searching for the last of the Bald Ibis on the bird-rich Atlantic coast



"Just wanted to tell everyone how much I enjoyed the trip to Morocco.  Everything went very smoothly, and John was a great guide.  The hotel was pleasant, and the pace was perfect. "...... 

Ms A.W. Maryland, USA




Occupying the north-west corner of the African Continent, Morocco is an excellent birdwatching destination. The


country offers a mixture of spectacular scenery: lakes, marshes, snow covered mountains, estuaries, coastal scrub and both stone and sand desert which will all be visited during this holiday. This wide range of habitats will produce an exciting variety of birds all within a relatively small area. Once visited, one never forgets the special beauty this country possesses.


The holiday has been planned to show you the maximum numbers of birds and spend the maximum amount of time birdwatching, rather than travelling and changing hotels. We have just one hotel for the week and concentrate on the coastal strip around Agadir with easy access to world famous marshlands, the Atlas mountains and desert plains.


Amongst the numerous resident species that will be present at the time of our visit is the rare and declining Northern Bald Ibis. A visit to the areas which are home to almost the entire world population, will provide a unique sight. It is only hoped that the concerted conservation measures, together with a vigorous captive breeding programme can help to reverse the downward trend that is threatening the species with extinction.






From our base in Agadir we are within easy reach of Oued Sous, Oued Massa, Cap Rhir, Tamri and the plain of the River Sous.


The River Sous flows into the Atlantic a mere five kilometres south of central Agadir. We can regard it as our “local patch” during the holiday and may make several visits in search of wintering birds and migrants. A large selection of waders will be present, while gulls and terns are plentiful at low tide, feeding and resting on the exposed sand flats. Stone Curlews can be seen during the day unobtrusively stalking prey on the dry broken ground in the vicinity of the Royal Palace.


Barbary Partridge breed in local woodland and scrub and we should soon find the stunning Moussier's Redstart. Other birds which are either common or regularly seen here include the African race of Cormorant (complete with white underparts), Little Egret, White Stork, Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet and Osprey. We will check the flocks of gulls and terns for the beautiful Audouin's Gull.


Cap Rhir is a major headland north of Agadir. The surrounding scrub is good for wheatears, Moussier's Redstart, Blue Rock Thrush, Spanish Sparrow and House Bunting. The cape itself is probably the best location for seawatching in Morocco, which can be good at this time for both Cory's and Mediterranean Shearwaters as well as Pomarine, Arctic and Great Skuas. A fine Lesser Crested Tern provided the highlight one year.


Tamri is a small coastal village to the north of Cap Rhir famous for its small but very tasty bananas! A pleasant reed fringed lagoon has formed where a small river nears the sea. As well as attracting numerous waders and gulls, Spoonbills and Little Egrets can also be seen. This is now the best place in the world to see the declining Waldrapp or Northern Bald Ibis. On our last tour the group located a spectacular flock of 75 Bald Ibis along the coast here.


The wide sandy beaches on the coastal strip attract large flocks of roosting gulls, mainly Western Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Amongst them we shall find smaller flocks of Audouin’s Gulls. Several hundred of these rather beautiful gulls have been counted on these beaches in autumn.



The plain of the River Sous lies inland from Agadir and beyond the beautiful city of Tarroudant, sandwiched between the High Atlas and Anti Atlas. It is home to North African endemics such as Fulvous Babbler. Recent splits include the striking African Blue Tit and amazingly different subspecies occur such as the African Chaffinch and the blue faced Common Magpie. To the south lie stone deserts where we will search for Cream-coloured Courser and other desert specialities including Black-bellied Sandgrouse and Trumpeter Finch as well as Desert and Red-rumped Wheatears.



Just north of Agadir lies Paradise Valley, famously renamed by Jimi Hendrix on his trip to Morocco in the late sixties. This provides a spectacular route into the western foothills of the High Atlas mountains. The road here winds through the deep Assif Tamrhakh gorge and some stunning mountain scenery. The mountains here are home to Crag Martin, Black Wheatear, Thekla Lark and Moussier’s Redstart. On our last trip we encountered three Bonelli’s Eagles with stunning views of two adults over our picnic site!



Along the coast just south of Agadir the Oued Massa is one of the most exciting areas for birds in the whole of Morocco and has been a biological reserve since 1980. The River Massa flows from the centre of the country westwards but widens here to form a small land locked lagoon, separated from the sea by sand dunes.


Directly south of the Oued Massa is the vast Sahara Desert stretching from the Atlantic Coast across to Egypt, and south to Senegal. Being the only substantial area of fresh water for many miles the Oued Massa provides a much needed refuelling stop for numerous trans-Saharan migrants.


A rough track leads along the edge of the lagoon to the village of Sidi R'bat where we check through the numerous wildfowl in the hope of seeing scarce species such as Marbled Duck, Ferruginous Duck, Red-crested Pochard and Ruddy Shelduck. Other species present include Greater Flamingo, Common Crane (a small flock winters on the reserve), Glossy Ibis and various herons. The large numbers of birds also attract raptors with likely encounters with Marsh Harriers and Peregrine Falcon and also the chance of a Bonelli’s Eagle or Barbary Falcon. The attractive Black-shouldered Kite hunts widely across this area.


The scrub habitat here is perfect for Black-headed Bush Shrike, and despite having a reputation as a skulking species, we can expect good views. Other African species in the area include Palm Dove and Brown-throated Martin. The gardens and cultivated fields in the valley hold Common Bulbul, Spotless Starlings, Fan-tailed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler and Bluethroat. On occasions, vagrants such as Isabelline Shrike and Richard’s Pipit have also been discovered here, a long way from their Central Asian breeding grounds. Other wildlife that may be seen include Wild Boar and Egyptian Mongoose.


After seven exciting days we will have a very short drive back to the airport for our flight home.



Breakfast will be taken at about 7.00am most mornings, perhaps slightly later if the previous day has been tiring. Basic fitness is all that is required. Full days will be spent in the field and short/medium length walks on the flat will be undertaken regularly.



Full-board accommodation is provided with seven nights based at the Hotel Le Tivoli in Agadir. Rooms are of a very good standard and have en suite facilities. Packed lunches will be taken every day.



All birdwatching excursions with expert leader, full-board accommodation (starting with lunch on 7th and ending with breakfast on 14th), local transport by mini-bus, reserve entrance fees, soft drinks at meal-times, international flights and airport taxes.



Travel insurance. Personal items, alkoholic drinks, laundry.



Return flight from Manchester to Agadir using the charter services of Thomsonfly. Outbound flight departs early morning, return flight arrives back late afternoon.




7 nights:


Principal leader:


Maximum group size:


Cost with discount

(if you book before

19th June 2011):


Full Cost:


Single supplement:





7th to 14th November 2011


John McLoughlin


12 clients with one leader

and a local driver



£1350 per person sharing


£1450 per person sharing









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