Morocco: September 10th - 19th 2008

Published by Mike Nelson (madbirder AT

Participants: Mike Nelson, Susan Nelson


Day 1. Marrakech/Barrage Imfout.
Day 2. Oukimeden
Day 3. Essouira/ Oued Ksob
Day 4. Tamri Lagoon/ Argan Market Tidzi/Paradise Valley
Day 5. Paradise Valley
Day 6. Oued Souss/Guelmin
Day 7. Guelmin
Day 8. Oued Massa
Day 9. Oued Massa

Day 1.

We had arrived the day before our land trip to see Marrakech which was interesting but the next day we were met by our guides and loaded into the van. We drove north out of the city along the main highway. After a while we began to explore some of the less driven roads and dusty tracks for birds coming across Thekla, Greater Short-toed and Crested Larks among the open patches of semi-desert. We pulled up at one point to look at a Black-eared Wheatear that had landed on a telephone pole and found six Cream-colored Coursers, three on either side of the road. The heat haze made pictures difficult but the views were fantastic. Three flew off showing us their black wings before the passed over the road and settle with the other behind us.

We arrived at the Barrage later in the day and began to scan the area here finding Western Marsh Harrier, Common Kingfisher, Yellow Wagtail, Eurasian Kestrel and Southern Grey Shrike. We crossed over the dam to the other side on the way out and stopped to scan the river below us finding Plain Martin, Common Bulbul and a roosting Kestrel. A nice White Wagtail showed well here dancing among the rocks below us.

We stopped on they way back when a rufous colored bird was seen on a fence post but quickly dropped. It was a Rufous-tailed Bush-Robin and we enjoyed some great close views of this bird and a Pied Flycatcher before driving on.

We arrived back in Marrakech for dinner and to settle into our rooms. We could hear Bulbuls calling all around us and a few House Buntings.

Day 2.

I woke to the sounds of Bulbuls before breakfast and after that sat out on the veranda overlooking the pool and grounds. I could hear and see European Blackbirds, Common Bulbuls, House Buntings and Rock Pigeons. At one point a parrot like call from the grounds had me looking for a bird which I couldn’t find. I went down the garden to look and found an escaped Ring-necked Parrot squawking away in a tree behind the tennis court. This was fortuitous as a Sardinian Warbler flew across the tennis courts into a tree where I was able to get some good views of it.

After breakfast we piled into the van and began driving to the Atlas Mountains. Our destination was the ski resort of Oukimeden. The drive out of the city was interesting with small farms and new culture all around us but when we began to drive up into the mountains it got a lot greener. Breaks in the trees along the way revealed Berber villages on the hillsides and small, swift running rivers coursing over boulders.

Our first stop was half way up where we found a group of European Serin buzzing away with several Moussier’s Redstarts. These wonderfully colored birds came fairly close and we had superb looks at them amongst the rocks.

Farther up we saw a Peregrine Falcon flying through one of the deep gorges and pulled over to get a look but by the time we all piled out it had gone. No worries though as we had nice looks at Blue Rock-Thrush sitting on one of the boulders. Then a nice kettle of raptors sailed by comprised of Black Kite, Short-toed Eagle and European Honey-buzzard’s. A young Egyptian Vulture passed close by right over our heads as it circled over a mass of boulders up the mountain.

Our next stop was at one of the Berber villages where there was a huge flock of Red-billed Chough’s flying around and making a racket. In the distance at the back of the group was one Yellow-billed Chough but we didn’t get a good look. On the power lines landed several Rock Petronia’s which enabled us some nice scope views.

When we were almost to the top we pulled in as we found a lovely Long-legged Buzzard sitting perched on a large boulder that it often used as there was plenty of white streaks down the rock. We also checked the river finding three White-throated Dippers two adults and one juvenile. A Eurasian Sparrowhawk flew past with alarming speed and headed up the valley to the village beyond. A huge flock of Petronias whistled past and on a lone rock face a Black Wheatear peered down on us before a close Blue Rock-Thrush garnered our attention. Another Wheatear got our attention and we studied it for a while and our guide said he felt sure it was an Isabelline but after closer inspection of the pictures once home discovered it was a Northern Wheatear. We found several more up in the valley after lunch.

