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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Birding trip to Southern Morocco, 15th - 22nd November 1996,
The participants on this trip were Jan and Stephen Mawby and John and Carol King. Due to the lack of charter flights available, schedule flights with British Airways direct to Agadir were arranged by Wildwings (firstname.lastname@example.org). All ground arrangements in Morocco were handled by Wildwings through their Moroccan ground agents, S Tours and all ran like clockwork.
Car hire was arranged, again by Wildwings, with Europcar and a reasonably sized four-seater was waiting on our arrival at Agadir. The cost of car hire in Morocco is not cheap. Driving in Morocco is easy. The roads are of a reasonable standard although in places where they are only single track, there is a need to slow and move onto a firm (but non-tarmac) hardshoulder when there is opposing traffic. Traffic however is quite light away from the main towns.
Tour company Inspirations used to arrange holidays to Morocco. Being in possession of their brochures for the previous two years enabled us to choose hotels that they had used and which suited our requirements, bearing in mind that we were both travelling with wives who expected a reasonable standard of comfort and amenities. Yet again, Wildwings, through their ground agents, proved invaluable in making the hotel reservations.
Birds of Europe. Lars Jonsson. Helm. ISBN 0-7136-8096-2.
Birds of the Middle East and North Africa. Hollom, Porter, Christensen & Willis. Poyser. ISBN 0-85661-047-X.
Finding Birds in Southern Morocco. Gosney
Trip reports of S.M.Andrews (1987); T.Allwood (1992) & J.Oates (1995)
Friday 15th November 1997 - Marrakech Airport; Agadir Airport; Agadir to Massa; river and ponds just south of Massa village; Massa to Sidi R'bat; Sidi R'bat to Agadir.
Saturday 16th November 1997 - Agadir Kasbah; Agadir to Taroudannt; Oued Sous at Taroudannt; Taroudannt to Asni via Tizi 'n Test; Asni to Imlil and Imlil area; Imlil to Marrakech.
Sunday 17th November 1997 - Marrakech to Oukaimeden; Oukaimeden; roadside areas between Oukaimeden and Marrakech inc. Oued; Hotel and Marrakech town.
Monday 18th November 1997 - Marrakech to Ouarzazate with roadside stops as necessary; Barrage El Mansour Eddahbi.
Tuesday 19th November 1997 - Ouarzazate to Boumalne du Dades; Tagdilt track; Boumalne to Ouarzazate with roadside stops as necessary. Barrage El Mansour Eddahbi.
Wednesday 20th November 1997 - Ouarzazate to Aoulouz; Igoudar; Oued Sous at Taroudannt; Taroudannt to Agadir.
Thursday 21st November 1997 - Agadir to Oued Massa; Oued Massa reserve; O.Massa to Agadir; Agadir to Tamri; cliff-top fields north and south of Tamri: Agadir Kasbah.
Friday 22nd November 1997 - Oued Sous; Agadir airport.
Systematic List of Species Seen
New species indicated by *
LITTLE GREBE - Tachybaptus ruficollis
Seen only on the 15th on the Oued Massa south of Massa village.
GREAT CRESTED GREBE - Podiceps cristatus
Thirty plus noted on the Barrage El Mansour Eddahbi at Ouarzazate on the 18th, with far greater numbers on the 19th when other areas of the barrage were checked out.
CORMORANT - Phalacrocorax carbo
Noted on the 21st and 22nd on both the Oued Massa and Oued Sous. Many showed the white facial feathering of the Moroccan sub-species.
CATTLE EGRET -Bubulcus ibis
Seen on all dates except the 16th, usually in good numbers making it the commonest "egret sp" of the trip. At a tree roost outside the Hotel Riad Salaam in Ouarzazate, an estimate of three hundred plus birds on both the 18th and 19th was observed.
LITTLE EGRET - Egretta garzetta
Seen on all dates except the 17th in small numbers.
GREY HERON - Ardea cinerea
Widespread and common in small numbers. Seen on all dates except the 17th.
WHITE STORK - Ciconia ciconia
Nine roosting on a rooftop at dusk in Marrakech were unexpected; five but possibly nine on the Barrage El Mansour on the 18th; Two on the Oued Dades both in the morning and afternoon of the 19th and a single on the 20th.
