PART FIVE – The Final BLOG – For some years now I have wanted to experience the desert birding in Morocco, and during 2017 I was fortunate enough to achieve my goal and I spent a week there, between 10th March and 20th March 2017, birding in the special desert areas. I traveled with Boletas Birdwatching Tours, operated by Josele Saiz. Our team comprised of 7 birders, most of which were also keen photographers, two leaders – Chris Townend and Danny Cazo Monesma and not forgetting our brilliant driver, Mohammed. It was a stunning trip, managing to see 30 new species and over 170 species for the week, 11 species of butterfly, 4 species of dragonfly, not to mention 3 species of frog and a single species of gecko. A massive thank you to Chris and Danny for their superb leadership skills, to the rest of the guys on the trip (Steve x 2; Pete, Rob, Chris and Karim), to Mohammed and lastly to Boletas Birdwatching Tours.
I saw all my target birds, which included Bald Ibis, Pharoah Eagle Owl, Crowned & Spotted Sandgrouse, Brown-throated Martin, Thick-billed Lark, Moussier’s Redstart, Egyptian Nightjar, Red-rumped Wheatear, White-crowned Wheatear, Magreb Wheatear, Seebohm’s Wheatear, Scrub Warbler, African Desert Warbler, Crimson-winged Finch, Levaillant’s Woodpecker, Temminck’s Lark, Hoopoe Lark, Bar-tailed Lark, Black-crowned Tchagra, Tristram’s Warbler and Desert Sparrow. Some of which I managed decent photos, some were only record shots. Nevertheless all the birds were seen well. Some of the best views of Quail I’m ever likely to get, thanks to Danny, the “Quail King”, along with a stunning “Swift Extravaganza” and we even found a Lesser Scaup, the 7th record for Morocco and also, what was almost certainly, a Rock Martin. All in all some fabulous birding experiences.
Summary of the trip – We commenced our birding journey in Marakesh, spending a full day in the high Atlas Mountains. Then a long drive east to Boulmane Dades, visiting the stoney desert area of Hammada and the Tagdilt Track. Another long drive further east to the Sahara Desert, staying in Merzouga for three nights and birding the vast desert area. Our return journey was via Ouarzazate, visiting the Anti-Atlas Range and the large Mansour Reservoir, where we found a Lesser Scaup. Then on to Agadir, birding the coastal river and the famous Sous Massa area and finally returning to Marakesh.
I thought my time with Morocco’s Desert Birds was summed up perfectly in an email that Chris Townend sent to me – ” Hope you are not missing the Desert too much – The sand stays in the optics for weeks afterwards” – very true words and I’m missing it already… The End..
Lesser Scaup – Above 4 images -probably a female – Mansour Reservoir, Morocco – March 2017 – Tony Davison© – Our major find of the trip, if accepted the 7th record for Morocco. Heavily cropped record shots but the pictures show all the major features of Lesser Scaup. Thanks to Chris Townend for picking up the “Interesting Aythya” get on this !!
Erg Chebi, Sahara Desert near Merzouga, Morocco – Early morning – such a stunning location – Tony Davison©
Erg Chebi, Sahara Desert, near Mazouga, Morocco – March 2017 – Tony Davison©
Erg Chebi, Sahara Desert, near Mazouga, Morocco – March 2017 – The Desert Camp – Tony Davison©
Camel Herdsman – Merzouga Desert Area, Morocco – March 2017 – Tony Davison©
Oukaimedem, Atlas Mountains, Morocco – March 2017 – Tony Davison© – Land of Crimson-winged Finch, Horned Lark, Sebohm’s Wheatear and Alpine Chough.
“Mummy Mountain” – Merzouga Desert, Morocco – March 2017 – Tony Davison© – This landscape features in the Mummy Movies
The Team – Sidi Boulefdayl, Morocco – March 2017 – Desert Birding in Morocco – Back Row left to right – Pete – Rob – Chris – Steve – Karim / Front Row left to right – Steve – Dannie – Mohammed – Chris – Yours truly.