Peregrine Bird Tours
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Peregrine Bird Tours

Morocco Tour Report

PEREGRINE BIRD TOURS

MOROCCO

18th April - 10th May 2015

TOUR REPORT


The North African Kingdom of Morocco is a wonderful destination; it has exotic birds, magnificent scenery, a huge range of habitats, which includes harsh deserts carpeted in wild flowers, stunning snow-capped mountains, the food is delightful and the people are very friendly and hospitable. This year the whole of Morocco was tinged with green, even in parts of the Sahara, as the country had enjoyed the largest amount of winter rainfall, in living memory. We saw almost all of the countries special birds and we also enjoyed the spectacle of visual migration, something that we rarely witness in Australia. We saw almost all of the resident birds, a very good selection of summer breeding visitors and somewhat surprisingly, a handful of winter visitors were still hanging around. There was even a couple of surprise finds, in the form of rare visitors, which included a delightful flock of Dunn's Larks and a small flock of three Red-throated Pipits, all of which, were in superb, full breeding plumage.

Following a long and tiring flight from Australia, we arrived at Casablanca Airport, in the early afternoon, where we met up with our local guide Mohammed. We then drove to a nearby airport eatery, where we had lunch. In this area our first birds of the tour included a small number of Western Cattle Egrets, most in full breeding plumage, several obligatory Feral Pigeons, lots of Eurasian Collared Doves, several Common Swifts, a few Spotless Starlings and a good number of House Sparrows.

Following lunch we headed north along the coast towards Rabat, where we would stay for the next two nights. Our first birding stop was at a rubbish dump, not far from the airport, where we found a large number of White Storks, a couple of Black Kites, a Common Kestrel, hundreds of mainly immature Yellow-legged Gulls, a pair of rather tame Crested Larks and a flock of Western Jackdaws.

Later in the afternoon, we stopped at a small pond, close to Tit-Mellil, and here we added a Little Grebe, a single Grey Heron, a Little Egret, a couple of Eurasian Coots, a Barn Swallow and a rather obliging Zitting Cisticola. As we drove through the small town of Skhirat, we saw our first Common Wood-Pigeons and Common House-Martins, before arriving at Rabat, the capital city of Morocco.

The following morning after an early breakfast, we saw our first Common Blackbird as we drove through the suburbs of Rabat, and then we did some birding in the nearby Mammuora Forest, and here we enjoyed watching the very handsome Great Spotted Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush, a migrating flock of Spotted Flycatchers, a few Great Tits, several African Blue Tits, the distinctive race of Common Chaffinch and the delightful European Serin.

We then spent much of the day birding at Lac di Sidi-Boughaba, one of the finest wetland areas in Morocco. Here we added a great many new birds, which included several Great Crested Grebes, a small number of Great Cormorants, a single Purple Heron, a flock of Greater Flamingos, a large number of waterfowl, which included breeding Mallards, a good number of Common Pochards, breeding Ferruginous Ducks, which is a very uncommon bird in Morocco. We saw dozens of breeding Red-crested Pochards and large numbers of White-headed Ducks, the latter is an endangered species. We also saw several Western Marsh-Harriers, a single Purple Swamphen, this is a very uncommon bird in Morocco, good numbers of Eurasian Moorhens and Red-knobbed Coots, a Common Sandpiper, we saw the shy Cetti's Warbler particularly well, a single Iberian Chiffchaff, a very attractive Western Orphean Warbler, a couple of Sardinian Warblers and a couple of Common Magpies.

In the latter part of the afternoon, we did some birding in the harbour at Rabat, where there were literally dozens of mainly immature gulls, following careful examination in the scope, we picked out a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls, in various stages of plumage. A flock of seven Whimbrels then flew around the harbour before settling close by us, and we also observed a flock of 15 or so, Sandwich Terns, all of which, were in full breeding plumage.

The following morning we did a little forest birding close to Bonslimane, where we enjoyed super close looks at a couple of splendid Eurasian Thick-knees. A roadside pond close to El-Had produced a few Black-winged Stilts and then we went birding at Sidi Allal El Bahrooue Springs and here we saw a few Black-crowned Night-Herons and a couple of Eurasian Jays.

We then began our journey inland to Ifrane, in the Middle Atlas Mountains, where we would overnight. We stopped for lunch at Khemisset, and here we saw our first Common Bulbuls and our only Eurasian Golden Orioles of the tour. Following lunch, we drove through gently rolling countryside of vineyards and agricultural land, passing through one of the most fertile regions in Morocco. As we neared the mountains we passed through undulating fields carpeted with a large variety of wild flowers. We made a roadside birding stop, not far from Sfannif, where we managed to get very close to a pair of Wood Larks, which is always a difficult bird to find, anywhere in its range. We also enjoyed both Southern Grey and Woodchat Shrikes, and a European Greenfinch. In the late afternoon, while driving through the Middle Atlas National Park, we observed our first Common Ravens of the tour and we made a quick stop at the Forest of Cedars, where we enjoyed good close looks at a troop of Barbary Apes.

We awoke the following morning to be greeted by clear skies, and the outside temperature was a chilly 8 degrees Celsius, it was to be the only time during the tour, when we would be cold. Following breakfast we visited Lake Aaoua, in the Middle Atlas Mountains, where we found large numbers of Black-necked Grebes, and most were in stunning, full breeding plumage. We also found a small flock of four Northern Shovelers, and the two drakes, were also in full breeding plumage. Moving on, we drove through the grasslands, lakes and rocky outcrops of the Middle Atlas, on our way to Midelt, for an overnight stay. Here we found a few Ruddy Shelducks, a small flock of four Gadwalls, a splendid Long-legged Buzzard, both light and dark morph Booted Eagles, our first Thekla Larks, both Seebohm's and Black-eared Wheatears, and best of all, a very close flock of 14 Lesser Kestrels, hunting right next to the road. We spent some time birding in the forests of the Middle Atlas Mountains, and this proved very rewarding. We enjoyed super close looks at Firecrest, Western Bonelli's and Spectacled Warblers, a fine male Common Redstart, Coal Tit, Eurasian Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Rock Sparrow, European Goldfinch and Eurasian Linnet.

We then spent a little time birding on a high desert plateau, not far from Boulojoul, where we were rewarded with splendid looks at a few pairs of Black Wheatears and a delightful pair of Red-rumped Wheatears.

The following morning while enjoying a very fine breakfast at our hotel, we found a superb Wood Warbler in the garden, which we saw very well. Continuing southwards, a walk through the desert, allowed us to enjoy great looks at both Greater and Lesser Short-toed Larks, the former, vastly outnumbering the latter. A birding stop in the scenically spectacular Gorges du Ziz, produced a few nesting pairs of Eurasian Crag-Martins and an attractive Rock Bunting. Most of the afternoon was taken up by the drive to our splendid hotel, right on the very edge of the Sahara Desert, where we would spend the next three nights. While driving along the edge of the Sahara, we very much enjoyed watching two desert specialities, the stunning Cream-coloured Courser, and the equally attractive, Greater Hoopoe-Lark. On arriving at our hotel, situated right next to the spectacular brick red Erg Chebbi sand dunes, we found two unexpected freshwater lakes, one directly in front of our hotel, and the other, directly behind it. While driving past the lake in front of our hotel, we found a few Kentish Plovers and a large migrating flock of stunning Western Yellow Wagtails, all in spectacular, full breeding plumage.

