African Dunn’s Lark at Merzouga, Morocco

African Dunn’s Lark (Eremalauda dunni) was discovered at Merzouga in April 2010.

In 2011, many birders failed to see the larks, and thus believed the species has disappeared from Merzouga. The purpose of this blog-post is to show that Dunn’s Larks were present also in 2011. The second aim is to compile future sightings in this area (see updates below, or this blog-post for 2019: ‘Dunn’s Lark at Merzouga and other rare birds‘).

Discovery and breeding in 2010

The birds were found by Albegger and his colleagues who wrote in their report:

In spring 2010, during a birding trip to Morocco, Ernst Albegger and Sandra Götsch together with Helmut Kräuter and Josef Ringert, all Austrian birders, spent some days in the Tafilalt. In search of African Desert Warbler (Sylvia deserti) we visited one of the classic sites named by Dave Gosney at GPS point 31.2415 N, 4.0834 W, situated about 9.5 km west of Auberge Yasmina on 14th April. At noon we parked the car about 600 m to the East of this spot (some 200 m to the North of the signpost ‘Auberge Yasmina at 9km’). In this area the stony desert is sparsely vegetated with small grassy bushes and desert plants looking very similar to the countryside in Western Sahara, where African Dunn’s Lark occurs. Soon after leaving the car, we heard a scratchy warbling song with short whistling phrases. Within seconds we located a medium-sized, singing lark on the ground at close range…..

Breeding of the species was confirmed in May of the same year by Martin Barry, Benoît Maire and Alain Mathurin. Many other birders have seen the species during this spring.

Dunn’s Lark sightings in 2011

Below are the known observations during that year:

  • One bird found just east of the regional road R702 (31.2637,-4.0206) connecting Erfoud and Merzouga on 9 April 2011 (Andrew Watson).
  • Hans Matheve and his friends recorded a single bird on 16 April 2011. Hans wrote in his trip report: “Closer to the main road (31.2288,-4.1279), we were able to get great views for all of some African Desert Warblers and a Dunn’s Lark was a very unexpected bonus bird! Previous years there have been some documented breeding records, so it seems they are still around…”

If you have seen the species in this region, please comment below or send us an email to add the information. Thanks!

Updates

Dunn’s Lark sightings in 2012

  • One bird was photographed on 2 May 2012 at exactly the same location where the Austrian birders found it (Maarten Schurmans and Erwin Collaerts).
  • One bird photographed along the track to Café Yasmina near Merzouga by Paul French, Janne and Hanna Aalto on 7 June 2012 (photo below).

Dunn’s Lark sightings in 2019

After an absence of nearly 7 years, the Dunn’s Larks reappeared at Merzouga again (three birds found on 26 March 2019).

Dunn’s Lark / Alouette de Dunn (Eremalauda dunni), near Merzouga, eastern Sahara, Morocco, 7 June 2012 (Paul French).
Dunn’s Lark / Alouette de Dunn (Eremalauda dunni), near Merzouga, Morocco, 7 June 2012 (Paul French).

1 thought on “African Dunn’s Lark at Merzouga, Morocco”

  1. I stumbled across this site quite by accident yesterday. I read with interest the sightings of Dunn’s Lark in Morocco. I own and operate Peregrine Bird Tours, a Melbourne based Australian bird tour company, which operates tours all around the world. I can add a sighting of a small flock of 10 Dunn’s Larks, in Morocco. The sighting occurred on 3rd May 2015 in the Oued Sous section of Sous Massa National Park, not far from the Royal Palace. The flock was feeding amongst the driftwood, along the high tide line of the Sous River, we watched them for quite some time, to ensure that we had identified them correctly.

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