Four of the Bishops Stortford Crew headed to Southern Morocco for a weeks birding,

we had a good trip and only really missed the desert specialties as we spent little time there.

 We flew from Gatwick out to Marrakech and back from Agadir saving a return drive

to Marrakech. The trip was a little more relaxed than most and all the accommodation

 was booked in advance, we had local drivers for all of the trip.




Saturday 10th March


Our late afternoon departure from London to Marrakech was uneventful apart from the taxi drive to our city centre hotel. We explored the old city in the evening and sampled the cusine.


Sunday 11th March


Our hotel in the centre of town had a roof terrace, this provided us with our first birds of the trip, a few confiding house buntings, and large numbers of little and pallid swifts. We also found a pair of long legged buzzards nest building. Heading south into the high Atlas, only a couple of stops with nothing of real note. On arrival to Oukaimeden we quickly connected with African chaffinch and African blue tit and lots of choughs both alpine and red billed. A black wheatear and long legged buzzard showed well eying up the Barbary ground squirrels, a Dutch birder put us onto Horned larks above the old village. It took a little while to find the crimson winged finches near the ski lifts as being Sunday lots of visitors were present. Rock bunting and great spotted woodpecker were of note on the return journey, we again overnighted in Marrakech.


Monday 12th March


This mornings roof watching was almost identical to the previous morning, we headed off towards Ouzarzazate over the Tizi n Tichka pass. We birded all the way stopping in prime habitat. The first was mixed mid level forest, where we had coal tit and great tit. Several stops were made for the dramatic scenery although the birds were quite common species. We made a stop on the descent by a small village, where a large group of mixed hirundines mainly crag martins with a couple of plain martins, a green woodpecker call focussed our attention and a female Levalliants woodpecker was found on one of the few trees. Several other stops were made without anything of interest. One stop had black wheatear and moussiers redstart as well as blue rock thrush and crested lark. A further stop a few miles further with laughing dove and white crowned black wheatear. We stopped in a rather nice hotel in Skoura.


Tuesday 13th March


Pick of the pre breakfast birds were black wheatear and trumpeter finches. Today would be our furthest west and a little journey into the desert on the Tagit track. But our first stop was within sight of Skoura for a lovely Lanner Falcon, we had several excellent stops for desert lark, desert wheatear, water pipit and thekla lark. We reached the Tagit track and quickly found large numbers of short toed larks and a flock of lesser short toed larks before finding one of out targets, temminck’s horned larks. Fat sand rats entertained by the side of the road and we picked up several red rumped wheatears and black eared wheatears. The area around the dump had desert larks, stone curlews and an excellent Montague’s harrier.


Wednesday 14th March


Blue rock thrush and red rumped swallow were this morning’s pre breakfast highlights. This morning was to be the search for mourning wheatear. We stopped at several sites along the main road to Agadir, no mourning wheatear but the stops produced desert larks, wc black wheatears, cirl buntings, black wheatears, several cream coloured coursers and an isabelline wheatear(which another group also got). The birding was excellent with every stop having  excellent birds. Still no mourning wheatear but we still had one good area, the road from the N10 to Amerzgane, and 6km from the main rd (near a ruined building) in a wadi we picked up a mourning wheatear. Our first camels of the trip and more cream coloured coursers on the journey west. At Aoulouz we encountered the first water and from the bridge we had the birds to match, the pick was water rail. We arrived to an excellent meal at our city centre in Taroudannt.


Thursday 15th March


The rooftop terrace provided all the usual city birds, house buntings came into the hotel. We headed into the Oued sous valley and birded the irrigated areas. Abundant fan tailed warblers, a selection of wagtails, meadow and tawny pipits and some flythrough black bellied sandgrouse. Our next stop was a drier area abundant with shrikes and warblers, stone curlews and bee eaters showed well and a black shouldered kite was present. We headed to Tioute where a lush oasis awaited us. Our only tortoises of the trip two moorish tortoises were here and the whole area was a migrant trap, common redstarts supplemented the moussier’s. Large numbera of Chiffchaffs amongst other warblers, a barbary falcon, was all to brief. Back to the irrigated area, where we finally picked up fulvous babblers and black crowned tchagra.


