Morocco March 31st - April 9th

Faced with a glut of free time I had to use up, and not having done a foreign birding trip with the extended clan Foley in some time, I went looking around for an impromptu birding destination on short notice. I wasn't massively concerned with ticks or lifers...just looking for a destination with an abundance of good birds.

Turkey was the cheapest destination, but the wrong time of year. Israel was looking OK...but it was Passover and so all car rental and accomodation options were excessively expensive.

Cyprus, for whatever reason, just wasn't providing the flight connections that were of any use (really weird considering I had previously managed to book Cyprus at this time of year without any weird flight connection issues.) 

Morocco came up as the best option price and logistics wise, and there was a handful of species we had missed out on when there 15 years ago, so seeing them would be a nice bonus.

Not being one of those mad Western Pal listers, heading halfway south to the Equator for Golden Nightjar and the other barely there bits wasn't of interest to me, nor was taking the northern route, adding 3/4 days and 1,500 km of driving onto the itinerary for just 4 species. In general the big heavy driving trips don't do it for me anymore. So this time around we had more time, and in theory, could relax and enjoy the birds and settings more at each location without mad dashing between sites and give time to just proper birding.

Myself and Don Foley arranged to meet at the airport in Marrakech on the evening of the 30th. My flight was delayed, leaving us too late to avail of a site in Marrakech where Maghreb Owl (the first "meh" split of the trip) would be easy. No problem though...we had lovely views of one as we drove in the dark up to Oukaimeden.

Day 1. Oukaimeden - Ourika

We stayed at Aurocher Ourika Oukaimeden and were up at dawn to get in a little bit of pre-breakfast birding.

The grounds of the hotel were quite productive, with Western Olivaceous warbler, Common Nightingale, Serin, Blackcap, Common Bulbul, Cirl Bunting, Rock Bunting, African Chaffinch, African Blue Tit, calling and drumming Levaillant's Woodpecker (but not giving views unfortunately) and many other species.

Common Nightingale singing

Western Olivaceous Warbler 

We wolfed down breakfast and made the quick 20 minute drive up to Oukaimeden itself.

We were greeted with enormous flocks of both Alpine Chough and Red-Billed Chough, covering the Alpine grass. The mad whistle of Alpine Chough was a constant back drop to the site. 

Alpine Chough - Or "Big, Spotless Starling" if you prefer. I like them.

Good numbers of Rock Sparrow were present around the Ski-lift car park, but with the warm weather, there was no snow in the immediate area...and no Crimson-Winged Finches either. A good scouring of the area failed to produce these.

Driving up the track towards the pass was a no go, with snow THERE (typical) preventing us reaching the secondary Crimson-Winged site. 


However, the birding was otherwise very good, with Shore Lark giving itself up, Alpine Accentor at the radio station, as well as birds such as Red-Rumped Swallow, Crag Martin, Thekla's Lark, Black Redstart, Moussier's Redstart and Blue Rock Thrush. 

Shore Lark

Blue Rock Thrush

Thekla's Lark 

A couple of pale type Booted Eagle floated around the valley, as did a Long Legged Buzzard, Short-Toed Eagle and Lesser Kestrels.

A very enjoyable morning of birding. 

We then tipped our way down the mountain, seeing Barbary Partridge and Hawfinch en route, but not having much luck with seeing Levaillant's (but hearing several) nor Tristram's Warbler. 

Coming into the valley at the base of the mountains, with a bit of time on our hands, we made the decision to head up the Ourika valley in search of Levaillant's habitat. This meant some slow driving through local tourist hotspots, heavy traffic and swarms of people (a warm holiday weekend during Ramadan, with Marrakech over 40°C, meant the coller valley, and all of the river cafes were thronged with people). The river was also in full flow, providing a bit of noise pollution. Nonetheless, grabbing Bonelli's Eagle as we went, we managed to find a Levaillant's Woodpecker hotspot right up at the head of the valley, obtaining nice prolonged views of one close to the road and hearing many others. A wise decision in the end, though realistically we did hear them in several locations later in the trip where we could have tracked them down. It's always best to nail things early of course. 

Levaillant's Green Woodpecker

This entire area was crawling with Levaillant's and we highly recommend a visit if you're struggling with this species or if there is excessive numbers of people at other sites.

We made our way to a nice bnb in Ait Ourir, Dar Tadout, passing through fantastic natural farmland as we went. (It's a little hairy to get to, on some narrow back roads out of Ait Ourir, and doesn't look like much from the road/outside, but it's a very pleasant and comfortable oasis when you get in. Thumbs up). This area was full of birds, including Corn Bunting, Woodchat Shrike, European Bee-eater, Spotless Starling and our first Lanner Falcon of the trip.

Woodchat Shrike - this area was packed with good agricultural land species such as shrikes, Bee-eater, Corn bunting, Spotless Starling etc.

We settled in to a delicious evening meal at the bnb and crashed out.

Day 2. Ait Ourir to Ouarzazate 

We were up naturally early and enjoyed the garden birds present which included singing Hoopoe, Zitting Cistocola, Purple Heron, European Bee-eater, Corn Bunting, and Common Bulbul to name a few.

Dar Tadout

After breakfast we made our way up over the Atlas mountains headed to Ouarzazate, stopping at a variety of spots in the way. These spots were productive for a broad array of species, but not the Tristram's Warbler were were after. 

