Saturday 3 June 2017

Still passage in early June

I visited the waste water site north of the city today. I started out early morning to avoid the heat. I finished at noon when it was just becoming difficult.

The good news is that there was still some passage.

Spotted flycatcher is a late migrant generally so it was no surprise to see at least four of them present.

spotted flycatcher

There were, however, late migrants of species which I would have expected all to have gone by now.

woodchat shrike

A rather dishevelled woodchat shrike was one of them.

yellow wagtail

Another was a single yellow wagtail.

common ringed plover

A single common ringed plover and a single little stint stood out among the dozen or so kentish plover near the main water.

kentish plover

I suspect kentish plover breed here. Though I haven't seen any young birds I have seen distraction behaviour from the adults when they pretend to be injured to move predators away from their young.

There are still migrant warblers coming through. I worked hard to find them. In the shade of the main avenue of trees I picked out a western Bonelli's warbler and two common whitethroat. There was also a late chiffchaff moving from one low bush in a marshy area to another.

A few barn swallow were the other migrants on site.

spur-winged lapwing

One bird that may be attempting to colonise the area is spur-winged lapwing. They never used to be any here. Now each time I come I see one or two. They seem to need permanent water sites but this one is fairly new.

Sudanese golden sparrow with red-billed quelea

As always in the Noaukchott area I studied the sparrow flocks and once again the local flock of Sudanese golden sparrow was carrying a lone red-billed quelea.

The other main birds at the site were larks and doves. Large numbers of crested lark were there from the start. I didn't see a single black-crowned sparrow-lark before ten in the morning. Then they were around continuously as they came back and forth to drink.

This place is very attactive to Namaqua dove, laughing dove and speckled pigeon. This time there were three feral pigeon as well.

speckled pigeon

While seeing twenty or more laughing dove or Namaqua dove is not exceptional, seeing twenty speckled pigeon is.

more speckled pigeon

Everytime recently here, I have seen these types of numbers of speckled pigeon.

Namaqua dove

I don't know what the birding in Nouakchott for the rest of June will be like. Surely all the palearctic migrants are through. It could be very dull before I leave for the summer. Just maybe, some of the rainy season birds will arrive early. I will know soon enough.

Friday 2 June 2017

Little bittern at North Nouakchott Lake

It was one of those cooler days in Noaukchott today so I went out straight from work to North Nouakchott Lake.

I am really glad I did. It is often difficult to raise oneself on Friday afternoon after a full week's work.

The reason I am so glad is because I saw my first little bittern in Mauritania at the lake.

I flushed it from the open as I walked round but tracked it in flight and worked very hard to refind it. I wasn't going to let this one go.

little bittern 1

Luckily it had dropped down at the front of one of the reed beds. Sometimes little bittern fly into the beds and are lost.

little bittern 2

It was not immediately recognisable to me. It has a browner face and neck than the nominate species I am used to.

little bittern 3

I deduce from this that this is not a migrant but a dispersed bird of the African sub-species payesii.

 little bittern showing a chestnut-brown neck

I got very good views of the bird and it allowed me close. You can clearly see from the above photograph that it has the chestnut-brown neck characteristic of payesii.

The distribution maps show it normally only disperses as far north as the Senegal River Delta so this is well out of its known range. North Nouakchott Lake is developing a track record for finding birds doing this. The closest similar result was a dwarf bittern seen there in January.

northern pintail

Another odd bird for the location was a northern pintail. This is almost certainly the same bird as was observed two weeks ago. My guess is it will now try to over-summer.

mostly Eurasian coot

The uniqueness of this lake should not be understated. It is the only place in sub-Saharan Africa where Eurasian coot breed.

mostly little grebe

The lake has a high density at the moment of young coot, little grebe, moorhen and African swamphen. Though the coot and Swamphen breed at other times of the year as well.

adult African swamphen

There were no migrant waders at all this time. Indeed the only waders were the resident spur-winged lapwing.

spur-winged lapwing

The only migrants of any type were three barn swallow, one sand martin and a very late common swift.

red-billed quelea

Once again I inspected the sparrow flocks for oddities and came up with one red-billed quelea.

Sudanese golden sparrow

Other species which I don't always see at the lake were western reef heron (2) and squacco heron (2).

Little bittern is species 260 on my Mauritanian list and is a fillip to me as I am grounded in Nouakchott until the end of Ramadan.