donderdag 26 april 2012

27 april 2012 - Home from Morocco

Well it has been way too long since my last blog post, no excuses really as i did have internet in Morocco, but never had the time to do anything here as i was busy posting photos on facebook or to my new photo hosting website

The Morocco tours were brilliant, below is the tour summary i sent to the WINGS office after the trips:-
I am just home after two amazing tours to Morocco, both very similar and yet still quite different! On both trips we recorded many of the hoped for species including Northern Bald Ibis, Moussier's Redstart, Tristram's, African Desert & Scrub Warblers, Levaillant's Woodpecker, Seebohm's, Red-rumped and White-crowned Wheatears, Black-bellied and Spotted Sandgrouse, Pharaoh Eagle Owl, Cream-coloured Courser, African Crimson-winged Finch, Egyptian Nightjar, Thick-billed, Hoopoe and Temminck's Larks, plus all the exciting 'new' species (or species in waiting). The latter included Moroccan Wagtail, Maghreb Magpie, Ultramarine Tit, Atlas Chaffinch, Desert Grey Shrike and Atlas Horned Lark. There were other constants as well from the healthy picnics of sardines, fresh vegetables and local bread, mint tea and tastey tajines to the stunning scenery and friendliness of everyone we met.
So what was different between the two tours? The weather for one. The first trip saw some wet days, some windy days ending with some pleasantly sunny days along the coast. Snow was limited in the Atlas and there was no lake in the Sahara....roll on 2 weeks and there is still no snow in the Atlas, but a lake several miles long in the Sahara!! The day after our arrival in the Atlas we then had 40cm of fresh snow fall, providing some quite dramatic scenery....or rather making already dramatic scenery even more beautiful!
Where one tour missed out, eg no Maghreb Wheatear on the first tour, but they did see Crowned Sandgrouse. In fact, of all the hoped for species those 2 were the only ones that were only recorded on one of the tours.
Migration differed between the two trips of course, the first trip finding some nice surprises in the form of a male Pallid Harrier, several Isabelline Wheatears and a small group of Little Crakes. The second trip was rewarded with a few of the later migrants such as European Roller, Golden Oriole, Rufous Bush-robin and even larger numbers of European Bee-eaters.

Could I choose between which tour was the best, no chance! Morocco remains a top class birding destination.....the only downside, I wish I was going back for a 3rd trip!

There has been quite a lot of talk of late of seeing Houbaras in Morocco. I have now seen 2, but the release project is now so large that seeing a genuine wild bird must be nearly impossible (or impossible to prove). There are now 3 breeding centres, releasing 2000 birds a year for the Arab hunters. Someone told me it's like counting Pheasants on your British list or White Storks in the Netherlands. The former i can agree with, the latter are (as far as i know) not supplemented by huge releases each year.

All the photos from both tours are now on the smugmug site, with labels. Im hoping that that site will be the definitive place for all my photos. The idea being that it will be fully searchable, by both english and scientific name, or by country. I have thousands of photos sitting on hard drives that although i dont think they are great photos they may well be of value to someone with regards ID features (Eastern & Western Ollys for example, Pallid Swifts).

Im working backwards with putting photos online, and am currently at 24th jan 2012......long way to go.

In the meantime the self employment is going well. The taxman sends me more letters than the average stalker, work is coming in, and basically i cant remember the last time i had a day of doing nothing. Next week Spain.....