We stopped for lunch overlooking a large field and the mountains beyond and after eating I walked over to a small walled garden and peered down finding several small yellowish birds. Several Chiffchaff’s were moving about in the lettuce and other greens picking off insects. A nice Black Redstart was evident and came out close for some nice looks. A group of Serin and a lone African Blue Tit also graced us with their presence.

From here we walked up the road leading to the ski lifts enjoying several Wheatears and the Sparrowhawk again. When we stopped at the lifts we checked the opposite slope for groups of birds but only found large groups of Linnets but not the Crimson-winged Finches we were hoping for. Someone found one but it moved off before anyone could get a look. We did find a lovely European Kestrel bathed in sunlight for some nice pictures and on the way back down found a Seebohm’s Northern Wheater with it’s grey back and a nice close Mistle Thrush.

We got back to the van and drove back down the valley stopping near the bottom to try for woodpeckers but found nothing. We ended up back in Marrakech near dark.

Day 3.

We left early this morning for the coast. Essouira was our destination. We drove through the country side arriving in the lat morning at a restaurant on the beach across from a small island. After we ordered we set up our scopes and looked across the water towards the island to find scores of Eleonora’s Falcon’s swarming around the sanctuary. On the beach we saw Lesser Black-backed and Yellow-legged Gull’s and our over the water was Sandwich and Common Tern. After lunch we went to Oued Ksob estuary where a small tree line river flowed out into the ocean.

Gull’s soared over head and were joined infrequently by Falcon’s and on the sheer mud bank across from us were a pair of Plain Martin’s. The river had a few rock shoals and we found a Green Sandpiper fishing through the rubble. Farther behind we found three Little Ringed Plovers and several Grey Wagtails. We stayed for a while to enjoy the falcons swooping in low along the coarse of the river until we needed to head back and on the way out found the local subspecies of White Wagtail subpersonata foraging through the low grasses on the edge of a pool.

We made our way into the city to our guest house which was right in the heart of the town. Narrow streets crowded with vendors and people added to the ambience and the guest house was brilliant. We spent the afternoon on our own so Susan and I walked the streets to look for some souvenirs and enjoy the old structures of the walled city. We ate dinner again at the same restaurant along the beach and ventured outside onto the back porch after dinner and saw a Red-necked Nightjar hawking for insects around a street light. It quickly flew past and we lost it in the night sky.

Day 4.

I woke early and changed then headed for the flat roof to watch the sun rise over the city. It was a bit hazy out but clear skies above me gave me opportunity to watch all the gulls flying around. Different years of Lesser Black-backed and Yellow-legged Gulls landed on the buildings and called to each other. As the light improved I could make out the shapes of falcons flying above me. There were several and two suddenly began diving on something and I could make out a small yellow passerine making it’s way south. It dodge the two stoops and dropped down towards the city and out of sight.

Peter joined me on the roof and we headed down towards the pier. The city was empty at this time of the morning. We got to the beach and scanned the various gulls on the sand. Lesser Black-backed and Yellow-legged were there and what appeared to be a 1st year European Herring Gull. A Little Egret scanned a tidal pool looking for small fish and terns drifted over the distant waves.

We made our way over the tidal wall overlooking a rocky shoreline and there were loads of birds here. Gulls were present in big numbers here. We scanned the rocky surface and found Ruddy Turnstone several of which blended well into the rocky surface. Common Sandpiper bobbed along the stoney outcrops and farther out in the breaking surf on some large boulders we found three European Oystercatchers. The rocky surface also revealed a European Golden Plover and a Whimbrel. With stomachs calling for breakfast we headed back in time for a relaxing breakfast on the roof.

Our trip today took us south to the Tamri Lagoon. This estuary is filled with birds and being right along the coast is a haven for seabirds as well and terrestrial birds.

We arrived before lunch and no sooner had we got out and scanned some the dunes that we found our first Northern Bald Ibis. This rare ibis was one of our targets but we didn’t expect to find it so soon after getting here. There are several sandy paths leading deeper in to the estuary mouth and we followed one hearing several Grey Wagtails as they flew over. Warblers called from the thick brush but were not detected with the eye.

As we got close to the lagoon we could see a small flock of ibis huddled up on the bank so we waited for them to fly off while enjoying some great views of them through some of the reeds.

One by one they began to fly off and head for the back of the lagoon so we set about seeing what else was around. Common Redshank did a fly by as well as a pair on the other side of the reeds. European Reed Warbler could be heard calling from the reeds in front of us and from time to time one would become visible for a second or two. Plenty of Chiffchaff with their washed yellow plumage were visible bobbing too and from amongst the greenery.

