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MOROCCO – AGADIR & BALD IBIS 3-17 November 2006
|A fortnight in the sun enjoying the sights and sounds of Agadir including a hire car for three days to search for Bald Ibis.
Anne and I booked a two-week package holiday through Eclipse Direct staying in Agadir at the Riu hotel Le Tikida Beach on an ‘all-inclusive’ basis. We flew direct from Manchester to Agadir with First Choice Airways with good flight times, departing Manchester at 14.25hrs on 3rd, and Agadir at 15.40hrs (20 mins late) on 17th. The flights were less than 4 hours long and there was no time difference between the UK and Morocco.
The hotel was excellent with a beach-front location and good-sized gardens. During the day it was fairly quiet as many guests were golfers, playing on a nearby golf course (6kms away).
We hired a car for three days through Norwestcars. The car, a VW Polo with air-conditioning, was fine and economical but the hire charge was a bit steep at £30 per day.
The weather for our stay was good. Our first day was a bit misty and our last day was overcast with a few spots of rain which didn’t even wet the ground, but the rest was clear blue skies and sunshine with little wind. Throughout, even on the two days mentioned, the temperature during the day was in the high 20’s and reached the high 30’s a couple of times. For an evening walk after dinner it was 20-24 degrees. A jumper wasn’t needed throughout.
Information was obtained from the Rough Guide to Morocco, A Birdwatching Guide to Morocco by Combridge and Snook, and the Moroccan birding website ‘http://www.go-south.org’
The grounds were worth checking regularly, even from the sun-loungers. Common Bulbul was the noisiest resident with a supporting cast of Spotless Starlings, White Wagtail, Chiffchaff and Sardinian Warbler. On 12th we were treated to a Wryneck in a bush close to us. Looking out to sea there was a regular passage from the fish quay to our right, to a roost near the Kings Palace to our left. Lesser Black-backed Gulls seamed to out-number Western Yellow-legged gulls on a 3-1 ratio. Also seen over the sea were Gannet, Gull-billed Tern and on one occasion 2 Caspian Terns.
Throughout our stay butterflies were in flight with many Painted Lady, even on the beach, and Large and Small Whites. The first week was more productive and garden circuits with my net produced African Grass Blue, Long-tailed Blue, Lang’s Short-tailed Blue and Greenish Black-tip.
Whilst walks along the beach were fabulous, it was slightly disappointing not to be able to walk more than a kilometre to the south because guards prevented tourists from walking past the Kings Palace into the mouth of the Oued Sous. The main gull roost was on the undisturbed stretch of beach near the Palace and could be viewed with binoculars when a friendly guard was on duty!
We read that it was worth visiting the Bird Garden as wild birds are often attracted to the cage birds. Other than Collared Dove, House Sparrow and Feral Pigeon this was not the case but there were some interesting captive birds and mammals including Bald Ibis and Mouflon, the wild sheep.
There were new hotels to the south of us with more under construction. There is a huge programme of landscaping on the land side of these hotels with lovely gardens with named plants, shrubs and cacti, many in flower. There we regularly saw the local race of Magpie together with Willow Warbler and African Chaffinch
Thursday 9th November
This was our first day with the car so after breakfast we headed north along the coast road in the direction of Essaouira with Tamri our target. Just after Cap Rhir we found Moussier’s Redstart in a patch of scrub, and a little further on near a bridge Black Wheatear. The commonest bird we were seeing was Stonechat. As we rounded the corner to the Tamri inlet a dark patch of birds was visible next to the water. A check with the telescope revealed it to be 28 Bald Ibis. This was our target bird. We parked in the surfers’ car park and walked to within 50 yards of the birds before they flew off when a hunting Marsh Harrier put everything up. These were to be the only Bald Ibis of the trip. Other birds seen around the Tamri inlet included Audouin’s Gull, Spoonbill, Kingfisher, Squacco Heron, Grey Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Moroccan Cormorant, Pintail and Garganey. On our return journey we found a pool in the village of Aghdour which held Spotted Redshank and Common Sandpiper.
