TRANSFER FROM TALIOUINE TO AGADIR WITH STOPS AT AOULOUZ GORGE – SOUS VALLEY – OUED SOUS
WEATHER: a chilly start but it soon warmed up. Hazy sunshine early morning, clear sky from 10am
We had a fantastic day today, it was our best day as far as bird numbers are concerned, we saw 105 species and took our trip total to 175. At 7:30am we took a short walk into the scrub area around the hotel which produced a number of species but we only added European Bee-eater (shown above) to our trip list, it was Rita who found them about 20 were roosting in a large tree. Other species seen included; Thekla Lark, Tree Pipit, Common Bulbul, Sardinian, Bonelli’s and Subalpine Warblers and lots of common species. Generally migrant species we low in numbers and a bit disappointing.
The last leg of our journey to the coast was ahead of us, we still had 200km to go with a couple of scheduled birding stops along the way. Our first stop was in the scenic gorge just passed Aoulouz, the river Sous flows through the gorge and usually holds a good number of species.
We soon found Squacco Heron (3), Grey Heron, Common Moorhen, Little Grebe, Ruddy Shelduck and lots of Common Bulbuls. Again, I thought it was quiet compared to previous years.
Our walk into the gorge was very pleasant, beautiful sunshine, a cool breeze with a temperature around 23C, just smashing! A pair of Common Kestrels entertained us with their impressive courtship, we added Green and Common Sandpiper, Cattle Egret, Sedge Warbler, Grey & Moroccan Wagtails and plenty of warblers were flitting about in the scrub.
Further into the walk we scoped a Peregrine Falcon and a White Stork, both were on nesting duties, a flock of some 20 Cattle Egrets roosted on a roof! We heard Common Nightingale, added Cirl Bunting and Eurasian Linnet to our list but we failed to find the usual Night Heron roost.
Walking the track into the Gorge
Back at the bus, we scanned the river from the bridge, we spent some time searching the reeds and small pools for crakes and very soon we found a distant Spotted Crake, in the meantime Fiona who was lagging behind us found a Little Crake much closer. We all dashed back down the track to see it, what a cracker, it was a male and showing very well. On returning to the bridge we relocated the Spotted Crake, this time it appeared with a second bird and another Little Crake.
After that excitement we continued our journey, the landscape changed as moved into the Sous Valley, rolling hills were covered by a ‘forest’ of Argan Trees, all in fruit. But after a while we passed into flat scrubland again and this is where we took our second walk.
As soon as we got out of the bus we found our target bird, the Black-winged Kite, it sat high on a Cyprus Tree looking marvellous in the morning sunlight and spotted first by Ahmed our driver who insists that “he is the Driver not the Guide”. Our walk produced several other interesting species, with Stone Curlew at the top of the list. Also seen was: Black-eared and Northern Wheatear, Moussier’s Redstart, Thekla Lark, Olivaceous Warbler and a few Bonelli’s Warblers. Both Woodchat and Southern Grey Shrikes were common and a flock of European Bee-eaters flew over us.
One disappointing find was of 4 dead Black Kites, three in one bush!! The carcasses were a couple of weeks so there was no sign of how they had died, we assumed they were shot for fun!
Moving on we made good progress and reached Agadir by 3:30pm, we logged Pallid Swifts and a number of Lesser Kestrels over Touradant and lots of Maghreb Magpies near Agadir.
After checking into our hotel, unpacking and a quick change we were ready for a good walk, the estuary of Oued Sous was the venue this time. Ahmed dropped us off about 2km from the river-mouth, we intended to walk there and back in the 2 ½ hours we had at our disposal.
We made slow progress because there were so many species to see! On our side of the river we saw Greater Flamingo, Stone Curlew, Common Redshank, Black-headed, Mediterranean and Yellow-legged Gulls, they were loafing on a sand-bar with groups of Gull-billed and Sandwich Terns. A few meters further on we had good close views of Slender-billed Gulls at a sewage outflow.
On the opposite bank we watched a host of waders of all shapes and sizes feeding on the muddy shore, from the biggest, Eurasian Curlew, to the smallest, Little Stint, most families were represented. Limosa, Pluvialis, Charadrius, Calidris, Tringa. Also Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Oystercatcher and one wader that we could not identify because of the distance, but it looked like a Marsh Sandpiper.
Nearer to the shoreline the river spread over a large area of sand, fewer birds were feeding there so we concentrated our efforts on a small brackish pool hidden in the shoreline scrub. We had to climb onto a sandy hillock to get better views of the pool and in doing so we were noticed by the guards dotted around the walls of the Royal Palace. This is a common occurrence and I fully expected the guards to come over and move us on, they do not like a bunch of tourists with cameras and telescopes looking towards the palace. So we had a limited time in which to log as many species as possible.
The pool held lots of species it was amazing, ducks were represented by Mallard, Gadwall, Eurasian Teal, Northern Shoveler, Eurasian Wigeon and Marbled Duck. Waders included; Spotted Redshank, Ruff, Greenshank, Redshank, Grey Plover, Black-winged Stilts and Pied Avocets. There was also Eurasian Spoonbill, Greater Flamingos, Grey Heron, Little Grebe, Little Egret and Ruddy Shelduck.
View of the river Sous from the bridge at Aoulouz
Then the guards arrived! They were very friendly and understanding, we were allowed to stay for another 10 minutes before they moved us on. Our walk back didn’t produce any new species we searched for Whimbrel without success, it was very pleasant in the lovely evening light, the sunsets there are magical.
A tired group arrived back at the hotel, dinner was taken at 7:30pm we all retired to bed at 9. Tomorrow will be an early start as we are visiting Sous Massa National Park.