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Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Morocco Day 5

Altogether I saw up to 6 Desert Warbler and 3 Tristtram's Warbler at Mer

  What a day!! I left my hotel at 0800 and as Dave Barnes told me, take the R702 and not the N13 to Merzouga. On the R702 he informed me where to look for Desert warbler and Fulvous Babbler. Just seconds out of Erfoud were Brown-necked Raven and I could see more at a tip to my right. I took the turning towards the tip and heard a rather horse flava wagtail. 3 Iberian Wagtail feeding with White Wagtail, Red-throated Pipit and Crested Lark. Above me I heard what sounded like House Martin and with the Crag Martin was a Plain Martin. Over 50 Brown-necked Raven were also feeding on the tip. I was trying to get a flight shot of 2 White-crowned Black Wheatear but it was no good until one of them decided to perch on top of the glass of the open window of my car! It flicked around, always returning to the window and I thought it was goin to go inside. No you don't and I got in my car and returned to the main road.

Camels also enjoying the tip that stretched on well into the valley 

I had 3 Iberian Wagtail in total

Never heard this Red-throated Pipit call 

Over 50 Brown-necked Raven were get stuck into the tip

There were 2 White-crowned Black Wheatear and one of them shite in my car!

  I had only got a few minutes down road when I spotted a pale bird on top of some scrub. It had to be a Desert Warbler! No way! I quickly slammed on the breaks and scanned back and there it was, a Desert Warbler! Bloody ell! I weren't expecting that! I made my ways to the warbler but could I find the damn thing. I kicked a Crimson Speckled Moth though. Then I saw a local coming across towards me. He shaked my hand 'Lachen Faouchikht' And told me that he was a bird guide. 'Yes, lots of Desert Warbler in this area!' He told me. He also invited me to join him and he will take me to another site to see mors Desert Warbler and also Desert Sparrow! Really! I declined, cuz I got this Desert Warbler here and I've been told where the sparrows can be found and I'll get them later. 'OK my friend' and he gave me one of his tour guide cards. I returned to the warbler to watch it fly a long ways down the road. Wait for me will yeah!

Kicked this Crimson Speckled Moth while searching for a Desert warbler that I had just seen

  I did the right thing going with this guy. First we stopped off at his house at Merzane and were unsuccessful in finding the Fulvous Babblers that are always there. Then, in his 4x4, we went looking for desert species. We went out onto a stony desert and immediately got a Hoopoe Lark. 'Desert Wheatear!' Sure enough there was a cracker of a male and later on we saw three more males. We tried a dune area with scrub and within seconds of Lahchen playing a song of the warbler, we got 2 Desert Warbler! They showed well but not for the camera. Then I picked up another and watched it go into cover only to see a second bird join it. If that wasn't enough, I could see a darker sylvia warbler with a longer tail inside the same bush, Tristam's Warbler and that was also joined by a second bird! I didn't know which way to look and after a few minutes the deserts showed superbly. However, the 2 Tristram's Warbler were staying deep in cover. I returned to Lahchen and in front of me out in the open was a Tristram's and a Desert  Warbler! How many were there in this area?

We saw 4 stunning male Desert Wheatear

6 Hoopoe Lark 

Out of the 5 Desert Warbler that I observed, two showed superbly!

There were 3 Tristram's Warbler. Two of them were in the same bushes as two of the Desert warbler!

  We went for a drive looking for Bustard and sandgrouse with no sign of any of them. I guess that was asking too much for the bustard. Next was Desert Sparrow and while I was looking at the warblers, he told me that he had one near to the 4x4! We drove out into the open towards two buildings where Nomads lived. No sign at the first building but as we approached the next building, I could see a single pale sparrow with my naked eye. As we got closer in the 4x4, there were a small flock in some bare branches and Lahcen said, are they House sparrow? No there bloody not, Desert Sparrows!! There must of been over ten there. I got out of the wagon just as the Nomads were racing home in there 4x4 and motor bikes. It looked like they were trying to run over a dog or it was just getting in their way. It was like wacky races.The noise was loud and the sparrows took the air, 24 in total, and flew off! Shite!
  The Nomads were trying to run the dog over as it had killed one of their chickens! It was a stray and they corned it in a building and holding a pick axe and rocks, they were goin to kill it! The lady living there, Lahcen and myself, shouted 'NO!!' I total understood their anger as they can't afford to loose a chicken. It's a different world out here.
  We left the commotion and searched for the sparrows. In the end I got cracking views of the Desert Sparrow and as well as the churping call, I could also hear that twitting sound to that of Yellowhammer. 3 Desert, 2 Bar-tailed Desert 4 more Hoopoe Lark were seen on our ways back to  Lahcen house. Here we tracked down the 5 Fulvous Babbler but they stayed deep in the hedge only briefly showing out in the open. 2 Greenfinch and Sardinian warbler and a single Desert Grey Shrike were also seen.

