Birding in Morocco- Mount Atlas Mountains, Ouarzazate to Merzouga

Driving along Mount Atlas Mountains was not easy at all, especially with so many hours of twirls and curls through mountains! But whenever there’s an area to pull over and take a break from the treacherous driving, I savored those opportunities to look into trees and scrubs and one of my best catch was the Levaillant’s Green Woodpecker. 🙂 Other findings include Cirl Bunting, and European Goldfinch!

European Goldfinch and Levaillant's Green Woodpecker

European Goldfinch and Levaillant’s Green Woodpecker

Cirl Bunting

Cirl Bunting

The drive from Ouarzazate to Merzouga Desert along N9 highway was pretty straightforward! Along the way, there were nomads with their herd of sheep, camels and of course there were birds around those large patch of desert scrubs! Woodchat Shrike, Great Grey Shrike, Streaked Scrub Warbler, Spectacled Warbler were some of the birds seen!

Woodchat Shrike and Great Grey Shrike

Woodchat Shrike and Great Grey Shrike

Spectacled Warbler and Streaked Scrub Warbler

Spectacled Warbler and Streaked Scrub Warbler

A small flock of Fulvous Babbler, also known as Fulvous Chatterer  gave away their hiding spot easily by their noisy calls! But at the same patch, another lark, later identified as Bar-tailed Lark (note the black band at tail end) was seen! 🙂  Amongst the Crested Larks seen wandering around, there was one in particular with a longer bill, the Long-billed Crested Lark. Will there be a split soon? 🙂

Fulvous Chatterer or Fulvous Babbler

Fulvous Chatterer or Fulvous Babbler

Bar-tailed Lark

Bar-tailed Lark

long-billed crested lark (right) and crested lark (left) comparison

long-billed crested lark (right) and crested lark (left) comparison

At Ouarzazate, there is a barrage at Mansour Eddahbi known for waders and ducks. But I didn’t see much- just Ruddy Shelducks, Moroccan Wagtail and Collared Pratincole!

Right to left- collared pratincole, ruddy shelduck, Moroccan wagtail

Right to left-collared pratincole, ruddy shelduck, Moroccan wagtail

Birding in Morocco / Marrakech – Merzouga, Sahara Desert 赏鸟在撒哈拉大沙漠

I could hardly spew any words when the magnificent clutch of sand dunes laid before my eyes as my car hurtled towards it! The view was more than breath-taking but on a second thought, it was very hard to imagine how birds survived in the desert! I was told that it wasn’t easy to find the desert sparrow and desert warbler in the desert, as scrubs were scarce and with the dominating population of house sparrows, these desert birds were pushed further deeper into the desert making them harder to find! :-/

To beat the blazing heat, birding started as early as 0700! Driving on sand dunes was just as challenging as walking on them with gear. For almost an hour or so, I didn’t see anything, not even a desert beetle! It was not until I sauntered towards a stone house about 20 miles away that both the Desert Sparrow and Desert Warbler were sighted!

desert sparrow in Sahara Desert

desert sparrow in Sahara Desert

desert warbler

desert warbler

At Merzouga, another must-see bird is the Egyptian Nightjar. A Berber family actually looked after these nightjars, making sure they were not disturbed. To see them, just offer a tip and they would guide you to the place they roost. 🙂 Other birds to look out for include the Little Owl, Lesser Kestrel and the Spotted Sandgrouse, where the former roosted on an old clay house with Lesser Kestrel taking a break from the blazing heat in the same building, and the Spotted Sandgrouse was found when a flock was sighted off road! 🙂

Egyptian Nightjar

Egyptian Nightjar

Lesser Kestrel

Lesser Kestrel

Little Owl

Little Owl

Spotted Sandgrouse

Spotted Sandgrouse

At the clutter of accommodation in the desert, House Sparrow, Brown Necked Raven and Bee eater were commonly seen roosting near the water tanks!

Other birding places within Merzouga, include the Merzouga lake! Perhaps I have seen flamingos at a much closer distance in West India- Little Rann of Kutch , it was a bit of a dismay to see them so far…

Even at the lake, nomads came out of nowhere and tried to sell souvenirs such as stones. I bought one, not because I find it pretty…but nomads lead a poor, basic life…a souvenir didn’t cost much, but it would support the livelihood of a nomad and his family. 😛

European Bee-Eater, House Sparrow, Brown Necked Raven

European Bee-Eater, House Sparrow, Brown Necked Raven

merzouga desert

merzouga desert

merzouga desert

merzouga desert