Sunday 8 January 2017

North of Rosso

On our trip to the Rosso area over the New Year weekend, Mohamed Vall and I stopped a number of times on the Nouakchott-Rosso road while travelling out and back from our target area.

The most successful stop was arguably at Bob Al Rougha which is 32 kilometres along the main road back towards Nouakchott from Rosso. It is a lot less than 32 kilometres to the Senegal River as a bird flies since the main road travels west for much of its early journey out of Rosso. This point is important as the treed areas in Mauritania are mostly close to the river.

At Bob Al Rougha we observed our first Vieillot's barbet of the trip.

Vieillot's barbet

They were identifed by sight. Often they make very loud calls which alerts birders to their presence. This time there were no calls. This was probably because the pair kept right next to each other.

a pair of Vieillot's barbet

Close by were two Senegal Batis. This bird was the last addition to my Mauritanian list on the weekend trip.

Senegal Batis 1

Along with the black-crowned tchagra and yellow-crowned gonolek seen the day before, the Senegal Batis made it a highly successful trip in finding "bush shrikes".

Senegal Batis 2

A female beautiful sunbird was also observed. I have yet to find a place in Mauritania with a high density of sunbirds.

female beautiful sunbird

Both of the main African warblers in Mauritania were seen at Bob Al Roghba, namely northern crombec and grey-backed camaroptera.

northern crombec (courtesy of Mohamed Vall)

A few wintering European warblers were also present: western bonelli's warbler, sub-alpine warbler and a western orphean warbler.

At other stops birding was not so varied but there were highlights. Just 13 kilometres out of Rosso we found a short-toed snake eagle as well as white-billed buffalo weaver and greater blue-eared starling.

short-toed snake eagle

At M'balal at 30 kilometres out we found less variety still but the best views of chestnut-bellied starling.

chestnut-bellied starling

Once you move more than 40 kilometres north of Rosso, wooded areas are much fewer and those than exist have fewer African species at this time of year.

Nevertheless wintering palearctic warblers are there and without distraction of other species can ironically be more easily seen. One example was the western bonelli's warbler photographed by Mohamed Vall. I am grateful for his permission to reproduce the picture here.

western bonelli's warbler

The weekend's birding had exceeded my expectations with 14 additions to my country list and better views of many other species. Mohamed Vall made it all possible again with his driving and company.

Until next month, birding will be in the Nouakchott area. However I already have some good news from here. I will blog about that next.

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