Moroccan Birds

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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Influx of Yellow-browed Warblers to south Iberia, Ceuta and Canary Islands

Since last month, there has been a big influx of Yellow-browed Warblers (Phylloscopus inornatus) to the south of the Iberian Peninsula. Some have already crossed the Mediterranean Sea and have been observed in Ceuta and even reached the Canary Islands.

- Reservoir Birds lists several birds: more than 8 birds seen (and some ringed) in Andalusia (between 27 and 30 October), and 7 birds in the Canary Islands (between 30 and 31 October).

- Rare Birds in Spain lists 28 Yellow-browed Warblers from different parts of Iberia and the Balearic Islands.

- Rare Birds in Portugal lists 7 birds (including 3 ringed) from different parts of Portugal but most from the south, between 24 and 27 October.

- Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society (GONHS): six Yellow-browed Warblers have been ringed at the Gibraltar Bird Observatory between 22 and 28 October.

- Ceuta: one bird captured and ringed in Monte Hacho on 26 October by José Peña.

Last year, at least 5 Yellow-browed Warblers were seen and photographed by GOMAC members (Benoît Maire, Karim Laidi, Alain Mathurin et al) in a short period in November in the Oriental Region. That was a big year for the species in the Moroccan standards (Few Birders, Fewer Bird Sightings!).

So keep your eyes peeled for these little Siberian birds during this autumn!

Mosquitero Bilistado (Phylloscopus inornatus), Río Pícaro, Algeciras (Cádiz), Andalucía. 27/10/2014. (© Fernando Enrique Navarrete &Pablo Ortega)

Mosquitero Bilistado (Phylloscopus inornatus), Guadacorte, Los Barrios (Cádiz), Andalucía
30/10/2014 (© David Cuenca & José Luis Garzón)
Yellow-browed Warbler, Gibraltar Bird Observatory (© R. Marsh )
Mosquitero bilistado (Phylloscopus inornatus), Ceuta, 26/10/2014 (© José Peña)
The photographs are not hosted here but we only linked to them in their original sites. The exception is the first photograph, thanks!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Quiz: Gyps rueppellii + Gyps fulvus

These pictures of a group of about fifty vultures were taken near Ksar Sghir, northern Morocco, on the southern shore of the Strait of Gibraltar by Adel Bouajaja in spring 2010.
We shared one picture in the facebook page of Moroccan Birds two years ago, and Javier Elorriaga commented the following: “It is difficult to confirm from this picture but the bird .... could be a Gyps rueppellii, looks too dark for a griffon. Other pictures, if available, could help. Great Work”. (I deleted the position of the bird from his comment for the sake of the quiz).

Last year when Rachid El Khamlichi was preparing his Birds Exhibition (organised at Tétouan), he received the photographs of this group of vultures from Adel Bouajaja. Rachid did not use these pictures for the exhibition because they were too small and not suitable for printing. When looking at these pictures recently (you know we are obsessed with the vultures!), Rachid noted as well that there were Rüppell's Vultures among the Griffon Vultures.

So the quiz is: spot the Rüppell's Vultures (Gyps rueppellii) in these pictures?

The pictures are already small and could not be posted directly in Facebook, because they loose too many details (they become less than 200 Ko in size).

You can click or downland the pictures to see the details.

Photo 1 cropped (Adel Bouajaja / GREPOM)
Photo 1 original (Adel Bouajaja / GREPOM)
Photo 2 (Adel Bouajaja / GREPOM)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus), Oued Martil (May 2010)

Rachid El Khamlichi a photographié un male adulte Faucon kobez (Falco vespertinus) près de l'Oued Martil le 08 mai 2010. Le plus intéressant est que cette observation n'est que le 3ème dans la péninsule de Tanger après ceux de Irby (2 oiseaux près de Tanger le 27 avril 1874) et un autre à M'diq près de Tétouan.

A Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus) photographed near the wetland of Oued Martil on 08 May 2010 by Rachid El Khamlichi. The bird was observed hunting insects over an agricultural landscape. This forgotten record discovered recently when Rachid was looking at his photographs.

With less than 30 records, this eastern falcon is still a rarity in Morocco. Most of the 26 Moroccan records (including three not submitted to the MRBC) are from April and early May, with only four are from autumn (Bergier et al. 2011). These observations came from different regions between Dadès-Draa in the south and the Mediterranean coast in the north, but the majority are from the eastern part of Morocco.

Most interesting is that the observation of Rachid is only the 3rd in the Tangier Peninsula after those of Irby (2 near Tangier on 27 April 1874, Irby 1895) and another at M’diq near Tétouan on 27 April 1979 (in Thévenot et al. 2003).


Bergier, P., Franchimont, J., Thévenot, M. & MRBC. (2011). Rare birds in Morocco: report of the Moroccan Rare Birds Committee (2007–09). Bull ABC 18: 40–60.

Irby, L.H.L. (1895). The ornithology of the Straits of Gibraltar (2nd ed). R.H. Porter. London.

Thévenot, M., Vernon, R., & Bergier, P. (2003). The Birds of Morocco. BOU Checklist, no. 20). BOU, Tring.

Adult male Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus) near Oued Martil, 08 May 2010

Friday, September 12, 2014

Conference about “Spoonbills in Morocco” will be held in Andalusia

Conferences about “Eurasian Spoonbill in Morocco” will be held in the town of Chiclana, Cádiz, Andalusia, Spain this Saturday 13th September. 

