Monday 3 April 2017

European roller and bee-eater at waste water site

Saturday was insanely hot for the first day of April. Afternoon temperatures offically reached 44°C in the shade.

Birding was tough especially as there was a sandy wind blowing off the Sahara affecting visibility as well as temperatures.

Nevertheless Mohamed Vall and I went out in the morning. We chose the waste water site just north of the city. This is a place we stopped going to about 3 months ago as the water was so contaminated there were few birds around.

The water was still contaminated but relatively less so. The area of water had increased three fold too. There were plenty of dragonflies and flies to greet us when we parked up and I took that as a good omen.

Indeed the birding was excellent even if the weather wasn't.

The best news of all was the sighting of two additions to my country list. One was a European roller.

European roller 1

Like most birds there it allowed closer approach than usual since the weather was so hot.

European roller

Only a few minutes earlier a lone European bee-eater had been sighted.

European bee-eater

It was resting on top of a Sodom's apple in the middle of the largest pool. On seeing the dragonflies on arrival, I had hoped that this species would be present.

largest pool

While much of the pool is oiled, some sections are in better condition. These are easily found because that is where the waders congregate. Most were wood sandpiper and little stint.

wood sandpiper and little stint

Plenty of barn swallow were hawking over the water and at least one of the hirundines was a red-rumped swallow too. 

barn swallow resting

There was much more passage than just the swallows, roller and bee-eater.

woodchat shrike

Woodchat shrike was the most conspicous. We counted at least ten.

Namaqua dove drinking

We had to move away from the main pool to see mamy of the smaller passage birds. All the lesser pools looked oiled and yet a couple in one area were much less so. The birds seem to know. Namaqua dove and laughing dove would only drink from these.

It was at these two pools that we saw all the warblers. There had clearly been a windfall of mixed warblers and they had gravitated to the cover near these pools.

female blackcap (courtesy of Mohamed Vall)

A female blackcap was easily picked out as many of the bushes are leafless.

western olivaceous warbler (courtesy of Mohamed Vall)

At least three western olivaceous warbler, two western orphean warbler, a sardinian warbler, two chiffchaff and a willow warbler were in the group. This was also the place we saw the most redstart including a very smart male.

Making this spot even busier were regular visits from both house sparrow and Sudanese golden sparrow.

lone Fulvous babbler (courtesy of Mohamed Vall)

Elsewhere in the drier areas, a lone Arabian babbler was observed. This is the first time we had seen one within the official Nouakchott limits.

tawny pipit

Tawny pipit were seen in a dry area with yellow wagtail and white wagtail nearer water. Yet my targetted red-throated pipit was nowhere to be seen.

northern wheatear 1

There were also a few northern wheatear on site. One male allowed us very close. It really didn't want to vacate the shade and cool of a bush.

northern wheatear 2

We left the site at around 11.15 a.m. for a late breakfast. It had been very good but gruelling birding.

We elected to go on to south of fishing port at around midday. It was extremely hot but we inspected the rubbish dump there as always. We counted 16 yellow wagtail and 2 white wagtail. They were alternating between foraging for food and returning to the undersides of moored boats which provided shade. Once again red-throated pipit was looked for. We came closest with a single tawny pipit.

After this, we headed to the lagoons and the beach. The number of lesser black-backed gull was way down on previous weeks. I wondered whether the heat had triggered their northward migration.

Looking out to sea the best birds were storm petrels which I hadn't seen before. The sea was unusally choppy. However the birds were so far out that I didn't have a change to identify them. A cormorant also flew by. Otherwise it was all gulls and terns. Caspian tern, sandwich tern and common tern were  the bulk of the birds.

three first winter common tern

We carried out our standard look at all the resting seabirds in the lagoons. Slender-billed gull and black-headed gull were the new majority of gulls. Terns were either Caspian tern or common tern.

adult common tern

The waders included one red knot. We found where the cattle egret which normally frequent the rubbish dump had gone. They were all motionless in the lagoon, standing in water and trying to stay cool.

cattle egret at the lagoon

By 1.30 pm we decided we needed to cool off too. The birding day was finished though it had been a very successful one.

Species seen at the waste water site on 1st April
Black Kite  
Common Ringed Plover  
Little Stint  
Common Sandpiper  
Green Sandpiper  
Wood Sandpiper  
Laughing Dove  
Namaqua Dove  
Eurasian Hoopoe  
European Bee-eater  
European Roller  
Common Kestrel  
Woodchat Shrike  
Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark 
Greater Short-toed Lark  
Crested Lark  
Barn Swallow      
Red-rumped Swallow  
Willow Warbler  
Common Chiffchaff  
Western Olivaceous Warbler     
Eurasian Blackcap  
Western Orphean Warbler  
Sardinian Warbler  
Fulvous Chatterer  
Western Yellow Wagtail  
White Wagtail 
Tawny Pipit 
House Sparrow  
Sudan Golden Sparrow 

1 comment:

  1. Interesting to hear about the storm petrels. What are the possibilities there?