After earlier birdwatching in Morocco, here a recent report.
Monday, January 19, 2015
Morocco Trip Report Part 1: Dec 26-28, 2014
And so the adventure begins…my first trip to Africa, and going solo.
December 26, 2014
Day 1 was essentially a travel day, slowly making my way from Oxford to Marrakesh. It began with a quick cab ride from Littlemore to the downtown Oxford bus station, and then a relatively long 2-hour ride to London-Gatwick airport (thank goodness for Sudoku). I had about 3 hours to mill about the airport, so had some lunch, studied the bird guide a bit, and tallied five species from the airport windows: Common Wood-Pigeon, Eurasian Blackbird, Common Buzzard, and Eurasian Magpie.
That is four species; not five.
At 3:40pm my EasyJet flight departed on time, and landed ahead of schedule thanks to a strong tail wind. It was quite strange watching the sun set for nearly the entire flight, as we essentially flew down the edge of the sunset bell curve.
Once in Marrakesh, my luggage was there to meet me (unlike in the UK), getting through customs was relatively easy, and renting my car was painless. …
December 27, 2014
Day 2 and my first full day of birding in Morocco. Today’s plan was to head to a ski hill at Oukaimeden in search of two key species: Alpine Chough and Crimson-winged Finch. I woke at 6:10am and departed the hotel at 7:10am, about 15 minutes before sunrise. My day began with some common European birds on the hotel grounds, including Pied Wagtail, Chaffinch, Blackcap, and European Blackbird. For the first several miles, or about half the trip, driving was along a relatively fast and straight road. At Douar Ouriki I saw a Common Stonechat, and in the village of Trine I saw my first lifer for the trip, Common Bulbul. Also in Trine was another Blackcap, and Chaffinches of the African race. At Trine I turned off to begin the long climb up the High Atlas to Oukaimeden. Birding was slow going, and almost every possible pullout had somebody selling something. And if a pullout had nobody selling anything and I chose to pull over to scan for birds, it wasn’t long before someone pulled up on their motorbike with something to sell.
At Tinichchi I found another two Common Bulbuls, as well as two Rock Buntings, and a Black Wheatear. I arrived at Oukaimeden with great expectations a little after 10:00am. Unfortunately, expectations were soon crushed by the swarms of people, especially the numerous peddlers pushing their wares. I spent about an hour at the resort, pulling over to scour the land wherever I could get a bit of peace. I couldn’t for the life of me find a Crimson-winged Finch, so that was a huge disappointment and my first big miss. I did however get Alpine Chough, about 40 of them mixed in with the even more numerous Red-billed Chough, and so managed to get one of two target birds. The only other species with decent numbers was Horned Lark (14 of them), among which was a single Linnet. At Oukaimeden Lake, which was completely open, I observed a lone White-throated Dipper foraging at the mouth of a small stream that flowed into the lake. This was my third lifer for the trip, and a pleasant surprise. With several more hours to spend birding, and Oukaimeden decidedly not being the place to do so, I began to make my way back down the long and winding road, now playing it by ear as to where to go.
At the study site, the fragments analysis of preys species found in fecal bags of Picus vaillantii, enabled us to say that Levaillant’s Woodpecker is myrmecophagy (99,93%) with a clear preference for the Tetramorium biskrensis ants (87,03%). The other species are weakly represented such Aphaenogaster testaceopilosa (3,81%) and Pheidole pallidula (2,96%). However the terrestrial preys, with a 3mm size, are the most appreciated by this woodpecker (92,34%). The results obtained with SORENSEN index (24,71%) and IVLEV index reveal that the preys consumed by P. vaillantii appear dissimilar enough with the environment preys and there’s little common species between the food mode and the preys availability. On other hand, there is a some similar between preys ants found in fecal bag and those from environment (SORENSEN index equivalent 61,11%). We can conclude that Levaillant’s woodpecker is selective in food search: here.