Monday 24 October 2016

The fishing port is still bringing new birds

I have been visiting the area near the fishing port of Nouakchott every Sunday for a month. Each time I go I fear that the birds will be the same. However, each time there has been some significant change.

There was change once again last Sunday when I visited with Dr Mohamed Vall.

The waders were mostly similar. There were still plenty of common ringed plover, sanderling, dunlin and red knot. However the gulls were somewhat different.

This may have been contributed to by the breezy conditions out to sea. Many gulls had come to shore to shelter.

Mediterranean gull among the lesser black backed gull

Much of the change was with the medium sized gulls. Gone were the Audouin's gull.

However, the number of medium sized gulls overall had increased. Nestled among some lesser black-backed gull we spied the first Mediterranean gull I have seen in Mauritania. It's all white tail and wing tips make it stand out easily.

a second Mediterranean gull

It was not alone. In the "estuary" area where the artifical lagoons empty out into the sea were plenty of medium sized gulls. Two Mediterranean gull were present there.

Mediterranean gull

Much of the time these gulls were lying down presumably to shelter from the wind. I took my chance for pictures when ever they rose.

Mediterranean gull 2

The largest number of these medium sized gulls were actually black-headed gull. I had only seen one in the country until then. Though it was entirely expected that numbers would increase as the northern winter came on.

black-headed gull 1

Some of the black-headed gull were less marked on the head than others. I had some doubt as to whether grey-hooded gull could be ruled out.

black-headed gull 2

Although the vast majority of grey-hooded gull breed further south from Senegal downwards, a few breed in Banc d'Arguin further north. So it should be entirely possible to locally see either birds from the north or the south on dispersal.

These birds, though, were definitely black-headed gull. The dark coloured eye is probably the easiest way to separate those grounded birds which have light head markings.

a second black-headed gull

Some of the birds with dark and heavy head markings were more obvious like the bird above.

slender-billed gull

The third species of medium sized gull at the estuary were slender-billed gull. I have been seeing this species and in some cases quite possibly the same birds at this place on every visit.

Caspian tern

The only tern around on land this time was Caspian tern though a royal tern was observed at sea.

western reef heron

Patience with birding is often the key. Towards the end of the session, a western reef heron briefly landed at the estuary and made my second country addition of the day.

On the way back to the car, several white wagtail and one black-eared wheatear added interest.

And finally just before we got into the car, a lone sand martin flew over, flying south fast. This made a third addition. 

This place keeps delivering.

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