1001 nights palace hotel...fairy castle
in the taroudannt old city walls,ancient pacha's palace...
ask,if possible,to stay in the old tower suite..(all rooms with air co,excepted the tower but doesn't matter,you will be delighted) 2 patios:one of them with many banana trees,2 swimming pools,very nice garden with plenty of flowers,great views from the ramparts,etc.....
succulent evening buffet
breakfast in the garden...
Bird report made from a trip in january 2004
Morocco 25 January tot 1 February 2004
During a week we did some bird watching in the south of Morocco, mainly because Max Berlijn was lacking Desert Sparrow and African Desert Warbler on his list! Due this reason we left from Bruxelles to Casablanca and from Casablanca to Agadir fro a week bird watching. Ran Schols and Karel Lemmens made the 4 complete, and they concentrated on photography mainly. See for their result on: www.karellemmens.com and
We drove about 2.000 kilometres in a week time. And road conditions where good until Tinehir, we took then the B road to Erfoud and the first part was still ok, few kilometres before Erfoud in some village?s it is partly graded roads. From Erfoud the track to Merzouga is still bitumen, but the road is bad, drive slowly. The sandy track are okay, but also careful driving is required, and watch the small sticks on the side of the road. Stick to the small sticks otherwise you loose the way.
Don?t drive at night, and be always prepared to change a tire, we where lucky to flatten just one! At night driving is dangerous as many people cycle ore walk on the streets without carrying lights, and streets are not lighten. And don?t expect in Morocco to drive long distances, as the road situation (cars, road deck, curves and uphill situation) not allowed to make long runs. And the technical problems by our air travel company Royal Air Maroc where also not very pleased collected by us, so be prepared to have delay ore ?????.
25th January ? Bruxelles to Taroudannt
Our daylight flight to Casablanca arrived well over schedule (due technical problems) and our connecting flight had also technical problems so well over time we arrived at the customs in Agadir (already dark outside). After some trouble with the tripod from Max we stepped into the car and drove the 65 kilometres to Taroudannt for our first stay during the night. After a lot of driving around at Taroudannt we found our hotel ?Hotel Le Soleil? (048.55.17.07). It was on the outside of the city walls on the west side of the city! After we dropped our stuff down, we went into the city to have some dinner and went after it to bed!
26th January ? Taroudannt to Boumalne du Dad?s
We got up early as there was a lot of singing outside from the mosques. And still dark outside we sat ourselves down for a small breakfast at the hotel. When light appeared directly the songs of Common Bulbuls could be heard and some House Sparrows started to tjirping. After breakfast we went on the roof to have the first sight of what was going on. Soon we where watching a broad scale on birds. The House Buntings where busy to imitate Cetti?s Warbler in song, a scale on swifts where flying overhead, including some dark swifts what could well be Plain Swift. We attentively identified them as Common Swifts. No remarkable differences where encountered however, ore it must be a slightly paler throat and a butter fly type of flight (resemble Little Swift). No less then 3 of these swifts where found in some larger concentrations of Pallid Swifts. Also a lone Little Swift hovered overhead. Also other nice birds like Chaffinch of the africana race appeared and gave us some opportunity to study them. Barn Swallows and a Blackcap gave us some spring feelings. Some Cattle Egrets and Little Egrets where flying above the city. Also Crested Lark, Greenfinch, Collared Dove and Sardinian Warbler gave some nice appearances.
After some more watching we packed our stuff and went on the roads to try to get as far as Quarzazate!
Directly outside Taroudannt we found the first Southern Grey Shrike?s and a female Common Kestrel flew by! To repack some things we had a stop at 223 kilometre before Quarzazate! Some scanning produced Thekla Larks, a algierensis Southern Grey Shrike, Common Chiffchaff, Sardinian Warblers, Corn Bunting (singing), Serins, Common Stonechat, Greenfinch and Common Bulbul. The star of the show was however a excellent male Moussier?s Redstart!
A scan trough the landscape from the car produced once in a time some nice birds as was the case when I spotted a first year Lanner Falcon sitting on a pylon (185 kilometre for Quarzazate). This bird gave a nice opportunity to study it up closely as it was devouring an indeterminate prey item. And gave the photographers a chance to make some actions. Some scanning by Max and I produced an other few Moussier?s Redstarts, Common Stonechat, Lesser Short-toed Larks, Crested Lark, White Wagtail (alba) and some Southern Grey Shrike?s.
During driving some smaller flocks of Rock Pigeon?s where seen once in while and sometimes an European Linnet was on the roadside as many White Wagtails (all alba).
A few stops during driving produced a female type Northern Wheatear and the first of many Black Wheatears!
