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Ouarzazate area, Morocco - A brief report from a 3-night trip 22/4/23 - 25/4/23 (1 Viewer)

wolfbirder

Well-known member
Following my trip a month previously to Morocco, where I visited the marshlands and woodland around Rabat up to Moulay Bousselham for Marsh Owl, then to the Mid-Atlas mountains for Moussier's Redstart, and finally to the Erb Chebbi desert around Merzouga for Desert Sparrow and others, I felt I still had unfinished business due to the failure of my guide to turn up at the last location for what was to be the cherry on the cake of the trip, on my last full day there. Hence I dipped Pharaoh Eagle Owl, African Desert Warbler, and Fulvous Babbler. I also failed to locate Levaillant's Woodpecker and Black-crowned Tchagra.

So I had unfinished business. I had no chance of getting the Tchagra on this trip, hence I have booked a 3rd trip in September to Agadir. Thankfully, Ryan Air currently offer a range of Moroccan destinations from Stansted at a cheap price, especially if you have no hold baggage.

The air fare from Stansted to Ouarzazate cost me about £50 return, without hold baggage, so I just had binoculars plus essentials for my 3 day trip. Of course things add up cost wise. Petrol to drive to and from Stansted from the Midlands, car parking at Stansted, hotel accommodation, and of course car hire and petrol at the Moroccan end. All in all, this trip cost me £470.

The flight on the 22nd April landed at Ouarzazate on time mid-day, and after a long security queue, I searched for an ATM in the airport and for my Hertz car hire desk. I could find neither, but there was an AVIS desk and he rang the Hertz representative for me, and with 3 others we eventually drove in his van to his office in Ouarzazate centre a mile away. After a bit of a palaver, I was eventually in my hire car an hour later, with an ATM opposite the office thankfully, to withdraw £150 worth of Moroccan dirhams. I only filled up petrol once as I had a full tank, just before returning it full at the airport three days later. I had a diesel-powered Citreon that was adequate for my needs, and as usual with diesel, very economical. By 1pm, I was out of Ouarzazate in 30 degrees heat, heading eastward along the N10 main road towards Boumalne Dades some 70 miles away. Apparently, this town only has a population of 12,000, but unlike most British towns, I found Moroccan towns to be oblong and concentrated alongside the main roads but with no real depth on either side. Hence, it seems to take forever and a day to find your way through Moroccan towns, crawling at 30mph, and here trying to avoid the young boys and men who thrust themselves into the road to sell their pink flowers which are famous in this area. Eventually, I was through it, and climbing out of the town following 'Tinghir' signs at any junction. I was then quickly into the stoney desert just outside Boumalne Dades, and almost immediately took a rough track off the N10 to the right at 31.36627, -5.96060, then along the infamous 'Tagadilt track' for around a mile to the infamous dump at 31.352417, -5.958539, where hundreds of plastic or white bags swirl around in the air, creating quite a surreal effect. Good birding commenced as soon as I left the main N10 road, and during my hour and a half here mid-afternoon, I enjoyed views of at least 8 Red-rumped Wheatears, 2 Maghreb Larks, a few standard Crested Larks, Trumpeter Finch, Short-toed Lark, and a few Feral Pigeons. The 'boiling-kettle' song of the Red-rumps was distinctive as were the 'orange-headed' females. But I had seen a male before in Israel, so not a lifer. A Hoopoe Lark 'wailed' in the distance but I did not search it out having seen several supremely well on my previous trip and also in Israel. I eventually decided that I needed to get to the heart of the tip, so I parked up to the left and walked about 100 yards into the real heart of it. Flies immediately found their way to me in the heat, but the greatest danger is the sheer amount of glass lying around, so do ensure that you tread carefully and watch exactly where you are walking, in good sturdy shoes if possible. By some sort of very obvious small central compound, I quickly found 3 'stunning' Temminck's Horned Larks, just ten metres away. Arguably birds of the trip! I was stood in the centre of it all, next to some sort of gulley where rains had obviously washed through earlier in the year, but were now bone dry and littered densely with cans, bottles, plastic, bags. You couldn't even see the soil beneath. Movement caught my eye twenty metres away, but it was just a Feral Pigeon, but next to it was a much sought-after adult Thick-billed Lark - a 2nd lifer of the trip following Maghreb Lark. It hopped through the rubbish, obviously finding the delights of the tip to its liking, in the same way I love a pizza and a beer on a Friday night. A 2nd adult joined it and I soaked in views for around ten minutes before I was 'flied-out' and glad to return to the sanctity of my car. There are actually several tracks around the area and you could spend all day in this general area, not so close to the dump, but nevertheless most birds seem attracted to the heart of it.

