SAHARA, HIGH ATLAS & ATLANTIC COAST
The best birding in NW Africa through an incredible variety of landscape – from snow-white Atlas peaks to red Saharan dunes.
Magnificent in any season, Morocco boasts the richest birdlife in Northwest Africa. Set against an irresistible and ever changing backcloth, a spring visit finds this beautiful and incredibly varied country at its best. With the northward rush of migration in full flow, this is an excellent time to seek Morocco’s long list of outstanding breeding birds: Bald Ibis, Blue Cheeked Bee Eater, Plain Martin, Temminck’s Horned, Thick Billed and Hoopoe Larks, Moussiers Redstart, Red–Rumped, Desert and Mourning Wheatears, Tristram’s Warbler and Fulvous Babbler; the list of specialities seems endless.
Our tour commences in the royal city of Marrakech, with the prospect of Little Swift, Crimson Winged Finch and Alpine Chough as we drive up to over 2500m into the snow capped High Atlas mountains. We should see Levaillants Woodpecker too – the first of several species on this tour that are endemic to Northwest Africa.
Descending to the oasis town of Ouarzazate, next we head to Boumalne for our first real taste of desert birding. Larks abound on the stony Hamada at Tagdilt and we may find Sandgrouse and Cream Coloured Courser too.
Continuing east, we head deeper into the desert for a two night stay at an isolated auberge on the fringes of the great Sahara. An excursion by 4 wheel drive vehicles will carry us to Merzouga, where the huge red dunes of Erg Chebbi create a spectacular setting to our quest for Desert Warbler and Desert Sparrow. Although they are not present every year we have seen the erratic Egyptian Nightjar here.
Retracing our steps to Ouarzazate, we leave the weathered hills and wadis of the interior behind and drop down towards the Moroccan coast. We’ll watch for Black-Shouldered Kite on our way to the ancient walled city of Taroudant – where our hotel for the night began life as a sultans palace! Our travels conclude at Agadir, beside the blue Atlantic shore, where the bird rich rivers of the Souss and Massa offer a remarkable contrast. Waders, Wildfowl and other wetland species are abundant and we have chances of Barbary Partridge, Audouins Gull, Red-Necked Nightjar and Black-Crowned Tchagra as we go in search of one of the world’s rarest and weirdest looking birds – the critically endangered Bald Ibis.
All in all, it should make a fitting climax to a wonderful tour – one that we think will surprise you in the warmth of its people, its richness of landscape and, above all its birds!
AGADIR & SOUTHERN DESERT
Join us for a terrific week of winter birding – from Atlantic shore to desert’s edge.
Exciting range of NW African specialities.
Bald Ibis, Moussier’s Redstart, Black-Headed Tchagra.
Plain Martin, Common Bulbul, House Bunting.
Pelagic boat trip to look for seabirds off Agadir.
Six nights at a comfortable, modern 4-star hotel in Agadir.
One night stopover at Goulimine for desert birds.
Desert specials including Trumpeter Finch plus many Larks and Wheatears.
Chances of Cream-Coloured Courser, Fulvous Babbler, Streaked Scrub Warbler.
If the cold, dark days of winter are getting you down, then take a Spring week based in Agadir, on Morocco’s sunny southern Atlantic coast, offers the perfect panacea. With its warm Mediterranean-type climate and fine diversity of habitats – from arid scrub coast to dramatic mountains – the Agadir region not only attracts good numbers of wintering European migrants but is also home to a fascinating resident bird population that has a distinctly African flavour.
Barbary Partridge, Plain Martin, Moussier’s Redstart, Black-Crowned Tchagra and the critically endangered Northern Bald Ibis are among many specialities we should see. The cheery calls of Common Bulbuls enliven the hotel gardens, and Spotless Starlings and House Buntings sing from the rooftops.
Two of Morocco’s very best bird watching spots, the estuaries of the rivers Souss and Massa, lie within an easy drive of town. Shorebirds abound, with Herons, Waders, Gulls and Terns being particularly numerous on the Souss, and the likes of Marbled Duck, Black-Winged Kite and Laughing Dove among more exotic species to look for beside the Massa. Agadir lies far enough south that in January we might also encounter the first returning trans-Saharan migrants, pausing to refuel before continuing their way north to spend the summer in Europe.
As a special feature of our winter tour, we can include two exciting excursions. The first is a pelagic boat trip out of Agadir in search of Cory’s Shearwater and other seabirds wintering off the little-known Moroccan coast. The second – a trip that we’ve made many times over the years – will carry us south for an overnight stay near Goulimine, where the creeping fringes of the great Sahara Desert provide a true flavour of this ancient kingdom.
Famed for its camel market and as a meeting place of the Sahara’s nomadic ‘blue men’ (or Touareg), the arid Goulimine region is home to a splendid range of desert birds rarely found near Agadir. ‘Atlas’ Long Legged Buzzard, Lanner, Cream-Coloured Courser, Bar-Tailed Desert and Hoopoe Larks, Scrub Warbler, Red-Rumped and White-Crowned Black Wheatears, Fulvous Babbler and Trumpeter Finch are all possible.
This is a popular tour for the first steps into ornithology in Morocco.