Wednesday, 30 November 2016


Last weekend was a long one as Mauritania celebrated its independence day on Monday. This was an opportunity to take a birding trip away from Nouakchott.

I travelled with Dr. Mohamed Vall to the north western coastal city of Nouadhibou. We travelled by bus and walked some potential birding sites around the city.

The trip got off to a good start when the bus made a ten minute stop at the midway town of Chemi. I spotted an usual sparrow some distance away and headed towards it. I was very happy to find a small number of desert sparrow.

desert sparrow at Chemi

This was a lifer and an addition to my country list before we had really started birding. 

The only other birds seen in the town were house sparrow and brown-necked raven.

Our bus journey had taken up much of Saturday though we had some time left in the day. We birded the suburb of Cansado just outside the main city of Nouadhibou until it got dark. It was a dull and cloudy late afternoon so we came back again around midday on Sunday too. This blog reports on findings from both days there.

black kite

Much of the birding at Cansado centred around the rubbish dump not least because we spotted three black kite as we pulled up in the small town. They were at the dump.

a second black kite

These birds were not yellow-billed kite which is the resident sub-species in the south of the country. Instead they were nominate birds which are migrants from further north in the Maghreb and Spain.

Egyptian vulture courtesy of Mohamed Vall

During our Sunday visit they were joined briefly by a sub-adult Egyptian vulture. This was my first sighting of this species in Mauritania. Thanks are due to Mohamed Vall who obtained photos and has given me permission to reproduce noe here.

grey heron

Other larger birds in the area were a flock of cattle egret and a single grey heron. Three little egret were seen at the near-by coast too.

cattle egret

Dotted around the town were several European collared dove and a smaller number of laughing dove.

European collared dove

Clusters of trees and bushes are very scarse in the town. However one such cluster held three European turtle dove.

European turtle dove

In the same cluster, a male sardinian warbler made a brief appearance. It was the only warbler we saw all trip.


Nearly all the other birds on land were passerines. A single hoopoe was an exception.

male northern wheatear

White wagtail were everywhere. Northern wheatear was also common especailly near the rubbish dump but not only so.

Nouadhibou is the southern most place in the range of black wheatear but it overlaps there with white-crowned wheatear.

juvenile white crowned wheatear

We found a bird on Sunday but it turned out to be a juvenile white-crowned wheatear. The black on the under-belly does not extend beyond the legs. The tail pattern does not include a black hortizontal line at the bottom. These features rule out black wheatear.

white-crowned wheatear

Black-wheatear would not be expected at sea level anyway.

very young house sparrow

Spanish sparrow is probably a rare visitor to Mauritania and all house sparrow were studied carefully but with no success.

Cansado town was one of three areas birded around Nouadhibou. There will be a blog for each one. These will follow next.

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