Sunday 6 November 2016

Return walk from North Nouakchott

On the way back from my long walk in north Nouakchott on Saturday, I walked three blocks further east than I usually do. 

It was fortuitous as I stumbled across a very large fresh water area right in the city.  Furthermore it is public.

Until this, birding on the way back had been uninspired with a couple of hoopoe lark being the best birds.

hoopoe lark

I hit the western edge of the water without realising how large it was.

What caught my attention were four little grebe. These were my first in Mauritania and species 163 on my list.

young little grebe

Two of the grebes were juveniles so I suspected immediately that they had bred there. I also know that little grebe like water at least one metre deep.

This lake was turning out to be quite different from any other water body I had seen in Nouakchott. It is fresh water and is both large and deep.

adult little grebe

Scanning around I could see this west side had some reeds and sedge which is different vegetation to other water bodies. However the sheer size of the place was not yet apparent to me.

north Noaukchott lake

The white building in the centre left of the picture is surrounded by water. There are pockets of tall bull reeds all around the site.

I started to walk round. I saw bluethroat within the reeds and spur-winged lapwing dotted all over the site.


The water had historically clearly flooded five or six old buildings where only some lower walls remained. On some of these were a few scattered waders such as wood sandpiper, green sandpiper and common ringed plover.

common coot

Over 20 common coot were in the water or on the sunken walls. This was another addition to my country list. It is species 164. I found no evidence of any red-knobbed coot despite a thorough look.

common moorhen

A similar number of common moorhen were observed. They were not easily frightened suggesting no hunting goes on here.

northern shoveller

One disappointment was the ducks. Once again the only species of duck seen in Nouakchott were northern shoveller and northern pintail.

northern pintail

I will return to this lake as soon as I can. I was very tired on arrival and will almost certainly have missed quite a lot. For a start Sedge warbler and crakes must also surely be possible at the moment. Furthermore, I would expect mallard and teal sometime this winter. 

It was only 20 minutes more walk to arrive home. However I adopted a precautionary approach on Sunday and rested my blistered feet. I was really itching to return to this lake though.

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