Egyptian vultures discovered in Morocco


This video says about itself:

11 December 2015

The communal roost of Egyptian Vultures (Neophron percnopterus) found in the Middle Atlas, Morocco. For more details see here and here.

This video says about itself:

Communal roost of the Egyptian Vultures (Neophron percnopterus) found in Morocco in June 2014.

The roost hosted 40 vultures of different ages, and the birds were roosting in small groups consisting of 3-12 individuals each. This video shows only one part of the roost.a group of 6 vultures.

The recording was made from a great distance using a coupler with a telescope (by Rachid El Khamlichi).

See also here.

Good bird news from the Mediterranean


This is a lesser kestrel video from Extremadura in Spain.

Translated from Marieke Dijksman of BirdLife in the Netherlands:

Less deadly traps for migratory birds in the Mediterranean

March 1, 2016 – For migratory birds the Mediterranean is a kind of minefield. They have to survive unscathed illegal hunting, power lines and wind turbines. BirdLife in the Netherlands is committed, together with their BirdLife partners, to provide protection for migratory birds in the Mediterranean. And that is more and more successful.

Successes in Croatia, Turkey and Morocco

Twice a year hundreds of millions of birds migrate along the African-Eurasian flyway. Along the way they must cross natural barriers such as the Mediterranean and the Sahara, as well as threats caused by human activity. On top of that there is the loss of key roosting areas and problems caused by climate change. However, recently there have been achieved good protection results with the project Flyway Conservation in the Mediterranean. Like in Croatia, Turkey and Morocco.

Saving lesser kestrels in Croatia

The lesser kestrel seemed to be extinct in Croatia. Until a small colony was discovered near the island of Rab in 2010. Exactly on the main feeding grounds of the falcons, the government wanted to build a new airport. By direct action of BirdLife Partner BIOM the lesser kestrel was placed on the Croatian Red List and airport plans were abandoned. Important not only for the lesser kestrel, but also for all Croatian birds, because it is the first time a negative impact on birds could not only be shown, but actually led to action. An important and welcome precedent in Croatia.

Protection of sociable lapwings in Turkey

The sociable lapwing is a critically endangered bird. Worldwide there are fewer than 6,000 pairs. From the breeding grounds in Kazakhstan sociable lapwings migrate through Turkey to the main southerly wintering areas. Doa Dernegi, our BirdLife Partner in Turkey, has addressed illegal hunting in the nature reserve Ceylanpnar, one of the most important resting areas of the species. A team of volunteer wardens now watches over the area and it is very successful. Illegal hunting has fallen sharply. Biggest success: the proclamation of a hunting-free zone in Ceylanpnar at the beginning of the hunting season 2015-2016. Sociable lapwings can safely pass through Turkey!

Rehabilitation of salt pans in Morocco

Two successes of GREPOM, the BirdLife partner of our Society in Morocco. GREPOM managed to prevent the construction of a wind farm in the Rif Mountains. The planned wind farm was right on a major route for migratory birds and especially for many raptors it would have become fatal.

GREPOM could convince the local government of Larache, a port city in northern Morocco, to restore the Loukkos salt pans. Which constitute an important stopover for migratory birds and a habitat for waders.

Allen’s gallinule in Morocco, video


This video says about itself:

Allen’s Gallinule – Talève d’Allen (Porphyrio alleni) at Gleib Jdiane, Dakhla-Aousserd road, southern Morocco, 18 February 2016 (Mohamed Mediani).

Photos and text: here.

White storks migrating on Moroccan garbage dumps


This video is called Birds of Morocco: White Stork.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands today:

Many white storks have shortened their annual trek to Africa, because they prefer to hibernate at large landfills in northern Morocco to flying for instance over the Sahara. This is evident from German research.

The researchers followed groups of storks during their annual migration. That study shows that storks from countries such as Germany and Spain did not get beyond big garbage dumps in the north of Africa.

Survival rates

They seem to thrive in their new places. They have a greater chance of survival because they have to make less effort to get food.

At the same time, it is questionable whether this is good for the species and nature. The storks may ingest plastic or poison. “The consequences of this change are incalculable,” said the lead researcher.

Food from dumps increases the reproductive value of last laid eggs in the White Stork Ciconia ciconia: here.

Breeding ecology of colonial White Storks (Ciconia ciconia) in northeast Algeria: here.

Costs of migratory decisions: A comparison across eight white stork populations: here.

Good endangered bald ibis news from Morocco


This 2013 video shows Part of a flock of over 90 northern bald ibises in the Sous Massa National Park in Morocco.

From BirdLife:

Record breeding success for Critically Endangered Northern Bald Ibis

By Shaun Hurrell, Fri, 20/11/2015 – 07:00

The Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita has had an eventful and turbulent relationship with humans that has resulted in a graph of its population decline that matches its iconic red down-curved beak.

But latest breeding successes resulting from work of BirdLife Partners and the Government of Morocco gives hope for a harmonious relationship again in the future.

The large glossy-black bird once had an extensive range that spread across North Africa, the Middle East and Europe and has been idolised by humans as a symbol of fertility and virtue [More: The Hieroglyph]. Yet ironically human pressures have caused it to struggle breeding, and its dramatic range-reduction renders it classified today as Critically Endangered: reaching an all-time low at the end of the 20th Century with only 50 breeding pairs remaining. Today, 99% of the remaining wild birds are found in Morocco.