The following morning prior to breakfast, we did some birding around the lake behind our hotel; unlike the lake in the front of the hotel, this one had a few trees and bushes around the edge of the lake, and they were harbouring a few late migrants. New birds for the tour included a Little Bittern, four Little Stints, a Tree Pipit, a Red-throated Pipit in full breeding plumage, several Western Olivaceous Warblers, a female Atlas Flycatcher and a Whinchat.

Following breakfast we travelled deep into the Sahara Desert, in search of a large variety of desert specialities. We enjoyed super looks at a flock of half a dozen beautiful Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, several Laughing Doves, a pair of very attractive Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters, a few beautiful Eurasian Hoopoes, we saw numerous Bar-tailed Larks, a small flock of Common Sand Martins, a couple of very attractive Rufous Bush Robins, both White-crowned and Northern Wheatears, several Brown-necked Ravens and the stunning, and range restricted Desert Sparrow. However, the best bird of the day was a superbly camouflaged Egyptian Nightjar, at its daytime roost, amongst the sand and stones, in the desert. Which was shown to us by a nomadic tribesman, who specialises in finding this bird for visiting bird watching groups, for a small fee, true eco-tourism, in action.

The following day was spent exploring the rocky cliffs and gorges around Rissani, on the edge of the Sahara Desert. Our main target bird here was the very uncommon Pharaoh Eagle-Owl. While searching for the owl, we stumbled across a nest of the very uncommon Barbary Falcon, and we were able to enjoy good scope views of a female sitting on the nest. While watching the nest a Lanner Falcon came flying by, and we were able to enjoy good looks at yet another bird of prey. A roadside pond was playing host to a Little Ringed Plover and a European Turtle-Dove was observed sitting on overhead telegraph lines. While searching a second cliff-face, we came across a roosting Little Owl, which was greatly admired, and then we found a Fennec Fox, half asleep on a rocky ledge on the cliff-face, and we were able to enjoy great scope views of it. This is a wonderful species of fox, with very long ears, and it is endemic to the Sahara Desert. We then found our main target of the day, the superb Pharaoh Eagle-Owl, sitting inside a hole in the cliff-face and once again, we enjoyed prolonged scope views of this magical and very large species of owl. We also found a Desert Lark, a Fulvous Babbler and a few House Buntings.  

We spent the latter half of the afternoon birding at nearby Lake Srji, where we found up to a dozen decidedly uncommon Marbled Ducks, as well as three species of birds that were on their annual northern migration, Montagu's Harrier, Common Ringed Plover and Gull-billed Tern. It was a fitting end to a wonderful day on the edge of the Sahara.

After breakfast the following morning we drove to a part of the Sahara where there was a good covering of small bushes and scrub, in search of the uncommon African Desert Warbler. In no time at all, up popped a fine looking Melodious Warbler, which we greatly appreciated, then we found a male Subalpine Warbler, before finally finding the exquisite African Desert Warbler. The day was off to a very good start, but it was time to leave the sandy desert of the Sahara behind and head westwards towards the coast. We were still travelling through barren desert, but this was stony desert. A walk across the stony desert, close to Achbarou, produced a pair of Maghreb Larks, a recent split from Crested Lark. We then decided to do some birding at the Atnif Oasis and here we enjoyed great looks at a male Pied Flycatcher.

Following lunch, we broke the long drive with a birding stop at the spectacular Gorge du Todra. A narrow gorge with towering cliffs on either side, with a small stream running through the gorge. Here we found several pairs of nesting Pallid Swifts and along the stream we watched a pair of Grey Wagtails collecting insects, which they took to their nest, to feed their young. We then drove to Boumalne-du-Dades, for a three night stay, at a very comfortable hotel.

We spent the whole of the following day birding the very stony Anved Plateau, on the famous Tagdilt track. We criss-crossed the plateau in our four-wheel drive vehicle, in search of the very uncommon Thick-billed Lark, but try as we may, we failed to find one. However, it was not all bad news, as we did enjoy super close looks at the very attractive Temminck's Lark, and several equally attractive, Desert Wheatears.

The following morning found us back on the Anved Plateau and finally, we were rewarded with super close looks at the very distinctive and uncommon, Thick-billed Lark, which we all greatly admired. In the afternoon, we drove up the Dades Valley. The many Kazbahs and dramatic gorges provided a colourful contrast to the emerald-green palms and irrigated fields. Clinging to the side of one of the gorges, we found a male Blue Rock-Thrush in full song, and in one of the irrigated areas we enjoyed great looks at a Common Nightingale, and not surprisingly, it also was in full song. In one of the steep gorges, we found four more new species for our ever growing list, a pair of Black Redstarts, a stunningly beautiful North African endemic, the Moussier's Redstart; two migrating Willow Warblers and half a dozen or so, attractive Trumpeter Finches.

The following morning we contained our journey westwards, to El-Kelaa-des-Mgouna, where we turned north and wound our way up a very scenically attractive valley, known as Rose Valley, where we went birding in the High Atlas Mountains. A small river ran through the valley and it was here that we found an adult male Moroccan Wagtail. Currently this bird is still treated as a race of White Wagtail, however, it is a good candidate for a split, in the near future. On reaching the high mountains, we came to a screeching halt, as we spotted a male Maghreb Wheatear right along the side of the road and we were able to get out of our vehicle and enjoy good prolonged looks at this very uncommon North African endemic. Continuing our journey westwards, we made a prolonged birding stop at the huge Barrage El-Monsour-Eddahbi, close to Ouarzazate. Here we added four new species to our list. A Pied Avocet was greatly admired, we had good looks at two Common Redshanks and a single Wood Sandpiper, and we also found a flock of ten Curlew Sandpipers, in various stages of breeding plumage, one was in almost full breeding plumage. We then drove to our hotel at nearby Ouarzazate.

The following day we spent a very productive morning at a different part of the huge Barrage El-Monsour-Eddahbi. Here we found small numbers of migrants which were new for the tour, a couple of Squacco Herons showed very well and this was followed by two Ruffs, both of which were in partial breeding plumage, and this was followed by a single Little Tern, which was in full breeding plumage. As we were leaving Ouarzazate, we drove across a bridge over the Ouarzazate River, and we pulled off the road here, as I had spotted the very beautiful European Bee-eater. We enjoyed great scope views of three of these summer breeding visitors to Morocco. It had been a tremendous mornings birding. Following a very pleasant lunch we drove south to Tamnougalt, for an overnight stay.  

Continuing our journey westwards through barren stony desert, at the foot of the Anaour Mountain Range, our first new bird of the day was a flock of three Black-bellied Sandgrouse, which we saw in flight. We also saw a new mammal here, the first of many attractive Barbary Ground Squirrels. In the afternoon we left the Sahara behind and dropped down into the Sous Valley and the desert gave way to large stands of Argan woodland and extensive citrus groves, and shortly before arriving at the beautiful walled city of Taradannt, we saw a pair of Red-rumped Swallows along the roadside. On our arrival at Taradannt, we spent the night at a former Sultans Palace!

The following morning we continued our journey towards the Atlantic Ocean, and around mid-morning, we stopped to buy some refreshments in the small town of Oulad-Teima, where we watched several Little Swifts in flight.

We then continued on to the world famous Sous Massa National Park, to the south of Agadir, where we would spend the night. In the afternoon, we went birding along the Massa River, and here we found a large number of new birds for the tour. They included a flock of eight Eurasian Spoonbills, ten Sanderling, a single Dunlin, in full breeding plumage, a single Eurasian Curlew, eight Slender-billed Gulls, ten Lesser Crested Terns, all in full breeding plumage, a single Common Skylark, and we also enjoyed good scope views of the attractive Black-crowned Tchagra. We then continued our exploration of the river several kilometres inland, and here we added two new species, European Reed-Warbler and a pair of Common Stonechats, with fully fledged young.

