Tuesday 20 September 2016

South of the fish market

On Sunday I made a visit to the fish market on the coast west of Nouakchott.

Hundreds of longboat-shaped fishing boats were moored up and there were plenty of fish on sale, some of which were extremely large.

Yet strangely, there was hardly a bird in this immediate area apart from a few house sparrow.

Moving south 150 metres down the coast, it was a different story with several locations producing a different array of birds.

The first location was a smelly rubbish dump based on partially on fish parts and broken shells but with pools surrounding it.

bar-tailed godwit

Bar-tailed godwit were patrolling the pools and some of the wet earth.


Sanderling were there in numbers.

ruddy turnstone

Ruddy turnstone were also present.

Welsh common ringed plover 1

Common ringed plover are proving to be abundant all over west Nouakchott including near the fish market at the coast.

One of them was ringed and flagged. If I have understood the rings correctly this is a Welsh bird. I have written to the contact sending pictures and await verification.

Welsh common ringed plover 2

A young Kittlitz's plover is good evidence that this species breeds here.

juvenile Kittlitz's plover

While walking a little further down the coast to a cleaner area, a large flock of Eurasian spoonbill flew past and laso travelling south. 

Eurasian spoonbill

In this place, there are three sand-banked small lagoons managed by the environment ministry which are designed to attract birds.

black tern

Black tern were certainly attracted to it.


Whimbrel were there.


On a small island in one lagoon, a large number of sanderling were huddled together. 

little tern

A much smaller tern was easily picked out there. Little tern is the only option.

pied avocet

Another single bird was a pied avocet which was swimming rather than wading.

I was surprised that gulls and sea-faring terns were not seen at the ocean's edge.

Counter-initutively, by scanning all around,  I found a large number 500 metres inland from the lagoons. I had been looking in the wrong direction.

greater flamingo

As I walked towards the cluster of gulls and terns, three adult greater flamingo passed over.

I used a wall as a backcloth to approach the gulls so as not to spook them.

lesser black backed gull

The larger gulls were all lesser black-backed gull.  One medium sized gull was a black-headed gull.

Audouin's gull

The big surprise was the presence of 14 Audouin's gull. Such a large number may be explained by a probably affinity to the fish port and market. This gull is unusally dependent on fish for its diet.

Sandwich tern and Royal tern

I am on the look out for lesser crested tern which are known to winter on the Mauritanian coast and in particular Libyan birds, a few of which are ringed.

They are known to associate with closely related sandwich tern. Well, I found several sandwich tern. However the orange-billed tern seen with them near the fish market were both the larger Royal tern.

Walikng back towards the fish market through the coast scrub turned up a small number of warblers, crest lark and an unexpected hoopoe lark.

hopooe lark

Two desert grey shrike were observed on bushes and they were of the expected elegans sub-species in contrast to the unexpected algeriensis seen the day before at Zaatar allotments.

desert grey shrike

At a small pool, my first curlew sandpiper in country was seen.

curlew sandpiper

The last new bird of the session was a shy northern wheatear.

northern wheatear

No fewer than 16 species were added to my country list so I was well satisfied.
List of birds seen. New additions to my Mauritiania list are in bold.

Greater Flamingo  
Grey Heron  
Eurasian Spoonbill  
Pied Avocet  
Kittlitz's Plover  
Common Ringed Plover  
Bar-tailed Godwit  
Ruddy Turnstone  
Curlew Sandpiper 
Little Stint  
Common Greenshank  
Common Redshank  
Black-headed Gull  
Audouin's Gull 
Lesser Black-backed Gull  
Little Tern  
Caspian Tern  
Black Tern  
Royal Tern  
Sandwich Tern  
Laughing Dove  
Southern Grey Shrike  
Greater Hoopoe-Lark  
Crested Lark  
Willow Warbler  
Western Bonelli's Warbler  
Spotted Flycatcher  
Pied Flycatcher  
House Sparrow  

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