On a recent trip to Morocco my wife and I had a whistlestop tour covering 2209km in a week in our hired Peugeot 306.  Arriving on Saturday evening at Marrakech airport we had a lengthy wait while the AVIS rep kept assuring us that our car would be ready in 10 minutes; finally 2 hours later and somewhat frustrated we had our trusty Peugeot and headed out into the madness that is Saturday night Marrakech traffic.  After a couple of detours and a few raised voices we found our guesthouse (http://www.darsouihla.fr) on the outskirts some 10km from Marrakech.  Arriving after 10pm and hungry our host gratefully prepared us some wonderful Tagine meals after which we had an early night. The next morning we travelled by motorway to Casablanca and then onto Rabat/Sale where we spent Sunday night.  On Monday we headed north up the Atlantic coast stopping at the Lac de Sidi, an important wetland for migrating birds.  A morning spent here, with the help of Ian's scope, provided some good views of many birds including Osprey, Marsh Harrier, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Marbled Duck, Red Knobbed Coot, Egrets, Grey Heron, Common Sandpiper, Black Winged Stilt and Sardinian Warbler. After Lunch we headed north again towards our stop for the night at the Maison des Oiseaux (http://moulay.bousselham.free.fr/la_maison_des_oiseaux.html) next to the Merdja Zerga (Blue Lagoon).  On arrival we conversed with our host in pigeon french to arrange a bird guide to take us out on the lagoon birdwatching.  The following 3 enjoyable hours were spent watching numerous wading birds as the sun set in the west.  Afterwards we went for a walk around the village and bumped into our guide with whom we shared a coffee; he asked if we could give him a lift home since his house was near to our guesthouse and we agreed.  Having had a long day I fancied a beer, however being a largely Islamic country there is a shortage of pubs and off-licences.  On the way back to the guesthouse I asked our guide if there was anywhere that we could by some beer; he responded that there was and that we should take a left up ahead.  After turning left he told us to pull in about a hundred yards up the road and asked how many beers we wanted.  I said 4 cans would be good following which he jumped out of the car and disappeared up a dark lane; after about 10 mins he re-appeared with black bag and we returned to the guesthouse.  Back at the guesthouse he gave me the cans and I noticed that he had also gotten himself some wine - presumably from the fee that we had just paid for the evenings guiding!  After another wonderful meal at the Maison des Oiseaux followed by a couple of cold cans of beer we had another early night. The next morning after another boat trip on the lagoon with more great views of waders, gulls, terns and a marsh harrier, we carried on our trip heading for the High Atlas.  Our destination was the  Gite Dayet Aoua (http://www.gite-dayetaoua.com/).  Arriving around 6pm just a dusk was falling we went for a short walk, spotting 5 little owls in the space of 20 minutes - fantastic!  The next morning I got up early on the off chance that some of the owls could be about - I was rewarded with a fantastic view and even managed a good photo. Onwards from the Atlas we headed east towards the desert in the form of the amazing sand dunes of Erg Chebbi at the town of Merzouga close to the Algerian Border.  We stayed at another great guesthouse   http://www.ksarsaniahotelmerzouga.com/.  The following day we had a camel trek into the dunes and lunch at an oasis - new birds included Black Wheatear, White Crowned Wheatear, Desert Wheatear, and Desert Sparrow along with some good views of Sardinian warbler and Great Grey Shrike.   The trek was a good experience, however I would advise against the use of the camel as a means of transport over long distances. After a second night in the desert we had to head back to Marrakech, a journey of some 600km / 10 hours.  On the way we stopped off to try to see if we could spot some Pharaoh Eagle Owls at a known roost site, however no luck.  A second stop on the way did provide a new bird in the form of Temminck's Lark - a great wee bird with cool horns!  We made it back to Marrakech late on the Friday night after a winding road through the Atlas Mountains, with only a couple of  detours as we got lost on arrival back in Marrakech.  We made it back to the same guesthouse as we had spent our first night and they gave us another great meal.  After a good nights sleep our last day was spent at the market in Marrakech bartering with the stallholders.  One last new bird on the last day and one of my favourites was the House Bunting. All in all a very enjoyable week with a count of 20 new birds and good views on many more.

5 Responses to “Morocco Birding”

  1. Ian October 19, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    whirlwind holiday! hope the car’s ac was working, however the pics are cool, wheatear hunting is just such a great dynamic shot, a house bunting, never seen one of them, I have now. Little owl, posing on a post, a good reward for an early rise. Thank you for sharing that trip, could smell the spices and feel the dust !

  2. October 19, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Unfortunately I managed to reserve a car without a/c so much of the trip had the windows open. It’s always a good day when you see an owl.

  3. October 20, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    amazing photos – they look like they’ve been taken by a professional photographer. your holiday sounds wonderful and i hope you returned home relaxed despite the long journeys.

  4. October 21, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Nice photos on birds… great pics! I’ll keep visiting to enjoy your post and photos as well. ūüôā

  5. May 17, 2011 at 7:24 am

    Went to Morocco last year fantastic, will be going again this year. Will take a look at the wildlife also.

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