Birding trip report Morocco 1-14 Dec. 2019   -   John van der Woude   www.jvanderw.nl
We did south Morocco (but not Western Sahara) from Agadir, by rental car (Dacia Duster) booked through sunnycars.nl, booking hotels with booking.com from day to day during the trip, having mobile internet practically everywhere (and often 4G) with a simcard from Maroc Telecom (5 euro for 5GB, valid for a month) placed in an old phone and using that as wifi hotspot for both our present phones. At home, I had prepared the trip by putting interesting locations (previous observations, hotels, sites described in Gosney etc.) in my Andoid app Maps.me, which also offers navigation.
Emphasis was on the southern rim of Morocco from Guelmim to Merzouga, because there was rain in that whole zone on our first days (making the birds more active), and because the upgraded but very quiet N12 road is going this whole route. Also because not many birders did this 800 km long road.
December is not a very usual month for birders to visit Morocco, but most of the target birds are non-migratory, so why not. Hotels were never full, and we had fine weather with good visibility (cooler air). We had been to south Morocco in March 2009 (report) with Arnoud van den Berg (whose Sound Approach book about Moroccan birdlife is due August 2020).
Our main birding sites with coordinates of best access point and some of our highlight species.
(A = Agadir airport.)
1 = Oued Massa. 30.057206, -9.655311. Water birds, bushes.
2 = SE of Guelmim. 28.933651, -10.019615. Thick-billed Lark, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Cream-coloured Courser. Streaked Scrub Warbler at 28.959589, -9.923670.
3 = S of Assa. 28.358141, -9.380017. Larks, Spotted Sandgrouse. A very interesting (semi-)desert scenery.
4 = S and E of Akka. 29.413439, -8.077369 Trumpeter Finch.
5 = E of Tissint. 29.851901, -7.264044 view on river.
6 = E of Foum Zguid. 30.092588, -6.679926. Several songbird species.
7 = Mhamid desert fringes. 29.827618, -5.733947 for e.g. Desert Warbler.
8 = Rissani-Merzouga area. E.g. around 31.200680, -4.029082 (border of dune area)
9  = Todhra gorge. 31.594044, -5.594567 and up. Tristram's Warbler, Black Wheatear.
10 = E of Boumalne. 31.303094, -5.871550. Temminck's Lark.
11 = Oukaimeden ski resort. 31.201164, -7.860267. Atlas Horned Lark, African Crimson-winged Finch.
To view our birding spots in more detail, including the bird species we noted there in observation.org, please open earth_obs_ENG.kml in e.g. Google Earth (or earth_obs.kml with Dutch bird names). If you have Google Earth installed, the kml will normally open automatically. Also, you can use the kml file in map apps like Maps.me on your phone.
To view bird and landscape photos of the trip, see my public Facebook posts:
https://www.facebook.com/john.vanderwoude.37/posts/2425775880884071  -  Wheatears/Tapuiten, 7 species.
https://www.facebook.com/john.vanderwoude.37/posts/2429230677205258  -  130 Spotted Sandgrouse/Sahelzandhoen S of Assa.
https://www.facebook.com/john.vanderwoude.37/posts/2433222963472696  -  Larks/Leeuweriken, 7 of the 9 observed species.
https://www.facebook.com/john.vanderwoude.37/posts/2437643923030600  -  300 Trumpeter Finch/Woestijnvink at plantation along road Foum - Zagora.
https://www.facebook.com/john.vanderwoude.37/posts/2441988842596108  -  Geology and scenery/Geologie en landschap.
 Red-rumped Wheatear - Roodstuittapuit     Western Mourning Wheatear -  Westlijke rouwtapuit    
Hotels: All hotels except at Assa also had a restaurant or other dining possibility. All hotels except Assa can be found on booking.com.
Villa du Souss Eco-Lodge near Agadir airport.
Oasis Palm Hotel just N of Guelmim (2 nights) - very comfortable and outside town.
Assa hotel. The only place to stay there. Small clean pizza restaurant halfway main street in town (painted blue).
Borj Biramane, just N of Icht. Absolutely recommendable. We phoned them because booking.com said it was full but they still had one room available. Must be popular for travellers.
Riad Hiba in Foum Zguid. Reasonable. Friendly staff.
Dar Azawad in Mhamid. Near the impressive large desert/dune area although Mhamid is not essential for birding.
