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A Report from

Ouarzazate, Morocco, Spring 2005,

Helen Graham

This report may be of interest to those bird watchers who wish to combine some relaxation in a lovely hotel and great birds on the doorstep.

Ouarzazate: A quiet pleasant town with a more relaxed feel to it than I have hitherto experienced in Morroco.It has a well restored Kasbah and some nice restaurants especially near the Kasbah.

The hotel The Riad Salam
: is a delightfully peaceful,clean hotel with great food, a lovely pool,wonderful gardens and large rooms.We were given one of the best rooms in the hotel which was booked through Panorama.
It is used by tour groups most of which did not arrive till early evening and had left by 9 a. m. the next day.This would often leave about 6 longer staying residents hence the peaceful atmosphere especially during the day.

The patch: The hotel backs on to a vast rural area comprising agricultural smallholdings protected by hedgrows shrubs and trees.The stony dried out river bed leads to a narrow flowing river and several pools.
I scoured the area every evening from about 4.30p.m. till dusk and saw something of interest every day.
The highlights were the huge numbers of Yellow Wagtails I saw every day, the Ortolan Bunting which landed in a field a few feet from me,and the flock of Night herons which would fly above the hotel at dusk.It was also interesting to find two pairs of breeding Hoopoes nesting in the Hotel grounds.
My only critisism is on aesthetic grounds.The power lines around the town are otherwise unobtrsive but the authorities have taken the electruicity wires across the river using 2 pylons which not only look out of place but are a danger to migrating birds.Apart from this you could not wish to find a better patch anywhere.

The list: Spanish Sparrow,Hedge Sparrow,Common Swift,Barn Swallow,Red Rump Swallow,Sand Martin,House Martin,Kestrel,Blackbird,Spotless Starling,House Bunting,Blackcap,Collared Dove,Hoopoe,Bee eater,Cattle Egret,Common Bulbul,Woodsandpiper,Green Sandpiper,Common Sandpiper,Little Ringed Plover,Red shank, Greenshank,Northern Wheatear,White Stork,Yellow Wagtail{iberiae}, Woodchat Shrike,Crested Lark,White Wagtail,Mallard,Garden Warbler,Redstart,Night Heron,Willow Warbler,Corn Bunting,Little Egret,Goldfinch,Turtle Dove,Whinchat,Pied Wagtail[subpersonata}Grey Heron,Ortolan Bunting,Serin.
There was also A Ring Tail Harrier.

Other birds: This being Morocco any likely habitats seen on trips in the hire car revealed something of interest.Highlights included the Great Reed Warbler on The Tizi N Ticha Pass, Alpine Swifts and a Black Wheatear on the road to Ait Benhaddou,a Rock Sparrow at the Kasbah,and a Trumpeter Finch near Skoura.The lake near Ouarzazate revealed an Osprey,Red Breasted Mergansers,a Coot and Sedge Warbler.

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