Morocco

FROM DESERT TO COAST

DESERT SPARROW PROJECT - Boletas Birdwatching Centre, with the support of the Emberiza Fund (www.emberiza.org) have recently developed a programme to help this emblematic and declining species in the area of Merzouga. In the last three years we have hung forty nest boxes (some regretably damaged by the local people) but others, such as the one in the picture, are successfully used by Desert Sparrows (as the access hole is too small for the aggressive House Sparrows). On our tour, we will visit one of the sites where five of our boxes are looked after by a local Berber.

 

Dates

March 21 st to31 st2018

Tour Cost

€ 1.970.-

Single room supplement

€ 400.-

Group size

12 people

Tour leader

Daniel Cazo plus local nomads

Airport

Marrakesh - Marrakesh

What´s included

All ground transport, all meals, services of guides and reserve entrance fees.

What´s not included

Transport to / from UK and any overnight stay that may be involved, travel insurance, drinks and any items of a purely personal nature.

Tour code

The best designed birdwarching tour in Morocco; all bird specialities, stunning landscapes. Luxury transport in 4x4 Toyota vehicles for 2 days in the desert // 17 seat mini bus for 9 days and selected accommodation.

Selected species list

Bald Ibis, Desert Sparrow, Tristram´s Warbler, Pharoah Eagle Owl, Moussier´s Redstart, Crimson Winged Finch, Mahgreb Wheatear, Red-rumped Wheatear, Thick-billed Lark, Hoopoe Lark, Levaillant´s Woodpecker, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Egyptian Nightjar, Desert Lark, Bar-tailed Lark, Fulvous Babbler, Crowned Sandgrouse, Spotted Sandgrouse. Cream-coloured Courser, Houbara Bustard, Desert Wheatear, Scrub Warbler, Barbary Partridge, Barbary Falcon, Lanner.

Introduction

Boletas Birdwatching Centre was one of the pioneers organizing this superb birdwatching tour in North Africa covering the birdlife of desert, mountain, coast and wetlands, plus the spectacle of spring migration from Africa to Europe. Morocco has specialities and near-endemics only found in the south of the Western Palearctic, and the country could have been designed purely for birding! The variety of habitats includes; arid stony deserts, dry wadis, sand dunes, lakes, rivers, estuaries and the omnipresent snowed Atlas Mountains, where we drive to around 2600m- to go birding. giving it extremely interesting avifauna. The birdlife is  complemented by amazing polychromatic rocky landscapes which makes driving a picturesque sequence of endless pleasure. Morocco still has a rural style of life lost in most of the European countries, which has helped birdlife for centuries. In early spring passerines are migrating to Europe and the beautiful Morrocan landscape explodes into bloom, helping birds such as Nightingale, warblers and buntings on northward migration, adding an extra dimension to the tour. By fully exploring all these habitats we should find a mouth-watering hit list of species.

This tour, fruit of our expertise and experience in this country, has been designed to avoid long strenuous driving distances making it a relaxed birdwatching holiday experience.

Itinerary

Day 1.- Meet you at Marrakesh airport where House Bunting is at the terminal building. Outside the airport is an excellent place to start our birding holiday, Common Bulbul, Pallid & Little Swift are possible and migrants can be localised in the gardens. Time permitting we will drive to the foothills of the Atlas mountains, walking down a river where Bonelli´s Eagle, Hawfinch and Levaillant´s Woodpecker are possible. Overnight in Marrakesh

Day 2.- Atlas Mountains - This morning we will drive up into the High Atlas Mountains and visit Oukaimeden (2600m). As we drive along the cultivated valley floor we should find a good mix of resident and migrant species such as Woodchat Shrike, Common Crossbill, Hawfinch, Brambling, House, Rock & Cirl Bunting and we may well see our first stunning Moussier's Redstart. Slightly higher up among the rocky slopes we will search for Barbary Partridge, Blue Rock Thrush and the endemic Levaillant's Woodpecker. When we finally reach the ski resort of Oukaimeden we will take some time to admire the stunning scenery before beginning our search of the snowline for the handsome Crimson-winged Finch. Other species here include Rock Sparrow, Water Pipit, the now new espcies of Seebohm´s Wheatear, Red-billed and Alpine Chough and Shore Lark. Raptors to keep an eye out for include Golden Eagle and possibly the majestic Lammergeier. Optional visit to Marrakesh city after dinner. Overnight in Marrakesh.