Out on the water several coots were seen and a group of European Spoonbills flew past. Other shorebirds were visible but not discernable through the heat haze and we needed to move on so we headed back to the van and continued south.

Our next stop was an Argane market along the way and while some people looked at the ladies making Argane oil some of us did some birding in the grounds finding, Spotted Flycatcher, Spanish Sparrow, Western Olivaceous Warbler and Spotless Starling. We continued on from here to the entrance to the Paradise Valley.

We passed several small villages on the way and eventually made our fist stop at an abandoned house where we found Great and Blue Tit, Sardinian Warbler, and Chaffinch of the africana subspecies and a Black Wheatear. Along a stream bed we followed a small bird that dived in and out of the reeds until we got a good look at it and could determine it was a Savi’s Warbler.

From here we continued up the Paradise Valley winding our way to the top. We drove through the main village of Imouzzer as the Anti Atlas Mountains plateaued out and arrived at our hotel, the Cascades. The grounds are very picturesque and overlook the valley below. There is plenty of vegetation and walkways that are very inviting for birds.

We settled onto the balcony overlooking the valley and enjoyed just relaxing while birds were all around us. Chiffchaff, Common Bulbul and Sardinian Warbler were common around the grounds as we sipped coffee then headed to our rooms to clean up for dinner.

Day 5.

I woke early this morning and decided to walk the road behind the hotel up towards the top of the village. A pine lined face rose up before me towering above the valley. Tamarisk and juniper trees lined the water course below me. I could hear the call of cockerels from the village and the first sounds of Bulbuls bringing on the dawn chorus. A fox weaved it’s way between low slung walls and disappeared into a small copse of trees.

I began walking up the road listening out for anything. It was very peaceful and quiet with no human activity yet to bother me. Near a bend in the road I found Chiffchaff close by feeding in a small tree and I could hear a Moussier’s Redstart moving up the water course. It approached closer and kept “peep”ing at me as it darted in and out of the foliage.

From down in the water course a Cirl Bunting began singing from an exposed stump and made for some nice recordings. Then I heard the familiar sounds of European Bee-eaters as the called back and forth to each other from across the valley. Eventually I saw some movement and found several perched and a few flying around in the dawn light. I was near the top when a song came from behind me I didn’t recognize I scanned several trees before I found a scarlet/red bird with it’s back to me singing from an exposed snag. I retraced my steps to get closer to the bird and as I got closer realized it was a Red Crossbill. It dropped from it’s perch and sailed down the valley landing on another tree where it began to sing again.

It was getting close to breakfast time so I continued back down the road finding a pair of Moussier’s Redstarts calling back and forth to each other and chasing each other around. A few birders from our group joined me as I was coming back down and near the entrance to the hotel we found a nice pair of Crossbills right next to the road picking through the cones in the pines. One flew out and landed on one of the phone lines for a nice scope view before flying off deeper into the pines.

As I walked the pathway back through the grounds several bulbuls began to call back and forth and a Pied Flycatcher landed in front of me and began scolding me with sharp calls before I passed by and into the hotel proper.

After breakfast we drove down the valley looking for good spots to pull over and do some birding. We pulled in at a small restaurant which wasn’t open yet and scanned the valley below from their veranda. A deep gorge fell away and a sheer cliff face looked towards us from the opposite side. Green and inviting the valley was filled with birds. Behind us a local woman watered the abundant flowers in her yard which was attracting quite a few insects. On one of the phone wires above all this was a Woodchat Shrike waiting to pounce on one of the insects which it did and carried back to the wires to eat.

Chiffchaff flitted about in the flowering bush next to us and below in the corn stalks a European Reed Warbler showed quite well below us. A pair of Sardinian Warlbers stayed around darting in and out of the vegetation and a Common Redstart snagged an unsuspecting moth. At one point a Rufous-tailed Bush-Robin flew in and spooked off the Redstart and a Rock Bunting flew in close at eye level to the tree right opposite us. After looking around some more we decided to drive down the valley to check a local wadi.

When we arrived at the wadi we noticed how much hotter it was down here in the valley. It was fairly quiet and not many birds were about. We walked through some palms but never got a good close view of the wadi except at the entrance where we had fist come in. Some excited calls from a group of bulbuls had us looking up as a European Sparrowhawk flew down the length of the wadi.

