Saturday, 17 December 2016

Way to Kaedi

Last Saturday afternoon, Mohamed Vall and I pressed on with our journey south in Mauritania from Boghe towards Kaedi. The idea was to move out of Brakna region into Gorgol which has the second highest variety of afro-tropical species of all the regions in the country.

Not all the birds en route were Afro-tropical though. There are plenty of wintering western palearctic migrants. Prehaps the most conspicous are short-toed snake eagle which visit the Mauritanian side of the Senegal River in large numbers.

short-toed snake-eagle

More will be said about this species in a later blog but it should be mentioned here that all short-toed eagles should be checked for resident Beaudouin's snake eagle. This is time consuming and pain staking. Again I will say more later.

short-toed snake-eagle (courtesy of Mohamed Vall)

The bold streaking on this bird's belly and it's underwing pattern mark it out as a short-toed snake-eagle. I am grateful to Mohamed Vall for achieving an underwing shot to help with this identification

Namaqua dove

We made an inspired stop at thick woodland either side of a dried river bed. There was more than just the ubiquitous namaqua dove and laughing dove here.

western red hornbill

Proof of the afro-tropical nature of this woodland was heard and seen with a western red hornbill.

red-throated bee-eater

However what made it such an inspired choice was the sighting of two red-throated bee-eater. This area is right on the northern edge of their range and exactly the sort of bird we were hoping to see by travelling so far from Nouakchott. 

Other birds in the woodland included Sudanese golden sparrow, sub-alpine warbler, black bush-robin, Abyssinian roller, woodchat shrike and blue-cheeked bee-eater.

The town of Kaedi itself is not a good birding spot. There are only a few trees and access to the Senegal River is tightly controlled. Non-native species of trees have been planted in lots of places near the river too. 

Nevertheless a short walk around the town before dusk did generate an addition to my Mauritanian list as a few African palm swift were observed on the edge of the town. Not surprisingly they were near a cluster of palm trees.

On the wires, two birds caught my eye. One was a solitary northern grey-headed sparrow.

northern grey-headed sparrow

The second bird was more difficult to identify. I believe it is a juvenile village indigobird

probable juvenile village indigobird

Elsewhere in the town, an adult pair were seen. They were in close proximity to the usual host species that they parasitise, red-billed firefinch.

male village indigobird

While the town of Kaedi was not good birding, the area outside off the Mbout road certainly was. This was visited all day last Sunday. I will blog about that next.

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