Sunday 25 March 2018

300 down and more to come

Last Sunday I went to the fishing port for the first time in over three weeks and as often I started out there at the big dump.

This is a smelly place where the contents are mostly rotting fish. It is not pleasant birding but birds are guaranteed.

There were plenty of wagtails about and yellow wagtail outnumbered white wagtail. This only happens during the two passage season.

A few common chiffchaff and several house sparrow were the other main small passerines.

yellow wagtail

I always find it strange to see sanderling away from the water's edge but a large number of them were attracted to the dump as well as a few little stint.

mostly sanderling

Every time I have visited the dump there have been cattle egret present. The numbers vary but this time there were over thirty.

cattle egret

There are major drainage works going on over the city at the moment. Places are being pumped out and the water redirected. F-Nord lake is the biggest casualty. The best birding site in the city is its death throngs. Elsewhere the lagoon south of the fish market has very little water feeding it any more. I don't know what the grand plan is or where the water is being diverted to. If the underground water is going out to sea somehow it will clearly help people in areas blighted by salty rising damp. However, there are major environmental effects too as the lakes disappear.

ruddy turnstone

A single ruddy turnstone was one of only two waders at the far end of the lagoon which has previously been fed by drained water from elsewhere.

western reef heron

A western reef heron was seen standing on the drying bed of the lagoon as it makes its way to the sea.

grey heron "pallid heron"

A grey heron of the local sub-species was the only bird apart from a flock of sanderling where the lagoon meets the sea.

Until recently, many gulls and terns would rest here. By their absence, I was forced to spend more time than usual seawatching. As it happens, this was serendipitous. Out to sea was an Arctic skua. It can be separated from Pomarine skua with care without pictures. Arctic Skua is not as well-built. It doesn't have a barrel chest. It has narrower arms too which help make it look longer winged than Pomarine skua.

distant shot of Arctic skua

I failed to get a good photo and the only one I got was after it had moved further out to sea. I don't like adding new species to my Mauritania list without good photos but I am sure another opportunity to photograph this species will arise in the future. Either way, it made number 300.

black-headed gull and lesser black-backed gull gull out to sea

It was a rough day at sea. Some fishermen couldn't launch their boats over the incomeing waves. Gulls and terns were not on land. Gulls which were resting were doing it on the ocean surface well off land where the sea was calmer.

incoming waves

I returned to my pick point via the dump. here was not much change since 90 minutes earlier. Though there were even more barn swallow hawking and a single sand martin with them.

barn swallow

On Saturday I went out to the drinking water treatment plant in Riyadh district and then along the coast again. Mohamed Vall and I added yet another bird to our respective country lists. I will blog about that next.

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