Serdrar Camp. Fantastic place in the middle of nowhere, i.e. a very open savannah with a large water basin. Good food.
Kasbah Hotel Ziz Palace Rissani (2 nights). Good location for this large, varied and important birding area.
La Porte du Dades, Boumalne. We chose this because of the good score on booking.com, but for birding it is actually on the wrong (and busy) side of the river. Moreover, no private parking despite what was said on booking.com. But good food, made by the owner.
Riad Chay in westernmost Ouarzazate. Good and professional. Need navigator to find it. Good food also.
Aurocher Oukaimeden about 20 minutes drive from Oukaimeden ski resort. Beautiful and modern but noisy tile floor above us.
Villa Riad les Deux Golfs & Spa in the outskirts of Marrakech. We only chose Marrakech after our afternoon at Oukaimeden because then we could take the fast highway back to Agadir the next (and last) day. No private parking despite what was said on booking.com. Good room but still some traffic noise.
Bird observations: see especially the above-mentioned kml files (earth_obs) but you can also head to the individual observations (recorded in observation.org) listed in this Word file with hyperlinks to the observations (or this text file with Dutch bird names). Please note that for each day the sites are arranged alphabetically (by observation.org) instead of chronologically.
Our plain species list (with total number in observation.org):  
1 Barbary Partridge - Alectoris barbara 2
2 Ruddy Shelduck - Tadorna ferruginea 5
3 Spotted Sandgrouse - Pterocles senegallus 130
4 Black-bellied Sandgrouse - Pterocles orientalis 49
5 Rock Dove - Columba livia 10
6 Common Wood Pigeon - Columba palumbus 4
7 Eurasian Collared Dove - Streptopelia decaocto 6
8 Laughing Dove - Spilopelia senegalensis 4
9 Greater Flamingo - Phoenicopterus roseus 35
10 Eurasian Oystercatcher - Haematopus ostralegus 2
11 Common Ringed Plover - Charadrius hiaticula 1
12 Eurasian Curlew - Numenius arquata 2
13 Common Sandpiper - Actitis hypoleucos 1
14 Green Sandpiper - Tringa ochropus 4
15 Common Greenshank - Tringa nebularia 1
16 Cream-colored Courser - Cursorius cursor 5
17 Great Cormorant - Phalacrocorax carbo 2
18 Northern Bald Ibis - Geronticus eremita 1
19 Glossy Ibis - Plegadis falcinellus 630
20 Eurasian Spoonbill - Platalea leucorodia 2
21 Little Egret - Egretta garzetta 13
22 Western Osprey - Pandion haliaetus 1
23 Eurasian Sparrowhawk - Accipiter nisus 1
24 Western Marsh Harrier - Circus aeruginosus 1
25 Long-legged Buzzard - Buteo rufinus 4
26 Little Owl - Athene noctua 2
27 Eurasian Hoopoe - Upupa epops 2
28 Levaillant's Woodpecker - Picus vaillantii 1
29 Common Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus 4
30 Peregrine Falcon - Falco peregrinus 1
31 Peregrine Falcon ssp pelegrinoides - Falco peregrinus pelegrinoides 1 (Barbary Falcon)
32 Desert Grey Shrike - Lanius excubitor elegans 14
33 Maghreb Magpie - Pica mauritanica 1
34 Red-billed Chough ssp barbarus - Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax barbarus 110
34 Alpine Chough - Pyrrhocorax graculus
35 Brown-necked Raven - Corvus ruficollis 76
36 Northern Raven - Corvus corax 1
37 Ultramarine Blue Tit - Cyanistes teneriffae ultramarinus 2
38 Great Tit ssp excelsus - Parus major excelsus 1
