4 May 2014

Highlights from a trip from Apr 12 to 21: ‘We started at the Francolin-place near Sidi Yahya. After arriving in the afternoon we had not long to wait to hear the first call and a short time later we flushed a pair. Many lovely Woodchat Shrikes.

Our next target was just south of Sidi Abed. We stayed at the farm of Khalid El Marjani, the host of the Spanish scientists who investigated the mysterious Buttonquail some years ago. We enjoyed the warm hospitality and a fantastic couscous. The next morning we walked along Khalid’s fields and tried our very best but we had to be happy with two short series of calls without any chance of seeing the bird. We tried again on a second place near Oualidia but without success and were comforted by a Lesser Crested Tern.

The next main stop was at Oukaimeden to look for the mountain birds of the High Atlas. We had Crimson-winged Finch, both Choughs, both Rock Thrushes, Horned Lark, Wheatear race seebohmi, Alpine Accentor, Moussier’s Redstart. On the way down we stopped at the level of 2230 m and found there Tristram’s Warbler and Atlas Green Woodpecker.

We headed to the next hot spot and searched for Dupont’s Lark at km 55 between Ifrane and Boulmane early in the morning. It didn’t take a long time and we heard the typical sounds of this bird. Soon we spotted several singing males.

When we were birding near Enjil south of Boulmane suddenly a driver of an all-terrain vehicle stopped and began a friendly talk. He introduced himself as a young Moroccan falconer who raises Gyr Falcons for the rich and turned out to be a keen birder. He invited us to show us the nest of a Lanner Falcon. We saw the heads of at least two few days old youngsters and one arriving adult. We met amongst others Temminck’s Lark, Red-rumped Wheatear, Trumpeter Finch, Coursor, Black-bellied Sandgrouse and two Houbaras. The bustards were not very shy and for sure released birds from a raising project. Our guide reassured us that there are real wild Houbara bustards in the area, too. We didn’t ask any questions about his knowledge and understandings in the much discussed oriental hunting activities and the connected projects. It was just such a grandiose event for us to meet a young man who is so open-hearted and happy when he makes other people happy.

At Dayet Aoua, Crested Coots were impossible to be overlooked. Huge numbers of Black-necked Grebe were also impressive. The Flycatchers we saw were females and I think Pied.

At Moulay Bousselham the famous Hassan Dali showed us the Marsh Owlthatwhich we saw very well despite heavy rain und storm. We had to skip the planned boat-tour because of the bad weather.

We finished our trip at Lac de Sidi Bourhaba with the highlights of Crested Coot, White-headed Duck, Marbled Duck and Purple Gallinule’ (Hubert Krieger)

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