Monday, 16 October 2017

Instead of Aleg

On Sunday 24th September, the idea was to start very early and make a day trip to Lake Aleg. This is 230 kilometres south east of Nouakchott. I was hopeful for rainy season birds there.

However we didn't get more than 5 kilometres out of the city before the clutch mechanism broke.

Despite this set back, Mohamed Vall and I managed some local birding.

We limped in second gear to Mohamed Vall city home and near-by Boudida allotments.

common whitethroat

The birding was not wonderful there as Sunday morning seems to be peak time for people to work on their allotments and so there was much disturbance.

Nevertheless in the short time there, we saw a common whitethroat which despite its name isn't common in Mauritania.

western olivaceous warbler

Other warblers included western olivaceous warbler and garden warbler.

After that, in third gear, we drove to a garage in Ksar. Here a mechanic tried to replace part of the clutch mechanism.

By pure fluke there was a deep but small urban pool at the end of the garage complex.

It is like a mini F-nord lake. It is one fiftieth of its the size but complete with reeds and deep water. It was also full of trash.

little grebe

While the mechanic spent two-three hours trying to replace the car part, I stayed at the pool, seeing what would appear.

Early on, I noticed a little grebe with a juvenile. This close to proof that it had bred there.

juvenile little grebe

Clambering over an island mostly made of trash were two squacco heron.

squacco heron 1

They didn't notice me but carried on clambering for a while before flying round the corner. I could not see them then as a partly submerged building blocked my view.

squacco heron 2

There is one large tree at the left side of the pool. This held reasonable birds too. A willow warbler and a garden warbler hopped around it. There were also a laughing dove and a turtle dove in there from time to time.

However for me, the best bird there was a nightingale. It kept to the lower reaches and walked out occasionally.

common nightingale

It took me a long time to notice but on another of the trash islands, a common snipe was hiding.

common sandpiper (l), snipe (c) and litte stint (l)

As ever, the noisiest birds were spur-winged lapwing. Mohamed Vall has visited the mechanic before and can remember seeing them on previous visits. This suggests they are resident near-by.

spur-winged lapwing (behind)

Despite the small size of the plot, a western reef heron was present.

western reef heron

Yet another single bird of a species was a black-winged stilt.

black-winged stilt

I saw two common ringed plover.

common ringed plover

Towards the end of my visit, the common snipe finally moved.

common snipe

The nightingale hopped out into the open again.


The water must be fresh and good enough to drink as a sucession of doves did so including three turtle dove

European turtle dove

In the end, the mechanic failed to repair the car and we had to take a taxi home.

Well, there was still a third of a day left and we had both freed up the whole day for birding. We decided to take a taxi to the fishing port.


There were plenty of waders. Many were sanderling and dunlin. However there were four whimbrel.

black tern (front) and white winged tern (rear)

There was a large flock of about thirty black tern at the "estuary" of the man-made lagoons. In among them two other terns stood out.

white winged tern

One was a white-winged tern while the other was a second year whiskered tern.

whiskered tern

There is some satisfaction in seeing all three marsh terns in one place.

great white pelican flying

I turned my attention out to sea for a short while. It is almost a hopeless task looking out to sea in the afternoon at the fish market. The sun is in the west as is the sea. There is very little chance of seeing anything on the water. Nevertheless, a big bird like a great white pelican can't be missed.

great white pelican swimming

After a few minutes, I returned to the lagoons and especially inwards where a few gulls and other terns had clustered together.

Caspian tern (rear) and lesser black backed gull (front)

The gulls were mostly lesser black-backed gull and Audouin's gull. Though there was also one Mediterranean gull and one lesser black-headed gull too.

mixed gulls and terns

A little tern and sandwich tern joined the cluster at one stage. The little tern was absolutely dwarfed by all the others.

After finishing with the lagoons, we walked a while down the coastal scrub. In a tretch of around one kilometre we saw no fewer than 28 European pied flycatcher. A few willow warbler, common redstart, cricket longtail and spotted flycatcher made up the rest.

Mohamed Vall and I did go to Aleg in the end but the next weekend. I will blog about that and other sessions soon.

Laughing Dove  
Namaqua Dove  
Blue-naped Mousebird
Eurasian Hoopoe  
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater  
Barn Swallow  
Willow Warbler  
Common Chiffchaff  
Western Olivaceous Warbler  
Garden Warbler  
Common Whitethroat  
Spotted Flycatcher  
European Pied Flycatcher  
Western Yellow Wagtail  
White Wagtail
House Sparrow 

Ksar pool
Little Grebe 
Western Reef-Heron
Squacco Heron  
Black-winged Stilt  
Spur-winged Lapwing  
Common Ringed Plover  
Little Stint  
Common Snipe  
Common Sandpiper  
Common Greenshank  
Wood Sandpiper  
European Turtle Dove  
Collared Dove  
Laughing Dove  
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater  
Willow Warbler  
Common Chiffchaff
Garden Warbler  
Common Nightingale  
European Pied Flycatcher  
Western Yellow Wagtail 
House Sparrow 

South of fish market 
Great White Pelican  
Kentish Plover  
Common Ringed Plover 
Ruddy Turnstone  
Little Stint 
Common Redshank  
Black-headed Gull  
Mediterranean Gull  
Audouin's Gull  
Lesser Black-backed Gull  
Black Tern  
White-winged Black Tern  
Whiskered Tern  
Crested Lark  
Barn Swallow 
Willow Warbler 
Cricket Longtail  
Spotted Flycatcher  
European Pied Flycatcher 
Common Redstart  
Northern Wheatear  
Western Yellow Wagtail  
White Wagtail 
House Sparrow  


  1. Hi Rob,

    Always nice to see what's going on north of Senegal!

    I believe that the juv. Chlidonias is actually a White-winged as well, not Whiskered which woulnd't be as dark, should have a heavier bill, and mostly it would not show the dark carpal bar and "shoulder" which is typical of White-winged.

  2. Bram, these identifications wer not made by me. I took these marsh terns to BirdForum. There was some disagreement.