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

StuartReeves

Local rarity
Good stuff Andrew. I was actually in Morocco for part of the time you were there, albeit on a trekking trip rather than a birding one. Still saw a few good birds though.
 

Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
Good stuff Andrew. I was actually in Morocco for part of the time you were there, albeit on a trekking trip rather than a birding one. Still saw a few good birds though.

Thanks for the comments Stuart (and others). I noticed you'd been in Morocco recently. Hope you had a good time!

Common Bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus
Definitely a target you don't have to target. Very common and conspicuous in lower lying areas either side of the Atlas.

Brown-throated Martin Riparia paludicola
Oued Tensift, Morocco 08/04/17 6
Wadi Ksob, Morocco 09/04/17 2
I had good views of some by the bridge at Oued Tensift. I'm not sure if this is a known site, so it's maybe worth elaborating. This is at an obvious bridge on the N1 at 31.86577, -9.27261. They were also seen at the more well known site of Wadi Ksob.

Sand Martin Riparia riparia
Oualidia, Doukkala-Abda, Morocco 08/04/17 1
Wadi Ksob, Morocco 09/04/17 1
Oued Massa, Morocco 10/04/17 2
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17 3
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 13/04/17 2
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 5

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Basically everywhere. Some fairly obvious passage through Western Sahara, though never huge numbers.

Common House Martin Delichon urbicum
Not all that numerous and mostly in Western Sahara.

Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica
Oualidia to Riad Titima, Morocco 08/04/17 2
Riad Titima, Morocco 08/04/17 6
Riad Titima, Morocco 09/04/17 1
Taroudannt, Morocco 10/04/17 1
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 11/04/17 2
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17 10
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 15
Taroudannt, Morocco 15/04/17
Ourigane, Morocco 15/04/17
Sous Valley to Ourigane, Morocco 15/04/17
Ourigane, Morocco 16/04/17 10
Quite common in various areas north of the Atlas and also quite common passage in Western Sahara.
 

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Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti
Oued Massa, Morocco 10/04/17 1
Lac de Sidi Boughaba, Morocco 22/04/17
Wadi Ksob, Morocco 09/04/17 3
Ourika, Morocco 16/04/17 1

Streaked Scrub Warbler Scotocerca inquieta saharae
Goulmima, Morocco 18/04/17 1
One was seen fairly easily at the well known site of Goulmima.

Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
Frequently encountered as a migrant more or less everywhere.

Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
Wadi Ksob, Morocco 09/04/17 3

Western Bonelli's Warbler Phylloscopus bonelli
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 11/04/17 1
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17 3
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 13/04/17 1
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 1
Ourigane, Morocco 16/04/17 3
Goulmima, Morocco 18/04/17 1
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 18/04/17 2
Boumalne du Dades, Morocco 18/04/17 1
Azrou, Morocco 21/04/17 2
Azrou, Morocco 22/04/17 3
Regularly seen as a migrant but also breeding in the Atlas.

Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 13/04/17 3
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 2
Dakhla, Western Sahara 14/04/17 6
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 18/04/17 1
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 19/04/17 1
Azrou, Morocco 22/04/17 1
Migrants were seen quite often. One was singing in the oak woods at Azrou, which seemed kind of fitting.
 

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Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
Oualidia, Doukkala-Abda, Morocco 08/04/17 5
Oued Massa, Morocco 10/04/17 1

Eurasian Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus
Oued Massa, Morocco 10/04/17 10
Aousserd Road, Western Sahara 13/04/17 1
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 2
Boumalne du Dades, Morocco 18/04/17 1
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 19/04/17 1
Most records were of migrants but the birds at Oued Massa were singing, so were presumably the mysterious 'Moroccan Reed Warbler'. I'm not as clued up as I should be on these (but then who is?). They did seem a bit short winged, I guess. See photos below.

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler Iduna pallida reiseri
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 11/04/17 1
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 19/04/17 3
Rissani, Morocco 19/04/17 1
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 20/04/17 1
'Saharan Olivaceous Warbler: not encountered for certain in large numbers, but seen well a few times. Once I'd got my eye in on Western, these actually stood out a bit particularly when they tail dipped. Always shorter and thinner billed. The song - heard at Rissani - was also distinctive, with more repetition than Western.

