15 March 2013

Erg Chebbi area: 15 March

Another fantastic day birding the sandy, this time driving around the edge of Erg Chebbi. We started off back at the berber encampment at Kemkemia where a pair of Desert Sparrow allowed me to get some half reasonable pics, before driving on to a date palm plantation on the edge of Erg Chebbi where we picked up 3+ Fulvous Babbler, 1 'Desert' Grey Shrike, 1 Western Bonelli's Warbler and a 'Long-billed' Crested Lark. Driving on eastwards in search of Houbara Bustard (thought to all now be of captive stock) we found a flock of Spotted Sandgrouse followed almost immediately by a surprise flock of Crowned Sandgrouse, as well as 2 African Desert Warbler, 1m Black-eared Wheatear, 1f Desert Wheatear, 4 Greater Hoopoe Lark (including a juvenile) and many Bar-tailed Larks.

Male Desert Sparrow, Kemkemia

Male Desert Sparrow, Kemkemia

Fulvous Babbler

Male and female Spotted Sandgrouse

2 female and male Spotted Sandgrouse

Male Crowned Sandgrouse

A lunch stop at an oasis next to the village of Bagaa, 20 km SSE of Merzouga, produced another male Desert Sparrow and plenty of northbound migrants including lots of Subalpine Warblers, 1m Common Redstart, 1 Yellow Wagtail over, 1 Sand Martin and 1 Barn Swallow. Best of all was a totally unexpected flock of around 10 Rock Martin flying around the dunes (more on this record here).

Back at our hotel in Merzouga, Albergue Atlas du Sable, another male Common Redstart was noted, and an evening visit to Dayet Srji produced 17+ Short-toed Lark, 4+ Northern Wheatear, 4 Yellow Wagtail, 3 Common Redshank, 13+ Little Stint, 1 Green Sandpiper, many Kentish Plover, just 1 Avocet and many Ruddy Shelduck. Finally, a night drive in the early evening around the desert north of Merzouga failed to find any Fennec Fox but did yield 2 Egyptian Nightjar flying around in the headlights and 2 (presumably) Cape Hare.

Birding the hamada east of Erg Chebbi

Hamada near Erg Chebbi

Hamada near Erg Chebbi

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