Monday, 11 March 2013

Morocco, the Atlas Mountains to Erg Chebbi in the Sahara Desert, 28/2 - 5/3/2013. PART 1

28th February - 5th March, 2013        

The Atlas Mountains and the Deserts of Morocco

PART 1,  days 1 +2

David Bradnum, trip organiser and leader.
Jonathan Lethbridge, co navigator, translator
have invited Mick Southcott and myself to join them on

A whirlwind 5 night / 6 day trip to Morocco.

We are to head 650 kilometres South East out of Marrakesh,
to cross the Atlas Mountains, then cross the stony desert, continuing to the ''dunes'' of the Erg Chebbi in the Sahara Desert.    

Target bird   '' Desert Sparrow ''
also to see and hopefully photograph some of the desert birds of Morocco, the Wheatears and Larks.

On our return journey, we will allow the last day to visit Oukaimeden in the high Atlas Mountains for mountain birds.

We meet up at Gatwick Airport for the 07.40 hours flight to Marrakesh, Morocco.
Early afternoon, we are in the hired 4 x 4 and heading out of Marrakesh towards the Atlas Mountains.

a short stop at Ait Ourir for our first birding opportunity, from the roadside by the rubbish dump we see

*** Black-winged Kite
       Black Kite
       White Stork
       Cattle Egret, 100's
       Cirl Bunting
       Rock Bunting
       White Wagtail
*** Moussier's Redstart

Onwards, over the Atlas Mountains, spectacular scenery,
descending into the 'stoney desert' area,
another short stop for the last hour of daylight at Amerzgane seeing

       Thekla Lark
       Desert Wheatear
*** White-crowned Wheatear

We arrive at Ait Benhaddou around 19.00 hours, in the dark, for the first night stop of our adventure.
No photographs today !

Day 2     We start our day for a short drive to just outside Ouzarzate, by a lake in the desert.
Lots of birds, lots of photo opportunities !

Trumpeter Finch

House Bunting

White-crowned Wheatear

Little Owl

White-crowned Wheatear

Spectacled Warbler

Ruddy Shelduck

 Crested Lark

Birds seen here at Ouzarzate

*** Trumpeter Finch, 10+
       Ruddy Shelduck, 2
       White-crowned Wheatear, (seen everywhere on route)
       Black Kite, 100's
       Osprey, distant
*** Spectacled Warbler
       Little Owl, 2
       Little-ringed Plover
       Yellow Wagtail
*** Moroccan Wagtail
*** Long-billed Lark
       Lesser Short-toed Lark
       Moussier's Redstart
       Marsh Harrier
       House Bunting

11.00 hours, move on, we are heading further out across stony desert

A stop on route, an irrigated small bit of land, 20+ Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

early afternoon we stop off at Tagdilt track,
Off road, across the desert tracks, the afternoon light is a bit harsh, but the birds are superb !

       Crested Lark
*** Red-rumped Wheatear
*** Temminck's Horned Lark
*** Cream-coloured Courser

Thekla Lark

Red-rumped Wheatear, m

Red-rumped Wheatear, f

Red-rumped Wheatear, m (on dead cow carcas)

Red-rumped Wheatear, f

Lesser Short-toed Lark

Cream-coloured Courser

Leaving the Tagdilt track, we stop to look at a Long-legged Buzzard

 Long-legged Buzzard

A late afternoon stop just west of Erfoud, we find

*** Desert Lark
*** Bar-tailed Lark
       White-crowned Wheatear (more)
*** Hoopoe Lark
*** Black Wheatear
       Great Grey Shrike

Black Wheatear

White-crowned Wheatear
Moving on, we have now run out of tarmac road, it is now dark, pitch black dark, we are off road, on desert tracks, Jono and David using their Sat Nav skills and a compass !
and we still had 15 kilometres to go !  Three twinkling lights appear in the far distance ! One of them is our destination !

David has got us to our base for the next two nights !

To be continued ! ! !


  1. Nice photos Richard. Look forward to the next part. Regards Steve A.

  2. Interesting account,look forward to the rest. I visited Morocco about 10 years ago and photographed some of the same birds on slide.The light looks
    very harsh, difficult to get the right exposure??
    Best wishes
    Grant Demar