Western Olivaceous Warbler Iduna opaca
Wadi Ksob, Morocco 09/04/17 2
Oued Massa, Morocco 10/04/17 20
Taroudannt, Morocco 10/04/17 1
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 11/04/17 1
Boumalne du Dades, Morocco 18/04/17 5
L'Arganier D'Or Hotel, Morocco 15/04/17 1
Ourika, Morocco 16/04/17 1
Ourika, Morocco 17/04/17 1
Sometimes very numerous in the right habitats. The bird at Oued Jenna was presumably a migrant.

Melodious Warbler Hippolais polyglotta
Oued Massa, Morocco 10/04/17 1
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17 4
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 13/04/17 3
Aousserd Road, Western Sahara 13/04/17 1
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 4
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 19/04/17 1
Azrou, Morocco 21/04/17 2
A common migrant in Western Sahara and there were territorial birds at Azrou.

Savi's Warbler Locustella luscinioides
Larache, Morocco 22/04/17 1
Heard only.

Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis
Common at most wetlands.

Cricket Longtail Spiloptila clamans
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 11/04/17 10
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17 25
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 13/04/17 2
This incredibly active species was seen regularly at Oued Jenna and at other nearby Oueds. It was nearly always in large groups like a desert Long-tailed Tit.
 

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Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
Fulvous Babbler Turdoides fulva
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 11/04/17 8
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17 15
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 13/04/17
Aousserd Road, Western Sahara 13/04/17 1
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 20/04/17 10
Fairly easy to find this engaging bird in the Aousserd Road/ Oued Jenna area. A family group was also seen in the Moroccan deserts.

Eurasian Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
Fairly regularly encountered as a migrant, with territorial birds also seen in the Atlas.

Garden Warbler Sylvia borin
Wadi Ksob, Morocco 09/04/17 1
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17 10
Dakhla, Western Sahara 14/04/17 1

Western Orphean Warbler Sylvia hortensis
Riad Titima, Morocco 08/04/17 5
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 11/04/17 1
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17 3
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 13/04/17 1
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 1
Dakhla, Western Sahara 14/04/17 1
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 19/04/17 1
Most records were of migrants but they were probably breeding in the Riad Titima area near Essaouira.

African Desert Warbler Sylvia deserti
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 20/04/17 1
This was one I was worried about seeing. I tried quite hard at Gosney's Site 4 at Yasmina but had no luck at all. I went out with the guide the following day and we weren't that optimistic because of the high winds. With a bit of effort one came in and showed very well though.

Common Whitethroat Sylvia communis
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17 2
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 13/04/17 1
Dakhla, Western Sahara 14/04/17 2

Tristram's Warbler Sylvia deserticola
Zerkten, Morocco 17/04/17 2
This was another tricky one. I looked quite a bit in the Ouirgane area recommended by Gosney but there was no sign. I'm sure there are a few around there, but I'm not convinced it's a good place to look these days. They were much easier at Zerkten. This site is at 31.462905, -7.405898 and within half an hour I'd had very good views of two singing males.

Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17 1

Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans
Sidi Moussa, Morocco 07/04/17 1
Oued Massa, Morocco 10/04/17
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 11/04/17 2
Dakhla Attitude Resort, Western Sahara 11/04/17 1
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17 5
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 13/04/17 1
Aousserd Road, Western Sahara 13/04/17 1
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 1
Dakhla, Western Sahara 14/04/17 1
Amerzgane, Morocco 17/04/17 1
Zerkten, Morocco 17/04/17 2
Barrage el Mansour, Morocco 17/04/17 1
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 19/04/17 2
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 20/04/17 1
Regularly encountered throughout. Most were presumed to be migrants but there were singing birds in the Atlas e.g. at Zerkten.

Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala
Common to the north and west of the Atlas Mountains.
 

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Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
Common Firecrest Regulus ignicapilla
Azrou, Morocco 21/04/17 10
Dayet Aoua, Morocco 21/04/17

Eurasian Wren Troglodytes troglodytes kabylorum
Oukaimden, Morocco 16/04/17 5
Azrou, Morocco 21/04/17
Azrou, Morocco 22/04/17
Lac de Sidi Boughaba, Morocco 22/04/17 1

Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea
Azrou, Morocco 21/04/17 5
Azrou, Morocco 22/04/17

Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla mauritanica
Oukaimden, Marrakech-Tensift-Al Haouz, Morocco 16/04/17 1
Azrou, Morocco 21/04/17 10
Azrou, Morocco 22/04/17
Dayet Aoua, Morocco 21/04/17

Spotless Starling Sturnus unicolor
Very common to the north and west of the Atlas Mountains

Common Blackbird Turdus merula mauritanicus
Common almost everywhere in Morocco, even in desert oases.

Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus deichleri
Oukaimden, Marrakech-Tensift-Al Haouz, Morocco 16/04/17 1
Azrou, Morocco 21/04/17 3
Azrou, Morocco 22/04/17

Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin Cercotrichas galactotes galactotes
Oued Massa, Morocco 10/04/17 1
Dakhla, Western Sahara 14/04/17 1
L'Arganier D'Or Hotel, Morocco 15/04/17 2
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 20/04/17 1
Some regular encounters with the bird I still like to call Rufous Bush Chat. A mix of migrants and breeding birds.

Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata
Riad Titima, Morocco 08/04/17 2
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 11/04/17 1
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17 1
Goulmima, Morocco 18/04/17 1

European Robin Erithacus rubecula
Azrou, Morocco 22/04/17
Azrou, Morocco 21/04/17
 

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Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
Common Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos
Oualidia, Morocco 08/04/17 1
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 13/04/17 1
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 1
Ourigane, Morocco 16/04/17 2
Ourika, Morocco 16/04/17 1
Ourika, Morocco 17/04/17 1
Zerkten to Amerzgane, Morocco 17/04/17 1
Boumalne du Dades, Morocco 17/04/17 1
Boumalne du Dades, Morocco 18/04/17 2
Sidi Yahya, Morocco 23/04/17 10

European Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca
Aousserd Road, Western Sahara 13/04/17 1
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 1
Dakhla, Western Sahara 14/04/17 5
Taroudannt, Morocco 15/04/17 1
L'Arganier D'Or Hotel, Morocco 15/04/17 2
Ourigane, Morocco 16/04/17 1
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 20/04/17 1
Azrou, Morocco 22/04/17 1
Common as a migrant. Worth noting that a fairly clear immature male was seen in the oakwoods at Azrou.

Atlas Pied Flycatcher Ficedula speculigera
Azrou, Morocco 21/04/17 1
I wasn't sure how likely this was, given that it supposedly arrives quite late in the spring. It took a while to find one in the utterly beautiful oakwoods near Azrou (Gosney site 3) but I eventually had some quite decent views of a male fairly near the road. I didn't see it in the same area the following day.

Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros
Oukaimden, Morocco 16/04/17 15

Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus
Taroudannt, Morocco 10/04/17 1
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 11/04/17 1
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17 10
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 13/04/17 1
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 13/04/17 1
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 1
Dakhla, Western Sahara 14/04/17 5
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 18/04/17 4
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 19/04/17 2
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 20/04/17 1
Azrou, Morocco 21/04/17 5
Azrou, Morocco 22/04/17 1
Lac de Sidi Boughaba, Morocco 22/04/17 1

Moussier's Redstart Phoenicurus moussieri
Riad Titima, Morocco 08/04/17 10
Wadi Ksob, Morocco 09/04/17 2
Oued Massa, Morocco 09/04/17 2
Oued Massa, Morocco 10/04/17 10
Ourigane, Morocco 15/04/17 5
Ourigane, Morocco 16/04/17 10
Oukaimden, Marrakech-Tensift-Al Haouz, Morocco 16/04/17 4
Azrou, Morocco 21/04/17 3
Another target you don't need to target, at least if you visit the Atlas or the areas down to the coast to the west. Common and often conspicuous. Knockout birds.

Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius
Dayet Aoua, Morocco 21/04/17 1

Whinchat Saxicola rubetra
Taroudannt, Morocco 10/04/17 1
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17 2
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 1
Dakhla, Western Sahara 14/04/17 5
Sous Valley to Ourigane, Morocco 15/04/17 2
Goulmima, Morocco 18/04/17 1

European Stonechat Saxicola rubicola
Oued Massa, Morocco 10/04/17 1

Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
Oued Massa, Morocco 09/04/17 3
Taroudannt, Morocco 10/04/17 2
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 11/04/17 3
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 11/04/17 1
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17 1
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 13/04/17 3
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 5
L'Arganier D'Or Hotel, Morocco 15/04/17 1
Goulmima, Morocco 18/04/17 6
Boumalne du Dades, Morocco 18/04/17 3
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 20/04/17 1
Zeida Plains, Morocco 21/04/17 1

Seebohm's Wheatear Oenanthe seebohmi
Oukaimden, Morocco 16/04/17 10
Lac se Sidi Aguelmane, Morocco 21/04/17 5
These were easily seen along the track up to the pass at Oukaimden and also along the road to the Middle Atlas from Zeida. Interestingly, in the areas where I was seeing lots of males, I didn't see any female Wheatears at all. Maybe they arrive later.

Desert Wheatear Oenanthe deserti
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 11/04/17 3
Aousserd Road, Western Sahara 13/04/17 1
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 5
Amerzgane, Morocco 17/04/17 1
Boumalne du Dades, Morocco 17/04/17 3
Imider, Morocco 18/04/17 3
Rissani, Morocco 18/04/17
Boumalne du Dades, Morocco 18/04/17 20
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 19/04/17 1
Hotel Said Merzouga, Morocco 19/04/17 1
Zeida Plains, Morocco 21/04/17 2
Common in most desert areas.

Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica
Sidi Moussa, Morocco 07/04/17 1
Oued Tensift, Morocco 08/04/17 1
Riad Titima, Morocco 08/04/17 2
Riad Titima, Morocco 09/04/17 2
Tamri, Morocco 09/04/17 5
Oued Massa, Morocco 10/04/17 4
Sous Valley to Ourigane, Morocco 15/04/17 1
Ourigane, Morocco 16/04/17 3
Zeida Plains, Morocco 21/04/17 1
Sidi Yahya, Morocco 23/04/17 1
Common in areas around the Atlas and to the north.

Red-rumped Wheatear Oenanthe moesta
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 11/04/17 2
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 1
Boumalne du Dades, Morocco 17/04/17 2
Boumalne du Dades, Morocco 18/04/17 10
Zeida Plains, Morocco 21/04/17 1
Found regularly in desert areas, with the Tagdilt Track at Boumalne being particularly good.

Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucura
Dakhla, Western Sahara 11/04/17 1
Dakhla Attitude Resort, Western Sahara 11/04/17 2
Sous Valley to Ourigane, Morocco 15/04/17 3
Oukaimden, Morocco 16/04/17 1
Cropped up in a few places. Seemed to occur in coastal areas in Western Sahara.

White-crowned Wheatear Oenanthe leucopyga
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17 1
Amerzgane, Morocco 17/04/17 1
Ouarzazate to Boumalne du Dades, Morocco 17/04/17 5
Boumalne du Dades, Morocco 17/04/17 3
Imider to Rissani, Morocco 18/04/17
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 18/04/17 4
Boumalne du Dades, Morocco 18/04/17 1
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 19/04/17 2
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 20/04/17 3
Common in the desert areas. Usually found around buildings rather than in the desert proper. The vast majority were immature birds with black crowns.

Maghreb Wheatear Oenanthe halophila
Amerzgane, Morocco 17/04/17 1
A male was seen at Gosney site 4 south of Amerzgane, but was only seen fairly distantly on a crag. A female Wheatear nearby may well have been of this species. Would like to have seen this one better.
 

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Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
Here are some shots of the Atlas Flycatcher from Azrou, together with a picture of a male Pied Flycatcher from Dakhla.
 

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Andrew Whitehouse

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Here are some wheatears and chats.
 

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Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
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Scotland
White-throated Dipper Cinclus cinclus minor
Oukaimden, Morocco 16/04/17 1
Contrary to Gosney, the minor subspecies in the Atlas didn't seem particularly 'black-bellied'.

House Sparrow Passer domesticus

Desert Sparrow Passer simplex
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 11/04/17 50
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17 200
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 13/04/17
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 20/04/17 8
Very numerous at Oued Jenna, often in large flocks. These were hard to see well though, as they often moved through the acacias quite rapidly. A few were seen with the guide at a small Bedouin camp near Yasmina. The ones at Yasmina were a lot neater looking than the fairly scruffy Oued Jenna birds.

