Friday, 22 April 2011

Morocco - Part 2

mauritanica Magpie

Our 2nd full day in Morocco started in Agadir, arising at first light we headed down to the Oued Souss National Park, although we recorded many species the area was disappointingly quiet (compared with our expectations). Birds of note here included - mauritanica Magpie (numerous, see above), Common Bulbul (20+), Turtle Dove (8), Laughing Dove (12, see below) Greater-spotted Woodpecker (1), Whiskered Tern (16), Sandwich Tern (30+), Gull-billed Tern (18), Caspian Tern (2), Curlew Sandpiper (8) and lots of Grey Plover.

Plain Martin

Laughing Dove

Next we birded along the Oued Massa, the birding here was superb and as well as many breeding species being present, numerous Pied Flycatcher, Willow Warbler and Bonelli Warbler made it clear the birds were still moving through. We spent about 3 hours birding from various locations along the river and recorded the following of note - Western Olivacous Warbler (20+), Woodchat Shrike (8), Moussier's Redstart (numerous), Laughing Dove (20+), Kingfisher (1), Spoonbill (1), Green Sandpiper (2), Common Sandpiper (3), Plain Martin (10+, see above), Yellow Wagtail (numerous), Moroccan Cormorant (4), Little Bittern (1), Stonechat (2), Whinchat (1) and our main target Black-crowned Tchagra (2, see below).

Above 3 images - Black-crowned Tchagra

After finishing birding along the Oued Massa we headed down to Goulimime, our first stop here was at a police check point at the start of the city, but what a stop it was. After the police had realised we were harmless birders (thanks to the paperwork we had compiled prior to our visit) we noticed some larks near the car which transpired to be 3 Thick-billed and a Hoopoe Lark!!

After checking into the hotel we headed south of the city and began birding the various waddies and scrubland which can be found either side of the road. We drove no further than 30km and during 4 hours birding recorded the following noteworthy species - Willow Warbler (60+!!), Bonelli's Warbler (6), Swallow (4000 - 5000 going North), Spectecled Warbler (3), Thick-billed Lark (4, see below), Stone Curlew (2), Red-rumped Wheatear (3, see below), Temminck's Lark (2) and Scrub Warbler (4, see below).

Scrub Warbler

Above 2 images - Red-rumped Wheatear

Short-toed Eagle

Above 3 images - Thick-billed Lark

The following day we headed further south with the aim of reaching Khniffiss lagoon. En route we took a long dirt track into the desert and eventually found an oasis. Here we had a superb few hours birding recording - Black-bellied Sandgrouse (50+, see below), Short-toed Lark (20+), Common Bulbul (numerous), Red-rumped Wheatear (5 pairs), Maghreb Wheatear (2), Desert Wheatear (2), Woodchat Shrike (4, see below), Montagu's Harrier (1), Long-legged Buzzard (1), Short-toed Eagle (1, see above), Trumpeter Finch (20+, see below), Pied Flycatcher (5), Nightingale (2), Rufous Bush Chat (2), Bonelli's Warbler (1), Subalpine Warbler (1), Spectacled Warbler (2), Willow Warbler (30+), Green Sandpiper (1) and numerous Yellow Wagtail.

Khniffiss was well worth the visit - hundreds of Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo and mixed wader flocks littered the margins of small islands. Our main quarry was soon located - Kelp Gull. Although we only managed to see one of these well as it flew and fought with Greater Black-backed Gulls, we suspected that a second slightly obscured bird which remained pinned to the floor throughout the duration of our visit, was also of this species.

A mixed group of terns produced 3 Caspian Terns and 4 Lesser-creseted Terns and the visible migration here was outstanding with small flocks of Swallow and Bee-eater continually moving through. On the way back to Goulimime we stopped at a large flood pool and found 9 Ruddy Shelduck with a large group of roosting Avocet, whilst watching these a Barbary Falcon came through and stuck at a Common Sandpiper and an adult Bonelli's Eagle over head was also brilliant to watch. We stayed the night in Goulimime with the intention of heading towards Tata the following day.

Above image - Woodchat Shrike

Trumpeter Finch

Black-bellied Sandgrouse