Due a small lark perched along the roadside we stopped at a site 48 kilometre west of Tazaknah. This turned out the be our first Bar-tailed Lark of the trip. Some walking around here on the south side of the road produced some nice things like a flock of 2 ore 3 Thick-billed Larks in flight only seen by me and very briefly by Max. Further scanning produced a flock from up to 100+ Corn Buntings and 25 Lesser Short-toed Larks. A short stop at the hill of Tiri N Backhoun produced a few Crested Larks and 4 Desert Larks.
At a green bush spot 50 kilometre before Quarzazate produced 2 nice juvenile Long-legged Buzzards, notably smaller then the Long-legged Buzzards from Kazakhstan! Also here very few migrants only few Meadow Pipits, Blackcap, Green Sandpiper, Common Bulbul, Moussier?s Redstart, House Sparrow and Chaffinch.
During driving still some Black Wheatears and a few House Buntings!
When we entered Quarzazate we decided to head for Boumalne du Dad?s to spent the night there, and after a quick telephone call everything was arranged!
Just passed Quarzazate I noticed a perished male Mourning Wheatear along the roadside and a stop halfway between Quarzazate and Boumalne du Dad?s produced a nice male Desert Wheatear and few Desert Larks. Also in a broad river on the north side of the road we saw 5 White Storks feeding.
An hour before sunset we arrived in the rubbish dump of the Tadgilt Track just east of Boumalne du Dad?s to have a quick scan over here. In short time finally our first Red-rumped Wheatear was seen and soon we where enjoying crippling views of a pair of Temminck?s Larks. A scan around produced a Long-legged Buzzard and few Lesser Short-toed Larks.
After some trouble we finally found our place for the night at Boumalne du Dad?s the ?Soleil Blue?. We had some chicken as food and went early to bed.
27th January Boumalne du Dad?s ? Kasbah Said
Directly after sunset we packed up our gear and went to a place Arnoud van den Berg mentioned the previous night during a phone call at the Tadgilt Track. This spot was about 6 kilometres past the Shell Petrol Station outside Boumalne du Dad?s. This was a new bitumen track to Iknioun and it headed to the Jbel Sarhro. Over here was already for a time a sighting done of a Dupont?s Lark and recently also some Houbara Bustards where found here by some sheep herds. To be honest after several hours walking here and even crossing the plane to the rubbish dump on the outskirts of Boumalne du Dad?s I was a bit disappointment in the Tadgilt Track as it must be one of world best tracks to do bird watching! But anyway it produced about 16 Temminck?s Larks, 20+ Red-rumped Wheatears, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Desert Lark and few Hoopoe Larks. For the last the wonderful displaying flights where unforgettable. A lone migrating White Stork headed slowly to the west!After few hours we decided to head for the toughest part of the trip to Erfoud. Just 25 kilometres away from Boumalne du Dad?s we found a nice souring Long-legged Buzzard! Some 142 kilometre before Errachida we found a nice male Mourning Wheatear (on the way back again on the same spot on the north side of the road at the telegraph wire) and few Southern Grey Shrike?s (including some pale birds with some white supercillium resembling elegans), Common Stonechats and Common Kestrels. Finally we entered White-tailed Wheatear territory and now every few kilometres we found one!
After getting quick through Erfoud where we collected some money we headed for the first African Desert Wheatear spot 6 kilometre south of Erfoud on the road to Merzouga. The road what is bitumen but very worst goes past a rubbish dump en then directly along Jbel Erfoud (mountains gets near to the road), here we searched various patches of dry wadi?s covered with vegetation, but didn?t encountered except for Hoopoe Lark nothing worth mentioning. Only nice was a splendid Long-legged Buzzard circling above our heads, that provided photographic opportunities. A stop just past the hill produced in some pine trees a lone first year male Tristram?s Warbler.
We headed further as we understand from an e-mail from Arnoud van den Berg that there was a good site of African Desert Warbler north of Auberge Kasbah Derkaoua, but intensive searching produced nothing more then at Tristram?s Warbler and a Moussier?s Redstart. Further telephonic correspondence with Arnoud proved that we where on the wrong site. A conversation was now going on to where we should head as the Auberge Kasbah Derkaoua was closed. And Max decided we should head back to Erfoud to search for accommodation here. A brief stop at a new build Kasbah Said turned out that we could stay, and after throwing our gear in the rooms, we decided to have a check at Arnoud?s African Desert Warbler site. In no less then two minutes we located a fine African Desert Warbler and had wonderful views of this stunning bird. The calling and feeding Hoopoe Larks around proved also very nice!
When we head back to the Kasbah Said Hotel we located some White Wagtails (again all alba) and a male Sardinian Warbler.
After some food and yes finally beer we went to bed early!