The following morning we returned to the Massa River, several kilometres inland, and this area produced two new species for the tour. Perched in a tree along the river bank, we found an attractive Common Kingfisher, and in the introduced eucalypts lining the edge of the river, we found a couple of Cirl Buntings.

In the latter half of the morning we drove north along the coast and spent the afternoon birding in the River Sous section, of the Sous-Massa National Park, which is famous for its flocks of waders, gulls and terns. We were not to be disappointed, new birds for the tour included a Western Osprey, which we watched fishing in the river, we saw a superb light morph Eleonora's Falcon perched in a nearby eucalypt, I almost trod on a Schokar Sand-snake, as I attempted to get a better look at the falcon, we found a flock of 21 Eurasian Oystercatchers, some in non-breeding plumage and some in full breeding-plumage. There was also a flock of approximately 50 Grey Plovers, two Ruddy Turnstones, in almost full breeding plumage, a flock of seven Common Greenshanks, three Bar-tailed Godwits, half a dozen Black-headed Gulls, a few in full breeding plumage, a solitary Common Tern and best of all, we found a flock of 10 Dunn's Larks feeding together, along the high tide line, amongst the driftwood. This was a great surprise, as this species, from sub-Saharan Africa, has only recently been observed in Morocco, and only on a few occasions. Reluctantly leaving the River Sous, we drove to nearby Agadir, where we stayed in a very pleasant seaside hotel.

The following morning we drove north along the coast road, to Tamri, to search for one of the world's most endangered birds, the Northern Bald Ibis. As we were checking through a flock of gulls on the beach, large numbers of Northern Bald Ibis, began to fly directly above us, in all, we counted 180 birds in the flock, approximately 30% of the entire world population!

We then drove to nearby Cape Rhir, where we spent a very pleasant hour doing a sea-watch, the only new bird for the tour, this activity produced, was the Northern Gannet. There was a large passage of Northern Gannets moving north, towards their breeding grounds, in northern Europe.

In the afternoon, we continued north along the coast road, to the pleasant seaside resort of Essaouira, where we would spend the night. We broke the long drive with a birding stop at Cape Sim, and here we saw our only European Shag of the tour, which was flying just offshore. On arriving in Essaouira, we had a look around the harbour and we saw two more Eleonora's Falcons in flight.

The following day was mainly a travel day, as we drove from the coast, to Ouirgane, in the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains. In the middle of the afternoon, not far from Azegour, we watched a single Tawny Pipit and a Corn Bunting, both of which, were new birds for the tour. On arriving at our very fine hotel at Ouirgane, late in the afternoon, we did some birding in the grounds of the hotel, and here we added two new birds to our ever growing trip list. We found a small flock of three Common Chiffchaffs and an immature Common Crossbill.

Prior to breakfast the following morning, while birding in the grounds of our hotel, we spotted a male Peregrine Falcon carrying a Common Magpie in its talons. It was having difficulty carrying such a large prey item, and landed on the ground, and began having his breakfast. It was time for us to do the same.

Following breakfast we drove from our hotel to Toubkal National Park in the High Atlas Mountains. We drove there, via what our guide referred to as the 'Adventure Road'; a narrow, dirt track, that slowly wound its way up into the High Atlas Mountains, through a series of hairpin bends, with sheer drops on one side, and mountain cliffs on the other. There was much relief, when we reached the top and arrived at the ski-resort of Oukaimeden, which is ringed by snow-capped mountain peaks, at almost 3,000 metres. On the lower slopes of North Africa's highest peak, Jebel Toubkal, we enjoyed watching a superb male Rufous-tailed Rock-Thrush, the distinctive Atlas race of Horned Lark, large numbers of both Red-billed and Yellow-billed Choughs and the poorly known, African race, of the beautiful Crimson-winged Finch. In the late afternoon we drove northwards to Marrakech, for an overnight stay.

While having dinner that evening, in the restaurant on the top floor of our hotel, a Eurasian Sparrowhawk flew right past us, allowing us to observe it very well. It was to be the last new bird of the tour.

The following day, we drove to Casablanca, where we spent the night in a down-town hotel.

The following morning we drove to the airport and flew back to Australia after a very enjoyable and rewarding tour of the ancient Kingdom of Morocco.                    

SYSTEMATIC LIST

GREBES PODICIPEDIDAE
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis A common resident, we observed small numbers at a few of the wetlands we visited.
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus Small numbers of this both resident and winter visitor, were present at a number of the wetlands we visited.
Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis Large numbers, in excess of 100 birds, of this uncommon, predominantly winter visitor, were present at Lake Aaoua, in Ifrane National Park, in the Middle Atlas Mountains. Most were in magnificent full-breeding plumage. In the last few years, large numbers of these birds have stayed and nested at the lake, rather than returning to Europe to breed.

GANNETS and BOOBIES SULIDAE
Northern Gannet Morus bassanus During our sea-watch at Cape Rhir, dozens of this common winter visitor were heading northwards on migration, back to their breeding grounds in northern Europe.

CORMORANTS PHALACROCORACIDAE
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo Good numbers of this common resident and winter visitor were present at most of the wetlands we visited, including the distinctive subspecies maroccanus.
European Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis Our only sighting of this uncommon resident, was of a single bird flying just offshore, at Cape Sim.

HERONS, EGRETS and BITTERNS ARDEIDAE
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea We observed a couple of single birds of this common winter visitor, in the early part of the tour, before finding a group of 40 birds at the Sous River section of Sous Massa National Park.
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea This species is predominantly an uncommon passage migrant in Morocco. We observed a single bird at Lac di Sidi-Boughaba, early in the tour, and then observed up to three individuals several kilometres inland, along the Massa River, at Massa, where the only breeding colony of this species in known in Morocco.
Little Egret Egretta garzetta Small numbers of this common winter visitor were present along the coast and at most of the wetlands and rivers we visited.
Western Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis This is a common and widespread resident and winter visitor throughout Morocco.
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides This species is predominantly a passage migrant in Morocco, with a small number of summer breeding visitors, present along the north coast of the country. We saw two adults in full breeding plumage, at the Barrage El-Mansour Eddahbi, near Ouarzazate.
Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax In Morocco this species is predominantly an uncommon passage migrant, but it is also an uncommon summer breeding visitor and a very uncommon winter visitor. We observed an adult and a second summer bird, at the Sidi Allal El Bahrooue Springs and this was followed by the sighting of a group of 10 birds circling above a small village in the Anti Atlas Mountains.
Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus An uncommon passage migrant throughout Morocco; we saw a single adult along the edge of a lake at our hotel at Merzouga, in the Sahara Desert, and this sighting was followed by observations of a couple of adult birds, several kilometres inland, along the Massa River, at Massa.

STORKS CICONIIDAE
White Stork Ciconia ciconia The White Stork is a common resident, summer breeding species and passage migrant in Morocco. We found many birds nesting in towns and villages, particularly on the towers of the mosques and taller buildings.

