15 Feb 2014

15 Feb 14 - The Final Moroccan Post

It was an early start to be back at the Tafingoult site for dawn, as Cuvier's Gazelle are probably coming closer to the village to feed when it's dark & quiet. However, a careful scan of the slopes above the village failed to locate any that had fed there overnight. Therefore, we headed up to the top of the hillside to spend a few hours checking the extensive hillsides to the North. We had no joy with the shy Cuvier's Gazelle which had thousands of small trees in the miles of hillsides to shelter underneath from the sun. But it was a good morning as we managed to catch up with some good views of Tristram's Warbler: which we had missed further South.
Richard checking the rocks hillside above Tafingoult
This is only part of the extensive hills to the North of Tafingoult
Looking South over the village
Tristram's Warbler: The maroccana subspecies occurs in Morocco & Western Algeria
Tristram's Warbler
Black Redstart: Female of the gibraltariensis subspecies which occurs across most of Western Europe (except for the Iberian Peninsula where it is replaced by aterrimus)
Great Grey Shrike: This is the algeriensis subspecies of Northern Morocco, Algeria & Tunisia (which doesn't have the distinctive wing pattern of the elegans subspecies seen earlier in the Western Sahara: where the white primary coverts patch extends to the tertials)
Great Grey Shrike 
Chaffinch: Male of the distinctive africana subspecies is found from Morocco to North West Tunisia
Spur-thighed Tortoise: This is the Southern Moroccan subspecies
By late morning we were heading back to the hotel to check out. There was time for a leisurely lunch in Taroudant before we had to head back to Agadir airport for the late afternoon flight to Gatwick. Late turned out to be the key word as the Easyjet plane was nearly 3 hours late in arriving, apparently down to the bad storm that had passed through Europe in the previous 24 hours.
This street cafe provided some decent pizza & coffee
There were a number of horse driven carriages taking the tourists around Taroudant
The cafe was a good place to photograph some of the locals
Cattle Egrets roosting over the kazbah
White Stork: The final species for the trip list
The Western Saharan & Moroccan trip proved to be a successful trip with the key World tick, Cricket Longtail, easily seen. Additionally, we saw 4 Sudan Golden Sparrows which were a bonus World tick: two of which we found. I had 3 additional Western Palearctic ticks: Royal Tern, Black-crowned Finchlark & Brown-throated Sand Martin. Spotlighting produced views of Pharoah Eagle Owl, Ruppell's Fox, Fennec Fox & Saharan Striped Polecat: my favourite mammal for the trip. I managed to photograph 66 species on the trip out of a trip list of about 115 species. Finally, it was great to get to the Western Sahara, which is an interesting & fairly rarely explored part of the Western Palearctic, with a couple of good travelling companions.