Wednesday 3 May 2017

Vagrant Franklin's gull and more

My birding friend Markus Craig came over with the Big Year WP team two weeks ago. He stayed an extra day after the team moved on. That was Sunday April 23rd.

He came out birding with me and local birder Mohamed Vall and brought us good luck.

One of the sites we visited was the lagoons south of the fishing port. It was here that Markus was first to spot a vagrant Franklin's gull among a gull population severely depleted from the numbers seen all winter.

Franklin's gull 1

The bird was relatively tame and gave us good views even a second time after being partially displaced by a passing fisherman.

Franklin's gull 2

It is only Muaritania's only third authenticated Franklin's gull though the second one was only almost exactly one year earlier. That one was found by Eric Didner.

Franklin's gull 3

In correspondence with Bram Piot it appears that five were around the Dakar area in Senegal from 2012-15. They may be more frequent on the West African coast than the data suggests.

Franklin's gull 4

Though gull numbers were down, tern numbers are still increasing. Royal tern, Caspian tern, Gull-billed tern as well as several black tern and a single white-winged tern were observed.

Sanderling 1

Following the week before's pectoral sandpiper at the waste water site, we were still sensitised to the possiblity of another vagrant wader. We didn't find one although a very territorial sanderling put on a behavioural display I hadn't seen before which looked unusual at least to me.

We tried to fit it to a Baird's sandpiper but failed. I have since found images of a sanderling almost exactly matching the aggressive posture and look of the picture above.

Sanderling 2

Earlier we had been to the waste water site where the pectoral sandpiper had been the week before. 

curlew sandpiper

No exotic waders were present this time. A curlew sandpiper was the least usual.

wood sandpiper (right)

A wood sandpiper in an erect posture for a prolonged period drew our attention until we realised what it was.

Barn swallow and blackcap were often resting on the naked bushes in the middle of the water just as on the previous visit. Though no new warblers or hirundines were seen this time round.

Other passage birds included redstart, pied flycatcher and my first spotted flycatcher of the season.

spotted flycatcher

Five fulvous babbler were the largest number I have yet observed at this site.

fulvous babbler

Both woodchat shrike and desert grey shrike were present.

desert grey shrike

The resident birds are restricted to doves, larks, desert grey shrike and quite possibly fulvous babbler if this newly enlarged number stay around.

namaqua dove

It was good to see Markus again and I know Mohamed Vall and I were very pleased to have a third member on our birding session.

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