Monday, 13 November 2017

Coming back from Nouadhibou

Mohamed Vall and I started home early on Sunday morning three weeks ago. Our first stop was a wadi just east of the customs' post for Nouadhibou. It was the first area without halophilic vegetation and so likely to have a wider cross section of birds than the salty land we left behind.

Even with its few scattered bushes, the birding was good. 

desert sparrow

We met a calling desert sparrow. This was actually the first time I have ever seen one away from a mobile flock.

sub-alpine warbler 1

Tamarisk bushes are very good for passage warblers in October. The ones in this wadi were no exception. We took a long time to track a sub-alpine warbler down. It was very alert and refused close contact. When it eventually settled we saw it for what it was. However it was a deeper red than most that we have seen in country. This is presumably because it has retained more summer plumage. Nevertheless, we really wanted close views as the much rarer (for Mauritania) Tristram's warbler is possible in this area.

sub-alpine warbler 2

The red orbital ring alone was enough to prove its was "only" a western sub-alpine warbler.

Near-by a willow warbler was also causing a few identification problems. 

willow warbler 1

It had amber legs and a white belly. I had wanted to eliminate Iberian chiffchaff.

willow warbler 2

Mohamed Vall caught it dipping its tail which is also usually a feature of common chiffchaff and Iberian chiffchaff and not willow warbler.

willow warbler dipping tail by Mohamed Vall

However, I am assured this bird is a willow warbler. Among other things its legs are just too light apparently.

My camera battery exhausted soon after we left this wadi. The remaining two pictures are courtesy of Mohamed Vall.

white-crowned wheatear

We stopped twice at similar wadis close to the first one but never achieved anything more special. Mohamed Vall got a nice photo of a white-crowned wheatear though.

Our longest stop on the way back was at Bon Lanuar. This is a government supported project to grow small scale market gardens on marginal land next to the encroaching desert.

There is widescale use of non-native trees there to fix the dunes on the north sides of each parcel of land. These north sides are not attractive to native birds though the wind and sand proected cultivated areas are probably better. The different parcels require separate access and we only got permission to enter one. We saw just the usual October mix of spotted flycatcher, pied flycatcher, common redstart and willow warbler as well as large numbers of resident European collared dove.

Nevertheless I suspect this place may be very good in mid-winter.

The site had an unexpected bonus. Looking up we saw a long-legged buzzard flying over. This is a known species in this type of area just either side of the Sahara desert. Unfortunately with my camera out of action, I failed to have a picture.

It was, however, an another additon to my country list. It was the fourth and last one of the weekend away.

brown-necked raven by Mohamed Vall

One of our later stops was at the wadi just south of the turn off to the gold mine where we had seen Dunn's lark on the way up. Dunn's lark was still there and gave me pleasure to see this difficult bird once again.

The weekend after, it was a return to the waste water site just north of Nouakchott. At this time of year, the birding there changes each time. I will blog about this next.

Wadi east of the customs post
Willow Warbler  
Subalpine Warbler  
Spectacled Warbler  
European Pied Flycatcher  
Northern Wheatear  
Desert Sparrow

Bon Lanuar
Long-legged Buzzard  
Collared Dove  
Willow Warbler  
Spotted Flycatcher  
European Pied Flycatcher  
Common Redstart  
House Sparrow  

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