Moroccan Birds

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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 Ecologie.ma

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 (in the IUCN Red List page of the species, they termed this as “reintroduction”, but how distinct these subspecies from one another to say “reintroduced” rather than “introduced”? Just a question, you may want to answer). 

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/Ecologie.ma)





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 the team in action in the Facebook page of PIM Initiative.

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...


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Commerce illégal des oiseaux sauvages sur Internet: la réponse de Avito.ma

Mise à jour, 16 août: Avito.ma a bloqué 7 annonces des oiseaux sauvages sur leur site-web (photos complètement supprimées). Ils ont aussi désactivés 2 autres annonces, bien que les photos des oiseaux restent encore dans leur site-web pour ces deux cas. Les oiseaux qui étaient en vente sur Avito.ma peuvent être trouvés sur notre page FB iciMerci à tous et à toutes.

Update, 16 August: Avito.ma blocked 7 advertisements of wild birds on their web-site (pictures completely deleted). They also deactivated two other ads, although the pictures of the birds are still in their web-site for these two cases. The birds that were for sale on Avito.ma can be found at our FB page here. Thank you all. (For the context, see at the end of the blog-post).



Le site-web Avito.ma permet aux braconniers d’annoncer et de vendre des oiseaux sauvages dans le site; cela est contraire à la loi parce que tous les rapaces sont protégés au Maroc. Après avoir vu certains de ces annonces, nous les avons signalés à Avito.ma publiquement sur Twitter le 5 Août 2014 pour tout le monde à voir. Aujourd'hui, Avito.ma a répondu à toutes nos tweets disant qu'il supprimerait ces annonces. Vous pouvez cliquer sur les dates de nos tweets énumérés ci-dessus pour voir toutes leurs réponses. 
Faucon lanier (Falco biarmicus) en vente sur Ie site-web des annonces Avito.ma
Faucon lanier (Falco biarmicus) en vente sur le site-web des annonces Avito.ma 


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Actions de Avito.ma:

Avito.ma a effectivement bloqué seulement 2 annonces jusqu'à présent. Nous voulons qu'ils bloquent toutes les autres annonces et interdire complètement la publicité et la vente des oiseaux sauvages sur leur site-web dans le futur. Les deux annonces bloquées sont: 

- Epervier d'Europe de la ville de Rabat: http://bit.ly/XhUfBc (capture d'écran ci-dessous)

- "Aigle" de la ville d'Inezgane: http://bit.ly/1l3ERTw (le lien apparaître comme ci-dessous)

Annonce bloguée par Avito.ma
Annonce bloguée par Avito.ma


Actions légales:

Parce que tous les rapaces sont protégés par la loi au Maroc, ce commerce illégal des oiseaux sauvages est puni par la loi. Le site Avito.ma (et tout autre site-web) est autant responsable que les annonceurs: l'ignorance de la loi n'est pas une excuse. 

Pour les visiteurs de ce blog, s'il vous plaît signaler ces annonces aux modérateurs du site via le bouton "signaleur cette annonce" situé en dessous de chaque annonce comme le montre la photo ci-dessous. Pour la raison, vous pouvez choisir "Fraude, actes illégaux" et vous pouvez citer la loi dans la boîte de message. Merci beaucoup.

Annonces à signaler (les liens qui contient des lettres arabes sont très longues, ils ont été raccourcie par bitly pour sauver l'espace):









Merci d’utiliser le bouton "signaler cette annonce"
Merci d’utiliser le bouton "signaler cette annonce"

Merci à Karim Rousselon qui était le premier à soulever ce problème sur le groupe facebook du GOMAC et à Oussama Abaouss pour la compilation des liens. Merci aussi à tous les internautes qui ont discuter ce problème sur le groupe du GOMAC.



Illegal trade in wild birds on the Internet: the response of Avito.ma


The website Avito.ma allows poachers to advertise and sell wild birds in the website; this is against the law as all raptors are protected in Morocco. After seeing some of these ads, we reported them to Avito.ma publicly in twitter on 5 August 2014 for everyone to see. Today, Avito.ma responded to all our tweets saying it would remove these ads. Please see the first embedded tweet, and you can click on the dates of our tweets listed above to see all their replies. 