IBIS and SPOONBILLS THRESKIORNITHIDAE
Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita It was a real treat to be able to watch a flock of 180 of these very endangered birds, during our time in the area of Tamri. This species is classified as Critically Endangered by Birdlife International and it is estimated that it has an adult population of between 500 - 550 individuals. The historical range of this species probably extended throughout North Africa and into the Middle East. Since the beginning of the 20th century, however, the species has only been known from two disjunct populations; a western population in Morocco and an eastern population in Turkey and Syria. In Morocco there is a small colony in the Oued Massa National Park and the main breeding colony is at nearby Tamri and there is some movement of birds between the two. The eastern population was believed to have died out, however, in 2002, a tiny colony, consisting of just seven individuals, was rediscovered at Palmyra in Syria. Since this initial discovery breeding at this site has been largely unsuccessful and currently only four adult birds remain. The current
Moroccan population is estimated to be approximately 500 adult birds. A semi-wild
population numbering 91 individuals exists at Birecik, in Turkey, where birds are free-flying for
five months, breeding on natural nest sites and nest-boxes on cliffs, but are taken into captivity
after the breeding season to prevent them from migrating. The recent rapid decline of this
species in Morocco, is due to illegal building and disturbance close to the breeding cliffs and
changes in farming on the feeding grounds. Hunting is the main threat to the tiny Syrian
population.
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia A small flock of eight, of this uncommon passage migrant
were present at the Massa River section of the Sous Massa National Park, and a flock of 100
birds was noted at the Sous River section, of the Sous Massa National Park.

FLAMINGOS PHOENICOPTERIDAE
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus We saw small flocks of this uncommon passage migrant
and winter visitor, at Lac di Sidi Boughaba, Lake Srji and the River Sous section of the Sous
Massa National Park.   

SWANS, GEESE and DUCKS ANATIDAE
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea Good numbers of this fairly common resident were observed at several wetlands we visited.
Gadwall Anas strepera An uncommon winter visitor, with very small numbers wintering in Morocco. Four birds were present at a small lake in the Middle Atlas Mountains.
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos A fairly widespread but uncommon resident in Morocco, which we saw in small numbers, at a number of wetlands.
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata This species is a fairly common winter visitor to Morocco, we
observed two pairs of birds, where the males were in full breeding plumage, at Lake Aaoua, in the Middle Atlas Mountains.
Marbled Duck Marmaronetta angustirostris We found small numbers of these uncommon resident ducks at Lake Srji, at the Barrage El-Mansour Eddahbi, and several kilometres inland along the Massa River, at Massa. This species is classified as Vulnerable by Birdlife International. It is estimated that the total population is between 50,000 and 55,000 individuals and declining.
Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina We saw in excess of 100 birds at Lac di Sidi Boughaba, this
uncommon and very beautiful species has only recently colonised Morocco and it is obviously breeding very successfully at this site.
Common Pochard Aythya ferina Predominantly an uncommon winter visitor to Morocco, we observed about 40 birds at Lac di Sidi Boughaba, where they could well be breeding.
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca This species is an extremely uncommon winter visitor to Morocco. We observed approximately a dozen birds at Lac di Sidi Boughaba, where once again, I strongly suspect that these birds are breeding. This species is classified as Near Threatened by Birdlife International. The total population is estimated to number 2,400- 2,600 in North Africa, 36,000-54,000 in eastern Europe, 25,000-100,000 in south-west Asia and north-east Africa and over 100,000 in the rest of Asia. The overall population is declining.
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala We enjoyed really close looks at over 60 birds at Lac
di Sidi Boughaba. This species was formerly extinct in Morocco, but fortunately,
recolonisation appears to be gathering pace. This species is classified as Endangered by
Birdlife International and declining. It is estimated that the population is between 5,300 -
8,700 individuals. The greatest long-term threat to the species survival is thought to be
competition and introgressive hybridisation (i.e. genetic swamping) with the non-native
North American Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis. Both male Ruddy Ducks and male
hybrids are socially dominant over male White-headed Ducks during courtship. The threat
from the Ruddy Duck is extremely serious, given that, if allowed to proceed beyond a
certain point, the Ruddy Duck's spread across the Palearctic will become unstoppable,
especially if the species was allowed to become established in White-headed Duck range-
states such as Algeria, Turkey or the Russian Federation, where the huge size and area of the
wetlands and their infrequent monitoring would make control impossible.

OSPREY PANDIONIDAE
Osprey Pandion haliaetus This species is predominantly a passage migrant in Morocco, with small numbers wintering each year. We observed a single bird at the mouth of the Sous River, in the Sous Massa National Park.     

KITES, HAWKS and EAGLES ACCIPITRIDAE
Black Kite Milvus migrans In Morocco this species is a summer breeding visitor and a passage
migrant. We saw small numbers during the first few days of the tour.
Western Marsh-Harrier Circus aeruginosus In Morocco this species is both a breeding resident and a passage migrant. We enjoyed many good sightings throughout the whole tour. Probably most of the birds we saw were resident birds, however, some behaved as though
they were on migration.
Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus In Morocco the Montagu's Harrier is a summer breeding
visitor, in very small numbers along the north coast, and an uncommon passage migrant. We
observed small numbers on migration, on several occasions. Colonel George Montagu
(1751-1815) was a soldier and natural history writer and served as a lieutenant-colonel in the
English army during the American revolution. He was later court-martialed for what was
referred to as `provocative marital skirmishing`! He then devoted his life to ornithology and
following a long and distinguished career in the south of England, at the age of 64, he
unfortunately died of lockjaw (tetanus) after stepping on a rusty nail.
Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus A fairly common resident in Morocco, we saw it very
well, on one occasion, while having dinner, at our hotel in Marrakech.
Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus This species is both a resident and winter visitor to Morocco,
we enjoyed many good sightings throughout the tour, especially in the desert areas and in the Atlas Mountains.
Booted Eagle Aquila pennata The Booted Eagle is a summer breeding visitor and a passage migrant, we very much enjoyed watching both dark and pale morph birds, on several occasions throughout the tour.

CARACARAS and FALCONS FALCONIDAE
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni The Lesser Kestrel is an uncommon breeding visitor, winter visitor and passage migrant in Morocco. We were very fortunate to watch a flock of 14 birds, hunting along the roadside, in the Middle Atlas Mountains, just outside Ifrane.
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus In Morocco the Common Kestrel is indeed a common and
widespread resident, which we saw on all but two days of the tour.
Eleonora's Falcon Falco eleonorae This beautiful bird is a very uncommon summer breeding
visitor and a very uncommon passage migrant, in Morocco. We enjoyed three separate
sightings during the tour; the first occurred along the Sous River, in the Sous Massa National
Park, and the next two sightings where at Essaouira, where this species breeds on islands,
just offshore. Eleonora of Arborea (c.1350-1404) was the warrior-princess national heroine
of Sardinia. She passed enlightened legislation to protect birds of prey (although, cynics
might say that this was to keep them for the aristocracy alone). She died in 1404 `during an
epidemic of the plague'. The falcon was first observed in Sardinia in 1830. Alberto Ferrero
Dell Marmora named it in her honour and Gene described it.
Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus This species is an uncommon resident, we were very fortunate to
enjoy three separate sightings of this species during the tour.
Barbary Falcon Falco pelegrinoides This species is a very uncommon resident in Morocco, and also anywhere else, in the world. We were very fortunate to watch a nesting pair, at their nest site, on rocky cliffs, at Rissani.
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus In Morocco this species is a very uncommon resident, therefore, we were indeed fortunate, to observe a male bird, who had just taken a Common Magpie, in the grounds of our hotel at Ouirgane, at the foot of the High Atlas Mountains.

