The Cricket Warbler or Cricket Longtail (Spiloptila clamans) is a small bird native to the Sahel region where its breeding area is restricted to a narrow band stretching from southern Mauritania and northern Senegal eastwards to Sudan and Eritrea.
The species has recently been discovered in Oued Jenna some 40 Km before the village of Aousserd in the Region of Oued Dahab in February 2008 by a Swedish birding team composed by Thomas Pettersson, Krister Mild and Peder Wærn. Before the discovery of this unique Western Palearctic (WP) population, the species hasn’t been recorded elsewhere in the WP apart from northern Mauritania.
Following this discovery, the species was reported by various birders who visited the region during the last 2 years and some indications of breeding were also recorded. For example, Swiss birder Fabian Schneider obtained excellent photos of two adults nest building in February 2010 (see photos 3, 4 & 5).
In October 2010, I was among a group of Moroccan ornithologists and other naturalists who explored the region (most of our itinerary was away from the known roads). During that trip we found the Cricket Warbler in full breeding period (adults feeding young). We also recorded the autumnal breeding of several Saharan bird species (adults collecting nesting material, nests with eggs, broods, and recently fledged juveniles…). The full report is due to be published very soon in Dutch Birding.
With birds like Cricket Warbler, African Dunn’s Lark (Eremalauda dunni dunni), Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark (Eremopterix nigriceps), Desert Sparrow (Passer simplex), Sudan Golden Sparrow (Passer luteus) and many other desert birds, the Aousserd region becomes “a must visit” for every serious Western Palearctic birder.
The Dutch Birding article and the report about the autumnal breeding of Saharan bird species are now published (PDFs):
Amezian, M., Radi, M., Ibn Tattou, M., Khayya, M.L., Samlali, M.L & Qninba, A. 2011. Cricket Longtail breeding in southern Morocco. Dutch Birding 33: 229-233.
Qninba, A., Radi, M., Amezian, M., Ibn Tattou, M., Khayya, M.L., Samlali, M.L., Khalil, M.L. & Hammia, A. 2011. Nidifications automnales d’oiseaux sahariens dans la région d’Oued Ad-Dahab – Lagouira (Maroc méridional). Go-South Bulletin 8: 21-34.