Morocco, June 3rd-10th 2012

After a large absence from blogland, I thought it was about time I updated this thing with some images from my recent trips. So first up is the most recent, a pretty successful trip to Morocco with Janne and Hanna Aalto. I’m not going to post a full trip report as Janne will be doing that shortly on his website, so keep an eye on http://www.caligata.com/ to see when the report goes up in the next few weeks or so.

A few weeks ago Janne asked me if i wanted to go on a “raid” to Morocco with them to look for a few target Western Paleartic species. After two previous trips to the country in Jan 2002 and March 2007, i had seen most things but still needed a few specialities, so it was easy decision to make the necessary arrangements to go. The added incentive that one of the targets was one of the most sought after of Western Palearctic species made the decision even easier. And what was that target….?

Andalusian Hemipode (aka the rather dully named Common Buttonquail). This species hangs on in the coastal strip south of El Jadidia, as described in the recent excellent article in Dutch Birding. Please don’t ask me exactly where this bird was, as i’ve been asked not to disclose it, so I wont. As you can see from the photo, it was actually in a maize field, hence we could see it along the large rides in the crop. What i will say is that although it calls regularly throughout the morning, it is incredibly quiet and difficult to hear. You have to be within 50 meters of the bird at the most, probably no more than 30 meters. It sounds like a distant cow mooing, with a hint of Bittern thrown in too, and is easily confused with distant cattle! When we heard the first one calling, i was genuinely confused as to whether it was the bird calling very close or a cow mooing from the nearby hillside. Anyway, what a bird, what a tick!

Other highlights were, in no particular order:

African Dunn’s Lark. One showed very well along the track to Cafe Yasmina near Merzouga. Look around the 9km mark before midday.

African Desert Warbler

Booiinngg!

Booooiiiiiiiiinnnnnngggggg!!!!

And this slideshow shows many of the other highlights of the week, including many Atlas Flycatchers, 8+ Eleonora’s Falcons, 2 Pharoah Eagle Owls, Tristram’s Warbler, Temminck’s Horned Lark, Levaillant’s Woodpecker, Bar-tailed Lark, White-headed Ducks, Black-crowned Tchagra and several Thick-billed Larks, plus many others. Enjoy! A full breakdown of species and the trip can be found at http://www.caligata.com/tripreports/en/marokko-3-9-6-2012-sisamaaretkeilya-talla-kertaa

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