Sudan Golden Sparrows, Bir Anzarane (Western Sahara)

I've just returned from an excellent week of birding in Western Sahara with Oliver Metcalf, Tim Jones, and Jonnie Fisk. One of the undoubted highlights was a flock of Sudan Golden Sparrows at Bir Anzarane.

Following a report of a single male Sudan Golden Sparrow with Desert Sparrows at a drinking site near to Bir Anzarane on Friday 30 January, we travelled to the site on Monday 2 February with Mohamed Lamine Samlali from Association Nature Initiative (A.N.I.) and counted a minimum of 28 Sudan Golden Sparrows. At more-or-less the same time as I counted 28 on the fence by the drinking site, the other three members of our party counted at least 17 on the other side of the settlement buildings. However, there was clearly some crossover between the groups of sparrows and since no coordinated counting was carried out, we consider it safest to consider the final count as “minimum 28” – in reality, there may very well have been some 40 or more Sudan Golden Sparrows present on site at the time.

The site is located near to an area with land mines and birders wishing to look for the birds should contact A.N.I. to arrange travel and access.

At least 31 birds were again present on 6 February when Mohamed visited the site with a group of Belgian birders (Pieter-Jan D'Hondt, Joachim Bertrands, Simon Vyncke, Sander Bruylants, and Robrecht Debbaut). Additionally, the settlement resident reported that the birds had been present for "a couple of years" and that his cat regularly caught "one or two each day"(!); so it appears that the birds may be resident or largely-resident in the area.