Sunday 10 September 2017

Most species seen yet at the waste water site

On yesterday's visit to the waste water site, I recorded 40 species which is the most I have ever seen there. Of course, most were passage birds and a sign that passage is full-on at the moment.

In this blog I will go through various categories of bird seen rather than recount chronologically. 

I will start with the doves.  Large numbers of speckled pigeon were present in spring but not since I returned after the summer break. Yesterday they were back.

speckled pigeon

There was the largest group of European turtle dove I have ever seen. I counted 18. However they were extraordinarily shy. If one saw me, the flock would move on at least 50 metres.

turtle dove and laughing dove

One exception was a very young turtle dove, though well hidden it did allow reasonable approach.

turtle dove

Both laughing dove and Namaqua dove have been present on every single visit to the site.

three Namaqua dove and a laughing dove

Warblers were collectively the largest group of birds yesterday. The big majority were willow warbler.

willow warbler from the rear

Many were obviously first year birds.

same willow warbler from the front

I am still looking intently for Iberian chiffchaff for the simple reason that there are over 1,000,000 according to Birdlife International and most must fly through Mauritaina to reach their wintering grounds in Senegal and Western Mali.

problematic warbler 1

The identification of Iberian chiffchaff outside their breeding grounds is problematic. There should actually be more of them than willow warbler in this region. Yet they are rarely identified except from a mist net.

problematic warbler 2

Something must be happening. The most likely scenario is they are being over looked for willow warbler. The problematic bird (see photos) was chosen from all the phylloscopus at the site as having the most characteristics in common with Iberian chiffchaff as seen in the breeding area. There is a lemon underside with a white belly. The supercilium appears to have a lemon tinge. The bill fits the orange tinges of Iberian chiffchaff. The legs are a bit dark for a typical willow warbler and are the amber colour which is the commonest leg colour of the Iberian chiffchaff.

problematic warbler 3

And yet three people from Iberia on BirdForum say this bird is a willow warbler. The main reasons they cite are a supercilium that is too long and a primary projection that is too long. 

It may be too early to see Iberian chiffchaff here but it must happen soon. I can't believe they all fly over Mauritania and go directly without pause to near-by Senegal and Western Mali. It is a zero sum game, they can't dematerialise and reappear in spring in their breeding grounds.

I rarely resort to sound tracks. They are for bird tours and used much more by obsessive people. My main aversion is to the use of songs, which can be particularly harmful in the breeding season. Yet I have developed an particular obsession here to know where the Iberian chiffchaff are and what they look like after leaving their breeding grounds. I have downloaded the call of the Iberian chiffchaff. Let's see what next weekend brings.

blurred garden warbler

I had more success additing to my list with a different warbler. I found my first garden warbler in Mauritania. The warbler is otfen over-looked simply because it is non-descript.

Garden warbler from below

Western olivaceous warbler were still to be found. Most were next to a small sheltered pond surrounded by over-hanging bushes.

sedge warbler

Sedge warbler has an even greater affinity for water. Two were observed in the same bush at the main water's edge.

Before looking at the water birds themselves, I will finish off the rest of the land birds. 

golden oriole 1

Three golden oriole were observed. They were shy as usual.This is still the only place I have seen them in Mauritania.

golden oriole 2

Hoopoe like ground with earth insects and grubs. It is no surprise I regularly see them at this site in passage seasons.


Plenty of European pied flycatcher and spotted flycatcher were scattered around the site. On average the European pied flycatcher was in less exposed positions.

spotted flycatcher

In the wooded areas were the first common redstart of the season.


Likewise, a whinchat was also the first of the season.

tree pipit

I have yet to see a red-throated pipit in Mauritania. Although there was pipit close to the mobile flock of yellow wagtail, it was a tree pipit.

cattle egret

Turning to the "water birds", the glossy ibis are down to one though four grey heron made an appearance. Two cattle egret flew over but were only seen once.

Similarly, two gull-billed tern hestitated over the water for a couple of minutes before continuing their flight south. A single black tern did the same.

little stint

There were almost as many dunlin as little stint for once. Less common redshank this week meant less alarm among the waders when I got close.

first year dunlin

I have found no evidence of breeding among the spur-winged lapwing. Nor have I anywhere in the city despite their numbers.

spur-winged lapwing

Provided majorly contimated water isn't added, the greenery at the edges of the water will continue to grow. If the cover increases, breeding of 
the watervarious species becomes a possibility. As ever this is dependent on man.

the water

Species seen on Spetember 9th at the waste water site

Grey Heron (Grey)  
Cattle Egret (Western)  
Glossy Ibis  
harrier sp.  
Spur-winged Lapwing  
Kentish Plover  
Common Ringed Plover  
Little Stint  
Common Sandpiper  
Green Sandpiper  
Common Greenshank  
Wood Sandpiper  
Common Redshank  
Gull-billed Tern  
Black Tern  
Speckled Pigeon  
European Turtle Dove 
Laughing Dove  
Namaqua Dove  
Eurasian Hoopoe (Eurasian)  
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater  
Southern Grey Shrike  
Woodchat Shrike  
Eurasian Golden Oriole  
Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark  
Crested Lark  
Willow Warbler  
Western Olivaceous Warbler  
Sedge Warbler  
Garden Warbler  
Spectacled Warbler  
Spotted Flycatcher  
European Pied Flycatcher  
Common Redstart  
Western Yellow Wagtail  
Tree Pipit  
House Sparrow  

No comments:

Post a Comment