TRANSFER FROM ESSAOUIRA TO MARRAKECH AIRPORT A FEW STOPS TO LOOK FOR LARKS
WEATHER: Hazy sunshine to start, then cloudless sun all day, no breeze. Temp 28C
This was our bonus birding day because there are now evening flights from Marrakech so we had this whole extra day to make our way back to the airport.
We arranged to meet at 7:30am but Fiona and Patrick hi-jacked Ahmed the driver at 6am and went off looking for Red-necked Nightjars and Owls. They heard only Tawny Owl and had no sightings of nightjars. However, on their return they watched the sun come up from the roof-terrace and were lucky enough to see a Barbary Falcon chasing Swifts!
At 7:30am our official walk started, we set off to the fishing port area, we worked our way through the narrow streets and alley-ways of Essaouira passing the empty, silent Souk a stark contrast to the vibrant, noisy chaos of last night.
the 'empty' Souk
At the docks it looked like the full fishing fleet was in port, it was an amazing sight to so many empty boats together, with bright blue livery they looked somehow, sinister, even ghostly in the morning mist.
Sun-up over the dock
We scanned the nearby rocks for wading birds including the Ruddy Turnstone which was missing from our list. We saw several of them along with Common Sandpiper, White-breasted Cormorant and many Yellow-legged Gulls. The mist began to clear and dozens of Swifts dashed across our field of view high up above us, there was a mixture of Pallid and Common Swifts, perhaps more Pallid than Common!
After a lovely breakfast, with the best crêpes and the best coffee of the tour, we set off for the journey to Marrakech. We were about an hour along the road when we stopped for our first walk, Calandra, Sky and Lesser Short-toed Larks were targets as well as Spanish Sparrow.
After an hour in the heat of the day we gave up, one of the larks appeared, Skylark, and we did see Black-eared Wheatear, Crested Lark, Red-rumped Swallow, Southern Grey and Woodchat Shrikes and not much else.
A second stop produced a Whinchat, a small flock of Greater Short-toed Larks, two Stone Curlews and Common Kestrel. A Little Owl brought the bus to a stop a little later, it is amazing that we have seen this species nearly every day and yet past tours struggled to find more than one!
We had lunch at a road-side restaurant, yes you guessed right, it was a tajine lunch! We listened to Common Nightingale, Sardinian Warbler and Common Bulbul as we ate in an open plan terrace.
Our final walk produced nothing really, only three of us got off the bus, it was now 28C with a lot of heat-haze, not good conditions for walking over rocky, flat, cultivated fields.
We reached the airport by 4pm. Ahmed had done a fantastic driving job, his bird spotting is pretty good too! We thanked him warmly and made our way to the departure lounge.
Our trip total finished on 192, not including birds only heard or the subspecies; Moroccan Wagtail & African Chaffinch. We missed few species during this wonderful trip, but it wouldn’t be fun if everything turned up on cue.
If you like the sound of this tour then contact me and book your place for the 2018 Tour.