Day 3.- From Marrakesh to Boumalne. We will drive through the High Atlas Mountains where its snowy peaks seen from miles away decorate the landscape through an unexpected series of different habitats. During our many visits we have discovered and named our own raptor watch point: BRWP - Boletas Raptors Watch Point, with resident and migrant birds such as Lanner, Barbary Falcon, Lesser Kestrel, Black Kite, Long-legged Buzzard, Short-toed & Booted Eagle gliding together below the clean blue Moroccan sky. Drive through the scenic and rather impressive Tizi `n' Tichka pass to admire its fabulous geological rock formations before continuing on our journey to the plains. The road down the mountains is extremely winding and we will take our time, stopping at a few convenient locations which will produce an exciting number of interesting birds such us Levaillant´s Woodpecker, Maghreb Wheatear, Desert Lark and Tumpeter Finch. A short walk through a small stream surrounded by olive and palm trees used to be very good for migrants. Drive to our base in Boulmane with impressive views of the Dades river.

Day 4.- Hammada Stony Desert - After a good night's sleep, early morning we will visit the famous and exciting Tagdilt Track. Despite the nearby rubbish tip and its wind strewn plastic bags, it is still an excellent spot for some very special birds. Careful searching of the area could reveal Cream-coloured Courser, Black-bellied & Crowned Sandgrouse, Thick-billed, Bar-tailed, Desert and Temminck's Horned Larks, as well as Red-rumped and Desert Wheatears and Trumpeter Finch. In 2006 we were lucky to spot Houbara Bustard 10 mts. from our vehicles, this bird was not recorded in the area for many years. Since 2006 we have had lunch in a ruined building (fenced in 2012 by the owners after being published in a booklet) where Desert, White-Crowned, Red-rumped and Mahgreb Wheatear have been regularly breeding also Lanner, Long-legged Buzzard and Cream-coloured Courser are regular birds in the area. After lunch and depending of the midday temperatures we can walk through a river bed with good chances of Hoopoe, Bee-eater and Orphean Warbler afte lunch we will drive to the cliffs near Dades River where we always find Tristrams Warbler, Black Weathear and Bonelli´s Eagle breeds in te area.Overnight in Boulmane.

Day 5,.- From Boumalne to Merzouga. After a last look at the Tagdilt Track we drive on towards our secluded auberge at Merzouga, situated right on the edge of the Sahara where we will stay the next three nights. The drive east will no doubt be punctuated with stops to check out the numerous wadis and palm-fringed oases, as we look for Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Lanner and migrants such as Subalpine Warbler, European Bee-eater amongst others. A short walk before Merzouga will give us the chance to see the magnificent desert race of Eagle Owl in one of the two spots we know. Overnight in Merzouga

Days 6 & 7. The Sahara Desert. Our auberge with its attractive gardens and surrounding palm trees attracts a good variety of migrants, and the immediate area is worth checking at every opportunity for species such as Hoopoe, Woodchat Shrike, Wryneck, Rufous Bush Robin and Nightingale. We will spend two days checking various sites around the edge of the red sand dunes of the Erg Chebbi - the largest dune system in Morocco. Our major prize should be found around the various cafes that are dotted about the landscape, and in one of these remote outposts we hope to find the elusive Desert Sparrow. Other species we will search for include Fulvous Babbler, Hoopoe Lark, African Desert Warbler and Brown-necked Raven. There are sometimes seasonal lakes, which attract numerous wildfowl and waders such as Marbled Duck the attractive Ferruginous Duck, Greater Flamingo and Marhs Harrier - an amazing sight out here in the desert! It is also worth scanning the skies for visible migration, and as the day warms up it is possible to see good numbers of storks and raptors rising on the thermals and heading north towards their breeding grounds. We will also spend some time early morning with our local nomad searching for the rather unpredictable Egyptian Nightjar, which breeds in nearby wadis and since we convinced to the nomad about its econimical value he has never failed finding it. Other species in this area include Short-toed and Bar-tailed Desert Larks, Desert and Black-eared Wheatears, Dartford and Spectacled Warblers, Trumpeter Finch, Southern Grey Shrike and possibly Spotted Sandgrouse. One early morning we will drive through the desert areas near the Algerian border in the search of the reintroduced from captivity Houbara Bustard. Overnight in Merzouga.

