High on the list of a Rockjumper-trip in Cameroon was the Hartlaub’s Duck (Pteronetta hartlaubii). We found four on the morning going to the Sanaga River, Cameroon in April 2017. Probably they were 2 pairs in the area.
On the road from Douala to Yaoundé lies the remnant of a lake that has grown to a small, shallow pond. Probably the construction of the road has cut off the access between the water source and the lake. The lake is already fairly grown but looks still quite close to a natural habitat despite the proximity to the city. Maybe this small pond was formed by former flooding by the nearby river. Just in the early morning some very nice birds are to be found here. And promptly I have my fist liver. And it is a megabird. A male of a Hartlaub’s Duck is floating in the shallow water. Its partner is also to be seen. Then one of the Hartlaub’s ducks flies up, revealing the beautiful wing badges, which are so typical of this species. A very inconspicuous African Pygmy-goose (Nettapus auritus) floats in the water as well. In the further course there are 2 more Hartlaub’s Duck, this time swimming together with – in total – 4 African Pygmy-goose to see. In the further course, the Hartlaub’s Ducks fly a few more times. Of the 30 flight shots, 3 are acceptable enough, to be shown.
Hartlaub’s Duck is found locally on forest streams of equatorial western Africa. Although it is held in captivity – as in the San Diego Zoo in California, USA – the Breeding Range is wide, from Sierra Leone to south-western Uganda and northern Angola and it is listed as “Least Concern” according to IUCN catagories, sightings of this duck are anything but guaranteed during a trip to western Africa.
This forest duck is always a popular tick for a trip to Cameroon. We managed to find 2 pairs on the pond near Douala and four at Ngaoundaba Ranch, but dipped on further 3 occasions on the pond near Douala 3 weeks later. It is important, to have guidance during a trip to this highly diverse country. I decided for Rockjumper with Dave Hodinott. It is with local experts that reliable sightings of some of the region’s ‘specials’ can be found, species such as the Hartlaub’s Duck.
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The beautiful image of the blog is only first impressions of what you will find in behind “Picture Shop” for the Cameroon trip very soon. Simply contact bird-lens.com if you need an image of a bird before even more new pictures are online.