Monday, 14 August 2017

Lots of early warbler passage

While F-Nord lake is dying as a birding site due to drainage, the waste water site just north of the city is currently thriving. However, it needs to make sure that one large container of very contaminated waste doesn't poison the water as has happened before.

This site doesn't have the reeds of F-Nord Lake but it does have rows of non-endemic trees planted as sand breaks sometimes in the past and it does have water water itself. For many birds it is the first greenery having crossed the Sahara. In short it is a migrant trap.

It also attracts several local species too.

Even as early as August 6th, the autumn migration was strongly in evidence. Indeed I had to fight the e-bird database by adding no fewer than 6 species than the database felt shouldn't be here yet.

woodchat shrike

Barely out of the car, I spotted my first migrant and it was a juvenile woodchat shrike.
Namaqua dove

After nearly two months peace, the resident birds such as Namaqua dove are sharing the water and trees again.

western bonelli's warbler 1

I was surprised just how many warblers have already arrived. I counted eleven different western bonelli's warbler in different parts of the site.

western bonelli's warbler 2

There was cluster of four melodious warbler in one area. They were easy to see as they favoured a couple of leafless bushes.

first melodious warbler

All these birds were adults.

second melodious warbler

It was pleasure watching this species for five or ten minutes.

third melodious warbler

I first saw a spur-winged lapwing at the site in early Jume,. Their numbers have steadily grown. They appear to be colonising the site though I haven't seen any chicks.

spur-winged lapwing

I observed my first hoopoe of the autumn migration. It will not be the last.


Blue-cheeked bee-eater is a rainy season bird to southern Mauritania up to Nouakchott but not too far further north. This site is one of their furthest northern outposts south of the Sahara.

two blue-cheeked bee-eater

There is some evidence they may be experimenting with breeding at the site. A major breeding site for them south of the city was destroyed last winter by quarrying.

possible blue-cheeked bee-eater holes

There were more warblers as I moved round the site and not all were in or around the main avenues of trees.

The first willow warbler of the season were observed.

young melodious warbler 1

The only first winter melodious warbler I saw was out in the open and on a wire fence.

young melodious warbler

Birding the main water body was tricky. A flock of common redshank made it so. They were so flighty they went up with any movement. They managed to scare the other waders with them. The best was a single whimbrel.

wood sandpiper

True to form, wood sandpiper was the least easily scared of the common waders.

crested lark

I was at the lake in the morning when it was still relatively cool. I find that on morning vistis I often see very few larks. Crested lark is guaranteed though. On hotter days and in the afternoons, other larks are more prevalent as they come to drink.

laughing dove

I have on occasions seen up to twenty speckled pigeon on site. This time there were none. Instead larger numbers than usual of laughing dove were flocking.

reed warbler

It was good to see a reed warbler. Having no reeds to gravitate to it was easier to see than often is the case.

desert grey shrike

One of the last birds seen on site was a young desert grey shrike. It had a reddish hue to the tail which led me to give it more attention than usual but I couldn't make it into anything else.

The follwing Saturday, I went to the site again. This time the passage was very large and even more varied. I will blog about this next.

Species seen at the waste water site on August 6th
Common Ringed Plover  
Little Stint  
Common Sandpiper  
Green Sandpiper  
Wood Sandpiper  
Common Redshank 
Laughing Dove  
Namaqua Dove
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater  
Desert Grey Shrike  
Woodchat Shrike  
Crested Lark  
Barn Swallow 
Willow Warbler  
Western Bonelli's Warbler  
Western Olivaceous Warbler
Eurasain Reed wWrbler  
Melodious Warbler    

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