Day 8.- Transition day from Merzouga to Ouazarzate. We will drive through the Anti-Atlas, the second most important Moroccan mountain range; a series of rocky hills, cliffs and deep gorges of volcanic geological formations. Roadside birding will produce migrants and lots of wheatears, in 2005 we were lucky to find a Bonelli´s Eagle nest. Walk around Ouazarzate reservoir with an exquisite selection of birds which include Moussiers Redstart, Wryneck, Western Bonelli´s, Western Orphean, Subalpine & Olivaceus warblers, Desert, Northern & Black-eared Wheatear, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Rock & House Bunting among other migrants.. Overnight in Ouazarzate.

Day 9.- After breakfast we´ll drive from Ouarzazate to Agadir. Today we need to drive to the Atlantic coast. We will stop in the famous medieval Kasbah Ait Benhadou where birding is first class and local specialities include Desert Lark, Trumpeter Finch and Mourning Wheatear. After lunch in the scenic Tzin Izhsane we continue to the fertile Sous Valley through scrub thickets and citrus groves where we could find European Roller, Black-shouldered Kite and Western Orphean Warbler. We could find anything from Black Kites migrating overhead, Bee-eaters resting on roadside wires, to skulking Subalpine Warblers or a Lanner in a roadside promontory. Several stops will produce interesting migrants passerines, raptors, waders and storks. Overnight in Agadir

Day 10.- The Atlantic Coast -An early start will see us ahead to the Atlantic coast. We will spend the morning in the Sous Massa National Park. We will walk all along this important spot for the endangered Bald Ibis, one of the rarest birds in the planet, with an important bird population, we will search the vegetation along the water's edge for skulking Squacco Heron, whilst the distinctive call of Black-crowned Tchagras ring out from dense cover. More easily observed birds can include Marbled Duck, Marsh Harrier, Osprey, Black-shouldered Kite, Glossy Ibis, Squacco and Purple Herons, Ruddy Shelduck, Plain Martin and possibly Tawny Eagle. Other possibilities include Savi's, Western Olivaceous and Moustached Warblers, Zitting Cisticola, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Pallid Swift, Red-rumped Swallow, Common Bulbul, Spotless Starling. After lunch we will drive along the semi arid steppes of the Sous valley with good chances for Lesser Short-toed Lark, Cream Coloured Courser, Stone Curlew and sandgrouse. Later in the afternoon we will visit the Oued Sous - a delightful area which is very good for waders, terns and large flocks of roosting gulls, including Slender-billed, Audouin's and Mediterranean. Other species here include Greater Flamingo, Zitting Cisticola and Sardinian Warbler. At dusk we will check a nearby site for Red-necked Nightjar. Overnight in Agadir

Day 11.- After breakfast and time permitting we will drive to Tamri where we will see one of the world's biggest colonies of Bald Ibis, and where we hope to see Audouin's Gull, Zitting Cisticola, Barbary Partridge, Moussier's Redstart and Sardinian Warbler. Transition from Agadir to Marrakesh to take your flight home.

Gallery

Testimonials

Why we are the most seccessful company guiding tours to Morocco

Hello again Josele

I hope you enjoyed some free time in Marrakesh over the weekend and being back home for a while before your next trip.

Our heartfelt thanks for providing such a memorable and exciting trip. The organisation went so well, it was easy to see the years of experience in the country has been used well. Thank you too for being flexible and ensuring that we got as many of the target birds as we could and that even in an alcohol free hotel we had some cool beers to round off the day.

The birding and photographic opportunities was fabulous and I for one will never forget our walks in the gardens/oases, with warblers hopping about in what seemed like every bush. I've always wanted to witness this kind of migration and I am delighted to have done so. We could not have learnt as much or enjoyed as much without your expert guidance.

It looks like we may have reached 172 in our list but will look forward to your checklist when you have time to send it.

I am away now until 16th and then I will spend some time putting a trip report together with various people's contributions and photos. A copy will come your way.

Our warmest best wishes for continued good birding, with the best of clients and in wonderful countries.

