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Notes from Nigeria (1 Viewer)


New member
Notes from Nigeria. February 2004

I live in a residential camp for expatriates employed by a large construction firm. The camp has been occupied for about 12 years now, and when full, is home to about 800 people. It is located in Abuja, the capital, a city of about 2million people at an elevation of 300metres on the southern edge of Nigeria´s central plateau. Rainfall is about 1700mm per annum (1.7metres).

The camp is a highly artificial environment with high security, secure water and electricity supplies, and it is often easy to forget you live in the middle of noisy, chaotic Nigeria.

At this time of the year we are at the tail end of the dry season which began when the rains stopped back in October. Since then, the countryside has got progressively drier and the temperatures have steadily risen. Most days now the temperature reaches 350 Celsius, and overnight temperatures are 20-240 C. The temporary streams which flow through our compound from the hill behind the camp have been completely dry for several months, but there are still malaria carrying mosquitoes around.

The Harmattan is beginning to disperse: a combination of dust and smoke that is blown in from the Sahel region to our north about Christmas time and which reduces visibility down to 10´s of metres on bad days.

Many of the trees inside our compound have dropped their leaves, either entirely or mostly, and nearly all species are now heavy with fruit such as Mango, Avocado, Cashew, Morula. In anticipation of the coming rains, many trees are now showing new leaves, and even the tree orchids and tree ferns are starting to show signs of life again. There is a profusion of flowers including hibiscus, frangipani, bougainvillea and colours.

The compound is a very attractive location for birds for a variety of reasons. There is no shooting allowed, the vegetation is generally thicker and greener in here compared to outside where most of the woodland is very heavily degraded due to timber cutting, firewood collecting and slash and burn agriculture (erosion is a serious problem), and there are many fruiting and flowering plants in here that are not common anywhere else in the surrounding countryside.
There is also a lot of water available from people watering gardens, and most importantly, the high powered security lights around the perimeter fence attract thousands of insects every night, and every morning there are many insectivorous birds foraging on the ground and surrounding vegetation near these lights. These lights, and the insects they attract, also support large populations of lizards and frogs.

I have been here since July 2003 and in that time have recorded 85 species of birds inside the compound which I estimate covers an area of about 50 Hectares. I use Borrow and Demey, Birds of Western Africa as my guide and am mostly happy with it.

I usually get out for an hour at daybreak and ride around the perimeter of the camp looking for birds. Here is what I saw this morning.

African thrushes……numerous resident of the camp and one of the most conspicuous birds.
Common bulbul…..another numerous, and noisy, resident of the camp.
Laughing Dove…...a common resident, often in groups of 5-10 birds.
Red eyed Dove…..a single bird seen.
Bronze Mannequins, Red billed firefinches, red-cheeked cordon bleu,…….several mixed flocks of these small finches foraging on the ground.
African Golden Oriole……several birds sighted in fruiting trees.
Village Weaver…….there is a very large colony inside the compound.
Yellow billed Shrikes…..a group of some 20 birds foraging for insects under a light standard.
Cattle Egret……..2 flocks of about a dozen birds each foraging on open grass.
Western grey plaintain eater….several parties of 4-5 birds noisily feeding in fruit trees.
Fork tail drongo…..many small parties of 2-5 birds foraging for insects all over the camp.
Northern black flycatcher….a pair near a light standard.
Shikra…..one individual of this small hawk that specialises in catching lizards, although I have seen them with birds as well.
Purple Glossy Starling……several birds seen near the lights.
Grey-headed bush shrike…..this one was in my garden this morning.
Brown babbler……two family parties seen, foraging on open ground.
Senegal Coucal…..a pair foraging for insects in trees near lights.
White throated bee eater…..a party of a dozen birds hunting insects from the top of a big Morula.
Northern puffback….two females foraging in shrubs and trees.
Willow warblers……a total of about 20 birds seen foraging in trees and shrubs. More than usual around.
Grey backed cameroptera….common resident, but more often heard than seen.
Copper, scarlet-chested, and variable sunbirds…..common residents (8 species in the camp) these three really like the flowering gums at the moment.
African palm swift and mottled spinetail…..there is always a flock of these birds over the camp in the morning.

In addition to these birds, are quite a number of others that are commonly seen inside the camp. In the last week I have been out twice and seen the following.

Northern grey headed sparrow…….several birds appear to be residents.
Spectacled weaver and red-headed weaver…..both are present, but not common.
Black kite……..one bird circling over the camp. Usually a couple about in dry season.
Green Woodhoopoe….regular visitor to the camp in the dry season.
Senegal Eremomela….a small group foraging in trees.
Splendid sunbird and green headed sunbird…..single birds observed on flowering shrubs.
Village indigo bird…..a small group foraging on the ground.
Rose ringed parakeet……another common visitor during the dry season months.
Hamerkop……one bird flying over the camp.
Yellow fronted tinkerbird…..one bird foraging in my garden.
Broad billed roller…..occasional dry season visitor to camp.
Blue breasted kingfisher…..these birds were nesting here in the wet season, now I occasionally see one bird in trees over the dry watercourse.


Staff member
United Kingdom
Hello Russell

Thanks for taking the time to write your Notes from Nigeria, Certainly plenty going on around your Camp, I got kicked out of kano about six years ago at gunpoint, after having my aircraft held to ransome but thats another story.


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