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Saturday, 2 December 2017

Morocco Day 9

I didn't expect to find this 17th record of Yellow-browed Warbler for Morocco just off the Tagdilt Track, Boumalne, in the middle of the stony desert!

  And what an eventful day it was from start to finish! I left Tanghir at 06.00 so I could return to the Tagdilt Track to hopefully see Thick-billed Lark and other species I missed when I was here only four days ago. Dave Barnes helped me with information of where to go for certain species, especially the lark. Just as it was getting light I arrived at 'Wheatear Wall' which is close to the N10 on your right as you hit some castle type towers, either side of the road. Nothing on the wall but I could hear a kettle whistling ahead of me. It was a male Red-rumped Wheatear attracting a female with another male nearby. A Southern Grey Shrike was in a wadi before I returned to the N10. From this point to the the road going south to Ikniouen, a few miles away, I took a short trip up most of the dirt tracks on both sides of the road.

First thing this morning from 'Wheatear wall'

This male Red-rumped Wheatear singing in the early morning light

Across from the wheatear was this Southern Grey Shrike hanging out

Mist covering the mountains

The castle towers with 'Wheatear Wall'

   I took a right towards what looked like a disused quarry. A was quickly pushed off by an old man with a base ball bat in his hand coming my ways but only after seeing 4 Timmink's Horned Lark, 2 male Red-rumped Wheatear, 1 Speckled Warbler and way up in the blue sky, 14 vocal Chough going SE. I'm guessing the old man was living in one of the tin buildings and he don't know me as much as I don't know him. Anyways, it did the job because I was gone!

Male Red-rumped Wheatear

   As soon as I hit the Ikniouen Road, Temmink's Horned Lark and Red-rumped Wheatear could be seen at the side or on the road itself for the two mile I drove up. I went off the main road a few time but it was the same species with the odd Desert Lark. The rubbish dump I could see was burning and ten minutes later I was at the tip and again, it was the same old stuff. In many of the pits I looked at you would find a Temmink's, Thekla Larks, wheatear,s Meadow Pipits, some 20 White Wagtail and even a Southern Grey Shrike, On top of the piles of rubble was a Long-legged Buzzard. There were a pack of 13 dog very close by and people searching through the rubbish.

Lots of Temmink's Horned Lark on the Ikniouen Road

Red-runped Wheatear were all over the shop!

looking from Ikniouen Road towards Boumlne

I saw up to 3 Long-legged Buzzard at the same time including this one at the tip

Thekla lark

2 Temmink's horned Lark were feeding in one of the pits

There were 6 Red-rumped Wheatear in the area of the tip

This Southern Grey Shrike was in one of the pits

Of cause saw lots of Brown Rats

There were 13 strays nearby. They had a bark but ran away when I approached them

The rubbish wind blown all across the stony desert
Sad to see families, including children, scavenging for whatever they can find 
  Dave let me know that he had Thick-billed Lark to the SW of the tip. It was now mid-afternoon and I drove around the area, getting out to scan now and then and after half an hour, I came across a stream full of wagtails and pipits. Water of any kind in the desert can attract a lot of birds and decided to follow it south. I drove down a little to park up in front of some rubble. I Immediately saw a phyllosc from out of the very little cover and it landed on a rock out in the open on the otherside. 'Yellow-browed Warbler!!' I said out loud but I'm in Morocco in a desert! That's what it clearly was as it flew back into cover and for the next hour I spent trying to get a record shot of the sighting. It proved very mobile with 3 Chiffchaff and was very difficult to get anythin on it until I got ahead of it and waited. With a bit of field craft, keeping low, it payed off as it performed at close range on and off. I really couldn't believe I was observing a Yellow-browed Warbler in the west of Morocco! As a result of staying in one place, a lot of species feeding around the stream also showed very well.

This Yellow-browed Warbler started off as records shot until I used some field craft

The stream where the YBW was hanging out with Boumalne in the distance. The was a mile south of the army barracks

  Very happy with the YBW, I didn't care what I saw now. However, while I was taking pics of the warbler, there were 40+ Lesser-short toad Lark by the side. I got some shots before they flew off only to hear Skylark! Bob Dawson told me the day before that he found the 16th Skylark for Morocco some years back! So with this in mind I lept to my feet! It took me a while to find it but when I did there were 3 Skylark in total! I knew it was pretty rare in these parts and again I tried to get some record shots. 9 Trumpter Finch came in for a drink and 2 Green Sandpiper flew down stream. Then I heard Little-ringed Plover overhead but I couldn't see them.

Over 40 Lesser-short toed Lark were by the stream with smaller groups flying past

2 of the 3 Skylark. Moroccan Birds informed me that Skylark in Morocco are a winter visitor and it is not as rare as I thought it was. Also, this is of the race (A.a.herterti)  
9 Trumpter Finch came in for a drink

 I got to where the stream had dried up and made the short walk up back to my car. By now it was getting dark and I watched over 70 'alba' Wagtails go off to roost to the south. There were still a few kicking around in the stream and with them was a a Pied Wagtail! Again I was told that this was a uncommon bird and again I took some pics of it before it flew off also to roost. I relocated 4 Little-ringed Plover feeding in the stream and then heard sandgrouse. I had no idea which species, until I saw them, 2 Black-bellied Sandgrouse flew straight through. With the finding of the YBW, I didn't have time to do the Tagdilt Track that was only a mile away from where I was. 

I've been informed that Pied Wagtail is a scarce winter visitor

3 of the 4 Little-ringed Plover

2 Black-bellied Sandgrouse


All together I had a total of 19 Temmink's Horned Lark including five at the stream

And also some 32 Red-rumped Wheatear including this female by the stream

A total of 60 Meadow Pipit were also seen with up to 50 in the stream area

Amazing sunset to end a pretty good day!

Spot on with this song! 

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