Yvana - on behalf of the RSPB in Potters Bar and Barnet

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Dear Josele,

Many thanks for all the arrangements for another excellent trip which both myself and Carolyn thoroughly enjoyed. Our return trip to La Paz went extremely well and we all enjoyed our last lunch together.

Just before you left, you mentioned that you would be able to give me a reduction in the cost of the Brazil trip in July. If this is indeed the case, I would be very interested in joining you so please let me know so that I will go ahead and book the flights.

I hope that you had a good trip back home and that you have another great trip to Morocco. Please give our love to Esther.

Regards,

Phil & Carolyn - 2016

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  Josele

We assume that you are now back from your recent trip and hope that it was successful. Wethoroughly enjoyed the Morocco trip which was probably one of our best ever birding experiences. Many thanks for all that you do to make these trips so enjoyable and trouble free - long may you continue.

We very much look forward to travelling with you again soon

Very best wishes to you, Esther and Marina. - Keith & Heather

 

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Dear Josele,

Just a line to thank you for a wonderful trip which was made most enjoyable by your excellent planning , expert guiding and special individual attention to the needs of all members of the party which I thought was just the right size . I have never had such good fun.

Look forward to Turkey in 2012 , Best wishes Ron  

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 Dear Josele,

We would like to thank you once again for a most rewarding and enjoyable trip to Morocco, the birds, along with a great group of people, have made for another trip which I am sure will remain in all our memories for many years to come.

We gave you another difficult list of birds we would like to see, of which we never expected to see them all, but you exceeded our expectations and not only did we see them, we got excellent views as well

Once again thanks very much for an excellent trip and we look forward to birding with you again, possibly Eastern Turkey ? - Regards Dave

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Hi Josele,

I had a wonderful bird watching trip in Morocco organized by you and ably assisted by Harry.  I had 32 new species which is great for me as I have been birding, in mostly in Europe, for over 30 years.  I would especially like to thank you for getting my Rohan jacket delivered to Marrakech Airport for me after  I had left it in a hotel a few hundred kilometres away three days previous.  This was due to your numerous phone calls to friends that you had made during the years you have been going to Morocco.  Your friendship with the local people showed through during the whole trip and the high regard you are held amongst these people, along with your knowledge of the habitats and birds.   I hope to travel with you again in the future.  Thanks again, Sandy.

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Josele

First, Susan and I thoroughly enjoyed the Morocco tour in March. Absolutely our best experience in bird tours ever. It was great to have again your expertise and guidance together with the greatest group of participants we have known.

Second, Susan and I wish to participate in your Bulgaria tour in 2011. Should we complete booking forms or are you maintaining a “pencil” list till you post the trip?

Third, we are very interested in your proposed Turkey tour. Do you plan this for 2012?

Last weekend we went north to Oklahoma and saw some lesser prairie chickens on their lek . Only about 1000 birds left, over parts of 3 states.

Best wishes . Ron Martin

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Dear Josele,
A quickie to thank you for looking after us so well in Morocco. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and were glad the group worked trogether so well.
After we left you, we spent about a week more in Morocco - Rabat, Meknes, Fes and Tangier.
We saw Harry and Amy as we passed through Spain, and my Son in Valencia, doing weather forecasting for the America's Cup.
Now back in France. Back to Australia in about 3 weeks.
Again, many thanks for your great efforts on our behalf, which we really do appreciate.
Hope to catch up with you again soon.
Regards,
Ann and Oliver.

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Hi Josele,

A DVD will be in the mail to you tomorrow.
The original 2550 shots have been edited down to roughly 700 and about a third of these relate to birds.
I have retained on the disc some poorish shots of birds that I have not seen before or have not previously photographed.
There is a handful of handful of shots with which I'm really pleased and the rest just help to remind me of the situation where we saw the birds. Feel free to use any photos if you wish.

The members of the group certainly got on extremely well together and I personally did not experience a single incident of conflict throughout the whole holiday. Great stuff!

Thanks once again for an excellent tour!

Kind regards

Rob Skinner - Morocco 2008

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Hola Josele!

I would like to thank you for a memorable birding trip. Excellent birds and congenial company were the ingredients of a holiday which, I'm sure, will remain in the memory of all of us for many years to come.

As I mentioned in Marrakech I would appreciate it if you could let me have a copy of your photo of the Levaillant's Woodpecker.