Avito.ma has effectively blocked only 2 ads so far (a Eurasian Sparrowhawk advertised from Rabat and an "Eagle" from Inzegane, see screen capture 1 and the links just above it). We want them to block all the other ads and completely ban advertising and selling of wild birds on their website in the future. 

Since all birds of prey are protected by law in Morocco, this illegal trade in wild birds is punishable by law. The website Avito.ma (and any other website) is as much responsible as the advertisers: ignorance of the law is no excuse.

For visitors to this blog, please report these ads (please see the links just above the last picture) to the website’s moderators via the button "signaler cette annonce" located below each ad as shown in the screen capture 2. For the reason, you can choose “Fraude, actes illégaux” (fraud, illegal acts) and you can cite the law in the message box. Many thanks. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Moussier’s Redstarts nesting in lampshade: a novel nesting site

Moussier's Redstart (Phoenicurus moussieri) is undoubtedly the jewel of the birds of North Africa (yes, this is what European birders say about it). 

The species breeds in a variety of habitats where the nests are placed on the ground, at the foot of grass tussock, under thorn scrub, at the base of a bush near the ground. The nests are also placed in holes in trees up to 2.5 m, river banks and among boulders (Thévenot et al. 2003 - Birds of Morocco).The species is not known to nest in human habitations, there was only one case of nesting in the traditional thatched roof (Thévenot et al. 2003, citing the classic work of Heim de Balsac & Mayaud “Les oiseaux du nord-ouest de l'Afrique” published in 1962).

This year, Mary & Miloud El Menyiy documented successful breeding of Moussier's Redstarts in a human habitation at Ait Mimoun, a rural village south of Agadir. There were two nests in their house, both built in lampshade, one in the balcony and the other on the ground floor terrace which is directly below the balcony. To our knowledge this is the first observation of Moussier's Redstart nesting in a man-made structure and so close to humans (comments are welcome if we missed something). Mary describes themselves as “novice at birding and photography” but we see them as good birders and we should congratulate them for this interesting observation. And Many thanks for sharing this with us. Please read below the full story (click on the images to enlarge them): 


Moussier’s Redstarts nesting in our home at Ait Mimoun
by Mary & Miloud El Menyiy


The proud father Moussier's Redstart (Phoenicurus moussieri)
The proud father Moussier's Redstart (Phoenicurus moussieri), Ait Mimoun (Mary El Menyiy)

Our first encounter with Moussier’s Redstarts was when our house was being built in 2011 in Ait Mimoun, a rural village between Sidi Bibi and Tifnit and approximately 6 km from the sea.

barbecue
Builders had left an empty cement bag on top of the partially built barbecue in the perimeter wall. Miloud saw three eggs in the nest and spotted both male and female adults. On a later fleeting visit he discovered the nest had been disturbed and the chicks were dead on the ground. 


On our visits in 2012 and 2013 we found nests in the ground floor lampshade and the second floor balcony lampshade.

This year, 2014, our visits coincided with the nests being built, eggs being laid, and chicks developing as well as our increased interest in birding and photography.

In March 2014, we saw the female arriving at the balcony lampshade with nest building materials. Our visit ended before we could see any other activity.

On our return in May we found an empty nest in the same lampshade which we photographed before cleaning the shade out as we wanted to use the light.
Moussier’s Redstart nest in the balcony lampshade Balcony

In the same mouth, we saw a female arriving at the lampshade on the ground floor terrace which is directly below the balcony. We then saw the female arrive and stay in the nest in the lampshade. We continued to use the door to the terrace and this did not disturb the bird.

Female Moussier’s Redstart arriving  

A few days later I spotted the female leaving the nest and flying off so I took the opportunity to look inside. There were three eggs. The female returned, stayed on the nest and was brought food by the male.


  
     
Moussier's Redstart eggs in lampshadeMoussier's Redstart eggs in lampshade


The next time we noticed both male and female were arriving with food to feed the chicks.

When we were sure both adult birds had flown off, I again took a picture inside the nest. This was done quickly so as not to disturb the birds. I caught the light fitting as well as 2 of the young birds on the picture.

Moussier's Redstart chicks in lampshade Moussier's Redstart chicks in lampshade

We continued to observe the male and female Moussier’s Redstarts arriving to feed the chicks.

