Back from Morocco


25 December 2010.

After yesterday, today, we get up early to go to Ouarzazate airport.

There we see our last Moroccan birds: yellow-legged gulls.

This is a yellow-legged gull video from Italy, showing both adult and juvenile gulls.

After changing planes at Casablanca, at 15:09 Central European Time we are near Bordeaux in southern France.

At 15:14 near La Rochelle.

At 15:50 north of the river Seine. Most of northern France is covered with much snow.

At 15:56 we are near Amiens.

Then, to Belgium and the Netherlands, both snowy as well.

At 16:10, we pass the Westerschelde river.

At 16:15, Tiengemeten island.

Transition plan for the BirdLife Morocco programme launched: here.

Moroccan desert and river birds


24 December 2010

Today is our last full day in Morocco.

From Merzouga, where we went to the sandy desert yesterday, we go to the region around Erfoud.

8:15: brown-necked raven flying.

10:45: white-crowned wheatear sitting on a heap of sand.

A great grey shrike on a shrub.

A cattle egret drinking in a ditch in an oasis.

12:15: two adult and one juvenile long-legged buzzard sitting on the roof of an abandoned building. A feral pigeon sitting next to them.

This is a house bunting video recorded in Morocco.

12:30: near a restaurant entrance in Boulmane de Dades, house buntings and common bulbul.

At 15:40, we are back at the river near Ouerzazate. Many shoveler ducks.

Grey herons.

At least two squacco herons.

Little grebes.

Many ruddy shelducks.

Chiffchaffs in the reedbeds.

Barn swallows.

Teal.

A snipe flying.

Finally: wood sandpipers.

Erg Chebbi desert birds of Morocco


23 December 2010.

After yesterday, today to the Erg Chebbi sandy desert.

A juvenile white-crowned wheatear on a building.

Brown-necked raven flying.

Then, a hoopoe lark.

This video is called Singing [Greater] Hoopoe Lark at Bir Sultane (Pipeline Road), Tunisia.

A bar-tailed lark.

A flock of crowned sandgrouse flying.

Then, a rare desert bird: an eastern crowned wheatear.

A common bulbul at an oasis.

A small bit of water. A frog moving away quickly.

A group of trumpeter finches.

Under a shrub, one of few places where is shade, sits a pharaoh eagle owl.

Later, a great grey shrike in one of the few trees.

Birds around Merzouga: here.

Moroccan mountain and desert birds


22 December 2010.

Rain in the morning. Unusual for this arid region.

8:18: a rainbow in the direction of the Atlas mountains.

Cattle egrets on a field.

After yesterday, first to the Gorges du Todra mountain canyon.

Various insect species live at the Gorges du Todra.

A grey heron near the stream. House buntings and house sparrows. A grey wagtail along the water. Grey wagtail photo: here.

Blue rock-thrush

A blue rock-thrush. Serins.

Many pale crag martins.

A black wheatear.

A black redstart.

Later, at 13:15, a white-crowned wheatear on a wire.

A painted lady butterfly.

Dog’s tooth grass in an irrigated area.

15:04: twenty cattle egrets in an oasis.

At 15:40, we reach Erfoud.

Along the road, signs advertising “Devonian and Jurassic fossils” for sale.

In the desert just before Merzouga, we find a dead red fox. Road kill.

Finally, we arrive in Merzouga.

Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush photo: here.

Rock sparrows: here. Rock sparrow sound: here.

The importance of reforestation with pine for birds nesting in woodlands – Case of the Woodpigeon in an Aleppo pine plantation in the Central Middle Atlas area (Morocco): here.

Ruddy shelducks and black stork in Ouarzazate, Morocco


19 December 2010.

After yesterday, today, we are near the river which flows into Lake El Mansour Eddahbi, near Ouarzazate, Morocco.

White storks nesting on a kasbah ruin.

House sparrows and house buntings in the courtyard.

Snow on the Atlas mountain summits.

A stonechat on a palmtree.

Near the river, hundreds of white storks.

This is a video about a love affair betwen a male shelduck and a female ruddy shelduck.

