Tuesday, 20 December 2016

All over the city

On Saturday, Mohamed Vall and I again teamed up. We birding at different places around the city. Some were new and some were already known.

First stop was the fresh lake in North Nouakchott near the Mauricentre. We looked hardest at ducks. The good news was that numbers were up considerably from the last visit two weeks ago.

marbled duck

The six marbled duck were still present.

male wigeon

Wigeon have increased from two to six. Some of the males are now close to breeding plumage.

northern shoveller

The most common duck all winter has been northern shoveller. I counted at least 20 there now.

male northern shoveller

Northern pintail is still the second most numerous duck.

male common teal

Teal has hit a new winter high of three.

female common teal

The bad news is that despite the rise in numbers of five species, no new species of duck have arrived.

spotted redshank

Elsewhere at the lake, two black-eared grebe are still there. Several chiffchaff (but no other) warblers were observed. One African swamphen was seen.

Finally there was a spotted redshank. This was only my second sighting in the country.

After the lake we headed east down the Aleg road but only 24 kilometres. This was to the main city rubbish dump. A stop on the way proved fruitless.

The dump itself is out of bounds though one can walk round the perimeter. I did this and was disappointed but not necessarily surprised there were no birds of prey. 

Sudanese golden sparrow

Mobile flocks of African silverbill and Sudanese golden sparrow could be seen in trees outside the dump. Namaqua dove and laughing dove were observed too.

Namaqua dove

Mohamed Vall went further away from the dump into the main wadi and found cricket longtail. Peering into the dump I could only see little swift and barn swallow flying over the rubbish. Two desert grey shrike were on bushes inside the complex.

We saw enough to know that the rubbish dump is probably not worth another visit this winter.

spotted flycatcher 1

With the whole afternoon left we headed north to the small waste water dump north of the city. This was not as productive as it had been probably because recently more industrial waste water than domestic had changed the environment there. A few hardy wood sandpiper and little stint as well as one common ringed plover were the only birds attracted to the water. The blackcap and other warblers were nowhere to be seen.

Nevertheless both a spotted flycatcher and common redstart were observed in the avenue of trees along the road to the dump. 

spotted flycatcher 2

The flycatcher was a big surprise. Why is one still here in mid December? Surely it should be in tropical Africa.

The final stop of the day was the fishing port which is actually a short journey from the waste water site.

The made-made lagoons have been altered so they retain water more completely and only a trickle goes into the sea at any one time. This meant the water levels there were up. However it has probably had little effect on the types of birds present. 

Here I saw my first "pallid heron" which is a sub-species of grey heron that breeds in Banc d'Arguin National Park to the north. 

 "pallid" grey heron 

Once again I inspected the assembled gulls for any rarities. Sadly none were seen. Lesser black-backed gull was by far the most common followed by black-headed gull and yellow legged gull. Slender-billed gull and Mediterranean gull were a small minority.

Mediterranean gull

i thought all our hard work had paid off, almost at the end of our birding day. Mohamed Vall noticed a long winged dark bird out to sea. Intially we thought it might be an arctic skua but closer views and review of photos showed it was another immature northern gannet.

record shot of a northern gannet

This was an good end to a long day in the field.

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