SPOONBILL - Platalea leucorodia
Four at the Barrage El Mansour on the 18th with eight noted on the Oued Sous at Agadir on the morning of the 22nd.
BALD IBIS - Geronticus eremita *
A total of eighteen in the clifftop fields some 3km north of Tamri village on the 21st. They seem totally unconcerned by the local population working in the fields but were more wary of our approach - perhaps they can identify an "infidel"!!! None were seen over the Oued Massa on the morning of the 21st though we were probably there too late after dawn. A local informed us that most mornings they fly north from a roost site some 15km south of the estuary to cliffs some 3km north which he took us to , in order to check out (with negative result). A total of two hundred and fifty birds were present in the colony (according to him) and he knew of the fifty or so recent deaths.
GREATER FLAMINGO - Phoenicopterus ruber
Large numbers on the Oued Sous on the evening of the 20th and the morning of the 22nd, with a party of eight flying around the Oued Massa on the 21st.
RUDDY SHELDUCK - Tadorna ferruginea
Up to two hundred and fifty birds on the Barrage El Mansour on the 18th was the largest concentration witnessed.
SHELDUCK - Tadorna tadorna
A count of twenty-one on the Barrage El Mansour on the 18th.
TEAL - Anas crecca
Noted on the 18th at the Barrage El Mansour.
MALLARD - Anas platyrhynchos
Noted on the 18th and 19th on the Barrage El Mansour.
PINTAIL - Anas acuta
Five on the Barrage El Mansour on the 19th were something of an unexpected find.
SHOVELER - Anas clypeata
Seen on the 15th, 18th and 21st in small numbers although possibly the commonest duck.
MARBLED DUCK - Marmaronetta angustirostris
A lone individual on the Oued Massa south of Massa village on the 15th with a party of eleven on the Barrage El Mansour on the 18th.
POCHARD - Aythya ferina
Noted in small numbers at the Barrage El Mansour on the 18th.
SPARROWHAWK - Accipiter nisus
One alongside the Oued Massa on the 21st was the only one seen.
LONG-LEGGED BUZZARD - Buteo rufinus
Two on the 18th in the mountains north of Ouarzazate, one over the Tagdilt on the 19th and one on the 21st roosting on a bush in the clifftop fields north of Tamri were disappointingly, the only ones seen.
TAWNY EAGLE - Aquila rapax *
One, early morning of the 21st, roosting on the summit of a dune alongside the Oued Massa, disappeared off to the south once the heat of the day increased and thermals began to rise.
OSPREY - Pandion haliaetus
Four or possibly five seen in total, with one (two) at the Barrage El Mansour on the 18th and 19th, one at the Oued Massa on the 21st and two on the Oued Sous on the 22nd.
LESSER KESTREL - Falco naumanni
Seen most dates in small numbers.
KESTREL - Falco tinnunculus
Noted on six dates. No specific count.
LANNER - Falco biarmicus
One on the 18th in the mountains between Marrakech and Ouarzazate.
BARBARY FALCON - Falco pelegrinoides
Two in total, with one over the Oued Massa on the 15th, and one over Agadir Kasbah on the morning of the 16th.
BARBARY PARTRIDGE - Alectoris barbara
At least twenty in total on the 16th, with a flock of ten on the hillside of the Agadir Kasbah in the morning and two flocks, one of six and one of four in the mountains between Taroudannt and Marrakech.
MOORHEN - Gallinula chloropus
A single on the Oued Massa on the 15th was the only one noted.
COOT - Fulica atra
Small numbers on the Oued Massa on the 15th were checked through for a vagrant Red-knobbed Coot but to no avail.
OYSTERCATCHER - Haematopus ostralegus
Noted on the 21st and 22nd on the Oued's Massa and Sous.
BLACK-WINGED STILT - Himantopus himantopus
Six on the Barrage El Mansour on the 18th with large numbers on the Sous on the evening of the 20th and the morning of the 22nd.
AVOCET - Recurvirostra avosetta
Two on the Barrage El Mansour on the 18th were surprisingly, the only ones seen.
RINGED PLOVER - Charadrius hiaticula
Noted on the Oued Massa on the 21st and the Oued Sous on the 22nd.