Many ruddy shelducks on a muddy island. On that island, three moorhens behind a little egret.

Grey herons.

Crag martins.

A female marsh harrier.

Four spoonbills, with a great crested grebe swimming behind them.

A black stork: rare in Morocco. Black storks in the Netherlands: here.

A common sandpiper.

Five cattle egrets behind a tractor.

A male shoveler. Two shelducks.

An osprey lands.

In the afternoon, black-winged stilts in a wetland close to the river. At the end of the walk, a great grey shrike. Still later, a kestrel.

Distribution, breeding and time budget of Ruddy Shelduck in the Hauts Plateaux, Algeria: here.

Black storks in the Netherlands: here.

Monti, F., Nibani, H., Dominici, J.M., Idrissi, H.R., Thévenet, M., Beaubrun, P.C. & Duriez, O. (2013). The vulnerable Osprey breeding population of the Al Hoceima National Park, Morocco: present status and threats. Ostrich 84(3): 199–204: here.

To the Atlas mountains and desert


18 December 2010.

After yesterday, today, a long bus journey from the Atlantic coast of Morocco to Ouarzazate in the mountains, 1,160 metres high.

Rain in the morning.

White storks on a TV antenna.

At 7:37, we are at El Gfifat. A bit further, a kestrel on a lamppost. Magpies.

A bridge over the Souss river just before Taroudant. A male Moussier’s redstart.

A great tit. Four white storks on the other river bank.

A pied wagtail near the river.

A greenfinch on a wire.

A laughing dove on another wire.

A spotless starling on a telephone pole.

A bit later, in the old walled town of Taroudant: house buntings mix with house sparrows on the busy market.

A bit of rain. Collared dove.

Near the town gate, a kestrel under a white stork nest.

On a TV tower just outside the city center, a lanner falcon eating a pigeon.

12:25: a dead great grey shrike along the motorway.

This is a black-shouldered kite video.

At 12:55, a black-shouldered kite on a tree.

At 13:15 at Aoulouz near the river, a long-legged buzzard.

Cattle egrets fly to the remains of an old bridge.

A little egret.

A kestrel tries to drive away a much bigger long-legged buzzard.

On the mountains, in big Arabic script: “God, Fatherland, the King”. And “Long live the king”.

A praying mantis on a tree in a mountain village.

In the evening, we arrive in Ouarzazate.

Sanderlings and stone curlews


17 December 2010.

From the reservoir, we continued to a rocky coast near a fishing village south of Agadir, Morocco.

Yellow-legged gulls.

Below, close to the floodline, whimbrels and sanderlings feeding.

This is a whimbrel video.

Ringed plovers and Kentish plovers.

Four turnstones.

An Arctic skua.

As we leave, twenty stone curlews in the sand dunes.

Read about stone curlew migration.

Stone curlew photo: here.

A bit further, cattle egrets follow a flock of sheep.

Two Whimbrels tracked by scientists from a US university have been shot by hunters on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, highlighting the continuing lack of protection for migratory shorebirds in this important part of their flyway: here.

Swifts and long-legged buzzard


17 December 2010.

After the morning in the Oued Souss delta, we continue.

In Sidi Bibi town, little swifts.

In the countryside, over twenty black-bellied sandgrouse flying.

This is a black-bellied sandgrouse video, recorded in Turkey.

We continue to a reservoir. Unfortunately, not many birds. A stonechat sitting on a wire.

As we go back, black-bellied sandgrouse flying again.

A crested lark.

A long-legged buzzard sitting on a field.

A common sandpiper on the concrete bank of a canal.

Two house buntings.

Aourir, M., Znari, M., Radi, M., & Melin, J.-M. (2013). Wild-laid versus captive-laid eggs in the Black-bellied Sandgrouse: Is there any effect on chick productivity? Zoo Biology doi:10.1002/zoo.21095

Birds of Oued Souss, Morocco


17 December 2010.

Today, after yesterday, our third full day in Inezgane near Agadir, Morocco.

Cattle egrets flying over Inezgane in the morning.

