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A Report from

Morocco, Tuesday 9th - Friday 19th October 2001,

Robin Griffiths and Bob Dawson

Day 1
Tuesday 9th October

Travel to Morocco

Depart Manchester at 12:30, arriving at Heathrow 13:25.  Our Marrakech flight leaves at 16:00, arriving at 19:50.  The UK time will be the same as 'Africa time' so there should be no need to change clocks.  We meet our driver at the airport and, as we are arriving after dark we head straight for the hotel.  We shall go over the potential birds to be seen the next day at Oukaimeden before retiring.

Day 2
Wednesday 10th October

Day trip to Oukaimeden, stopping en route to check out different habitats.  Night in Marrakech.

Oukaimeden is most noted for its Crimson-winged Finches.  However, they can be elusive at the best of times.  We hope to see the Atlas race of Shore Lark, both Red-billed and Alpine Choughs and Rock Sparrow.  The drive up passes through a number of habitats and we will look out for Tristram's Warbler and Levaillant's Green Woodpecker.

Comment :- Exceedingly cold and misty at 2760 metres.No crimsonwinged finches, woodpecker or warbler. Excellent views of the others, plus Moussiers redstart, rock bunting, etc, and little swifts over the hotel each morning.

Day 3
Thursday 11th October

Drive to Boumalne du Dades via Tizi-n-Tichka, stopping for lunch in Ouarzazate.  If time, visit Barrage El Mansour Eddahbi before continuing to Boumalne du Dades.  Evening visit to Tagdilt area.  Night at Auberge Soleil Bleu, Boumalne du Dades.  This is quite a long drive so we will need to leave early.

We leave Marrakech southwards, passing through the alpine Tizi-n-Tichka pass on the way to the desert plateaux of the lower High Atlas.  As we approach the major town of Ouarzazate we may begin to see typical species such as Desert Lark, while Black Wheatears of the rocky slopes give way to White-crowned Black Wheatear.  The permanent water body ("barrage" = reservoir) to the east of the town provides a diversity of waterfowl but then we press on to the famous Tagdilt area for larks, sandgrouse, Trumpeter Finch, and perhaps Eagle Owl.

Comment:- A very long and spectacular drive over a 2200m. pass. Birding stops delayed us and we only reached our lunch stop mid-afternoon, before  pressing on to reach our overnight stop after dark. Nonetheless we did have prolonged views of an adult Bonelli's eagle flying and perched.

Day 4
Friday 12th October

Early start for Tagdilt area.  Drive back to Ouarzazate and then on to Agadir via the Plain of the Oued Souss.  Evening talk by Bald Ibis research team. Night in Agadir.  The leg to Agadir is another long drive (6-8 hours) but we hope to break this up by stops.

Giving ourselves the best chance of desert birding we make an early start for more larks, sandgrouse and wheatears (especially Red-rumped).  Houbara Bustard is a remote possibility here as at most sites in Morocco now.  A few raptors should become apparent late in the morning, such as Long-legged Buzzard and Peregrine / Barbary Falcon.  We need to leave by early afternoon to make the long trek to Agadir.  As we descend into the Souss Plain we will see large tracts of open Argan forest, which contain among other things, Black-shouldered Kite, Southern Grey Shrike and Chaffinch (African race).  This is the area for Dark Chanting Goshawk but it is feared that this species may be all but extinct now.  We arrive at Agadir and after supper, will hear a presentation on the Bald Ibis project by National Park staff.

Comment :- Dawn in the desert! First four birds were red rumped wheatear, trumpeter finch, short toed lark, and Temmincks horned lark. Three lifers. There then followed amongst others, bartailed, hoopoe, and desert lark. After a late breakfast on to Agadir, over eight hours driving. Ideally this would be better done over two days. As there is good desert birding en route as well as the Barrage with ruddy shelduck,( which we did not pick up on the coast) and had no time to visit.

Day 5
Saturday 13th October

North to Cap Rhir and Tamri.  Back to Agadir.  Visit IFCDW Houbara Centre.  Evening visit to Oued Souss.  Moroccan cuisine follows with either tagines at Tikiouine.  Night in Agadir.

A more relaxed day, looking for passerine migrants in the euphorbia scrub and looking for seabirds passing at Cap Rhir.  A little further north and we may see some of the last 200 Bald Ibis remaining in the wild.  Timing is often critical for seeing these birds at this, one of their more reliable sites; from 10:00 onwards is recommended.  Audouin's Gulls are present in variable numbers along the many beaches and we may also see Blue Rock Thrush, Black-crowned Tchagra and Moussier's Redstart.  We head south for lunch at Taghazoute, with a wonderful sea view (and some nearby scrub) then back to Agadir to visit the IFCDW Houbara Centre.  After a short tour we will look for Red-necked Nightjar at a day roost.  Barbary Partridge are common here and a number of other species breed, including Moussier's Redstart and Black-crowned Tchagra.  The evening will be spent at Oued Souss, a premier site for waders, gulls and terns, with a good diversity of other species, including Greater Flamingo, herons and egrets.  Not exactly a beautiful site, as much municipal waste ends up on the shores here, but this is where the familiar mix with the exotic (over 100 Black-winged Stilts are not unusual) and rarities are regularly recorded.  Insect repellent is recommended for an evening visit.  An optional early morning visit can be arranged.

Comment:- Due to our late arrival and sickness amongst the group,we had the bald ibis presentation on the coastal plain south of Cap Rhir, surrounded by 12-16 feeding bald ibis.Back to Oued Souss for the rest of the morning. Highlights were close views of black-crowned tchagra, royal tern and a spectacular osprey catching a fish in front of us.We were fortunate to gain permission for the tour of the ICFDW Houbara centre, which was really impressive,showing what can be done(alas for doubtful motives), when money is no object.Later in  the grounds we found a pair of long eared owls, Barbary partridge and  had fleeting views of stone curlew and red necked night jar.

Day 6
Sunday 14th October

Day trip to Oued Massa.  Early start.  Night in Agadir.

Massa is a real jewel.  The species diversity here should be the greatest of any site on this trip.  One day is barely enough, as we can explore the mouth of the river (Bald Ibis are often seen here in the early afternoon), where we can expect to see Marbled Duck, or the meandering stretches further inland.  These hold Brown-throated Sand Martins, Black-crowned Tchagras, Black-bellied Sandgouse, wildfowl, herons, raptors (a regular site for young wandering Bonelli's Eagles), Laughing Dove and passerines including the delightful Moussier's Redstart.  Red-throated Pipits have been recorded wintering in the alfalfa fields.  A reedbed area acts as a roost for herons and egrets, plus the occasional Glossy Ibis (ringed birds from the Coto Donana in Spain have been recorded here).  Water Rails are resident.

Comment :- Everything it was said to be, plus three cream coloured coursers seen en route. Not one, but four Bonelli's, a lanner, and a Barbary falcon (glimpse only),and four more bald ibis

Day 7
Monday 15th October

Early morning to Oued Souss for waders, gulls and terns.  We will then explore the Souss Plain, taking in a loop going through agricultural regions dominated in particular by olive and orange groves, and Argan trees (grown for their oil).

We head inland from Agadir taking detour to the village of Sebt Guerdane, on towards the historical capital of the Souss, Taroudannt.  We will spend some time here looking for Fulvous Babblers.  After visiting a traditional look-out point for birds at Igoudar, the loop reaches its furthest extent from Agadir at Aoulouz, and it may be possible to explore the Argan forest to the east of here but dam building means that some areas are now off-limits. We return to Agadir via a road that has often produced Black-shouldered Kite.

The main attractions for the Plain are its raptors, and we have good chances of Long-legged Buzzard and Black-shouldered Kite.  If it is cloudy and cool, we may see Lesser Kestrels which will have come down from the mountains, often accompanied by House Martin and both Pallid and Little Swifts.  The less common species are Bonelli's and Booted Eagle, while real rarities these days are Tawny Eagle and Dark Chanting Goshawk.  Lanner and Peregrine are also possible as is Barbary Falcon.  Late migrants may include Black Kite, Montagu's Harrier, Honey Buzzard and Short-toed Eagle.  There may well be small parties of Short-toed and Lesser Short-toed Larks and a few other passerine migrants if the skies are a little barren.

