Monday, 6 March 2017

Considerable change at the fish market

I visted the area just south of the fish market with Mohamed Vall once again on both late Friday afternoon and early Saturday morning. It was worth a second visit since there has been a noticeable change in the make-up of the bird population since my last visit. The static winter situation of the past two months has given way.

There are two main places to see south of the fish market. One is the rubbish dump where rotten fish are among the waste. It is seriously unpleasant but attracts plenty of birds. The other place is the artifical lagoons which you can look into or look out to sea. A third venue is the scrubland around these places but they weren't looked at over the latest two visits.

Kittlitz's plover

All four small plovers were foraging around: little ringed plover, Kentish plover, common ringed plover and Kittlitz's plover. The latter was a first sighting in Nouakchott since October. They appear to be short distance migrants as there are plenty of winter records in Senegal.


Sanderling and little stint were the other waders present. 

Both yellow wagtail and white wagtail were on site although the hoped-for red-throated pipit were not with them. This is still a target bird for me in Mauritania.

cattle eget on a pile of rotting fish

Cattle egret, northern wheatear and house sparrow were the other species seen at the dump.

northern wheatear

The scrubland between the rubbish dump and the lagoons needs proper inspection to find everything there. However on our two walks to the lagoons we weren't looking seriously. Neverthess northern wheatear, crested lark and white wagtail are difficult to miss.

The lagoons provided me with species 229 on my country list. A grey-hooded gull was briefly but clearly seen resting with other gulls. It was in full breeding plumage and easy to recognise.

Unfortunately a local person chose the wrong moment to become inquisitive about us and his movements scared all the birds away. Sadly the grey-hooded gull was not seen again. Indeed the main reason we came back on the Saturday morning was to try to obtain a photograph.

mixed sea birds

The seabirds are more varied at the moment. For example the terns: as well as several Caspian tern, one each of lesser crested tern, sandwich tern and white-winged tern were seen. The sandwich tern is mostly obscured between a Caspian tern and an Audouin's gull in the bottom left of the picture above.

The white-winged tern is shown in the picture below.

white-winged tern

Many of the black-headed gull are now nearing their summer plumage.

black-headed gull

By comparison none of the Mediterranean gull comes close.

Mediterranean gull 1

Though I can't rule out the idea that we are being left with the Mediterranean gull which are slowest to moult and that others are moulting further north on passage or on arrival.

Mediterranean gull 2

Some Audouin's gull are still down here too.

Audouin's gull (left)

Notable among the waders were red knot which is only occasionally seen at the lagoons.

red knot

I counted three western reef heron which was the highest number since my arrival in Mauritania.

western reef heron

I am sure that Mohamed Vall and I will visit the lagoons again soon as the birds of the place are once again in flux.

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