the floating hide in a bird reserve along the African west coast.

About 100 km south of Dakar is Delta du Saloum, a nature reserve covering about 180.000 hectares. Here, the rivers Sine and Saloum join, drawing hundreds of European migratory birds to what has become known as a bird photographers’ paradise.

“My sailboat allows me to travel and land near interesting places”, says Jean-Louis. “I stayed for several weeks on the Siné Saloum River and Casamance. On my arrival in Senegal, I met an ornithological guide who introduced me to the country’s birds from the Langue de Barbarie in the north to the Palmarin Reserve further south.

I always look for small saltwater channels that are less frequented by humans. I have a small zodiac that takes me close to the birds, but I have limited autonomy. For longer distances, I ask local canoeists to drop me off on sandbanks. At low tide, we encounter many shorebirds looking for food, such as whimbrels, curlews, godwits, plovers, and turnstones.

The mangroves, baobabs, and cheese trees hide kingfishers, ospreys, and even vultures. I saw many pelicans, cormorants, and African herons, including the Goliath heron, in flight. On my pictures, you can see the yellow-billed stork, African cormorant, pied plover and grey pelican, among many others. Right now, I’m preparing for my next stop, which will be Gambia and then Brazil.”

Immersed in bird paradise

I discovered Mr Jan Gear on the internet when I set out to look for lightweight, space-saving, and easily transportable equipment. I highly recommend the Floating Hide 3 Combo to any photographer who wants to immerse into nature and make unique images. Unlike the canoe, which scares away the birds and is unstable, the floating blind allows me to get extremely close without disturbing the birds.

I can land on a mud bank, and photograph at slower speeds – which allows me to capture the light better. I also get great images by standing still for an hour or two, waiting for the birds to land next to the hide. Sometimes, they come so close that I can’t fully frame them in the viewfinder! You can’t imagine being part of nature so intensely until you’ve experienced it from the floating hide.”

All images © Jean-Louis Bonnot

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