Morocco: Mar 01—16, 2018
Culture and North African Endemics in the Atlas Mountains and Sahara Desert
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Waldrapp (Northern Bald Ibis)— Photo: Santiago Villa
Birding the Atlas Mountains and their coastal wetlands, and inland all the way to the dunes of the Sahara Desert; spectacular scenery, ancient cities, excellent food, kasbahs, souks, and friendly Moroccan hosts at amazing palm-lined oases.
Our target birds include the bizarre Waldrapp (Northern Bald Ibis), Long-legged Buzzard, Barbary Falcon, Lanner, Cream-colored Courser, Crowned Sandgrouse, Spotted Sandgrouse, Egyptian Nightjar, Bar-tailed Lark, Desert Lark, Thick-billed Lark, Temminck’s Lark, Atlas Horned Lark, Hoopoe Lark, Brown-necked Raven, Desert Sparrow, “Seebohm’s” Northern Wheatear, Maghreb Wheatear, White-crowned Wheatear, Red-rumped Wheatear, Desert Wheatear, Scrub Warbler, Tristram’s Warbler, African Desert Warbler, Trumpeter Finch, Crimson-winged Finch, Fulvous Babbler, Barbary Partridge, Levaillant’s Green Woodpecker, Moussier’s Redstart, Laughing Dove, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Common Bulbul, Western Olivaceous Warbler, Olivaceous Warbler, House Bunting, and Pharaoh Eagle-Owl.
We will start our exploration of this North African country along the Atlantic coast at Agadir. Nearby, Souss Massa National Park still hosts the endangered Waldrapp. The wetlands of Oued Souss will be scoured for Marbled Teal; Audouin’s, Slender-billed, and Mediterranean gulls; and Squacco and Purple herons, as well as dozens of other marsh dwellers.
Egyptian Nightjar— Photo: Santiago Villa
Outside of Marrakech we will wind our way into the High Atlas at Oukaimeden, a ski resort that hosts a wonderful array of birds in the spring and summer. Here we will search for Crimson-winged Finch, “Seebohm’s” Northern Wheatear, and Moussier’s Redstart; we will even have a chance at the bone-crusher, Lammergeier.
Our desert birding will take us first to the stony desert of the Tagdilt Track where we will pursue Thick-billed and Hoopoe larks among the rocks. Cream-colored Courser, Crowned and Spotted sandgrouse, Red-rumped Wheatear, and more larks lurk among the rocks. Dades Gorge is the realm of Bonelli’s Eagles and Long-legged Buzzards, and we will look for them on our way to the edge of the Sahara. A full day exploring the Erg Chebbi dunes by 4×4 will be the highlight of the trip for those wanting to see the famous dunes of the Sahara. In this desolate landscape are myriad birds: Barbary and Lanner falcons, two species of sandgrouse, Desert Warbler, Desert Sparrow, Pharaoh Eagle-Owl, Egyptian Nightjar, and Brown-necked Raven.
Good accommodations and food; travel by small bus or van; walking along trails and roads with some rough trails; elevations up to 8,000 feet; cool to cold in the High Atlas Mountains (one day), warm to hot in the lowlands.