Birds we did see included more Lesser Kestrels, Black Wheatear, Levaillant's Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker and a number of common migrants such as Common Redstart and Willow Warbler.

As we descended down from the mountains on the Ouarzazate side, we turned off at Amerzgane junction and began by birding the wadi here. 

Birds such as Eastern Olivaceous warbler were in song, as well as Western Black Eared Wheatear.

Black Wheatear 

Black-Eared Wheatear 

Further on down the road into steppe habitat and we encountered our first Atlas Wheatears, which had been strangely absent from Oukaimeden (15 years ago, in late May, they were all back on territory). We saw several of this species in the Ouarzazate area. We also saw our first (but by no means our last) Desert Wheatears and Desert Larks of the trip, as well as numerous Trumpeter Finch. 

Desert Wheatear 

Trumpeter Finch 

A few kilometers on towards Ouarzazate we stopped off a group of pools near the levee. These produced White-Crowned Wheatear, Ruddy Shelduck and a selection of waders such as Greenshank, Little Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper and Little Stint. 

White-Crowned Wheatear 

We stayed in a small hotel, Dar Nadia bendriss, on the southern side of Ouarzazate aiming for an early start at a nearby lake. 

Day 3. Ouarzazate to Rissani

We staked out the small lake at Tizguililane in the hopes of some Sandgrouse coming in to drink, but sadly none made an appearance. 

We were treated to a few Ruddy Shelduck, Moroccan Wagtail, Black-Winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper, Black-Eared Wheatear and Black Kite.

Ruddy Shelduck 

Moroccan Wagtail 

Maghreb Lark - another "meh" split. Why would ya bother.

We then headed to the nearby reservoir and it's adjacent farmland.

This was an exceptionally productive site, with Desert Wheatear, Tree and Red-Throated Pipit, Blue-Cheeked Bee-eater, Rufous Bush Robin, Crested Coot, Marbled Teal, Short Toed Eagle, Black Kite, Spoonbill, and White Stork. Yellow Wagtail were present in their hundreds. Sub-alpine and Spectacled Warbler were present in the dead scrubby trees and phyloscs were pushing through, including Western Bonelli's Warbler. 

Blue-Cheeked Bee-eater

Desert Wheatear - a mournful and sweet little song.

After an enjoyable couple of hours, we made our way back for breakfast, enjoying views of Common Bulbul, House Bunting, White Stork, Laughing Dove and Pallid and Little Swifts as we ate.

Common Bulbul

House Bunting 

We then started the long drive to Merzouga. This was mostly a birdless drive, and it was somewhat surprising that, whilst some of the habitat looked nice, we simply encountered no birds along the road. 

However, as we entered the Rissani area, this began to change as we saw our first Hoopoe Larks and more Desert Larks by the road. 

We stopped at the Palm Groves in Rissani and, after 15 minutes of searching, found a flock of Fulvous Babbler. A lifer for both of us, and a main target after missing them the first time around in Morocco.

Fulvous Babbler - the Babbler family was a thorn in my side for years. These were an enjoyable catch up. Subtle but endearing birds.

From Rissani we made our way south to our hotel, Kasbah Panorama, and settled in for the evening, booked in early for a guided 4WD birding trip around the Erg Chebbi the following morning. 

This was not one of the "birding" hotels, i.e. not one of the locations with it's own gardens that could produce migrants, however it was good value, excellent food and conveniently located close to the more southern aspect of the Erg Chebbi, meaning we could get straight into birding with our guide the following morning.

The Erg Chebbi - big changes since we were here 15 years ago. Now dozens of hotels and camps. The dunes are crawling with jeeps, ATVs, camels, seemingly at all hours. Can't really see how it's sustainable, for wildlife, for water demands or for people to be honest. Still a beautiful sight though.

Day 4. Merzouga

We met our guide, Mohamed, at 05.30 and made our way south, seeing what looked like a Ruppell's Fox as we went. 

Mohamed worked his way expertly through the sand, and the first birds we encountered were Great Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, and a flock of Fulvous Babbler.

A little bit further on we had our first tick of the day, an African Desert Warbler which flushed from scrub ahead of us. It soon became apparent that the scrub was full of migrants such as Western Sub-alpine warbler.

We first tried a site for Desert Sparrow, but the only bird present in the animal enclosure was, strangely, a Common Nightingale. Incredible to see this species wandering around the desert sand.

Common Nightingale 

Whilst staking this spot out, we saw our first flock of Spotted Sandgrouse going over, so we made our way to the Sandgrouse drinking site. 

This location produced both Crowned and Spotted Sandgrouse, with Spotted vastly outnumbering Crowned (2 birds).

Crowned Sandgrouse - Male and Female

Spotted Sandgrouse

I have seen both these species in their hundreds in the middle east, but both were lifers for Don. 

Our only Montagu's Harrier of the trip was a nice find as it harried the Sandgrouse flock. 

Montagu's Harrier 

After enjoying excellent views of the Sandgrouse flocks for some time, we carried on to the next Desert Sparrow location.

This time was more successful, with a pair of Desert Sparrow keeping company with House Sparrows as well as many migrants in a vegetated garden. We had many Sub-alpine warbler here as well as our first Western Orphean Warbler of the trip. 

Desert Sparrow - a hard bird to beat. Stunning silver beasties.

From here we're carried on, with Egyptian Nightjar next on the list of targets. We carried on around the dunes, stumblingly on a dead camel as we went...which had a solitary immature Egyptian Vulture in attendance. If only the animal had been dead a bit longer, perhaps a few more scavengers may have been present. 