The Nomads racing home to kill the stray dog that had just killed one of their chicken and as a result the 24 Desert Sparrow scattered! They didn't kill the dog after we begged them not to.

Out of all 24 Desert Sparrow I could only see 5 males.

So within 40 minutes I had seen, Desert Wheatear, Warbler, Sparrow, Lark and a few minutes later, Desert Grey Shrike and 3 Bar-tailed Desert Lark by Lachen's house!!! Add the 3 Tristram's Warbler as well and not a bad bit of birding in 45 minutes!!

T6he family of 5 Fulvous Babbler were hanging out around Lachen's home.

  After having nuts and tea, I made my ways towards Merzouga where I was staying for the night at Cafe Camp Saharatime. Between Merzane and Merzouga I saw 2 Hoopoe, 9 Bar-tailed Desert and 2 Timmink's Horned Lark and a Southern Grey Shrike. I got to my detestation in the late afternoon and the owner of the campsite, Youssef, the owner, said that he will drive my car to the digs as it's too sandy and I know what I'm doin and if you drive, you will get stuck. He knows what he's doin. Go for it! We got stuck!!! It was twenty minutes later that we gave up on trying to get out of the sand and we walked to the campsite that was just around corner. Wow! On first seeing where I would be staying was amazing. I'll be sleeping on the edge of the Sahara again! With no car, I couldn't go to the lake nearby where Lahcen told me sandgouse come and drink before dark. However, I was detracted by the loud sound of House Sparrow to the NE nearby. Thinking that there might be a Desert Sparrow with them, I dropped everything and located the sparrows going to roost in a   They scattered and all landed out in the open when a Desert Grey Shrike landed on top of the bush. There must of been well over 500 birds, sparrows that is, not shrikes. I quickly scanned and to my surprise found a Spanish Sparrow among them. Surely this a pretty rare bird out here? When the shrike flew off the sparrows made there ways back deep into cover and I returned to the camp to hear more roosting House Sparrow to the SSW of where I was. Maybe there might be a Desert Sparrow in this roost. There wasn't but when that shrike perched on top of the bush, looking for dinner, again the sparrows were out in the open and there were well over 300! The shrike made a few failed attempts at the sparrows and then flew over the campsite. So out of some 800 House sparrow, by far the most I've ever observed, no desert but a single Spannish Sparrow!

The Sarah dunes now showing as I neared Mezouga

On the side of the road I had 2 Temmink's Horned Lark

My car stuck in the sand! I wasn't driving!

There were two roosts of House Sparrow totaling 800 birds! They were next to where I was staying

These two Nakhla Palms is where the roost of over 500 House Sparrow were

And from the biggest roost of 500 I found this male Spanish Sparrow

With so many sparrows around, this Desert Gray Shrike came looking for dinner

Desert Grey Shrike commuting with the two roost of some 800 House sparrow

If you visit the Erfoud/Mezouga area then I recommend Lachen Taouchikht. He can also get you all the other hard to get birds including Pharaoh Eagle Owl, Egyptian Nightjar, Houbara Bustard and the sandgrouses. You can see in the short time of an hour by being with him I got Desert Wheatear, Warbler, Lark and 24 Desert Sparrow! Also,  Hoopoe, Bar-tailed Desert Lark, Tristrams Warbler and Fulvous Babbler! That was in an hour!!

If you want to contact Lachen    Email    Address B.P 229 ERFOUD MAROC

As I'm in the Sahara Desert, I'll play am African band that I've liked for a while now. Tamikrest (Tamashek for junction, alliance, the future) is a group of musicians who belong to the Tuareg people. The band was founded in 2006.[1] They mix traditional African music with Western rock and pop influences and sing in Tamashek. Main songwriter and leader of the band is Ousmane Ag Mossa.

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