A juvenile Allen’s Gallinule (Porphyrio alleni – Talève d’Allen) was found dead at Tahaddart estuary (northern Morocco) this month.
It all started on 16 January 2011 when I joined a team from the Scientific Institute of Mohammed V University to participate in the annual mid-winter waterbird counts in different wetlands of north-west Morocco.
While surveying the area west of the radio station before meeting the Rabat team, I noticed a dead bird by the road. Initially, the observation didn’t surprise me because I thought I was looking at a dead juvenile Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio), keeping in mind that Porphyrio is of tropical ‘origin’ and breeding year-round (although this is generally not the case in our region). Nevertheless, I didn’t resist taking some quick pictures, which I didn’t regret later.
At home, I found out that the pictures didn’t much exactly those of juveniles Purple Swamphen, but there wasn’t any alternative in the Bird Guide. The possibility of Allen’s Gallinule didn’t cross my mind at all. Fortunately, I asked about the age of “this juvenile Purple Swamphen” in birdforum, and only then some members kindly identified the bird as a juvenile Allen’s Gallinule.
This unfortunate juvenile would be the 7th record for Morocco and the 1st one for the Tangier Peninsula. The first five records for Morocco were compiled by Thévenot et al. 2003 (The Birds of Morocco, BOU Checklist 20) and all were observed between Marja Zerga and Massa estuary. While the most recent record (6th) was observed at Melilla in the eastern Mediterranean coast in November 2008 by Diego Jerez Abad and his colleagues (see the second photo).
Beside the dead Allen’s Gallinule, the birding/counting was good with many ducks, waders and wonderful flocks of Common Crane (Grus grus).