Monday, April 3, 2017

Memories from Morocco.

Since late February it seems I've forever been on the move.  A holiday in Morocco, a visit to Teesmouth and a visit down to Norfolk. I finally decided it was time I sorted my own "time budgets " out and devoted some time to getting this Blog up and running again.  Rather than try and give blow by blow " diary accounts" for each of the trips I've decided simply to provide some pictures from the Morocco trip and then to skip to the present time, with the intention of then producing regular, if not daily, entries.  I'm sure somebody will say, "well, you've said that before" . I probably have , and with good intent too, but life's realities sometimes get in the way of progress.    So, to Morocco.

A tremendous trip, flying into Marrakesh and then out from Agadir after completing a couple of  extensive circuits, taking in as many of the key habitats and sites as possible and seeing  many of the specialities in the process.

Our first real excursion was up to Oukmaiden, a ski resort where, on our first visit, conditions were as you might imagine, cold ,poor visibility and snow. The second morning was a complete contrast with blue skies and sun but more snow overnight preventing access to really high ground.

Odd Shorelark were around and occasionally posed sufficiently long enough for a photograph!

We were very lucky in that the poor weather had attracted over 100 Crimson-winged Finches into the car park area. Birds were feeding around the cars and then flying up and perching on nearby wires . Not a species everyone is fortunate enough to see without effort, but certainly well worth it.

Now this was something I'd particularly joined this trip to see.....African Marsh Owl. That rather ghostly face and consistent colouring produces a very haunting effect of its own!  Morocco is the only known current outpost for this species within the Western Palaearctic so it has a particular importance all of its own.  I'd not realised that there were around forty known pairs in the area, with another site holding a couple of additional pairs. Good news indeed and a splendid and confiding bird.

I really do love deserts and desert scenery. Don't be fooled into thinking it's all the same. It certainly isn't ! The bottom picture is of the Tagdilt Track ( so called ) traversing an area famed for its specialities.  Again, don't be fooled into thinking that it's a big expanse of "nothingness" with little on offer.......Cream-coloured Courser, Hoopoe Lark, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Thick-billed Lark and many more, none of which are at all obvious at the onset !!  It's cold in the mornings, hot for the rest of the day and tranquil and atmospheric as dusk begins to approach, perhaps marked by the fact that you've just visited a Lanner cliff or a site for Pharoah Eagle Owl, both of which provided stunning views.

And then, towards the end of the trip, a chance to see Bald Ibis, feeding in a quite unconcerned way in a dune area immediately adjacent to the road.

And now a little story !  Whilst moving between major sites our driver suddenly drew into a busy garage area and urged us to get out, which we did , bemused but anticipating something different.  Well, "different" was the sight of a number of Little Swift swirling around above us giving views superior to any we'd had before. And then , with a flourish, we were escorted into one of the repair bays and shown a nest up in the corner of the ceiling.  Birds flew in and out, tools were dropped, cars were washed and conversations continued. We weren't even asked why we were there !  It just struck me how bizarre the situation was contrasted against what would happen in the UK.......

There was more, of course, much more, and the above is but a mere taster of what comprised the complete menu of absolutely fabulous birds and scenery we engaged with.   Try it and I'm sure you'll come back with a great selection of tremendous memories.

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