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WEATHER: dull overcast and raining until mid-morning, then sunshine all day.

Wet, misty and cold conditions greeted us at 6:45am this morning, we all met on the large terrace at the hotel wich overlooks the river Ourika. We watched a dozen or more Blackcaps feeding on ivy berries and we saw Common Bulbuls and Chaffinches. Ourt main target bird was the Levaillant’s Woodpecker which we heard calling a couple of times.

You will just have to believe me, this is a Levaillant's Woodpecker. Taken in dull, wet conditions and at a distance!!

A walk along the road above the hotel produced a few more common species and we found a freshly made Woodpecker nest-hole belonging to our elusive friend. Back on the terrace some 30 minutes later and the woodpecker called again. This time we found it, in fact it was Angelika who got us all onto it, sitting on the side of a dead tree in the valley below us.

We left the hotel and the valley at 8:30am and set off for our long journey to Boumalne Dades, our first stop was just beyond the town of Ourika. We pulled over next to some scrub where the land dropped away below us, we had a tremendous panoramic view of the surrounding landscape. The trouble was, it was raining and low cloud covered the sky.

birding in wet and windy conditions, is not fun! It did get better later on.

We found Thekla Lark as soon as we stepped off the bus and a Corn Bunting was singing. Then two Barbary partridges flushed from the scrub below us and third appeared on a wall in the middle distance.

two very wet and very distant Barbary Partridges - taken by Tony Moore

The sky began to clear and the rain stopped, the larks went up to sing and my day was brightened no end. Magreb Magpies began to appear on the trees below us, Woodchat Shrikes sat on top of bushes and Sardinian Warblers flitted in the scrub. We added Corn Bunting, Common Redstart, Common Stonechat, Serin, Linnet and Barn Swallow to the day list.

Travelling further we saw White Stork, Spotless Starling and more larks from the bus and about 45 minutes later we stopped again east of the town of Ait Ourir. It was overcast again with some blue patches of sky and we hoped to see raptors along a ridge above us.

White Stork - taken by Tony Moore

A count of four Booted Eagles was soon counted then we located two Peregrine Falcons on top of the rocky ridge and our star birds appeared in the shape of two Bonelli’s Eagles, wow-zah!! We also noted African Chaffinch, Bonelli’s Warbler and a couple of Crossbills (in flight).

Common or Red Crossbill - taken by Tony Moore

We put another couple of hours in travelling through the picturesque Tiz n’Tichka Pass (2260 meters) and stopped on the other side of the pass for lunch. During lunch we birded a pine plantation and came up with a couple of Crossbills, Bonelli’s Warbler, Serin and African Chaffinches.

Our afternoon birding was at the large Reservoir south-west of Quarzatate, I’ve had mixed success stopping at this ever shrinking reservoir, today was very successful. We saw Desert and Black-eared Wheatears along the approach track to the water, also a flock of Greater Short-toed Larks and Desert Larks.

Black-eared Wheatear - by Tony Moore

The far corner of the reservoir was alive with birds ranging from Greater Flamingos to the tiny Eurasian Teal. Along the edge we found a few waders, Kentish and Little Ringed Plovers and a single Temminck’s Stint was a nice find. Eurasian Spoonbills, Ruddy & Common Shelducks, Greylag Goose, Great Crested Grebe, Great Cormorant, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper and a range of duck species included Pintail and Marbled Duck.

Stone Curlew crouching down to hide from us - taken by Tony Moore

During our walk we also flushed a pair of Stone Curlews, a single Common Quail, a Tawny Pipit and a few Meadow Pipits. A Great Grey shrike (algeriensis) and a White-crowned Wheatear finished off the bird count. We were running quite late and we didn’t leave the site until 6pm, our arrival at our Hotel in Boumalne Dades was at 7:20pm, dinner was taken at 8pm. The bird log was called after dinner and it is now 10pm as I finish this blog, good night.