Egyptian Vulture 

We then connected with an on site guide who took us to the Nightjars, and we were amazed to find 3 birds sleeping within a few meters of each other!

Egyptian Nightjar 

We were joined by another guided group and then walked to a nearby site to get more views of African Desert Warbler, with 2 birds in song and giving delightful views just a short distance away. 

African Desert Warbler 

Both the Nightjar and Warbler were two species both myself and Don were very happy to finally put to bed. 

Other good birds on the tour included multiples each of Hoopoe Lark, Cream Coloured Courser, Wryneck, Brown-Necked Ravens, and Bar-Tailed Desert Larks.

Hoopoe Lark

Brown-Necked Ravens stealing nesting material 

We then returned to our hotel for a late breakfast/lunch. 

With all our targets gotten in the one morning we decided to make our way to a site for Scrub Warbler with the aim of getting to Boulmane Dades that night. 

We made it to the Scrub Warbler location at Goulmima and after a short walk, had good views of this species as it mooched around the low scrub, as well as Wryneck and our first Thick-Billed Larks of the trip. 


We made it to Boulmane by late evening, had dinner in a local restaurant and crashed out in our hotel, Hotel Almander, a cheap and pretty basic hotel, but quite conveniently located, directly between the main street and the Tagdilt track.

I had kind of hoped to stay in the Auberge Soleil Bleu, to relive the nostalgia of our last visit. This was, however, booked out solid, and these days, is quite expensive, both compared to when we visited 15 years ago, and the many other options around the town. C'est la vie. It was an absolutely beautiful Auberge when we visited in the noughties and maybe worth visiting just for the sake of name dropping, but honestly, there are far more reasonable options in the area these days.

Day 5. Tagdilt

We were again up for dawn and made our way to the canyon east of Boulmane known to have Pharoah Eagle Owl and Magreb Wheatear.

We pulled up to the site and instantly met a local (he basically waits there for birders) who offered to show us both birds. We were aware of this in advance from other birders and were happy to pay the small fee to line these birds up quickly for us. 

Two Pharoah Owls were instantly on view, roosting/nesting in a cave. A species I had seen elsewhere in the Western Pal, but a tick for Don. Always stunning birds, no matter how many you've seen before. 

Pharoah Eagle Owl 

A Long-Legged Buzzard was also nesting on the cliff.

Long-Legged Buzzard

We then walked the wadi looking for the Magreb Wheatear. Despite extensive searching, we failed to find the species at the first location, seeing only Woodchat Shrike, Black and Black-Eared Wheatear, and Trumpeter Finches. 

Woodchat Shrike 

We then walked a few hundred meters to another location which was holding another bird and found it here easily enough. 

Maghreb Wheatear - In general, subtle splits don't do it for me. I had seen Mourning in spades in Israel. This didn't exactly thrill me. However it was a lifer for Don, who hasn't been to the middle east, so seen neither before. Important to nail down in that context. 

As we were leaving the canyon we spotted a Sandgrouse on the track in front of us. A stunning male Black-Bellied Sandgrouse. Easy! We couldn't believe our luck, considering we usually have to work hard for these. 

Black-Bellied Sandgrouse 

We then made our way towards the Tagdilt track, first checking out the "pools" on the road.

These were dry. Apparently, quite unusually, the area had been covered with 2 meters of snow this past winter gone. This may sound like a great reservoir of moisture, however, compared to steady rains over a winter, it's worse for plant and flower growth. It melts, flows away relatively quickly, and leaves a relatively barren landscape in it's wake.

We, in fact, found the entire Tagdilt area somewhat poor. (At least compared to our visit 15 years hence). 

The pools, however, had obviously had moisture recently, and we're quite verdant. These held a decent number of Temminck's Lark and Greater-Short Toed Lark, but little else on this first visit. 

Greater Short-Toed Lark 

Temminck's Lark

We headed back to the hotel for breakfast, before heading for the dump. 

The dump held another species we hadn't seen yet, Red-Rumped Wheatear. 

Red-Rumped Wheatear - male

Red-Rumped Wheatear - female 

These were fairly easy, but apart from Crested Larks and Temminck's Larks, we found this area again relatively poor. Back in the noughties, we pulled up to the dump to find a huge mixed flock of Thick-Billed Lark, Bar-Tailed Lark, Lesser Short-Toed, Hoopoe Lark, Temminck's Lark etc etc, blowing our minds in one of those classic "where do you look?" scenarios. This time, we found the dump to be just a sad affair, with just some Created type larks around, and only a handful of these even.

We carried on out the track, searching primarily for Thick-Billed Lark and Cream Coloured Courser. We failed on these. However we did see two more Black-Bellied Sandgrouse and Hoopoe Larks. 

We worked hard and saw plenty of Temminck's Lark and Desert Wheatear for our trouble, but very little else.

We returned to Boulmane for dinner and settled in for the night. 

Day 6. Tagdilt and Gorge Boulmane

We made straight for the former pools at dawn. These seemed the best vegetated spot and had held the highest density of birds we had seen and figured there was a chance of some new birds early in the morning. 

We were right. As well as even more Temminck's Lark and Short-Toed Lark, there were now two Tawny Pipit also, and a single Thick-Billed Lark flew in to the back of the pools.

The wind, however, was utterly atrocious and it was very difficult birding conditions. 

We carried on to an area of watered orchards to chance our arm with some migrants. The wind hurt us, but there was a few phyloscs, Serins and goldfinches (new for the trip).


We again returned for breakfast via the Tagdilt track, but again just Temminck's Larks for our trouble. 

Temminck's Lark 

After breakfast we made for the Dades Gorge. After failing to see Tristram's Warbler at other sites, this was our last chance. We had one singing just past the restaurant, and after a bit of effort, we had sublime, point blank views of two birds together. 

Tristram's Warbler - another lifer and catch up for both of us. A very obliging pair of birds in the end. Fantastic.

Also present at this site were both Rock Bunting and House Bunting, and more Blue Rock Thrush. 

Rock Bunting - I do like Buntings, and this is one I wouldn't turn my nose up at finding in Ireland some day.

House Bunting 

Blue Rock Thrush

Black Wheatear 

Gorge du dades has some pretty spectacular rock formations 

From here we made our way west, aiming to stay in Taroudant that evening. Based on how brilliant Tagdilt had been on our previous visit, we had given two days to the site this time around. It was therefore disappointing that it produced so poorly for us.

As it turned out, the plains east of Tazenakht were far, far more productive. Just a couple of kilometers west of the town we stumbled into roadside Thick-Billed Larks which gave superb views! 

Thick-Billed Lark - my favourite lark species. Amazing looking birds.

A little further on, we encountered multiple singing Bar-Tailed Lark, Short Toed Lark, Tawny Pipit and Cream Coloured Courser.
And all without even trying. Had we known... We would have stayed here and put our time into exploring this area in a fuller capacity. I would highly recommend that anyone hoping for plains species, focus their efforts here. By all means get your Owl and two Wheatears at Tagdilt...but put time in here. With this entire area so lush and clearly productive, who knows what's on these plains this season. Houbara? Dunn's Lark? Who knows?

Bar-Tailed Lark

Tawny Pipit 

We made our way into Taroudant late evening, staying in our first Riad, which was a very pleasant experience and superb food. 

Day 7. The Sous Valley

We had breakfast before leaving, and then made our way to a nearby hill for a bit of raptor watching. 

On route we had our first Black-Crowned Tchagra crossing in front of the car. 

We climbed the hill and soon picked up a couple of Black-Winged Kite, a classy raptor and always a delight. 

We also had several Short-Toed Eagle and a dark morph Booted Eagle (always nice to see this variation.

In the scrub at the base of the hill, we had various migrants, including a Western Bonelli's Warbler. 

Western Bonelli's Warbler

We then carried on back east, up to the head of the valley, where the argan habitat is still in somewhat presentable state. 

Here our target was Western Orphean Warbler (a tick for Don), and Maghreb Magpie. We found these easily enough, along with a number of nice migrants, including Melodious Warbler, Bonelli's Warbler, Ortolan Bunting, Whitethroat, and, a lifer for me, Iberian Chiffchaff. Highly recommend this location for a mix of target specialities and mig bashing, as well as the odd flyover raptor such as Bonelli's Eagle.

Maghreb Magpie

Bonelli's Eagle

Other good birds included Barbary Falcon, European Bee-eater, Great Grey and Woodchat Shrike.

Great Grey Shrike 

Thekla's Lark

We then undertook the long drive to Agadir...again...long time-wise rather than distance wise, and made it to the Oued Sous for the evening. It was time to just relax, put a few days into just full and proper birding. Less time in the car, more time enjoying coastal and wetland birding.

Oued Sous was a fantastic site, packed with Gulls, Terns and Waders. We were happily scanning through this cornucopia of birds, when, off in the distance I picked up an adult Lesser Yellowlegs... WTF?? It took a bit of time to get Don onto it, with distance and wind being a factor, but eventually it walked into a slightly easier to view spot and we enjoyed reasonable views.

Lesser Yellowlegs - initial views. It was distant and windy, so well pleased with this pick up, if I do say so myself.

Lesser Yellowlegs - not expected!

Then we tried to move closer to the Yellowlegs. As we did so, someone entered the dump on the other side of the river, flushing up a horde of Yellow Wagtails...and among them a calling Citrine Wagtail! Bonkers stuff!
Edit: having just got around to checking...this too is a mega record for Morocco. Not entirely sure what the number of these has been but seems maybe around 10 or so. You would, however, imagine these are somewhat overlooked.

Unfortunately the legs was also flushed and we didn't refind it that evening.

An hour or so later, we returned to the original spot we had seen the legs from.

Looking through a flock of Slender-Billed and Black-Headed Gulls, I was shocked to see a first winter Bonaparte's Gull just stood there! Again.  WTF?? 

Don could scarcely believe me as I said it to him. "There's a Bonaparte's Gull there now!" 

Just madness! 2 yanks and a Citrine in the space of an hour! Better than Tacumshin!

Bonaparte's Gull - uhhh...what is happening??🤣

Bonaparte's Gull 

Well that made me fall in love with the place! Other nice species included Kentish Plover, Caspian Tern, Greater Flamingo and a flock of 15 Collared Pratincole.

Waterbirds at Oued Sous

We enjoyed the location right up until dusk, when numbers of Stone Curlew appeared, and Red-Necked Nightjars began singing.

We stayed in a very nice bnb, Maison Marocaine, quite close to the estuary, and had a delicious meal and a beer (a rare find in Morocco during Ramadan).

Day 8. Oued Sous to Sous Massa

We went out early to the estuary again, walking to the mouth where a large flock of Gulls and Sandwich Terns were present. 

The terns had no surprises among them, but the Gulls had several Audouin's Gull and a flock of some 40 Slender-Billed Gull. 

Audouin's Gull

Slender-Billed Gull - when it comes to both the above species, I claim dibs on finding them as Irish firsts. 😎 Genuinely adore both species, taking me back to summers spent in eastern Spain.

Slender-Billed Gulls 

We also had more Moroccan Wagtail here, and 2 more Collared Pratincole.

We returned to the bridge upstream checking the flooded scrub on the south side. Here we had good numbers of Kentish Plover, Gull Billed Terns, Green and Common Sandpiper, and a very vocal Great-Spotted Cuckoo. 

Gull-Billed Tern

Great Spotted Cuckoo 

The bridge, where we had the good birds the previous evening, was surprisingly quiet on this state of tide. Neither yank made an appearance, nor did the Caspian Terns. There was excellent numbers of Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint however. There was one bird that looked seriously good for an adult Semi-Palmated Sandpiper, but it kept it's distance unfortunately and I had to let it go.

We returned to our bnb for breakfast, unfortunately, despite the very comfortable accomodation and dinner the night before, the breakfast offered was a meager affair, possibly the most lacking of the trip. We then made the 1 hour drive south to Sous Massa. 

Our three targets here were Black-Crowned Tchagra, Brown Throated Martin and Bald Ibis, all of which we had enjoyed excellent views of here 15 years ago. This time around, we found the location very poor. Tchagra didn't play ball, nor did Bald Ibis. Brown Throated Martin was present in decent numbers however. 

We made our way out to the various beaches for a bit of seawatching and hoping to pick up a yellow billed tern species or seabird of some variety. 

We found both Balearic and Yelkouan Shearwaters offshore, but only Sandwich Terns on the beaches. 

Squacco Heron, Stonechat, Tree Pipit, Western Olivaceous Warbler, Moussier's Redstart, Laughing Dove, Common Bulbul and Marbled teal were also present here.

Squacco Heron

Little Owl

European Stonechat

Laughing Dove and Common Bulbul

Moussier's Redstart 

Little owl and Red-Necked Nightjar were seen as dusk settled in, but we found this area very poor compared to our previous trip, so rather than stay overnight in the area we returned to the same bnb in Agadir. 

Day 9. Oued Sous to Cap Ghir and Tamri

We again arose early and worked the estuary a bit. The Lesser Yellowlegs was again present, giving very good views below the bridge. 

Lesser Yellowlegs

After breakfast we drove north towards Cap Ghir. 

Our first stop was the start of "paradise valley", trying our best to pin down some Tchagra that would give us good views. We found a couple of singing birds and one pair gave themselves up. 

Black-Crowned Tchagra 

Also present here were yet more Western Orphean Warbler, Woodchat and Great Grey Shrike, and Trumpeter Finch (this species was especially prolific this trip).

We then made our way up to Tamri in search of Bald Ibis. Pulling into the clifftop lay by, we straight away picked up a flock of some 15 birds. These made their way north, up and out of the estuary valley. 

We weren't able to track them down unfortunately, so we made our way back to the lay by and found four birds there below us in the estuary. 

Bald Ibis 

From here we made our way down to Cap Ghir, intending on doing a bit of seawatching. We explored a few tracks on the headland first, stumbling upon a pair of gorgeous Stone Curlew. 

Stone Curlew - easily my best ever views of this species...and what views! The proximity, the light, the floral setting. Perfection. 

We found the seawatching location, but it was a bit too hot and hazy to go seawatching just yet, so we headed south to the nearest town for some snacks, checking beaches with lots of Yellow-Legged Gulls and Audouin's Gulls as we went. 

Audouin's Gull - first summer. Was really nice to get to grips with various ages of Audouin's on this visit. 

After we snacked a bit, we made our way back to Cap Ghir and settled in for an evening seawatch. 

Cap Ghir - I really liked this spot. We didn't have the best seawatching weather, but would love to spend a few weeks here in August/September to see just what this place is capable of. 

We had plenty of Gannets moving, a few Razorbills, A pair of Common Scoter, and a couple of Cory's Shearwater, and a Pomarine Skua.

We stayed in a Surf Hostel, Faro Surf Stay, just a couple of hundred meters away and had a nice evening meal (though the setting was VERY basic, and very much hippy traveller central 🤣) before bedding down for the night, aiming at an early morning repeat seawatch.

Day 10. Cap Ghir to Agadir

We started out seawatching from dawn, but it was much the same story as the previous evening, with less than ideal conditions. 

Lots of Gannet were again on the move, as well as 2 Pomarine Skua, 2 Arctic Skua and a single Long-Tailed Skua (which was unexpected), and 3 more Cory's Shearwater. 

After breakfast we made our way back to Tamri for more Bald Ibis action, seeing a small flock giving good flight views over us. 

We then started back towards Agadir, but stopped to view a large flock of swifts, in the off chance that any Plain Swift were among them. There were one or two birds which I have to say, did look good, however, that said, I can imagine that it would be real easy to fool oneself in the strong sunlight, so not managing to bag one on camera, I left these be.

Pallid Swift was certainly here. 

Pallid Swift

We carried on south, checking beaches for gulls and terns along the way. Audouin's Gulls were present at literally every beach...except the one right beside Agadir port, which had a huge flock of just Yellow-Legged Gulls. However in terms of small gulls and terns, this was by far the most productive site, having a single Little Gull, a single Roseate Tern and a handful each of Arctic and Common Tern (the only location we had any of the smaller sternas). Definitely a location to remember. 

Little Gull

We then carried on back to Oued Sous, starting at the Summer palace. Straight away, our only Whiskered Tern of the trip was present among the Gull-Billed Terns here. 

Whiskered Tern 

The tide was pushing in, so we made our way upstream to the bridge. 

I picked up the Lesser Yellowlegs as a speck to the west of us and stayed on it knowing the tide would soon push it up to us. It wasn't long before it flew and took up it's usual spot east of the bridge. 

I then picked up a flock of Black-Headed Gulls coming from upstream, and sure enough, as they landed in, the Bonaparte's Gull was with them. These birds seem to spend their time somewhere upstream of the last bridge, along the section of river with the dump on either side (maybe even in the dump), and only tend to come to the sandbar island as the tide rises. 

Bonaparte's Gull

Gull-Billed Terns

We enjoyed our last couple of hours watching these birds and the many other waders, gulls, terns and water birds before heading for our hotel near Agadir airport and flying home early the next morning. 

Whilst dropping the car back that evening I had another Lanner Falcon over the city, and multiple Scop's Owls at the Airport.

Whilst I enjoy most spots in Morocco, have to say really fell in love with the Agadir area. Could easily see myself with a retirement place at Oued Sous or Cap Ghir someday and would imagine the autumns in the area could be spectacular.

All in all we had a fantastic trip, with 2 self found national megas as an excellent bonus (apparently the Bonaparte's Gull was the 6/7th for Morocco and the Lesser Yellowlegs was the 12/13th apparently).

The species list

  • 1 Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna Sous massa
  • 2 Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea Ouarzazate
  • 3 Mallard Anas platyrhynchos Ouarzazate
  • 4 Eurasian Teal Anas crecca Ouarzazate, Sous Massa
  • 5 Marbled Duck Marmaronetta angustirostris Ouarzazate, Sous Massa
  • 6 Common Scoter Melanitta nigra Cap Ghir
  • 7 Barbary Partridge Alectoris barbara Atlas
  • 8 Red-necked Nightjar Caprimulgus ruficollis Agadir
  • 9 Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius Merzouga
  • 10 Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba Ourika
  • 11 Common Swift Apus apus Everywhere
  • 12 Pallid Swift Apus pallidus Everywhere
  • 13 Little Swift Apus affinis Ourika, Ouarzazate. Agadir, Taroudant
  • 14 Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius Agadir
  • 15 Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus Atlas, Ait Ourir
  • 16 Spotted Sandgrouse Pterocles senegallus Merzouga
  • 17 Black-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles orientalis Boulmane Dades
  • 18 Crowned Sandgrouse Pterocles coronatus Merzouga
  • 19 Rock Dove Columba livia Atlas
  • 20 Common Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus Atlas
  • 21 European Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur Rissani
  • 22 Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto Everywhere
  • 23 Laughing Dove Spilopelia senegalensis Ouarzazate, Sous Massa, Boulmane, Taroudant
  • 24 Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus Ouarzazate
  • 25 Eurasian Coot Fulica atra Atlas, Ouarzazate
  • 26 Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata Ouarzazate
  • 27 Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis Ouarzazate
  • 28 Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus Ouarzazate
  • 29 Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus Ouarzazate, Oued Sous
  • 30 Eurasian Stone-curlew Burhinus oedicnemus Taroudant, Oued Sous, Cap Ghir
  • 31 Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus Oued Sous
  • 32 Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus Ouarzazate, Oued Sous, Sous massa
  • 33 Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta Oued Sous
  • 34 Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola Oued Sous
  • 35 Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula Oued Sous
  • 36 Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius Ouarzazate, Oued Sous
  • 37 Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus Oued Sous
  • 38 Eurasian Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus Oued Sous
  • 39 Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata Oued Sous
  • 40 Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica Oued Sous
  • 41 Ruff Calidris pugnax Oued Sous
  • 42 Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea Oued Sous
  • 43 Sanderling Calidris alba Oued Sous
  • 44 Dunlin Calidris alpina Ouarzazate, Oued Sous
  • 45 Little Stint Calidris minuta Ouarzazate, Oued Sous
  • 46 Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago Ouarzazate, Sous massa
  • 47 Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos Oued Sous
  • 48 Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus Oued Sous
  • 49 Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes Oued Sous
  • 50 Common Redshank Tringa totanus Oued Sous
  • 51 Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola Sous massa
  • 52 Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia Oued Sous
  • 53 Cream-colored Courser Cursorius cursor Merzouga, Taznakht
  • 54 Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola Oued Sous
  • 55 Slender-billed Gull Chroicocephalus genei Oued Sous
  • 56 Bonaparte's Gull Chroicocephalus philadelphia Oued Sous
  • 57 Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus Oued Sous
  • 58 Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus Agadir
  • 59 Audouin's Gull Ichthyaetus audouinii Oued Sous, Agadir, Cap Ghir, Tamri
  • 60 Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus Oued Sous, Agadir
  • 61 European Herring Gull Larus argentatus Oued Sous
  • 62 Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis Oued Sous, Agadir
  • 63 Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus Oued Sous, Agadir
  • 64 Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica Oued Sous
  • 65 Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia Oued Sous
  • 66 Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis Oued Sous, Agadir, Cap Ghir, Tamri, Sous Massa
  • 67 Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii Agadir
  • 68 Common Tern Sterna hirundo Oued Sous, Agadir
  • 69 Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea Agadir
  • 70 Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida Oued Sous
  • 71 Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus Cap Ghir
  • 72 Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus Cap Ghir
  • 73 Long-tailed Skua Stercorarius longicaudus Cap Ghir
  • 74 Razorbill Alca torda Sous massa, Cap Ghir
  • 75 Cory's Shearwater Calonectris borealis Cap Ghir
  • 76 Yelkouan Shearwater Puffinus yelkouan Sous massa
  • 77 Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus Sous massa
  • 78 White Stork Ciconia ciconia Ouarzazate, Ait Ourir, Agadir
  • 79 Northern Gannet Morus bassanus Cap Ghir
  • 80 Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo Ouarzazate, Oued Sous
  • 81 European Shag Gulosus aristotelis Tamri
  • 82 Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita Tamri
  • 83 Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia Ouarzazate, Oued Sous
  • 84 Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus Ouarzaate
  • 85 Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides Sous massa
  • 86 Western Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis Ouarzazate, Taroudant, Oued Sous
  • 87 Grey Heron Ardea cinerea Everywhere
  • 88 Purple Heron Ardea purpurea Ait Ourir, Oued Sous
  • 89 Little Egret Egretta garzetta Ait Ourir, Ouarzazate, Oued Sous, Sous massa
  • 90 Osprey Pandion haliaetus Ouarzaate, Oued Sous
  • 91 Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus Taroudant
  • 92 Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus Merzouga
  • 93 Short-toed Snake Eagle Circaetus gallicus Oukaimeden, Ouarzazate, Taroudant
  • 94 Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus Oukaimeden, Ouarzazate, Taroudant
  • 95 Bonelli's Eagle Aquila fasciata Ourika, Taroudant
  • 96 Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus Ait Ourir
  • 97 Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus Ouarzazate
  • 98 Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus Merzouga
  • 99 Black Kite Milvus migrans Ouarzazate, Tamri
  • 100 Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus Oukaimeden, Ouarzazate
  • 101 Little Owl Athene noctua Boulmane Dades, Sous massa
  • 102 Eurasian Scops Owl Otus scops Atlas
  • 103 Pharaoh Eagle-Owl Bubo ascalaphus Boulmane Dades
  • 104 Maghreb Owl Strix mauritanica Atlas
  • 105 Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops Ait Ourir, Boulmane Dades, Oued Sous
  • 106 Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Merops persicus Ouarzazate, Rissani
  • 107 European Bee-eater Merops apiaster Ouarzazate, Rissani, Taroudant, Oued Sous
  • 108 Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla Merzouga, Goulmime
  • 109 Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major Atlas
  • 110 Levaillant's Woodpecker Picus vaillantii Ourika, Atlas, Boulmane Dades
  • 111 Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni Atlas, Boulmane Dades
  • 112 Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus Atlas, Ait Ourir, Boulmane Dades, Oued Sous
  • 113 Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus Ait Ourir
  • 114 Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus Oukaimeden, Oud Sous
  • Barbary Falcon Taroudant
  • 115 Black-crowned Tchagra Tchagra senegalus Taroudant, "Paradise Valley" Agadir
