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Maghreb Meanderings: Morocco and Western Sahara 2017 (1 Viewer)

Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
From 7th - 24th April of this year I travelled around Morocco and Western Sahara, my first ever visit to north Africa. It was really good. I'll write up a fairly prosaic trip list style report together with a few photos.

The itinerary was as follows:

7/4 Arrival in Casablanca from Aberdeen (flight with Air France). Overnight in Oualidia.
8/4 Travel to Essaouira and overnight nearby.
9/4 Travel to Oued Massa via Tamri. Overnight at Oued Massa.
10/4 Oued Massa and then travel to Agadir. Flight with Royal Air Maroc to Dakhla. Overnight in Dakhla.
11/4 Travel to Aousserd Road. Overnight camping at Oued Jenna.
12/4 Oued Jenna with overnight camping.
13/4 Travel to Dakhla with overnight stay there.
14/4 Gleb Jdiane and Dakhla then flight with Royal Air Maroc to Agadir. Overnight in Agadir.
15/4 Travel to Ouirgane with overnight stay.
16/4 Travel to Ourika and Oukaimden with overnight stay in Ourika.
17/4 Travel to Boumalne de Dades with overnight stay.
18/4 Travel to Merzouga with overnight stay at Hotel Yasmina.
19/4 Overnight stay at Hotel Yasmina.
20/4 Guided birding at Hotel Yasmina then travel to Zeida for overnight stay.
21/4 Travel to Azrou for overnight stay.
22/4 Travel to Larache and Merja Zerga then overnight stay at Kenitra.
23/4 Travel to Sidi Yahya and then overnight in Casablanca.
24/4 Morning flight to Aberdeen with Air France.

Accommodation: I mostly booked places in advance via Booking.com. This was pretty easy and the places were generally good. I expect you could probably do things cheaper just by staying in cheap hotels and camping a lot but the prices for accommodation and food were generally still quite low by European standards.

Car Hire: I hired a Dacia Logan from Europcar at Casablanca Airport for the duration of the trip. This cost £265. The car was fine. You'll spot from the itinerary that I took the (slightly unusual) step of flying to Dakhla rather than driving down, which meant that I had to hire a car in Dakhla for the time I was there. This is a bit harder to do online, as most websites don't seem to cover Dakhla. However, it is possible via Click Car Hire. The car was with HAG/ Dollar who have an office at the airport. It was again a Dacia Logan and was in good condition. The price was £94 for five days. I left the other car in the long-stay car park in Agadir, which was quite cheap to do and there were no problems.

It's no doubt cheaper to drive down to Dakhla from Morocco and there are potentially a few birds to look for (e.g. Kelp Gull) but I was keen to have as much time as possible in southern Western Sahara so flying was better and more convenient for that. The return flight was £123.

Guided birding: I booked a morning of guided birding at Hotel Yasmina. This cost 1000 dirhams (around £80-90). This was a bit pricy but I did get to see all of the birds I was hoping to see, despite fairly bad weather. The guide was good for finding specialities, though I don't think his knowledge of things like passage birds was that great. That wasn't a problem for me though.

Weather: As might be expected, it was generally pleasant and sunny. It was mostly warm, although could be cooler along the coast e.g. at Dakhla. Wind was sometimes a problem, particularly in the afternoons. There were some dust storms in the Merzouga area, which made life a bit harder. There were a few spots of rain at Oued Jenna and one or two downpours in the Zeida area. These weren't particularly disruptive thoug.

Overall I saw 230 species and came close to seeing all of the birds I looked for. Systematic account to follow.
 

Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea
Tamri, Morocco 09/04/17 4
Barrage el Mansour, Morocco 17/04/17 1
Lac se Sidi Aguelmane, Morocco 21/04/17 54
Dayet Aoua, Morocco 21/04/17 4
Best numbers in the Middle Atlas lakes.

Gadwall Anas strepera
At a couple of sites in the north.

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata

Northern Pintail Anas acuta
One at Oualidia.

Marbled Duck Marmaronetta angustirostris
Sidi Moussa, Morocco 07/04/17 2
Oualidia, Doukkala-Abda, Morocco 08/04/17 30
Dakhla Attitude Resort, Western Sahara 11/04/17 2
Lac de Sidi Boughaba, Morocco 22/04/17 10
Larache, Morocco 22/04/17 4
Fairly common at a number of wetlands along the coast.

Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina
Oualidia, Doukkala-Abda, Morocco 08/04/17 10
Lac de Sidi Boughaba, Morocco 22/04/17 50
Sidi Yahya, Morocco 23/04/17 7
Quite numerous in some coastal wetlands.

Common Pochard Aythya ferina
Lac de Sidi Boughaba, Morocco 22/04/17 25

Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca
Oualidia, Doukkala-Abda, Morocco 08/04/17 8
Dayet Aoua, Morocco 21/04/17 2
Lac de Sidi Boughaba, Morocco 22/04/17 30
A bit commoner than I thought it would be.

