Sunday, 27 August 2017

Keur Macene

Mohamed Vall and I made the long day trip to Keur Macene on Saturday. We headed towards the easiest and quickest place to reach from Nouakchott near the Senegal River.

We hoped for rainy season birds which push up north in large numbers in August and September. Ironically we chose a day when Nouakchott, which we left behind, got 40% of its annual rainfall in one day.

We were not disappointed. Even as we drove through Tiguent, only 100 kilometres south of Nouakchott, I could hearing Dideric cuckoo calling from time to time.

We didn't start birding until we turned off the main Rosso road and on to the Keur Macene road.

This new road conveniently has milestones every kilometre. Next to the one marking 25 kilometres to Keur Macene we saw our first Dideric cuckoo. Unfortunately it flew off before I could take a photo.

At 9 kilometres from Keur Macene we heard another, got out of the car and traced it.

Dideric cuckoo 1

It was constantly calling, making finding it relatively easy.

Dideric cuckoo 2

I can tell you Dideric cuckoo is common and widespread down this road in August. It mostly parasitises weavers. Away from water bodies and towns, this mostly means Vitelline masked weaver in Mauritania.

Dideric cuckoo became number 265 on my country list.

Other easily seen birds on the way down the side road were white-throated bee-eater. Three yellow-billed oxpecker on a couple of donkeys was a surprise.

woodchat shrike

While searching for that Dideric cuckoo we came across a woodchat shrike which could comfortably winter in this area. Many do winter in southern Mauritania.

We didn't bird the road outside Keur Macene intensively on the way out. We left that for the way back and what we saw will be in the next blog.

Instead we spent the morning and the beginning of the afternoon, birding the wetlands around the town of Keur Macene.

white throated bee-eater

We walked about 8 kilometres in a circular route. White throated bee-eater and blue-cheeked bee-eater were easy to see.

black-headed weaver

Black-headed weaver were very common. Though the males were in breeding plumage, nest building has only just started. In one mixed flock we observed a northern red bishop male and a couple of females.

great white egret

In the water itself three great white egret were seen early.

black-winged stilt and African jacana

In a flooded field on the other side of a road near our parked car were black-winged stilt, African jacana and glossy ibis.

yellow-crowned bishop

There was so much to look at and we had hardly left the parked car. Another look in the direction of the weavers and we could see they were also yellow-crowned bishop present.

African fish eagle

Moving our eyes back to the main water body and we could see an African fish eagle and a single white-faced whistling duck beyond the great white egret.

pied kingfisher

Finally we started the long walk round the water. An early sighting was a pied kingfisher. In the water near-by was the first of several long-tailed cormorant.  

long-tailed cormorant

A pair of Malachite kingfisher gave us good views as we walked round.

Two Malachite kingfisher

This is proving to be a relatively common bird in the south except in the driest months.

Malachite kingfisher

We observed several African mourning dove. We also heard but never saw Vinaceous dove.

African mourning dove

The locals pump out water out of the main water body to create paddy fields at this time of year. These fields have theirown birds which we didn't have time to fully investigate. Nevertheless we did pick out common tern, white-winged black tern and barn swallow overhead and cattle egret on the ground.

striated heron

Striated heron loves flooded fields. It was hard to miss them.

purple heron

Looking again at the main water body, the side areas held purple heron and a few waders though I would expect their numbers to increase over winter. The most common wader was wood sandpiper.

Abyssinian roller

Other notable birds towards the end of our circuit were Abyssinian roller and Senegal coucal.

Nile Monitor

Birds weren't the only fauna seen. Twice we came across a Nile Monitor and twice a family of warthog were observed.

Ironically, I added no new species to my country list at the wetlands despite the variety and quanity of birds present.

We searched the woodland just north of the town on the way home. Here, two more species were added. Counting the Dideric cuckoo, all three additions to the list which were found on the trip were in these woodlands.

I will blog about them next.

Species seen at Keur Macene wetlands on August 26th
White-faced Whistling-Duck  
Spur-winged Goose  
Long-tailed Cormorant  
Great Cormorant  
Grey Heron  
Purple Heron  
Great White Egret  
Cattle Egret  
Squacco Heron  
Striated Heron  
Glossy Ibis  
African Fish-Eagle  
Black-winged Stilt  
Spur-winged Lapwing  
African Jacana  
Common Sandpiper  
Green Sandpiper  
Wood Sandpiper  
White-winged Black Tern  
Common Tern  
Speckled Pigeon  
African Mourning Dove  
Laughing Dove  
Namaqua Dove  
Senegal Coucal  
Pallid Swift  
Malachite Kingfisher  
Pied Kingfisher  
White-throated Bee-eater  
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater  
Woodchat Shrike  
Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark  
Crested Lark  
Barn Swallow  
Beautiful Sunbird  
Black-headed Weaver  
Northern Red Bishop  
Yellow-crowned Bishop  

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