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WEATHER: windy, windier and lots more wind!! Mostly cloudy but some sunshine.

The wind never abated overnight, it was still blowing up the sand this morning, giving limited visibility and uncomfortable conditions. However, during breakfast a rain shower cleared the air somewhat and the sky brightened. We decided to go ahead with our original plan, so at 8:30 we headed off in the bus towards Merzouga to visit a wadi where a few target species had been seen in past trips.

the view from the terrace of the hotel. Part of the Erg Chebbi Dune System

We saw Brown-necked Ravens, White-crowned Wheatears, Collared Doves and House Sparrows as we left the compound of the hotel. After 20 minutes driving across the desert on bumpy tracks we stopped to watch a small group of  Bar-tailed Larks, we jumped off the bus but the birds ran off into the distance.

Brown-necked Raven - taken by Tony Moore

We made two separate walks in the wadi, the first produced a Hoopoe Lark within minutes, also a Desert Wheatear. Our second walk also produced a Hoopoe Lark but this one stayed in view for much longer and we had great views of it singing too! We also saw a Woodchat Shrike, Subalpine Warbler and a Barn Swallow flew past us. before we finished we also ‘kicked up’ a Common Quail.

a Hoopoe Lark - taken by Tony Moore

After our wind swept walk we were glad to be back in the shelter of the bus, the weather had improved with a blue sky overhead and reduced wind speed. This encouraged us to go on for more birding in the suburbs of Rissani.

We made two stops in Rissani both stops, I’m glad to say, produced target species . We walked around cultivated plots with dirt banks for borders, dotted with huge palm trees and eucalyptus trees. We found several Magreb Larks in the fields and at least two Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters flew over us and landed on power lines in the near-distance.

a record shot of a distant Blue-cheeked Bee-eater - by Tony Moore

For the second stop we concentrated our efforts on finding a group of Fulvous Babblers or Chatterers. It took us a while but we eventually found a flock of them, probably 10-12 birds were in the flock.

Fulvous babbler or Fulvous Chatterer - taken by Tony Moore

The photographers were very busy for quite a while. During this excursion we also saw another two Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters, White-crowned Wheatear, Laughing Dove and in a field with crops we found two Barbary Partridges and a bunch of House Sparrows and another pair of Magreb Larks.

the Magreb Lark used to be called Long-billed Lark - taken by Tony Moore at Rissani

After buying lunch we set off to another dry river-bed to eat it, however the wind was quite strong once again and our sandwiches tasted more of sand than anything else.

Our final walk of the day was in a huge ‘bowl-valley’, hidden from the road by a ring of cliffs, it was like being in a gigantic caldera except that the rock was sedimentary and full of fossils!

The wind ruined the walk, the wind produced zero bird sightings! The base of the ‘bowl’ had amazing habitat of scattered scrub, but not a single bird dwelt there. It was exhausting and disappointing, we drove back to the hotel after that, we arrived before 4pm and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing or birding in the grounds.

this group of Camels was outside my bedroom window today, the smell wasn't so good, so they moved away!

Those that went birding found the usual Subalpine and Bonelli’s Warblers, 2 Woodchat Shrikes and a flock of Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters was flying around the grounds.