28th January Kasbah Said ? Erg Chebbi ? Kasbah Said
In the early morning we left the hotel and headed for the spot where we saw yesterday the African Desert Warbler. This giving the chances to the photographers to complete the file African Desert Warbler. Max and I headed for Auberge Kasbah Derkaoua to search for the Fulvous Chatterers again! We managed only to see so comer birds like Collared Dove and Sardinian Warbler although a nice female Tristram?s Warbler stole the show!
When we head back to Karel and Ran they just located the African Desert Warbler and we had crippling views of it at close distant, once in a scope view with a Tristram?s Warbler male! Also we had nice views again of Hoopoe Larks and their amazing displaying flights! Then we headed on our way to Merzouga for the Desert Sparrow, after Auberge Kasbah Derkaoua we turned right to Merzouga (not left on the sandy track to Caf? Yasmina) and after 2 kilometres we came on a full (new) bitumen road to Merzouga! After few kilometres we turned left on a sandy track to Caf? Yasmina!
After a 14 kilometre stroll over the sandy rocky roads we rolled into the property of Caf? Yasmina. In the lee of the wonderful huge golden sand dunes of the Erg Chebbi we enjoyed our time here to the fullest as there where several Desert Sparrows performing well for us, Tristram?s Warblers where singing for us and some other species made the visit very special. Other species where Thekla and Crested Larks, Bar-tailed Lark and Hoopoe Larks! And of course the unforgettable House Sparrows!
When then headed back over the sandy and rough track to the main bitumen road and with well over 80 kms/ph we entered Merzouga over the new excellent road!
We stopped at a restaurant on the left hand side where the bitumen road stopped in the middle of Merzouga near a small square and had our lunch here. During our time some village people where fighting for guarding our car, and we amused but with mixed feelings looked to the scenery!
After lunch we backed out Merzouga to the north to find a way to the lake-bed of Dayet Sri. Still stunned by the landscape we set target to find a new WP species around the lake!
A stroll on the western side, south side and north side produced many alba White Wagtails, Ruddy Shelducks 200+, 300+ Greater Flamingo?s, 11 Marbled Ducks, 8 Little Grebe?s, 40 Northern Shovelers, 2 Little Egrets, 1 Kentish Plover, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 4 Black-winged Stilts, 1 Short-toed Lark, 2 Crested Larks and a female Mourning Wheatear at close distant (wrongly identified as a female Black-eared Wheatear in the field!).
Finally at the third attempt we found a small flock of 4 Fulvous Chatterers at the side at Auberge Kasbah Derkaoua. We watched them for some time as they worked their way from one palm clump to the next in typically busy babbler fashion! Also a female Black Redstart and Blackbird could be added to the day list!
Just before sunset we arrived back at Kasha Said and had a nice dinner. A pre-dinner walk produced a Sardinian Warbler, White Wagtails (alba) and the always present Hoopoe Lark and White-tailed Wheatear!
29th January Kasbah Said ? Taroudannt
We drove after breakfast with pancakes straight ahead to make as many kilometres this day and try to reach Taroudannt!
During driving we saw the male Mourning Wheatear on exact the spot as 27 January and also a Whinchat and some Hoopoe Larks!
A stop at the Tadgilt Track at the bitumen road (where we birded on the 26th) produced a migrating Barn Swallow, 6 Red-rumped Wheatears and 7 Temminck?s Larks. A scan in the wide surroundings produced nothing although a sheep herd mentioned that he saw sometimes Houbara Bustards on the north side of the road!
On the same spot on the 26th January we recorded 3 White storks again. And a change started from White-tailed Wheatears in Black Wheatears after Quarzazate!
A stop at the spot where I saw the Thick-billed Larks on 26 January 48 kms Tazaknah (ore 148 kilometres east of Taroudannt) produced surprisingly nothing of the birds seen before, but even better we where rewarded with superb views of a pair of Dupont?s Larks! After the right documentation had be done we drove further to arrive just before complete darkness at Taroudannt where we stayed at the rather expensive Hotel Palais Salam (500 dirham each for the night only). By the way during driving we recorded several Black Wheatears. After a good dinner we came to the discover that a House Bunting has chosen our balcony as sleeping spot!
30th January Taroudant ý Tamri ý Qued Massa
When we woke up due the singing outside the various mosques we walked to dinner (off course we first looked to the still awakening House Bunting who was still there when we got up). After some brief watching in the garden of Palais Salam. Where we encountered Common Kestrel, a Peregrine Falcon, Chaffinch, Spotless Starling, Blackcap, Common Swift, Pallid Swift and House Bunting we where on our way to a spot just outside Taroudannt to the bridge over de Qued Sous. This was the choice for the previous evening as in the dead coniferous Red-necked Nightjars gives a nightly performance, but as we where to late we skipped this part!