Unfortunately we then left for home in England so were unable to make any further observations. We shall return at the end of July.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Long-tailed Duck at Oualidia: first record for Morocco and Africa

A Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis - Harelde boréale) was found and photographed on the lagoons just northeast of Oualidia on 5-6 June 2014. The bird was found by Bart Brieffies that was in a Birdfinders trip that included eight birders from four European nations. This is the first Moroccan record of the Long-tailed Duck and “may well be the first record for Africa” as the tour leader Vaughan Ashby commented. 

Edit (12 June): This bird looks like a first record for the African continent. I checked “Oiseaux de Tunisie/Birds of Tunisia” (Isenmann et al. 2005) and found that the Long-tailed Duck was not listed. Denis Lepage (Avibase editor), commented on twitter that he "can't find a source of the Tunisia record in Avibase, and looks like an error/unconfirmed sighting".

Read more about this sea duck in the species fact sheet in BirdLife’s data zone, from where the following text in extracted:

Clangula hyemalis is circumpolar, breeding on the Arctic coasts of North America (Canada, Alaska, USA and Greenland), Europe (Iceland and Norway), and Asia (Russia). It winters at sea further south, as far as the United Kingdom, South Carolina and Washington in the United States, Korea on the Asian Pacific coast, and other areas including the Black Sea and Caspian Sea (del Hoyo et al. 1992)”.

Thanks to Vaughan Ashby for sending us this record and for permission to use his photograph.

Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis), Oualidia lagoon, Morocco on 6 June 2014
Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis), Oualidia lagoon, Morocco on 6 June 2014. (photo: Vaughan Ashby)

Harelde boréale (Clangula hyemalis) photographiée dans la lagune de Oualidia les 5-6 juin: une nouvelle espèce pour le Maroc et probablement pour l'ensemble de l'Afrique.

Friday, May 30, 2014

2 Rüppell's Vultures at Jbel Moussa, Strait of Gibraltar (29 May 2014)

Two Rüppell's Vultures (Gyps rueppellii) together with a group of 97 Griffon Vultures (Gyps fulvus) at Jbel Moussa on 29 May 2014.

The group of vultures have not crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and spent the night locally. The plan for today is to check every vulture in the group to see if the African White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) still with group. If Rachid sees the latter species, we will let you know as soon as possible. 

Note: there is no carcass at the place where the vultures were landed and roosted (picture 3).

Observation and photos: Rachid El Khamlichi


Gyps rueppellii, Jbel Moussa (29 May 2014)
Gyps fulvus, Jbel Moussa (29 May 2014)
Vultures waiting for good weather to cross the Strait of Gibraltar, Jbel Moussa, northern Morocco.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Gyps africanus: a new species for Morocco

Today, 25 May 2014, we saw a White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) near Tétouan, northern Morocco. The bird was in company of the Rüppell's Vultures and Griffon Vultures we saw yesterday and today at the same site.

This is the first record for Morocco and North Africa, and it is only the 4th or 5th record for the Western Palearctic. There were 3 records from southern Spain between 2008 and 2011There was also an earlier record (October 2006) from southern Portugal but it was classed in Category D at the time, but probably may be reviewed in light of the subsequent records from Spain and Morocco (thanks to Javier Elloriaga, Dominic Mitchell, Richard Klim and other birders who communicated these WP records). The White-backed Vulture breeds in sub-Saharan Africa and classified as Endangered by IUCN (Red List 2012). 

Vautour africain (Gyps africanus) : une nouvelle espèce pour le Maroc et l'Afrique du Nord. L'espèce se reproduit en Afrique sub-saharienne et classé En danger (EN)  par l'UICN (Liste Rouge 2012).

Rachid El Khamlichi, Karim El Haoua & Mohamed Amezian

photos by Rachid.


Update 26 MayWe went back to the site at lunchtime but we haven’t found a single vulture neither at the carcass nor in the surrounding area. Most likely they have moved to the direction of Jbel Moussa after we left the area yesterday at about 16:00. Good luck for the birders around the Strait of Gibraltar.

In summary, this May was a vultures' mouth by excellence: 10 Rüppell's Vultures and one White-backed Vulture in 4 days (10, 11, 24 and 25 May. see this link: http://moroccanbirds.blogspot.com/2014_05_01_archive.html

White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) and Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus).
White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) and Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus).
White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus), Rüppell's Vulture (Gyps rueppellii) & Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus)
Three Gyps vultures together at Tétouan: White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus), Rüppell's Vulture (Gyps rueppellii) and Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus)