The return of Golden Nightjar, Sudan Golden Sparrow, and other Aousserd interesting birds after they had been missing for the last few years.
Understandably, their absence during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic was due to travel restrictions. Some birders who visited the Aousserd region last year did miss some of the Western Palearctic rarities for which the region is known.
In March 2023, five Hungarian ornithologists, Zoltan Bajor, Zoltan Orban, Adam Selmeczi-Kovacs, Norbert Riezing and Zsombor Berenyi, visited the region and found all the main WP birds (except for the Cricket Warbler – see also at the end).
Zsombor Berenyi summarized below the highlights of their birding in the region:
We managed to find the Golden Nightjar after it went missing some years in Oued Jenna, north from the Aousserd road. On 9 March after sunset, we first heard a calling male, and later we managed to glimpse it flying. The next night at around 21.00, we went back to the spot where we fortunately succeeded in observing and photographing the calling male on the ground (photo below).
In the morning of 10 March, we found two other mega rare species which are the Sudan Golden Sparrow (8 birds) and the Namaqua Dove (3 birds) in a very dry habitat with scattered Acacia trees before Aousserd.
The Sudan Golden Sparrows move together with a few Desert Sparrows. The pair of Namaqua was moving together, sometimes chased by a third bird. Later, the male was calling continuously from the top of an Acacia tree, seemingly keeping its territory.
We were hopeless about Cricket Longtail and didn’t see any bird around Oued Jenna and at other former hotspots in the region. What happened with the isolated population? It is said to be an easy-to-see sub-Saharan species here with a stable population, to the contrary to other rarities.
Cricket Warbler or Cricket Longtail
Indeed, the Cricket Warbler is one of the easiest species to observe in the Aousserd region. Since it was discovered breeding in the region more than a decade ago, the species has always been present. Missing it is difficult to explain.
A couple of weeks after the trip of the Hungarian birders, the species was observed at Oued Jenna by Spanish birders. Here is an excerpt from Manolo Salas’ account of his “meeting” with the species on 2 April:
Thanks to the good tips by Javier Marquerie, who had been birding at Oued Jenna just some days before, an early wake-up, and that the good, old Ali put the tents back in the car, I was able to spot for the first time this beautiful, tiny bird whose presence in the Palearctic region is scarce and only in this amazing territory that is Western Sahara.
Its cricket-like song and, looking at the top of the small acacias, as I had been told, was enough to watch some individuals of this species. I even managed to see one preparing a nest inside a bush.