Hope you got good views of Dupont's Lark at Belchite, etc

Regards Hugh - 2008

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Josele

Just a quick note to once again say thank you for the excellent trip to Morocco we have just enjoyed with you.
We gave you an impossible list of birds we would have liked to see, but, through your enthusiasm and knowledge, we saw a good number of them and with your care and patience you tried to ensure that everyone within the group saw each bird.
It was also interesting to see the real Morocco and enjoy the culture of the country, this, along with the birds, has helped to create some life lasting memories for us.
Best wishes to you and your family and I hope we will meet again some time.
Regards
Dave Ramsden - 2008

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Hi Josele,

I would like to take the opportunity of thanking you for a wonderful holiday in Morocco last week. The culture, scenery, people and birdlife are a compelling and inextricable combination. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I must say your own enthusiasm from the moment we met in Marrakech was infectious, and I know you worked very hard to ensure we all had the best opportunity of successful days in the field. The 4 x wheel drive vehicles offered comfort and access to places that we might otherwise not have considered.

A couple of photographs are attached which may be of interest. The pond terrapins (taken thro your scope in Draa Valley) and not included here also came out well.

I shall certainly consider further trips. Out of interest at this time, what is the availability for Namibia?

Kind regards, Richard (Bircham) - 2008

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Dear Josele, congratulations on our latest trip with you to Morocco, a truly memorable tour. Fantastic accommodation, great food, superb drivers, unbelievable distances covered, young Harry's enthusiasm, and as you say cracking birds.

Many thanks for introducing us to so many life ticks.

All the best for the future, take care. Alan & Ann Murphy 2010

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Dear Josele
The trip to Morocco was the first organised birding trip outside the UK I had ever been on. .. and what a wonderful experience!
Thank you for organising everything so well. The hotels, the food (especially the local food), the birds, the scenery, the drivers and the company were all superb.
Here's my trip report.

http://niocblog.blogspot.com/
Thank you! Norma Perceval-Price 2010

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Josele,

I had a great trip. I am interested in the autumn trip to southern Spain and Morocco but need a month to make up my mind.

I think the very dark pair of Stonechat we saw on the last day were interesting. Can we rule in or out African Stonechat? I didn't get a photo.

I thought you might like the attached photo from Japan?

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Hi Josele,
I had a wonderful bird watching trip in Morocco organized by you and ably assisted by Harry. I had 32 new species which is great for me as I have been birding, in mostly in Europe, for over 30 years. I would especially like to thank you for getting my Rohan jacket delivered to Marrakech Airport for me after I had left it in a hotel a few hundred kilometres away three days previous. This was due to your numerous phone calls to friends that you had made during the years you have been going to Morocco. Your friendship with the local people showed through during the whole trip and the high regard you are held amongst these people, along with your knowledge of the habitats and birds. I hope to travel with you again in the future.

Thanks again, Sandy.2010

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Dear Josele and gang !

Thank you, thank you, thank you all for a great holiday, it was lovely meeting such a great group of people! hope to see you all again in Turkey 2011 or sooner on the birding circuit!
take care love from Carolyn & Huw 2010

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Hi all.

We are still re-living every moment of the wonderful time we all had in Morocco. Just to let you know that the first 10 bird photos are on our web site at www.warmies.co.uk in the Recent Work portfolio. Plenty more to come.
Best wishes Keith & Heather- 2010

********************

Dear Josele,
Just a line to thank you for a wonderful trip which was made most enjoyable by your excellent planning , expert guiding and special individual attention to the needs of all members of the party which I thought was just the right size . I have never had such good fun .

Look forward to Turkey in 2012 Best wishes Ron 2010

********************

Josele
We would like to thank you once again for a most rewarding and enjoyable trip to Morocco, the birds, along with a great group of people, have made for another trip which I am sure will remain in all our memories for many years to come.
We gave you another difficult list of birds we would like to see, of which we never expected to see them all, but you exceeded our expectations and not only did we see them, we got excellent views as well.
As discussed, we are to visit Spain in September, staying Trujillo, with White Rumped Swift and Dupont's Lark on our list of target birds, any suggestions for possible sites appreciated.

Once again thanks very much for an excellent trip and we look forward to birding with you again, possibly Eastern Turkey ?

Regards Dave 2010

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