Essouaria, Morocco - 23rd - 30th March 2008

Published by Mark Graham (helen.graham7 AT

Participants: Mark Graham


This report may be useful for anyone staying in the area or those travelling around Morocco in search of birds. We stayed in the idiosyncratic Riad al Medina within the town walls.

The outstanding place without doubt is the area bounded by the main road south starting from the dirt track to your right as you head south. To save the hard slog I took a petit taxi at 10 dirhams [60p] and alighted at Parc Provincial, the camping site. This leads to Diabet. From here you walk through an extensive area of shrubs and trees till you reach the road crossing the river.

Thence you can walk east along the river for as long as you like or west to the mouth of the river as it reaches the sea. Early morning or late evening is the best.

Species seen starting from the sea end were:

Audouin's Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Sanderling, Common Tern, Sandwich Tern, Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Osprey, Cormorant [moroccanus], Spoonbill [maximum 11]. Little Egret [very common], Grey Heron, Avocet, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper [common], Grey Plover, Dunlin [common], Knot, Black-winged Stilt, Greenshank, Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Kingfisher, Cattle Egret, Chaffinch [NW African sub-species], Yellow Wagtail [Iberiae], White Wagtail [subpersonata] Serin, Greenfinch, Rock Sparrow, Sparrow, Sand Martin [very common], Red-rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow, Swift, Black-eared Wheatear, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Wood Pigeon, Feral Dove, Cuckoo, Sardinian Warbler [common], Subalpine Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Common Bulbul, Woodchat Shrike, Great Grey Shrike, Kestrel, Common Snipe, Moussiers Redstart, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Linnet, Goldfinch, Crested Lark, Hoopoe, Spotless Starling [65 Species].

There were 2 very small warblers with tails sticking up keeping to the low shrubs. Could have been Dartford Warblers but no positive id.

A Wild Boar and 5 piglets appeared one evening.

The area around the port of Essaouira and the ramparts are worth close attention too.

The birds seen here were Slender-billed Gulls [8 one day], Audouin's Gulls [maximum of 4 together], Yellow-legged, Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, passing Common, Little and Sandwich Terns, Turnstone, Oystercatcher, Whimbrel, Gannet, Common Scoter, White Wagtail [subpersonata], House Sparrow, House Bunting and a reported Collared Pratincol.

The other two areas worth a visit are Sidi Kouaiki and Moulay Bozerkaton about 25 km South and North respectively.

Both are blessed with miles of beaches backed by shrubs and in the case of Sidi Kouaiki a large Argan Forest.

There were Bar-tailed Godwits, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover and Sanderling at Moulay Bouzerkaton. At Sidi Kouaki there were many of the familiar waders,as well as House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Linnet, Goldfinch, Sardinian Warbler and Blackcap. Look in the extensive Argan Forest behind the car park. I found a Mousiers Redstart with ease here.

My third trip to Morocco at this time of year and thoroughly enjoyable, as ever.

Also recommend the Tarandout area in the Sous Valley and Ouarzazte which is 350 miles east of Agadir