Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Morocco - Part 1

Moussier's Redstart - click image to enlarge

This is part 1 of what will probably be three posts to showcase some of the photograph's and give an overview of sightings from this years Morocco tour. A full, more detailed trip report and details of next years tour dates will be available on the website in the next few days, click here.

Rock Sparrow - click image to enlarge

Having arrived at Marrakech airport at 15.00 we picked up the car and headed towards Oukaimeden situated in the high Atlas mountains; not before having a good look at the many House Bunting and a Lesser Kestrel in the airport car park! The road into the mountains is beautiful with lots of good pull in spots to take in the scenery, we stopped for a few minutes in one such spot and had great views of 5 Rock Bunting (see below), 3 Moussier's Redstart (see above) and at least 5 Black Wheatear.

We arrived at Oukaimeden with a couple of hours daylight remaining and despite a torrential downpour we eventually got great views of many species including - Rock Sparrow (30+, see above), Crimson-winged Finch (120+, see below), Seebohm's Wheatear (1 male) and lots of African Chaffinch amongst other species. What a superb start to the tour, the Crimson-winged Finch were truly amazing and to see such a large group mixed with Rock Sparrow is really something that must be seen rather than described.

Rock Bunting - click image to enlarge

Above 2 images - Crimson-winged Finch - click image to enlarge

The next morning we started early and walking through the lodge front doors we were greated to the site of 100+ Alpine Chough and 40+ Red-billed Chough feeding on the road and grass that surrounded our accomodation, what an amazing place!! We headed down to take another look at the large Finch/Sparrow flock and took advantage of the good light to get some better pictures. As well as seeing all of the species from yesterday again, we also found 3 Atlas Horned Lark (see below). Also see the bottom of the post for a video of the Crimson-winged Finch.

Next stop was Tamri with the aim of staying the night in Agadir. Birding along the road back down the Atlas mountains en-route was really productive and we recorded more of the species we had seen on the way up with additions in the form of - Blue Rock Thrush (3), Tristram's Warbler (1), Common Bulbul (20+), Levaillant's Green Woodpecker (2) and a superb Lanner Falcon.

Alpine Chough - click image to enlarge

Above 2 images - Atlas Horned Lark - click image to enlarge

When we arrived at Tamri the search was on and it took some time but eventually we found our quarry - Northern Bald Ibis!! We recorded 22 of these prehistoric looking birds in total and I managed a few pictures, see below. It was great to see such an internationally threatend species, but also opened my eyes to the vulnerability of the habitat this species so desperatley rely upon. Other new species recorded in the area included - Laughing Dove (7), Cirl Bunting and Black-eared Wheatear. We spent the night in Agadir and looked forward to heading South the following morning.

Above 2 images - Northern Bald Ibis - Click image to enlarge.

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