We returned to the van and continued down the valley till we came to a small restaurant/hotel set amongst a palm grove. We had some tea and coffee while scanning the dry creek bed behind the restaurant finding European Turtle-dove, Sardinian Warbler and overhead several Common Swifts.

After our teabreak we drove back up the valley checking for birds finding a Black Wheatear perched on a snag sticking out from a rock face before pulling in to the restaurant where we started for lunch. It was hotter now so the activity had dropped off but outside after lunch we had nice close views of Melodious Warbler in a short flowering tree at the entrance to the restaurant. It stayed quite close hawking for insects and we were able to get some nice close views.

We returned to the hotel for an afternoon rest. I walked the grounds for a while finding the usual suspects and got near the bottom of the pathway where I found Sardinian Warlber, Western Olivacious Warbler and European Bee-eaters across the valley. As I was watching them they all scattered and disappeared and it wasn’t until I got near the top that I found out why. A Barbary Falcon had stooped on them unsuccessfully before flying off. Never saw the bird but there was a Western Orphean Warbler in the fir on the patio. I missed it when I first got there but some playback brought it back for a nice but short view.

We drove to the top of the valley high up into the Anti Atlas eventually stopping as the road flattened out. We were up quite high and the cool wind gathered around us. There was not much activity up here so we continued along the road till we spotted some birds on one of the electrical wires. We all piled out and found them to be Red Crossbills. There were several and they flew down the lines close to us and began singing. We had spectacular views in the afternoon light before a large flock of twenty or so flew off from behind us joined by the ones on the wires. We tried to partridge and a calling Wood Lark but with no success and it getting dark we headed back to the hotel.

Day 6.

This morning I went out along the road again and found a really close Chaffinch showing it’s soft blue/grey head color and green back well. The bee-eaters were up across the valley but were having breakfast early so we could leave so I didn’t stay out long.

We left the Paradise Valley driving over the Anti Atlas and back down to the coast stopping along the way for a small group of Barbary Partridge that crossed the road in front of us.

We drove towards Agadir where we would stop for lunch along the seaside. The place was packed as it was one of the only places open during Ramadan.

From here we drove south trying to find the entrance to the Oued Massa. A golf course had sprung up since last time which gave us the sign we needed to find the road. We took this past several acacias, palms and firs till it opened up at the estuary.

This massive estuary is a major stopping point for shorebirds during migration and there were plenty here. We all piled out of the van and walked the road along the mudflats finding the local subspecies of European Magpie mauritanica with it’s shocking blue, bare eye patch. The waterways were filled with Common Redshank, Cattle and Little Egret, Whimbrel, Dunlin and Curlew Sandpiper, Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwit, Common Ringed Plover, Black-winged Stilt and Black-headed Gull. We also found an Osprey sitting on a snag overlooking the water. The best find was a Red Knot probing the mud across from the observation deck.

We continued walking down the road till we came to a spot where the river came close in and the tidal flats in front of us held Greater Flamingo’s. As we stood here watching the group several birds flew by including three very nice European Oystercatchers. Great Cormorants sat on an exposed stump sticking out of the water while Grey Herons and a Common Sandpiper also showed well.

We had to continue on the make our next stop so we loaded into the van and continued south. The dessert roads along the coast were a stark contrast. On one side arid scrub and open desert and on the other side the vast Atlantic. We did see some camels on the drive down and checked power lines for raptors but as it was getting dark we pulled off and followed a desert track to our next destination. It was completely dark by the time we made it to our hotel Fort Bou-Jerif.

Day 7.

Early morning in the desert is kinda eerie when there is no sound around. The dunes seem to swallow up sound but as the sun began to crest the distant horizon I could hear Thekla Larks begin to call to each other. First one or two then loads of them began to call and fly about from cactus to cactus. They seemed to be the only birds out here. I was out of sight of the camp by now and surrounded by desert. I followed a gully down to a flat open area and walked back to the camp. I began to hear a constant a mechanical “brick….brick,brick” and followed the sound till I found a Red-rumped Wheatear male calling from a cactus on the other side of a barb wire fence. He flew across the fence and landed close to me and I enjoyed some close looks before heading back to the hotel for breakfast.