White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala
Lac de Sidi Boughaba, Morocco 22/04/17 70
Numerous at this site, with quite a few young seen.
 

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Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
Here's some White-headed Duck friskiness.
 

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Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
Barbary Partridge Alectoris barbara
Riad Titima, Morocco 09/04/17 2
Only one seen, quite well in a field near Essaouira.

Double-spurred Francolin Pternistis bicalcaratus
Sidi Yahya, Morocco 23/04/17 5
One calling several times and at least one other making a rasping sound. Then three disturbed from the edge of the car park, rapidly disappearing into cover. One came out again to show better for a few seconds as it walked across the clearing. The three seen appeared to be juveniles.

Common Quail Coturnix coturnix
Sidi Moussa, Morocco 07/04/17 1
Oualidia, Doukkala-Abda, Morocco 08/04/17 1
Oued Tensift, Morocco 08/04/17 1
All heard only.

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Oualidia, Doukkala-Abda, Morocco 08/04/17 10
Oued Massa, Morocco 10/04/17 1
Barrage el Mansour, Morocco 17/04/17 2
Dayet Aoua, Morocco 21/04/17 10
Lac de Sidi Boughaba, Morocco 22/04/17
Sidi Yahya, Morocco 23/04/17 20

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus
Barrage el Mansour, Morocco 17/04/17 10
Dayet Aoua, Morocco 21/04/17 5
Lac de Sidi Boughaba, Morocco 22/04/17
Sidi Yahya, Morocco 23/04/17 15

Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis
Dayet Aoua, Morocco 21/04/17 250
Very numerous and showy at this site.

Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus
Quite regularly encountered at coastal wetlands with large numbers in Dakhla Bay.

White Stork Ciconia ciconia
Fairly common in the north, sometimes with large numbers seen. Often nesting in towns.

Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita
Tamri, Morocco 09/04/17 40
Several groups of this endangered species seen at the classic site of Tamri. Five watched distantly feeding on a dry slope above cliffs to the north of the estuary. Then 17 on a slope to the south of the estuary. Another 16 flew in from the south. Some good views on the ground but relatively distant. Much closer views of flying birds.

Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus
Larache, Morocco 22/04/17 150
Rabat, Morocco 23/04/17 10

Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia
Sidi Moussa, Morocco 07/04/17 12
Oualidia, Doukkala-Abda, Morocco 08/04/17 45
Dakhla, Western Sahara 10/04/17 20
Dakhla, Western Sahara 14/04/17 10
Larache, Morocco 22/04/17 10
Sidi Yahya, Morocco 23/04/17 3

Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus
Oued Massa, Morocco 10/04/17 2

Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides
Larache, Morocco 22/04/17 1
Sidi Yahya, Morocco 23/04/17 1

Western Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Common almost everywhere in Morocco, but not seen in Western Sahara.

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea

Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
Oued Massa, Morocco 10/04/17 2
Barrage el Mansour, Morocco 17/04/17 1
Larache, Morocco 22/04/17 1

Little Egret Egretta garzetta

Northern Gannet Morus bassanus
Oued Massa, Morocco 10/04/17 5
P1100, Western Sahara 10/04/17 1
Dakhla, Western Sahara 11/04/17 10
Dakhla, Western Sahara 14/04/17 1
Plage David, Morocco 23/04/17 11

Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
Seen regularly along the coast, but not always well enough to work out which subspecies was involved. Obvious 'white-breasted' adults were seen at Oued Massa and in Dakhla Bay.
 

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Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus
L'Arganier D'Or Hotel, Morocco 15/04/17 1
Larache, Morocco 22/04/17 1
Sidi Yahya, Morocco 23/04/17 1
Some reasonable views of single birds.

Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus
Azrou, Morocco 21/04/17 9
A flock over the oakwoods in the Middle Atlas.

Short-toed Snake Eagle Circaetus gallicus
Ourika, Morocco 17/04/17 2
A pair flying out over the town early in the morning.

Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 13/04/17 1
Ourigane, Morocco 16/04/17 1
Azrou, Morocco 21/04/17 2
Sidi Yahya, Morocco 23/04/17 1
Fairly regular sightings, including one right over the centre of Azrou.

Bonelli's Eagle Aquila fasciata
Ourigane, Morocco 16/04/17 1
One flying over the valley south of Ourigane.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
Dayet Aoua, Morocco 21/04/17 1

Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus
Sidi Moussa, Morocco 07/04/17 1
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 13/04/17 1
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 6
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 19/04/17 1
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 20/04/17 1
Lac de Sidi Boughaba, Morocco 22/04/17 5
Larache, Morocco 22/04/17
Merja Zerga, Morocco 22/04/17
Regularly seen as a migrant.

Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus
Imider to Rissani, Morocco 18/04/17 1
Merja Zerga, Morocco 22/04/17 4
Rarer than expected but very conspicuous in the saltmarsh at Merja Zerga.

Black Kite Milvus migrans
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 11/04/17 1
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 4
Taroudannt, Morocco 15/04/17 12
L'Arganier D'Or Hotel, Morocco 15/04/17 1
Dayet Aoua, Morocco 21/04/17 12
Azrou, Morocco 21/04/17 1
Lac de Sidi Boughaba, Morocco 22/04/17 10
Larache, Morocco 22/04/17
Sidi Yahya, Morocco 23/04/17 10
The most frequently encountered migratory raptor.

Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17 2
Aousserd Road, Western Sahara 13/04/17 5
Boumalne du Dades, Morocco 17/04/17 2
A nest with three young in was found along Aousserd Road.

Common Buzzard Buteo buteo
Sidi Yahya, Morocco 23/04/17 1
Not sure which subspecies this was, although it looked like a fairly 'normal' Western European Buzzard. Was perched on a wire in farmland.

Spotted Crake Porzana porzana
Oualidia, Doukkala-Abda, Morocco 08/04/17 1
Flushed from pool to the south of town. Seen briefly on ground before running into rushes.

Western Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio
Lac de Sidi Boughaba, Morocco 22/04/17 2
A pair.

Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Various wetlands, mostly on the coast.

Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata
Lac se Sidi Aguelmane, Morocco 21/04/17 3
Dayet Aoua, Morocco 21/04/17 120
Lac de Sidi Boughaba, Morocco 22/04/17
Quite numerous at some lakes but more localised than Eurasian Coot.

Eurasian Coot Fulica atra
Common at most wetlands, often alongside Red-knobbed Coot.
 

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Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
Eurasian Stone-curlew Burhinus oedicnemus
Taroudannt, Morocco 10/04/17 2
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 11/04/17 1
Dakhla, Western Sahara 14/04/17 1

Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
Oualidia, Doukkala-Abda, Morocco 08/04/17 3
Oued Sous, Morocco 09/04/17 10

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
Common in many wetlands.

Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta
Oualidia, Morocco 08/04/17 25
Oued Sous, Morocco 09/04/17 2
Skhirat, Morocco 23/04/2017 1

Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
Merja Zerga, Morocco 22/04/17 5

Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
Regular in coastal areas.

Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula
Regular in coastal areas.

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
Regular at freshwater wetlands.

Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus
Regular and sometimes numerous in coastal areas.

Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago
Oualidia, Doukkala-Abda, Morocco 08/04/17 1

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa
Oued Sous, Morocco 09/04/17 20
Larache, Morocco 22/04/17 5

Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica
Sidi Moussa, Morocco 07/04/17 3
Oued Sous, Morocco 09/04/17 2
Dakhla, Western Sahara 10/04/17
Dakhla, Western Sahara 11/04/17 300

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
Sidi Moussa, Morocco 07/04/17 5
Oualidia, Doukkala-Abda, Morocco 08/04/17
P1100, Western Sahara 10/04/17 1

Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata
Oued Sous, Morocco 09/04/17 1

Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus
Larache, Morocco 22/04/17 1

Common Redshank Tringa totanus
Oualidia, Doukkala-Abda, Morocco 08/04/17
Skhirat, Morocco 23/04/2017 1

Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
Regular in coastal wetlands.

Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
Oualidia, Doukkala-Abda, Morocco 08/04/17 1
Oued Tensift, Morocco 08/04/17 3
Sidi Moussa, Morocco 07/04/17 1

Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
Oualidia, Morocco 08/04/17 1
Larache, Morocco 22/04/17
Skhirat, Morocco 23/04/2017 3

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Regular in many areas of Morocco.

Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
Sidi Moussa, Morocco 07/04/17 2
Oualidia, Doukkala-Abda, Morocco 08/04/17
P1100, Western Sahara 10/04/17 5
Plage David, Morocco 23/04/2017 10

Red Knot Calidris canutus
Oualidia, Doukkala-Abda, Morocco 08/04/17 15
Dakhla, Western Sahara 11/04/17 100

Sanderling Calidris alba
Regular on the coast, particularly in Dakhla Bay.

Little Stint Calidris minuta
Oualidia, Doukkala-Abda, Morocco 08/04/17 1
Wadi Ksob, Morocco 09/04/17 1
Oued Sous, Morocco 09/04/17 2
Dakhla, Western Sahara 11/04/17 1

Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
Regular in small numbers in coastal areas.

Dunlin Calidris alpina
Regular and sometimes numerous in coastal areas.

