Thursday 27 April 2017

Westside walk

Last Friday afternoon, I walked all the way from my home in Tavragh Zeina in central Nouakchott to the fishing port.

Fortified by the previous weekend's finding of a pectoral sandpiper, I took a route which guarenteed me views of the maximum number of waders.

First I passed by the central lake. This man-made and surrounds the future Senegalese embassy. Discretion is needed here as the authorities are very sensitive to cameras in this area.

waders at the central lake

This is the only water body in the city where black-winged stilt breed and can be guarenteed to be seen all year round.It is also favoured by ducks in winter even more so than North Nouakchott lake.

However on this visit, no special birds were seen. Black-winged stilt were plentiful and the typical winter birds of sanderling, little stint and common ringed plover were added to by a few dunlin and curlew sandpiper on passage. I gave the waders some considerable scrutiny but rarities were not found each time.

Next, I moved on to west Nouakchott pools. These are saline whereas the Central Lake is only slightly brackish.

There seems to be an attempt to pump much of the water out of the pools at the moment though how successful this will be when there is some summer rain is in doubt.

ruddy turnstone

Nevertheless this had the effect of reducing waders numbers. Birds not seen at the central lake but were at the pools included ruddy turnstone and a single ruff.

ruff (right)

Common greenshank appears to be loyal to this site even though water levels are down.

greenshank (left) with curlew sandpiper (right)

Kentish plover were well in evidence. One chick confirmed that this is a breeding site for this species.

Kentish plover

There are always a small number of spur-winged lapwing present including one which is very tame. Every time I visit it allows me very close.

spur-winged lapwing

The walk from central Nouakchott to the fishing port is over 4 kilometres. The central lake and west Nouakchott pools are conveniently about one third and two thirds along the journey, so the walk rarely feels onerous except in the mid-afternoon heat.

The area south of the fish port had much less gull activity than in the winter. The large majority of wintering gulls have gone.

mostly sanderling and black tern

It is always hit or miss whether there is anything really interesting at the lagoons south of the fish market.

This time the main interest was the very large number of sanderling present and about twenty black tern on passage.

common tern

It is always worth looking hard at the mix of terns. Both Caspian tern and common tern were also seen in low numbers.

black tern in various plumages

From my observations around the country and over three seasons now, it appears that black tern migrate along the coast whereas the other two marsh terns: whiskered tern and white-winged black tern migrate mostly inland.

For example at inland Lac Aleg three weeks previously there were only whiskered tern and white-winged black tern. Whereas south of the fish market (on the coast) last Friday there was only one white-winged black tern but many black tern. This appears to be a typical pattern.

This birding last Friday, while enjoyable, threw up nothing special. In stark contrast the birding over Saturday and Sunday was very interesting indeed. I will blog about these next.

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