Comment :- Because conditions were deemed unsuitable we spent the day at Oued Souss, omitting the Souss plain. Later we heard from a French group that the Plain had in fact been  good for raptors, including tawny eagles. Never the less we did find, black, white winged black, gull billed  lesser crested, little, common and sandwich terns  as well as Audouins and slender billed gulls. 

Tuesday 16th October

Oued Souss and north to Essaouira.

We will spend the morning at the Oued Souss in Agadir.  This is the main site for waders, gulls and terns on our itinerary, and we should get good views of many species from the observation platforms.  We can test our ring reading abilities on the spoonbills and flamingos, which are a mixture from Spain, France and Sardinia.  If these are too easy then we can try the gulls as well!  It is a reliable site for small numbers of the Moroccan race of White Wagtail - in my own personal view a separate species.  A small pond has produced interesting freshwater species, such as Little Bittern, and passerine migrants should be present among the bushes and trees.  After the Souss, we will make our way to the port of Essaouira, famous for its offshore breeding colony of Eleanora's Falcons and a number of markets ("soukhs"), in particular many wood craftsmen, the main attraction for the discerning shopper!  We may see Bald Ibis, Peregrine and Lanner on route.

Comment :- Because of our prolonged stay at Oued Souss yesterday, we drove straight to Essaouira this morning. No bald ibis were seen, but the lunch stop by the bridge over Oued Ksob was thronged with hunting Eleanora's in a whole range of plumages. There were many more to be seen around Essaouira, flying over head or even perched in the trees of the carpark where we left our 'bus before walking in to Maison du Sud our hotel in the old walled part of the town. The rest of the day was spent bargaining in the souks.

Day 9
Wednesday 17th October

Atlantic Coast: Essaouira to El Jadida.

We spend the morning at Essaouira, looking for Eleanora's Falcons (although most of the young will have fledged by mid-October) and other species but then push northwards along the coast, passing swiftly by the phosphate business of Safi to Cap Beddouza.  This area is good for a stop for lunch, seawatching, and investigating the low-walled fields for migrants. Blue Rock Thrush is a good possibility here.  The lagoons from Oualidia northwards to Sidi Moussa cover a stretch of over 30km of the coastline and there are several tracks allowing close approach. We hope for good numbers of Avocets and other waders, wildfowl including Ruddy Shelduck as well as other waterbird species. Near El Jadida is a recognised wintering site for Mediterranean Gulls (Sidi Bouzid) and we may have time to drop in here before returning to Oualidia for the night, perhaps enjoying some of the local oysters.

Comment :- Last minute shopping delayed our start, directly to Oualidia, stopping only for pair of roadside stone curlews, cliff top lanners and two Caspian terns (Oued Tensift estuary). Lunch by a lighthouse at Cap Beddouza, where we were able,despite the haze to increase our pelagic list.

Our hotel tonight set in idyllic gardens, was right on the shore of the coastal lagoon. We accepted the offer of an 8km. boat trip along the shore and up the estuary as far as the saltpans. The waders were very confiding, and notable for the high numbers of whimbrel and grey plover, which had previously been scarce.

Day 10
Thursday 18th October

Oualidia to Marrakech

We leave the relaxed attitude of the coast for the hustle and bustle of Marrakech.  Early morning options are seawatching at Oualidia (which has produced shearwaters and skuas) and a dawn raid on the closer lagoons.  For the drive to Marrakech we will avoid the main routes in the hope of picking up some interesting species in the roadside fields.  The highlight would be a flock of wintering Dotterel, freshly returned from their Scottish breeding grounds, but these will be very elusive and are much less brightly coloured at this time. More likely are the stocky figures of Calandra Larks, along with egrets and wagtails, raptors such as Lesser Kestrel and Marsh Harrier, plus maybe migrant Great Spotted Cuckoo and Hoopoe and the rather more homely Lapwing and Golden Plover. This is very much an unexplored area since the wintering range of the Dotterel was established, so there could well be some surprises in store.  The drive is expected to take about 4-6 hours, but we should still have plenty of time to explore the soukhs of Marrakech around the Jemaa El Fna.

Comment :- The whole morning was spent wader watching amongst the lagoons and saltpans, adding marsh and wood sandpipers to the list as well as Moroccan and white wagtails, and a Montagu's harrier. The area although good for ducks did not produce a ruddy shelduck. The desert/cultivated plateau to Marrakech was disappointing except for large flocks of calandra larks. The last birds of the trip and the day's highlight were two unexpected cream coloured coursers feeding within feet the road, with another sixteen birds further away.

Day 11
Friday 19th October

Homeward bound

Departing 10:00 from Marrakech arriving Heathrow 15:55 [I don't know why this should take so long, perhaps a 'touch down' at Tangier? though this airport can be excellent for raptors].  Connection to Manchester at 17:45, arriving 18:40 hours.  We will need to be at the airport for 08:00 so apart from an early morning stroll there will not be much opportunity for birdwatching.  Hopefully we will have had a successful trip and enjoyed Morocco's wildlife and its peoples' hospitality.

Comment :- Casablanca stop took 45 minutes. 30 minutes early into Heathrow only added to the wait there.

Itinerary by Bob Dawson(tour leader), comment by Robin Griffiths. Trip arranged by Wild Wings.

BIRD LIST (by Bob Dawson)

LITTLE GREBETachybaptus ruficollis [Grebe castagneux]
Seen at Oued Massa on 14th (where common) and small numbers at Oualidia, both on the evening boat trip on 17th (3) and on the lagoons betweeen Oualidia and Sidi Moussa the following day (4+).

GREAT CRESTED GREBEPodiceps cristatus [Grebe huppe]
A single seen at Oued Massa on 14th.

SOOTY SHEARWATERPuffinus griseus    [Puffin fuligineux]
A total of nine seen passing south at Cap Beddouza between 1330 and 1430hrs on 17th.

BALEARIC SHEARWATERPuffinus mauretanicus    [Puffin de Mediterranee]
A total of 23 flew south off Agadir (viewed from the hotel balcony) on the morning on 16th.Three other birds flying north were either this species or Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus.

NORTHERN GANNET  Morus bassanus        [Fou de bassan]
Regularly seen off the Atlantic coast, with most conspicuous numbers passing south off Cap Beddouza when at least 100 recorded.  Virtually any scan of the sea was likely to produce at least a few birds, this species being recorded daily from 13th-18th.  Young birds predominated but a small proportion of adults was noted.

GREAT CORMORANT  Phalacrocorax carbo   [Grand cormoran]
Seen daily from 13th-18th, with most birds assigned to the distinctive race maroccanus.

CATTLE EGRET  Bubulcus ibis      [Heron garde-boeufs]
The commonest heron, recorded on all days excecept 12th & 13th.  Highest numbers were at Oued Souss on 15th, where at least 600 formed a pre-roost gathering.  Small flocks were also noted elsewhere, e.g. 25 in an irrigated alfalfa field south of Marrakech on 11th.

LITTLE EGRET  Egretta garzetta [Aigrette garzette]
Seen on all days except 13th, but in much smaller numbers than Cattle Egret.  Largest numbers were at Oued Massa (30+ on 14th) and Oualidia (50+ on 17th).  In the desert, one seen with Grey Heron and Greeen Sandpiper at Oued Imassine.

GREY HERON  Ardea cinerea     [Heron cendre]
Widespread in small numbers from 11th-18th, with most seen at the wetland locations of Oued Souss, Oued Massa and Oualidia.  At least 30 seen from the boat at the last site on 17th was probably the maximum.

PURPLE HERON  Ardea purpurea  [Heron pourpre]
A juvenile was present and gave superb views in the inland section of Oued Massa on 14th, almost precisely at a nest location from the previous year.

WHITE STORK  Ciconia ciconia  [Cigogne blanche]
Seen a couple of times on the outskirts of Marrakech (10th & 18th), three at Oued Souss on both 13th & 15th, and up to five at Oualidia/Sidi Moussa on 17th & 18th.

GLOSSY IBIS  Plegadis falcinellus      [Ibis falcinelle]
At least 25 were at Oued Massa on 14th and were thoroughly spooked by a Lanner.  Two were at Oued Souss on 13th & 15th, while a minimum of four were at the 'Jorf Lasfar 30' marsh north of Oualidia on 18th.

