A Birdwatcher Guide to Morocco

We have described our best bird sites in A Birdwatchers’ Guide to Morocco, Prion Ltd., and you should be wise to bring this guide with you when visiting this fascinating country – you can order it from Où voir les oiseaux dans le Sahara Atlantique marocain

In addition, we have published a special work (in French) on our best birding places in Atlantic Sahara in the Go-South Bulletin of 2011 . You can download it freely by clicking on the image to the left.

 

Updates to ‘A Birdwatchers’s Guide to Morocco, 2nd edition’

Various

The Euro currency has not been properly represented in the Guide, and has been replaced by an odd sign… Just wait for the UK to join the Euro Club…

Page 26

This site has been included in the Ramsar list in June 2005New interesting records include:

  • 8 Great Bustards near the radiocomm station on 18 Nov 2004 (MU)

Page 28

  • This site has been included in the Ramsar list in June 2005

Page 31

  • These sites have been included in the Ramsar list in June 2005

Page 34

New interesting records include:

  • – 11 Marsh Owls on 17 Nov 2004 (MU), c. 40 Slender-billed Gulls seen on the boat ride on 5 March 2005 (AB)At the Marsh Owl site in the camp of Moulay Bouselham, locals ‘help’ with throwing stones into the roosting trees when they notice that somebody is looking for the Owls. And then they ask the price for their ‘work’ of finding them. It is recommended to tick the Owls while leaving in the evening (SK)

Page 37

New interesting records include:

  • – 6 Ferruginous Ducks, a female White-headed Duck and 3 Great White Egrets flying to roost on 21 March 2004 (JT). 1200 Red-knobbed Coots on 19 Nov 2004 (MU). A male Ring Necked Duck on 4 March 2005 (AB), still there on 3 Apr (RB)

Page 41

New interesting records include:

  • – 3-4 Double-spurred Francolins, 2 Red Deer, 5 Black-shouldered Kites, a Black Kite, 2 Levaillant´s Woodpeckers, 1 Black-crowned night Heron, a first cuckoo, at the Pond: 5 Marbled Ducks and 4 Red-knobbed Coots with 300 Coots on 4 Feb 2005 (SW)
  • – 24 Apr 2007: Three Common Genets, presumably a family party. 5 Double-spurred Francolins, Western Orphean Warbler and a pair of Cirl Buntings, but the site had another surprise for us: a large eagle that flew across a hillside dwarfed a nearby Booted Eagle and then landed in a small tree at the top of the hill. A Black Kite in the same field of view was half the size of it, and we quickly realised that we were looking at a Tawny Eagle (NR)

Page 44

This site has been included in the Ramsar list in June 2005

  • The Moroccan Spadefoot (Pelobates varaldii), an endemic toad to Morocco, has been found 15 km southwest of O on the road 1337 on 9 May 2001. This is the souhternmost record to date (Crochet & Geniez 2003).
  • – 10 Black-necked Grebes, 1 Great Skua, 30 Whiskered Terns, 1 Reed Warbler, 4 Marsh sandpipers, 8.000 Golden Plovers, 1.000 (!) Marbled Ducks, 1000 Northern Shovelers, 2 Garganeys, 1 male Blue-winged Teal and 1 Green-winged Teal (!) on 5 Feb 2005 (SW)
  • – Le 4 avril 2005, une Mouette à tête grise et un Butor étoilé ; également, 20 Ibis falcinelles, 75 Spatules blanches, 120 Flamants roses, environ 550 (!) Sarcelles marbrées, une trentaine de Nettes rousses, une excellente diversité de Limicoles, 15 Sternes hansels, une trentaine de Guifettes leucoptères. La veille, 2 ou 3 Goélands railleurs et 50 à 70 Goélands d’Audouin (JF)

Page 49

This site has been included in the Ramsar list in June 2005

  • – Un fennec a été observé en mai 2003 près de Sidi Kaouki (TC)

Page 55

New interesting records include:

  • – A Lesser Scaup (First record for Morocco is accepted by MRBC) with a ring-necked Duck !! at Lake Afenourir on 5 April 2004 (VS)
  • – Le Gobemouche de l’Atlas se reproduit dans les anciennes loges de Pics de Levaillant creusées dans les peupliers en bordure de Dayet Aoua (IC)

Page 57

New interesting records include:

