Thursday 23 April 2009

Morocco – Inland onto the Plain of the Sous – 29th March 2009

Heading inland on the road to Taroudant, the route was not too inspiring and the traffic conditions did not lend themselves to too much viewing until we had past the town of Taroudant. Shortly after here there is a track leading to a small airfield, the site is mentioned in the Dave Gosney’s book on birding in southern Morocco. We drove up and past the outbuilding, eventually ending up on a track following the path of a dry river bed. Here we saw Bee-eater, Swift and Swallow over. Then we watched a Black-winged Kite see off an eagle, now identified as a Bonelli’s, there was also a Kestrel in the trees. Back onto the main road we saw many small birds on the wires, usually turning out to be Chaffinch or House Sparrow and on one such identification stop turned around to first see a loitering Black Kite then a slightly more distant Rough-legged Buzzard. That day we took one further detour off the main road to Taliouine, to find numerous Bulbul plus more Finches and Sparrows, before turning round and heading back to Agardir. To be continued.....
Life bird count: 380 Year bird count: 146 Month bird count: 106

Monday 20 April 2009

Morocco – Afternoon to the mouth of the river Souss – 28th March 2009

This site is just outside the southern suburbs of Agadir and borders right by the side of the Royal Palace, so access can be an issue. To get there we drove down the Tiznit Road and take the turning sign posted to the “Golf du Soleil”, you will soon see the river and marsh. We saw a fair number of Little Egrets feeding on the open water and mixed gulls (Black-headed, Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed) flying up and down the river. We then drove further down until we came to a security post, here two guards approached for a friendly chat about what we were doing, as with most people broken French is the best tack and after some exchanges of views on camera equipment we had their blessing to take a wander. We walked down from the palace road right to the foreshore getting good view of a flock of Spoonbill going over us on the shore line and on the mud bank there were Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover and distant Flamingo. Our intention for the afternoon was to hang around till dusk and try for Nightjar so with some time to spare we headed off back up the river and take a right across a bridge we found, here there were more Ringed Plover and Black-winged Stilt both feeding on the waters edge. Driving on, we went through quite a large eucalyptus forest seeing nothing and arrived in another village which appeared to be a dead end. So we ended up turning back and doing the same route in reverse. This time however we first saw White Storks flying down the river, then, one cut in land and took to landing just off the road we were on. By the time we were back at the bridge the waders had gone but the air over the river was teeming with Swallows. En-route back to the Palace wall we found Orphean Warbler, then dusk fell and whilst we heard the chug chug of Red-necked Nightjar we had no sightings, however on driving out picked up a foraging Stone Curlew in our head lamps. To be continued..... Life bird count: 379 Year bird count: 141 Month bird count: 99

Thursday 16 April 2009

Morocco – Road to the river Massa and out towards the coast onto Sidi Massa – 27th March 2009

The road from Agadir to the Oued Massa National Park takes you through several towns and those on the outskirts of the city can make for some interesting driving. Once out and heading south things get more relaxed and its not long before you can turn right to Arhbolou and head along at your own gentle pace taking in what ever you spot. Thekla Larks are very common and right on the road side. On the wires we see Southern Grey Shrike, plus an enormous flood of butterflies all over the fields and crossing the road. Once in the village of Arhbolou it is easy to take a right find the bridge across the Massa. Here we had Little Egret, Black-crowned Tchagra, Fan-tailed Warbler, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe, Reed Warbler, Kestrel and Yellow Wagtail (grey-headed). Heading on down the final stretch of road to the coast we found ourselves about a mile south of the mouth of the river at Sidi Massa. Here we meet with a local bird tour organiser and his wife. Of course we are sceptical of his promise to show us anything but after a short trip around a local lagoon getting Glossy Ibis, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron and Green Sandpiper we are convinced he has the knowledge and strike a deal for lunch, and a go at tracking down Bald Ibis on a strictly “no see no pay” basis. We are driven across many field tracks, only suitable for four wheeled drive vehicles, coming across Montague’s Harrier, tens of Thekla Larks, Black Wheatear, Northern Wheatear and Stone Curlew. Our man speaks to a local Shepherds and then, high in the sky, long necked black birds! We drive fast across the arid land and get close enough to see they have no trailing legs. We are 99% certain we have found our quarry and they are dropping down! One final push and we are there with five Bald Ibis on the ground, grazing. There is no way we could have achieved this with out help, so on the drive back to our car, we feel well pleased with the small investment and the trust we put in our guide. This ends our second day and we return to Agadir contented birders. To be continued...... Life bird count:381 Year bird count:151 Month bird count:104

Monday 13 April 2009

Morocco - Coast road to Tamri, High Atlas mountain foothills to Imouzzer. – 26th March 2009

Waiting for breakfast on our Agadir hotel balcony Common Swift is abundant interspersed with some Pallid Swifts and I spotted the white rump of a single Little Swift heading right over our hotel roof. Many Common Bulbuls frequently visit the palm trees in our immediate area and House Bunting are commuting between window ledges. Once on the road we head north following the coast and scanning the surf beaches we see medium sized gatherings of Sandwich Terns, Audouins Gulls and Yellow-legged Gulls on one beach near Taghazoule. Off road, on the scrub, there is Moussier’s Redstart and Crested Lark. Eventually we reach the lagoon at the mouth of the river; at a squeeze we can get the car within 10 metres of the water, alas the final walk only produces common species, Grey Heron, Coot and Little Grebe. There are several warblers around but we don’t manage a positive identification on any of them. From Tamri we head in land and climb into the High Atlas, the sky is surprisingly empty but eventually we do see 2 Short-toed Eagles climbing high above on the thermals produced by a ridge. En-route we also find three Kestrels squabbling over territory among some ruins, their sporadic flights are full of close encounters and much noise. Black-eared Wheatear is common along with singing Nightingales on the lower slopes. Crossing the river Tamri on a low bridge, Red-rumped Swallows are all around, a great sight. To be continued.... Life bird count: 379 Year bird count: 136 Month bird count: 88

Thursday 9 April 2009

Local Park – 23rd March 2009

As a fill in post I thought I might just share some of the sightings I’d made in the park near where I work. These were all taken over recent months when I’ve been able to get out for a lunch time stroll. High on the list of “great sights” was a fox bolting across the path in front of me. I have in the past published bird photographs taken there including Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Siskin, but this winter Robins were particularly obliging.
I am at present compiling at series of posts from our very recent trip to Morocco, hence the period of silence. So please stay viewing Life bird count: 376 Year bird count: 127 Month bird count: 79