BALD IBIS  Geronticus eremita   [Ibis chauve]
Twelve individuals were at Tamraght, north of Agadir on 13th.  Eight birds gave very close views while Ali Aghnaj gave a presentation on the Bald Ibis and the Parc National Souss-Massa.  The following day at Oued Massa, parties of 5, 6 and 9 birds were seen, possibly involving some duplication.

EURASIAN SPOONBILL  Platalea leucorodia    [Spatule blanche]
Small numbers recorded from 13th-18th, with up to 10 at Oued Souss being the maximum.  Seen also at Oued Massa, Tamri and Oualidia/Sidi Moussa.

GREATER FLAMINGO  Phoenicopterus ruber    [Flamant rose]
Recorded daily from 13th-18th.  By far the largest numbers were at Oued Souss (350 on 13th & 15th) and Oued Massa (300 on 14th).  150 were at the Jorf Lasfar 30' marsh north of Oualidia on 18th while much smaller numbers were at Tamri (3 on 16th) and Oued Tensift (1 on 17th).

RUDDY SHELDUCK  Tadorna ferruginea      [Tadorne casarca]
Just a single bird, seen at Oued Massa on 14th.

EURASIAN WIGEON  Anas penelope        [Canard siffleur]
Only seen at Oued Massa with at least two individuals on 14th.

GADWALL  Anas strepera      [Canard chipeau]
Six seen at Oued Massa on 14th.

EURASIAN TEAL  Anas crecca     [Sarcelle d'hiver]
Seen at Oued Massa (20+) and Oualidia/Sidi Moussa, where at least 10 birds present at the Jorf Lasfar 30' marsh north of Oualidia on 18th.

MALLARD  Anas platyrhynchos     [Canard colvert]
Often surprisingly elusive, but a small number (8) tracked down in the inland section of Oued Massa

NORTHERN PINTAIL  Anas acuta  [Canard pilet]
Fairly common at Oued Massa (14th) and a small number (c10) from the boat at Oualidia on 17th.

GARGANEY  Anas querquedula   [Sarcelle d'ete]
A female was seen at the 'Jorf Lasfar 30' marsh north of Oualidia on 18th.

NORTHERN SHOVELER  Anas clypeata [Canard souchet]
Seen at Oued Massa (40 on 14th), from the boat at Oualidia (100+ on 17th), with smaller numbers (30) at the 'Jorf Lasfar 30' marsh north of Oualidia the following day.

MARBLED DUCK  Marmaronetta angustirostris    [Sarcelle marbree]
Recorded only at Oued Massa on 14th, with at least 200 birds present.

POCHARD  Aythya ferina  [Fuligule milouin]
Also only recorded at Oued Massa, with c40 birds present.

TUFTED DUCK  Aythya fuligula   [Fuligule morillon]
In the inland section of Oued Massa, five birds present.

COMMON SCOTER  Melanitta nigra    [Macreuse noire]
Birds were seen passing south of Cap Rhir (30 on 16th) and Cap Beddouza (10 on 17th).

EUROPEAN HONEY-BUZZARD  Pernis apivorus      [Bondree apivore]
A late migrant was struggling eastwards along a ridge adjacent to a wadi near Ilourudal on 11th, 18km north of Amerzgane.

SHORT-TOED EAGLE  Circaetus gallicus  [Circaete Jean-le-Blanc]
Three birds were watched at Oued Touama on 11th (147km from Ouarzazate), presumably migrants held up by the poor weather over the mountains.

EURASIAN MARSH HARRIER  Circus aeruginosus        [Busard des roseaux]
All birds seen were females/immatures.  The first two were flying south over Oued Touama on 11th, but the remainder (apart from one obliging bird that flushed Cream-coloured Coursers near Sidi Rbat on 14th, were associated with water bodies at Oued Massa (5 on 14th), Oued Souss (1-2), Oued Tensift (1 on 17th) and Oualidia/Sidi Moussa (2 on 18th at the 'Jorf Lasfar 30' marsh).  One bird was seen mobbing a juvenile Bonelli's Eagle at very close range at Oued Massa on 14th.

MONTAGU'S HARRIER  Circus pygargus        [Busard cendre]
A juvenile gave excellent views at the 'Jorf Lasfar 25' salt lagoons south of Sidi Moussa on 18th.

EURASIAN SPARROWHAWK  Accipiter nisus [Epervier d'Europe]
Migrants noted at  Oued Massa (2 with 2 juvenile Bonelli's Eagles on 14th) and Oued Souss (two singles on 15th).  Other singles were seen on the drive to Oukaimeden on 10th, at the IFCDW Houbara Centre near Ait Melloul (13th) and at the 'Jorf Lasfar 45' salt lagoons north of Oualidia on 18th.  The last bird at least was probably a North African race bird.

LONG-LEGGED BUZZARD  Buteo rufinus [Buse feroce]
Just three individuals seen.  The first was an adult soaring at the forestry post below Oukaimeden (Poste Forestier Agaiouar) on 10th.  The following day, another adult was seen in strong winds above a ridge by the roadside 22km from Tagdert, while a second bird was harrying an adult Bonelli's Eagle 17km west of Skoura.

BONELLI'S EAGLE  Hieraaetus fasciatus [Aigle de Bonelli]
One of the birds of the trip.  At least 7 individuals seen, mostly juveniles as expected.  The first bird was soaring near the kasbah in Ouarzazate (a dark juvenile) on 11th.  The second was seen shortly afterwards, being the adult bird being mobbed by a Long-legged Buzzard.  This bird crossed the road ahead of the minibus and perched on an electricity pole, allowing extended scope viewing.  A very white bird underneath, perhaps indicating an old male. As adults are usually paired and on territory, it was a surprise and a pleasure to see this bird.  Oued Massa provided a veritable bonanza on 14th, with two juveniles (a typical and a pale bird) near the mouth and two typical juveniles passing south in the afternoon further inland.  The other bird seen was a juvenile or second year bird briefly at the IFCDW Houbara Centre near Ait Melloul on 13th.

OSPREY  Pandion haliaetus      [Balbuzard pecheur]
Another raptor that gave excellent views, particularly at Oued Souss, where two birds were present on both 13th & 15th  One bird was watched catching a fish at close range on 13th before flying past with its catch at even closer range, while on 15th one brought its catch to a post in front of one of the observation platforms, though it did not seem particularly enthralled with its meal.  Three were at Oued Massa on 14th while two passed south at Tamri on 16th, one pausing briefly on the sandbar there before resuming its journey.

LESSER KESTREL  Falco naumanni       [Faucon crecerellette]
Two of uncertain sex/age flew south at Oued Touama on 11th but paused to catch a few insects.

COMMON KESTREL  Falco tinnunculus      [Faucon crecerelle]
One of the few species to be seen daily on the trip.  Widespread and regularly seen from the minibus.

ELEANORA'S FALCON  Falco eleonorae       [Faucon d'Eleonore]
At Essaouira, nine seen together in one tree at Oued Ksob to the south of the town on 16th.  Other birds were regularly seen flying over the town itself, particularly early on 17th (at least 20).  Other birds were seen to the north of Essaouira from the road on 17th at least to 57km south of  Safi.  A falcon seen later on at Oued Tensift was either this species or European Hobby Falco subbuteo.

LANNER  Falco biarmicus     [Faucon lanier]
Two juvenile birds seen, one superbly at Oued Massa on 14th, after causing some consternation along the river. The other was at Oued Tensift on 17th, where it got involved with a Marsh Harrier.  On 17th again, two adults seen along the clifftop at Cap Safi, where in the hazy sunshine they were observed harrying a few Little Egrets roosting along the cliff face.  One probable seen at Oued Souss on 13th, heading over the Royal Palace.

PEREGRINE FALCON  Falco peregrinus     [Faucon pelerin]
Scarce, with a small juvenile at Oukaimeden on 10th and an adult perched alongside Eleanora's Falcons in Essaouira on 17th.

