Thursday 20 April 2017

Heavy passage at the waste water site

It had been two weeks since our last visit to the waste water site north of the city. Even then there was noticable passage. Both European bee-eater and European roller were added to my country list.

Last Sunday there was heavy passage. 

female pied flycatcher

I had expected to see pied flycatcher given the large numbers that passed through Nouakchott last autumn. I was right.

male pied flycatcher

Once again there were woodchat shrike present. There have been waves of this species passing though for six weeks now. Very many winter in southern Mauritania and they will be included in those passing through.

woodchat shrike

More common redstart were also observed but whinchat were the first seen in the Noaukchott area this season.


However it was the warbler passage which was the most significant. No few than seven types were observed. The numbers present were probably much higher than observed as we didn't go into the densest areas of trees.

Melodious warbler was probably the least common.

We spent considerable time next to the main body of dumped water. Only three warblers were easily seen there.

willow warbler

Willow warbler were in the very short scrub and on surrounding ground.


Blackcap kept making forays out of a near-by large tree onto exposed dead bushes in the middle of the water. This gave excellent and prolonged views. However I was a little disappointed there were no garden warbler with them. This species has still evaded me in Mauritania.

sedge warbler

There was a third warbler observed over the water. It was sedge warbler.  It appeared to have some sort of damage or moult to its tail but otherwise seemed quite healthy.

rear view of sedge warbler 1

Views were extremely good for a species which is often hidden in reeds. It's relative, Aquatic warbler, should also be possible at this site on passage.

rear view of sedge warbler 2

Many barn swallow were hawking over the water and at least each of red-rumped swallow and house martin were present.

barn swallow

On the last visit two weeks before a lone European bee-eater was seen. This time there was a lone blue-cheeked bee-eater. This was the first time I or my birding partner, Mohamed Vall, had seen one in Mauritania since December 10th.

blue-cheeked bee-eater

It is easy to find the cleanest parts of the water body which is very contaminated overall. You just need to follow the waders.


Little stint was the most numerous and ruff was arguably the most interesting.

red-billed quelea

Along with the house sparrow and Sudanese golden sparrow, some red-billed quelea ventured out on to the exposed dead bushes. This was arguably the most interesting observation of the day. This is the furthest north I have ever seen them. 

The other most interesting observation were Eurasian golden oriole which were sighted during our walk back to Mohamed Vall's car. This was an addition to my country list. Unfortunately though we caught up with them three times, they evaded the camera each time.

Namaqua dove

The site is very active at the moment. Come the summer the few resident birds such as Namaqua dove, larks and sparrows will probably have it to themselves.

Species seen at the waste water site
Common Ringed Plover  3
Little Ringed Plover  1
Ruff  2
Little Stint  16
Common Sandpiper  3
Common Greenshank  1
Wood Sandpiper  3
Cream-coloured Courser  2    
Speckled Pigeon  11
Laughing Dove  12
Namaqua Dove  16
Common Swift  4
Eurasian Hoopoe  2
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater  1
Woodchat Shrike  5
Eurasian Golden Oriole  4    
Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark  8
Crested Lark  5
Barn Swallow  26    
Red-rumped Swallow  1
Common House Martin  1
Willow Warbler  12    
Common Chiffchaff  1
Western Bonelli's Warbler  2    
Western Olivaceous Warbler  1
Melodious Warbler  2   
Sedge Warbler  1
Eurasian Blackcap  7
European Pied Flycatcher  8
Common Redstart  2
Whinchat  4
Northern Wheatear  2
Western Yellow Wagtail  7
Tawny Pipit  1
Tree Pipit  2
House Sparrow  8
Sudan Golden Sparrow  14
Red-billed Quelea  6


  1. Hi Rob,

    The picture labeled as Ruff actually shows a perfect Pectoral Sandpiper!! Sent you an email with more details.



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  3. Bram, you are right! Sloppy birding on my part. Mauritania ought to be a goldmine for American vagrants given how far it sticks out into the Atlantic Ocean. Rob

  4. Absolutely -just like Senegal! Last Monday we had no less than three American Golden Plovers here in Dakar, and several Buff-breasted Sandpipers late last year and early January. More details and photos on