Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Marsh sandpiper at the lake

On Sunday I returned to North Noakchott Lake for the first time in three weeks and after my break away in the UK and Spain.

My camera is still out of action so I was lucky that Mohamed Vall was able to join me and he again took photos. I am truly grateful for the use of all these on this blog.

marsh sandpiper (second left)

The excellent news is that I managed to add another species to my Mauritanian list making 228. This bird was marsh sandpiper. You can make it out the picture as the bird with the white underparts, white forehead and grey crown. You can also probably make out the needle-thin bill too.

Marsh sandpiper breeds in a narrow band of Eastern European Russia and Siberia with a very few pairs breeding in Finland. In some ways it is surprising any of them winter in West Africa being so far west. Indeed they are uncommon and was always going to be the most difficult of the main sandpipers for me to see. Apparently those marsh sandpiper which do end up in west Africa stop off in the Nile Vally in Sudan en route.

two Eurasian spoonbill with cattle egret

There were other changes at the lake since my last visit. All the Mediterranean gull are missing making black-headed gull the only gull except a couple of lesser black-backed gull. No duck has been seen for over a month.

Most of the winter there has been one Eurasian spoonbill present. At the moment there are two. 

cattle egret

This time the spoonbills were associating with the cattle egret though they are less timid. When humans approached the spoonbills would stay behind as the cattle egret flew.

spur-winged lapwing

The spur-winged lapwing are very territorial at the moment. Indeed they didn't tolerate us well. 

Caspian tern

As far as I remember I have not sighted any tern at the lake before. I don't really understand why it isn't attractive to marsh terns. Anyway this time was different. A Caspian tern came to drink. However it was relentlessly harrassed by the same spur-winged lapwing that found it difficlut to tolerate us.

bleck-necked grebe

Elsewhere, the black-necked grebe which has been around all winter was still present.

African swamphen

In the area with the most reeds, the African swamphen are hanging on despite all the earth movement and apparent plans by the authorities to fill in this part (or all?) of the lake. I see it as an environmental gem. It looks like they see it as waterlogged part of the city.

I got so animated a few weeks ago I wrote to Wetlands International about the place to see what they could go. I am not sure they are the right people to ask but I never got a reply any way. It's all a little sad.

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