BARBARY FALCON  Falco pelegrinoides        [Faucon de Barbarie]
A juvenile at Oued Massa on 14th.  Key features were the narrow moustachial stripe and therefore wide pale cheek patch, pale rufous forehead at least, even and relatively (compared with Peregrine Falcon) light streaking on the underparts and underwing coverts.  Unfortunately this bird did not reappear after its initial overhead sortie.

BARBARY PARTRIDGE  Alectoris barbara    [Perdrix gambra]
At least four were at the IFCDW Houbara Centre near Ait Melloul on 13th, where quite large numbers breed.

COMMON MOORHEN  Gallinula chloropus       [Poule d'eau]
Common at Oued Massa on 14th, less so at Oued Souss (7 at the freshwater pool on 15th) and Sidi Moussa (2 on 18th).

COMMON COOT  Fulica atra  [Foulque macroule]
Very common at Oued Massa on 14th, with several hundred present.  Others (c30) present from Oualidia to Sidi Moussa but unfortunately no indications of any Crested Coots Fulica cristata there.

EURASIAN OYSTERCATCHER  Haematopus ostralegus        [Huitrier pie]
Recorded in small numbers at Oued Souss on 13th & 15th and Oualidia/Sidi Moussa on 17th & 18th.

BLACK-WINGED STILT  Himantopus himantopus   [Echasse blanche]
Common at Oued Souss, with c.200 present on 13th but these numbers eclipsed by thouse at Oualidia/Sidi Moussa where over 1000 birds present, particularly at the 'Jorf Lasfar 25' salt lagoons south of Sidi Moussa on 18th.  Also recorded at Oued Massa.

PIED AVOCET  Recurvirostra avosetta  [Avocette elegante]
Two at Oued Souss on both 13th & 15th but as with the previous species, much more common at Oualidia/Sidi Moussa, where an estimated 250 birds were seen, mainly at the 'Jorf Lasfar 25' salt lagoons south of Sidi Moussa on 18th.

STONE CURLEW  Burhinus oedicnemus    [Oedicneme criard]
At least two individuals seen in flight and heard calling at dusk on 13th at the IFCDW Houbara Centre near Ait Melloul.  A more distant bird also heard calling.  Far more obliging, however, were two birds seen from the road north of Essaouira on 17th, 75km south of Safi.

CREAM-COLOURED COURSER  Cursorius cursor    [Courvite isabelle]
Three fairly distant birds were seen from the piste to Sidi Rbat near Oued Massa on 14th.  However, what better way to end the trip than with the loose flock of at least 18 birds seen from the road, between 51 & 52km north of Marrakech on 18th, on the Plateau des Ganntours.

LITTLE PLOVER  Charadrius dubius     [Petit gravelot]
Scarce, particularly at Oued Souss (where their favoured area had been altered) with only two or three there on 13th & 15th,  Four at the almost-dry pool south of the Oualidia lagoon on 18th, and there probably were one or two at the 'Jorf Lasfar 20' salt lagoons & salt marsh south of Sidi Moussa, also on 18th.

RINGED PLOVER  Charadrius hiaticula        [Grand gravelot]
Common at Oued Souss on 13th & 15th and noted also at Tamraght on 13th and Oued Massa on 14th.  At Oualidia, at least 100 seen on the evening boat trip and seen subsequently throughout the Oualidia/Sidi Moussa lagoon & marsh system.

KENTISH PLOVER  Charadrius alexandrinus [Gravelot a collier interromptu]
The first bird turned up surprisingly by a pool along the Ikniouin Road, in the Tagdilt area east of Boumalne du Dades on 12th.  More expectedly, seen along the coast at Oued Massa, Oued Souss, Oued Tensift and Oualidia/Sidi Moussa but not in particularly large numbers.

EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER  Pluvialis apricaria  [Pluvier dore]
Certainly two and possibly a third bird present at Oued Souss on 15th.

GREY PLOVER  Pluvialis squatorala     [Pluvier argente]
The first was at Oued Massa on 14th, one of many birds disturbed by a juvenile Lanner.  Another seen at Oued Souss the following day but main numbers seen at the Oualidia salt marsh from the boat on 17th, with at least 80 birds present.

RED KNOT  Calidris canutus [Becasseau maubeche]
Seen at the main coastal locations, particularly at Oued Souss on 13th & 15th (10-20 birds), and Oualidia from the boat on 17th (c20).

SANDERLING  Calidris alba  [Becasseau sanderling]
Small numbers noted occasionally, often in association with Ringed Plovers, e.g. at Tamraght on 13th and at the 'Jorf Lasfar 45' salt lagoons north of Oualidia on 18th.  Noted also at Oued Souss and from the boat at Oualidia.

LITTLE STINT  Calidris minuta  [Becasseau minute]
Again, present along the coast at the main wetland sites Oued Souss, Oued Massa and Oualidia/Sidi Moussa. Greatest numbers at the 'Jorf Lasfar 25' salt lagoons south of Sidi Moussa on 18th (40) with c15 at each of Oued Souss and Oued Massa.

CURLEW SANDPIPER  Calidris ferruginea      [Becasseau cocorli]
Seen at Oued Souss, Oued Massa and Oualidia/Sidi Moussa.  Best viewing probably at Oued Souss and the 'Jorf Lasfar 25' salt lagoons south of Sidi Moussa, with c20 and c30 birds respectively.  One adult with vestiges of breeding plumage at Oued Souss but most birds had moulted into winter plumage.

DUNLIN  Calidris alpina   [Becasseau variable]
The commonest small wader, particularly at the Oualidia salt marsh, with c300 counted from the boat on 17th and possibly similar numbers present at Oued Souss.

RUFF  Philomachus pugnax   [Combattant varie]
Small numbers seen along the coast at Oued Souss, Oued Massa and Oualidia/Sidi Moussa.  Maximum at Oualidia/Sidi Moussa, with a minimum of c40 birds present on 18th, although birds were dispersed over a large area.  Otherwise c10 at Oued Souss the highest count.

COMMON SNIPE  Gallinago gallinago       [Becassine des marais]
Seven at Oued Souss on 15th were the first birds seen, but only other record was of three from the boat at Oualidia on 17th.

BLACK-TAILED GODWIT  Limosa limosa     [Barge a queue noire]
Present at Oued Souss, Oued Massa and Oualidia/Sidi Moussa.  Maxima were c250 at the  last site, mainly at the 'Jorf Lasfar 25' salt lagoons south of Sidi Moussa on 18th and c60 at Oued Souss.

BAR-TAILED GODWIT  Limosa lapponica      [Barge rousse]
Usually the scarcer of the two godwits at Oued Souss and Oued Massa, and so it proved again, althouogh c10 were present at the former site.  The different habitat selection was striking at Oualidia, with c100 on the salt marsh seen from the boat on 17th but none seen along the salt lagoons the following day until two seen near the salt marsh south of Sidi Moussa.

WHIMBREL  Numenius phaeopus     [Courlis corlieu]
The first was another Lanner-perturbed bird at Oued Massa on 14th, followed then by a series of records at Oualidia/Sidi Moussa, the maximum being the c15 birds seen from the boat on 17th.

EURASIAN CURLEW  Numenius arquata  [Courlis cendre]
Small numbers at Oued Souss and Oued Massa, with c70 in the salt marsh at Oualidia, seen from the boat on 17th, and a scattering of birds from Oualidia to Sidi Moussa the next day.

SPOTTED REDSHANK  Tringa erythropus    [Chevalier arlequin]
A single at Oued Souss on 13th was the only record until Oualidia, where on 18th there was one at the 'El Jadida 68' salt lagoons north of Oualidia and at least four present (and probably more) at the 'Jorf Lasfar 25' salt lagoons south of Sidi Moussa

COMMON REDSHANK  Tringa totanus      [Chevalier gambette]
Seen from 13th to 18th, present at Oued Souss, Oued Massa, Oued Ksob, Oued Tensift and Oualidia/Sidi Moussa.  At least 40 at Oued Souss and the Oualidia salt marsh, seen from the boat, but a maximum count of c100 for the lagoon and marsh system from Oualidia to Sidi Moussa the following day.

MARSH SANDPIPER  Tringa stagnatilis      [Chevalier stagnatile]
A dainty gem of a wader, five were seen at the 'Jorf Lasfar 25' salt lagoons south of Sidi Moussa, including four birds together.