I met Susan and we walked across the compound to the dining hall chasing up larks along the way. When we got there people were waiting outside so we decided to do a bit of birding around the buildings in the trees and small garden on the side of the compound. An immature Woodchat Shrike was a nice find and several different shades of yellow plumaged Chiffchaff had us wondering about which subspecies any of them were.

After breakfast we loaded into some Range Rovers and headed out over the dunes to Plage Blanche. A beach near the compound. The going was rough and bumpy and we stopped at a wadi that looked promising.

A small mosque overlooked the still, reed lined water and sand crept in from all sides. In the water we found Common Redshank, Little Ringed Plover, Little Stint, and a Wood Sandpiper. To get a better view down on the birds we climbed a sand bank that over looked proceedings and allowed us to look over the reed bed in front of us.

While up here we found an obliging Subalpine Warbler in the thorn scrub that moved about from bush to bush but allowed close views.

In the reed bed we found several European Reed Warblers and closest to us a small Sedge Warbler moved out in the open at the base of the reeds for some nice but brief views. We climbed down and moved to the other side of the wadi to check the water farther up and found more of the same here but a nice surprise was a distant Whinchat sat atop a snag that allowed distant scope views.

We drove from here through the desert towards the coast along the bumpy track and suddenly before us hundreds of feet below was the Atlantic. We dove a steep path down the side of the cliff and onto the beach where we parked and began to walk along the sand.

A large gathering of gulls revealed mostly Lesser Black-backed and Yellow-legged but the star here were several Audoin’s Gulls with their bright red bills. One flew past us as we got closer to the gathering. We scanned the ocean to and were rewarded with several quick flying flocks of Common Scoter whistling along just above the surface of the water. I managed to follow two groups with the scope just to check and be sure.

Once back at the jeeps we climbed up to the top and stopped again to scan the ocean and found a strange sight. A flock of Greater Flamingo’s was winging its way along the coast heading south. Just don’t think of flamingo’s over the ocean. After that we headed back to the compound for lunch.

In the afternoon we rested but Susan and I went over to the old Legionnaire fort to have a look round finding a female Red-rumped Wheatear eating bugs from a cactus fruit. We also found a Black-eared Wheatear on some tall cactus on the ridge next to us. When he flew we could see the black underwing “armpits”. The old ruins were interesting and we enjoyed them and on the way back we found the male Red-rumped Wheatear singing from in front of a small cactus.

For the afternoon drive we went over to the village where there is a huge cliff face. There weren’t many birds around but several bulbuls were close to the village and after driving down there we stopped and checked the cliff face finding the nest’s and roosting spots of several Bonelli’s Eagles but no one was home. In the village we found some larks and checked a reed lined trail but found nothing. We had just turned around when someone spotted two shapes coming over the horizon. We scoped them and confirmed they were the pair of Bonelli’s Eagles that nest on the cliff face. They glided by the face and continued on into the distance. Having seen our target we drove back to the hotel to clean up for dinner.

Day 8.

I again went out early this morning finding the larks as usual and enjoyed the stillness of the desert. Before breakfast I met Peter and some of the others at the dining hall and we checked the gardens finding, Chiffchaff, Wood Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Tristram’s Warbler, a puffed up Garden Warbler and the juvenile Woodchat Shrike.

We loaded up after breakfast and drove out towards the main road stopping at a wadi to check for birds finding, Green Sandpiper, Eurasian Hoopoe, Southern Grey Shrike, Marsh Warbler, Red-rumped Wheatear and Common Redshank.

We drove through the morning with a stop for lunch and arrived in the afternoon at our next destination, the hotel Ksar Massa right next to the Souss-Massa national park. Once unpacked there was an afternoon walk to the park but Susan and I decided to give this a miss and walk along the beach. The tide was out and we were able to enjoy the beach and small tidal pools. The walk was nice and restful and when we got back to the hotel we sat on the porch enjoying tea while watching the sunset over the atlantic.

Day 9.

This morning I walked along the path towards the park and found the estuary and the pathway leading along it. There were several Cattle Egret and Great Cormorant roosting on stumps sticking out of the water. On the far side I could see a group of European Spoonbills and Greater Flamongo and close along the shore nearest me I found Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt and Common Sandpiper. A bird sang close by that I didn’t recognize so I followed the song till I found the bird in a group of low trees next to the path. It flew across and was silhouetted against the morning sunlight but I managed to make out the colors and patterns of a Black-crowned Tchagra. I watched as it sang out over the estuary and then get chased off by another one that came to protect it’s territory. I had three in total as I found another singing on the way back to the hotel.

