Five Fulvous Whistling-Ducks and hundreds of nationally and globally threatened ducks were observed at Merja Fouarate, a suburban wetland adjacent to Kenitra, northwest Morocco.
Cinq Dendrocygnes fauves et des centaines de canards menacés au niveau national et mondial ont été observés à Merja Fouarate, une zone humide suburbaine adjacente à Kenitra, au nord-ouest du Maroc.
During a short visit to Merja Fouarate on 10 October 2022, Thibault Dieuleveut photographed Five Fulvous Whistling-Ducks (Dendrocygna bicolor) and counted hundreds of threatened ducks.
The Fulvous Whistling-Duck is a widespread species in tropical and subtropical lowlands of South and North America, sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar and in southern Asia (Bangladesh and adjacent areas). The nearest breeding areas to Morocco are located in Mauritania. Because the species is kept in wildfowl collections and zoos, it’s difficult to know for sure if these 5 ducks are genuine vagrants or escaped from zoos (in Europe, for example) and moved south with native ducks wintering in Morocco. I personally tend to favour the latter hypothesis.
In addition to this unexpected species, the birder also recorded very interesting numbers of wintering ducks and other species.
- 660 Northern Shoveler / Canard souchet (Spatula clypeata): the species is the most abundant wintering duck in Morocco.
- 11 Marbled Teals / Sarcelle marbrée (Marmaronetta angustirostris): the species threatened in Morocco and globally.
- 55 Ferruginous Ducks / Fuligule nyroca (Fuligule nyroca): the species is threatened in Morocco and near-threatened globally. A recent analysis of long-term winter census data collected over 35 years showed a strong increase in the wintering population of the Ferruginous Duck in Morocco (Ouassou et al. 2018).
- 440 White-headed Ducks / Erismature à tête blanche (Oxyura leucocephala): threatened in Morocco and globally. Merja Fouarate is known to host important wintering populations of this duck species, at least in some years. For example, Lahrouz and his colleagues counted almost 1500 White-headed Ducks at this site in December 2017 (Lahrouz et al. 2018).
- African Reed Warbler / Rousserolle africaine (taxon ambiguus): 2 signing birds.
The full species list recorded by Thibault Dieuleveut can be found in eBird.
Lahrouz, S. ; Dakki, M. & Hassani, H. 2018. Présence d’un effectif remarquable d’Erismatures à tête blanche Oxyura leucocephala dans un marécage du Rharb marocain (Merja de Fouwarate). Go-South Bulletin 15: 45-48.
Ouassou, A., Dakki, M., Lahrouz, S., El Agbani, M.A. & Qninba, A. 2018. Status and Trends of the Ferruginous Duck’s (Aythya nyroca) Wintering Population in Morocco: Analysis of 35 Years of Winter Census Data (1983-2017). International Journal of Zoology 2018: 5767194. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/5767194