Friday, 16 February 2018

A hint of spring?

The work load in my job increased substantially in September with a promotion. It has been difficult to find time to bird watch and to blog. However, I will keep at it.

I have a backlog of four blogs at the moment. Two are from different parts of Mauritania, one is from Gran Canaria and the last one will be from Laayoune in Western Sahara.

Bear with me.

This one is from the third week of January when I returned to the waste water treatment site just north of Nouakchott. The site has been good except in mid-winter. I expect soon it will be good again as the passage season starts up in earnest.

great spotted cuckoo 1

Indeed even in the third week of January, there was a hint of passage. I found a great spotted cuckoo.

great spotted cuckoo 2

Although this species breeds in southern Mauritania in the rainy season (mostly parasitising pied crow), birds seen in Nouakchott are wintering birds from Spain and passing through.

I presume they return very early to make sure they are in place to lay eggs in corvid nests. Unlike common cuckoo which parasitises birds which are also migrates, great spotted cuckoo parasitises resident birds which can start breeding earlier. Hence the need for a late January migration.

This bird was not an isolated record either. Mohammed Vall had seen another at F-Nord lake two days before.

common chiffchaff

A look at the wintering warblers shown little change over the previous month. The three main species were sardinian warbler, Iberian chiffchaff and common chiffchaff. The balance of Iberian chiffchaff to common chiffchaff had moved more towards common chiffchaff though. It was good also to see two sub-alpine warbler this time.

little ringed plover

Kentish plover was the most common wader alongside little stint. However, ringed plover and little ringed plover were also present.

spur-winged lapwing

Spur-winged lapwing have been present on every visit to this site over the past year. Yet, I have never seen any evidence of breeding. Either they don't breed there or it happens in July and early August when I am out of country. This coincides with beginning of the "rainy" season.


On recent visits, one small duck has been semi-detached from the large group of wintering teal. However, it too is a teal. I have to wonder if it is unwell.


Ruff have been present all winter whereas other large waders such as greenshank are not always seen.

male teal

Having tracked the odd duck out, I finally caught up with the main group of teal. Most of the males were now close to breeding plumage.

Sudanese golden sparrow

Sudanese golden sparrow are more numerous even than house sparrow at the site at present. Though unlike last year, there are no stray red-billed quelea among them.

Namaqua dove

It is the less common birds that often get photographed. Laughing dove outnumber Namaqua dove almost ten-fold currently yet the Namaqua dove gets the photo.

A week after this visit, I went to Banc d'Arguin for the first time. Not surprisingly there was an addition to my Mauritainan list. I will blog about this next.

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