Ruff Philomachus pugnax
Oualidia, Morocco 08/04/17 20
Larache, Morocco 22/04/17
Skhirat, Morocco 23/04/2017 1

Cream-colored Courser Cursorius cursor
Oued Massa, Morocco 09/04/17 6
Taroudannt, Morocco 10/04/17 37
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17 9
Aousserd Road, Western Sahara 13/04/17 10
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 2
Taroudannt, Morocco 15/04/17 3
Boumalne du Dades, Morocco 17/04/17 2
Boumalne du Dades, Morocco 18/04/17 25
Zeida Plains, Morocco 21/04/17 4
This fantastic species was very regularly encountered in desert areas and was often numerous e.g. at the Tagdilt Track (Boumalne) and the large flock seen on the dry Oued Sous in Taroudannt. Morocco is a good place to go if you want to see this bird.

Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola
Sidi Moussa, Morocco 07/04/17 3
Larache, Morocco 22/04/17 20
Skhirat, Morocco 23/04/17 10

Slender-billed Gull Chroicocephalus genei
Tamri, Morocco 09/04/17 10
Oued Sous, Morocco 09/04/17 3
Dakhla, Western Sahara 10/04/17 10
Dakhla, Western Sahara 11/04/17 3

Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus
Sidi Moussa, Morocco 07/04/17
Oualidia, Morocco 08/04/17
Oued Sous, Morocco 09/04/17

Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus
Sidi Moussa, Morocco 07/04/17 1

Audouin's Gull Ichthyaetus audouinii
Oualidia, Doukkala-Abda, Morocco 08/04/17 40
Tamri, Morocco 09/04/17 40
Oued Sous, Morocco 09/04/17
Dakhla, Western Sahara 11/04/17 3
Plage David, Morocco 23/04/2017 1

Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus
Oualidia, Morocco 08/04/17 3

Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis
Common in coastal areas.

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus
In coastal areas. Several thousand in Dakhla Bay.

Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica
Oualidia, Morocco 08/04/17 2
Merja Zerga, Morocco 22/04/17 15

Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia
P1100, Western Sahara 10/04/17 1
Dakhla, Western Sahara 10/04/17 10
Dakhla, Western Sahara 11/04/17 20
Dakhla Attitude Resort, Western Sahara 11/04/17 1
Dakhla, Western Sahara 14/04/17 1

Royal Tern Thalasseus maximus
Dakhla, Western Sahara 10/04/17 5
This and the next species were seen at the tern roost north of Dakhla at 23.86381, -15.84469

Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis
Dakhla, Western Sahara 10/04/17 7

Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis
The commonest tern in most coastal areas.

Little Tern Sternula albifrons
Sidi Moussa, Morocco 07/04/17 5
Oualidia, Doukkala-Abda, Morocco 08/04/17 5
Lac de Sidi Boughaba, Morocco 22/04/17 20
Plage David, Morocco 23/04/2017 12
Mostly found in coastal wetlands, rather than at sea.

Common Tern Sterna hirundo
Oued Sous, Morocco 09/04/17 2
Plage David, Morocco 23/04/2017 2

Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida
Larache, Morocco 22/04/17 2

Black Tern Chlidonias niger
Plage David, Morocco 23/04/2017 5
 

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Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
Spotted Sandgrouse Pterocles senegallus
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 20/04/17 100
Large numbers (100 is a 'ball park figure') coming to drink at a small pool east of Auberge Yasmina, I think at approximately 31.206, -3.924. Although I had an idea where the pool was, I don't think I'd have got there without the help of a guide and a 4x4 vehicle.

Black-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles orientalis
Boumalne du Dades, Morocco 18/04/17 13
A few small parties in flight around the Tagdilt Track.

Crowned Sandgrouse Pterocles coronatus
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 1
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 20/04/17 200
One was heard calling but wasn't seen at Gleb Jdiane (where no sandgrouse came in to drink). Very large numbers at the pool at Auberge Yasmina. Seemed to outnumber Spotted by around 2:1.

Rock Dove Columba livia

Common Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus
Common in the Atlas Mountains, but not seen elsewhere.

European Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur
Still pleasingly common in many parts of Morocco.

Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto

Laughing Dove Spilopelia senegalensis
Common in Western Sahara and the drier parts of Morocco.

Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus
Ourigane, Morocco 15/04/17 1
Ourigane, Morocco 16/04/17 4
Dayet Aoua, Morocco 21/04/17 2
 

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Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
A mate and I dipped the Ibis in 98, spent a two full days in the area with no joy!


A

They seem pretty easy these days but I guess the numbers have increased. You would probably just need to hang about around the estuary mouth for an hour or two and you should see them, at least distantly or in flight. That's what I did anyway!

Here are some more sandgrouse pictures, mostly Crowned but a few Spotted too.
 

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Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
Eurasian Scops Owl Otus scops
Dayet Aoua, Morocco 21/04/17 2
This was really pleasing, as I wasn't sure how likely I was to connect with this species. I was along the road on the south side of Dayet Aoua lake in the middle of the afternoon when I heard what sounded like a Scops Owl calling from close by. Another replied from further away. I had a look along the line of poplars and quickly gave a quick burst of tape. I got a response from right above, and there was a Scops Owl roosting right above me. Fantastic views.

