Saturday, 5 March 2016

Western Sahara - 2016 - Part 1

27th Feb. - 3rd March 2016

The trip was organised by Birdfinders. The party flew from Gatwick to Agadir, Morroco where we stayed overnight before driving on to Dakhla, our base in Western Sahara. Next morning  we did  a bit of birding on a beach adjacent to a local fish factory. We searched through the hundreds of mainly Lesser black backed Gulls but no sign of the Kelp gulls that had been reported there earlier. We moved on to Oued Sous, an estuary,close to Agadir where there were a greater variety of birds; Flamingos, Spoonbills. with migrating White Storks overhead plus several species of Terns and Gulls including Audouin's and Slender billed. On the adjacent scrub we had Barbary Partridge.
During the afternoon we headed south towards Dakhla. We passed through several checkpoints but they didn't hold us up and we made good progress through the desert to Dakhla.
We made an early start next morning heading south again towards Assouerd. On route we saw signs of migration with small groups of Black Kites making slow progress north against an increasingly strong wind. From the bus we could also see groups of Larks in the sparce roadside vegetation. We could ID Hoopoe Lark and Black crowned Sparrow Lark which whetted our appetite for some of our main target birds.
Our leader Peter Lansdowne had done his homework and identified specific Kilometre posts where certain birds had recently been located not far from the main (only) Assouerd road. Our first stop though was a leaking water tower. A couple of small pools had been created and had attracted an Allen's Gallinule the previous week but there was no sign of it now unfortunately. As we neared Assouerd we made further stops where Dunn's Lark, a species we particularly wanted to see, had been seen recently. This time, after a short search, we found them, although flighty in the strong wind. Desert warblers were also found here. We moved on to a small 'farm'-  a few derelict buildings, a small cultivated area, a pool of water and a few trees. Perfect habitat for Desert Sparrow, a bird high up on my most wanted list. In fact there were 20 or so of them.

Assouerd Road

Our Transport

Part of our group

Brown necked Raven

Black crowned Sparrow Lark

Hoopoe Lark

Desert Warbler

Desert Sparrow Bush

Female Desert Sparrow

Male Desert Sparrow

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