KENTISH PLOVER - Charadrius alexandrinus
GREY PLOVER - Pluvialis squatarola
A single on the Oued Massa on the 21st was the only one seen.
LAPWING - Vanellus vanellus
A small party on the banks of the Oued Massa on the 21st.
KNOT - Calidris canuta
A party of eight on the Oued Massa on the 21st.
SANDERLING - Calidris alba
One on the Oued Massa on the 21st with larger (uncounted) numbers on the Oued Sous on the 22nd.
DUNLIN - Calidris alpina
Noted at distance on the Barrage El Mansour on the 18th and on the Oued Massa on the 21st and the Oued Sous on the 22nd.
BAR-TAILED GODWIT - Limosa lapponica
Noted on the Oued Sous on the 20th and 22nd and the Massa on the 21st. No specific count.
CURLEW - Numenius arquata
Two on the Oued Massa on the 21st.
REDSHANK - Tringa totanus
Noted on the Barrage El Mansour on the 18th and the Oued Massa on the 21st.
GREENSHANK - Tringa nebularia
Noted on the Oued Massa on the 15th and 21st, the Barrage El Mansour on the 18th and the Oued Sous on the 20th and 22nd.
GREEN SANDPIPER - Tringa ochropus
Singles on the Barrage El Mansour on the 18th, the Oued Sous on the 20th and two on the Oued Massa on the 21st.
BLACK-HEADED GULL - Larus ridibundus
Noted coastally on the 15th, 20th, 21st and 22nd and inland at the Barrage El Mansour on the 18th and 19th but always in small numbers.
AUDOUIN'S GULL - Larus audounii
A group in excess of forty birds roosting at the mouth of the Oued Massa on the 21st included a few young birds. Smaller numbers at the mouth of the Oued Sous on the 22nd.
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL - Larus fuscus
Noted on five dates with the largest numbers being coastal. Various races were noted (mantle colouration) although specific details were not.
YELLOW-LEGGED GULL - Larus cachinnans
Noted in smaller numbers than previous species at coastal sites.
GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL - Larus marinus
Noted at the two Oueds on the 21st and 22nd.
SANDWICH TERN - Sterna sandvicensis
Small numbers at the Oued Massa on the 21st with two at the Oued Sous on the 22nd.
BLACK-BELLIED SANDGROUSE - Pterocles orientalis
A party of seven over the hamada west of Ouarzazate on the 18th with a day total of thirty-three birds along the Tagdilt on the 19th. Some were quite confiding allowing close views from the car around the rubbish tip just south of the main road.
ROCK DOVE - Columba livia
Noted only on the 17th in the mountains around Oukaimeden, although feral pigeons were frequent elsewhere.
WOODPIGEON - Columba palumbus
Noted in small numbers on the 15th, 16th and 18th only.
COLLARED DOVE - Streptopelia decaocto
Noted on the 15th and 21st in small numbers around Massa.
LAUGHING DOVE - Streptopelia senegalensis
Noted on the 15th only around the village of Massa.
LITTLE OWL - Athene noctua
Only one seen throughout the trip. On the 18th, one was seen sitting on the corner of a low roof of a building, somewhere in the mountains just north of Ouarzazate.
LITTLE SWIFT - Apus affinis
A minimum of fifty birds around the Jemaa el Fna square in the heart of Marrakech at dusk on the 17th. They were flying into the large open door of what appeared to be a car park but then exiting through the unglazed windows. A spectacular sight as they flew just above our heads as they went through the doors.
HOOPOE - Upupa epops
Two in the Oued Sous river bed at Taroudannt on the 20th were the only ones seen.
LEVAILLANT'S WOODPECKER - Picus vaillantii *
First heard at an unproven sight in the Imlil valley south of Asni on the 16th. Following the sound of one calling, an individual flew over the road and landed on a sparsely wooded hillside. It was eventually located and watched, eventually flying down towards the road and giving reasonably close views. Another was heard calling across the valley from the one being observed. One the 17th, one flying alongside the car as we climbed close to Oukaimeden, landed on a roadside boulder giving good if somewhat brief views through the car windscreen before flushing and disappearing from sight.
DESERT LARK - Ammomanes deserti
Noted on the 18th, 19th and 20th in the desert areas around and to the east of Ouarzazate.
