Saturday 26 May 2018

Late April in Nouakchott

I managed to snatch a visit to the waste water lake in Nouakchott in late April despite it being a very heavy time for work.

It was worth the effort. The prize bird was a short-eared owl. I almost walked into it where it had been roosting in a tree. I had time to recognise it but not to get a photo as it actually flew right at me before veering late. Two hours later I once again walked into it. This time it seems to have been resting on the ground in a completely different part of the site. I am pretty upset about not getting a photo. It became species 304 on my Mauritanian list.

Altogether, it was a peak time for passage. No bird was there in great numbers but there was great variety.

spotted flycatcher

Birds included spotted flycatcher and common redstart. These are staples of the two palearctic migration seasons around Nouakchott. Common nightingale and Rufous bush-robin are less numerous. All were seen on this trip.

rufous bush-robin

Warblers were varied and quite numerous on their way north although I see fewer in spring than in autumn.


Blackcap were probably the most numerous.

willow warbler

There were several willow warbler and at least two western olivaceous warbler. There was a solitary western bonelli's warbler. The latter bird in particular has larger numbers in autumn. However, you have to come early as so many come back through in August and early September.

garden warbler

Blackcap's close cousin is garden warbler. It can be easily over-looked with its lack of really distinctive features. It's grey collar is quite apparent, though, in the bird on the left.

female blackcap

This spring has been unusually cool and some warblers have ventured out of the shade more than last year.

European reed warbler

There are no reeds on this site but European reed warbler has to land somewhere and so this is an excellent place to see them quite openly.

wood sandpiper (l) and little stint (r)

I have been disappointed in the main water body itself over recent visits. The variety of waders has been lacking. Throughout the winter wood sandpiper and little stint were the mainstays along with the seemingly resident spur-winged lapwing. However, on this visit the former two birds' numbers had started to dropped off.

spur-winged lapwing

Dunlin aren't very common in spring for some reason. Indeed the one bird below, I veer towards curlew sandpiper. It has a broad supercilium and a long bill though I can't tell the leg length.

probable curlew sandpiper

Some of the ruff had begun to show some summer plummage.


All the waders were alert and easily spooked. This is almost certainly because two marsh harrier were lingering at the site on their northern passage.

one of the marsh harrier

Most harriers of which ever type don't normally hang around. They move on fast.

the other marsh harrier

All white wagtail had gone by late April. Yellow wagtail were still coming through.

yellow wagtail

Just where do all those woodchat shrike go. They appear incredibly numerous in both passage seasons. They also winter barely 100 kilometres further south so I wonder if the numbers aren't as great as they first appear. I wonder instead if they use the Nouakchott area as a staging most in late autumn and in spring. In other words, could I be seeing the same birds time and again?

woodchat shrike

In this visit, it was the first time for six weeks that I hadn't seen a European bee-eater. Just before I left, one turned up. It was a bumper season for them this spring.

European bee-eater

The next blog will report what I saw at the same site three week's later.

Species seen at the waste water site, Nouakchott
Western Marsh Harrier  
Spur-winged Lapwing  
Kentish Plover  
Common Ringed Plover  
Little Ringed Plover  
Curlew Sandpiper  
Little Stint  
Green Sandpiper  
Spotted Redshank  
Common Greenshank  
Wood Sandpiper  
Speckled Pigeon  
Laughing Dove  
Namaqua Dove  
Short-eared Owl  
Little Swift  
European Bee-eater  
Southern Grey Shrike  
Woodchat Shrike  
Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark  
Crested Lark  
Barn Swallow  
Red-rumped Swallow  
Common House Martin  
Willow Warbler  
Common Chiffchaff  
Western Bonelli's Warbler  
Western Olivaceous Warbler  
Eurasian Reed Warbler  
Eurasian Blackcap  
Garden Warbler  
Spotted Flycatcher  
Rufous  Bush Robin  
Common Nightingale  
Common Redstart  
Northern Wheatear  
Western Yellow Wagtail  
House Sparrow  
Sudan Golden Sparrow  

No comments:

Post a Comment