The site consists of the coastal strip (c. 70 km long) south of Dakar, running from Bargny (20 km south-east of Dakar), south to the village of Mbodiène, which lies just north of Joal-Fadiouth (site SN012). It consists of mainly sandy, narrow beaches, offshore sandbars, dunes and saltmarsh, crossed by several small rivers and estuaries. There are a number of shallow lagoons and temporary wetlands in depressions behind the dunes, of varying size and salinity (depending on seasonal rainfall), some with associated mudflats and saltmarsh. The lagoons include Yène-Tode (c.150 ha), Popenguine (c.10 ha), Somone estuary (c.30 ha) and Sarène. Vegetation is generally sparse; there are some thickets of Tamarix sp. on higher ground behind the dunes and, towards the southern end of the site, mangroves (Rhizophora sp. and Avicennia sp.) on the mudflats. Along c.15 km at the northern end of the site there are sandy hills and cliffs with occasional rocky outcrops behind the dunes, reaching a maximum height of 74 m. One of the rocky outcrops (Cap de Naze) lies just behind Popenguine Avifaunal Reserve, the only officially designated site within the IBA. Popenguine consists of a freshwater lagoon and marsh, contained by a man-made barrage.
See Box for key species. The site is important for breeding and wintering waterbirds, and for wintering and passage raptors. A total of 12,935 birds of 66 species was recorded by the African Waterbird Census in January 1997; somewhat lower numbers were recorded in 1998, which may have been at least partly a result of the drying-out of two key lagoons, Bargny and Yène-Tode. Phoenicopterus minor was recorded from the site in small groups in the 1980s. Falco naumanni is regularly seen on passage, with a maximum single count of 39 individuals at Mbour in February 1993. Larus audouinii is observed all along the Petite Côte, with maximum counts of 160 and 144 individuals, both at Yène-Tode lagoon, and 104 at Toubab-Dialao. Eleven species of the Sudan–Guinea Savanna biome (A04) have been recorded from the site (see Table 2).
Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: La Petite Côte. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/01/2021.