39 Greater Hoopoe-Lark - Alaemon alaudipes 8
40 Thick-billed Lark - Ramphocoris clotbey 12
41 Desert Lark - Ammomanes deserti 17
42 Bar-tailed Lark - Ammomanes cinctura 8
43 Thekla's Lark - Galerida theklae 10
44 Crested Lark - Galerida cristata 13
45 Atlas Horned Lark - Eremophila alpestris atlas 20
46 Temminck's Lark - Eremophila bilopha 5
47 Lesser Short-toed Lark - Alaudala rufescens 10
48 Common Bulbul - Pycnonotus barbatus 3
49 Eurasian Crag Martin - Ptyonoprogne rupestris 8
50 Cetti's Warbler - Cettia cetti 1
51 Streaked Scrub Warbler - Scotocerca inquieta 2
52 Common Chiffchaff - Phylloscopus collybita 6
53 Fulvous Babbler - Argya fulva 11
54 Eurasian Blackcap - Sylvia atricapilla 2
55 African Desert Warbler - Sylvia deserti 1
56 Dartford Warbler - Sylvia undata 2
57 Tristram's Warbler - Sylvia deserticola 2
58 Sardinian Warbler - Sylvia melanocephala 5
59 Eurasian Wren - Troglodytes troglodytes 1
60 Spotless Starling - Sturnus unicolor 10
61 Common Blackbird ssp mauritanicus - Turdus merula mauritanicus 6
62 Mistle Thrush ssp deichleri - Turdus viscivorus deichleri 2
63 Black Redstart - Phoenicurus ochruros 2
64 Moussier's Redstart - Phoenicurus moussieri 4
65 Blue Rock Thrush - Monticola solitarius 6
66 European Stonechat - Saxicola rubicola 1
67 Northern Wheatear - Oenanthe oenanthe 1
68 Desert Wheatear - Oenanthe deserti 5
69 Oenanthe hispanica hispanica 2
70 Red-rumped Wheatear - Oenanthe moesta 7
71 Black Wheatear - Oenanthe leucura 1
72 White-crowned Wheatear - Oenanthe leucopyga 11
73 Western Mourning Wheatear - Oenanthe lugens halophila 2
74 North-west African White-throated Dipper - Cinclus cinclus minor 2
75 House Sparrow - Passer domesticus 10
76 Spanish Sparrow - Passer hispaniolensis 15
77 Rock Sparrow - Petronia petronia 50
78 White Wagtail - Motacilla alba 53
78 Moroccan Wagtail - Motacilla alba subpersonata 1
79 Meadow Pipit - Anthus pratensis 2
80 Atlas Chaffinch - Fringilla coelebs africana 1
81 African Crimson-winged Finch - Rhodopechys alienus 1
82 Trumpeter Finch - Bucanetes githagineus 355
83 European Greenfinch - Chloris chloris 4
84 Common Linnet - Linaria cannabina 11
85 Red Crossbill - Loxia curvirostra 2
86 European Serin - Serinus serinus 64
87 Eurasian Siskin - Spinus spinus 1
88 Corn Bunting - Emberiza calandra 1
89 Rock Bunting - Emberiza cia 1
90 Cirl Bunting - Emberiza cirlus 1
91 House Bunting - Emberiza sahari 7
92 Fat Sand Rat - Psammomys obesus 4
93 Horned Viper - Vipera ammodytes 1
94 Painted Lady - Vanessa cardui 2
1 Barbarijse Patrijs - Alectoris barbara 2
2 Casarca - Tadorna ferruginea 5
3 Sahelzandhoen - Pterocles senegallus 130
4 Zwartbuikzandhoen - Pterocles orientalis 49
5 Rotsduif - Columba livia 10
6 Houtduif - Columba palumbus 4
7 Turkse Tortel - Streptopelia decaocto 6
8 Palmtortel - Spilopelia senegalensis 4
9 Flamingo - Phoenicopterus roseus 35
10 Scholekster - Haematopus ostralegus 2
11 Bontbekplevier - Charadrius hiaticula 1
12 Wulp - Numenius arquata 2
13 Oeverloper - Actitis hypoleucos 1
14 Witgat - Tringa ochropus 4
15 Groenpootruiter - Tringa nebularia 1
16 Renvogel - Cursorius cursor 5
17 Aalscholver- Phalacrocorax carbo 2
18 Heremietibis - Geronticus eremita 1
19 Zwarte Ibis - Plegadis falcinellus 630
20 Lepelaar - Platalea leucorodia 2
21 Kleine Zilverreiger - Egretta garzetta 13
