Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Dar El Barka revisited

A week ago Monday, Mohamed Vall travelled the 800 kilometres back to Nouakchott in one day. It was obviously a long day. Nevertheless we made time for one main stop and we chose Dar el Barka in Brakna and next to the Senegal River.

Before that we were lucky enough to see five chestnut-bellied sandgrouse flying over a farming area at Lexeiba, Gorgol. The sandgrouse truned out to be the last addition to my country list during the trip though Dar El Barka had interest.

There is a semi-circle of wide water at Dar El Barka will doesn't quite link up directly with the Senegal River itself. 

We concentrated our time around this rather than other good looking habitat in the area (i.e the river itself, a dense forest and a waterlogged smaller woodland).

Many birds were seeking cover as it was hot day and we were there at the hottest time of day too.

flying hamerkop (courtesy of Mohamed Vall)

Hamerkop were plentiful. I suspect they came from the dense forest which we didn't have chance to explore. Most of the time they sought cover.

The near-by dense forest may well be the reason that Vinaceous dove was the most common dove in the area. That in itself is very unusual.

two hamerkop under cover

With so much water and with wet grassland at the edges, it was no surprise to see a good scattering of both yellow wagtail and collared pratincole.

water bodies at Dar El Barka

No fewr than three types of bee-eater were present. These were little bee-eater, little green bee-eater and red-throated bee-eater. Like elsewhere in Mauritania no blue-cheeked bee-eater were seen. There is more and more evidence that it is not resident in Mauritania unlike the distribution map's claim in Birds of Western Africa. 

While blue-cheeked bee-eater may return in late spring, as a general point there are many more birds that are described in the maps as resident but look now as if they are only present in the rainy season and also just before and after it.

red-throated bee-eater

Red-throated bee-eater stubbornly refused to leave the shade so I have yet to obtain good photos of this bird.

spur-winged goose

The water was attractive to all four of  most common largest water fowl in South Mauritania: spur-winged goose, Egyptian goose, white-faced whistling duck and knob-billed duck.

Egyptian goose with knob-billed duck

We didn't have time to do the small birds justice. However of note were chestnut-bellied sparrow lark in the fields and a pair of pygmy sunbird on a beach seeking to drink.

pygmy sunbird (courtesy of Mohamed Vall)

In the long grass just before we left the water, a greater painted snipe was spotted.

greater painted snipe

Dar El Barka is a fascinating place. It is also just about possible to include it in a normal  weekend's birding based out of Rosso.

Species seen at Dar El Barka, Brakna
White-faced Whistling-Duck  80
Knob-billed Duck  18
Egyptian Goose  14
Spur-winged Goose  40
Long-tailed Cormorant  1
Hamerkop  9
Grey Heron  3
Little Egret  2
Cattle Egret  14
Squacco Heron  1
Striated Heron  1
Black-winged Stilt  7
Kittlitz's Plover  4
Common Ringed Plover  2
Greater Painted-Snipe  1
Common Snipe  1
Common Sandpiper  3
Common Greenshank  14
Collared Pratincole  9
Gull-billed Tern  1
White-winged Black Tern  1
Whiskered Tern  1
African Collared Dove  2
Vinaceous Dove  12
Laughing Dove  16
Namaqua Dove  5
African Palm-Swift  4
Eurasian Hoopoe  2
Pied Kingfisher  1
Red-throated Bee-eater  9
Little Bee-eater  3
Green Bee-eater  5
Woodchat Shrike  1
Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark  10
Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark  15
Barn Swallow  11   
Willow Warbler  2
Grey-backed Camaroptera  1
Common Redstart  2
Northern Wheatear  1
Pygmy Sunbird  4
Western Yellow Wagtail  10
Sudan Golden Sparrow  14
Black-headed Weaver  6
Red-billed Quelea  140

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