Murtala Muhammed Botanical Garden


Little Bee-Eater

Continued from: Murtala Muhammed Botanical Garden

It was with great anticipation that over ten members of the Nigerian Field Society joined the preeminent ornithologist Phillip Hall OBE for an early morning expedition into the garden situated near Epe, a fishing village on the Gulf of Guinea about 50 kilometers east of Lagos. Steve Turnipseed, bird guru and organizer of this expedition, kindly brought along powerful binoculars to allow each person to have a fleeting glance at these West African birds.

Black Bee-Eater

Black Bee-Eater

On this Sunday, we were rewarded with our early morning rise for moments after stepping out of our vehicles, Dr. Hall began calling out names of various bird species chattering over-head….Swamp Palm Bulbuls and Green Headed Sunbirds.   As we walked under the canopy trees and viewed into the dense bush, camera’s clicked while we ‘oohed and aahed’ at the sighting of the brilliantly colored Little Bee-Eater and the rare turquoise feathers of the Black Bee-eater. We watched the undulating flight of the African Pied Hornbill and got a glimpse at the rare Red-vented Malimbe.  Lists were made and nearly forty sightings recorded by the end of our walk.

Red-vented Malimbe

Red-vented Malimbe 

African Pied Hornbill

African Pied Hornbill

There was an on-going competition for my attention between the flora and fauna of the land and the birds in the air.  A calabash tree ladened with green calabash dangled, butterflies abundant, ferns, lily swamps, even a lonely poinsettia (out of its subtropical climate), all admired on this cool morning. Dried pods from the African oil bean (an edible source of protein) were collected from the sandy ground. The popularly named, Lipstick tree or bixa orellana (indigenous to Central America), was full of bright red spiny fruits. The seeds, which are edible, are used also for the red pigment in dying and body adornment.

Murtala Mohammed Botanical Garden is in danger of the encroaching and out-of-control  Lagos urban sprawl and greedy developers…a sad reality that naturalists and environmentalists face daily.  This natural sanctuary not only provides wildlife an innate space to flourish but also bestows a peaceful respite away from the fast-pace of Lagos. Ultimately, preserving and protecting this area is in Nigeria’s national interest that must be passed onto future generations.

The following is a list of birds seen on this expedition and collected by Bunmi Jegede.

1. African Harrier-Hawk/Gymnogene (Polyboroides typus)

2. African Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone viridis)

3. African Pied Hornbill (Tockus fasciatus)

4. African Pygmy Kingfisher (Ceyx pictus)

5. Black-and-White Mannikin (Lonchura bicolor)

6. Black Bee-Eater (Merops gularis)

7. Black Cuckoo (Cuculus clamosus)

8. Black Kite (Milvus migrans)

9. Black-Necked Weaver (Ploceus nigricollis)

10. Blue-Spotted Wood Dove (Turtur afer)

11. Blue-Throated Brown Sunbird (Nectarinia cyanolaema)

12. Collared Sunbird (Hedydipna collaris)

13. Common Bulbul (Pycnonotus barbatus)

14. Common Village Weaver (Ploceus cucullatus)

15. Didric Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx caprius)

16. Fanti Saw-Wing (Psalidoprocne obscura

17. Green Headed Sunbird (Nectarinia verticalis)

18. Green Hylia (Hylia prasina)

19. Grey-Backed Camaroptera (Camaroptera brevicaudata)

20. Grey-Crowned Negrofinch (Nigrita canicapillus)

21. Klaas Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx klaas)

22. Laughing Dove (Streptopelia senegalensis)

23. Little Bee-Eater (Merops pusillus)

24. Little Greenbul (Andropadus virens)

25. Olive-Bellied Sunbird (Nectarinia olivacea)

26. Orange-Cheeked Waxbill (Estrilda melpoda)

27. Pied Crow (Corvus albus)

28. Piping Hornbill (Bycanistes fistulator)

29. Red-Eyed Dove (Streptopelia semitorquata)

30. Red-Vented Malimbe (Malimbus scutatus)

31. Simple Greenbul (Chlorocichla simplex)

32. Speckled Tinkerbird (Pogoniulus scolopaceus)

33. Swamp Palm Bulbul (Thescelocichla leucopleura)

34. Variable Sunbird (Nectarinia venusta)

35. Vieillot’s Weaver (Ploceus nigerrimus)

36. Western/Yellow-Spotted Nicator (Nicator chloris)

37. White-Fronted Black-Chat (Myrmecocichla albifrons)

38. Yellow-Fronted Tinkerbird (Pogoniulus chrysoconus)

39. Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava)

All Photographs and text are under international copyright laws. No re-use without the written permission of Lesley Lababidi 2023.

7 thoughts on “Murtala Muhammed Botanical Garden

  1. Pingback: Murtala Muhammed Botanical Garden | nomad4now

  2. Wow, that is an interesting trip.
    I want to know more about the common bulbul particularly the one found in Nigeria.
    I earnestly await your reply.

    • I love the common bulbul because of its sweet call that one of the delights of a garden. They are rather dull birds and smallish but have a distinctive head that reminds me of a ‘spike ‘ hair cut. They are usually in pairs and they are often on bushes rather than in trees. Lesley

  3. Not having enough literature and images regarding this Botanical garden and other botanical gardens in Nigeria makes it difficult for my seminar project at Knowlton School of Architecture at The Ohio State University. This site need more structural development of it’s software and website.
    Adekunle I. Adekanola
    class of 2020
    Knowlton School of Architecture
    The Ohio State University
    Columbus, Oh.43209
    p. 0091-402-401-1377

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