Monday 10 October 2016


Mederdra is newly opened up for traffic. The road from Tiguent to there is brand new and in good condition. It is ironic that it is in much better condition than the N2 Nouakchott to Rosso road which it meets at Tiguent. 

With the road, Mederdra is also opened up for birding too. Dr Mohamed Vall had already done some preliminary birding there and recommended it to me for Saturday. He kindly drove me there on a long day trip.

The area is classic Sahel and is much greener with many more trees than the terrain around Nouakchott.

No sooner had we parked the car than we spotted a striped kingfisher on a near-by tree.

striped kingfisher

This was my first lifer of the day.

spotted flycatcher

The first migrant seen was a spotted flycatcher. It was one of several observed on Saturday.

Three types of migrant warbler were later seen too. These were willow warbler, western orphean warbler and western sub-alpine warbler. The latter two may well winter there.

black bush-robin

Both black bush-robin and rufous bush-robin were present. The former can tolerate trees while the latter was only seen in the areas with low bush.

chestnut-bellied starling

Both chestnut-bellied starling and greater blue-eared starling were quite numerous especially near human habitation.

Abyssinian roller

It was good to see Abyssinian roller again. This bird was common around Jizan in Saudi Arabia which I visited a few times.

grey woodpecker

The area is sufficiently well wooded to support woodpeckers. The one we saw here was African grey woodpecker.

striped kingfisher 1

We came across three striped kingfisher in total and each one was very confiding.

striped kingfisher 2

We spent considerable time admiring these birds.

juvenile woodchat shrike

Peppered around the woodland were a few woodchat shrike. These birds are almost certainly wintering here.

Vitelline masked weaver nests

As we walked around the woodland we kept meeting mobile small groups of Sudanese golden sparrow and lesser numbers of Vitelline masked weaver. They were often mixed species and included plenty of adults in breeding plumage.

adult male Vitelline masked weaver

We broke for a late lunch at the hottest time of day before returning briefly into birding action. We moved one kilometre way to a local farm where we obtained entry permission. We didn't have much time and elected to stay in the small orchard where bushes and small trees were being watered.

This attracted large numbers of sparrows. weavers and finches as well as the two starling species.

male Sudanese golden sparrow

In one group at water, there appeared to be at least one northern grey-headed sparrow among the Sudanese golden sparrow (see towards the right in the picture below).

Mostly Sudanese golden sparrow

At times there was a mix of Sudanese golden sparrow, Vitelline masked weaver and African silverbill drinking togather. Here was an opportunity for me to compare the weavers directly with the sparrows. The bird standing upright in the water (see below) is clearly a weaver and the bird to its immediate right is too. However one can note how superficially similar it is to the Sudanese golden sparrow on the far left.

mixed birds drinking

All the flocks of sparrows seen at Amzela had yellow-orange bills whereas it appears breeding female sparrows and weavers have pink bills (as in the photo). I think this further supports my view that the flock at Amzela are roaming juveniles. I am still learning and I hope to fully understand these birds better as time goes on.

northern grey-headed sparrow

Towards the end, it was confirmed that northern grey-headed sparrow was definitely present.

cut-throat finch

Two cut-throat finch were also observed. This was the nineth and last addition to my Mauritania list on the day.

tree pipit

With all the frantic drinking activity at the pools, a lone tree pipit was nearly overlooked.

My thanks go once again for Dr Mohamed Vall for driving us such a long way and for his company while birding. I know we both enjoyed this trip immensely.

Species seen at Mederdra    M= new to my Mauritanian list, L= lifer

Speckled Pigeon  
Laughing Dove  
Namaqua Dove  
Eurasian Hoopoe  
Striped Kingfisher  M.L
White-throated Bee-eater  
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater  
Abyssinian Roller  M
Vieillot's Barbet  
Fine-spotted Woodpecker  M,L
Woodchat Shrike  
Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark  
Willow Warbler  
Western Orphean Warbler  M,L
Subalpine Warbler  
Spotted Flycatcher  
Black Scrub-Robin  M
Rufous-tailed Scrub-Robin  M
Chestnut-bellied Starling  M
Greater Blue-eared Starling  
Beautiful Sunbird  
Western Yellow Wagtail  
Tree Pipit  
Northern Grey-headed Sparrow  M
Sudan Golden Sparrow  
Vitelline Masked-Weaver  
Cut-throat  M
African Silverbill