  • – At Cape R: a Great Northern Diver on 11 Jan 2004 (BW 17: 11); 2 Red-throated Divers swimming around on 30 Jan 2004 (J. Jansen); 6000 Cory’s, 2 Manx and 3 Sooty Shearwaters moving North in 2 hours, 5 Storm Petrels, 50 Gannets, 1 Great and 1 Arctic Skuas on 8 July 2004 (LS); a pair of Barbary Falcons on 19 Feb, a Black-browed Albatross on 24 Feb, and 2 Shags (Moroccan race riggenbachi) on 28 Feb 2005 (A. & BG)
  • – At the mouth of the Oued : Audouin’s Gull and Spoonbill, Grey Plover and Green Sandpiper on 9 Dec 2005 (IY), a Great White Egret on 19 Feb 2005 (A. & BG)
  • – On the cliffs and in the scrubs : Black Wheatear and Blue Rock Thrush; several Tristram’s Warbler near the lighthouse on 9 Dec 2005 (IY)
  • – Bald Ibis: 195 were counted on 11 Jan 2004 (BW 17: 11); several counts ranged between 153 and 175 birds, with 153 at the lagoon on 8 Nov 2004 (SR); 130 on 9 Nov 2004 (MU); 230 on 9 Dec 2004 (IY); 150 on 3 March 2005 (A. & BG)
  • – On beaches to the south: 500 Audouin’s Gulls, a third-winter Iceland Gull and a Lesser Crested Tern on 11 Jan 2004 (BW 17: 11)The rocky, fairly dirty plain where locals use to park and rest during the week-end, between km 14 and 18 to the north of A, has proved a good feeding place for the Ibis.
  • – 3 May 2007: productive seawatch. In an hour’s seawatching, an estimated 1000 Northern Gannets and 2000 Black Terns moved north, as well as about 20 Cory’s Shearwaters, three Balearic Shearwatersand at least 12 European Storm-petrels moving north, fairly close inshore (NR)

Here’s the official line: ‘Seeing Northern Bald Ibis in Morocco: The colonies are strictly protected, and birders trying to approach them will be sent away by the wardens and reported to the Park authorities. We have had problems with one or two irresponsible birders and even tour guides on this, and although they may feel they’re doing no harm, remember the local context and attracting attention to the area, things can very quickly get out of hand. Please help us protect these last colonies by avoiding the colonies.
Anyway, by far the best area is the estuary at Tamri, especially around the middle of the day when the birds often rest there – often by the water, but scan the surrounding steppe. The steppe on the south side of the estuary is worth walking over if you don’t have any luck.
Simply keeping an eye out for birds flying along the coast is bound to pay off, especially towards dusk. Another area worth scanning is the fields north of the Cap Rhir lighthouse. There are also fields (visible from the road, so worth a scan) between Aourir and Tarhazoute 15km north of Agadir where a few ibis feed between July and November…’Herps: the recently described Moroccan endemic Busack’s fringed-toed Lizard Acanthodactylus busacki is known from the coastal area north of T, where it seems to reach its northern limit.
 

Page 60

Several small colonies of Red-rumped Swallows are located in the cliffs along the road, near the Oued.
A Yellow-browed Warbler was foraging along the road on 5 Nov 2005 (BB). A pair of Golden Eagles and a Jackal on 26 Mar 2006 (ER)

Page 67

Other herps found near the station: Andreanszky’s Lizard Lacerta andreanszkyi

Recent records at the station include:

  • – Common and Alpine Choughs, a group of Horned Lark among Linnets and Meadow Pipits, a flock of Chaffinch, a single Crimson-winged Finch, and a Brambling on 14 Dec 2004 (IY)

Page 69

  • 13 Apr 2006: A Lammergeier 4 km south to the pass (HD)

Page 71

  • 3 Feb 2004: The road is now asphalted up to Tamtatouchte and worths well the visit (D. Chabaud). March 2005: The road is asphalted up to Aït Oudinar.
  • Début mars 2005 : la piste est bloquée par la neige au niveau de Tilmi (CS).
  • 30 mars 2006 : encore quelques zones enneigées mais le 4×4 passe ; le goudron réapparait au croisement pour Rich / Imilchil, après Agoudal ; les 2 routes goudronnées vers Rich et El Ksiba sont en bon état (CS)
  • Unusual species at the TG have included Siskin and Ring Ouzel (8 Mar 2003 – AS & WW)

Page 80

  • A flock of 50 Dupont´s Larks 3 km to the south of Z on 3 Feb 2005 (snow just melted) (SW); the sole Moroccan record of Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler (Locustelle de Pallas, Locustella certhiola) is from the Plateau de l’Arid near Midelt on 5 April 1976 (BB). c. 4 singing Dupont’s Larks just east of the electric pylons on the track that runs east between the M 25 and 26 post / near the ER 167 post – this is about 3.5 km south of the Oued Moulouya bridge (AB)

