Thursday 22 March 2018

Winter ebbs away at the waste water site

I had only seen four European bee-eater over a period of 18 months until last Saturday. I visited my local patch which is the waste water site. It is here that I had seen all four previous birds.

This time I saw no fewer than 17 albeit in three waves throughout the morning.

European bee-eater with bee

It would appear that more migrate through Nouakchott in spring than do in autumn though it might take me another annual cycle to confirm that.

two European bee-eater

Barn swallow are crossing the country in vast numbers at the moment. However, they sometimes rest when they have fed well and that normally means next to water.

barn swallow

Occasionally, the main body of water holds something interesting. However, the other parts of the site near the water are usually more so. It is important to look though.


There were plenty of ruff present in a bewildering array of plumages and sizes as is typical of this species at this time of year.

black-winged stilt

Black-winged stilt aren't regular at the site though this time one was present. The poor bird got mobbed the spur-winged lapwing ever time it flew.

Namaqua dove

Kentish plover was the most numerous of the small plovers this time. The best bird at the main water this time was a passing male pallid harrier which flew over briefly before continuing north. 

little ringed plover

Once again, little ringed plover were seen away from the main water body and on mud in the eastern corner of the site.

young southern grey shrike

Yet again, this corner produced several of the best birds. A young southern grey shrike looked on.

tree pipit 1

Another tree pipit was passing through.

tree pipit 2

This one was far more lively than the one seen at Keur Macene the week before. The cooler weather probably helped.

The area with bushes next to a water's edge has been providing common chiffchaff, Iberian chiffchaff and various sylvia warblers all winter. 

This time there were also the first sedge warbler and western olivaceous warbler at the site since last autumn.

first sighting of the western olivaceous warbler

Western olivaceous warbler can be distinctive with its long bill and seemingly stretched body.

western olivaceous warbler

I moved round to a different position to get better views. Luckily, it stayed out while I did so.

western olivaceuos warbler

It is easily separated from eastern olivaceous warbler by its lack of tail flicking alhough eastern olivaceous warbler doesn't venture as far west as Nouakchott. The one bird it is close to is European reed warbler.


I spent much of the early winter separating Iberian chiffchaff from common chiffchaff at the site. The former is actually more common than the latter. I didn't spent enough time on this bird to tell.

woodchat shrike

On the way back to the car I observed my fifth woodchat shrike.

stone curlew

On the last stretch, I took a short cut through the sandy areas and benefitted by accidentally flushing a stone curlew.

The next day, on Sunday I visted the coast for the first time in three weeks. Here I achieved my milestone of 300 species in Mauritania. I will blog about this next.

Species seen at the waste water site
Pallid Harrier  
Black-winged Stilt  
Spur-winged Lapwing  
Kentish Plover  
Common Ringed Plover  
Little Ringed Plover  
Little Stint  
Common Snipe  
Green Sandpiper  
Wood Sandpiper  
Laughing Dove  
Namaqua Dove  
Eurasian Hoopoe  
European Bee-eater 
Southern Grey Shrike  
Woodchat Shrike 
Crested Lark  
Barn Swallow  
Common Chiffchaff  
Iberian Chiffchaff  
Western Olivaceous Warbler  
Sedge Warbler  
Eurasian Blackcap  
Subalpine Warbler  
Common Whitethroat  
Common Redstart  
Northern Wheatear  
Western Yellow Wagtail  
White Wagtail 
Tree Pipit  
House Sparrow 
Sudan Golden Sparrow

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