Glaucous Gull - 3rd. W ~ Dungeness, Kent - 17.03.13

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Whilst most of you were indoors moping around so bored you watched the Rugby, Football & F1.
Still bored and trying your hardest not to fall asleep after overdosing on sport, you then went and re-worked some images to cure the boredom cropping them to death !!
And we didn't go to the O2 with our Stetson's on either ....

Instead we went to Dungeness !!

I've never seen so many gull's, feeding in the surf between the patch and the lighthouse there must of been 3 or 4 thousand probably more ...

Eventually finding the Glaucous near it's usual place around the fishing boats

Glaucous Gull


Hoopoe Lark ~ Yasmina Track, Morocco - 03.03.13

Thursday 14 March 2013

In the right habitat these big larks are fairly common and easy to spot as they are far from shy, but they were the species I most wanted to gain images of.
The first encounter was on the Tagdilt track, then a recce of the Yasmina track proved to be a great bit of habitat, it was agreed that the following morning at first light we'd give it another go as all the birds would be in full song !!

The Yasmina track is south-east of Rissani off the P21, the rough track that leads out to Yasmina Hotel has a brilliant long Wadi about 9km WNW of  Hotel Yasmina.
Here we had Hoopoe, Bar-tailed & Thick-billed Larks. Desert Warbler & Wheatear, Great Grey Shrike & Brown-necked Raven.

We were dropped off about 500m's apart in radio contact, and set off all doing our own thing. 
I had only one main aim Flight Display images !!

They sing from the ground or a low bush, continuing in flight, straight up vertical to about 3m's then drop out vertical back down in a stoop wings folded.
All over with in seconds
Great to see & Hear !! 

Hoopoe Lark

We all had a great morning.

I had more sand in my shoes !

Richard had more Figs for breakfast !

Jono was photographing Donkeys !

And Bradders was looking for a Tree !

I loved Morocco ....


Desert Sparrow ~ Erg Chebbi, Morocco - 02.03.13

Wednesday 13 March 2013

This was one of the species that I had images in my mind that I wanted to hopefully capture even before going ...

 The over the shoulder look back, on sand and shooting from prone !!
Not to much to ask ?

Airport to Erg Chebbi is 670 km's.

The last 15 km's is desert track and believe me its like driving over corrugated roofing the whole way !!
The ruts are everywhere on and off  the tracks so there's no getting away from good shaking ...

We arrived in darkness, headlights revealing a Fort like hotel which would be our base for 2 days ..

The next morning, luckily had wispy clouds which kept the temperature down but still nice light ...
The walk out across the dunes would take us an hour, following the Camel trail and Bradders GPS, now thats on another level !! 
N 31 11.781 ~ W 3 58.593 
to a settlement.
And there in the Palms were a few birds, may have been more but i had 5 in view ..
They came down on to the fence and Bedouin tents

Desert Sparrow

Didn't get my preconceived images, they will have to wait for the return visit !!

Erg Chebbi Dunes

This was from about half way out !!

Not long enough with the birds and we had to return, an hours walk back with half a cup of sand in each shoe !!

Yasmina & Dunes

A very special location that I will often think of ....
Fantastic memories

White-Crowned Wheatear ~ Ouzarzate & Erfoud, Morocco - 01.03.13

Tuesday 12 March 2013

The most predominant bird throughout our trip has to go to White-Crowned Wheatear's virtually everywhere we went these little beauties would appear.

The first bit of shutter abuse took place at the huge lake at Ouzarzate. We drove through the town on Rue Ait Aghdif and followed the signs for " Camping " stay on the lower road keeping the lake in view, till you leave the last of the town and park near the derelict building.

This is a great site with some quality birds and you can easily have a morning here and still want more !!

Conveniently place piles of dirt and higher vegetation were the chosen perch's and the derelict building was the background ...

White-Crowned Wheatear

F10 & F11 ~ 1/2000, 1/1600 & 1/1000

Late afternoon we made our last stop of the day just West of Erfoud, An odd rocky outcrop with some scrub and also contained a few desert specialities.

Best of all another two White-Crowned that seemed willing enough so we took more images ... 

Look forward to doing these again sometime ...
Wheatear's are great subjects !! 

Morocco ~ Ouzarzate, Tagdilt, Erg Chebbi & Oukaimeden - 28th Feb / 5th Mar

Sunday 10 March 2013

Had a offer to join a trip to Morocco with Bradders & Jono, didn't need asking twice so Me & Richard booked flights with Easyjet ... sorted !!

Day 1

Landed at Marrakesh mid morning, Bradders had a 4x4 arranged with the help of some fluent French from Jono ..
We were on our way first stop a Rubbish Dump near Ait Ourir two big flocks hundreds in each of Cattle Egret & Black Kite, then a smart Moussier's Redstart and a little way down the road a Black-winged Kite !!
A long drive over the pass and by late afternoon we were birding a Wadi near Amerzgane of note here were White Crowned Wheatears, Woodchat Shrike, Thekla Lark and Common Bulbul.
The hotel is highly recommended Albarak at Ait Benhaddou, 4 course meal + 3 course breakfast & Bed £ 22.50 superb, and a bargain !!