Sudan Golden Sparrow Passer luteus
Oued Jenna, Western Sahara 12/04/17 3
So I managed to score with this species. As mentioned above, there are lots fast moving flocks of Desert Sparrows. In one of these there were three Golden Sparrows. These were seen quite well but distantly for a minute or two when they flew off. They weren't seen again.

Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia
Oukaimden, Morocco 16/04/17 45
Azrou, Morocco 21/04/17 2
A large flock came down to the chair lift cables by the car park at Oukaimden. Interesting to see a couple in the oakwoods at Azrou.
 

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Andrew Whitehouse

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Western Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
Predominantly Blue-headed and Spanish but a Grey-headed was seen at Gleb Jdiane. Generally common, both as a breeding bird and a migrant.

Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
Ourika, Morocco 17/04/17 1

White Wagtail Motacilla alba
Oued Tensift, Morocco 08/04/17 3
Wadi Ksob, Morocco 09/04/17 2
Tamri, Morocco 09/04/17 1
Dakhla, Western Sahara 11/04/17 1
Dakhla, Western Sahara 14/04/17 1
Moroccan Wagtail subpersonata was seen at the first three sites. The Western Sahara birds were migrant White Wagtails.

Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris
Taroudannt, Morocco 10/04/17 2
Boumalne du Dades, Morocco 18/04/17 1

Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis
Oualidia, Doukkala-Abda, Morocco 08/04/17 1
Dakhla, Western Sahara 10/04/17 1
Dakhla, Western Sahara 11/04/17 55
Dakhla Attitude Resort, Western Sahara 11/04/17 1
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 1
Dakhla, Western Sahara 14/04/17 10
Sous Valley to Ourigane, Morocco 15/04/17 2
Auberge Yasmina, Morocco 19/04/17 1
Rather common as a migrant in Western Sahara with a very large flock of around 50 coming into the botanical gardens in Dakhla.

African Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs africana
This distinctive subspecies was seen commonly in the Atlas and coastal areas. The males are quite striking but their song is very like Common Chaffinch. They make a few weird calls though.

Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes buvryi
Dayet Aoua, Morocco 21/04/17 10
Azrou, Morocco 22/04/17 5
The flock at Dayet Aoua probably counts as the most obliging Hawfinches I've ever seen anywhere.

African Crimson-winged Finch Rhodopechys alienus
Oukaimden, Morocco 16/04/17 4
These were tricky but eventually obliged. I spent a few hours trekking up towards the pass at Oukaimden but didn't see any. Not entirely to my surprise there were four back at the car park in the evening when I returned, accompanying the large flock of Rock Sparrows. Suspect that hanging around the car park towards the end of the day is the best strategy for this species after the snow has gone, as Poelstra had a similar experience to me.

Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githagineus
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 13/04/17 2
Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara 14/04/17 3
Amerzgane, Morocco 17/04/17 2
Zeida Plains, Morocco 21/04/17 1
Some good views at Gleb Jdiane.
 

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Andrew Whitehouse

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Hawfinch and Trumpeter Finch looking cool.
 

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Andrew Whitehouse

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European Greenfinch Chloris chloris

Common Linnet Linaria cannabina

European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis

European Serin Serinus serinus

Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra
Oualidia, Morocco 08/04/17 2
Oued Tensift, Morocco 08/04/17
Oued Massa, Morocco 10/04/17 1
Ourigane, Morocco 16/04/17 1
Zerkten to Amerzgane, Morocco 17/04/17 2
Larache, Morocco 22/04/17
Sidi Yahya, Morocco 23/04/17

Rock Bunting Emberiza cia
Zerkten to Amerzgane, Morocco 17/04/17 1
Just one roadside sighting in the Atlas.

Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus
Riad Titima, Morocco 08/04/17 5
Oued Massa, Morocco 10/04/17 1
L'Arganier D'Or Hotel, Morocco 15/04/17 1
Azrou, Morocco 21/04/17 1
Quite common near Essaouira but not seen much otherwise.

House Bunting Emberiza sahari
Oualidia, Morocco 08/04/17 2
Riad Titima, Morocco 08/04/17 1
Riad Titima, Morocco 09/04/17 2
Ouarzazate to Boumalne du Dades, Morocco 17/04/17 1
Boumalne du Dades, Morocco 17/04/17 1
The last bird in the list, but it was actually my first lifer of the trip. Rather pleasantly a couple were singing around the rooftops in Oualidia while I was having breakfast on my first morning. Not seen all that much otherwise.
 

