12 March 2013

The Moroccan hamada: 12 March

An excellent day birding the hamada near the town of Boumalne Dades for stony desert specialities. A roosting Pharaoh Eagle Owl shortly after dawn provided a great start, before moving on to the Tagdilt Track which produced 10+ Thick-billed Lark, including a pair watched feeding at extremely close range (down to 3 m) for over an hour, 3 Cream-coloured Courser, 4+ Greater Hoopoe Lark, lots of Temminck's Lark, a single Lesser Short-toed Lark, 1 Bar-tailed Lark, many Desert Lark, lots of Crested Lark and Thekla Lark, 2 Skylark (looking very out of place in this desert environment), several Red-rumped Wheatear, 2m Black-eared Wheatear, 1m Northern Wheatear, many Desert Wheatear, c33 Black-bellied Sandgrouse, 2 Trumpeter Finch, 1 Tawny Pipit and 2 Long-legged Buzzard, and 3 Little Ringed Plover were on the small muddy pools.

Thick-billed Lark - what a bird!

One of two Thick-billed Larks watched for an hour or so at extremely close range feeding on insects and seeds.

Thick-billed Lark

Temminck's Lark

Temminck's Lark

Bar-tailed Lark

One of three Cream-coloured Courser seen within a few metres of our 4x4

Spot the Pharaoh Eagle Owl

Little Ringed Plover

Fat Sand Rat Psammomys obesus - Lanner fodder

The Tagdilt Track looking north-west towards the High Atlas

The Tagdilt Track, or rather, tracks

The Tagdilt Track

Tragically the Moroccan authorities see nothing wrong with dumping truck loads of plastic in the desert and allowing it to blow
around everywhere! This dump is near Boumalne Dades at the north-west end of the Tagdilt Track.

The hamada near Boumalne Dades

Just north of the Tagdilt Track beside the N10 road 2 Woodchat were noted and 1 Common Swift moved west with a couple of Pallid Swift and a Sand Martin. A late afternoon visit to a small farm beside the road to Ikniouen provided a small selection of migrants including 1m Ring Ouzel, 1 very brief Bluethroat (seen in flight), 1m Common Redstart, c4 Tree Pipit, 1 White Wagtail, 1 Chiffchaff and a few Barn Swallow.

Migrant Tree Pipit

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