COMMON GREENSHANK  Tringa nebularia    [Chevalier aboyeur]
Seemed rather scarce at Oued Souss and Oued Massa, with numbers estimated to be in single figures. Rather few also at the 'Jorf Lasfar 25' salt lagoons south of Sidi Moussa on 18th (only 3), but c15 seen the evening before on the Oualidia salt marsh from the boat.  Three at Oued Tensift on 17th the only other record.

GREEN SANDPIPER  Tringa ochropus   [Chevalier culblanc]
Only two records, the first being in the desert on 11th at Oued Imassine, in the company of Little Egret and Grey Heron.  The other was at Oued Souss on 15th.

WOOD SANDPIPER  Tringa glareola    [Chevalier sylvain]
Only one bird, at the 'El Jadida 68' salt lagoons north of Oualidia on 18th.

COMMON SANDPIPER  Actitis hypoleuca    [Chevalier guignette]
Regularly encountered at Oued Souss and Oued Massa but very few at Oualidia/Sidi Moussa.  Maximum of only 5 at Oued Souss.

RUDDY TURNSTONE  Arenaria interpres [Tournepierre a collier]
An elusive Turnstone was at Oued Souss on 13th but was joined by a second on 15th.  About 25 scattered through the Oualidia/Sidi Moussa system on 17th & 18th.

POMARINE SKUA  Stercorarius pomarinus      [Labbe pomarin]
A pale phase adult was in the bay off Agadir on 13th, seen from the hotel balcony.

ARCTIC SKUA  Stercorarius parasiticus     [Labbe parasite]
Up to six were in the bay of Agadir on 15th & 16th, again seen from the hotel balcony.  Two were flying north past Cap Safi on 17th while five flew south past Cap Beddouza the same afternoon.

LONG-TAILED SKUA  Stercorarius longicaudus  [Labbe a longue queue]
A juvenile was in the bay off Agadir on 15th, seen from the hotel balcony.  Seen in comparison with Arctic Skuas, it was distinctly smaller and greyer.  Description to be submitted to Morocco Rare Birds Committee.

MEDITERRANEAN GULL  Larus melanocephalus     [Mouette melanocephale]
Two adults roosting with Audouin's and Yellow-legged Gulls at the 'Jorf Lasfar 20' salt lagoons south of Sidi Moussa.

BLACK-HEADED GULL  Larus ridibundus    [Mouette rieuse]
Seen daily from 13th.  Common at Oued Souss in particular.  Less frequent at Oued Massa and Oualidia/Sidi Moussa.

SLENDER-BILLED GULL  Larus genei    [Goeland railleur]
The first was a first-winter bird briefly flying past at Oued Souss on 13th.  Perhaps the same bird was present on 15th when a darvic ring was partly read, (being 'HI' and then either 7, 2 or Z).  An adult was seen from the boat at the Oualidia salt marsh on 17th, and perhaps the same bird was present in the lagoon below the hotel the following morning. At least one other adult was seen on 18th, at the 'Jorf Lasfar 20' salt lagoons south of Sidi Moussa.

AUDOUIN'S GULL  Larus audouinii       [Goeland d'Audouin]
The first two were distant adults at Oued Massa on 14th, followed by a first-winter and a second-winter at Oued Souss the next day.  Seen along the coast road heading north on 16th, with several flocks noted totalling over 200 birds.  Three rings were read:  adult 'FMN' white ring on right leg; second-winter 'AA5T' white ring on left leg; second-winter '3X9' white ring on right leg.  Seen at Oualidida/Sidi Moussa, with most (c60) at the 'Jorf Lasfar 20' salt lagoons south of Sidi Moussa.

LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL  Larus fuscus   [Goeland brun]
Common along the coast and noted daily from 13th to 18th, with largest numbers (2000+) on the beach south of Essaouira on 17th.

YELLOW-LEGGED GULL  Larus [argentatus] michahellis      [Goeland leucophee]
Seen daily from 13th but although generally in smaller numbers than Lesser Black-backed Gull, predominating in the harbour area of Essaouira, with c300 birds present on 16th.

GULL-BILLED TERN  Sterna nilotica   [Sterne hansel]
A single bird seen on both 13th & 15th at Oued Souss.

CASPIAN TERN  Sterna caspia      [Sterne caspienne]
An adult and two juveniles/first-winters at Oued Tensift on 17th (the adult and one of the young were ringed).  Two at the 'Jorf Lasfar 25' salt lagoons south of Sidi Moussa on 18th.

ROYAL TERN  Sterna maxima    [Sterne royale]
A first-winter bird at Oued Souss on 13th & 15th.  On the latter date this bird was most obliging, standing with two adult Lesser Crested Terns to allow a rare chance for direct comparison.

LESSER CRESTED TERN  Sterna bengalensis   [Sterne voyageuse]
Two adults at Oued Souss on 15th.  Four flying south at the 'Jorf Lasfar 20' salt lagoons south of Sidi Moussa on 18th.

SANDWICH TERN  Sterna sandvicensis     [Sterne caugek]
The commonest tern, seen regularly offshore and in greatest numbers probably at Oued Souss on 15th (c.50).  Twenty passed south at Cap Beddouza on 17th.

COMMON TERN  Sterna hirundo   [Sterne pierregarin]
Two first-winter birds in the bay off Agadir on 13th.  Another first-winter at Oued Souss on 15th.

LITTLE TERN  Sterna albifrons  [Sterne naine]
Two at Oued Souss on 13th and four at Oued Massa the following day.  One seen from the boat at Oualidia on 17th.

WHISKERED TERN  Chlidonias hybrida   [Guifette moustac]
One at the 'Jorf Lasfar 20' salt lagoons south of Sidi Moussa on 18th, with possibly another with (White-winged Terns) at the 'Jorf Lasfar 30' marsh north of Oualidia earlier that day.

BLACK TERN  Chlidonias niger     [Guifettee noire]
The commonest tern after Sandwich Tern.  Thirty were in the bay off Agadir early on 13th with possibly some of the same birds at Oued Souss on 13th & 15th, where up to 12 seen.  At least 4 also at Oued Massa on 14th with the last bird a single at the 'El Jadida 68' salt lagoons north of Oualidia on 18th.

WHITE-WINGED TERN  Chlidonias leucopterus   [Guifette leucoptere]
A good showing, mostly of young birds.  Two juveniles were at Oued Massa on 14th with another at Oued Souss on 15th. An adult and a first-winter were at the 'Jorf Lasfar 30' marsh north of Oualidia on 18th.

SPOTTED SANDGROUSE  Pterocles senegallus      [Ganga tachete]
A small group of six birds were seen at some distance from the Ikniouin Road on 12th, identifiable only on call.

BLACK-BELLIED SANDGROUSE  Pterocles orientalis [Ganga unibande]
A single bird (probably a male) seen in flight from the minibus about 44km north of Marrakech.

FERAL/ROCK PIGEON  Columbia livia      [Pigeon biset]
Seen daily and very common.  At Oukaimeden on 10th a flock of c10 birds mostly appeared to be pure bred Rock Doves.

COMMON WOOD PIGEON  Columba palumbus       [Pigeon ramier]
Seen in the region arounnd Marrakech and in the mountains, also along the coast at Oued Souss.  One flock of c100 seen south of Marrakech was by far the largest group seen.

EURASIAN COLLARED DOVE  Streptopelia decaocto  [Tourterelle turque]
A relatively recent colonist of Morocco but now widespread and very common.  Seen every day.

EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVE  Streptopelia turtur   [Tourterelle des bois]
Good numbers remained near the coast but numbers only hinted at the very large breeding population.  Most birds were juveniles and the maximum was at the IFCDW Houbara Centre near Ait Melloul on 13th, with at least 30 present.  Also common at Oued Massa and a single bird also seen in the southern outskirts of Safi on 17th.

LAUGHING DOVE  Streptopelia senegalensis  [Tourterelle maillee]
Also a recent colonist but without the explosive spread shown by Collared Dove.  Several birds were at Oued Massa on 14th and surprisingly, two were also seen from the minibus at El Kelaa M'Gounia on 12th.