This is a cattle egret video from Scotland.

Lots of apartment houses in Inezgane and elsewhere in Morocco (and in, eg, Turkey) have lots of satellite TV dishes. Many immigrants from Morocco in western Europe have satellite dishes as well. Xenophobes hate that, claiming that the immigrants have those dishes because they supposedly hate west European society and its media (never mind that those xenophobes usually hate their own country’s TV as well, for being supposedly “Leftist”). The xenophobes claim these satellite dishes are also a sign of supposed “Islamic fundamentalism” (rubbish, as most really ultra orthodox Muslims, like ultra orthodox Christians, see TV as “satanic”). The satellite dishes in Morocco prove, for the umpteenth time, the foolishness of xenophobia. Are the dishes in Morocco, supposedly, a sign of Moroccans hating Morocco; or hating Islam?

Like on our first day, we go to the Oued Souss delta.

Greenfinch sound.

On the sandbanks, grey herons, little egrets, and fourteen spoonbills.

A black-winged stilt and a curlew.

Again, Dorcas gazelle on the other side of the river, like two days ago. Four animals.

A great grey shrike in a tree.

To the left of the shrike in the same tree, a greenfinch.

A chiffchaff.

A black-tailed godwit on a sandbank.

Serin. Collared dove.

Common sandpipers.

A kestrel.

A Sardinian warbler.

Marbled duck and black-crowned tchagra in Morocco


This video says about itself:

Footage of Marbled Duck taken in Almeria, Spain, by Speyside Wildlife guide, Mark Denman. There are currently less than 100 pairs in Spain and Mark’s Speyside Wildlife group saw 4 during their trip in January 2010!

16 December 2010.

After yesterday, today we are on our way to Souss-Massa national park, not far south from Agadir.

Spotless starlings near houses.

As we arrive in the coastal dunes area, a group of over twelve black-bellied sandgrouse. Both males and females. Then, stray dogs arrive and make the sandgrouse fly away.

As we approach the national park: great tit sound. Moussier’s redstart.

House buntings near a farm.

A black-headed gull.

In the water: coot and moorhen.

A common bulbul in a treetop.

A blue rockthrush.

Two black-crowned tchagras in a tree.

Cattle egrets follow a tractor on a field on the other side of the water.

Two little grebes are swimming close to a landing where common sandpipers are resting.

In a shrub, a cirl bunting.

A spotless starling and common bulbul in a palm tree.

This is a spotless starling video, recorded in Spain.

A dark clouded yellow butterfly.

A blackbird and a chaffinch near a farm.

At 12:50, we arrive at the official national park entrance.

On a sandbank, a grey heron and a juvenile spoonbill.

A hummingbird hawk-moth near flowers.

Two bar-tailed godwits on a bank.

A greenshank. Greenshank photos: here.

Two oystercatchers between a grey heron and a great cormorant on a sandbank.

Sanderlings running along the high tide line on the beach.

Many antlion made insect traps in the sand along the footpath.

On our way back, we see nine marbled ducks, and a ringed plover, on a sandbank.

A little owl on a rock. Little owl photos: here.

Six greenshanks on the other side of the water.

October 2011: Staff at Natural England‘s Holkham National Nature Reserve have discovered what is thought to be only the second established breeding area in Britain for the mysterious yet savage antlion, an insect whose larvae excavate cone-like pits and lurk in wait for other insect prey. And its numbers on site appear to be increasing: here.

Aberkane, M., Chettibi, F., Bakhouche, B., Draidi, K., Bouslama, Z. & Houhamdi, M. 2013. Breeding ecology of the Marbled Duck Marmaronetta angustirostris at Boussedra march (Annaba, Northeast of Algeria). Annals of Biological Research 4 (10):103-107. PDF.

Etayeb, K. S., Yahia, J., Berbash, A., Wattier, R., & Brochet, A.-L. (2014). First Breeding Evidence of Marbled Duck (Marmaronetta angustirostris) in Libya. Waterbirds 37(1): 107–110. doi:10.1675/063.037.0114: here.

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