ALL DAY IN THE TAFILALET AREA ("THE LARGEST OASIS IN THE WORLD") – RISSANI AND THE OUED GHERIS
DAY 5 – FRIDAY 24TH MARCH 2023
Our ‘mopping up’ of all the desert species continued today with several new species in the bag as our list continues to grow. We met on the main terrace of the hotel around 6am, it was just getting light, the sun came up over the eastern horizon at 6:19am. It was another glorious sun-shiny day but it did get too hot at times, over 30C.
up she comes - sunrise at 6:19am
The ringing group had already set out their nets and soon they were bringing in their first ‘catches’ of the day. We saw Bonelli’s and Subalpine Warbler being processed and then two Saharan Olivaceous Warblers were brought out. The Saharan Olivaceous Warbler is, at the moment, a subspecies of the Eastern Olivaceous Warbler and breed locally in a very small area. We had a very informative talk by the ringer of its key identification features. That was well received and appreciated by the group.
Saharan Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - short bill is diagnostic
showing the diagnostic pale fringes to the flight feathers and the outer tail feathers
After breakfast we set off towards Rissani but we took a route across the desert instead of the regular roads. Soon we were watching some interesting desert species. Bar-tailed Lark was new for our list and a lifer for most of the group, we also had much closer views of Brown-necked Raven.
A little further on we stopped at the beginning of a wadi, clumps of vegetation were dotted about, from there we saw Cream-coloured Courser, Desert Wheatear and a distant Hoopoe Lark.
record shot of the Greater Hoopoe Lark
Our first walk was in the same wadi but about 2km further along it, we walked for about 30 minutes, the temperature was still quite pleasant. We found several more Desert Wheatears and had close encounters with a pair of Greater Hoopoe Lark, the male gave us a full rendition of its song before performing its kamikaze-like flight display, what a show man!
the ringer and the group - and a Bonelli's Warbler
We found more Desert Larks, Northern Wheatear and finally we caught up with a pair of Desert Warblers. They gave us the run around for a while and never showed as well as previous individuals I have seen.
We jumped back onto the bus and drove to the outskirts of Rissani, noting White-crowned Wheatears, Laughing Doves and more Ravens along the way. We took the ‘tourist route’ through the villagaes around the town of Rissani and made a few stops as we progressed. Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters appeared in many places we could not stop watching those little beauties, in the last few years I had not seen any at all!
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater - we saw several groups of these today
A walk in semi-cultivated fields produced sightings of a pair of Magreb Larks and a small flock of Fulvous Babblers, none of which stopped long enough for me to photograph them. We also saw Barn and Red-rumped Swallows, Common Kestrel, White-crowned Wheatear and more Laughing Doves.
After driving into Rissani to buy lunch (it is hard to find fruit and grocery shops open during the daylight hours because we are in RAMADAM lock-down). We managed it though, our picnic was eaten in the shade of the ‘new’ bridge over the Oued Gheris on the road to Alnif.
Our walk after lunch produced very little, it was very hot and with practically no cooling breeze. We saw and identified our very own, unringed, Saharan Olivaceous Warbler, we also saw Bonelli’s and Subalpine Warbler, four or five Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters, Common Bulbuls and several common species.
Oued (river) Geris
As we pulled away we saw many Black Kites and Brown-necked Ravens circling over a nearby rubbish-tip. We drove back to the hotel and called it a day, we had a few hours of R&R. Some of the group went walking around the grounds and compiled a reasonable list: Saharan Olivaceous, Bonelli’s & Subalpine Warblers, Willow Warbler, Common Redstart, Hoopoe, Woodchat Shrikes, Western Yellow Wagtail(‘flava’), Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin and Brown-necked Raven.
a Bonelli's Warbler
Tomorrow we are out into the dunes or our 4*4 Safari, looking for the few remaining species needed to complete our ‘desert list’.