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Andrew Whitehouse

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Other stuff

I didn't look as much for mammals as some people do, although I did do a couple of night drives on Aousserd Road. This probably isn't as productive on your own as with other people who can scan to the side. I did see several Lesser Egyptian Jerboas and Desert Hedgehogs doing this, and also a fine African Wildcat near Oued Jenna. A Libyan Jird was seen well in daylight at the Dakhla Attitude Resort. Barbary Macaque and Barbary Ground Squirrel were both seen a few times in Morocco. Otherwise it was fairly quiet, with not that wide a variety of butterflies and odonata, presumably because of the time of year.
 

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Andrew Whitehouse

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Anyway, I hope that was interesting. I'd recommend Morocco and Western Sahara, although I expect most of you knew how good it was anyway.

Here's a cliched sunset picture from Oued Jenna to round things off.
 

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Acrocephalus

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Excellent report! Found it while searching photos of Maghreb Lark at Aousserd (appeared in Google search because the two terms appeared together!).
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.
Oued Tissint is a reliable site to see Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse. For adventurers, the area of Iriqui in the Middle Draa (south-east of Foum Zguid) is good for the species but of course is not as predictable as a drinking site.

Brown-throated Martin Riparia paludicola
I had good views of some by the bridge at Oued Tensift. I'm not sure if this is a known site, so it's maybe worth elaborating. This is at an obvious bridge on the N1 at 31.86577, -9.27261. They were also seen at the more well known site of Wadi Ksob.
Brown-throated Martins can be seen at many more sites than the classic ones where most visiting birders see them (Oued Massa, Oued Ksob and Lower Loukkos since the discovery of a breeding colony there in 2007). I have seen them at Oued Tensift at two or three places including the bridge where you have seen them.

The Black-crowned Tchagra (Tchagra senegalus) is another species for which most reports cite only very few (known) sites.
Atlas Pied Flycatcher Ficedula speculigera
Azrou, Morocco 21/04/17 1
I wasn't sure how likely this was, given that it supposedly arrives quite late in the spring. It took a while to find one in the utterly beautiful oakwoods near Azrou (Gosney site 3) but I eventually had some quite decent views of a male fairly near the road. I didn't see it in the same area the following day.
Now the species start to appear at the breeding areas around this date. The difference is that it's much more difficult to see than later in the season. I say 'now' not because the species advanced its arrival dates or something like that (it could be, but we don't have solid long-term data to demonstrate this), but simply because now there is more data generated by hundreds of birders (eBird, observation.org,...).

Moussier's Redstart Phoenicurus moussieri
Another target you don't need to target, at least if you visit the Atlas or the areas down to the coast to the west. Common and often conspicuous. Knockout birds.
A nice comment! That's what I tell people when they ask me where to see this species.
Eurasian Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus
Most records were of migrants but the birds at Oued Massa were singing, so were presumably the mysterious 'Moroccan Reed Warbler'. I'm not as clued up as I should be on these (but then who is?). They did seem a bit short winged, I guess. See photos below.
If you follow the IOC World Bird List then you have here definitely a tick (or a lifer?): African Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus baeticatus ambiguus).
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.
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!
I left this at the end to give some perspective as to why the guided birding at Merzouga appeared pricy. I met the guide and he explained to me his approach for finding specialties of the region. To easily show the birds to birders (both independent and organized tours) in a short time he has to map reliable sites for these birds. Breeding sites (exact area, bush or cliff for some) change between seasons, and he start early in the breeding season to secure these sites. Despite his early ‘homework’, he has to rely on some collaborators for other species like the Egyptian Nightjar as you have witnessed yourself.

Another aspect that I think it’s important and I should mention. The guide has no training in biology or something similar; he was doing something totally different (selling fossils) before gradually converting into a birding guide. Even his knowledge of European languages (English, Spanish and French) is a little bit limited, but I think it’s enough to communicate with the majority of birders. For me, I was really happy to find out that his work (and thus his family’s income) during a good part of the year is birding.

I hope this is helpful for you and any reader of this report.
 
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Andrew Whitehouse

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Thanks for your very interesting comments Mohamed. They give quite a bit of background to what I encountered.
 

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