Page 82

The estuary of the Oued has been included in the Ramsar list in June 2005

New interesting records include:

  • – 2 Plain Swifts on 9 Nov 2004 (MU); 1 Red-necked-Nightjar, a Red-throated Pipit, dozens of Chiffchaffs, including a few Iberian (voice), 1 Gull-billed Tern on 25 Jan 2005 (SW); two (!) Yellow-browed Warblers on 19 Nov 2005 and a Long-billed Dowitcher on 28 Nov 2005 (TK); a Richard’s Pipit on 9 March and a Franklin’s Gull on 16 March 2006 (PK)

Page 84

The estuary of the Oued has been included in the Ramsar list in June 2005. If you want to have an in-depth visit of the site, ask one of the few ‘official local guides’; they are very friendly and know the birds very well – and you will help these people to protect their rich avifauna and live a bit better….

New interesting records include:

  • Five Ferruginous Ducks, a Bonelli’s Eagle and a late Orphean Warbler on 10 Dec 2003 (R. Kaufmann); Two Wrynecks, 4 Richard’s Pipits and the first-ever winter Rufous Bush Robin on 11 Jan 2004 (BW 17: 11); one or 2 Cape Shovelers late Feb-early March 2004 (CB); a Shag, a Bluethroat and a Spotted Crake on 3 April 2004 (JT); 95 adults and a few young Marbled Teals early Jul 2004 (LS); a first-winter Daurian Shrike on 2 Nov 2004 – fist record for Morocco (BB); an immature Montagu’s Harrier, a young Bonelli’s Eagle, a Wryneck and a Red Rumped Swallow on 15 Dec 2004 (IY); a female American Wigeon, 1 Barbary Falcon, 48 Bald Ibis, a first Woodchat Shrike, 1 Black-Throated Diver flying in southerly directions on 26 Jan 2005 (SW); 1 female Little Crake, 5 Sedge Warblers, 1 Squacco Heron, a probable Western Reef Heron, 1 Great Skua, a 1st winter Common Gull on 7 Feb 2005 (SW); a Greater Yellowlegs on 16 Nov 2005; hundreds of Audouin’s Gulls, 12 Marbled Teals and one drake American Wigeon on 26 Jan 2006 (MG); a Scaup and a Pallid Harrier on 10 March 2006 (PK)
  • Does the Moustached Warbler breed here? One was singing on 15 Mar 2003 (AS & WW)

Page 87

Interesting records include: 2 Marbled Ducks (29 March 2001 – MG), Moustached Warbler (25 March 2005 – GC & BM)

Page 88

  • In the almost-dry river-bed of the Oued Souss upstream the bridge 6 km to the West of T: several groups of Black-bellied Sandgrouse coming in to drink, 10 Stone Curlews, 3 Brown-throated Sand Martins, and 4 Fulvous Babblers early Jul 2004 (LS); on 29 Jan 2005: 4-5 Black-shouldered Kites, a possible Dark-chanting Goshawk passing by (about 15 km east of T and about 4 km North of Freija) in Argana steppe, an immature Tawny Eagle and an African Wild Cat 10 km west of Aoulouz, and a pair of Peregrines (no Barbary Falcons !) (SW).
    A Yellowhammer on 17 March 2006 (ACL & RM)
  • At Aoulouz Gorge: a Purple Heron on 29 Jan 2005 (SW), a female Little Crake along with 4 Spotted Crakes on the east side of the bridge on 14 March 2005 (AB)

Page 93

  • 2 Dupont’s Larks were at the Tizi (pass) n-Taghatine, some 30 km to the East of the city (southside of the road) on 29 Jan 2004 (J. Jansen), and I have heard 3 of them at the same place, but to the north of the road, on 16 May 2004.

Page 95

  • 15 May 2004: The road is now tarmac and the site is at 2.2 km of the Main Road, just before the village of Tagadirt. In the cliffs above Tagadirt, a pair of Blue Rock Thrush and many Rock Sparrows; in the village de Tagadirt, Black and Black-eared Wheatears.

Page 99

  • 15 April 2001: Among the commonest species (Long-legged Buzzard, Kestrel, Rock Dove, Turtle Dove, White-crowned Black-Wheatear, Common Bulbul, Moussier’s Redstart, Blackbird, Sardinian Warbler, House Bunting), Emmanuel has also watched an early Rufous Bush Robin and a migrating Sedge Warbler in the groges upstream the village. More important, a pair of Rock Thrushes had its nest.

