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 !!


Ben Porter said...

Fantastic birds and images as ever! Really enjoyed reading the trip report, looks like a great place!

Shaun harvey said...

Great set of pics as per normal, and I might even go there myself now!

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Wow!!!., fantastic.. great birds. Cheers.. Brilliant photos and post.. Regards from Spain..

Jonathan Lethbridge said...

How can you not be happy with those?
PS Like the Desert Sparrow perch, but Redstart perch is rubbish....

Jonathan Lethbridge said...

PS think image #10 might be a Thekla

Sergio Hoces Lucena said...

Impresionantes Fotos, gracias por mostrarlas.

alan woodcock said...

Ni,nice read,great pics.

RB said...

Where next you ask Mick? I'm sure I can sort you out with somewhere over the next few months. Great pics by the way.