Saharan birds breeding in late autumn and other curiosities

By MaghrebOrnitho | 15 December 2015

Birding in the Sahara is more than excellent after rains, I know I keep saying this in the blog and elsewhere, but I can’t resist.

A large team composed by several researchers from different fields participated recently (late November 2015) in an expedition to the areas of Tirs and Adrar Soutouf (west and south-west of Aousserd respectively). The visit was in the framework of a project about the “Inventory of cultural and natural heritage of the Aousserd province”. The project was carried out by the Dakhla-based Association Nature Initiative in collaboration with the Cultural Heritage Directorate of the Moroccan Ministry of Culture, the Regional Council of Aousserd and the Moroccan Association of Rock Art.

From the ornithological and birding point of view, the survey proved very productive and the ornithology team recorded the autumnal breeding of several Saharan birds. As observed before in autumn 2010, different bird species were in different phases of the breeding cycles (from courtships, egg-laying to feeding recently fledged juveniles). Among the curiosities, a White-crowned Wheatear found nesting in kitchen utensils (5 eggs in a dish used locally for camel milk, photo 7).

A detailed report about these observations should be published soon. In the meanwhile, you can enjoy the photos below, and you can also see the following readings about the subject of autumn/winter breeding of Saharan birds in the Aousserd region (and elsewhere – in other regions and countries – in the case the of the Cream-coloured Courser):

Nidifications automnales d’oiseaux sahariens dans la région d’Oued Ad-Dahab – Lagouira (Maroc méridional)Go-South Bulletin.

Autumn-winter breeding by Cream-coloured Coursers is more common than previously reported. Wader Study Group Bulletin.

Cricket Longtail breeding in southern Morocco. Dutch Birding.

Photo credits:

All photographs were taken by Abdeljebbar Qninba (Scientific Institute, University of Mohammed V) except 3 photos (adult Cream-coloured Cursor with juvenile, adult Hoopoe-Lark and the landscape with camels) were taken by Abdelaziz Benhoussa (Faculty of Sciences, University of Mohammed V).
Male Black-crowned Finch-Lark (Eremopterix nigriceps)
Juvenile Black-crowned Finch-Lark (Eremopterix nigriceps)
Desert Sparrow  (Passer simplex): female feeding juvenile
Male Desert Sparrow  (Passer simplex).
Adult Cream-coloured Courser (Cursorius cursos) and its juvenile (Abdelaziz Benhoussa)
Cream-coloured Courser found itself in a lush vegetation
Unusual nest of White-crowned Wheatear (Oenanthe leucopyga)
White-crowned Wheatear (Oenanthe leucopyga)
Juvenile Desert Lark (Ammomanes deserti)
Greater Hoopoe-Lark (Alaemon alaudipes) (Abdelaziz Benhoussa).
Chicks of Greater Hoopoe-Lark (Alaemon alaudipes)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Lark nest
Nest of Desert Sparrow
African wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica) having a siesta in the shade

African wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica) having a siesta in the shade

Camels and the green landscape of Aousserd, Oued Dahab, after rain (Abdelaziz Benhoussa),

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