Swifts on their way to Europe


This video from the Netherlands says about itself:

One of the birds of a pair of Swifts breeding on three eggs in one of my nest boxes just entered with some nesting material. Recorded May 28th 2012.

The British Trust for Ornithology reports, on Twitter today, about Morocco:

European Swifts flying high over Marrakech. They are on their way!!!!

Winter Distribution of Passerine Richness in the Maghreb (North Africa): A Conservation Assessment


Originally posted on North African Birds:

Tellería, J. L., Fandos, G., López, J. F., Onrubia, A., & Refoyo, P. (2014). Winter Distribution of Passerine Richness in the Maghreb (North Africa): A Conservation Assessment. Ardeola 61: 335–350.  doi:10.13157/arla.61.2.2014.335
PDF in ResearchGate.net

Summary:

This paper studies the factors affecting passerine (Order Passeriformes) species richness in the Western Maghreb, a region at the southwestern border of the Palearctic reputed as a primary wintering ground for many common European birds. The effect of productivity, temperature, landscape structure and geographical location on bird richness was explored at 220 localities across Morocco. The models resulting from multivariate analyses supported the effects of productivity, temperature and landscape cover on bird richness, with higher numbers of species occurring in warm farmlands of the northwest. The most suitable areas for birds avoided the cold and arid expanses of the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara and overlapped with the most human-impacted sectors. Within these…

View original 33 more words

‘White’ whimbrel in Morocco


This video says about itself:

Whimbrel at The Lizard in Cornwall

The whimbrel is a large wading bird. It has longish legs and a long bill that curves near the tip. It is brownish above and whitish below. In flight, it shows a white ‘V’ shape up its back from its tail. In the UK, this species only breeds in north Scotland. It is a passage migrant to other areas in spring and autumn on its way from and to its wintering areas in South Africa. The Shetland and Orkney breeding population has been slowly increasing.

WHERE TO SEE THEM

You could see breeding birds on a visit to Shetland or Orkney in summer. Otherwise, passage migrants can be seen on the coast and sometimes inland in suitable habitat, when hearing its distinctive call can be the best clue to its presence.

WHEN TO SEE THEM

Mid-April to August

WHAT THEY EAT

On breeding grounds insects, snails and slugs; on passage, crabs, shrimps, molluscs, worms.

Filmed in May 2010 at The Lizard

Video Produced by Paul Dinning – Wildlife in Cornwall

From Moroccan Birds blog, with photos there:

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Leucistic Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) still at El Jadida since October 2014

Can a non-marked wader be relocated months after first sighting? Well, this is possible in some few cases including when the bird is leucistic and is alone in the region (so easily identifiable).

This is the case of a leucistic Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) photographed for the first time in the intertidal zone between El Jadida and Sidi Bouzid by Ruth García Gorria on 17 October 2014.

On 13 February 2015, Ruth [García Gorria] relocated the leucistic bird again and took the photographs below (click on the pictures for more details). Ruth also commented that “the plumage is much whiter now” (compare the pictures below with those taken in October 2014 by clicking the link above).

On the other hand, the partially leucistic Common Coot (Fulica atra) is always present in Sidi Moussa lagoon where it was first observed and photographed in October and November 2014 by Ruth.

Rare gulls in Morocco


This video says about itself:

Glaucous Gull, Adult, Newlyn Harbour, Cornwall, 18/02/2012

Glaucous Gulls are regular visitors to West Cornwall, but adults are few and far between. This one is a very confident individual, hanging around the harbour waiting for free hand-outs from the local fishermen. It’s an easy life for some!!!

From the Go-South blog:

19 February 2015 – Rare Gulls at Essaouira

Two rare gulls at Oued Ksob seen by Dominic Mitchell: a second-calendar-year Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus) on 14 February and a third-calendar-year Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus) the next day [probably the same bird seen in December and January in Essaouira harbour]. … photos appear in Dominic’s blog at www.birdingetc.com.

Great black-backed gulls are not that rare in western Europe, eg the Netherlands. However, they are in Morocco. While glaucous gulls are common in Arctic Svalbard, but not in western Europe, and certainly not in Morocco.

Rare Sudan golden sparrow in western Sahara


This video is called Sudan golden sparrow.

From Moroccan Birds blog:

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Sudan Golden Sparrow (Passer luteus) at Bir Anzarane

Sudan Golden Sparrow (Passer luteus) seen yesterday at Bir Anzarane (about 80 Km NE of Dakhla) by my colleagues Mohamed Mediani, Abdeljebbar Qninba, Mohamed Ibn Tattou, Abdelaziz Benhoussa, Laghdaf Khayya and Hicham El Brini during a scientific trip organised by the Dakhla-based Association ‘Nature Initiative’. The bird was with a group of Desert Sparrow at an artificial water point near Bir Anzarane. This is the northernmost record for this Western Palearctic mega-rarity, until now all records were around Aousserd: at Oued Jenna in the north, and at similar habitats as Oued Jenna between 10 and 20 Km in the south-west.

Just to refresh the memory:

– 1st record was at Aousserd in April 2009.

– 2nd record was at 17 Km SW of Aousserd in January 2013.

– Then came 2014 when many Sudan Golden Sparrows were recorded by several birders, both north (at Oued Jenna) and south of Aousserd between 1 February and 13 April.

Thanks to the recorders and good luck for next birders.

Birdwatching in Morocco report


This video is called Birds of Morocco: Levaillant’s Green Woodpecker.

After earlier birdwatching in Morocco, here a recent report.

From The Birder and Biologist blog:

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.

Post-release monitoring of Double-spurred Francolin (Francolinus bicalcaratus ayesha) in Morocco


Originally posted on North African Birds:

Hanane, S. & Qninba, A. (2014). Post-release monitoring of a critically endangered galliform subspecies, Francolinus bicalcaratus ayesha, in Morocco: a field study using playback call counts. Zoology and Ecology 24: 332–338.  doi:10.1080/21658005.2014.981431

Abstract:

The Double-spurred Francolin Francolinus bicalcaratus ayesha is a critically endangered galliform subspecies in Morocco. To improve the viability of this threatened population, 300 captive-bred francolins were released into the Didactic Lot of the Royal Moroccan Federation of Hunting, and post-release monitoring was conducted. In this study, we used playback call counts to assess differences in habitat use and temporal variations in vocal activity of Double-spurred Francolins. The number of male calls per point count was significantly higher in the wooden matorral (WM) than in the non-wooden matorral (MT). The male responses per point count also increased depending on date, reaching a maximum in the first 10 days of March. The pattern was similar in…

View original 100 more words