Tuesday 7 February 2017

Salty lake on the northern edge

I am getting behind with blogs but I aim to deal with that over the next three days. This one is from ten days ago (two Saturdays ago) when I visited North Nouakchott Lake only to leave it soon afterwards. Most unusually I was pestered by young teenagers. I suspect it was my binoculars that held the greatest interest. 

The noise and disturbance was too much to continue.

black-necked grebe 1

There had been just enough time to scan the site. I had picked up that one of the wintering black-necked grebe was still present. It has been there all winter and was joined temporarily by a second.

black-necked grebe 2

I had to improvise and chose to walk north west out of the city where there is a smaller and saltier lake. Generally the water table is saltier the further west and closer to the coast you go.

little stint

The birding was not as interesting as at the fresh water North Nouakchott Lake. Indeed in some ways it was what was missing rather than present which gave the best (non) observations. More about that later.

Little stint doesn't have a major preference for salty or fresh water. It is present at both sites.
common redshank

By comparison common redshank has a strong preference for salty water. I have never seen it at North Nouakchott Lake (unlike spotted redshank).


Greenshank has been seen at both.

black-winged stilt

My first sighting of black-winged stilt in 2017 was at the salty lake.

mixed ringed plover and Kentish plover

Among the small plovers, I had both common ringed plover and Kentish plover. However here was one of my missing species alluded to earlier in the blog. This lake had provided sightings of Kittlitz's plover until early October. I have not seen one since and this place is a good spot for them.

As far as I know they are not are not typically a majorly migratory species. However Nouakchott is at the northern edge of their breeding range and these birds appear to migrate. 

first Kentish plover

Many of the Kentish plover are heading towards breeding plumage.

second Kentish plover

The second missing species was blue-cheeked bee-eater. This has been a good spot for this species hawking over the watery expanse. However I have not seen one anywhere in the city since December 10th. Nor did Mohamed Vall and I see any further south at Rosso over the New Year. Contrary to some distribution maps, it does not seem to be resident in south west Mauritania after all. I would wager it will be back soon though.

salty waters on the city edge

Other birds at the site included a few cattle egret foraging most on fly tipped waste. I have never understood why people in Middle East North Africa (MENA) think dumping waste next to precious water bodies is a good idea.

cattle egret

Sanderling is common near Nouakchott in winter. A few were wading around the salty lake.

sanderling and little stint

A final look at the Kentish plover and I left. It wasn't that successful a session but at least I was adding to science with my observations which all go on e-bird.

Kentish plover

I swung back via North Nouakchott Lake where the youths had now gone.

common teal

The stay was not long. Some ducks had arrived. All were northern pintail except one common teal.

Unfortunately a truck load of hard core had arrived too. The delivery looks official. I fear the authorities want to fill part of the lake in and its the part with the reed beds. Birding in MENA often brings pain.

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