3 Rüppell’s Vultures at Jbel Bouhachem, northern Morocco

By MaghrebOrnitho | 11 May 2014
Just a few days ago, we talked about watching the spectacle of bird migration at Jbel Moussa on the Strait of Gibraltar. Yesterday, to celebrate the world migratory bird day, we went birding at the Jbel Bouhachem Natural Park situated some 40 Km south-west of Tétouan, northern Morocco.
At the entrance of the park, we witnessed the passage of some 950 Honey Buzzards (Pernis pivorus) in 30 minutes (from 9:17 am – 9:49 am).
But the moment of the day (and of the year so far) started when we saw 8 vultures moving from the south but still far away. The first thing we did was finding a high rock outcrop in order to dominate the landscape and better see the birds. When these approached, we started to recognise the Griffon Vultures, but there were some unusual vultures among the griffons as well. After some minutes, we identified the first Rüppell’s Vulture (Gyps rueppellii) in the group. Minutes later, one of us cried “there are 2, there are 2 of them!” (of course not in English, but you get the point). So, everyone get excited.
When we got home and started to process the photographs, to our surprise we found a third bird: there were 3 Rüppell’s Vultures. Three Rüppell’s out of 8 Gyps vultures, that is a magical proportion of a vagrant bird travelling from sub-Saharan Africa. All three birds are identifiable by plumage pattern and moult.
Update 1:
On the next day (11 May) we saw 4 more Rüppell’s Vultures at Jbel Moussa about to cross the Strait of Gibraltar to Europe. That is 7 different Rüppell’s Vultures in 2 days. All photographed.
Update 2:
On 24 and 25 May, we observed and photographed 3 more Rüppell’s Vultures and one African White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) near Tétouan. This is the first Moroccan and North African record for this species.
The first 5 pictures taken by Rachid El Khamlichi


3 Rüppell’s Vultures (Gyps rueppellii), Jbel Bouhachem
3 Rüppell’s Vultures.
Rüppell’s Vulture (Gyps rueppellii), Jbel Bouhachem
Rüppell’s Vulture 1
Rüppell’s Vulture (Gyps rueppellii), Jbel Bouhachem
Rüppell’s Vulture 2
Rüppell’s Vulture (Gyps rueppellii), Jbel Bouhachem
Rüppell’s Vulture 3
Rüppell’s Vulture + Griffon Vulture, Jbel Bouhachem
Rüppell’s Vulture + Griffon Vulture
Mohammed Karim El Haoua has memorised the wonderful moments by the following pictures:
Vultures in
the sky.
went to bring the telescope to the ‘natural mirador’.
Excitement! Rachid left the telescope in its place and rushed to take the photographs.  The auto-focus and the image stabilizer were not working, so Mohamed can’t use the camera.
Leaving the ‘natural mirador’.
Some rest after a snack.
From left: Mohammed Karim El Haoua, Mohamed Amezian and Rachid El Khamlichi.
This species is seen for the first time (a lifer) by one of us (Mohamed). Rachid has seen one at Jbel Moussa in August 2010, but the vultures in this observation were much nearer and the observation is much better. The bird is also new to Mohammed Karim El Haoua who started recently to be interested in birds. Karim enjoyed both the birds above him as well as taking the photographs of the other two birders while crying, shouting, observing and photographing the birds. Thanks Karim for memorising these wonderful moments and for the good company.


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