LITTLE OWL  Athene noctua     [Chouette cheveche]
Three 'extra bricks in the wall' were seen.  One en route to Oued Massa on 14th, another at Sidi Ouassay on leaving Massa that evening, and one by the olive oil press 57km south of Safi.

{TAWNY OWL  Strix aluco}    [Chouette hulotte]
An owl seen at dusk flying across the road south of Taroudannt on 12th was most likely this species.

LONG-EARED OWL  Asio otus   [Hibou moyen-duc]
Four were present at the IFCDW Houbara Centre near Ait Melloul on 13th, at least two giving perched views.  This is a regular breeding site.

RED-NECKED NIGHTJAR  Caprimulgus ruficollis [Engoulevent a collier roux]
One was seen at dusk at the IFCDW Houbara Centre near Ait Melloul on 13th.  The brush areas that had been used by the birds for roosting previously had been disturbed, but clearly the birds are still resident here.  After a brief wing-tip view, a bird was located on the ground, occasionally flying up to catch insects before landing again.

{PALLID SWIFT  Apus pallidus}    [Martinet pale]
A single swift seen from the minibus flew quickly over Massa village on 14th and was most probably this species.

ALPINE SWIFT  Tachymarptis melba [Martinet a ventre blanc]
Singles at Oued Souss on 13th & 15th.

LITTLE SWIFT  Apus affinis  [Martinet a croupion blanc]
The commonest swift, seen on four dates.  A flock of up to 22 were near the Hotel Oudaya in Marrakech early on 10th and 11th.  Two were at Oued Massa on 14th and another two were at Oued Souss on 15th.  Also on 15th, a single bird was seen in Agadir.

COMMON KINGFISHER  Alcedo atthis    [Martin-pecheur d'Europe]
Two were at Oued Massa on 14th and three were seen from the boat at Oualidia on 17th.

HOOPOE  Upupa epops    [Huppe fasciee]
Just two birds seen, one at an irrigated alfalfa field south of Marrakech (10km north of Ait Aourir) on 11th, and another seen at Tamri from the minibus on 16th.

EURASIAN WRYNECK  Jynx torquilla [Torcol fourmilier]
One at Oued Massa on 14th allowed distant scope views, while another was at the Argan Oil Co-operative in Tamanar on 16th.

BAR-TAILED DESERT LARK  Ammomanes cincturus  [Ammomane elegante]
A single obliging bird seen in virtually custom-designed habitat near the orchard off the Ikniouin Road on 12th, providing excellent comparisons of both plumage and habitat selection with Desert Larks nearby.

DESERT LARK  Ammomanes desertii   [Ammomane du desert]
Two pairs were seen well, one pair while flycatching and another at very close range, near the orchard off the Ikniouin Road on 12th.  A few seen in flight along the roadsides from Ouarzazate to Taznaght on 12th.

HOOPOE LARK  Alaemon alaudipes       [Sirli du desert]
Three seen from the Ikniouin Road on 12th.  Nice one Meg!

CALANDRA LARK  Melanocorypha calandra        [Alouette calandre]
Several flocks seen on the Plateau des Ganntours north of Marrakech on 18th.  A total of 225 were seen betweeen 70 and 44km north of Marrakech, with largest (loose) flock of 90 at 70km.

GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK  Calandrella brachydactyla   [Alouette calandrelle]
Several well-seen birds in the company of Temminck's Horned Larks along the Ikniouin Road on 12th.  At least four migrants overhead from the Sid Rbat piste on 14th.

LESSER SHORT-TOED LARK  Calandrella rufescens  [Alouette pispolette]
Two in flight at the 'El Jadida 68' salt lagoons north of Oualidia on 18th.

CRESTED LARK  Galerida cristata [Cochevis huppe]
Most records of 'crested' larks (Galerida spp) could not be referred specifically either to this species or Thekla Lark, mainly because viewing conditions were inadequate.  Although the majority of birds seen were probably Thekla Larks, a few good examples of Crested Lark were seen, for example at the 'Jorf Lasfar 20' salt lagoons south of Sidi Moussa on 18th.

THEKLA LARK  Galerida theklae     [Cochevis de thekla]
A very confiding individual was at Oued Touama on 11th and good numbers were present along the Ikniouin Road on 12th.  The many 'rusty-rumped' birds seen from the minibus on our drives were expected to have been this species.

HORNED LARK  Eremophila alpestris [Alouette hausse-col]
At least 30 present at Oukaimeden on 10th, feeding with Rock Sparrows and seen at very close range from the minibus along a piste track.  These birds are of the race atlas, confined to the Atlas Mountains in Morocco; the next nearest population is in the Balkans and there are no other African populations.

TEMMINCK'S HORNED LARK  Eremophila bilopha     [Alouette bilophe]
Excellent views of this species obtained from the Ikniouin Road east of Boumalne du Dades.  At least 20 birds seen, some at very close range with some birds in song from the ground.

BROWN-THROATED SAND MARTIN  Riparia paludicola       [Hirondelle paludicole]
Two seen very well at the inland section of Oued Massa on 14th.

SAND MARTIN  Riparia riparia   [Hirondelle de rivage]
Several were around cultivations along the roadside c20km east of Ouarzazate and another two were at Tizi-n-Bachkoum en route to Agadir (still 306km to go) on 12th.  Several small groups of migrants encountered at Oued Massa, Oued Souss and Oualidia/Sidi Moussa.

EURASIAN CRAG MARTIN  Ptyonoprogne rupestris   [Hirondelle de rochers]
Seen on each of the mountain days, e.g. from the road to Oukaimeden on 10th, 20 at Oued Touama on 11th and at Tizi-n-Bachkoum on 12th.  Also seen at Oued Massa on 14th.

BARN SWALLOW  Hirundo rustica    [Hirondelle rustique]
The commonest hirundine and seen daily.  Large numbers appeared to be moving westwards along the north slope of the High Atlas on 11th, with c300 recorded at Oued Touama and from the minibus.

RED-RUMPED SWALLOW  Hirundo daurica    [Hirondelle rousseline]
Still a few migrants passing through but noted only on two days.  On 11th, four at an irrigated alfalfa field 10km north of Ait Aourir and at least ten seen at Oued Touama later the same morning in the company of Barn Swallows.  Only other record was of a single bird past the hotel at Agadir on 16th.

HOUSE MARTIN  Delichon urbica   [Hirondelle de fenetre]
Seen regularly, with records on six days including at least ten passing with other hirundines at Oued Touama on 11th.  Also seen at the Auberge Le Soleil Bleu at Boumalne du Dades on 12th, Oued Souss, Oued Massa and Essaouira.

TAWNY PIPIT  Anthus campestris    [Pipit rousseline]
Three recorded, the first being a reasonably confiding bird at the pool along the Iknioun Road on 12th and another at the Auberge Le Soleil Bleu later that morning.  The other was at the IFCDW Houbara Centre near Ait Melloul on 13th.

TREE PIPIT  Anthus trivialis   [Pipit des arbres]
A migrant along the shore south of Essaouira on 17th.

BLUE-HEADED WAGTAIL  Motacilla flava flava     [Bergeronnette printaniere]
Rather scarce, and the nominate race recorded for certain only on 14th at the inland section of Oued Massa and on 18th (at the 'Jorf Lasfar 30' marsh north of Oualidia).  Other birds on call most likely to be the nominate race were noted on 10th (irrigated alfalfa field 10km north of Ait Aourir) and at Tamraght and the IFCDW Houbara Centre on 13th.

(ASHY-HEADED WAGTAIL  Motacilla flava cinereocapilla)   [Bergeronnette printaniere ssp.]
A male at the 'Jorf Lasfar 20' salt lagoons south of Sidi Moussa on 18th.

(SPANISH YELLOW WAGTAIL  Motacilla [flava] iberiae)     [Bergeronnette printaniere ssp.]
Common resident species, recorded at Oued Souss, Oued Massa and Oualidia/Sidi Moussa.  The distinctive call was the most useful feature as birds were often seen only in flight.  A group of c20 birds was at the inland section of Oued Massa on 14th but this subspecies often tends not to associate with other subspecies that are migratory through Morocco, such as the Blue-headed.