I re-joined the main road and drove around ten miles further east along the N10 to the 'unsignposted' 'Cave de Taouite'. Take a turn off on the right (south side) exactly at 31.37910, -5.81243, just west of the village of Imiter. Just to be sure you are at the right point, away on the other side of the N10 is an isolated industrial quarry plant with some sort of industrial conveyor belt (see photograph at end). Anyway, follow this rough track for about 200 metres to the brow of the hill and park up, to the side. In this general vicinity, as E-bird confirms, are Pharaoh Eagle Owls, but it still requires a ten minute walk and searching, and a bit of luck. They are often out of view in the 'cave nest', so late afternoon, or possibly early morning seems best to see them at the entrance of their nest or even on rocks nearby. Pre-dusk would likely be even better. They are still hard to find so email me if you want more specific detail, but photographs of the bird and the individual cave shape-entrance on E-bird betray where it is once you find the right canyon. You may be helped by an eager local who one would inevitably tip if they help. Unfortunately, they were not visible when I visited at this point, and for once I wished I had my scope with me. In fact I took a few rough tracks off the N10 in this general area before Imiter village, and enjoyed views of 2 North African Buzzards, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, several Trumpeter Finches, Maghreb Wheatear, 2-3 Black Wheatears, several White-crowned Black Wheatears, and a male House Sparrow! As it was now early evening, I tried but failed to find my accommodation for the night called 'Port du Dades' in Boumalne Dades, but noticed a signpost for 'Pearl du Dades'. This was in fact a different hotel, but as others have remarked, what a little oasis it is! It was full however, but as I was getting back in my car, the proprietor came out and said that he had a communal room that had no toilet facilities, which I readily accepted as I was quite tired. This hotel is frequented by many French folk, but with the accompanying song of Nightingales and Turtle Doves, I enjoyed a meal and a couple of beers! The room was situated immediately by the bar so I only got to sleep after the noisy French groups returned to their rooms near midnight. Still, it was ideal and cost around 80 euros all in all, not cheap but it is a superb hotel in this area.

On the 23rd, I was up for breakfast at 7am and out by the adjacent lush wadi, where I stopped for ten minutes by a bridge, picking up 2 Western Olivaceous Warblers, Hoopoe, Blackbird, Woodchat Shrike, and a Little Ringed Pover by the river. Nightingale song was all around. My primary aim today was to head eastward along N10 around 70 miles as far as Goulmina, which wasn't actually too far from the Erb Chebbi desert I had previously visited. I thought it was necessary to visit this far east to maximise chances of getting Fulvous Babbler. It took an hour to get through Tinghir, which like Boumalne Dades was slow-going. I reached the village of Tizgaghine, 5kms short of Goulmina, and birded the general area which looked promising according to E-bird reports. But I failed to find any Fulvous Babblers in an area of sparse bushes beside the N10 just before the turn-off into this village, only finding a few Woodchat Shrikes, Masked Shrike, Western Bonelli's Warbler, and Hoopoe. I drove into Tizgaghine village itself , and just before it noticed a nice-looking wadi to the right that was accessible. Here I found 2 Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters, 2 Common Bulbuls, and Western Olivaceous Warbler. At the far end of the village was a much better, deeper wadi comprising many palms, so I wondered through this lovely area for an hour early afternoon, but again only finding 2 more Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters, a few Common Bulbuls, 2-3 Iberian Pied Flycatchers, Blackbird, and the usual Collared Doves and House Sparrows. But no Fulvous Babblers. As it was now mid-afternoon, I headed back on the 140-mile journey back to Ouarzazate which I knew would take a few hours. I again checked out the 'Cave do Taouite' near Imiter on the way back, and this time my luck was in, with an adult Pharaoh Eagle Owl being seen distantly at the entrance to the cave. Bingo! Otherwise, the journey was predictably slow and unenterprising from an ornithological viewpoint, but at least police checks were straightforward on this trip. Just 8 kms from Skoura, and only 20kms from Ouarzazate, I noticed a sandy-brown bird in flight to my right as I drove, and thankfully a rough track presented itself immediately afterwards. I knew immediately that it was a Fulvous Babbler, and walked back to enjoy crippling views of 2 noisy babblers! Lifer number 3. I really needn't have driven so far east after all, and perhaps should have concentrated efforts around the lake at Ouarzazate instead. I checked into my hotel called 'Kozy Home' overlooking the 'plane-less' Ouarzazate Airport, where a few House Buntings, Blackbirds, Collared Doves, and House Sparrows were omni-present. The view from my room at the front was excellent, and a Black Wheatear was a bonus. A large falcon (probably Lanner) took off from the ground within the airport runway run-off area, but by the time I had retrieved my binoculars it was out of view. I enjoyed beers and a Spaghetti Bolognese at a nearby restaurant ten minutes walk away.