RAILS, GALLINULES and COOTS RALLIDAE
Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio A very uncommon resident of Morocco, we were
fortunate to observe a single bird very well, in the reeds at Lac di Sidi Boughaba.
Eurasian Moorhen Gallinula chloropus Small numbers of this resident species were observed at
a number of wetlands we visited.
Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata This uncommon species of coot is a fairly common resident in a small area of northwestern Morocco. We saw a number of birds very well at Lac di Sidi Boughaba and at Lake Aaoua.
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra A fairly common resident and winter visitor in Morocco, which we saw well in most of the wetland areas we visited.

OYSTERCATCHERS HAEMATOPODIDAE
Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus This species is an uncommon winter visitor to
Morocco, we saw a flock of 21 birds very well, along the Sous River, in the Sous Massa National Park.

STILTS AND AVOCETS RECURVIROSTRIDAE
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus An uncommon resident and winter visitor in Morocco, but a fairly common passage migrant. We saw small flocks at several of the wetlands we visited.
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta An uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant in Morocco, we found small numbers, at a few of the wetlands we visited.

THICK-KNEES BURHINIDAE
Eurasian Thick-knee Burhinus oedicnemus A fairly common resident of Morocco, we enjoyed a few good sightings throughout the tour.

PRATINCOLES and COURSERS GLAREOLIDAE
Cream-coloured Courser Cursorius cursor This species is both a resident and a summer visitor
to Morocco, we saw up to 10 individuals in the Sahara Desert, near Merzouga.      

LAPWINGS and PLOVERS CHARADRIIDAE
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola This species is an uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant in Morocco; we saw a flock of approximately 50 birds, some were in partial breeding plumage, in the Sous River section, of the Sous Massa National Park.
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus This species is a fairly common resident and winter
visitor to Morocco. We enjoyed many sightings, at a number of wetlands throughout the tour.
Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula A common winter visitor and passage migrant to Morocco, we saw small numbers of birds, at a number of the wetlands we visited.
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius This species is both a summer breeding visitor, a passage migrant, and a resident in Morocco. We observed a single bird at a small lake in front of our hotel at Merzouga, on the edge of the Sahara Desert, and this was followed by a second sighting, also of a single bird, at the Barrage El-Mansour Eddahbi, near Ouarzazate.                                

SANDPIPERS and ALLIES SCOLOPACIDAE
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica This species is a winter visitor and passage migrant in Morocco, we observed a small flock of three birds, in the Sous Estuary, of the Sous Massa National Park.
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus This species is an uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant to Morocco, we were fortunate to find a small flock of seven birds, in the harbour at Rabat.
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata This species is also an uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant to Morocco. We saw a single bird at the Massa River and six birds at the Sous River, both sightings occurred in the Sous Massa National Park.
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos A common winter visitor and passage migrant to Morocco, we observed small numbers at widely scattered localities.
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia An uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant to Morocco, we observed a small flock of seven birds along the Sous River, in the Sous Massa National Park.
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola This species is only a passage migrant in Morocco, we observed a single bird, at the Barrage El-Monsour-Eddahbi, near Ouarzazate.
Common Redshank Tringa totanus This species is an uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant to Morocco, we observed two birds at the Barrage El-Monsour-Eddahbi, near Ouarzazate, and this was followed by a sighting of six birds along the Sous River, in the Sous
Massa National Park.
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres This species is a fairly common winter visitor to Morocco,
we observed two birds along the Sous river, in the Sous Massa National Park, we then observed a single bird, on one of the rocky islands, just offshore from Essaouira Harbour.
Sanderling Calidris alba A fairly common winter visitor to Morocco, and an uncommon passage migrant. We observed a small flock of 10 birds at the mouth of the Massa River, in the Sous Massa National Park.
Little Stint Calidris minuta A fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant to Morocco, we found a small flock of four birds, at the small lake, in front of our hotel at Merzouga, on the edge of the Sahara Desert.
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea This species is a very uncommon passage migrant to Morocco, we were fortunate to find a flock of 10 birds, of which several, were in partial breeding plumage, and one in almost full breeding plumage, at the Barrage El-Monsour-
Eddahbi, close to Ouarzazate.
Dunlin Calidris alpina A fairly common winter visitor and passage migrant to Morocco, mainly along the coast. We saw a solitary bird along the Massa River and then 25 birds along the Sous River, both sightings occurred in the Sous Massa National Park, and all the birds were in full breeding plumage.
Ruff Philomachus pugnax The Ruff is a very uncommon winter visitor to Morocco and a fairly common passage migrant. We observed two birds in partial breeding plumage at the Barrage El-Monsour-Eddahbi, close to Ouarzazate.

GULLS LARIDAE
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus This species is an abundant winter visitor, many
thousands of birds winter along the coast of Morocco, we found a few lingering birds, along the coast.
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis A common breeding species along the coast of Morocco, and an abundant winter visitor. We saw large numbers along the coast.
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus A common winter visitor to Morocco, we saw half a dozen birds along the Sous River, in the Sous Massa National Park.
Slender-billed Gull Chroicocephalus genei Only a handful of pairs of this beautiful species of gull, nest each year in Morocco, the breeding situation is extremely precarious. It is only a rare vagrant during the winter months. Therefore, we were extremely fortunate to find eight birds at the mouth of the Massa River, 10 birds at the mouth of the Sous River and two bird at the mouth of the Tamri River, some were in full breeding plumage.            

TERNS STERNIDAE
Little Tern Sternula albifrons This species is an uncommon summer breeding visitor, and an uncommon passage migrant. We enjoyed many good sightings throughout the tour.
Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica This species is an uncommon passage migrant in Morocco, we observed a good number of birds, all in full breeding plumage, at a number of the wetlands we visited.
Common Tern Sterna hirundo Once again, this species is an uncommon passage migrant in Morocco, we saw a single bird, at the mouth of the Sous River.
Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis This species is a fairly common winter visitor along the
coast of Morocco, we saw a flock of 15 or so birds flying around the harbour at Rabat, and then we saw half a dozen or so birds, at the mouth of the Tamri River, all of the birds were in full breeding plumage.
Lesser Crested Tern This beautiful species of tern is a very uncommon passage migrant in Morocco. Therefore, we were fortunate to observe 10 birds, all in full breeding plumage, at the mouth of the Massa River, and a further half a dozen or so birds, at the mouth of the Tamri River, and again, all the birds were in full breeding plumage.

SANDGROUSE PTEROCLIDAE
Black-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles orientalis While walking a patch of stony desert, close to the village of Tasla, at the foot of the Anaour Mountains, we saw a small flock of three of these resident birds, in flight.
Pin-tailed Sandgrouse Pterocles alchata We observed two small flocks of this resident species, both in flight and feeding on the ground, while birding in the Sahara Desert, near Merzouga.

PIGEONS and DOVES COLUMBIDAE
Feral Pigeon Columba livia A common resident, we saw many feral birds in the towns and
villages, however, we also saw many genuine Rock Doves, mainly in rocky gorges, or high
in the mountains.
Common Wood-Pigeon Columba palumbus We enjoyed many good sightings of this common
resident, it was particularly common in the Atlas Mountains.
Eurasian Collared-Dove Streptopelia decaocto An abundant resident throughout Morocco, it was particularly common in the towns and villages.
European Turtle-Dove Streptopelia turtur A common summer breeding visitor to Morocco, we enjoyed many good sightings, throughout the tour.
Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis A resident species, with a patchy distribution
throughout Morocco. We saw it well on many occasions.