  • 116 Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor Merzouga, Sous massa
  • 117 Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator Everywhere
  • 118 Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius Atlas
  • 119 Maghreb Magpie Pica mauritanica Atlas, Oued Sous
  • 120 Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax Oukaimeden
  • 121 Alpine Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus Oukaimeden
  • 122 Western Jackdaw Coloeus monedula Ait Ourir
  • 123 Brown-necked Raven Corvus ruficollis Merzouga
  • 124 Northern Raven Corvus corax Oukaimeden
  • 125 Coal Tit Periparus ater Atlas
  • 126 African Blue Tit Cyanistes teneriffae Atlas, Oued Sous
  • 127 Great Tit Parus major Atlas
  • 128 Greater Hoopoe-Lark Alaemon alaudipes Tagdilt, Merzouga
  • 129 Thick-billed Lark Ramphocoris clotbey Goulmime, Taznakht
  • 130 Desert Lark Ammomanes deserti Ouarzazate, Merzouga
  • 131 Bar-tailed Lark Ammomanes cinctura Merzouga, Taznakht
  • 132 Thekla's Lark Galerida theklae Everywhere
  • 133 Crested Lark Galerida cristata Everywhere
  • 134 Maghreb Lark Galerida macrorhyncha Ouarzazate, Merzouga
  • 135 Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris Oukaimeden
  • 136 Temminck's Lark Eremophila bilopha Tagdilt, Taznakht
  • 137 Greater Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla Tagdilt, Taznakht
  • 138 Common Bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus Everywhere
  • 139 Sand Martin Riparia riparia Ait Ourir, Ouarzazate
  • 140 Brown-throated Martin Riparia paludicola Sous massa
  • 141 Eurasian Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne rupestris Oukaimeden
  • 142 Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica Everywhere
  • 143 Common House Martin Delichon urbicum Everywhere
  • 144 Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica Oukaimeden, Ouarzazate
  • 145 Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti Atlas, Ait Ourir
  • 146 Streaked Scrub Warbler Scotocerca inquieta Goulmima
  • 147 Western Bonelli's Warbler Phylloscopus bonelli Ouarzazate, Merzouga, Taroudant
  • 148 Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus Ouarzazate, Merzouga, Taroudant
  • 149 Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita Ouarzazate, Merzouga, Taroudant
  • 150 Iberian Chiffchaff Phylloscopus ibericus Taflingout
  • 151 Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus Ouarzazate, Sous massa
  • 152 Common Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus Ouarzazate
  • 153 Eastern Olivaceous Warbler Iduna pallida Ouarzazate, Merzouga
  • 154 Western Olivaceous Warbler Iduna opaca Atlas, Ait Ourir
  • 155 Melodious Warbler Hippolais polyglotta Taroudant
  • 156 Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis Ait Ourir
  • 157 Eurasian Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla Everywhere
  • 158 Garden Warbler Sylvia borin Taflingout
  • 159 Western Orphean Warbler Curruca hortensis Taflingout
  • 160 African Desert Warbler Curruca deserti Merzouga
  • 161 Tristram's Warbler Curruca deserticola Boulmane Dades
  • 162 Sardinian Warbler Curruca melanocephala Everywhere
  • 163 Western Subalpine Warbler Curruca iberiae Ouarzazate
  • 164 Common Whitethroat Curruca communis Ouarzazate, Taroudant
  • 165 Spectacled Warbler Curruca conspicillata Ouarzazate, Cap Ghir
  • 166 Fulvous Babbler Argya fulva Rissane, Merzouga
  • 167 Common Firecrest Regulus ignicapilla Atlas
  • 168 Eurasian Wren Troglodytes troglodytes Atlas
  • 169 Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla Atlas
  • 170 Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris Ait Ourir
  • 171 Spotless Starling Sturnus unicolor Ait Ourir, Sous Massa
  • 172 Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus Atlas
  • 173 Common Blackbird Turdus merula Everywhere
  • 174 Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin Cercotrichas galactotes Ouarzazate
  • 175 Common Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos Atlas, Ait Ourir, Merzouga
  • 176 European Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca Merzouga, Ouarzazate, Oued Sous
  • 177 Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros Oukaimeden
  • 178 Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus Ouarzazate
  • 179 Moussier's Redstart Phoenicurus moussieri Oukaimeden, Atlas, Oued Sous, Sous massa
  • 180 Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius Atlas
  • 181 Whinchat Saxicola rubetra Atlas
  • 182 European Stonechat Saxicola rubicola Sous massa
  • 183 Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe Ouarzazate, Oued Sous
  • 184 Atlas Wheatear Oenanthe seebohmi Ouarzazate
  • 185 Desert Wheatear Oenanthe deserti Ouarzazate, Boulmane Dades, Merzouga, Sous massa
  • 186 Western Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica Ouarzazate, Sous massa, Cap Ghir
  • 187 Red-rumped Wheatear Oenanthe moesta Tagdilt
  • 188 Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucura Atlas, Tamri
  • 189 White-crowned Wheatear Oenanthe leucopyga Ouarzazate, Rissani, Merzouga, Taznakht
  • 190 Maghreb Wheatear Oenanthe halophila Boulmane Dades
  • 191 Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia Oukaimeden
  • 192 Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis Ait Ourir, Oued Sous
  • 193 House Sparrow Passer domesticus Everywhere
  • 194 Desert Sparrow Passer simplex Merzouga
  • 195 Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris Oukaimeden
  • 196 Western Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava Ouarzazate, Merzouga, Oued Sous
  • 197 Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola Oued Sous
  • 198 Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea Oukaimeden
  • 199 White Wagtail Motacilla alba Ouarzazate, Oued Sous
  • 200 Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris Boulmane Dades, Oued Sous
  • 201 Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis Ouarzazate, Sous massa
  • 202 Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus Ouarzazate
  • 203 Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs Atlas, Oued Sous
  • 204 Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes Atlas
  • 205 Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githagineus Ouarzazate, Boulmane Dades, Sous massa, Paradise Valley
  • 206 European Greenfinch Chloris chloris Everywhere
  • 207 Common Linnet Linaria cannabina Ait Ourir, Sous Massa
  • 208 European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis Boulmane Dades
  • 209 European Serin Serinus serinus Everywhere
  • 210 Eurasian Siskin Spinus spinus Atlas
  • 211 Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra Ait Ourir, Sous Massa
  • 212 Rock Bunting Emberiza cia Atlas
  • 213 Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana Taflingout
  • 214 Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus Atlas
  • 215 House Bunting Emberiza sahari Everywhere
  • 216 Common Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus Ouarzazate
Notable target species missed

Houbara Bustard - very difficult. It's a species now seen just once in a blue moon by visiting birders. Sadly not seen by us, though we did put in a search for one which had been seen a couple of days previous.

Pin-Tailed Sandgrouse - now probably my most notable "bogey bird" in the Western Pal. Again, a very difficult one you can't really rely on. Some people get lucky. We did not. Though again, Tazenakht plains looked very juicy for these at present. Hindsights great.

Crimson-Winged Finch - just unfortunate. Both that no birds were around the usual location, and that lingering snow prevented us getting to a secondary site.

Rock-Thrush - very strange not to see these at Oukaimeden. They were very easy the last time round. Perhaps we were too early.

Lesser Short-Toed Lark - or what is apparently now known as Mediterranean Short-Toed Lark. These were everywhere in the noughties trip. None to be seen this time. 


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