Rachid El Khamlichi will talk about the Spoonbill colony of Smir, and other GREPOM researchers (Abdeljebbar Qninba, Mohammed Aziz El Agbani & R'himou El Hamoumi) will talk about migration of Spoonbill through Morocco. 

Rachid’s talk will be entitled “La colonia de Espátula común (Platalea leucorodia) de Smir (norte de Marruecos): pasado, presente y perspectivas para el futuro”. He will present the results of the monitoring of the species in Smir heronry during the past years, and discuss also movements of individuals from and to Smir colony. Other aspects will be discussed also.

These conferences are part of the activities of Limes Platalea project. This is a project in which collaborate many entities such as Sociedad Gaditana de Historia Natural, “Consejería de Medio Ambiente y Ordenación del Territorio” of the Andalusian Government and other partners. 

Chicks of Eurasian Spoonbill, Smir heronry
Chicks of Eurasian Spoonbill, Smir heronry, northern Morocco, 7 May 2011

Smir heronry
Smir heronry, northern Morocco, 24 May 2014

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) in Portugal

African White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) seen in the Biological Station of Garducho, Mourão, southern Portugal on 24 August 2014 by Alfonso Godino and Catarina Machado. This is second observation for Portugal and 5th for Europe (the other 3 in southern Spiain).

This is probably the same White-backed Vulture we observed on 25 May 2014 near Tétouan, northern Morocco. It could be a different bird as well, analysis of plumage of both birds could help.

White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus), Portugal, 24 August 2014
White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) and Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus), Biological Station of Garducho, Mourão, southern Portugal, 24 August 2014 (Alfonso Godino & Catarina Machado).
White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus), Portugal, 24 August 2014
White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus), Biological Station of Garducho, Mourão, southern Portugal, 24 August 2014 (Alfonso Godino & Catarina Machado).
White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus), Portugal, 24 August 2014
White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus), Biological Station of Garducho, Mourão, southern Portugal, 24 August 2014 (Alfonso Godino & Catarina Machado).

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A serval photographed in the Middle Atlas

A serval (Leptailurus serval) was sighted and photographed in the Middle Atlas in April 2014. This is reportedly the first photo of this animal in the wild in Morocco. The observation was made by an amateur hiker named Salim Meghni reported the website

The isolated North African population still survives in Morocco but extremely rare, possibly extinct in Algeria and extinct in Tunisia. In the latter country, they introduced/reintroduced the species from East African stock.

The secretive behaviour of the animal makes it difficult to see in an region where it is already rare such as North Africa. Probably it's for this reason why there is such a paucity of data about this species in this region. For instance, Cuzin (2003) summarised only 5 observations in the period 1986-2000, all of them from Lower Draa and adjacent areas. For the period 1900-1971, the author found only 2 sightings (map below from Cuzin 2003).

Serval (Leptailurus serval), Middle Atlas, April 2014. (photo: Salim Meghni/

Cuzin, F. (2003). Les grands mammifères du Maroc méridional (Haut Atlas, Anti Atlas et Sahara). Thèse de Doctorat, Université Montpellier II.
PDF file (8,5 Mo)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Monitoring breeding of Eleonora's Falcon at Essaouira archipelago

A team of ornithologists of GREPOM/BirdLife Morocco shouldered by the local team of the Moroccan Forestry department (HCEFLCD) and supported by the PIM Initiative (Mediterranean small islands Initiative) visited the archipelago of Essaouira (Mogador) in late July to monitor the reproduction of the local population of the Eleonora's Falcon (Falco eleonorae). During this work, 866 nests were located, the population therefore seems to remain relatively stable. A second phase at the end of the season will allow obtaining more precise information about breeding parameters and therefore draw conclusions about the dynamics of this population. To be continued...

You can see more details in the Facebook page of PIM Initiative or in the report published by GREPOM.

If we exclude the much bigger populations in the Greece Islands, the Mogador population is the biggest in the world.

Adult Eleonora's Falcon (Falco eleonorae) incubating two eggs, Essaouira archipelago
Adult incubating two eggs. Eleonora's Falcon can lay up to 4 eggs, those of Essaouira lay 3 in average (photo and data: PIM Initiative).

Archipel d'Essaouira, contrôle de la reproduction du Faucon d'Eléonore.

Une équipe d'ornithologues du GREPOM épaulée par l'équipe locale des Eaux et Forêts et appuyée par les PIM s'est rendue fin juillet sur l'Archipel afin d'effectuer le contrôle de la reproduction de cette population. Les colonies des Canaries et celles d'Essaouira sont les seules représentantes de cette espèce sur la façade atlantique qui se reproduit habituellement sur les îles Méditerranéennes (avant d'effectuer sa migration vers le Nord de Madagascar à l'automne).

Sa reproduction étant décalée par rapport aux autres espèces de rapaces de nos latitudes, c'est le premier passage de la saison qui vient d'être réalisé, impliquant pour les experts présents de recenser les nids de l'année ainsi que les tailles de ponte.

866 nids ont été localisés cette année, la population semble donc rester plutôt stable. Un deuxième passage à la fin de l'année permettra d'obtenir des paramètres de reproductions plus fins et d'ainsi tirer des conclusions sur les dynamiques de cette population. Affaire à suivre donc...

Texte en français est copier-coller de la page Facebook de l'Initiative PIM pour les Petites Iles de Méditerranée. Plus de détail dans cette page ou dans le rapport publié par le GREPOM.