OWLS STRIGIDAE
Pharaoh Eagle-Owl Bubo ascalaphus A local Berber guide worked extremely hard to find one of
these very uncommon residents, which we were able to see extremely well through the
scope, as it sat in a cleft in the rock face, of a large cliff, close to Rissani. This species
occurs across North Africa into Egypt and parts of the Middle East. It is illustrated in
ancient Egyptian glyphs, hence the common name, there is no evidence of it being named
after any particular Pharaoh.
Little Owl Athene noctua We enjoyed tremendous looks at this beautiful resident, on several occasions throughout the tour.

NIGHTJARS and ALLIES CAPRIMULGIDAE
Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgas aegyptius A Berber nomad living in the Sahara Desert pointed out one of these delightful summer breeding visitors, while we were birding in the Sahara Desert, near Merzouga. It was roosting on the ground in broad daylight, amongst sand and rocks, and the bird's cryptic camouflage worked so well, that even at close quarters, we could barely make out the bird!

SWIFTS APODIDAE
Common Swift Apus apus In Morocco this species is a common passage migrant and summer
breeding species, we saw it very well on many occasions.
Pallid Swift Apus pallidus The Pallid Swift is an uncommon summer breeding visitor, and an uncommon passage migrant to Morocco. We observed small numbers nesting in the Gorges du Todra, in the High Atlas Mountains.
Little Swift Apus affinis A fairly common resident of Morocco, which nests mainly in tall city
buildings; we saw a small number which were nesting in tall buildings, in the town of Oulad-
Teima.

HOOPOES UPUPIDAE
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops We enjoyed several widespread sightings of this fairly common,
but very beautiful resident.

KINGFISHERS ALCEDINIDAE
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis We observed a single bird along the Massa River, at Massa, this species is an uncommon resident.

BEE-EATERS MEROPIDAE
European Bee-eater Merops apiaster A fairly common summer breeding visitor to Morocco, which we saw well on a few occasions.
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Merops persicus An uncommon summer breeding visitor to southern Morocco, which we also saw well on a few occasions.

WOODPECKERS and ALLIES PICIDAE
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major A fairly common resident of Morocco, we saw an individual very well in the Mammuora Forest, near Rabat and we also saw it well at Lake
Aaoua, in the Middle Atlas Mountains.

LARKS ALAUDIDAE
Greater Hoopoe-Lark Alaemon alaudipes A locally common resident of open sandy desert, it is a
spectacularly plumaged bird, particularly when seen in flight, we enjoyed several good sightings in the desert areas of the tour.
Bar-tailed Lark Ammomanes cinctura A fairly common resident of the desert areas of the
southeast, where we enjoyed a few good sightings.
Desert Lark Ammomanes deserti A fairly common resident of barren desert, particularly areas
with rocky gullies and stony wadis. We enjoyed several good sightings throughout the tour.
Thick-billed Lark Ramphocoris clotbey An uncommon resident that favours flat, stony desert and
rocky plateaus. Following a great deal of searching, on the Anved Plateau, we finally found a small flock of three of these beautiful birds, which we saw extremely well.
Greater Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla A common summer breeding visitor to Morocco, we saw it very well on many occasions, in the more arid parts of the country.
Lesser Short-toed Lark Calandrella rufescens A locally common resident, which breeds in loose
colonies, in arid plains and foothills of semi-desert country. We enjoyed good scope views of individuals on a couple of occasions, in desert country, close to Midelt.
Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris The only country in Africa where this species occurs is
Morocco, where it is a resident, altitudinal migrant, in the High Atlas Mountains. We enjoyed really close looks at this distinctive race, high in the Toubkal National Park, in the High Atlas Mountains.
Temminck's Lark Eremophila bilopha A locally common resident of Morocco, where it inhabits
barren, stony desert. We saw it very well on several occasions, while birding on the Anved Plateau, close to Boumaine-du Dades. Coenraad Jacob Temminck (1778-1858) was a Dutch ornithologist, illustrator and collector. He was appointed the first Director of the Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie, in Leiden, in 1820 and held that post until his death. He was a wealthy man who had a very large collection of both specimens and live birds. His first task as an ornithologist was to catalogue his father's very extensive collection. His father was Jacob Temminck, for whom Le Vaillant collected specimens.
Dunn's Lark Eremalauda dunni This relatively unknown species of lark, is mainly a sedentary species, which occurs predominantly in the Sahel, a climate zone, sandwiched between the African Savannah grasslands to the south, and the Sahara Desert to the north. It has a history
of becoming nomadic and eruptive, during prolonged periods of drought, and in recent times it
has erupted into areas which have experienced unusually high winter rainfall, such as in Israel, in
2003 and 2010-2011. So the scene was set, and it should not have surprised us to find a flock
of 10 birds feeding amongst the driftwood, along the high tide line, of the Sous River, in the
Sous Massa National Park, where we saw the birds very well. Colonel Henry Nason Dunn             
(1864-1952) was a British army surgeon who became a big-game hunter. He left diaries to the
National Army Museum relating to his time (1897-1906) in Sudan and Somaliland. He
collected the lark himself. He also has a mammal named after him.
Crested Lark Galerida cristata An abundant resident throughout the whole of Morocco, seen
almost daily. It is the common roadside lark in Morocco.
Maghreb Lark Galerida macrorhyncha Originally part of the Crested Lark complex, races macrorhyncha and randonii have recently been split off, as a separate species, the Maghreb Lark. We saw a couple of this species, while birding close to Achbarou, in stony desert, at the foot of the Ougnat Mountains.
Thekla Lark Galerida theklae This species is a locally common resident in Morocco. It seems to
prefer more rocky habitats than the Crested Lark, and we saw it well on many occasions. It
is named after Thekla Brehm (1832-1858) who was the daughter of the German
ornithologist Christian Ludwig Brehm. Brehm wrote the description of the lark in 1858 and
named it in honour of his daughter, who died earlier that year of heart disease.
Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis This species is an uncommon resident and winter visitor to Morocco. We found a single individual, in full song, along the Massa River, in the Sous Massa National Park.
Woodlark Lullula arborea We enjoyed two separate sightings, of this highly localised and scarce resident of Morocco. The first sighting was of an individual who sang persistently from the top of a small water tank, close to Sfannif. The second sighting, took place in the Middle Atlas Mountains.          

SWALLOWS HIRUNDINIDAE
Common Sand Martin Riparia riparia This species is a common passage migrant in Morocco,
we observed a single flock of six birds, flying along the edge of the small lake, at our hotel at Mergouza, on the edge of the Sahara Desert.
Eurasian Crag-Martin Ptyonoprogne rupestris This species is both a resident and a winter visitor
to Morocco. We saw it very well on many occasions.
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica An abundant passage migrant and breeding summer visitor, which
we saw on most days of the tour.
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica This species is a fairly common passage migrant and
breeding summer visitor. Although nowhere near as common as the Barn Swallow, we did
see it well on many occasions.
Common House-Martin Delichon urbicum A common passage migrant and breeding summer
visitor, we encountered nesting birds, at scattered localities throughout the tour.

