A late arrival from the UK followed by bad weather didn't bode well - however we did see some goodies...........
It was the French Air-Traffic controller’s strike action which made our arrival at Menara Airport in Marrakech over an hour late. However we all arrived safely and met up with our driver and bus within minutes of leaving the terminal, soon we were on our way heading towards the Atlas Mountains. We saw House Sparrow and House Bunting at the terminal and soon listed White Stork, Collared Dove, Barn Swallow and Common Magpie as we drove through the suburbs of Marrakech. We could see heavy clouds ahead of us in the distance, they were covering the snow-capped mountains. We added Cattle and Little Egrets, Common Bulbul and Corn Bunting to our list as we ventured into the Ourika Valley.
It was 2:30pm when we arrived at our hotel, we quickly dropped off our luggage, unpacked our scopes and got changed into birding gear in readiness for the afternoon trip to Oukaimedan in the High Atlas. Unfortunately for us we drove into thick cloud as we got higher up, it was a dense fog by the time we reached Oukaimedan. Many day trippers and tourists crowded the area but most were departing as we arrived. We parked at the top car park near the ski-lift and set off in search of our main target species the Crimson-winged Finch. Within a few minutes we found a couple then a few more and then a flock of about 100, amazingly these delightful little finches allowed close approach, we got great pictures of then.
CRIMSON-WINGED FNCHES - they fed very close to us
A couple of Atlas Horned Larks fed alongside them. We also found both African and Common Chaffinch, Black Redstart, Rock Sparrow, Mistle Thrush and we heard both species of Chough but we couldn’t find them in the thick cloud cover.
birding in the High Atlas Mountains - such fun!
At 5pm we set off back down the mountain, breaking through the cloud and seeing the wonderfuk landscape once more. Before we retired for the day we made a final stop to look for Little Swifts at a location I have known for years. Sure enough the birds were there, about 20 of them, but they stayed very high and it was hard to see any colour on them in the poor light. We had good views of Common Bulbul before we left for the hotel. At 7:30pm we had a lovely hot chicken tajine for dinner, our bird log was short and so we were in bed by 9:30pm. We have an early start tomorrow let’s hope the weather improves.