Page 100

  • 17 April 2001, at sunset: Emmanuel had 500 Pin-tailed and 150 Black-bellied Sandgrouse, a Lanner, a Short-toed Eagle and a Jackal at the Guelta Tahwazet to the SE of Akka. 17 May 2006: first record of the African Collared Dove in Morocco (acacia steppe 20 km to the west of Akka – IC & JdH)
  • 14 May 2004, 08:00 AM: I had a few Crowned Sandgrouse at the odd pools of the Oued, on the right side of the road 18 km before the town; at the same place, 32 Crowned Sandgrouses drinking, at least 4 African Rock Martins and a possible second calender year female TREE SWALLOW (North American species) on 30 Jan 2005 (SW)

Page 103

  • 30 April 2006: About 5 km west of T, at 1400m, we stopped for a lengthy trek in the desert, and were rewarded by a Thick-billed Lark, with food, 5 Crowned Sandgrouse on the deck and Black-bellied flying over, along with our first Cream-coloured Coursers and Red-rumped Wheatears (JH)

Page 104

New interesting records include:

  • – 3 Pin-tailed, 7 Spotted, 60 Black-bellied and 8 Crowned Sandgrouse on 11 Jan 2004 (BW 17: 11), a Grey Phalarope (!!) from 25 Feb to 4 Mar 2004 (logbook at Auberge Soleil Bleu), Pin-tailed and Black-bellied Sandgrouse, and a Mourning Wheatear among the commonest species (Thick-billed, Desert and Bar-tailed Desert Larks, Hoopoe Larks) on 13 Dec and a Golden Eagle on 17 Dec 2004 (BS), a young Golden Eagle and 2+6+10 Crimson-winged Finch on 9 Feb 2005 – very cold day… (logbook at Auberge Soleil Bleu)
  • – March 2007 : high numbers of Pin-tailed Sandgrouse on 23, 28 and 29 March, with a huge flock of c 1000 individuals passing over on 29 March (ABvdB)

Page 106

Several oases of this site have been included in the Ramsar list in June 2005

  • The tarmac road has been completed down to Merzouga (JJ, 7 Feb 2004).
  • – At Auberge Kasbah Derkaoua: an Isabelline Wheatear on 12 Mar 2004 (CB & JL), a Saharan Olivaceous Warbler on 26 Mar 2004 (JT) and 2 on 10 Apr 2006 (HD), a Yellow-browed Warbler on 23 Nov 2005 (TK)2-3 May 2006: Egyptian Nightjar showed at late dusk at 19.25-30/35 on both nights flying around the swimming pool, where it was illuminated by the lights. I think it would have been difficult/ impossible to obtain tickable views from outside the grounds. Visitors are allowed in if they pay a modest entrance fee. A couple of Fulvous Babblers were seen here along with a number of migrants (JH)
  • – At Merzouga: a Masked Shrike on 30 March 2004 (PY – First record for Morocco is accepted by MRBC), about 60 Brown-necked Ravens and 4 Desert Sparrows, but despite intensive search no Desert Warblers on 2 Feb 2005 (SW)
  • – At Café Yasmina: 13 Desert Sparrows on 14 Nov 2004 (MU) but only 1 female on 26 Apr 2006 (HD)
  • – At Kasbah Said: a Desert Sparrow and a Hoopoe Lark on 31 March 2006 (DB)
  • – Spring 2007: The water at Yasmina and Merzouga this year was incredible, very dramatic and presumably responsible for so many of the Sandgrouse sightings (Spotted and Pin-tailed) (JL)

Page 110

A Golden Eagle was mobbed by a Long-legged Buzzard on 1 March 2000 (FT)

Page 113

New interesting records include:

  • – A 1st-winter Audoin’s Gull on 7 Mar 2003 – the 5th record for this site, far from the Atlantic coast (AS & WW)
  • – a Western Reef Heron (juvenile schistacea) on 28 March 2004 (JT); several hundred Cormorants, 2 Great White Egrets, 15 Spoonbills, c 40 Marbled Ducks, a Hen Harrier, a young Lesser Black-backed Gull, and Spanish Sparrows on 17-18 Dec 2004 (BS), a Great White Egret on 11 March 2005 (AB), a Buff-breasted Sandpiper on 24 Apr 2006 (HD)
  • A mi-Mai 2004, le niveau du lac de barrage a bien remonté mais il est encore loin d’avoir atteint sa côte max, qui se site à 4 mètres environ au dessus du niveau actuel

 Page 116

This site has been included in the Ramsar list in June 2005

Page 124 (G+3 km)

New interesting records include:

