The second part of our trip to Morocco was focused on the Small ButtonQuail, formerly known as the Andalusian Hemipode, found in small pockets in the Western Palearctic region but rarely seen. The group was well briefed by our leader, Peter Lansdown, as to our tactics for the search which would involve selecting areas of suitable habitat along the coastal strip of cultivated fields an hour or so's drive from Oulidia. The idea was to space ourselves out around a suitable 'field' and listen. The Buttonquail has a very deep distinctive call, very different from the Common Quail which were calling all around us. We gave each area up to an hour, but on day 1 of the search, nothing was heard.We tried a number of fields. Several Quail 'got up' but it wasnt till late in the day that a smaller Quail was seen to fly low across the field and into cover. Not all the group saw the bird but the site would be a good starting point for tomorrow's search.
The next day began checking out some ponds near the hotel. There were a number of Duck species including Marbled, Red crested Pochard and Ferruginous.After our daily shop for provisions we continued our quest for the elusive Buttonquail, back 'on station' at the scene of the previous sighting. This time it wasnt too long before we heard the Buttoquail pretty much where it had been seen to fly to the previous day. By listening from different positions we were able to judge the position of the bird to within a couple of metres.We positioned ourselves so that if and when it flew we could all see it.The bird was calling regularly. We all stood patiently when it suddenly flew, giving good but all too brief views, the size and upper wing pattern were clearly visible. Yes, got it, there was a group sigh of relief and delight.
The rest of the day was spent exploring a series of lagoons separated from the sea by a long stretch of Sand dunes. There were small numbers of a variety of Waders and Terns as well as Flamingos and Spoonbill.
Black winged Stilt