My last full day, 24th, was dedicated to the hills lying to the west of Ouarzazate, but not as far as Oukaimeden unfortunately. I set out on the main N9 road and visited several points within a 70-mile slow journey, with road-works through the hills preventing stops to bird with frustrating frequency. First port of call was Amerzgane, and the P1505 minor tarmac road running from it, that links the N9 to the N10. I stopped just outside Amerzgane, by the first bridge on the P1505, where I found a pair of Rufous-tailed Scrub Robins, Western Black-eared Wheatear, Woodchat Shrike, but no Levaillant's Woodpecker that have been reported here. I drove on to the second bridge, where there was at least water. I walked around either side, noting several Trumpeter Finches, Western Olivaceous Warbler, and a very-elusive, long-tailed warbler in a small tree immediately by the bridge. I just could not get onto it, if I moved, it moved, and when a car eventually came past it disappeared. It may have been a Tristram's Warbler, it may have been a Spectacled Warbler. It may even have been a Common Whitethroat! Grrrrr!! I re-joined the N9 to head in the direction of the Atlas mountains, and twenty miles later stopped at the Cafe Resto Targa, where I enjoyed birding from the shaded seating area overlooking the adjacent well-vegetated wadi, with a cold can of coke. Again, Levaillant's Woodpecker eluded me, having often been reported here, with just Western Olivaceous Warbler, House Sparrows, Woodchat Shrike, and pale-morph Booted Eagle overhead. I moved on, driving through the rough-looking village of Aguelmouss, and gradually up into the mountains through the Tizi N Tichka Pass, where I stopped at the few available stops. I only managed to find a few Rock Sparrows, Lesser Kestrel, and more House Sparrows. At times it felt like searching for a single ant in a twenty-storey block of flats, such was the seeming paucity of birds. I got as far as Ait Ben Ammar and turned round, rather disappointed with the lack of birds, notably wheatears. I stopped again at Cafe Resto Targa and this time took the path immediately to the left of the cafe down into the wadi, where I walked up onto a foot-bridge to watch birds. Nightingale, Grey Wagtail, Hoopoe, and either an Iberian Pied Flycatcher or Atlas Flycatcher showed well. I suspect the former, though the white head-patch was large and the amount of white in the wings notable. I need to look more into this before deciding whether I can claim it as an Atlas. It was a lovely spot, but still no Levaillant's Woodpecker seen or even heard! I also returned to the P1505 off Amerzgane and this time drove further along it, where I came to the very lush and 'signposted' Wadi Anski ('Oued Anski') which I birded for an hour. Golden Oriole was heard but not seen, though North African Buzzard, Western Olivaceous Warbler, Western Bonelli's Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Nightingale, and large blue Changeable Lizard were all seen. It was a great place! I wish I had found this spot earlier on. But it was now early evening, and I had to head back to nearby Ouarzazate. Today had been quite enjoyable but not very productive.

The flight home from Ouarzazate to Stansted on the morning of the 25th was again on time, and it was actually nice to hit fresh air and see English fields again. I only managed 50 species, failing miserably to connect with Levaillant's Woodpecker, but clawed back Maghreb Lark and Fulvous Babbler, and also added Thick-billed Lark to my life list. The Temminck's Horned Larks were probably the other highlight, and the Pharaoh Eagle Owl at its cave hole.

Ryan Air offer so many Moroccan options that birders can currently consider a range of routes and options, though primarily only from London Stansted.

Just 5 photos: -

1) Typical desert P1505 off Amerzgane
2) Wadi (Oued) Anski off P1505 from Amerzgane
3) Pearl Du Dades hotel at Boumalne Dades
4) Pharaoh Eagle Owl at its cave nest Cave do Taouite
5) Turn off track N9 to Cave do Taouite, looking back towards the main N9 road 50 metres away, with the industrial plant a key feature on the other side, a useful visible feature when trying to locate the turn off for this unmarked track. From where I am stood for this photo, the parking spot at the brow of the hill is about another 100 metres behind me.
 

