Tuesday 4 October 2016

More new birds at fish market

I investigated the area on the coast just south of the fishing port again on Sunday. it was an obvious choice if I was to go birding at all. With temperatures reaching 37C, a coastal spot with sea breezes was probably the only tolerable place for the afternoon.

There are three small artificial lagoons fed by pipeline and which end up in the sea. I have no real idea where the water in the pipeline. I investigated more widely than on my last visit and discovered the water goes from the third lagoon into the sea creating a sort of artificial estuary. Though the incoming water is more saline than that from a "real" stream".

The lagoons were busy with birds.

black tern

The number of black tern was heavily reduced from my last visit but otherwise bird numbers were at least equal.

mixed waders

The three most common waders are captured in the above photo: sanderling, ringed plover and dunlin. Little stint and curlew sandpiper were also present.

little stint (left) with red knot( right)

Over a quarter of a million, red knot are estimated to winter along the Mauritanian coast so I was bound to see one sooner rather than later.

red knot

This one was very confiding. When I approached, I accidentally managed to scare off all the other near-by waders but this one was undisturbed.

close-up of red knot

Whereas sanderling are stout all round (see below), red knot just looks pot bellied.


At the "estuary" were plenty of sanderling but also a few large white headed gulls.

lesser black backed gull

Most of them were lesser black-backed gull but one had a lighter mantle.

yellow legged gull

It was a fourth calendar year yellow legged gull. This was the second addition to my Mauritanian list during the session.

I left the artifical lagoons to go inland to a flooded area where I had seen several gulls and terns on my last visit.

There were even more this time.

royal(l), lesser crested (m) and sandwich(r) terns

The majority of terns were sandwich tern with a few royal tern dotted among them. However there was also a single lesser crested tern. It is slightly smaller and plaer than a royal tern with a shorter and less orange bill.

royal tern(l) and lesser crested tern (r)

There were even more Audouin's gull than last time and this time there were immature birds present too. The one in the picture above is a first calendar year.

adult Audouin's gull

Below are theee Audouin's gull. The one at the back is another first calendar year bird. Whereas the two in the front are second calendar years birds. Thanks are due to Simon Watts for aging these birds.

three immature Audouin's gull

On my return to my pick up point I went back via the lagoons. This proved a good decision as two more late additions to my country list were made.

A black-tailed godwit briefly landed in the estuary.

black-tailed godwit

Four slender-billed gull were also observed there.

slender-billed gull

Many immature slender-billed gull over summer far south of their breeding grounds and by the condition of these birds I would say they had over-summered from last winter.

ruddy turnstone and little stint

A fish head down the beach had attracted a ruddy turnstone which had made a very large hole in it. A little stint kept trying to get in on the act but was wary of the ruddy turnstone.

white wagtail

At the edge of the fish market and at the end of my trip is a rubbish dump. Here were a few white wagtail and a northern wheatear. They have made a distastful choice of wintering location.

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