Akanyaru wetlands are located in the south of Rwanda, north-east of Butare, on the international border with Burundi, and lie close to Rwihinda Lake Nature Reserve in Burundi.
The vegetation consists of a variety of marshy habitats and papyrus swamp. Early successional stages are occupied by floating vegetation dominated by Pistia stratiotes, Leersia hexandra and Oryza barthii. Intermediate stages are a mixture of Typha australis, Miscanthidium violaceum, Cladium jamaicense and some papyrus. More complex habitats are occupied by Typha australis, Miscanthidium violaceum, Cyperus denudatus, Cyperus latifolius and Echinochloa pyramidalis. There are expanses of papyrus, either as pure stands or combined with shrubby vegetation. Average annual rainfall is estimated to be 800 mm.
The birding site’ strength lies in the availability of over 54 species of wetland habitats among which include migrant and globally threatened Papyrus Gonolek, Lesser Swamp Warbler, Madagascar Squacco Heron, Pallid Harrier, Great Snipe and Lesser Kestrel. One species of the Guinea-Congo Forest biome, three of the Afrotropical Highlands biome and eleven species of the Lake Victoria Basin biome that occur in Rwanda have been recorded at Akanyaru wetlands.
Common Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)
The Common Squacco Heron is a palearctic migrant, breeding in southern Europe and Greater Middle East, and wintering in Africa.
This small heron is stocky with a short neck, short thick bill and buff-brown back, growing to 44–47 cm long (bill tip to tail, 20–23 cm width and 80–92 cm of wingspan.
The Squacco Heron breeds in marshy wetland habitats of warm countries. The birds nest in small colonies, often with other wading birds, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs where they lay up to 3-4 eggs.
Their diet consist of fish, frogs and insects.