HOOPOE LARK - Alaemon alaudipes
A lone individual alongside the road on the 19th to the east of Ouarzazate was disappointingly, the only one seen.
THICK-BILLED LARK - Rhamphocoris clotbey *
Possibly the birds of the trip were the two individuals seen close to a dried-up wadi along the Tagdilt on the 19th. First picked up in company with Temminck's Horned Larks, they split away and were watched at close range for over thirty minutes as they fed or just rested on the dry stony sparsely scrub covered desert.
LESSER SHORT-TOED LARK - Calandrella rufescens
Double figure numbers on the Tagdilt track on the 19th.
CRESTED LARK - Galerida cristata
Noted on all dates. A widespread roadside bird.
THEKLA LARK - Galerida theklae
Only specifically identified on call/song on the 16th at the Agadir Kasbah and on the 19th and 20th around Ouarzazate.
SHORE LARK - Eremophila alpestris
Two seen well on the ground at Oukaimeden on the 17th with four flying over there later in the morning.
TEMMINCK'S HORNED LARK - Eremophila bilopha
At least forty along the Tagdilt track on the 19th with several being watched particularly well.
BROWN-THROATED SAND MARTIN - Riparia paludicola *
Only three found on the 15th, flying over the fields and along the river to the south of Massa village. A lack of time prevented a return to the site on the 21st.
CRAG MARTIN - Ptyonoprogne rupestris
Noted in reasonable numbers on the 17th through to the 19th in and around the High Atlas, with two along the coast north of Tamri on the 21st.
SWALLOW - Hirundo rustica
Noted on the 18th only at the Barrage El Mansour, Ouarzazate.
RED-RUMPED SWALLOW - Hirundo daurica
Two on the 16th over the fields and trees around the rubbish tip to the west of Taroudannt.
MEADOW PIPIT - Anthus pratensis
Singles noted on the 16th and 19th only.
GREY WAGTAIL - Motacilla cinerea
A single on the 17th, with two on the 18th and a single again on the 20th. All were in the vicinity of water courses.
WHITE WAGTAIL - Motacilla alba
Widespread and common and noted on all dates.
COMMON BULBUL - Pycnonotus barbatus
Widespread and common along the coast and along the Sous valley. Also seen in Marrakech.
WREN - Troglodytes troglodytes
Two on the 17th in the mountains near Oukaimeden.
BLACK REDSTART - Phoenicurus ochruros
Noted in small numbers on most dates, seeming to be quite widespread.
COMMON REDSTART - Phoenicurus phoenicurus
At least two noted on the 16th along the Oued Sous riverbed at Taroudannt.
MOUSSIER'S REDSTART - Phoenicurus moussieri
Noted most dates in small numbers in varying habitats. A very distinctive species and one of the colourful birds of the trip.
STONECHAT - Saxicola torquata
Widespread and common and seen on most dates.
DESERT WHEATEAR - Oenanthe deserti
Two females/immatures on the 18th alongside the road near to Ouarzazate were the only ones seen.
RED-RUMPED WHEATEAR - Oenanthe moesta
At least fifteen birds, both male and female on the 19th along the Tagdilt track.
WHITE-CROWNED BLACK WHEATEAR - Oenanthe leucopyga
Two on the 18th alongside the road near to Ouarzazate; at least five on the 19th between Ouarzazate and the Tagdilt track and one on the 20th.
BLACK WHEATEAR - Oenanthe leucura
Quite widespread and more common than expected. Two at the Agadir Kasbah on the morning of the 16th, with three later in the day in the mountains en route to Marrakech; At least twenty on the 18th in the mountains between Marrakech and Ouarzazate; five on the 20th en route back to Agadir and two again at the Kasbah on the afternoon of the 21st.
BLUE ROCK THRUSH - Monticola solitarius
Two around the Agadir Kasbah on the 16th with one later in the day in the mountains and three on the 17th again in the mountains but near to Oukaimeden.
BLACKBIRD - Turdus merula
Widespread and common, albeit in small numbers. Seen on all dates except the 19th.
CETTI'S WARBLER - Cettia cetti
One heard calling in scrub alongside the Oued Massa on the 21st.
FAN-TAILED WARBLER - Cisticola juncidis
Two on the 21st alongside the Oued Massa.
