12 Feb 2014

12 Feb 14 - Farewell To The Desert

After 5 days in the Western Saharan Desert, we had a final few hours to check out the Sandgrouse pools at Gleb Jedane (km 21 along the Aoussard Road). Having parked up at a sensible distance to look for Sandgrouse, it was frustrating to have several tankers arriving to fill up with water in the 3 hours or so that we were there: resulting in no Sandgrouse appearing. Eventually, we gave up & headed to km 22, where John had found a few Temminck's Horned Larks the previous afternoon. Exploring the area South of the road, we found an area where Camels had been grazed & this proved to be very productive for Larks with Desert Larks, Thick-billed Larks, Temminck's Horned Larks & Thekla Larks as well as some Trumpeter Finches.
The Gleb Jidane Sandgrouse pool
Desert Lark: This is the payni subspecies. It's separated from the smaller Bar-tailed Desert Lark by a longer yellow based bill (small & pinkish in Bar-tailed Desert Lark) & the tail pattern 
Desert Lark: The diffused dark tail band separates Desert Lark from the sharply defined dark tail band of Bar-tailed Desert Lark
Thick-billed Lark: This stunning Lark occurs from Morocco to Saudi Arabia 
Thick-billed Lark
Temminck's Horned Lark: This Lark occurs from Morocco to North Arabia & South West Iraq
Temminck's Horned Lark
Thekla Lark: This is the theresae subspecies which occurs South of the Anti-Atlas hills & in the Western Sahara. This is slimmer & slightly smaller than Crested Lark with a more distinctly streaked breast & greyer upperparts
Wheatear: Male
Wheatear: Male showing the tail pattern 
Trumpeter Finch: Male 
Trumpeter Finch: This is the zedlitzi subspecies which occurs from Mauritania to Morocco, Algeria & Tunisia
Trumpeter Finch
By late morning, we started the long journey North to Laayoune. This was a fairly dull journey with few birds seen along the way. We arrived at Laayoune close to dusk. After checking into a hotel, we tried a couple of hours of spotlighting to the North East of Laayoune, but a Little Owl was the only highlight.
 Long-legged Buzzard
Taking the sheep to market