After breakfast we drove into the village stopping along the way for several Northern Bald Ibis that were inspecting the dunes for food. Closer to town we took a side road that led up to an open area and some waist high walls. Several residences were here and the walls separated each abode from the next. We scanned to tops of the walls and I found our target bird a Little Owl. It was sat motionless on it’s usual perch. I could see droppings all over the rocks in the wall. I took some pictures then tried to skirt round the wall to get closer but popped up too close and it flew down the slope and landed in a short tree over looking the walled farms. We continued down to the village and stopped overlooking some green fields that were surrounded by palm and dates. We checked the fields here finding Barn Swallow’s, House Martin, Common Bulbul and House Bunting. We could hear the song of a Tchagra from the far side of the field so walked down to see if we could get closer. It moved up a tall reed stalk and began to sing the flew over us into a tree in the middle of the field and continued from there. I also found several Cattle Egret perched in a flowering tree while getting pictures of the Tchagra. From the brush in front of me a Western Olivaceous Warbler popped up in front of me for some nice close shots. I snapped away a few before it dove back into the shrubbery and was gone. I walked through the field and up the muddy slope to where we were overlooking the crops. Several warblers were coming to a flowering tree and a Zitting Cisticola popped out from the tall reeds on the right side of the field for some short looks. The best find was a Greater Whitethroat that came to the flowering tree in front of us. We had fantastic looks at this bird along with a female European Stonechat.

From here we drove through the village and up over a rise that led down to the ocean. We took a left and followed a dirt road that led down to the cliffs and here amongst some low lying brush we found several Eurasian Thick-Knee’s. Once we had all had a good look at them we turned around and went back to the main road and followed it through the village and out to the river stopping at a high vantage point along the road. As soon as we got out we could hear Cetti’s Warbler singing from the reeds and after a bit of watching managed to see a few darting through the reeds. On the water a Little Grebe floated along and Black and White-winged Tern flew past us in their drab fall colors.

Following the road on foot we walked down amongst the reedbeds next to the river and it was easy for us to cut through to look at mud flats and the reeds for birds while on the other side. Small farm plots attracted several birds. Glossy Ibis, Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Common Redshank, Zitting Cisticola, Savi’s Warbler and Eurasian Spoonbills were all seen along the river while in the farm plots on the other side of the road we found Crested Lark, Garden Warbler, a nice close Zitting Cisticola, Laughing Dove, Eurasian Magpie, House Bunting, Southern Grey Shrike and a Western Orphean Warbler. We walked the path for a mile or so until we got to more of the village and met the van there.

After lunch at the hotel Susan and I walked down to the estuary to see what we could find before returning to the hotel for the afternoons birding. We didn’t find anything new and once loaded into the van we drove to the opposite end of the estuary trail and walked back to the hotel. Along the way we found a European Stonechat near the entrance and along the pathway we found European Blackbirds. In amongst some thick mangrove like bushes we found a nice close Moussier’s Redstart that posed well for some photographs. There was little else till past the halfway point when we could see the river from our vantage point. We scoped several groups of ducks finding Ruddy Shelduck, Mallard, Marbled Teal as well as Flamingos and Coots.

We got to the stone observation platform and could look out on the Godwits and sandpipers but there was nothing new here. We were able to observe them close before we continued on as it was getting dark. This was the last bit of birding we did before heading back to Marrakech the next morning.

Day 10

We drove from the Ksar Massa hotel and when we got stuck in the sand we all piled out and it just so happened that we found a massive flock of Northern Bald Ibis there were 93 that I counted which is a good percentage of the population. Once unstuck we drove back to Marrakesh and arrived that afternoon.

We went down the Djemaa el Fna square and did a bit of souvenir shopping and enjoyed the activity of the place. The warm sunset gave the walls a glow and I watched as White-rumped and Little Swifts darted into a parking garage to roost for the night. Several White Storks circled the square before finding a roosting spot themselves.

Arrangemants, Books etc…

We went with Spanish Nature whose itinerary said one thing but we found several inconsistencies about travel arrangements, where we would eat, especially during Ramadan and general disorganization. Nice enough people but not for the serious birder.

