Moroccan Birds

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Moroccan Marsh Owl (Asio capensis tingitanus) at lower Loukkos marshes


Some images of the Moroccan Marsh Owl (Asio capensis tingitanus - Hibou du Cap) taken by Imad Yassin at the lower Loukkos marshes near Larache on 16 October 2014. To my knowledge not many photographs of the Marsh Owl were taken at these marshes.


Moroccan Marsh Owl (Asio capensis tingitanus), lower Loukkos marshes
Moroccan Marsh Owl (Asio capensis tingitanus), lower Loukkos marshes (Imad Yassin) 
Moroccan Marsh Owl (Asio capensis tingitanus), lower Loukkos marshes
Moroccan Marsh Owl (Asio capensis tingitanus), lower Loukkos marshes (Imad Yassin) 
Moroccan Marsh Owl (Asio capensis tingitanus), lower Loukkos marshes
Moroccan Marsh Owl (Asio capensis tingitanus), lower Loukkos marshes (Imad Yassin) 

Some other beautiful birds taken by Imad can be seen at his Facebook page: 

Thanks Imad!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Conference on Scavenging Birds - Jornadas Aves Necrófagas

The Andalusian Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning is organising a conference on scavenging birds under the theme “Andalucía frente al reto de la conservación del Alimoche (Neophron percnopterus)”. The conference will be held at Vejer de la Frontera, Cádiz on 11 and 12 December 2014. 

The overall objective of the conference is to come up with answers in order to reverse the current decline of the Egyptian Vulture population in Andalusia. This year there were only 23 occupied territories of Egyptian Vultures in the whole of Andalusia which is a record low number (declined from 81 pairs in 1987). 

Several researchers and managers will attend and give presentations about different aspect of the Egyptian Vulture ecology in Andalusia and other regions of Spain. There will be some presentations about other vultures as well. 

We will also participate in this conference as members of GREPOM/BirdLife Morocco. Imad Cherkaoui, the director of the association will attend the conference as well.

Rachid El Khamlichi will give a presentation entitled "Nuevos datos alentadores sobre el Alimoche común (Neophron percnopterus) en Marruecos” (New encouraging data about the Egyptian Vulture in Morocco).

For more information about other presentations and the programme of the conference, please visit this link at the website of Junta de Andalucía

Egyptian Vulture, Morocco (photo: Rachid El Khamlichi)

Jornadas Aves Necrófagas


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Open, unregulated trade in wildlife in Morocco’s markets (field study)

Last year, we shared here a non-exhaustive report of birds observed for sale and as photo props in different Moroccan cities. The birds included many raptor species and even a Rüppell's Vulture, a vagrant from sub-Saharan Africa, which was used as a photo prop in Marrakech. The data were gathered during a field work in summer 2013 by Daniel Bergin from the Oxford Wildlife Trade Research Group at Oxford Brookes University (UK).

Now, the sad story of the illegal wildlife trade has been completed with the publication of the results of Daniel’s field study in the TRAFFIC Bulletin. Daniel and his co-author also published a short account in SWARA magazine about the illegal wildlife trade in Rabat, Morocco’s capital. Ya 7assra!

Daniel has uploaded the PDF files to researchgate.net, which can be downloaded from these links:




Thanks Daniel for sending the links!

Rüppell's Vulture (Gyps rueppellii) used as photo prop at Jemaa el-Fna square, Marrakech, March 2013. (photo: A. Sterck). Note the damaged flight feathers.

Rüppell's Vulture (Gyps rueppellii) used as photo prop at Jemaa el-Fna square, Marrakech. THE Same Individual after more than 3 months.
(photo: D. Bergin).

Photos and a video of the same vulture more than 6 months later at the same place: Jemaa el-Fna square, Marrakech. Imagine the sufferings! 



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

American Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinicus) at Kenitra: 1st for Morocco

Exceptional observation of a Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinicus) in Kenitra. “The bird found very weak in the city of Kenitra three days ago by my uncle, and was collected to his garden” reports Thomas S. Lahlafi in the facebook group of GOMAC. The bird would have gained its strength until last night, and was not there this morning. “The rarity is twofold” added Thomas S. Lahlafi in reference to the fact that the 'Moroccan' Purple Gallinule has survived its trans-Atlantic trip unlike many Palearctic records which are found dead after the trip!

This is the first record for Morocco and North-west Africa.


