Starting from the wetlands adjacent to the city of Kénitra on 16 May 2011 where we, Abdelhak Elbanak and Rachid El Khamlichi, saw a drake Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris). Next day, we went north along the coast with a stop on the complex of wetlands of lower Loukkos (Larache) where we observed more than 40 birds species. For the itinerary see the maps at the end of the post, locations in bold are shown in the map.
On the same day (17 May) we continued our trip north with a short visit to Jbel Bouhachem. On the way there, we saw many raptors including Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus), large flocks of Black Kite (Milvus migrans), Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus) and Booted Eagle (Aquila pennata). Across the Jbel Bouhachem forest, we took some nice shots of Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major), Levaillant's Woodpecker (Picus vaillantii), Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea), European Serin (Serinus serinus), Atlas Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula speculigera), African Blue Tit (Cyanistes teneriffae ultramarinus), Atlas Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs africana) and Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra).
In the evening we continued through the forest to the town of Chefchaouen, we decided to spend the night at Chouihate. After leaving the Place of Sidi Abdel Hamid (The Talassemtane National Pak entrance), on the way up along the valley of Tissimlan, we passed through the pine forest to a natural rock terrace ‘Alama’ (880 m a.s.l.). After a further 2 km we arrived at Ain Tissemlal (1000 m a.s.l.), the source of the main water supply for Chefchaouen. Just a few minutes later a thick fog was rolling in, we drove up more slowly as the visibility decreased. Finally we reached the neck Chouihate, it's been a long and hard road to get to this point but we enjoyed spectacular views of fog covered the mountains. As we arrived, we set up our tent and enjoyed camping inside the forest situated in one of the higher area in northern Morocco (1719 m a.s.l.).
It rained all night and in the morning (18 May) we took down our tents, eat breakfast, and we were in the car waiting to see if the rain was going to keep falling or not. During this time, in the trees around us we observed the Iberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus ibericus), four Northern Raven (Corvus corax), African Blue Tit (Cyanistes teneriffae ultramarinus), Atlas Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs africana) and European Serin (Serinus serinus).
Our intention was to drive from Chouihate, heading east to the Jebel el Kelaa forest. Continued down, we passed the village of Azilane and we reached the village of Afasska (Afeska), where we rested for our second night. We had the pleasure of meeting the lodging “manager” Said Massane and his family, they were always willing to help, everyone made us feel like family. We would like to thank them all for the wonderful time we had with them, for the beautiful room and great food. The lodging/campsite “Chouihat-Afasska” is really a pleasant place to relax and enjoy the wildness of the park. It is composed with four bedrooms, kitchen, hall and shower and its capacity is more than 10 people. Hope you all like the following video where I put all our photographs of the lodging/campsite.
In the late afternoon, the sun was peeking out and the rain had stopped. We went on a walk to look for birds around the campsite with Said who showed us a big cave called “Ghar Nser”. Not far from this cave we saw one falcon fly high in the air, it was hard enough to identify it but we think it was a Eurasian Hobby (Falco subbuteo). Other birds noted there included two Common Woodpigeons (Columba palumbus), Wood Lark (Lullula arborea), Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea), Common Bulbul (Pycnonotus barbatus) and a small mixed flock of Goldfinchs and Linnets. We returned to our campsite for dinner, we didn't see many birds on this walk but the views were spectacular (boulders, forest, profound caves….).
On the next day we were lucky as there was no rain and no wind at all. After good nights rest and enjoyment of the local area, we headed further the river at Afasska.
Zig zag down to Imizzar (963 m a.s.l.) we passed through a wonderful area full of Pine trees, the banks of the Jebel Lakraa. We had lunch on the way to village Taria, and then we went to visit the warden of the Talassemtane National Park and then we headed to the town of Bab Taza. After eating there we continued to Tétouan to spend the night. I post here the following photos were taken during many birding stop on our way, hope you like them!
|Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)|
|Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus)|
|Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)|
|Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus)|
|Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)|
|Moussier's Redstart (Phoenicurus moussieri )|
|Western Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica)|
|Eurasian Stonechat (Saxicola torquatus)|
|Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala)|
|Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)|
|Nuthatch (Sitta europaea) near its nest in a dead tree.|
|A couple of Nuthatch|
|Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius)|
|African Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs africana)|
|European Serin (Serinus serinus)|
|Common Linnet (Carduelis cannabina)|
It was a great and fantastic trip.
Photographs by Rachid El Khamlichi