  • – A Golden Eagle and a Bonelli’s Eagle on 9 Dec 2003 (R. Kaufmann) ; at G+18 km: a couple of Scrub Warblers in a small wadi and 15 Fulvous Babblers in an Ooasis, additionally 3 Red Foxes and 1 Sand Fox (V. rueppeli) on 27 Jan 2005 (SW)

Page 124 (G+5.5 km)

Recent records include:

  • – White Stork 5, Black Kite 2, Red Kite 1, Kestrel 1, Falcon sp. 1, Common Moorhen 6, Green Sandpiper 2, Common Snipe 1, Great Spotted Cuckoo 1 2cy, Hoopoe 1, Short-toed Lark sp. 10, Meadow Pipit 2, White Wagtail 5, Bluethroat 1, Black Redstart 2, Moussier’s Redstart 3, Stonechat 6, Spectacled Warbler 1 male, Sardinian Warbler 7, Common Chiffchaff 45, Southern Grey Shrike 3, Linnet 7 on 4 Jan 2002 (AG et al); 2 Black-bellied Sandgrouse and a Moustached Warbler early July 2004 (LS)
  • – Two Black-shouldered Kites, a pair of Red-rumped Wheatear, a group of Fulvous Babbler, several Thekla Larks and Meadow Pipit. Shortly before dusk, a group of Common Kestrel gathering on some poles at the road and an immature Long-legged Buzzard. The whole area was littered by thousands of dead or dying locusts (IY)

Page 124 (G+30-35 km)

  • J- an 2002: 8 species of larks , including Bar-tailed Desert, Desert, Hoopoe, Thick-billed, Lesser Short-toed, Short-toed, Thekla, and Temminck’s Horned on 4 Jan; « the green fields (about 37 km south of G) were filled with larks, wheatears and Cream-coloured Coursers » on 15 Jan (AG et al)
  • – 11 Nov 2004: 14 Cream-coloured Coursers, 6 Hoopoe Larks, Lanner Falcon, 2 Black-bellied Sandgrouse, c50 Greater Short-toed Larks and up to 1000 Lesser Short-toed Larks at ‘TT 94’ km post, in area being ploughed by local farmers (SR)
  • – 10 Dec 2004: At km. 22, Desert Wheatear, Temminck’s Horned Lark, Bar-tailed Desert Lark, Thick-billed Larks and two very diurnal and confiding Red Foxes. At km. 45: an immature Tawny Eagle; over the hills that lie right of the road, a flock of Black-bellied Sandgrouse and a large flock of Lesser Short-toed Larks. This whole area was full of Jirds (Merione spp) (IY)
  • – 27 Jan 2005: 100 Lesser Short-toed Larks, 150 Temminck´s Horned Larks, 20 Bar-tailed Larks, 35 Thick-billed Larks, Hoopoe Larks and 20 Kentish Plovers (!) within one uncultivated field (looking for seed ?), 3 Lanners chasing overhead (SW)
  • – 28 Nov 2006: Northern, Desert, Red-rumped Wheatears, 12 Thick-billed Larks, plentyful of Bar-tailed Desert Larks (displaying and song flight) and Temminck’s Larks, Brown-necked Raven and Long-legged Buzzard 25 km (DY)

Page 125

  • The road to Labiar has been asphalted in 2003 and allows good views at the oued. Records have included Bulbul, Sardinian Warbler, Black Redstart, Bluethroat, White Wagtail, Stonechat, Common Chiffchaff, House Sparrow, Thekla Lark, Kestrel, Pied Flycather, Collared Dove, Meadow Pipit and Blue Rock Thrush on 31 Oct 2003 (PB), Spectacled Warbler, a Scrub Warbler, a Great Spotted Cuckoo and Green Sandpiper on 10 Dec 2004 (IY)

Page 126

The estuary of the Oued has been included in the Ramsar list in June 2005

Page 128

These three sites have been included in the Ramsar list in June 2005

Page 132

Records at Tarfaya include:

  • A Laughing Gull and a Great Black-backed on 10 March 2006 (ACL & RM)

Page 130

New interesting records include:

  • 6 Dark-bellied Brent Geese on 10 March 2006 (ACL & RM)

Page 134

This site has been included in the Ramsar list in June 2005
New interesting records include:

  • – A dark-morph Western Reef Heron, a first-winter Grey-headed Gull, 30 Royal Terns and a Little Swift on 7 Dec 2003 (RK); an intermediate Western Reef Heron, an immature Bald Ibis, 34 Royal Terns on 25-26 Nov 2004 (MU); 3+ Madeiran Storm-petrels, a Dark-bellied Brent Goose, 22 Royal Terns and a Red-throated Pipit on 11 March 2006 (ACL & RM)

 

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