Friday 10th November
Today was to be a mixture of culture and birding. We headed east to the old town of Taroudant, called the ‘mini Marrakech’. Enroute we saw Cattle Egret, around a flock of sheep, not cows. In the Berber Souk in Taroudant we found our first House Buntings. Common around this area was the ‘elegans’ ssp of Southern Grey Shrike. On our way back into Agadir a Barbary Partridge flew across the road infront of us. We managed to find a track down to the Oued Sous. There was a little water to the east of the bridge with Plain Martin hawking, and in the water Little Grebe, Little Egret and Green Sandpiper.
Saturday 11th November
Our target today was Oued Massa, 40 kilometres south of Agadir. Enroute we found a Black-shouldered Kite hunting close to the road. As we turned off the main road we checked the rocky fields and found Seebohm’s Wheatear. We parked at the official reserve car park then followed the track along the estuary. The water held Greater Flamingo, Glossy Ibis, Pochard, Wigeon, Shoveler, Pintail, Little Grebe and many Coot together with Moroccan Cormorant and Grey Heron. More Moussier’s Redstart were in the track-side bushes. A Marsh Harrier was hunting over the reeds and an Osprey flew overhead and landed on a pylon. All too soon we had to move on but on the way out near the village of Belfa we found a Levaillant’s Green Woodpecker. A last call at Oued Sous added a White Stork to our list.
1. Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis – 1 at Tamri on 9th, 1 at Oued Sous on 10th and 1 at Oued Massa on 11th.
2. Northern Gannet Sula bassana – regular of Agadir beach. Max 20 on 8th
3. Moroccan (Great) Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo maroccanus – 5 at Tamri on 9th and 30 at Oued Massa on 11th
4. Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides – 1 at Tamri on 9th
5. Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis – 4 at Tamri on 9th, 2 near Taroudant on 10th & 40 around Massa on 11th.
6. Little Egret Egretta garzetta – 12 at Tamri on 9th, 1 near Taroudant on 10th & 6 on 11th at Oued Massa and Oued Sous.
7. Grey Heron Ardea cinerea – seen regularly. High count 12 at Agadir on 14th & 16th.
8. White Stork Ciconia ciconia – 1 at Oued Sous on 11th.
9. Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus – 10 at Oued Massa on 11th
10. Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita – 28 at Tamri on 9th.
11. Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia – 4 at Tamri on 9th.
12. Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber – 60 at Oued Massa on 11th
13. Wigeon Anas Penelope – 6 at Oued Massa on 11th.
14. Mallard Anas platyrhynchos – 6 at Tamri on 9th & 12 at Oued Massa on 11th.
15. Pintail Anas acuta – 3 at Tamri on 9th & 6 at Oued Massa on 11th.
16. Shoveler Anas clypeatra – 5 at Oued Massa on 11th.
17. Garganey Anas querquedula – 2 at Tamri on 9th.
18. Pochard Aythya farina – 40 at Oued Massa on 11th.
19. Osprey Pandion haliaetus – 1 near Massa on 11th.
20. Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caetuleus – 1 between Agadir and Belfa on 11th.
21. Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus – 1 at Tamri on 9th & 1 at Oued Massa on 11th.
22. Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus – 1 at Tamri on 9th.
23. Kestrel Falco tinnunculus – 1 or 2 seen almost daily
24. Barbary Partridge Alectoris barbara – 1 near Agadir on 10th.
25. Moorhen Gallinula chloropus – 3 at Tamri on 9th.
26. Coot Fulica atra – 20 at Tamri on 9th & 200 at Oued Massa on 11th.
27. Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus – 40 at Oued Massa on 11th.
28. Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus – 2 at Agadir on 12th.
29. Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica – 2 at Oued Massa on 11th.
30. Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus – 1 at Aghdour on 9th.
31. Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus – 1 on 10th & 3 on 11th at Oued Sous
32. Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos – 1 at Aghdour on 9th.
33. Western Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis – up to 400 seen daily
34. Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus – up to 1000 seen daily
35. Audouin’s Gull Larus audouinii – 40 near Tamri on 9th.
36. Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica – seen almost daily. 26 at Agadir on 15th.
37. Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis – 3 at Oued Massa on 11th.
38. Caspian Tern Sterna caspia – 2 at Agadir on 5th.
39. Feral Pigeon Columba livia (domest.) – Good numbers daily.
40. Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto – seen daily
41. Kingfisher Alcedo atthis – 1 at Tamri on 9th.
42. Wryneck Jynx torquilla – 1 at Le Tikida Beach hotel grounds on 12th.
43. Levaillant’s Green Woodpecker Picus vaillantii – 1 near Belfa on 11th.
44. Crested Lark Galerida cristata – 30 Agadir to Tamri on 9th, 8 near Taroudant on 10th & 20 near Oued Massa on 11th.
45. Thekla Lark Galerida theklae – 2 near Tamri on 9th.
46. Plain Martin Riparia pauldicola – 10 at Oued Sous on 10th & 15 at Oued Massa on 11th.
47. Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica – 1 at Oued Massa on 11th, 1 on 14th & 2 on 15th at Agadir.
48. White Wagtail Motacilla alba – seen daily
49. Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris – 1 near Taroudant on 10th.
50. Common Bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus – seen daily
51. Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros – 1 near Cap Rhir on 9th & 2 at Tamri on 11th.
52. Moussier’s Redstart Phoenicurus moussieri – 1 at Cap Rhir and 1 at Tamri on 9th, 5 at Oued Massa on 11th.
53. Stonechat Saxicola torquata – 60+ on coastal scrub on 9th. 6 at Oued Massa on 11th.
54. Seebohm’s Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe seebohmi – 2 at Oued Massa on 11th.
55. Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucura – 2 near Cap Rhir on 9th.
56. Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius – 1 near Tamri on 9th.
57. Song Thrush Turdus philomelos – 1 at Oued Massa on 11th.
58. Common Blackbird Turdus merula – Seen daily
59. Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis – 2 at Tamri on 9th & 1 near Taroudant on 10th.
60. Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala – daily in hotel El Tikida grounds, Agadir
61. Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus – 2 at Tamri on 9th, 1 at Taroudant on 10th and 2 at Agadir on 14th.
62. Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita – seen almost daily around hotel grounds
63. Southern Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis elegans – seen on 9th, 10th and 11th outside Agadir. High count 12 on 10th around Taroudant.
64. Common Magpie Pica pica mauritanica – Up to 9 seen regularly around Agadir. 20 near Taroudant on 10th.
65. Common Raven Corvus corax – 2 seen between Cap Rhir and Tamri on 9th.
66. Spotless Starling Sturnus unicolor – seen most days. High count 50 on 5th at Agadir
67. House Sparrow Passer domesticus – Seen daily
68. African Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs africana – 2 at Oued Massa on 11th & 4 at Agadir on 13th.
69. Linnet Carduelis cannabina – 10 at Tamri on 9th.
70. Goldfinch Carduelis Carduelis – 3 at Tamri on 9th, 3 at Taroudant on 10th and 3 at Oued Massa on 11th.
71. Greenfinch Carduelis chloris – 20 at Tamri on 9th.
72. House Bunting Emberiza striolata sahari – 2 at Taroudant on 10th & 2 at Agadir on 14th.
Small White Pieris rapae
Large White Pieris brassicae
Bath White Pontia daplidice
Long-tailed Blue Lampides boeticus
African Grass Blue Zizeeria knysna
Lang’s Short-tailed Blue Leptotes pirithous
Greenish Black-tip Elphinstonia charlonia
Moorish Gecko Tarentola mauritanica
Spur-thighed Tortoise Testudo graeca
OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST
7-spot Ladybird Coccinella 7-punctata