Birding the almost dried up Sous river produced however a nice amount of species: Brown-throated Sand Martin, Yellow Wagtail (iberiae race), Black-billed Magpie, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Greenfinch, Pallid Swift (two migrating north), Laughing Dove (3), Blackcap, Cirl Bunting, Goldfinch, Song Thrush, Chiffchaf, Moussierýs Redstart, Green Sandpiper, Barn Swallow, White Wagtail, Blackbird, Little Egret, Thekla Lark and Sardinian Warbler.
During driving to Agadir we recorded several Black Wheatears, Southern Grey Shrikeýs, Moussierýs Redstarts and 15 kilometres before Agadir a flock of 30+ White Storks.
While driving out of Agadir towards Tamri we noted at Taghazoute a flock of three Waldrapps! Birds could be seen well in the spotting scope and we where ready to find more at the mouth of the river Qued Tinkert at Tamri where they where observed regularly bating around noon. Also noted between Agadir and Tamri where several Common Ravens, Audouinýs Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Blue Rock Trush (male), Sandwich Tern, Meadow Pipit, Barn Swallow, Great Tit, Blue Tit and migrating Barn Swallows.
At the mouth of the Qued Tinkert we noted finally a moroccanus White Wagtail and a moroccanus race Great Cormorant. Other nice things here included Ruddy Shelduck, Gray heron, Zitting Cisticola, Northern Gannet, Sandwich Terns and few Audouinýs Gulls.
Some searching around could not produced any more Waldrapps even not the new roosting spot 8.5 kilometre north of Tamri (to be precise we could not find the spot at all!).
A quick and short seawatch at Cape Rhir produced two nice juvenile Red-throated Divers (on the same site was in the week previous to our visit a Great Northern Diver!), a Whimbrel, many Northern Gannets, House Bunting and several Thekla Larks.
By the we decided to head back to Agadir to find somewhere accommodation around
We finally found a place to stay along the P30 on the exit to ýmassaý on the 7128. Here is a small village with a cafe/restaurant and you can also stay here.
31st January Qued Massa
After waking up we headed quickly to Qued Massa. We recorded no less then 78 species today including a nice variety of species.
While entering Qued Massa where the bitumen stops while driving to the mouth of the river we noticed in a flock of Barn Swallows, few House Martins and Bank Martins! A singing Eurasian Thick-knee was nice to hear at the same site. Few stops where made to the mouth of the Qued Massa and this produced some very nice Black-crowned Tchagraýs. The birding by then concentrated around the mouth of the Qued Massa and we did some birding around Sidi-Rbat in search for some Waldapps reportingly feeding here behind the hotel. Birding produced as highlights: Great Cormorant (two all black cormorants at the mouth was either sinensis ore lucidus), Richardýs Pipit (flew over the mouth), Sanderling, Kentish Plover, Dunlin, Bar-tailed Godwit, Audouinýs Gull, Yellow Wagtail (iberiae), Common Crane (51), Moussierýs Redstart, Common Bulbul, White Wagtail (morrocanus), Eurasian Lapwing, Mediterranean Gulls, Black-headed Gulls and Yellow-legged Gulls.
A half-hour sea-watch produced a probably Puffin, a bit to far out to confirm the ID, and a Great Skua to north. Many Northern Gannets and Sandwich Terns where also passing by! The scans between the large concentrations of gulls at the mouth of the Qued Massa sadly produced no raritieýs.
After this trip we went into Massa to have a lunch. We stopped just east of Sidi-Binzaren to have an other look at the Qued Massa and found in short time Common Snipe, Eurasian Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Cettiýs Warbler, Common Redshank, Squacco Heron, Blue Rock Thrush, Marsh Harrier and 3 Greater Flamingoýs. After an excellent lunch we went out to bird in the surroundings from Massa along the Qued Massa. Some general birding along the edges of the river produced Brown-throated Sand Martin (5), Eurasian Reed-warbler, Peregrine Falcon, Yellow Wagtail, Common Wood-pigeon, Eurasian Sparrowhawk and Laughing Dove.
By then with drove via an alternative route to Sidi-Rbat and birded the surroundings of the hotel along the coast. A nice sight was a perched Lanner falcon on the gsm pylon. And some watching along the cliffs at sunset produced 3 fly by Waldrapps. Despite much trouble putting the whole day in locating Waldrapps these where the only bird to be located.
After an weary action to get back to our ýhotelý we found the place and had a short but good sleep.
1st February Qued Massaý Broekhuizenvorst
In the midst of the night we woke up to get out to drive to Agadir. After roughly 40 minutes we where at the airport where we could check in. At the parking we noticed two singing and wandering Eurasian Thick-kneeýs. Due to experience during the flight into Morocco we experienced to day the same, both flight Agadir- Casablanca and Casablanca- Bruxelles where both delayed by technical problems. At the airport at Casablanca we could spotted a single Pallid Swift flying around.