13 March 2013

The road to Merzouga: 13 March

Spent the day driving east through the hamada from Boumalne Dades along the N10 and then N13 to the sandy desert at Merzouga. A quick stop at Imiter Quarry located a pair and then a lone male Maghreb Wheatear (Oenanthe lugens halophila) - the NW African subspecies of Mourning Wheatear and a scarce regional speciality, along with 2 Black Wheatear, 1m Desert Wheatear, 2 Crag Martin and a Blue Rock Thrush. A detour to the Todra Gorge produced a pair of Bonelli's Eagle, another Blue Rock Thrush, 1 showy Cetti's Warbler, 2 Grey Wagtail, lots of Rock Dove and Crag Martin, and a single House Martin, but frustratingly only untickable views of 2m and 1f Tristram's Warbler.

As we got closer to the sandy desert a sand storm developed, but we noted a few other birds en route include 2 Spectacled Warbler, 1m Black-eared Wheatear and a few Painted Lady butterflies at Touroug, a single migrant Willow Warbler and 1m White-crowned Black Wheatear at a Berber rest stop along the N13, and a Booted Eagle, 1 'Moroccan' Wagtail (Motacilla alba subpersonata), 3 Little Grebe, a Moorhen and a Grey Heron at the Oued Ziz at Erfoud.

Near Merzouga, 2 Greater Hoopoe Lark were noted and at Dayet Srji 24+ Brown-necked Raven, 2 White Wagtail, 2m 'flava' Yellow Wagtail, several Ruddy Shelduck, many Kentish Plover, 3 Little Stint, 25 Avocet, 33 Greater Flamingo, several Gull-billed Tern and lots of Black-winged Stilt were seen sitting out the storm.

Male Maghreb Wheatear Oenanthe lugens halophila

Willow Warbler

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