I took the “Collins Bird Guide”, one of the finest on the planet as well as Lars Jonsson’s “Birds of Europe” which, though a good guide, I didn’t use as much. I also had the Bergier “A Birdwatchers guide to Morocco” which is a bit outdated now but the maps are still relevant as well as most of the areas to visit.

If you are going at this time of year it would help to study juvenile and fall plumages of most of the warblers as those can be tough and if your into your gulls I think I photographed six different cycles between two gulls so make sure you have your Olsen, Larsson Gulls book as there were times along the coast that you would run into fifty or sixty gulls with mixed species and plumage's throughout.

Most of the food we had was really nice, surprisingly not spicy but generous. The people were friendly and nice and looked at us somewhat curiously, with all our gear, but we never felt threatened. The culture and heritage here is easily observed and can be brilliant especially in their architecture, but do try to remember this is a Muslim country so cover your shoulders and legs. I did see an old man walk up and slap a woman, not hard, who was in a mini skirt and spaghetti straps. Guess he didn’t take to kindly to her dress sense.

You can see photos from this tour in my Morocco 2008 Flickr album.

You can listen to sounds from this tour in my Morocco 2008 Xento-canto set.

Species Lists

Northern Gannet
Great Cormorant
Grey heron
Cattle Egret
White Stork
Northern Bald Ibis
Eurasian Spoonbill
Greater Flamingo
Eurasian Teal mallard
Northern Shoveler
Red-crested Pochard
Black Scoter
Ruddy Duck
European Honey-Buzzard
Black Kite
Egyptian Vulture
Short-toed Eagle
Western Marsh-Harrier
Eurasian Sparrowhawk
Northern Goshawk
Long-legged Buzzard
Bonelli’s Eagle
Lesser Kestrel Eurasian Destrel
Eleonora’s Falcon
Lanner Falcon
Peregrine Falcon
Barbary Partridge
Eurasian Coot
Eurasian Oystercatcher
Black-winged Stilt
Pied Avocet
European Thick-knee
Cream-coloured Courser
Grey Plover
Common Ringed Plover
Little Ringed Plover
Bar-tailed Godwit
Black-tailed Godwit
Eurasian Curlew
Common Redshank
Common Greenshank
Green Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper
Ruddy Turnstone
Red Knot
Little Stint
Curlew Sandpiper
Audouin’s Gull
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Black-headed Gull
Gull-billed Tern
Sandwich Tern
Common Tern
Little Tern
Black Tern
Whiskered Tern
Rock Pigeon
Common Wood-Pigeon
Eurasian Turtle-Dove
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Laughing Dove
Little Owl
Red-necked Nightjar
Common Swift
Little Swift
White-rumped Swift
Common Kingfisher
European Bee-eater
Eurasian Hoopoe
Bar-tailed Desert-Lark
Greater Short-toed Lark
Crested Lark
Thekla Lark
Sand martin
Plain martin
Eurasian Crag-martin
Barn Swallow
Red-rumped Swallow
Common House Martin
White Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
Common Bulbul
White-throated Dipper
Alpine Accentor
Blue Rock-Thrush
Eurasian Blackbird
Mistle Thrush
Zitting cisticola
Cetti’s Warbler
Savi’s Warbler
Sedge Warbler
Eurasian Reed-Warbler
Marsh Warbler
Western Olivaceous Warbler
Melodious Warbler
Willow Warbler
Common Chiffchaff
Western Bonelli’s Warbler
Wood Warbler
Garden Warbler
Greater Whitethroat
Western Orphean Warbler
Subalpine Warbler
Sardinian Warbler
Spectacled Warbler
Tristram’s Warbler
Spotted flycatcher
European Pied Flycatcher
Rudous-tailed Scrub-robin
Black Redstart
Common redstart
Moussier’s Redstart
European Stonechat
White-tailed Wheatear
Black Wheatear
Northern Wheatear
Red-rumped Wheatear
Black-eared Wheatear
Desert Wheatear
Coal Tit
Great Tit
African Blue Tit
Southern Grey Shrike
Woodchat Shrike
Black-crowned Tchagra
Eurasian jay
Eurasian Magpie
Red-billed chough
Yellow-billed Chough
Eurasian Jackdaw
Common Raven
Spotless Starling
Cirl Bunting
Rock Bunting
House Bunting
Red Crossbill
European Greenfinch
European Goldfinch
Eurasian Linnet
European Serin
House Sparrow
Spanish Sparrow
Rock Petronia