Pharaoh Eagle-Owl Bubo ascalaphus
Imider, Morocco 18/04/17 2
This was also good, although it was a slightly more convoluted process. This was at the site mentioned in Poelstra (3J) at 31.37366, -5.80985. There's an obvious ravine with cliffs on either side. Not long after arriving, I saw a bloke walking rapidly towards me (he seemed to be coming from a long way off so goodness knows how he knew I was there). When he got to me it was clear from his gestures and broken French that he wanted to show me the owls. I slightly reluctantly agreed. He took me a few hundred metres up the ravine edge and down into the bottom of the valley. He gestured vaguely towards the cliff on the other side and, after a short scan, I picked out an owl sitting in a fairly obvious position. I suspect with a bit of time I'd have found it on my own. He then took me to see another, which was slightly less obvious and on the northern side of the valley. He asked for 100 dirhams, which I give him. I reckon if you visit this area, you would probably be able to find the birds by yourself but the guy speeded things up a bit. Great birds, obviously.

Little Owl Athene noctua
Oued Massa, Morocco 10/04/17 1
Merja Zerga, Morocco 22/04/17 2

Marsh Owl Asio capensis
Merja Zerga, Morocco 22/04/17 1
Although this wasn't a lifer, it was certainly one of the birds of the trip. This was partly because of the circumstances of seeing it. Somewhat unusually I managed to connect with the owl without the help of a guide. I did actually try to find the guide mentioned in the Poelstra report, but giving his name in the village where he's supposed to live garnered blank responses.

I headed off instead to the southeastern corner of Merja Zerga, in the vicinity of Poelstra's site 8D 34.81755, -6.26475. I say 'in the vicinity' but therein lies the problem. The main road is a mile or so away from the edge of the marshlands where the owls are potentially going to be. Between the road and the marsh are extensive fields with dense crops. There are tracks but they zigzag around and you don't know how far they go or how far you might be able to drive. After a bit of wandering around, I managed to find a promising track that I thought might lead me out towards the marsh edge and the right area. The sun was getting low by this stage though, and it was quite a long walk. This track is probably drivable (though I was on foot by this stage) but I don't know where it joins the road. My guess would be at the southern end of the village to the east of the coordinates, but I'm not certain.

Just as the sun was setting I found myself with a good view out over the marshland. No owls were visible but I had a nice time watching two pairs of Montagu's Harriers quartering the grasslands. I scanned around a bit more and there, much to my astonishment, was a Marsh Owl, sat on a sheaf of corn in the field adjoining the marsh, less than 100 metres away. Brilliant! It sat there quite happily for a few minutes, hopped to another sheaf as the light dimmed and then, in the gathering gloom, flew behind me and alighted on the fence by the side of the track. As it was getting dark, I headed back and the owl hopped along the fence posts, as if guiding me home.
 

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Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
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Red-necked Nightjar Caprimulgus ruficollis
Riad Titima, Morocco 08/04/17 2
This was a species I targetted a bit. I stayed at a hotel to the southeast of Essaouira (the 'Riad Titima', which was quite pleasant), as I'd read trip reports that had sometimes encountered them around there. I had a pleasant evening wandering about the open woodland seeing various interesting things. As the light began to fade a couple of Nightjars started up calling, not too far away. I soon had reasonable views of them flying around close by, although never managed to see them on the deck. This was around at about 31.43145, -9.67438.

Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 20/04/17 1
This was another one the guide at Yasmina got me. I'd tried quite hard at the 'Auberge Tresor' site mentioned in Gosney and various trip reports but with no joy. I'd looked in one or two other spots with recent reports too with no success. Anyway, the guide at Yasmina had a plan. We drove quite a long way out across the desert, through some unpleasant dust storms, and then met up with a Bedouin chap. We drove around the back of some sand dunes, got out the car and the Bedouin chap walked a hundred yards or so and then pointed to the side of a small tamarisk. There it was. Excellent bird - didn't do a lot though!

Golden Nightjar Caprimulgus eximius
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 13/04/17 2
This was a bit frustrating. My first night at Oued Jenna was quite windy and nothing at all was calling. The second night was better. At dusk I very briefly had a 'nightjar sp.' fly past me but the views were definitely untickable. Unfortunately nothing was calling and I eventually went to sleep. I woke up before dawn but probably not long enough before. I could soon here a couple of Golden Nightjars calling from where I was parked (the eastern side of the Oued) but they were quite distant. I headed towards the sound but, by the time I got anywhere near, the light was starting to brighten and the birds stopped calling. Annoying!

Common Swift Apus apus
Quite a lot but was mostly seen in Western Sahara where there was some obvious passage some days.

