Essences of the Atlantic North 5 days


We meet at the port of Tarifa at about 20:00 hrs to take the ferry across the straits.  At approx. 21:30 hrs (Moroccan time) we arrive at Tangiers, and once through customs take the one hour drive to our hotel.  Supper and overnight.



After breakfast at the hotel, we head south and in about 3 hours reach the area of Sidi Yahya, the only sure place to see the rare Double-spurred Francolin (Francolinus bicalcaratus).  We have lunch and spend the afternoon there, giving us the opportunity to see Barbary Partridge (Alectoris Barbara), Black-crowned Tchagra (Tchagra senegala), Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus) and other raptors typical of this type of habitat.  We will also take in some of the seasonal lagoons in the area, used by large numbers of waterfowl and waders.  Overnight in Temara.



We spend the early morning hours to find our target species, the Double-spurred Francolin (Francolinus bicalcaratus).  It is often located by listening for its distinctive song which is sung at the first light of dawn.  After lunch we go to the coastal town of Moulay Bousselham and its magnificent lagoon Merdja Zerga.  This park is home to what I consider to be the gem of this tour, the last palearctic population of Marsh Owl (Asio capensis), of which there are only about 20 pairs.  We dedicate the evening to search the immense marshes.  During this time we should quite easily see their relatives, the Barn Owl (Tyto alba) and Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) which share this hunting territory.  Overnight at Larache.



In the morning we take a boat trip with an ornithological guide who will show us every corner of this embalemic place.  Merja Zerga hosts big flocks of up to 20,000 ducks, herons and flamingos, and more than 100,000 waders in winter.

Of interest, it was the last refuge of one of the rarest waders in the world which has not been reported in recent years and may possibly be extinct, the Slender-billed Curlew (Numenius tenuirostris).  We have a typical lunch at Moulay Bousselham, then return to Larache and go down to the estuary of the Loukos.  Here we can see interesting ducks, such as Marbled Duck, terns such as Caspian Tern and raptors such as Osprey.  Following the estuary inland we will see many species of waders and large numbers of Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) entering their roost.  Overnight at Larache.



After breakfast at our hotel, another visit to the Loukos estuary and a walk along the beach where we can see groups of hundreds of gulls and waders.  Then back to the estuary in search of interesting species such as Crested Coot (Fulica cristata) that can be seen in good numbers.  We may also come across some interesting Moroccan raptors, such as Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo ruffinus) or Barbary Falcon (Falco pelegrinoides).  At the end of the morning we travel back to Tangiers to get our ferry, and cross back over the straits, where our services end.


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