Monday, 7 March 2016

Western Sahara - wet feet

After our long drive into the desert and back day 4 involved very little driving, giving our driver Mohamed a well earned rest. We visited a wide expanse of sands just outside Dakhla. The beach stretched for miles with areas of seaweed, channels of water, mud and wet sand to negotiate.We could see groups of gulls in the distance nearer the shoreline and as we carefully selected a route to avoid the deeper water we hoped the object of our efforts - Royal Tern, would be out there as well.
The beach was also a wader watchers paradise: Ringed, Grey, Kentish plover, Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Redshank, Greenshank,Curlew, Whimbrel, Sanderling and both Black tailed and Bar tailed Godwit were present in good numbers. We should have spent more time looking for rarer species but we had to keep one eye on the incoming tide. As we approached the loafing gulls we could make out groups of Terns among them. The Caspian Terns were obvious but we had to get even closer to see the Sandwich and Royal terns.

Royal Tern

Audouin's Gull

Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern

Kentish Plover

Grey plover

With Royal Tern 'in the bag' we moved a bit further along the coast for a spot of Seawatching from a headland. Not my favourite aspect of Birding but in the event proved quite interesting. The fresh wind made it hard work for birds trying to fly North particularly for Petrels which seems to be continually flying one step forwards then 2 steps back. It also meant birds were forced to fly much closer to the shore than normal. Madeiran and European Storm petrels were identified. There was also a steady stream of Bonxies heading North

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