GREY WAGTAIL  Motacilla cinerea   [Bergeronnette des ruisseaux]
The first was at Tizi-n-Bachkoum on 12th and also recorded at Oued Souss on 15th and at Oualidia/Sidi Moussa on 17th & 18th.

WHITE WAGTAIL  Motacilla alba alba    [Bergeronnette grise]
An excellent Spotless Starling mimic was in residence near our Agadir hotel.  Thus, the only record was of two migrants were at at the 'Jorf Lasfar 30' marsh north of Oualidia on 18th.

MOROCCAN WAGTAIL  Motacilla [alba] subpersonata    [Bergeronnette (grise) de Maroc]
This distinctive race is separable on call (also possibly song) and structure as well as its striking plumage and I consider it to be a separate species from others in the White Wagtail complex.  At least two visited the pool and vicinity of Hotel Adrar in Agadir on 14th & 15th, with possibly the same two at a nearby fountain (near Pizza Hut) on 15th.  The reliable site of Oued Souss produced only flying birds on 13th but much better views of a preening bird on 15th, which was joined by a second bird.

COMMON BULBUL  Pycnonotus barbatus    [Bulbul des jardins]
A near-constant companion, these noisy and early-risers were recorded every day, even popping up in remote cultivations such as those off the Ikiouin Road.

EUROPEAN ROBIN  Erithacus rubecula [Rougegorge familier]
No records until seen and heard in coastal scrub south of Essaouira on 17th, then common around Oualidia (even in the  grounds of L'Hippocampe) to Sidi Moussa.

BLACK REDSTART  Phoenicurus ochruros [Rougequeue noir]
Recorded on only three days, with the majority of sightings from Oukaimeden, where at least 20 seen.  Last was one at the 'Jorf Lasfar 20' salt lagoons south of Sidi Moussa on 18th

COMMON REDSTART  Phoenicurus phoenicurus  [Rougequeue a front blanc]
Several migrants noted: a male at Oukaimeden on 10th, a female at the irrigated alfalfa field 10km north of Ait Aourir on 11th, a female at Oued Massa on 14th and a male at the olive oil press 57km south of Safi on 17th.

MOUSSIER'S REDSTART  Phoenicurus moussieri        [Rougequeue de Moussier]
Not quite seen every day, as missed on 15th and 18th.  Two males and a female seen on the way to Oukaimeden on 10th, and a pair 22km north of Tagdert the next day were the first.  Others were seen from the roadside but the best views were probably at Oued Massa on 14th and the last was along the road north of Essaouira on 17th.

WHINCHAT  Saxicola rubetra     [Tarier des pres]
Singles in cultivations off the Ikniouin Road on 12th, at Tamraght on 13th and in coastal scrub south of Essaouira on 17th.

STONECHAT  Saxicola torquata       [Tarier patre]
Another near-ubiquitous species, only scarce in the more truly arid regions as not recorded on 12th, though this more likely an oversight rather than a genuine absence.  One of the most frequent sights along roadsides, especially in cultivated areas, with probably several hundred seen.

NORTHERN WHEATEAR  Oenanthe oenanthe        [Traquet motteux]
Seen on all days except 15th, and the commonest wheatear, encountered from alpine passes to the Atlantic shore.  No particularly large numbers but widespread.

{SEEBOHM'S WHEATEAR  Oenanthe (oenanthe) seebohmii}   [Traquet (motteaux) de Seebohm]
It is possible that at least one or two of the Northern Wheatears seen in the Tizi-n-Tichka pass area on 11th were of this North African race - unfortunately we did not see any of the distinctive males.

BLACK-EARED WHEATEAR  Oenanthe hispanica       [Traquet oreillard]
Seen along the roadside on 11th (a male 33km north of Amerzgane) with a pair at cultivations off the Ikniouin Road the next day.  Driving back towards Agadir later that day, at least two other males seen (73km east of Ouarzazate and 54km east of Taznakht).

DESERT WHEATEAR  Oenanthe deserti [Traquet de desert]
Just a single male seen along the roadside about 9km east of Tazenakht on 12th, but fortunately it was obliging.

RED-RUMPED WHEATEAR  Oenanthe moesta    [Traquet a tete grise]
Common east of Boumalne du Dades and along the Ikniouin Road on 12th, with about 10 birds seen.

WHITE-TAILED WHEATEAR  Oenanthe leucopyga        [Traquet a tete blanche]
First seen as entering Ouarzazate on 11th, with others seen as we continued eastwards (e.g. Oued Izerki and 3 near Skoura).  One was at the east 'gate' of Skoura the next day.

BLACK WHEATEAR  Oenanthe leucura   [Traquet rieur]
The second commonest wheatear, closely rivalling Northern but seen only from 10th-12th.  Regularly seen from the minibus along the roadside, typically on rocky slopes but also in a cultivated area off the Ikniouin Road on 12th.

BLUE ROCK THRUSH  Monticola solitarius        [Merle bleu]
One seen well during our misty climb up to Oukaimeden on 10th and another at Oukaimeden itself, and also seen the next day as we crossed the High Atlas via Tizi-n-Tichka.  Only other sighting was of one at Cap Safi on 17th.

COMMON BLACKBIRD  Turdus merula       [Merle noir]
Seen daily and widespread in mountains and lowlands.  One was in cultivations off the Ikniouin Road on 12th.

MISTLE THRUSH  Turdus viscivorus       [Grive draine]
One at Oukaimeden on 10th.

CETTI'S WARBLER  Cettia cettia   [Bouscarle de Cetti]
Common at Oued Massa on 14th, though more often heard than seen.  Also heard at Oued Ksob south of Essaouira on 16th.

ZITTING CISTICOLA  Cisticola juncidis    [Cisticole des joncs]
Often found in association with alfalfa cultivations and seen near Marrakech, at Oued Souss, at Oualidia/Sidi Moussa and particularly at Oued Massa.

MOUSTACHED WARBLER  Acrocephalus melanopogon    [Lusciniole a moustaches]
One was at Oued Massa on 14th.

EURASIAN REED WARBLER  Acrocephalus scirpaceus        [Rousserolle effarvatte]
The commonest warbler, recorded daily from 14th and in all sorts of unlikely situations.  Very common at Oued Massa.

MELODIOUS WARBLER  Hippolais polyglotta      [Hippolais polyglotte]
One in coastal scrub south of Essaouira on 17th.

SPECTACLED WARBLER  Sylvia conspicillata [Fauvette a lunettes]
A male at Oued Souss on 15th.

SUBALPINE WARBLER  Sylvia cantillans    [Fauvette passerinette]
Three records which is a good late autumn showing.  One was in the wadi below Tizi-n-Bachkoum on 12th.  Another was at Oued Massa briefly on 14th and a stonking male, apparently in full breeding dress, was at Oued Souss on 15th.

SARDINIAN WARBLER  Sylvia melanocephala [Fauvette melanocephale]
Not quite as common as Reed Warbler (recorded all days except 12th) but at least as vocal, most birds being noted as they cursed at passers-by from the depths of cover. However, several birds showed well over the trip and largest numbers were at Oued Massa.

COMMON WHITETHROAT  Sylvia communis     [Fauvette grisette]
One at Oued Massa on 14th and another in the grounds of L'Hippocampe at Oualidia on 18th.

GARDEN WARBLER  Sylvia borin      [Fauvette des jardins]
Migrants seen at Oued Massa (2 on 14th), Oued Souss (15th) and in coastal scrub south of Essaouira on 17th.

BLACKCAP  Sylvia atricapilla    [Fauvette a tete noire]
Rather thin on the ground, with a male near Oukaimeden on 10th the only sighting until a male and a female seen in coastal scrub south of Essaouira on 17th.  This species winters in large numbers in Morocco.

COMMON CHIFFCHAFF  Phylloscopus collybita [Pouillot veloce]
Seen daily in small numbers from 14th.  As with Blackcap, presumably the bulk of wintering birds had yet to arrive.

WILLOW WARBLER  Phylloscopus trochilus [Pouillot fitis]
One at Oued Massa on 14th, another at Oued Souss the following day and present in the grounds of L'Hippocampe in Oualidia on 17th & 18th.

