Saturday, 28 October 2017

Another addition at the waste water site

Two weeks ago, I made another trip to the waste water site just north of the city. It has been a migrant trap all autumn. That day was no exception. 

It was also the second visit running when I managed to add another species to my country list.

I have learned by now to loiter at the very beginning of any session there near where the car drops me off.

young European turtle dove

Almost immediately I found a young European turtle dove. It was quite relaxed for its species. I suspect it has never heard the sound of a gun.

blue rock thrush

Soon after, I came across a blue rock thrush. This is towards the southern edge of its wintering range and there are no hills for two hundred kilometres. The area around Nouakchott is flat. I understand some make it to cliffs in north west Senegal. I hope this one finds them.

European pied flycatcher

And still another wave of pied flycatcher was observed. The numbers are seemingly endless.

first common redstart

Common redstart started passing through about two weeks after the first pied flycatcher but they keep coming too. Actually, a few winter in the far south of the country. I have seen them there too.

another common redstart

Once more there were ducks at the pools and once more they avoided going into the water.

northern pintail

This time there were common teal and northern pintail.


There have been subtle changes in the types of waders over the past two months.I am seeing my first black-tailed godwit and no more redshank for example though this might not be a pattern. Little stint, wood sandpiper, ruff, dunlin and ringed plover have been most predictable.

glossy ibis

The variety from the heron family was the lowest for a while. Only a purple heron and a glossy ibis showed this time.

pintail in flight

I had been trying to work out for the past few weeksif any of the five or six blue-cheeked bee-eater  had included passage birds. I concluded the behaviour of all was residential. It looks like I had been right.

migrant blue-cheeked bee-eater

While I was there that Sunday, about 30 blue-cheeked bee-eater arrived from the north in two waves. They stayed a couple of hours each and then carried on south. These were true passage birds.


With one last look at the deeper pools, I moved on to the east side of the site.

This side has only very shallow water and mud flats but it has much more cover close to the water. It is proving to be the best area for passerines.

European reed warbler 1

A European reed warbler was uncharacteristically out in the open and close to me for a while. it was a pleasurable few minutes.

European reed warbler 2

White wagtail and a much smaller number of yellow wagtail were darting over the muddy areas.

white wagtail

The odd barn swallow rested on the bushes.

barn swallow

I finally managed to photograph some ortolan bunting. This was the third time I had seen some at the site recently.

October is the autumn month to see them in Mauritania.

ortolan bunting

I don't see many little ringed plover in the Nouakchott area, certainly when compared with common ringed plover but there was one at the shallow pools. By its almost white eye ring, this was a first year bird.

little ringed plover

I spent some time trying to get better pictures of the ortolan bunting before returning to the lake on my way back.

ortolan bunting

Two marsh harrier had been around all session. One had taken an interest in the blue-cheeked bee-eater without success.

marsh harrier

These pools are attracting more birds of prey than ever as the pools and surrounding cover mature. I do hope that a big contaiminated delivery doesn't occur. Another few months and this site will be very good indeed. If reeds start to grow the existng water quality could improve too.

the pools

Another bird of prey landed for a short while and it was a short-toed snake eagle. They are passage birds through Nouakchott though very large numbers winter along the Senegal River Valley.

short-toed snake eagle

The new addition to my country list came late. As usual I walked under the canopy of avenue of trees in the shade on my way back to the car. It was here I flushed a European scops owl. I saw it clearly a second time towards the top of swaying trees. Unfortunately the swaying branches didn't allow for pictures. Nevertheless it was very welcome.

Species seen at the waste water site on October 14th 2017

Northern Pintail  
Eurasian Teal  
Purple Heron  
Glossy Ibis  
Short-toed Eagle  
Western Marsh Harrier  
Spur-winged Lapwing  
Kentish Plover  
Common Ringed Plover  
Little Ringed Plover  
Black-tailed Godwit  
Little Stint  
Common Snipe  
Common Sandpiper  
Green Sandpiper  
Wood Sandpiper  
European Turtle Dove  
Laughing Dove  
Namaqua Dove  
European Scops Owl  
Eurasian Hoopoe  
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater  
Eurasian Wryneck  
Lanner Falcon  
Southern Grey Shrike  
Crested Lark  
Barn Swallow  
Red-rumped Swallow  
Common House Martin  
Willow Warbler  
Common Chiffchaff  
Western Olivaceous Warbler  
Sedge Warbler  
Eurasian Reed Warbler  
Cricket Longtail  
Spotted Flycatcher  
European Pied Flycatcher  
Common Redstart  
Blue Rock Thrush  
Northern Wheatear  
Western Yellow Wagtail  
White Wagtail (alba)  
Tree Pipit  
Red-throated Pipit  
Ortolan Bunting  
House Sparrow  
Sudan Golden Sparrow  

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