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Great report as always Nick, many thanks for sharing! A raft of great birds there for me, high up on my 'Must visit' list! Fingers crossed for the rest of your targets in September.

Chris
 
Birds and rubbish dumps ... seems a terrible place to see a great pair of larks, but if they're good for gulls, then why not larks I suppose.

Should I ever head that way the detailed instructions will doubtless be invaluable - so thanks for putting all that together.

Australia (at least within a day trip of Sydney) is a bit less wild, so I've started using Google Maps satellite pix that I add numbers to to provide access details.

Cheers
Mike
 
Many thx Mike and Jos. That’s good to know.

If anyone (known birder) needs more precise Pharaoh Eagle Owl directions for this year Pls ask.

Apparently you do need to get right into the heart of the rubbish dump to maximise chances of those larks. It’s not a controlled dump based on what I witnessed, I didn’t see anyone else at all.

BTW it was mentioned in the report seeing a Masked Shrike. I very much doubt he did, would have been a national first. Must purely have been down to birder inability 😆
 
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Many thx Mike and Jos. That’s good to know.

If anyone (known birder) needs more precise Pharaoh Eagle Owl directions for this year Pls ask.

Apparently you do need to get right into the heart of the rubbish dump to maximise chances of those larks. It’s not a controlled dump based on what I witnessed, I didn’t see anyone else at all.

BTW it was mentioned in the report seeing a Masked Shrike. I very much doubt he did, would hav5e been a national first. Must purely have been down to birder inability 😆
The Owls have used at least 5 holes in this location as a roost in the last few months, in part as a pair of Lanners built a nest before abandoning and that is the one species that they move for. The locals will assist for a fee.

The Thick-billed Larks are often found in the fenced section of the tip right in its heart. They breed across the plains but are trickier elsewhere.

I would welcome any photos of your Maghreb Larks. Most Crested Larks here are just that - the longer billed subspecies of Crested. Their Biome needs appear to make it more likely off the high arid steppe here and on the lower sandier desert edge to the south & east.
 
At the time I visited that place at Boumalne (2011) there were 50 or more stray dogs living among the waste, some of them aggressive, so we birded from the car.
Aren't there dogs now?
 
The Owls have used at least 5 holes in this location as a roost in the last few months, in part as a pair of Lanners built a nest before abandoning and that is the one species that they move for. The locals will assist for a fee.

The Thick-billed Larks are often found in the fenced section of the tip right in its heart. They breed across the plains but are trickier elsewhere.

I would welcome any photos of your Maghreb Larks. Most Crested Larks here are just that - the longer billed subspecies of Crested. Their Biome needs appear to make it more likely off the high arid steppe here and on the lower sandier desert edge to the south & east.
Hi Muppitt

The Pharaoh Eagle Owls (locals told me there are two pairs) seem to predominantly use the one in the photo, as that is where the 2 chicks are. But yes they can be seen nearby. I agree about the Thick-Billed Larks, right in the heart of the rubble. The approach track was good for Red-rumped Wheatears.

Regards the 'Maghreb Larks, I'm afraid I don't take photos. But Steve Lister also queried my sightings which is justified because my knowledge is poor to be honest and I tend to do a lot of my birding abroad based on E-bird. Steve pointed out that Maghreb lark information is very muddled as is their supposed range.................From what I can gather the thinking (tho perhaps not the latest?) is that two subspecies of Maghreb Lark are known, and based on the study of Guillaumet et al. (2005, 2006 and 2008), the 'IOC World Bird List' split Maghreb Lark (Galerida macrorhyncha) from Crested Lark (Galerida cristata) in 2009. It states: - "two subspecies of Maghreb Lark are known: macrorhyncha in south-east Morocco and north-west Algeria south of the Saharan Atlas, and randonii in Hauts Plateaux of eastern Morocco and the adjacent part of western Algeria. Crested Larks on the coastal area of northern Mauritania (subspecies balsaci, which belong to the senegallensis group) have longer bills, but still shorter than in typical macrorhyncha found in the core area known to birders who visit Morocco – between Merzouga and Ouarzazate".

So confusingly, this article suggests the core area is where I was, rather than north of Marrakesh??

I looked at 2 birds at Tagdilt track that appeared to have long bills. There were also what I would call standard Crested Larks and also Thekla Larks in the area. I also thought I saw several Maghreb Larks near Ouarzazate, and some of the photos of supposed Maghreb Larks on E-bird in the Ouarzazate area look long-billed. The bird in this link was photographed last year at Ouarzazate. But are you saying that they are unlikely in this area?

