The first confirmed record of Golden Nightjar (Caprimulgus eximius) for Morocco and the Western Palearctic only came last year when a bird was observed crossing the road and hit by the observers’ car on the Aousserd road (Dyczkowski 2016). Less than a year after this observation, the breeding of this species in the Aousserd region is closer to reality than ever.
This good news was announced by the BIOME Consulting team that visited the region recently. On 16 March 2016, the BIOME team (Dan Brown, Richard Moores and Martyn Owen) briefly observed and heard at least four birds, and more importantly a male had responded to playback.
Here is what Dan says about this series of encounters with the different Golden Nightjars during that night:
As per usual we spot-lit for… at km 137 a nightjar species flew across the road (our first nightjar in five visits). Views were brief as it headed through the headlights and as we tracked it with our spotlight until it melted into the darkness the resounding impression was of a plain bird with large white wing and tail flashes… Later on as we approached Oued Jenna another nightjar flashed through the headlights, identical to the first and dropped onto a flat stony area. A series of short flights again gave a very encouraging impression and within seconds it had settled on the side of the road where it promptly started singing – Golden Nightjar! It was a particularly brief bout of singing before it took off into the darkness. We rapidly played the Golden Nightjar song recording out into the blackness. Out of nowhere a male jinked in, almost making it into the passenger seat before alighting briefly near the car.
As we stood and listened a further two birds could be heard singing in close vicinity. They clearly favoured areas of open ground, loose sand and scattered grasses rather than the acacia-filled oued. This represents the second record for the Western Palearctic and the first of possible breeding. The winter of 2015/2016 appears to have been exceptional in the region with extensive rains causing a widespread desert greening and with it the arrival of tens of thousands of Black-crowned Sparrow-larks (Eremopterix nigriceps) and successful breeding of many desert bird species. Two Namaqua Doves (Oena capensis) have also been recorded within the last week indicating that this climatic anomaly may be responsible for northward shift in the distribution of several species.
It should also be remembered also that Javier Elorriaga and Yeray Seminario saw an unidentified nightjar flying over the acacias in Oued Jenna at dusk on 18 February 2016. On the same day, they also observed an Egyptian Nightjar (Caprimulgus aegyptius) at Laglat.
Dyczkowski, J. 2016. Golden Nightjar in Western Sahara, Morocco, in May 2015. Dutch Birding 38: 80-86.
1) Two more observations at Adrar Soutouff, Aousserd region. One bird heard on 23 March at Zaouia Antajjate (some 50 Km north-west of Tichla village) by Abdeljebbar Qninba et al during an expedition organised by Association Nature Initiative and its partners. Another bird heard at Oued Archane (some 100 Km west of the first site) on 27 March by the same team.
2) Breeding of Golden Nightjar at Aousserd / Reproduction de l’Engoulevent doré à Aousserd, sud du Maroc.