22 Visarend - Pandion haliaetus 1
23 Sperwer - Accipiter nisus 1
24 Bruine Kiekendief - Circus aeruginosus 1
25 Arendbuizerd - Buteo rufinus 4
26 Steenuil - Athene noctua 2
27 Hop - Upupa epops 2
28 Levaillants Specht - Picus vaillantii 1
29 Torenvalk - Falco tinnunculus 4
30 Slechtvalk - Falco peregrinus 1
31 Slechtvalk ssp pelegrinoides - Falco peregrinus pelegrinoides 1
32 Woestijnklapekster - Lanius excubitor elegans 14
33 Maghrebekster - Pica mauritanica 1
34 Alpenkraai ssp barbarus - Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax barbarus 110
34 Alpenkauw - Pyrrhocorax graculus
35 Bruinnekraaf - Corvus ruficollis 76
36 Raaf - Corvus corax 1
37 Maghrebpimpelmees - Cyanistes teneriffae ultramarinus 2
38 Koolmees ssp excelsus - Parus major excelsus 1
39 Witbandleeuwerik - Alaemon alaudipes 8
40 Diksnavelleeuwerik - Ramphocoris clotbey 12
41 Woestijnleeuwerik - Ammomanes deserti 17
42 Rosse Woestijnleeuwerik - Ammomanes cinctura 8
43 Thekla's Leeuwerik - Galerida theklae 10
44 Kuifleeuwerik - Galerida cristata 13
45 Atlasstrandleeuwerik - Eremophila alpestris atlas 20
46 Temmincks Strandleeuwerik - Eremophila bilopha 5
47 Kleine Kortteenleeuwerik - Alaudala rufescens 10
48 Grauwe Buulbuul - Pycnonotus barbatus 3
49 Rotszwaluw - Ptyonoprogne rupestris 8
50 Cetti's Zanger - Cettia cetti 1
51 Maquiszanger - Scotocerca inquieta 2
52 Tjiftjaf - Phylloscopus collybita 6
53 Bruingele Babbelaar - Argya fulva 11
54 Zwartkop - Sylvia atricapilla 2
55 Afrikaanse Woestijngrasmus - Sylvia deserti 1
56 Provençaalse Grasmus - Sylvia undata 2
57 Atlasgrasmus - Sylvia deserticola 2
58 Kleine Zwartkop - Sylvia melanocephala 5
59 Winterkoning - Troglodytes troglodytes 1
60 Zwarte Spreeuw - Sturnus unicolor 10
61 Merel ssp mauritanicus - Turdus merula mauritanicus 6
62 Grote Lijster ssp deichleri - Turdus viscivorus deichleri 2
63 Zwarte Roodstaart - Phoenicurus ochruros 2
64 Diadeemroodstaart - Phoenicurus moussieri 4
65 Blauwe Rotslijster - Monticola solitarius 6
66 Roodborsttapuit - Saxicola rubicola 1
67 Tapuit - Oenanthe oenanthe 1
68 Woestijntapuit - Oenanthe deserti 5
69 Oenanthe hispanica hispanica 2
70 Roodstuittapuit - Oenanthe moesta 7
71 Zwarte Tapuit - Oenanthe leucura 1
72 Witkruintapuit - Oenanthe leucopyga 11
73 Westelijke Rouwtapuit - Oenanthe lugens halophila 2
74 Waterspreeuw ssp minor - Cinclus cinclus minor 2
75 Huismus - Passer domesticus 10
76 Spaanse Mus - Passer hispaniolensis 15
77 Rotsmus - Petronia petronia 50
78 Witte Kwikstaart - Motacilla alba  53
78 Marokkaanse Kwikstaart - Motacilla alba subpersonata 1
79 Graspieper - Anthus pratensis 2
80 Atlasvink - Fringilla coelebs africana 1
81 Atlasbergvink - Rhodopechys alienus 1
82 Woestijnvink - Bucanetes githagineus 355
83 Groenling - Chloris chloris 4
84 Kneu - Linaria cannabina 11
85 Kruisbek - Loxia curvirostra 2
86 Europese Kanarie - Serinus serinus 64
87 Sijs - Spinus spinus 1
88 Grauwe Gors - Emberiza calandra 1
89 Grijze Gors - Emberiza cia 1
90 Cirlgors - Emberiza cirlus 1
91 Huisgors - Emberiza sahari 7
92 Vette Zandrat - Psammomys obesus 4
93 Zandadder - Vipera ammodytes 1
94 Distelvlinder - Vanessa cardui 2
Photo on top: Spotted Sandgrouse (Sahelzandhoen) S of Assa. Photos in the middle: Red-rumped, Western Mourning and White-crowned Wheatears. Photo above: desert near Mhamid, after rain.