 
At the time I visited that place at Boumalne (2011) there were 50 or more stray dogs living among the waste, some of them aggressive, so we birded from the car.
Aren't there dogs now?
I wasn’t aware of any Tote, whether they are there generally I just don’t know. I walked within metres of the small fenced enclosure.

It’s worth raising the concern.
 
I wasn’t aware of any Tote, whether they are there generally I just don’t know. I walked within metres of the small fenced enclosure.

It’s worth raising the concern.
Yes there is a pack of dogs near the rubbish tip. However although they are aggressive to each other, in twenty or so visits I have not had an issue either here or elsewhere in Morocco. Normally they move away.

I guess, now I have said this - I am going to have trouble with dogs!
 
Hi Muppitt

The Pharaoh Eagle Owls (locals told me there are two pairs) seem to predominantly use the one in the photo, as that is where the 2 chicks are. But yes they can be seen nearby. I agree about the Thick-Billed Larks, right in the heart of the rubble. The approach track was good for Red-rumped Wheatears.

Regards the 'Maghreb Larks, I'm afraid I don't take photos. But Steve Lister also queried my sightings which is justified because my knowledge is poor to be honest and I tend to do a lot of my birding abroad based on E-bird. Steve pointed out that Maghreb lark information is very muddled as is their supposed range.................From what I can gather the thinking (tho perhaps not the latest?) is that two subspecies of Maghreb Lark are known, and based on the study of Guillaumet et al. (2005, 2006 and 2008), the 'IOC World Bird List' split Maghreb Lark (Galerida macrorhyncha) from Crested Lark (Galerida cristata) in 2009. It states: - "two subspecies of Maghreb Lark are known: macrorhyncha in south-east Morocco and north-west Algeria south of the Saharan Atlas, and randonii in Hauts Plateaux of eastern Morocco and the adjacent part of western Algeria. Crested Larks on the coastal area of northern Mauritania (subspecies balsaci, which belong to the senegallensis group) have longer bills, but still shorter than in typical macrorhyncha found in the core area known to birders who visit Morocco – between Merzouga and Ouarzazate".

So confusingly, this article suggests the core area is where I was, rather than north of Marrakesh??

I looked at 2 birds at Tagdilt track that appeared to have long bills. There were also what I would call standard Crested Larks and also Thekla Larks in the area. I also thought I saw several Maghreb Larks near Ouarzazate, and some of the photos of supposed Maghreb Larks on E-bird in the Ouarzazate area look long-billed. The bird in this link was photographed last year at Ouarzazate. But are you saying that they are unlikely in this area?


I had three visits over six weeks or so this spring, (and plenty since 2018) and I personally would be surprised with two pairs of P Eagle Owl- the area simply isn't big enough to support two breeding pairs. There may be last years young still hanging around. I spoke to the locals on each visit and they noted that they had moved and never mentioned more than a single pair - but who knows. BTW they used to be c.1km upstream in the wadi until the Lanners moved back.

As you may or may not be aware, Maghreb Lark was re-lumped by IOC. There has always been the issue that some Crested Larks are longer billed than some Maghreb Larks and there is was a feeling that they got the subspecies mixed. The whole reason for the split is that originally is that they occupied a different biome and that morphologically these adaptions were manifest. It was backed by a different song. The issue being if they are not separated by biome then most of the separate species argument falls away. I personally have never seen (or more importantly heard) a Maghreb lark on the high arid steppes, but seen plenty in the sandy desert edge further south.

This doesn't mean that they dont occur - you are correct that the type specimen was taken north of the High Atlas near Marrakech. It is also the case that post breeding all of these arid country birds are nomadic, primarily driven by historic rains and where food is. This means that they can be found in surprising places. However it is more unlike in the breeding season and they (normally) revert to type. As for the record - I see it is 'validated' but no idea by whom. The location is strange - I have been to the area - and the habitat is atypical for Maghreb. As for the embedded calls - I am not sure that you can tell calling juveniles apart. I would leave these as riggenbachi personally - but no idea what information has been given to suggest that they are randonii - the location is far from their supposed home range.
 
I had three visits over six weeks or so this spring, (and plenty since 2018) and I personally would be surprised with two pairs of P Eagle Owl- the area simply isn't big enough to support two breeding pairs. There may be last years young still hanging around. I spoke to the locals on each visit and they noted that they had moved and never mentioned more than a single pair - but who knows. BTW they used to be c.1km upstream in the wadi until the Lanners moved back.