Pallid Swift Apus pallidus
Wadi Ksob, Morocco 09/04/17 20
Tamri, Morocco 09/04/17 50
Oued Massa, Morocco 10/04/17
Dakhla, Western Sahara 11/04/17 10
Lac de Sidi Boughaba, Morocco 22/04/17
Skhirat, Morocco 23/04/17
Regularly seen, although obviously not always easy to identify. The bridge at Wadi Ksob in Essaouira is the best place I've ever been for getting views of this species.

Little Swift Apus affinis
Dakhla, Western Sahara 11/04/17 30
Ourigane, Morocco 16/04/17 2
Skhirat, Morocco 23/04/17 3
Not as common as the other swifts. I'm not sure if the ones in Dakhla were local birds or migrants.

European Roller Coracias garrulus
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 1
Ourika to Zerkten, Morocco 17/04/17 1
Dayet Aoua, Morocco 21/04/17 5
Azrou, Morocco 21/04/17 1
A mix of migrants and breeding birds (e.g. at Dayet Aoua). Had some good 'rolling' at that site.

White-throated Bee-eater Merops albicollis
Dakhla Attitude Resort, Western Sahara 11/04/17 1
A bit of a 'celebrity' bird this one, as the second for the Western Palearctic had turned up a month or so previously at the appallingly named 'Dakhla Attitude Resort' at the northern end of Dakhla Bay. It actually took me about an hour to find but eventually just sat about on the fences in front of the chalets and acted with total impunity to the close presence of human beings. It's a bit tatty. They look much nicer in their normal range.

The Dakhla Attitude Resort is probably a good spot for birds, with potential for migrants (there was a Collared Fly a week or so after my visit) and shorebirds. It's a pretty grim place in some ways though! Lots of noisy European families on kite-surfing holidays and overpriced food. Okay if you like that sort of thing, but it would probably drive me up the wall.

Hope you like the close-up shot. I reckon it's got a bit of that 'Dakhla attitude'. Amirite?


Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Merops persicus
Imider to Rissani, Morocco 18/04/17 1
Rissani, Morocco 18/04/17 2
Rissani, Morocco 19/04/17 4
I eventually managed to get some good views of this glorious bird in the palm plantations around Rissani.

European Bee-eater Merops apiaster
Oualidia, Doukkala-Abda, Morocco 08/04/17 1
Oued Tensift, Morocco 08/04/17 10
Riad Titima, Morocco 08/04/17 5
Oued Sous, Morocco 09/04/17 1
Oued Massa, Morocco 09/04/17 20
Oued Massa, Morocco 10/04/17
Taroudannt, Morocco 10/04/17 20
Taroudannt, Morocco 15/04/17 24
Ourigane, Morocco 15/04/17 10
Sous Valley to Ourigane, Morocco 15/04/17
Ourigane, Morocco 16/04/17 10
Boumalne du Dades, Morocco 18/04/17 30
Larache, Morocco 22/04/17
Sidi Yahya, Morocco 23/04/17 2
Commonly seen, which was pleasing. A mix of migrants and breeding birds.

Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops
Riad Titima, Morocco 08/04/17
Oued Massa, Morocco 09/04/17
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17
Sidi Yahya, Morocco 23/04/17
Taroudannt, Morocco 10/04/17
 

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GDK

Well-known member
I like the first Marsh Owl pic Andrew, almost like a painting, very evocative.

Cheers,
 

Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
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Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17 2
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 13/04/17 1
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 1
Dakhla, Western Sahara 14/04/17 2
Some great views of migrants in Western Sahara.

Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major
Oukaimden, Morocco 16/04/17 1
Azrou, Morocco 21/04/17 5
Azrou, Morocco 22/04/17
Subspecies mauritanus.

Levaillant's Woodpecker Picus vaillantii
Ourigane, Morocco 15/04/17 1
Oukaimden, Morocco 16/04/17 1
Azrou, Morocco 21/04/17 3
Azrou, Morocco 22/04/17 2
This species was heard a lot more than seen. I only saw two, but had very good views. The first was in a patch of riverine woodland on the way up to Oukaimden. I'd been looking around for a while just hearing one distantly and was about to give up when one flew into a tree right above my head. It was only a few metres away! Bizarrely, it disappeared round the back of the tree and then almost immediately a Great Spotted Woodpecker came around the other side, almost as if the woodpecker had 'changed species' when it was at the back of the tree (see photos). One was also seen well in the oakwoods at Azrou, where it behaved much more like a 'normal' woodpecker than Green, hacking away at a branch.

Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni
Dayet Aoua, Morocco 21/04/17 15
Azrou, Morocco 21/04/17 20
Azrou, Morocco 22/04/17 2
Quite numerous in some areas in the Middle Atlas. Probably more were seen than these records indicate. All over the place in Azrou town.

Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Regularly seen almost everywhere. Much the commonest raptor in Morocco.

Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus
Aousserd Road, Western Sahara 13/04/17 2
Subspecies erlangeri. Two separate birds as I drove back from Oued Jenna to Dakhla. One near Oued Jenna was staggeringly pale (see photos). The other was a bit more normal looking.

Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
Taroudannt, Morocco 15/04/17 1
 

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Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
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I like the first Marsh Owl pic Andrew, almost like a painting, very evocative.

Cheers,

Thanks Gareth! That's what a high ISO can do for your pictures ;).

Here's a couple more Wryneck pictures, because Wrynecks.
 

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Andrew Whitehouse

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Black-crowned Tchagra Tchagra senegalus cucullatus
Oued Massa, Morocco 10/04/17 2
Oued Massa to Agadir Airport, Morocco 10/04/17 1
Taroudannt, Morocco 15/04/17 1
One was seen very nicely at Oued Massa along the river north of the Arhbalou Bridge (Gosney site 3). Others were heard or seen briefly (whilst driving!).

Southern Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis algeriensis
Oualidia, Doukkala-Abda, Morocco 08/04/17 2
Oualidia to Riad Titima, Morocco 08/04/17 2
Oued Massa, Morocco 09/04/17 1
Oued Massa, Morocco 10/04/17 2
Oued Massa to Agadir Airport, Morocco 10/04/17 10
Taroudannt, Morocco 10/04/17 4
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 11/04/17 2
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 11/04/17 8
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17 30
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 13/04/17
Aousserd Road, Western Sahara 13/04/17 15
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 2
L'Arganier D'Or Hotel, Morocco 15/04/17 2
Ourika to Zerkten, Morocco 17/04/17 1
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 20/04/17 1
Sidi Yahya, Morocco 23/04/17 1
Regularly encountered in most areas. The most conspicuous species around Oued Jenna, where it currently seems to be at incredibly high densities. My best sighting was of an adult carrying a gerbil and being pursued by its young at Oued Jenna. Although their appearance was variable, I only saw algeriensis for certain and not elegans. I wasn't looking all that closely though!

Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator
Riad Titima, Morocco 08/04/17 5
Oued Massa, Morocco 09/04/17
Taroudannt, Morocco 10/04/17 1
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 11/04/17 2
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17 10
Aousserd Road, Western Sahara 13/04/17 5
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 2
Dakhla, Western Sahara 14/04/17 5
Taroudannt, Morocco 15/04/17 2
Amerzgane, Morocco 17/04/17 1
Ourika to Zerkten, Morocco 17/04/17 1
Goulmima, Morocco 18/04/17 2
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 20/04/17 3
Sidi Yahya, Morocco 23/04/17 5
A frequently encountered species in most areas. I suppose that sightings were a mix of migrants and breeding birds.

Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 11/04/17 1
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 1
Dakhla, Western Sahara 14/04/17 5
Passage birds, generally seen in flight but there were some distant perched views.

Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius whitakeri
Dayet Aoua, Morocco 21/04/17 3
Sidi Yahya, Morocco 23/04/17 1

Moroccan Magpie Pica pica mauritanica
Oued Sous, Morocco 09/04/17 1
Oued Massa to Agadir Airport, Morocco 10/04/17 5
Lac de Sidi Boughaba, Morocco 22/04/17 2
The distinctive (and perhaps splittable) Moroccan Magpie was regularly seen in coastal areas. Only seen well on a couple of occasions though. There were some additional brief sightings whilst driving.

Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax barbarus
Oukaimden, Marrakech-Tensift-Al Haouz, Morocco 16/04/17 10
Zerkten to Amerzgane, Morocco 17/04/17 1
There were undoubtedly more than this at Oukaimden but I didn't stop to check the Choughs in detail.

Alpine Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus
Oukaimden, Morocco 16/04/17 2
Probably saw more than this, but didn't check distant Choughs carefully enough.

Western Jackdaw Coloeus monedula
Azrou, Morocco 22/04/17 30

Brown-necked Raven Corvus ruficollis
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 11/04/17 7
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17 2
Aousserd Road, Western Sahara 13/04/17 15
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 1
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 19/04/17 4
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 20/04/17 15
Quite common in desert areas in both Morocco and Western Sahara.

Northern Raven Corvus corax tingitanus
Zerkten to Amerzgane, Morocco 17/04/17 6
Dayet Aoua, Morocco 21/04/17
Lac se Sidi Aguelmane, Morocco 21/04/17 20
In higher altitude areas in the Atlas.

Coal Tit Periparus ater atlas
Dayet Aoua, Morocco 21/04/17
Azrou, Morocco 21/04/17 10
Azrou, Morocco 22/04/17
Only in the Middle Atlas.

