TRANSFER FROM AGADIR TO ESSAOUIRA WITH STOPS AT – CAPE RHIR – TAMRI – TAMANDAR – OUED KSOB
WEATHER: All day sunshine, very little cooling breeze, top temp 31C.
Another day of glorious weather, but without the cooling breeze it got much warmer and a little humid. We left the hotel before 8am and over the next hour we drove north from Agadir along the coast road making one stop at a sandy bay to look at a large flock of roosting gulls, we saw our first Audouin’s Gull with the common gull species and a dozen Sandwich Terns.
At Cape Rhir we looked out over a fairly calm blue sea, with quite high surfing waves, during the walk down we had excellent views of a Stone Curlew, the cameras worked in over-drive for a while.
Dozens of Northern Gannets were passing, heading northward, we also had two or three sightings of Common Scoter. A nice flock of Pied Avocets also went north as did Grey Herons, Little Egrets and small numbers of both Gull-billed and SandwichTerns. We found two Whimbrels on the rocks with Little Egret, Sanderling and a couple of Redshanks.
From the Cape we drove a little further north to Tamri, we parked in the bay where a large lagoon lies adjacent to a massive reed-bed. We had high expectations of seeing several new species, but in reality, it was somewhat disappointing. We did find a flock of Spanish Sparrows, a couple of Eurasian Coots (both new for the list), also Marsh Harriers, Grey Heron and a flock of some 14 Purple Herons sat in the reeds.
Loafing on the far shore of the lagoon were dozens of gulls including a good number of Audouin’s Gulls, a few waders fed on the shoreline these included: Kentish, Little Ringed and Greater Ringed Plovers, Common Sandpiper and Redshank.
Within minutes of arriving our main target bird appeared; the Bald Ibis, this critically endangered species is now doing well in Morocco and also in reintroduced colonies throughout Europe. We saw two birds at first, they drifted across the distant hills and landed on a wall, then 26 other birds circled around and joined them.
Before long the Ibis flew up and circled on the thermals and they were joined by the 14 Purple Herons, it was quite a sight, they circled right above us.
Other species seen in the bay were Moroccan Wagtail, Zitting Cisticola, Sedge Warbler, Sardinian Warbler Ruddy Shelduck, Little Gebe and not much else. We searched the bushes and scrub area but they were devoid of any migrant species.
Back on the bus we drove into the town of Tamri to buy lunch and then we continued up to the hillside where the Ibis favoured. A single bird remained and even that one soon flew off. We could scope back down into the bay from where we parked and another 9 Bald Ibis were loafing on the beach area near the gulls. An Osprey kept flying around putting up all the gulls and generally causing panic and chaos.
Our next stop was in the Argan Forest just north of Tamanar, this area seemed to be much greener than anywhere else we had visited, so more rain had fallen there. This was confirmed when we stopped because large pools of water were still present in the low lying fields.
We scoped a few species around the water, Grey Heron, Redshank, Little Ringed Plovers but not much else. Our first Corn Buntings were found too, how nice!
A subsequent search of the argan trees produced very little, what a difference from last year when these trees held many migrant species. We found a few Woodchat Shrikes, lots of Crested and Thekla Larks, more Corn Buntings but not much more.
Across the main road the vegetation was a little thicker, with wild barely growing below the argan trees, we never fared much better there, even more Corn Buntings and a brief glimpse of a Common Nightingale was all we got.
From the Argan forest we completed the last leg of the journey to Essaouira where we made our final birding stop of the day. Ahmed dropped us off by the side of a bridge under which the Oued Ksob flows, the current water level was fairly low creating a series of pools. Our intention was to walk a couple of kilometers downstream to the beach along the stony riverbed.
We spent nearly two, most enjoyable, hours watching many species feeding in the pools or coming down to drink, it was amazing to think that such a wildlife paradise existed just a few hundred meters from the busy town centre of Essaouira.
Our main target species was the Brown-throated Martin (aka Plain Martin) which we found almost immediately, in fact there were dozens of them! We also searched for warblers in the scrub finding very few, Chiffchaff, Willow and Sardinian Warblers.
Brightly coloured Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Serins and African Chaffinches came down to drink from the pools, where Common and Green Sandpipers were abundant. Common Greenshanks, Redshanks, Little-ringed and Greater Ringed Plovers and Dunlin made up the other waders seen, whilst Little & Cattle Egrets fed in or near the water, Moroccan & White Wagtails flitted about around the pools. On the boulders and in the scrub we listed Black-eared Wheatear, Moussiere's Redstart, Woodchat Shrike and Common Bulbuls. A single Song Thrush was the first for our list and a huge flock of Yellow-legged Gulls was quite spectacular to see as they bathed in the river.
A small number of Eurasian Spoonbills fed in the river further down and we saw a single Pied Avocet and a few Black-winged Stilts.
We finally arrived at a second bridge where our bus was waiting for us. We used the bridge as a viewing platform to scan the river as it flowed into the sea, a huge gull roost could be seen on the beach. But only Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls could be seen.
It was now 6pm, so we jumped on board the bus and we drove into town. We parked just outside the walled enclosure of the old town and walked to our hotel. The old town consisted of tightly packed buildings, narrow streets full of venders and a hoard of people. The sights, sounds, smells and the general hustle & bustle of the streets exuded a vibrant, thriving atmosphere - such a contrast to our stroll along the river.
Our hotel was the best yet, a superb traditional Moroccan building full of atmosphere and a lovely ambiance. Dinner was taken at 7pm, our last dinner of the tour, it was lovely. Everyone was in a jovial mood and the group made a presentation to Ahmed and Driss our drivers.
Tomorrow we have most of the day to travel to Marrakech so there will be birding opportunities along the way. Our total now stands at 182.