WAGTAILS and PIPITS MOTACILLIDAE
Western Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava In Morocco the Western Yellow Wagtail is a passage migrant and a breeding summer visitor. The majority of the birds we saw, were of the race flava, which breed in central Europe, and they were passing through Morocco. On one occasion, at the small lake in front of our hotel at Merzouga, on the edge of the Sahara Desert,
there had been a fall of migrants of this species overnight, and there were up to 20 birds busily
feeding around the edge of the lake.
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea In Morocco this species is both a resident and a winter visitor, we
saw a small number of birds, usually alongside small streams.
White Wagtail Motacilla alba The White Wagtail is also a resident and winter visitor, which we
saw well on a few occasions. We saw the Moroccan race subpersonata on one occasion,
and this race may one day be elevated to full species status.
Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris In Morocco the Tawny Pipit is an uncommon summer breeding visitor and an uncommon passage migrant. We saw a single bird very well, close to the village
of Azegour, in the High Atlas Mountains.
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis This species is an uncommon passage migrant in Morocco. We saw a
single bird very well, along the shore of the large lake behind our hotel at Merzouga, on the edge of the Sahara Desert.
Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus This species is an uncommon passage migrant in Morocco, so we were very fortunate to observe a single bird at the large lake behind our hotel at Marzouga, plus three birds, amongst a large flock of Western Yellow Wagtails, at the small lake in front of our hotel at Merzouga, on the edge of the Sahara Desert. We then saw a single bird, at the Barrage El-Mansour-Eddahbi, at Ouarzazate. All of the birds were in superb, full breeding plumage.                  

BULBULS PYCNONOTIDAE
Common Bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus A common and widespread resident throughout Morocco,
which we observed on many occasions.

KINGLETS REGULIDAE
Firecrest Regulus ignicapilla The Firecrest is an uncommon resident and winter visitor in Morocco. We saw a couple of birds extremely well, in the Middle Atlas Mountains.

THRUSHES and ALLIES TURDIDAE
Rufous-tailed Rock-Thrush Monticola saxatilis This stunning species, is a very uncommon passage migrant and a very scarce summer breeding visitor to Morocco, which only breeds in the High Atlas Mountains. We were indeed fortunate that Rob pointed out an adult male, while we were birding in the Toubkal National Park, in the High Atlas Mountains.
Blue Rock-Thrush Monticola solitarius A fairly common resident, which we saw well on a few
occasions.
Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus A fairly common resident of northern Morocco, which we saw
very well, on a few occasions.
Common Blackbird Turdus merula A common resident, which we saw on most days of the tour.          

CISTICOLAS and ALLIES CISTICOLIDEAE
Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis A fairly common resident in Morocco, which we saw very well
on a few occasions.

OLD WORLD WARBLERS SYLVIIDAE
Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti A locally common resident in Morocco, which we saw on two occasions; the first was at Lac di Sidi-Boughaba and the second sighting occurred close to Ouarzazate. Father Francesco Cetti (1726-1778) was an Italian Jesuit priest, zoologist and mathematician who wrote the Storia Naturale di Sandegna. The second volume (1776) deals with the birds of Sardinia.
European Reed-Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus In Morocco this species is a common passage
migrant and an uncommon summer breeding visitor. We saw several birds in reedbeds along the Massa River, close to Massa.
Western Olivaceous Warbler Iduna opaca Also known as Isabelline Warbler, this species is a common summer breeding visitor and an uncommon passage migrant in Morocco. We enjoyed many good sightings, throughout the tour.
Melodious Warbler Hippolais polyglotta This species is a common summer breeding visitor and passage migrant, we enjoyed a few good sightings throughout the tour.
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus This species is a common passage migrant throughout
Morocco. We watched two birds together in the garden of a hotel, in the Gorges-du-Dades and a second sighting occurred close to Ouarzazate.
Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita An abundant winter visitor throughout Morocco, we found three stragglers together, in the grounds of our hotel, at Ouirgane, at the foot of the High Atlas Mountains.
Iberian Chiffchaff Phylloscopus ibericus This bird is an uncommon passage migrant and a scarce summer breeding visitor to the Tangier Peninsula, on the north coast of Morocco. We saw a bird particularly well at Lac di Sidi-Boughaba and this was followed by a second sighting at the large lake, behind our hotel at Merzouga, on the edge of the Sahara Desert.
Western Bonelli's Warbler Phylloscopus bonelli This bird is a fairly common passage migrant and an uncommon summer breeding visitor in Morocco. We saw a single bird, at close quarters, while birding in the Middle Atlas Mountains.
Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix This attractive species is a fairly common passage migrant throughout Morocco, we saw it very well, on a few occasions.
Western Orphean Warbler Sylvia hortensis This species is a fairly common passage migrant and summer breeding visitor to Morocco, which we saw well on two separate occasions. The first occurred at Lac di Sidi-Boughaba, and the second, in the Sous River Valley.
African Desert Warbler Sylvia deserti In Morocco, this species is an uncommon resident of the Sahara Desert, where we watched an individual very well, not far from Merzouga.
Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata In Morocco this species is a fairly common resident and
winter visitor, we enjoyed a few good sightings, scattered throughout the tour.
Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans This species is a fairly common passage migrant and a locally
common summer breeding visitor to Morocco. We saw a single adult male in the Sahara
Desert, not far from Merzouga.
Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala In Morocco this species is a common resident and
winter visitor, we enjoyed many good sightings of this attractive species.

OLD WORLD FLYCATCHERS MUSCICAPIDAE
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata The Spotted Flycatcher is a common summer breeding visitor, which we saw well on several occasions.
Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca This attractive species is a common passage migrant in Morocco, which we saw very well on numerous occasions.
Atlas Flycatcher Ficedula speculigera The Atlas Flycatcher is a locally common summer breeding visitor to northern Morocco, northern Algeria and northern Tunisia. They spend the winter months in West Africa. We enjoyed many good sightings, of this species, but all were of females.
Common Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos This species is a very accomplished songster, and is a common passage migrant in spring, through Morocco, and a common summer breeding visitor. We saw birds on breeding territories in the Gorges-du-Dades and in the Rose Valley.
Rufous Bush Robin Cercotrichas galactotes This attractive species is a common passage migrant, and a locally common, summer breeding visitor to Morocco. We enjoyed many good sightings throughout the tour.
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros In Morocco this species is an uncommon resident in the High Atlas Mountains, and a common winter visitor throughout the rest of the country. We observed a breeding pair in the Gorges-du-Dades, which was followed by a second breeding pair in the Toubkal National Park, both sightings took place in the High Atlas Mountains.
Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus In Morocco this species is a common passage migrant, and an uncommon, and highly localised summer breeding visitor, to the forests of the Middle Atlas Mountains. We enjoyed our only sighting, of a breeding pair, in the forests of the Middle Atlas Mountains.
Moussier's Redstart Phoenicurus moussieri This species is endemic to northern Morocco,
northern Algeria and northern Tunisia. It is a stunning looking bird and we saw it on many
occasions throughout the tour. Jean Moussier (1795-1850) was a surgeon in the French army during the Napoleonic Wars and he was also an amateur naturalist.
White-crowned Wheatear Oenanthe leucopyga This species is a very common resident of
Morocco, which we saw particularly well, on many occasions.
Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucura This species is also a common resident which occurs at higher
altitude and in rockier habitats than the previous species. We saw it very well, on many
occasions.
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe In Morocco this species is a common passage migrant
and we observed a trickle of migrants throughout the tour.
Seebohm's Wheatear Oenanthe seebohmi Formerly considered a race of Northern Wheatear, in Morocco this species is an uncommon summer breeding bird of the Atlas Mountains. We observed this species very well, in the Middle Atlas Mountains and in Toubkal National Park, in the High Atlas Mountains. Henry Seebohm (1832-1895) was a British businessman and an amateur ornithologist, oologist and traveller, who explored the Yenisery tundra of Siberia. He wrote A History of British Birds, published in 1883, The Geographical Distribution of the Family Charadriidae, published in 1887, The Birds of the Japanese Empire, published in 1890, A Monograph of the Turdidae, published in 1898 and The
Birds of Siberia,
published in 1901. Seebohm died of influenza in 1895.
Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica This species is a common passage migrant and a locally common summer breeding visitor throughout Morocco. We enjoyed a few good sightings, scattered throughout the tour.
Maghreb Wheatear Oenanthe halophila A recent split from Mourning Wheatear, this species
is a particularly uncommon resident of semi-arid areas and desert country. We were very fortunate that Robert pointed out a pair of birds, close to the village of Ait-Moudzit, in a very remote area of the Timassinine Mountains. The birds were very tame and we were able to observe them exceptionally well.
Red-rumped Wheatear Oenanthe moesta This species is an uncommon resident of flat, stony
desert. We saw a pair very well at Boulojoul, in the Middle Atlas Mountains and we also
saw a few pairs on the Anved Plateau, close to Boumalne-du-Dades.
Desert Wheatear Oenanthe deserti This species is a locally common resident of southern Morocco. We enjoyed several good looks at this species, throughout the tour.
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra The Whinchat is a common passage migrant throughout Morocco, which we saw well on several occasions.
Common Stonechat Saxicola rubicola In Morocco this species is a common resident and winter
visitor. We failed to find any wintering birds, however, along the Massa River, at Massa, we found a few pairs that were feeding fully fledged young.

