Sunday 16 October 2016

Central lake, Nouakchott

A colleague at work tipped me off that there was a lake with reeds near the Tunisian embassy. He also said it was full with birds. 

I took the first opportunity to visit it on Friday afternoon. 

The first bit of bad news is that it is now quite disturbed as it is being redeveloped as the site for a new Senegal embassy. Sadly it looks like the only fresh water lake in the city is about to disappear. Furthermore I was asked to leave the site (very diplomatically by the way) by the authorities as it is embassy land.

All the other news is good. The site is currently still teeming with birds and I was asked to leave just as I finished my session anyway. 

It was the first time I have seen any ducks in Mauritania. 

northern pintail

 Northern pintail were  numerous.

four northern pintail

However careful looks among the ducks showed that two northern shoveller were there too.

Having looked at my set of photos of this group, I realised there was a Temminck's stint with them. These species has a stronger preferrence for fresher water than little stint and sightings of it in Nouakchott are few.

northern shoveller

This is classic habitat for spur-winged lapwing and several were dotted around the area.

spur-winged lapwing

However the site is best remembered for the sheer volume and variety of waders.

mixed waders

The picture above illustrates some of the variety. There are: ruff, sanderling, little stint, dunlin, common redshank, wood sandpiper and common sandpiper all in close proximity.

common redshank with little stint

I checked all the common redshank but couldn't find a spotted redshank among them. I was hoping for the latter species given the habitat is better than most in the city for it.

Kittlitz's plover

Among the less numerous birds were two Kittlitz's plover.

pied avocet

Two pied avocet and a Eurasian spoonbill also appeard briefly.

ruddy turnstone

Only one ruddy turnstone was seen but the terrain is not perfect for them.

white wagtail

Moving away from the main lake to the surroundings, many white wagtail were on the ground. They are arriving for the winter down here  in big numbers now.

reed beds

At the back of the lake are some thick reed beds. It is difficult to see what is in them and impossible to walk into them. However I found three common snipe and a common moorhen with perseverance. These were the first of either species I have encountered in Mauritania.

It is shame I am not allowed to visit this site again. I suspect more varied ducks in particular will arrive for the winter soon.

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