Sunday, 29 October 2017

Around Chami

Mohamed Vall and I took a long weekend in Nouadhibou last week. We started out on Friday afternoon.

It was only our second birding trip to Nouadhibou but it was eventful. I added four species to my Mauritanian list and one was on the way up.

We drove up on the main road through the town of Chami. There was some good birding either side of this town though not in the town itself.

Our first good species was spotted while driving. Two stone curlew were sitting under two separate trees trying to evade the seering heat.

stone curlew

A few kilometres further on, we saw two cream-coloured courser doing the same thing.

Our next stop was at a large service station called Gare du Nord. This is the closest place I have seen in all Mauritania to a western style service area.

house sparrow

There were two types of sparrow on the buildings and in the near-by tree. One was house sparrow.

desert sparrow

The other was the much more sought after desert sparrow.

In the one main tree there were also four western olivaceous warbler along side the desert sparrow.

brown-necked raven

The single most numerous bird was actually brown-necked raven. This place is clearly very attractive to them. I presume they scavenge plenty of waste there.

The mosque also has water run off and water is a scarce commodity in the desert.

Indeed near the very small pool created by it, we saw a pied flycatcher and a common redstart. In the shade of one of the walls we also came across a yellow wagtail.

Our best site on the way up was still to come. It was north of Chami at a wadi just two kilometres south of the turn off to the gold mine.

common kestrel

The wadi was a little unusual as there was tall dry grass but it was patchy. There were also scattered trees. It was a large flat wadi surrounded by flat pure desert. 

There were another two stone curlew there and a common kestrel. However the big find were four Dunn's lark.

Dunn's lark 1

I have been searching for this bird for years and failing to find it in the Middle East. I wonder if I now know its preferred type of habitat.

Dunn's lark 2

The African sub-species does not show such strong facial markings as illustrated in the Collin's guide for the Arabian sub-species.

Dunn's lark 3

This was the addition to my Mauritanian list. I am not sure the Dutch Bird Association is wise calling the African sub-species Moroccan Dunn's Lark. First they appear to be taking sides in an unresolved international territorial dispute. This is since most birds in "Morocco" are in Western Sahara. Second I suspect there are a lot more of this species in Mauritania than in Morocco however you define the boundaries of the latter.

southern grey shrike

Examining the few scattered trees immediately exposed a southern grey shrike. However close up you could see several warblers, mostly willow warbler. There were also common redstart and pied flycatcher. All were desperate to avoid the heat.

This was our last major stop as we tried to get to Nouadhibou quickly, ahead of too much night driving.

The birding the next day in Nouadhibou was eventful. I will blog about that next.

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