African Blue Tit Cyanistes teneriffae ultramarinus
Riad Titima, Morocco 08/04/17 2
Oukaimden, Marrakech-Tensift-Al Haouz, Morocco 16/04/17 1
Dayet Aoua, Morocco 21/04/17
Azrou, Morocco 21/04/17 20
Azrou, Morocco 22/04/17
Sidi Yahya, Morocco 23/04/17
Regularly seen Atlas and to the north.

Great Tit Parus major
Seen regularly in the Atlas and to the north.
 

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Andrew Whitehouse

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Greater Hoopoe-Lark Alaemon alaudipes alaudipes
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 11/04/17 3
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17 5
Aousserd Road, Western Sahara 13/04/17 5
Boumalne du Dades, Morocco 17/04/17 1
Rissani, Morocco 18/04/17 3
Boumalne du Dades, Morocco 18/04/17 5
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 19/04/17 2
Hotel Said Merzouga, Morocco 19/04/17 2
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 20/04/17 5
This splendid bird was regularly encountered in all desert areas. Often seen displaying. If they were really rare you'd go absolutely crazy about them.

Thick-billed Lark Ramphocoris clotbey
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 1
This was fairly comfortably one of the birds of the trip. It came into drink in the morning at the pools at Gleb Jdiane, where it stayed for several minutes. Amazing looking bird - like a baby dinosaur.

Desert Lark Ammomanes deserti payni
Amerzgane, Morocco 17/04/17 1
Imider, Morocco 18/04/17 2
Rissani, Morocco 18/04/17 1
Not all that common and mostly found around craggy outcrops in the desert. Rather a heavily streaked subspecies in Morocco.
 

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jurek

Well-known member
Hi Andy, nice report, brings to mind all the places and observations we had ourselves! Funny thing is how people go for a Golden Nightjar as it is a known spot since forever. :)

I hope somebody discovers a similarly reliable site for Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse - driving along miles of rocky hills we guessed there must be 100s of pairs in southern Morocco waiting to be discovered.
 

Andrew Whitehouse

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Bar-tailed Lark Ammomanes cinctura arenicolor
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17 20
Aousserd Road, Western Sahara 13/04/17 2
Boumalne du Dades, Morocco 17/04/17 1
Goulmima, Morocco 18/04/17 2
Hotel Said Merzouga, Morocco 19/04/17 2
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 19/04/17 2
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 20/04/17 10
Quite a common bird in flat desert areas.

Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark Eremopterix nigriceps
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17 30
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 13/04/17 6
Aousserd Road, Western Sahara 13/04/17 10
Fairly numerous in the Oued Jenna area, although more often seen in flight than on the ground. Numbers are probably an underestimate.

Woodlark Lullula arborea
Dayet Aoua, Morocco 21/04/17 1

Thekla Lark Galerida theklae
A common species in the coastal areas north and west of the Atlas and also in stony plains such as the Tagdilt Track and Zeida. Seemed to be much commoner than Crested in most areas.

Crested Lark Galerida cristata
Sidi Moussa, Morocco 07/04/17 10
Tamri, Morocco 09/04/17
Dakhla, Western Sahara 11/04/17 2
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 11/04/17 5
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 13/04/17 2
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 4
Larache, Morocco 22/04/17 5
Quite regularly seen, usually near the coast. Not sure which subspecies were involved.

Maghreb Lark Galerida macrorhyncha
Goulmima, Morocco 18/04/17 2
Rissani, Morocco 19/04/17 3
Fairly obvious ones were seen at the two sites above, although it may have been overlooked elsewhere.
 

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Andrew Whitehouse

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Atlas Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris atlas
Oukaimden, Morocco 16/04/17 4
Seen fairly easily along the track up to the pass at Oukaimden.

Temminck's Lark Eremophila bilopha
Boumalne du Dades, Morocco 17/04/17 1
Boumalne du Dades, Morocco 18/04/17 10
Only seen around the Tagdilt Track, where it was quite common.

Greater Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla
Oued Massa, Morocco 09/04/17 3
Boumalne du Dades, Morocco 18/04/17 2
Hotel Said Merzouga, Morocco 19/04/17 12
Zeida Plains, Morocco 21/04/17 2
Not all that common, for some reason.

Dupont's Lark Chersophilus duponti duponti
Zeida Plains, Morocco 21/04/17 2
Two singing with one seen well over a long period, either running along the ground or perching up on low bushes to sing, which it sometimes did for minutes at a time. Regularly gave its weird, whistled song, either when perched or walking. Surprisingly cooperative and didn't seem too phased by my presence.

Dunn's Lark Eremalauda dunni dunni
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17 2
At least two seen well 5km east of Oued Jenna at 22.651, -14.465. Seen songflighting for prolonged periods at great height and then some good views on the ground on a few occasions. Definitely a bird where I benefitted from checking recent reports on 'Observado'.

Lesser Short-toed Lark Alaudala rufescens
Oued Massa, Morocco 09/04/17 1
In the steppe area (Gosney site 10). Surprisingly rare.
 

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