As you may or may not be aware, Maghreb Lark was re-lumped by IOC. There has always been the issue that some Crested Larks are longer billed than some Maghreb Larks and there is was a feeling that they got the subspecies mixed. The whole reason for the split is that originally is that they occupied a different biome and that morphologically these adaptions were manifest. It was backed by a different song. The issue being if they are not separated by biome then most of the separate species argument falls away. I personally have never seen (or more importantly heard) a Maghreb lark on the high arid steppes, but seen plenty in the sandy desert edge further south.

This doesn't mean that they dont occur - you are correct that the type specimen was taken north of the High Atlas near Marrakech. It is also the case that post breeding all of these arid country birds are nomadic, primarily driven by historic rains and where food is. This means that they can be found in surprising places. However it is more unlike in the breeding season and they (normally) revert to type. As for the record - I see it is 'validated' but no idea by whom. The location is strange - I have been to the area - and the habitat is atypical for Maghreb. As for the embedded calls - I am not sure that you can tell calling juveniles apart. I would leave these as riggenbachi personally - but no idea what information has been given to suggest that they are randonii - the location is far from their supposed home range.
Thanks for the detailed response Muppit, very much appreciated (and previously thanks to Steve Lister too).

On BUBO, they haven't 'relumped' them yet, but based on what you say here, I shall remove Maghreb Lark from my list, I was pondering doing so anyway based on what Steve had told me.

All seems very confusing but I openly admit that I didn't pay them as much attention as I should have done.

Regards the owls, I believe you, and it may be down to my interpretation when the local tagging along with me said: - "There are two", but he may have been simply saying the single pair can be in different places I guess.

Thanks again.

Finally, gutted I didn't connect with the Lanners there, I possibly had one perched on a nearby cliff face but eventually I put it down as a North African Buzzard. I wish I had my scope with me :)-.
 
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Thanks for the detailed response Muppit, very much appreciated (and previously thanks to Steve Lister previously too).

On BUBO, they haven't 'relumped' them yet, but based on what you say here, I shall remove Maghreb Lark from my list, I was pondering doing so anyway based on what Steve had told me.

All seems very confusing but I openly admit that I didn't pay them as much attention as I should have done.

Regards the owls, I believe you, and it may be down to my interpretation when the local tagging along with me said: - "There are two", but he may have been simply saying the single pair can be in different places I guess.

Thanks again.

Finally, gutted I didn't connect with the Lanners there, I possibly had one perched on a nearby cliff face but eventually I put it down as a North African Buzzard. I wish I had my scope with me :)-.
The whole status of the Lark is confused by mis IDs especially on eBird IMHO. It is not helped by poor coverage in the guide books.

There were definitely 2 owls. The main owl info came from Lahcen, he seems to be the other locals call if they have moved. Possibly more, but that is not what Lahcen said the last time I spoke to him

There were 2 pairs of NA buzzard nesting in the area. This is most likely species. One nest was easily visible to the western end of the wadi.

I didn't see any Lanners after the end of March, they probably nested deeper in the desert.
 
The whole status of the Lark is confused by mis IDs especially on eBird IMHO. It is not helped by poor coverage in the guide books.

There were definitely 2 owls. The main owl info came from Lahcen, he seems to be the other locals call if they have moved. Possibly more, but that is not what Lahcen said the last time I spoke to him

There were 2 pairs of NA buzzard nesting in the area. This is most likely species. One nest was easily visible to the western end of the wadi.

I didn't see any Lanners after the end of March, they probably nested deeper in the desert.
All good info gratefully received, many thanks.

I've removed Maghreb Lark from my list.
 
All good info gratefully received, many thanks.

I've removed Maghreb Lark from my list.
It is funny how things transpire. I was looking at the taxonomy thread on Birdforum and post #145 in Alaudidae pops up with the latest DNA on larks. It summary shows Maghreb is not closely related to Crested but is more closely related to Sun Lark of sub-saharan W Africa. However randonii is now proposed as sub species of Crested.

No idea how robust this is and how long it will take to filter into mainstream lists. However just shows the issue at the cutting edge of speciation. Morocco is interesting as it is at the crossroads of influences from all points of the compass, and isolated since the end of the last ice age and African humid period. My guess is more species will be split out
 
Thanks for the report - I'm heading there next week. You didn't try for the Egyptian nightjars that have been reported a couple of times recently on ebird at the "ecolodge" near the reservoir at Ouarzaate?
 

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