Friday 27 October 2017

Road to Akjoujt

On Sunday 8th October,Mohamed Vall and I took the Atar road out of Nouakchott. Our main target destination was a woodland about 30 kilometres south west of Akjoujt.

There, in April, we had seen a vagrant skylark.

On the way to it the main interest turned out to be birds of prey. The first one seen was a very young black kite resting next to the road.

young black kite

It allowed close approach until a heavy lorry travelling in the opposite direction to us disturbed it.

Further on down the road, we came across a lanner falcon. This is probably the most common falcon in the drier areas of Mauritania. One wonders how common they would be in the Gulf countries if falconers and traders stopped taking them out of circulation.

lanner falcon

A few kilometres on, a lesser kestrel was observed resting on a low bush.

lesser kestrel

When we finally arrived at the woodland in the blistering heat, it wasn't as good for birding as we hoped. Strangely there were hardly any migrant warblers. I know from experience that they can be very patchy on migration. You can get a windfall one day and very few or none on another. We had clearly chosen the wrong day for this site.

greater short-toed lark

Greater short-toed lark were present and seemingly desperate to keep out of the sun. The best place to see them was under bushes.

red-necked nightjar through the haze

We accidently flushed a red-necked nightjar. Unfortunately, it was very timid in the same way as those seen the week before at the waste water site. We simply couldn't get close to it.

European pied flycatcher

One European pied flycatcher was exhausted. I doubted it would survive to fly on. The Sahara to the north can be punishing at this time of year for migrants. Choosing a lucky day to cross is so important to them.

bar-tailed lark

We saw bar-tailed lark again at the site as we had in April. It may be one of very few residents.

African collared dove

Another candidate resident is African collared dove.

common redstart

Common redstart is a broad front migrant so it was no surprise to see it in the woodland.

Bouet's agama

Once again, it was not just birds we saw. A Bouet's agama (a.k.a Mali agama) gave very good views.

greater short-toed lark

On the way back we found a smaller woodland. It actually held more warblers. A windfall of willow warbler had taken place. There was also one sub-alpine warbler. However the biggest interest there was a flock of around 40 greater short-toed lark. They were really suffering in the heat. So were we. We were happy to finish our birding early. There is a physical limit to what one can do.

Woodland 30 kms south west of Akjoujt
African Collared Dove  
Namaqua Dove  
Red-necked Nightjar  
Greater Hoopoe-Lark  
Bar-tailed Lark  
Greater Short-toed Lark  
Spotted Flycatcher  
European Pied Flycatcher  
Common Redstart  
Northern Wheatear  

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