With that in mind, it is a great pleasure to announce that colonies in Morocco have had record reproductive success this year – the symbol of fertility now managing to live up to its tradition!

For the third year in a row, the colonies at Souss-Massa National Park and nearby Tamri, both Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas in south-west Morocco, formed a record number of breeding pairs, reaching 116 pairs in 2015.

“Despite challenges of funding wardens to protect the colonies, we managed to maintain the momentum of this project through 2015,” said Jorge Fernández Orueta, SEO/BirdLife (BirdLife Partner in Spain), who works on a project to save the Northern Bald Ibis through BirdLife’s Preventing Extinctions Programme.

“Breeding success is also especially high, reaching 1.7 fledglings per pair”, said Professor Mohamed Dakki, President of GREPOM (BirdLife in Morocco). “Post-breeding counts are also exceptionally big, with almost 600 birds – all the best recorded since detailed monitoring began and the establishment of Souss-Massa National Park 25 years ago!”

Apart from the Moroccan colonies, there is a tiny remnant population in Syria and a semi-wild population left at Birecik in Turkey, as well as experimental release work in Austria and Spain.

The BirdLife Partnership has really come together to save this species. We are proud to be contributing to the conservation of this last viable, wild population of this species in the world through five BirdLife Partners*; with the support of several institutions, notably the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, the BirdLife Species Champion for the Northern Bald Ibis. Souss-Massa National Park authority is responsible for work in the field and a longstanding conservation project since 1994.

During the time of this project, GREPOM became a BirdLife Partner.

“We are proud to now take on a leading role in the conservation of this globally-important species, and want to ensure the Moroccan people are just as proud,” said Professor Dakki.

“We also would like thank all Birdlife Partners and especially the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation for their continuous and notable support. A major part of this breeding success is thanks to considerable efforts made by Mohamed El Bekkay, Director of this Souss-Massa National Park, and Widad Obrou, responsible for ibis monitoring there.”

Through the project’s range of communication, awareness-raising and livelihoods-support activities, local people are increasingly taking ownership of the conservation of this iconic species. If you drive the coastal road in this region of Morocco you are likely to see Northern Bald Ibises painted on wall murals or used in local logos of local cooperatives.

As well as diligent monitoring, community wardens and staff of Souss-Massa National Park provide daily fresh water for the birds (which increases their breeding success) and patrol to prevent disturbance – including overseeing the increasing number of ecotourists who come to see the birds.

There is an urgency for a stronger formal protection status of the colony at Tamri, and to secure wardens for next season.

Professor Dakki concluded: “We thank also the High Commission of Waters and Forests for giving high conservation priority to Sous-Massa National Park, which was especially created to protect this legendary bird.”

“Together, we hope to find in the near future additional breeding sites for the ibises.”

In another important development for the ibis’s conservation, a revised International Single Species Action Plan has just been adopted under the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) of the Convention on Migratory Species, at AEWA’s 6th Meeting of Parties.

*BirdLife is proud to be contributing to the management and conservation of the last viable, wild population of Northern Bald Ibis in the world through: BirdLife in Spain), RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) and, GREPOM (BirdLife in Morocco), in conjunction with High Commission for Water and Forest and Fight Against Desertification (Government of Morocco); and through support from SVS-BirdLife Switzerland and VBN (BirdLife in the Netherlands), with the support of several institutions, notably the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, the BirdLife Species Champion for the Northern Bald Ibis through the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme. Souss-Massa National Park authority is responsible for work in the field and a longstanding conservation project since 1994.

This year, GREPOM (BirdLife Morocco) has taken on a leading role to protect the future of the Northern Bald Ibis in Morocco which is, given 99% its wild population is found in Morocco, very important for protecting the future of this Critically Endangered species globally.

I was privileged to see these beautiful birds while in Morocco.

Vultures’ autumn migration from Spain to Morocco


This is a Rüppell’s vulture video from Africa.

From Moroccan Birds blog, with photos there:

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

More than 400 Griffon Vultures and 1 Rüppell’s Vulture migrating at Jbel Moussa

More than 400 Griffon Vultures (Gyps fulvus) crossed today the Strait of Gibraltar at Jbel Moussa and Punta Cires (Dalia). They were first detected circling and gaining altitude near Algarrobo (between Tarifa and Algeciras in Spain) by telescope at 10H50min. The first group started to cross at 11h22min and started to arrive to Morocco at 11h56min (with slight westerly winds). They were four groups of 238, 83, 18 and 70 vultures.

In late afternoon we met Jose Antonio Barba Ramos who visited us from Murcia, and he told us that he observed about 300 vultures at Cazalla near Tarifa of which a group of about 100 were about to cross the Strait at 15h00min (Moroccan time).

One Rüppell’s Vulture (Gyps rueppelli) also crossed with the griffons but was not seen in the field but was detected when Rachid El Khamlichi was processing the photographs.

A week ago, more than 3500 Griffon Vultures were recorded at Jbel Moussa after crossing the Strait of Gibraltar.

Veterinary drug could cause major drop in vulture numbers in Spain, new study confirms: here.