Sunday, 13 November 2016

North Nouakchott Lake delivers again

My weekend starts at Friday lunchtime. This time I was motivated enough to go birding as soon as lunch was over. The motivation was helped by the closeness of North Nouakchott Lake. Since I discovered it, I have birded as much as I can there. Public sites are at a premium in the city and this is a good one too.

Despite having been only 24 hours since my previous visit, there was once again another addition to my country list.

I have blogged that I was on the look out for new species of duck to arrive for the winter. Right on cue, two Eurasian wigeon were seen.

one wigeon

There are very few records of this species so far south but a few are known to winter regularly on the Senegal River delta.

two wigeon

To be honest, I thought mallard and teal were more likely but my cahnce to see them at the lake may still come this winter.

pintail and shoveller

The majority of ducks are still northern pintail and northern shoveller. One thing I have noticed is how often the shoveller are asleep in the day. I have yet to see a bird of prey at the lake so it isn't proving hazardous for them.

many coot

I studeid the coot more closely this time. They clearly breed here. I have seen all age groups of young birds so I suspect the breeding is not restricted to a narrow period.

The adult bird below is one of a pair looking after three extremely young chicks (two shown)

Eurasian coot with chicks

The chicks can't be more than a few days old.

Two Eurasian coot chicks

Below is a juvenile with an adult.

Eurasian coot

I believe I have found the southern most breeding site of Eurasian coot in Africa. 

Two African swamphen at the lake

I also took a closer look at the swamphen. Two birders had approached me separately to say they didn't look like African swamphen partly because they could see no green on the backs. Western swamphen was suggested by one observer.

However I took better pictures of the backs of the birds and there is some green. I agreed with the e-bird moderator for Muaritania to leave the record as African swamphen.

However I actually believe this population has genes of both Western Swamphen (north of the Sahara) and African swamphen from sub-Saharan Africa.

I am very against some of the recent splits and I think Purple swamphen is a classic case of a bird that should never have been split.

I spent some time looking for crakes. Although I haven't found any marshy margins I believe crakes could be all right walking on the floating vegetation in one corner of the lake.

little stint

Certainly it can hold the weight not only of little stint but bigger birds such as common snipe.

common snipe

Eurasian reed warbler

Elsewhere at the lake, a Eurasian reed warbler stayed still long enough for me to photograph it.

wood sandpiper

Another relaxed bird was a wood sandpiper caught lying down on a wall.

little egret

Given all the identification problems with swamphens, I had more difficulty with this little egret. The bill looks a little robust and certainly too curved for an average little egret. Both are possible at an inland lake only three kilometres from the sea. However bill and leg colour favour it. 

speckled pigeon

On a house next to the lake, I noticed the largest number of speckled pigeon I have seen. There were seven counting the one facing the wrong way.

speckled pigeon

Blue-cheeked bee-eater can be found throughout the city but more so over water. There are plenty at the lake.

blue-cheeked bee-eater

On Saturday, I went out of the city in a northerly direction with Mohamed Vall. We found a new "hotspot" and good birds elsewhere too. I will blog about that next.

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