Trip report: Morocco: North Africa in a Nutshell (March 2019) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Emma Juxon. This was a set-departure tour.

Morocco is a captivating destination; its mesmerizing landscapes, charming people and world-class cuisine will have you hooked – not to mention the birds. Increasing in popularity with many birders, it is quickly becoming the go-to place for Spring birding for a chance to see the Afro-European migration and the many near-endemic species found here.

We encounter an ever-changing landscape on this tour, starting in the hustle and bustle of Marrakech, we leave the hectic city behind us as we make our way to the breathtaking mountainous panoramas of the High Atlas. Following the winding roads of the Tizi-n-Tichka pass we are transported to the stony desert of the Boumalne Dades area and on to the impressive Erg Chebbi, the ochra sands of the Sahara. From this desert oasis we pass through the up-and-coming city of Ouarzazate and on to the contrasting fertile coastal habitat surrounding Agadir before returning to Marrakech to indulge in a little culture.

Each landscape provided us with a wealth of birds, from Levaillant’s Woodpecker and Crimson-winged Finch in the mountains, showy wheatears, wagtails and Cream-coloured Coursers in Boumalne Dades, striking Blue Rock Thrush of the Todra Gorge and everyone’s favorite the menagerie of desert dwelling species of Erg Chebbi, including Egyptian Nightjar, Desert Sparrow, African Desert Warbler and the incredible Pharaoh Eagle Owl. Whereas the coast gave us life-changing views of the endangered Northern Bald Ibis, the species that unsurprisingly was voted Bird of the Trip by the participants. Five runners up for our top bird included Pharaoh Eagle Owl, European Bee-eater, Spotted Sandgrouse, Egyptian Nightjar and Common Kingfisher.

With many participants visiting Africa for the first time, this welcoming place promises a wealth of lifers, great food and a fantastic introduction to the beautiful culture of this North African country. Furthermore, it is by far the quickest African destination to get to via North America and Europe and can be coincided with our Spain tours, which follow directly after this tour.

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