This Month's outing on the 14th took us to Shen Dam in Barkin Ladi which is about 10 miles from Jos city. It was the farthest outing for me and I really enjoyed it.
The area is mostly flat land as compared to the rocky Jos area. You can see landscapes miles away with tall brown grasses bending towards the direction of the winds.
Moving pass the tall grasses gave way to Acha (Fonio) farms due for harvest. Some farms that were already harvested gathered Acha sheaves on low flat rocks ready for the tedious task of hulling locally.
As we moved closer to the water body, we walked pass seasonal cash crop farms of vegetables, fruits, and spices such as Hibiscus flowers, carrots, cabbages, rosemary, mulberries to mention but a few.
The dam is indeed a life-giver, people and animals converge to it for survival. Dragonflies are circling our legs as we move by the dam's bank to avoid trampling on farm ridges and beds.
We saw a Splendid and Purple Starling perched together on the same tree which in my ignorance assumed to be of the same species. I also saw the Black-headed Heron up close relaxing by the water body. The first time I sighted one was at Lamingo dam, it was far even when viewed with binoculars. I observed and recorded thirteen (13) bird species.
Purple Starling Lamprotornis purpureus
The bird of the day was the Abyssinian Roller. The Roller is a large bird, nearly the size of a jackdaw at 28–30 cm (11–12 in). It has a warm brown back, with the rest of the plumage mainly blue. Adults have long (12 cm (4.7 in)) tail streamers. Sexes are similar, but the juvenile is a drabber version of the adult. Abyssinian Roller is striking in its strong direct flight, with the brilliant blues of the wings contrasting with the brown back and the long tail streamers trailing behind. The call of the Abyssinian Roller is a harsh crow-like gak sound or a screeched aaaargh.
Abyssinian Roller Coracias abyssinicus
A day before the club outing, my team and I were having a meeting in the garden which is facing a small rocky mountain. Suda noticed a figure moving between tall trees she thought was a monkey only for us to realised it was a really big bird. We all saw it but we were not experienced enough to ID the bird without binoculars. As we enjoy the majestic presence of the bird of prey we knew it was there to hunt little innocent birds.
The harmattan season is here which means no more rain and water will be scarce for birds. Before giving any advice, maybe it is time I step up to create that watering hole and feeder for the birds in my garden once and for all. If I can do it, you can. Make your homes and gardens bird-friendly this dry season
Article by Janet Faden
Edited by Kazeh Nanchin