Friday 16th March


Today we headed up to the Tizi n test pass, hoping for raptors and tristram’s warblers. The first stop gave up barbary partridge, sparrowhawk, lanner falcon and Levallant’s woodpecker, our second a female tritams warbler and our third bonelli’s and golden eagle. Almost at the top a male tristram’s warbler and rock bunting were found, but the real prize was just below the summit where displaying booted eagles were found – awesome, almost as good was at the top of the pass was a sparrowhawk hunting the swallows coming over the pass. The descent had similar birds apart from displaying barbary falcons. Onto Igador, where a search of the riverbed only had the common birds.


Saturday 17th March


Another glorious day, and we headed to the Oued massa the first stop was the bridge (Gosney Oued massa site 8) and it held several ducks, little grebes a showy ashy headed wagtail and a black crowned tchagra, black shouldered kite, beeeaters and good numbers of the common species. There were several damsel and dragonflys including emperor and lesser emperor.

We picked up a couple of little owls on the stone walls in the village along with blue rock thrush and black eared wheatear. The track to the reserve had an all too brief butterfly (probably plain tiger), squacco heron and laughing dove, here were several groups of birders, the first we had seen this trip, some were more polite than others! And some claiming rarer species than were present! A brief lunch in the picnic area and we took the long walk through the reserve, whitethroat and the rather elegant race of stonechat were quickly picked up along with a large group of alpine swifts and mixed hirundines. We had an excellent purple heron fly in and a good selection of ducks including marbled duck. A couple of Fringe toed lizards were fighting and oblivious of our presence. The water currently does not flow into the sea and on the sandbank a large flock of sandwich terns and a selection of gulls were present with a few sanderling. The return walk was excellent, a drinking site brought in lots of birds and gave us time to study the races of greenfinch a remarkable bird and goldfinch (not so clear cut) as well as the common birds showing very well. Squacco herons, godwits, stilts, spoonbills were all present along with a curlew sandpiper and a couple of little stints along the waters edge. The highlight was a showy moussiers redstart that was photogenic.


Sunday 18th March


Our final day and our last look at the local birds, house buntings, little and pallid swifts, as well as the commoner species. Our journey produced several black shouldered kites, the first stop was Tamri estuary. Here we picked up osprey, ruddy shelduck, Kentish plover and southern grey shrike. We searched further a field and stumbled upon 40 bald ibis just above the breeding colony (cannot disclose its location). After having had our fill of ibis we headed south for a couple of hours at the Oued sous. After a quick lunch we had a look round and found several osprey, both godwits, shelduck, Circa 100 greater flamingo’s, grey, Kentish, ringed and little ringed plovers, gull billed terns were picked out amongst the sandwich terns and audoins gulls from the mixed gull flock. Our look at the drainage ditch (well rubbish filled ditch) by the palace guards hut held no Moroccan wagtails, lucky as the guards were not happy by my camera, so we headed back, picking up a couple of barbary partridges on the way back. Almost back at the car when another British birder (thanks) told us the moroccan wagtails were back. We picked them up along with two turtle doves and a green sandpiper and I sneaked a few pics trying not to get arrested. Back to the airport and our delayed flight, 3 hours sleep and I was back in work – still not a bad trip.

Greenfinch Fringe Toed Lizards
Greenfinch and Fringe Toed Lizards
Black Shouldered Kite Southern Grey Shrike
Black Shouldered Kite and Southern Grey Shrike


House Bunting
House Bunting

Spotless Starling
Spotless Starling

Dark Collared Dove
Dark Collared Dove

African Chaffinch
African Chaffinch

Corn Bunting
Corn Bunting

Gecko sp

White Crowned Black Wheatear
White Crowned Black Wheatear

Trumpeter Finch
Trumpeter Finch

Desert Lark
Desert Lark

Red Rumped Wheatear
Red Rumped Wheatear

Horned Lark
Horned Lark

Fat Sand Rat
Fat Sand Rat

Stone Curlew
Stone Curlew


Booted Eagle (light phase)
Booted Eagle (light phase)

Temminck's Horned Lark
Temminck's Horned Lark

Temminck's Horned Lark
Temminck's Horned Lark

Tristram's Warbler
Tristram's Warbler

Tristram's Warbler
Tristram's Warbler

Black Crowned Tchagra
Black Crowned Tchagra

Ashy Headed Wagtail
Ashy Headed Wagtail

Greater Flamingo
Greater Flamingo

Bald Ibis
Bald Ibis

Moroccan Wagtail
Moroccan Wagtail

Moroccan Magpie
Moroccan Magpie

Moussier's Redstart
Moussier's Redstart




Birds – 155


Little Grebe

Cormorant (maroccanus)

