Birding trip summary, Feb-March 2017

By | 20 March 2017

Notable records from the recent Rockjumper Birding Tours trip to Morocco included the following (thanks Mark Beevers for the summary):

A minimum of 120 African Crimson Winged Finches and 15 Horned Larks at Oukaimeden on 22nd February,

An immature Golden Eagle near the Tinmel Mosque in Tizi n’Test with an Alpine Accentor and eight Ring Ouzels also in the upper part of Tizi n’Test where we also saw 15 Barbary Sheep on 23rd February [if the reader is not sure if the Barbary Sheep is wild or not, please see this detailed comment with a link to the main recent reference about mammals of Morocco].

An adult winter-plumaged Little Gull was seen at Oued Souss on 23rd February along with a minimum of 25 Mediterranean Gulls; whilst 30 Storm Petrels, ten Balearic and three Manx Shearwaters, six Great Skuas and an Arctic Skua were seen on a short pelagic out of Agadir on 24th February along with a group of eight Northern Bald Ibis flying south. Later the same day 50 Northern Bald Ibis were seen at Tamri Estuary.

A Red-necked Nightjar was flushed at Oued Massa on 25th where 17 Common Cranes were also seen along with four Brown-throated Martins, whilst a return visit to Oued Souss later the same day netted eight Marbled Teals and three Slender-billed Gulls.

A first winter male Pallid Harrier was photographed at Barrage el-Mansour Eddahbi on 26th February, where we also saw four Ferruginous Ducks.

On 27th, ten Thick-billed Larks were amongst the rubbish on the Tagdilt Track and the same morning we saw 14 Cream-coloured Coursers, c. 85 Pin-tailed Sandgrouse and 15 Black-bellied Sandgrouse on the plain, whilst late afternoon in Dades Gorge produced a pair of displaying Bonelli’s Eagles.

Eight Fulvous Babblers and a cooperative pair of Streaked Scrub Warblers were found on the road to Errachidia on 28th February.

On 1st March on Zeida Plain a minimum of six Dupont’s Larks were singing in a small area of the plain near the road. A Bonelli’s Eagle was seen near Er-Rich also on same day.

Our trip into the desert near Erg Chebbi on 2nd produced 150+ Spotted Sandgrouse, 15-20 Crowned Sandgrouse and a single Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, great views of a roosting Egyptian Nightjar, an Iberian Chiffchaff, two pairs of Desert Sparrow, but rarest of all, an Isabelline Wheatear (photographed). In the afternoon we saw a Pharaoh Eagle Owl near Rissani.

With the tour coming to end we relocated to Marrakech via Ouarzazate picking up another Pallid Harrier (3rd CY male, also photographed) on 3rd March between Erfoud and Tinejdad with the one seen previously at Barrage El Mansour Eddahbi still present that afternoon too.

First winter male Pallid Harrier / Busard pâle (Circus macrourus), Barrage el Mansour Eddahbi, 26 Feb. 2017 (Clayton Burne / Rockjumper Birding Tours)

First winter male Pallid Harrier / Busard pâle (Circus macrourus), Barrage el Mansour Eddahbi, 26 Feb. 2017 (Clayton Burne / Rockjumper Birding Tours).

Pin-tailed Sandgrouse / Ganga cata (Pterocles alchata), Tagdilt Track, 27 Feb. 2017 (Ingrid Porter)

Pin-tailed Sandgrouse / Ganga cata (Pterocles alchata), Tagdilt Track, 27 Feb. 2017 (Ingrid Porter).

3rd CY male Pallid Harrier / Busard pâle (Circus macrourus), Tinejdad, 3 March 2017 (Clayton Burne / Rockjumper Birding Tours)

3rd CY male Pallid Harrier / Busard pâle (Circus macrourus), Tinejdad, 3 March 2017 (Clayton Burne / Rockjumper Birding Tours).

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