Sunday, 17 December 2017

Returning to the fish market

I have not blogged for over two weeks but that is not because I haven't been birding. Indeed I have. I have been on a holiday from work and during my travels I have had some excellent birding in both Bamako, Mali and on Gran Canaria.

In total there are no less than seven blogs to write.

Two of them are about birding just before my break and in Nouakchott. This is the first.

I made a short visit to a regular site just south of the fishing port in late November. Mohamed Vall was with me.

Arguably the best bird was the first one. As the car pulled up to park we drove past a blue rock thrush.

blue rock thrush. Photo by Mohamed Vall

I have been seeing them more frequently on passage and in winter in Mauritania  than the distribution maps might indicate. This was the second one in the Nouakchott area in autumn.

cattle egret

The coast itself was not as exciting as it can be. The rotting rubbish dump before you get there has expanded since our last visit but ironically the number and diversity of birds there was less than usual. The cattle egret still love the pickings there though.

an army of sanderling

At the man-made lagoons, the variety of waders was well down on the what we had been seeing during the previous three months. However an army of over 40 sanderling tried to make do with numbers where variety was missing.

some of the sanderling

The tern population was a typical winter one. The only terns which stay the winter in any numbers are Caspian tern and sandwich tern and indeed these were the ones observed.

Caspian tern (l). Grey plover (r)

As well as the sanderling, the other wader in the largest numbers was grey plover.


We strolled down the beach for a while and picked up a sole greater flamingo.

Mediterranean gull (l) and lesser black-backed gulls

We then spent our remaining time looking through the various gulls. One of the graellsii sub-species of lesser black-backed gull had a ring.

The ring shows it is from Schleswig-Holstein in northern Germany. I wrote an email to the contact but received no reply.  

sandwich tern (l) and grey plover (r)

Away from the main group of gulls and indeed closer to the group of sandwich tern were three grey-hooded gull.

grey-hooded gull 1

In twenty or so visits to this site, I have only seen them three times. I don't have enough records to see a pattern yet but they are known to breed in small numbers on Banc d'Arguin to the north and are found in large numbers to the south in Senegal.

grey-hooded gull 2

I am acutely aware that rare gulls can be found among the common ones. I don't particularly enjoy looking closely at these species. I find them tough too but ocassionally there is reward.

Mediterranean gull (foreground)

One presumed Mediterranean gull had very little dark shadow around the eye. However I couldn't make it into anything else.

mixed gulls

It was in front of a more typical Mediterranean gull as shown in the above photo.

The day before I left on holiday, I paid a last visit to the waste water site. I will blog about that next.

South of the fish market
Greater Flamingo  
Cattle Egret  
Grey Plover  
Common Ringed Plover  
Little Stint  
Grey-hooded Gull  
Black-headed Gull  
Mediterranean Gull  
Lesser Black-backed Gull  
Caspian Tern  
Sandwich Tern  
Crested Lark  
Cricket Longtail  
Blue Rock Thrush  
White Wagtail (alba)  
House Sparrow 

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