Woodchat Shrike

Day 2

First stop was the lake at Ouzarzate which we accessed at the end of town.
Of note here were more WC Wheatears, Trumpeter Finch, Moroccan Wag, Laughing Dove,House Bunting, Temminck's Stint, Long-billed Lark & Osprey

Trumpeter Finch

Long-billed Lark

Spectacled Warbler

A road side flooded field held quite a few egrets so a quick stop.

Cattle Egret

More Km's to our  next stop, Tagdilt track and no sooner onto the track and the first birds were Temminck's Lark, Red-rumped Wheatears, Hoopoe Lark and the stunning Cream-Coloured Courser ... omg !!

Temminck's Lark

Red-rumped Wheatear

Cream-Coloured Courser

Just before Tinghir at a T junction, Bradders spotted a Black Wheatear which turn into a pair and came within range as did a Thekla Lark on the otherside on the road !!

Black Wheatear

Thekla Lark

Long Legged Buzzard

And last stop in the evening light was just west of  Erfoud at some good road side habitat.
Desert & Bar tailed Larks and more WC Wheatears.

Desert Lark

White-Crowned Wheatear

Then another long drive arriving under the cover of darkness at a massive fort type hotel !!

Click for Yasmina Hotel

4 course meal + Bed + Breakfast
£ 30 .00 per night !!

Highly Recommended

Bradders said " Wait till you see the view in the morning "

Day 3

Like a big kid, I couldn't wait and was the first one up & out watching the sun rise and the view was ...
Massive dunes and camels 
He was right it was simple amazing !!

Along side the hotel is normally a lake but was dried out and plenty of Tamarisk so we birded here for an hour getting Tristram's Warbler and Brown-necked Raven.

Brown-necked Raven

Then we started the walk out into the Erg Chebbi dunes which was an hour long.

Bradders had our course set with GPS and we just followed the camel trail, eventually leading us to a settlement of just one family, two large tents, loads of goats and a few Palm trees which held our prize !!

Desert Sparrow

These were smart little birds which deserved more time which we couldn't give them .... ):
Another hour long walk back for breakfast, but more important was to get the sand out of my toes !!

Next was the track near Yasmina some great habitat which stretched for miles
and held quality birds 

Desert Warbler

Hoopoe Lark

We tried a site near Rissini for Eagle Owl but failed.
Back to Yasmina for another wonderful night at this superb hotel ..

Day 4

First light and were back on the track near Yasmina for more of  the Desert specialities.

Bar-tailed Desert Lark

Thick-billed Lark

Desert Wheatear

It was time to leave this amazing place and start the long drive back for another go at Tagdilt, stopping between Tinehir and Boumalne Dades with yet more GPS for another Owl site.
Good views here of Pharoah's Eagle Owl and Black Wheatear.

Further on towards Boumalne and spotted from the car in rapidly fading light was ...

Maghreb Wheatear

Our hotel for the night was

Soleil bleu

Excellent food, about £ 22.50 per night

Was woken by crazy rain which just didn't stop all night ...

Day 5

Still raining and still awake, we tried to bird Tagdilt track but the rain beat us so mid morning started the 5 hour drive back over the pass !!

Only made it as far as the first town of Boumalne to find out what it's like when freaky rain falls all night ...

Flash floods meant we were cut off and just couldn't continue for hours when we finally crossed there were another 15 floods on route ..
Two Short-toed Eagles from the car, and with no real birding or camera work we arrived after dark at our final hotel Le Coq Hardi at Ait Ourir, cheapest of them all and yet more great food.

Day 6

Up at first light and more rain, we were heading for Oukaimeden going up through the Ourika Valley and within no time the rain had stopped, the skies clearing and at a lay-by Jono calls Woodpecker !!

Levaillant's Green Woodpecker

On and up with some great views

It was still quite early when we reached the ski resort and next to nobody about, it wasn't going to stay like this for long !!

Alpine Accentor

African Chaffinch

Any patch of grass or bare ground that wasn't covered in snow seemed to have birds on it ...

But my stubbornness of refusing to have messy backgrounds took its toll and our longest photo session just didn't go my way !!


Alpine Chough


Atlas Horned Lark

Over the radio came the call ...
Crimson winged !!!

These were super little birds but again, nothing that I am happy with

Crimson-winged Finch

With time pressing on it was back down to the Woody lay-by which now had some Camels parked in it !!
We spent the last half an hour with this little beauty ...

Moussier's Redstart

A great bird to finish up with ...

That was it pack up and head for the airport

Big thanks to Bradders and Jono for some great organisation, all the driving and some language skills ..
Merci ...

I had a fantastic time, a brilliant trip with great company and some exceptional birds ...
 I will just have to go again as I'm disappointed with my image results !!
Not enough time with each subject to get the best results.

P.S.... where next !!