Friday 13 October 2017

Very big passage once again at the waste water site

I am very behind with my blogs. This is almost entirely due to increased responsibility at work.

I have five blogs in the pipeline and have added three species to my country list during that time. This blog recounts what I saw four weeks ago at the waste water site just north of Nouakchott. 

At the time, I thought the passage was very big and yet on two later visits, the day list increased further both times. On Saturday 16th September, I saw 41 species. It was much higher still three weeks later.  The waste water site is proving to be a tremendous migrant trap.

European bee-eater

It remains the only place in Mauritania where I have observed European bee-eater. That Saturday I saw one again.

Blue-cheeked bee-eater

The picture concerning blue-cheeked bee-eater at the site is confused. There must be both summer rainy season visitors and migrants coming south during the autumn. It is difficult to know one type from the other though behaviours are different. Having said this, I believe that day there were only local birds.


I am always on the look-out for rare waders and especially American ones. I spent a long time observing a young female ruff to ensure there was no chance it was a buff-breasted sandpiper. I am pretty confident that one day again, this site will deliver another American vagrant.


I seem to have seen many more dunlin coming through this year than last. it is probably only due to the types of sites I am visiting this year. I still find trouble with separating some birds like the one above from the less common curlew sandpiper.

European turtle dove

The weather was very dusty and visibility was poor. It didn't matter with most birds but the European turtle dove is the shyest of them all. What's more it is proving quite numerous at this site despite its plight in western Europe from whence these birds probably came.

European pied flycatcher 1

That weekend saw a very large number of pied flycatcher coming through. This bird is everywhere in Muaritania in September and early October. The first of the common redstart appeared too.

European pied flycatcher 2

Birds that feed beside water rather than in it, are attracted to this site. The water is too contaminated in most places to encourage those who forage in deep water or swim.

I suspect this is the reason that I am continually seeing glossy ibis which forages at the water's edge.

glossy ibis

The one garganey on passage was very careful not to go into the water.


Sometimes you see odd combinations when birding.

European turtle dove (l)

A European turtle dove and blue-cheeked bee-eater closely sharing perches on a sodom's apple was one such occasion.

tree pipit

Once again I looked closely at the pipits. Both were tree pipit this time.

spotted flycatcher

Spotted flycatcher is not as common as European pied flycatcher but it is regular.

European reed warbler 1

I know my observations particularly at this site are helping with dating the passage of several warblers. For example western bonelli's warbler passes through Nouakchott mostly in August while willow warbler is concentrated in September and early October. Some warblers seem to be less focussed on a certain time. European reed warbler is one of them.

I have regularly been seeing at least two or three on every visit to the site all Autumn since late August.

European reed warbler 2

Of course they have no reeds to hide in. 

I don't really understand why I haven't seen a great reed warbler in the country yet.

European reed warbler 3

I have a lot more to write about in future blogs. At this site alone I have added two more species to my Mauritanian list since mid-Spetember. Please bear with me to find out more.

Waste water site on Saturday 16th September
Purple Heron  
Glossy Ibis  
Black-winged Stilt  
Spur-winged Lapwing  
Common Ringed Plover  
Black-tailed Godwit  
Curlew Sandpiper  
Common Snipe  
Common Sandpiper  
Green Sandpiper  
Common Greenshank  
Wood Sandpiper  
Common Redshank  
European Turtle Dove  
Laughing Dove  
Namaqua Dove  
Eurasian Hoopoe  
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater  
European Bee-eater  
Southern Grey Shrike  
Woodchat Shrike  
Eurasian Golden Oriole  
Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark  
Crested Lark  
Barn Swallow  
Willow Warbler  
Western Olivaceous Warbler  
Sedge Warbler  
Eurasian Reed Warbler  
Cricket Longtail  
Fulvous Babbler  
European Pied Flycatcher  
Common Redstart  
White Wagtail 
Tree Pipit  
House Sparrow  

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