Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Morocco - Show me a Wadi Wadi

We arrived for roughly dawn at the Wadi 9kn west of Yasmina. Like I said, no idea if it has a name. It had been pretty sensational during two hours the previous day, but the light had been particularly horrible. Fine for birding, and we had seen stacks, but poor for photography, and that was one of my main aims for the trip, and perhaps Mick and Richard's only aim! The Wadi is long and thin, so the taxi service dropped each of us off at various points along the way, and then the driver stopped yet further up and did a bit of bird-finding on our behalf whilst we papped away at various species. The morning is of course far better than the afternoon, and not just because of the light. Birds were singing everywhere, Hoopoe Larks, Desert Wheatears, Desert Warblers - all pretty fantastic. The next two hours went incredibly quickly and we all had a lot of fun.

Although searching did not turn up Dunn's Lark, Bradders did find a Mourning Wheatear that we all missed, but even better four Thick-billed Larks. We were counting on getting these at Tagdilt the following morning, so to get them now was a bit of a bonus. By about 9.30ish the sun was pretty high, and so reluctantly we went back for breakfast and to pack - we were going to use the heat of the day to head back west towards Boumalnes, trying a few predetermined sites along the way for Pharaoh Eagleowl and Mourning Wheatear.

Our first stop was a rubbish dump site near Rissani. Scanning more cliffs for owls we narrowly averted tragedy when a massive hole appeared in the middle of the track that would have swallowed half our car, and so decided to proceed on foot. We were attacked my more flies that you can possibily imagine, it was like something out of a horror movie. Up my nose, crawling on my lips, anywhere I had sweated on any of my clothes or gear. In a way it was pretty good news when we failed to find any Owls as it meant we could high-tail it out of there. Consolation Lanner at this spot, but we couldn't bear to stay and watch it. Even the car was full of flies, and we ended up distributing them over large tracts of eastern Morocco at 60mph.

Our second stop, over a hundred kilometers further west near Tinehir, proved much more successful, with Mick sensationally spotting a roosting Owl in a cliff fissure that basically had an invisibility cloak on. Quids in, and yet another Western Pal tick for my burgeoning list - I saw something like 28 news birds on this trip, over thirty if you include distinct African sub-species.

Owl country
Back on the road again towards Boumalne, just west of a town called Imiter an excited Bradders jammed on the brakes as we roared past a Mourning (Maghreb) Wheatear - something of a good bird in these parts. Grabbed a few photos but the light was fading fast - also at this site a pair of White-crowned Black Wheatear, and a Desert Wheatear. Lots of Wheatears = good. Final stop of the day some more cliffs near Imiter where I discovered I do a pretty mean impression of a Pharaoh Eagleowl. My highly professional "Woooh" was immediately answered by an owl down the canyon somewhere. To its credit, it realised it had been duped pretty quickly, but I bet it still got a lot of stick from the other birds.

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