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WEATHER: all day sunshine wit some broken cloud, top temp 30C

As we progressed further to the west the landscape changed from dry desert with barren mountains to green pastures and rolling hills draped with a array of evenly spaced argon trees sitting on a bed of grass. The bird life changed with it, we welcomed back the calls of the Bulbul, Chaffinch, Cetti’s Warbler and Cirl Bunting.

the gorge at Aoulouz, the river is just a trickle now

Our first stop about 30 minutes along the road was at picturesque gorge on the western edge of the town of Aoulouz, this gorge used to house a wonderful slow flowing river with pools and reedbeds, now just a trickling brook flows along one edge. A huge Barrage (dam) has been constructed some 20km upriver and the water flow has been extinguished, a few years of drought hasn’t helped either.

We saw a few species but nowhere near the numbers I used to see, Sedge Warbler, Moorhen, Cetti’s Warbler were seen around the small reed-fringed stream. Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Peregrine Falcon and a small group of Lesser Kestrels were seen on the impressive gorge cliffs.

the Barrage Moukhtar Souiss

We decided to visit the Dam, a small winding road past through a series of small villages and brought us out to the huge Barrage Moukhtar Souiss. A work in progress, we could see many trucks and earth-moving machinery in motion and had to drive around bump tracks to see the water on the other side of the dam.

a Booted Eagle

The water level was pitifully low and just a handful of bird species was all we saw: Six Spoonbills sat on an island with a single Grey Heron and a dozen Great Cormorants. The water lacked life of any form, we saw pairs of Ruddy Shelduck dotted about along the shoreline and some distance away we picked out a single Black-winged Stilt and a Common Sandpiper.

We picked up lunch supplies near Touradant and ate beneath argon trees on the west side of the town. It took another 90 minutes to get to Agadir where we drove straight to the Oued Sous estuary and not our hotel.

I just love Redshanks in summer plumage

Chris was making a daily count of species and he told us that we saw over 40 species along the estuary 14 of them were waders. It was so good to see birds in good numbers again! We spent three hours watching the estuary as the tide came in, Waders, gulls, terns, flamingos, spoonbills, storks, herons, egrets and ducks, they were all there.

Greater Flamingos with Sandwich Terns and Mediterranean Gulls

Stand out species included Caspian Tern, Slender-billed Gulls, Stone Curlews, Marbled Ducks and Osprey. We stayed until after dark and tried to get a glimpse of the Red-necked Nightjar, we heard a couple but not saw one, The eerie wail of the Stone Curlew in dark was unnerving for some.

a flock of European Bee-eaters dropped in

We got to our hotel at 8pm!! A long day indeed, we ate our dinner at 8:15 and off to bed we went, a very tired bunch of people. Our list is now 165 with 3 days to go.