Saturday 27 May 2017

A cool afternoon at the lake

The weekend before this one was very cool for late May. I normally don't bird on Friday afternoons except during mid-winter but the cool weather was too good an opportunity to pass.

So I walked out to North Nouakchott Lake where I birded in comfort for over two hours.

The birding was good. It started well with the sighting of a very late northern pintail. It has been a month since I last saw a duck at the lake.

northern pintail

I look very hard at all gulls and terns these days and have had some success with rarities. In the summer months there are less around but spotting an odd one is that much easier.

black-headed gull

However, all the gulls I identified at the lake were black-headed gull. Most looked in under average condition.

spur-winged lapwing

I spent two hours making just one circle round the lake. The weather was a rare opportunity to bird intensively. I caught the attention of the resident spur-winged lapwing on a number of occasions. They are territorial at the moment though I saw no nests.

Sudanese golden sparrow

Sudanese golden sparrow are not always present but when they are they often mix with house sparrow and other finches or weavers. It is the possibility of small numbers of these finches and weavers that makes me look at these groups intently. Last time there were a few yellow-crowned bishop which was a real surprise so far north.

barn swallow

I have little doubt that hirundine migration is late this year. It reached its maximum though Nouakchott last weekend. At the lake there were ten or so barn swallow but twice that number of sand martin.

sand martin

In the reeds I spotted a European reed warbler and in near-by bushes, two melodious warbler.

European reed warbler

There is a large dump of rubbish near one bank of reeds. I suspect the flies in the rubbish and the cover afforded by the close-by reeds is a good combination for certain types of warbler as this spot has given me several good warblers this season.

black-headed gull

As I moved round the lake I came upon one black-headed gull which is attaining some degree of summer plumage unlike the others. However its tail feathers were still not in good condition. No fully fit black-headed gull appear to stay in Nouakchott over the summer.

red-billed quelea

My care with observing the sparrow flocks paid dividends again. This time the minorty member was a red-billed quelea.

African swamphen

I wasn't particularly looking to photograph the resident African swamphen as I have done so many times in the past but when one walks out in front of me I thought I might as well do it.

We rarely get birds of prey at the lake so a marsh harrier was a big surprise. It's entrance was announced by some very loud spur-winged lapwing. They then proceeded to mob it.

arrival of marsh harrier

It was not only the first I had seen one at the lake but also the first time anywhere near the city.

marsh harrier

It didn't stay long. I presume it was migrating.

squacco heron

With my session near finished, I spotted a squacco heron. I have seen one on and off for several omnths though I have no idea whether it is the same bird. Only once have I seen two there.

Melodious warbler

On one of the last bushes on the edge of the lake I finally managed to photograph a melodious warbler at the site. It was good end to a good session.

The next day, Saturday May 20th was also a very cool day for the time of year. I took the opportunity to walk all the way out to the coast. This time, unlike the weekend before, there were many birds and the mix was different from that which I have encountered before.

List of species seen at North Nouakchott Lake on 19th May
Northern Pintail  
Little Grebe  
Cattle Egret 
Squacco Heron  
Western Marsh Harrier 
African Swamphen  
Common Moorhen  
Eurasian Coot  
Spur-winged Lapwing  
Black-headed Gull  
Speckled Pigeon  
Laughing Dove  
Little Swift  
Blue-naped Mousebird  
Woodchat Shrike  
Crested Lark  
Sand Martin  
Barn Swallow  
Red-rumped Swallow  
Common House Martin  
Melodious Warbler  
Eurasian Reed Warbler  
Spotted Flycatcher  
Western Yellow Wagtail  
House Sparrow  
Sudan Golden Sparrow  
Red-billed Quelea