La première reproduction de la Sterne pierregarin sur le radeau flottant instalé à Marchica (lagune de Nador), au nord-est du Maroc (photo 1).
In Morocco, the Common Tern is a passage migrant, rare wintering visitor and occasional breeder. The species is only known to breed at two sites: at Marchica (Sebkha BouAreg) in 1978 and more or less regularly from 2013 onwards, and at the Khnifiss lagoon in 1967 and 1995 (Bergier et al. 2022).
Their recent breeding at Marchica has been dependent not only on the availability of suitable habitats, but also on the absence of human disturbance and animal predators, particularly stray dogs.
Between 2021 and 2023, GREPOM/BirdLife, in coordination with its national and local partners, launched a project to help create new breeding habitats for birds at Marchica. In addition to the project’s objective per se, which is the creation of favorable breeding conditions for birds, its activities were a good opportunity to raise the awareness of the local stakeholders about the importance of the site and the need to conserve it.
One of the actions undertaken to achieve the project’s objective is the building and installation of two floating rafts for terns and gulls at two different locations at the lagoon. The project included a socioeconomic component that involved the local fishermen, but we won’t go into details about this aspect now.
Successful breeding on the floating raft
On 5 June 2023, Said Azaouaghe, the Coordinator of the Oriental Unit of GREPOM, recorded the first breeding of Common Tern on the floating raft installed at the lagoon last February in the framework of the project mentioned above.
The species recorded at the floating raft and its immediate vicinity are:
- Common Tern (Sterna hirundo): 3 pairs and two visible chicks on the raft (photos).
- Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis): 8 birds on the poles.
- Little Tern (Sternula albifrons): 2 pairs (no signs of breeding noted)
- Common Redshank (Tringa totanus): 3 breeding pairs. In Morocco, the species only breeds at Marchica where it was discovered less than a decade ago (Azaouaghe et al. 2021).
- Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus): breeding locally (3 chicks and 5 adults).
The project mentioned was undertaken in close collaboration between GREPOM/BirdLife Morocco, the National Agency for Water and Forests (ANEF) and the Marchica Agency. It was co-funded by TransCap programme (coordinated by IUCN-Med and financed by the ‘Direcció General de Cooperació’ of the Government of the Balearic Islands, Spain), and the Small Grants Programme of the Global Environment Facility (SGP-GEF). Vogelbescherming Nederland (VBN, BirdLife Netherlands) also contributed financially to the project.
Azaouaghe, S., Cherkaoui, S. I. & Qninba, A. 2021. First confirmed breeding records of Common Redshank Tringa totanus for Morocco. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 28: 77.
Bergier, P., Thévenot, M., Qninba, A. & Houllier, J. R. 2022. Oiseaux du Maroc. Birds of Morocco. SEOF, Paris.