Cattle Egret

Little Egret

Squacco Heron

Grey Heron

Purple Heron

White Stork

Bald Ibis


Greater Flamingo


Ruddy Shelduck





Marbled Duck

Tufted Duck

Red Brested Merganser


Golden Eagle (homeyeri)

Booted Eagle

Bonelli’s Eagle

Black Kite

Marsh Harrier

Black Winger Kite

Montagu’s Harrier

Long Legged Buzzard (cirtensis)

Sparrowhawk (punicus)


Lesser Kestrel

Barbary Falcon

Lanner Falcon

Barbary Partridge

Water Rail





Black Winged Stilt

Stone Curlew (saharae)

Cream Coloured Courser

Little Ringed Plover

Ringed Plover

Kentish Plover

Grey Plover



Curlew Sandpiper

Little Stint

Green Sandpiper

Common Sandpiper



Bar tailed godwit

Black Tailed godwit


Black Headed Gull

Yellow legged Gull (michahellis)

Audouin’s Gull

Lesser Black Backed Gull

Sandwich Tern

Gull Billed Tern

Black Bellied Sandgrouse

Rock Dove


Stock Dove

Laughing Dove

Turtle Dove

Little Owl (saharae)

Common Swift

Pallid Swift (brehmorum)

Little Swift (galilejensis)


European Beeeater

Levaillant’s Green Woodpecker

Great spotted woodpecker (mauritanus)

Crested Lark

Thekla Lark

Short toed lark (rubiginosa)

Lesser Short Toed Lark (minor)

Desert Lark (payni)

Horned Lark (Atlas)

Temminck’s Horned Lark

Sand Martin

Plain Martin (mauritanica)

House Martin

Crag Martin

Barn Swallow

Red Rumped Swallow

Tawny Pipit

Meadow Pipit

Water Pipit

White Wagtail

Moroccan Wagtail

Ashy Headed Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

Blue Headed Wagtail

Grey Wagtail

Wren (kabylorum)

Common Bulbul



Black Redstart (gibraltariensis)

Moussier’s Redstart

Northern Wheatear

Isabelline Wheatear

Desert Wheatear (homochroa)

Black Eared Wheatear

Mourning Wheatear (halophila)

White Crowned Wheatear

Black Wheatear (syenitica)

Red rumped wheatear

Stonechat (rubicola)

Blue rock thrush

Mistle Thrush (deichleri)

Blackbird (mauritanicus)


Sardinian Warbler


Spectacled Warbler

Subalpine warbler (inornata)

Tristrams Warbler (maroccana)

Zittling Cisticola

Cetti’s Warbler

Willow Warbler


Great Tit (excelsus)

African Blue Tit

Coal Tit (atlas)

Woodchat Shrike

Great Grey Shrike (algeriensis)

Great Grey Shrike (elegans)

Black Crowned Tchagra

Fulvous Babbler

Magpie (mauritanica)


Alpine Chough


Spotless Starling

House Sparrow

Spanish Sparrow

Rock Sparrow (barbara)

African Chaffinch


Goldfinch (parva)

Greenfinch (voosi)


Trumpter finch

Cirl Bunting

House Bunting (sahari)

Rock Bunting

Corn Bunting

Alpine Swift





Mammals, Reptiles etc. - 10


Fat Sand Rat

Barbary Ground Squirrel

Moorish Tortoise

Turtle sp

Spanish terrapin

Frog sp

Gecko sp

Fringe Toed Lizard

Lizard sp

Bat sp





Insects – 9


White Legged Damselfly

Lesser Emperor


African Orange Tip

Bath White

Large White

Clouded Yellow

Scarce Swallowtail


Small Blue

Plain Tiger

Painted Lady






We used the following books


A birdwatching guide to Morocco, P Combridge and A snook, ISBN 1 900159 65 1 – very brief on each site not of great use.


A Birdwatchers' Guide to Morocco, Patrick Bergier and Fedora Bergier – ISBN 1 871104 09 2 - although slightly out of date the most useful book.


Finding Birds in Southern Morocco, Dave Gosney, ISBN 1 898110 04 2 – A little dated but still of some use


Map - Geo Center Morocco, 1:800,000, ISBN 3 575 03196 7



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