Observation exceptionnelle d'une Talève violacée !!!!!!!!! En pleine ville de Kénitra, mon oncle l'a trouvée très affaiblie il y a 3 jours, l'a recueillie dans son jardin. Elle aurait repris des forces jusqu'à hier soir, et n'était plus là ce matin. La rareté est double, puisque les quelques mentions au Paléarctic ferai état d'individus trouvée mort après le voyage !

 Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinicus) in Kenitra (photo: Thomas S. Lahlafi)
Many thanks!


Saturday, November 15, 2014

The perilous journey of Griffon Vultures in pictures

Each year, with the fall of the first autumn rains some 3000 immature Griffon Vultures (Gyps fulvus) mainly from various parts of the Iberian Peninsula concentrate around the Strait of Gibraltar. They are ready to embark on a migratory journey that will take them to sub-Saharan Africa in search of better weather and abundance of food. But this trip is not without dangers. These dangers start with the blades of wind turbines in southern Spain and also in northern Morocco. Crossing the Strait is also a challenge. Electrocution and risks of accidental poisoning are real threats.  The capture and trade in exhausted vultures in Morocco is also a problem. And finally there are the (natural) hazards of the migration itself like encountering sandstorms, luck of food en route, encountering predators while exhausted.... 

Rachid, in the Otra orilla blog, has illustrated every danger highlighted above by pictures taken mainly in Morocco but also in southern Spain. The pictures were taken by himself, except otherwise stated. The text is Spanish but the blog offer translation to the language of your browser.



Flock of Griffon vultures flying near fully operational wind turbines
Flock of Griffon Vultures flying close to fully operational wind turbines, Moroccan side of the Strait of Gibraltar. (Rachid El Khamlichi). 




Sunday, November 9, 2014

Yellow-browed Warblers at Imlil and Oued Noun

A few days ago, I wrote a blog-post about the influx of Yellow-browed Warblers (Phylloscopus inornatus) to southern Iberian Peninsula and Canary Islands in late October. Many birds have literally “invaded” the Canary Islands in October and November, and they must have crossed from Morocco (if only there are enough eyes to see them here). Fortunately there are some lucky ones which got the following observations:

- On 28 October, Tony Knight had good views of a Yellow-browed Warbler at Imlil, High Atlas, and got some stunning photographs which are listed below. Thanks Tony!

- In the same period, 27 October, members of GOMAC saw and photographed 2 Yellow-browed Warblers in Oued Noun at Fort Bou-Jerif (Guelmim province). They also saw an Olive-backed Pipit (Anthus hodgsoni), which is also a mega-rarity (there was only 1 previous record of this species in Morocco). Bravo colleagues, always discovering new rarities!


* Tony's record is forwarded to Prof Jacques Franchimont, the secretary of the Moroccan Rare Birds Committee.

Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus), Imlil, 28 October (photo: Tony Knight).
Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus), Imlil, 28 October (photo: Tony Knight).
Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus), Imlil, 28 October (photo: Tony Knight).
Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus), Imlil, 28 October (photo: Tony Knight).
Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus), Imlil, 28 October (photo: Tony Knight).


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris) at Oued Souss (8 November)

Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris - Bécasseau de l’Anadyr) photographed with four Red Knots (Calidris canutus) at Oued Souss by Robin Chittenden and Arnoud van den Berg during a birding tour with Limosa Holidays today (8 November). 

Great Knot is extremely rare in Morocco where there was only one previous record, an adult in summer plumage at the Souss estuary on 27 August 1980 (The Birds of Morocco). So, today’s bird is the second record for Morocco.

This wader, which breed in northeast Siberia, is equally rare elsewhere in the Western Palearctic. Britain for instance (which has thousands of birdwatchers), got its fourth Great Knot only in July 2014 according to the UK Rare Birds Alert. In Spain, the species was not recorded in the last 14 years (reports of the 'Comité de Rarezas de la Sociedad Española de Ornitología' from 2000 onwards).

Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris), Oued Souss (Arnoud  van den Berg)
Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris), second from left with 4 Red Knots, Oued Souss, 8 November 2014. (photo: Arnoud van den Berg)
Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris), Oued Souss (Arnoud  van den Berg)
Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris), second from left with 4 Red Knots, Oued Souss, 8 November 2014. (photo: Arnoud van den Berg).

Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris) breeding and wintering areas (source of map: Planet of Birds).