BABBLERS TIMALIIDAE
Fulvous Babbler Turdoides fulva This species is an uncommon resident of southern Morocco. We saw a bird in flight, at an oasis near Rissani, in the Sahara Desert.

CHICKADEES and TITS PARIDAE
Coal Tit Periparus ater A fairly common resident, which in Morocco is restricted to the Atlas
Mountains. We saw a few birds very well in the Middle and High Atlas Mountains.
Great Tit Parus major A common resident which we saw very well on several occasions.
African Blue Tit Parus ultramarinus A common resident which we saw well on many occasions.

NUTHATCHES SITTIDAE
Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea A locally common resident of Morocco, where it is confined to the Atlas Mountains. We saw a few birds very well, in mixed forest, while birding in the Middle Atlas Mountains.

CREEPERS CERTHIIDAE
Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla A fairly common resident of Morocco, where it is confined to the Atlas Mountains. We saw a few birds exceptionally well, in mixed forest, in the Middle Atlas Mountains.        

OLD WORLD ORIOLES ORIOLEIDAE
Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus In Morocco, this very attractive species is a common passage migrant and locally common, summer breeding visitor, to the Atlas Mountains. We observed a small group of migrating birds in the car park of a cafe were we stopped for a drink, at Khemisset.       

SHRIKES LANIIDAE
Southern Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis A common resident in Morocco, which we saw very
well on many occasions.
Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator A common passage migrant and summer breeding visitor to
Morocco. We enjoyed several good sightings throughout the tour, at what must surely be
one of the most beautiful species of shrikes in the world.

BUSHSHRIKES and ALLIES MALACONTIDAE
Black-crowned Tchagra Tchagra senegalus A locally fairly common resident in Morocco, we
enjoyed a great look at this species, while birding along the Massa River, in the Sous Massa National Park.

CROWS, JAYS and MAGPIES CORVIDAE
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius An uncommon resident, which we saw very well on a few occasions.
Common Magpie Pica pica A common resident of Morocco, which avoids the more arid parts of
the country. We saw it very well on many occasions. The subspecies involved is
mauritanica, which is smaller than the nominate form, and has an area of bare blue skin
around the eye. This subspecies may be elevated to full species status at a future date and become known as the Maghreb Magpie.
Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax A common resident in the highest parts of the High
Atlas Mountains. We saw a large flock while birding in the Toubkal National Park, in the High Atlas Mountains.
Yellow-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus A locally common resident in the highest parts of
the High Atlas Mountains. We saw a small number amongst a large flock of Red-billed Choughs, during our time in the Toubkal National Park, in the High Atlas Mountains.
Western Jackdaw Corvus monedula A fairly common resident in parts of Morocco, we saw it
well on a number of occasions.
Brown-necked Raven Corvus ruficollis A locally common resident of open desert and semi-
desert country, which we saw well on many occasions in and around the Sahara.
Common Raven Corvus corax We saw small numbers of this fairly common resident at widely
scattered localities throughout the tour.

STARLINGS STURNIDAE
Spotless Starling Sturnus unicolor A very common resident of Morocco, which we saw very well
on numerous occasions.

OLD WORLD SPARROWS PASSERIDAE
House Sparrow Passer domesticus An abundant resident throughout Morocco, we saw it on every
day of the tour.
Desert Sparrow Passer simplex A highly localised and uncommon resident of sandy desert, which
is endemic to North Africa. We enjoyed really good looks at birds in and around the Sahara
Desert, close to Merzouga.
Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia A locally common resident in Morocco, which prefers rocky
ravines and gullies, exactly the habitat where we saw this species very well, on a few
occasions.

SISKINS, CROSSBILLS and ALLIES FRINGILLIDAE
Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs This species is an abundant resident in Morocco, where we
saw it very well, on numerous occasions. The distinctive grey-hooded and green-backed
subspecies in Morocco is africana.
European Serin Serinus serinus A common and widespread resident, which we saw very well on
many occasions.
European Greenfinch Chloris chloris A common resident of Morocco, which we saw well on
many occasions.
European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis We observed small numbers of this common resident, at
widely scattered localities throughout the tour.
Eurasian Linnet Carduelis cannabina We also observed good numbers of this common resident,
at widely scattered localities throughout the tour.
Common Crossbill Loxia curvirostra The Common Crossbill is an uncommon resident in Morocco, frequenting the Atlas Mountains. We found an immature bird in the grounds of our hotel at Ouirgane, in the High Atlas Mountains, shortly following our arrival. The following
morning, we found a flock of eight birds in the grounds of the hotel.
Crimson-winged Finch Rhodopechys sanguineus This species is an uncommon resident in the
High Atlas Mountains. We enjoyed very close looks at half a dozen or so birds at
Oukaineden, in Toubkal National Park in the High Atlas Mountains.
Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githagineus This species is a fairly common resident in Morocco, we 

saw small flocks on a few occasions throughout the tour.

BUNTINGS, SPARROWS, SEEDEATERS and ALLIES EMBERIZIDAE
Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus We only saw this fairly common resident, on one occasion, we found a couple of males together, along the Massa River, at Massa.
Rock Bunting Emberiza cia This species is a fairly common resident, we saw an adult bird at the
Gorges du Dades, near Boulmane.
House Bunting Emberiza sahari This species is a locally common resident in Morocco and is
endemic to North Africa. We enjoyed many good sightings, mainly in the south of the
country.
Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra A common and widespread resident of Morocco, we enjoyed
watching a couple of birds in a cultivated area, close to the village of Azegour, in the High Atlas Mountains.  


MAMMALS                                     


Barbary Ground Squirrel Altantoxerus getulus We enjoyed several sightings of this attractively
marked squirrel, during the tour.
Fennec Fox Vulpes zerda We very much enjoyed great scope views of a rather sleepy individual, at its daytime roost, on a cliff ledge, at Rissani, on the edge of the Sahara Desert.
Barbary Ape Macaca sylvanus We enjoyed watching a large troop in the Cedar Forest, in the
Ifrane National Park, in the Middle Atlas Mountains.

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