TRISTRAM'S WARBLER - Sylvia deserticola
At least two seen on the morning of the 16th on the scrub covered hillside below the Agadir Kasbah. A bird that I had wanted to see well again and was pleased with our success.
SARDINIAN WARBLER - Sylvia melanocephala
Noted in small numbers on five dates with a day maximum of five on the 21st around the Oued Massa. Some showed quite well, unlike their normal skulking behaviour.
COMMON WHITETHROAT - Sylvia communis
A single in scrub at the eastern end of the Barrage El Mansour on the 19th.
CHIFFCHAFF - Phylloscopus collybita
Widespread in small numbers and noted on five dates.
FULVOUS BABBLER - Turdoides fulvus
Only four seen, these being a group flushed from bushes in the Sous riverbed near to Taroudannt on the 20th.
BLUE TIT - Parus caeruleus
Two of the distinctive North African sub-species in the mountains near to Oukaimeden on the 17th.
BLACK-CROWNED TCHAGRA - Tchagra senegala *
A much desired species before the trip, the first was an individual flushed from bushes alongside the Sous riverbed at Taroudannt on the 20th which gave reasonable if somewhat brief views. One on it's own along the Oued Massa track and then a further three showing well in the old campsite area at the mouth of the Oued Massa on the morning of the 21st was a real bonus and allowed good lengthy views.
SOUTHERN GREY SHRIKE - Lanius meridionalis
Widespread and common and seen on all dates.
MAGPIE - Pica pica
Widespread and common, this distinctive sub-species was more common around Marrakech than elsewhere.
ALPINE CHOUGH - Pyrrhocorax graculus
No count made, but several in a much larger flock of Chough in the High Atlas south of Marrakech on the 18th.
CHOUGH - Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
A flock of one hundred plus alongside and over the main road through the High Atlas south of Marrakech on the 18th.
RAVEN - Corvus corax
Four at Oukaimeden on the 17th with two near Aoulouz on the 20th and four around Tamri on the 21st.
SPOTLESS STARLING - Sturnus unicolor
Noted on the 15th, 16th and 20th only.
HOUSE SPARROW - Passer domesticus
Widespread and common and noted on all dates.
SPANNISH SPARROW - Passer hispaniolensis
Individuals noted on the 15th and 17th only.
ROCK SPARROW - Petronia petronia
Thirty plus around Oukaimeden on the 17th with similar numbers in a bush alongside the road between Marrakech and Ouarzazate on the 18th.
CHAFFINCH - Fringilla coelebs
Noted at Oukaimeden on the 17th with several along the Sous riverbed near to Taroudannt on the 20th. All of the distinctive North African sub-species.
SERIN - Serinus serinus
Noted on the 15th, 17th and 18th only, with individuals above the snow line at Oukaimeden being particularly unexpected.
GREENFINCH - Carduelis chloris
Noted on the 16th, 18th and 20th in small numbers.
GOLDFINCH - Carduelis carduelis
Good sized flocks noted on several dates along the coast and along the Sous valley.
LINNET - Carduelis cannabina
Noted on the 17th at Oukaimeden.
CRIMSON-WINGED FINCH - Rhodopechys sanguinea
At least six individuals frequenting a lone tree on the snow covered hillside at Oukaimeden. Somewhat paler than the ones seen in Turkey, with the crimson being more the colour of the pink on a Desert Finch. A much sought-after W.P.species.
TRUMPETER FINCH - Bucanetes githagineus
At least thirty birds along the Tagdilt track on the 19th with a party of at least six alongside the road west of Ouarzazate on the 20th.
CIRL BUNTING - Emberiza cirlus
Two in agricultural land in the foothills between Oukaimeden and Marrakech on the 17th.
ROCK BUNTING - Emberiza cia
One on the hillside of Agadir Kasbah on the 16th with at least six in the mountains near Oukaimeden on the 17th and one on the 20th.
HOUSE BUNTING - Emberiza striolata
Three on the 15th in the village of Massa, with six alongside the road near to Ouarzazate on the 18th with five on the 20th one of which was singing on the roof of our hotel.
CORN BUNTING - Miliaria calandra
Noted on the 17th and 18th only around Marrakech.