FIRECREST  Regulus ignacapillus   [Roitelet triple-bandeau]
An elusive bird heard but not seen at the forestry post below Oukaimeden (Poste Forestier Agaiouar) on 10th.

SPOTTED FLYCATCHER  Muscicapa striata  [Gobemouche gris]
Several migrants noted, with singles at Oued Massa on 14th, at Oued Ksob on 16th, in coastal scrub south of Essaouira on 17th and at L'Hippocampe in Oualidia on 18th.

PIED FLYCATCHER  Ficedula hypoleuca      [Gobemouche noir]
Abundant migrant, though none of the birds examined had the all-dark tail of the Moroccan/Iberian populations (sometimes referred to as 'Atlas Flycatcher').  Seen on all days except 12th and could be encountered almost anywhere with cover, particularly along wadis and among cultivations, in hotel grounds and so on.

BLUE TIT  Parus caeruleus     [Mesange bleue]
The local race is sometimes referred to as a separate species ('Ultramarine Tit').  We saw two at the forestry post below Oukaimeden (Poste Forestier Agaiouar) on 10th and at least five at Oued Souss on 15th, some of which allowed scope viewing.  Another was seen from the minibus on the north side of the High Atlas on 11th.

GREAT TIT  Parus major    [Mesange charbonniere]
Somewhat elusive, as heard only at Oued Massa and Essaouira and then seen from the minibus near Safi on 17th and around Oualidia on 18th.

BLACK-CROWNED TCHAGRA  Tchagra senegala   [Tchagra a tete noire]
We were treated to a couple of prolonged scope views of a male at Oued Souss on 13th which gave a number of contact calls and another (probably a female on call) in the inland section of Oued Massa on 14th.  At least two were singing typical songs at each of Oued Souss and Oued Massa but in each case rather distantly.

SOUTHERN GREY SHRIKE  Lanius meridionalis  [Pie-grieche meridionale]
Rcorded daily (except perhaps 12th) and often seen from the minibus along the roadside.  Most birds were typical of the race algeriensis but at least one at Oued Souss may have been an intergrade between algeriensis and elegans, sometimes referred to as 'dodsoni'.

EURASIAN JAY  Garrulus glandarius     [Geai des chenes]
Two singles seen along the roadside on the north slope of the High Atlas on 11th. There is a whole complex of races in North Africa, but the High Atlas race (minor) is noticeably smaller than ones in the UK (rufitergum) with a paler face and more heavily streaked/contrasting crown.

BLACK-BILLED MAGPIE  Pica pica    [Pie bavarde]
Another crow where the North African race (mauretanicus) is smaller than UK birds.  In addition, there is a distinctive patch of blue skin around the eye, also shown to a lesser extent by birds from the Iberian Peninsula.  Seen on 11th and then daily from 13th to 17th, with close views at Oued Massa on 14th.  A common roadside bird on the Atlantic coast and in the Argan dominated Souss Plain.

ALPINE CHOUGH  Pyrrhocorax graculus [Chocard a bec jaune]
A flock of 40 watched feeding on the ground and in juniper on the road to Oukaimeden on 10th but still 16km below Oukaimeden itself.

RED-BILLED CHOUGH  Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax  [Crave a bec rouge]
At least 100 from the road 16km from Oukaimeden on 10th, with a further 50 seen at Oukaimeden, where birds seen actively digging in the short turf as well as attracted to the local refuse.  A few birds seen from the minibus as we crossed the Tizi-n-Tichka pass on 11th.

COMMON RAVEN  Corvus corax  [Grand corbeau]
First birds were four at Oukaimeden on 10th with others noted on 11th and then small numbers along the coast north of Essaouira from 16th to 18th.

SPOTLESS STARLING  Sturnus unicolor [Etourneau unicolore]
Seen on 11th in Marrakech and then daily from 13th.  Common around Agadir in particular but no sign of any immigrant European Starlings.

HOUSE SPARROW  Passer domesticus     [Moineau domestique]
Abundant and recorded daily.

SPANISH SPARROW  Passer hispaniolensis   [Moineau espagnol]
Likely to have been present along the road to Oued Massa on 14th, but first positively identified at the inland section of Oued Massa where the female Black-crowned Tchagra perched conveniently in the same (Nicotinia?) bush. Subsequently, a male seen at close range at Oued Souss where a hybrid House X Spanish Sparrow also present.  Also recorded along the roadside north of Essaouira on 17th and at Oualidia on 18th.

ROCK SPARROW  Petronia petronia [Moineau soulcie]
A flock of 25 were 16km from Oukaimeden on 10th, with another dozen closer to the summit and at least 30 at Oukaimededn itself.

CHAFFINCH  Fringilla coelebs     [Pinson des arbres]
Very common in the High Atlas, slightly less so in the coastal lowlands and absent from the desert.  All birds were of the local race africana, the males of which are particularly distinctive.

EUROPEAN SERIN  Serinus serinus    [Serin cini]
Noted on six days, with the largest flock of 30 below Oukaimeden on 10th.  Generally seen in flight but small groups were reasonably obliging at Oued Souss and Oued Massa.

EUROPEAN GREENFINCH  Carduelis chloris [Verdier d'Europe]
Small numbers of birds seen on four dates, once in the mountains and the rest in the coastal lowlands.

EUROPEAN GOLDFINCH  Carduelis carduelis        [Chardonnneret elegant]
Seen daily except 12th, again in small numbers with no large flocks noted.

COMMON LINNET  Carduelis cannabina     [Linotte melodieuse]
At least 150 at Oukaimeden on 10th was by far the largest number seen.  Otherwise in small numbers on three dates.

COMMON CROSSBILL  Loxia curvirostra    [Bec-croise des sapins]
A male was seen perched and in flight at the forestry post below Oukaimeden (Poste Forestier Agaiouar) on 10th.  The local race poliogyna represents the only African population as in Horned Lark (though it is more widespread).  Although bill length and depth average the same as curvirostra Common Crossbills, the largest measurement exceed those of curvirostra Common Crossbills.  This bird certainly looked to have a rather large beak.

TRUMPETER FINCH  Bucanetes githagineus   [Bouvreuil githagine]
Common along the Ikniouin Road on 12th, with flock sizes of 30 and 40 the largest noted and 100 to 150 seen in total.  Many bird were feeding on the seeds of low desert shrubs that had recently flowered, most likely because of rains from about three weeks previous to our visit.

CIRL BUNTING  Emberiza cirlus   [Bruant zizi]
Seen twice from the road to Oukaimeden and again the next day when crossing the High Atlas.  Not seen in the coastal lowlands though is resident there also.

ROCK BUNTING  Emberiza cia  [Bruant fou]
As with the previous species, records confined to Oukaimeden on 10th and our crossing of the High Atlas on 11th.  Slightly more common than Cirl Bunting in these areas.

HOUSE BUNTING  Emberiza striolata [Bruant striole]
A very common sight and sound around towns and villages and seen daily.


Most notable was probably the Monarch butterfly in the grounds of our Agadir hotel on 15th, probably originating from the Canary Islands rather than North America.  As luck would have it, we saw the local species of Monarchus - African Tiger - the following day at Oued Ksob for comparison.

A couple of Spur-thighed Tortoises were caught in flagrante delicto at Oued Ksob on 16th, with another seen in a field with Stone-Curlews the next day.  European Pond Terrapins were common at Oued Massa on 14th and also present at Oued Souss.  An unidentified lacertid lizard was at Cap Safi on 17th, while several Uromastyx (Spiny-tailed) lizards were being sold at the roadside by children.  These also featured in the Jemaa El Fnaa square in Marrakech, as did Barbary Ground Squirrels (which are a table delicacy).  We saw other Barbary Ground Squirrels at Oued Touama on 11th, between Essaouira and Oualidia on 17th and the IFCDW Houbara Centre near Ait Melloul on 13th, where at least seven Dorcas gazelle were present.  Bats were seen on several evenings but not identified to species.  Fat Sand Rats were common along the Iknouin Road on 12th and a road-kill Algerian Hedgehog was noted.  Two Mauretanian Toads were at L'Hippocampe in Oualidia on 17th and an unidentified green frog (Edible Frog?) was at Tizi-n-Bachkoum on 12th.

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