AFRICAN CHAFFINCH, A SUBSPECIES OF C. CHAFFINCH

The African Common Chaffinch is a lovely subspecies of Common Chaffinch that is commonly found in some parts of Morocco.

Common Chaffinch is a widespread passerine bird that lives in most of Europe, Asia and in northwest Africa.The species is resident, partially migratory and migratory, with populations in the north and northeast moving south and southwest between mid-September and the end of November.

This species inhabits lowland and lower montane deciduous, mixed and coniferous forests.It also uses forest edges and glades, copses, heaths, edges of tundra and agricultural areas, hedgerows, orchards, parks and gardens.It is found in laurel forest and areas of dense vegetation in the Canary Islands and in areas with Juniperus thurifera  in the Moroccan High Atlas.

It breeds from mid-March to mid-July. The nest is placed up to 35 m above ground on a branch, against a trunk or in the fork of a tree or bush. It is a deep cup made of plant fibres, grass, fine roots, lichens, moss, bark strips, animal hair and feathers.

This bird feeds mainly on small invertebrates,larvae, seeds and buds.

There are 3 subspecies of Common Chaffinch.The Moroccan Common Chaffinch belongs to the Fringilla coelebs spondiogenys subspecies, see the three pictures of the post.Notice the greyish head, green back and pinkish neck, chest and belly when compared with its other subspecies counterparts.

I took those pictures in the archeological site of Volubilis, situated 30 km from Meknes and 4 km from Moulay Idris.

Next stop Cape Blanc, Mauritania looking for the endangered Mediterranean Monk Seal !!!

See you soon my friends !!

ROCK BUNTING VAR. AFRICANA

Rock Bunting is a common but beautiful bird found in many towns in Morocco.This passerine bird lives in northwestern Africa, southern Europe, east and central Asia and the Himalayas.It’s rare in Western Europe.It is partially migratory with northern populations wintering further south, mainly within the breeding range of the resident southern populations.

The species inhabits semi-arid, sparsely vegetated areas at lower and middle altitudes. It prefers sunny hill sides with rocky outcrops and scattered bushes or trees. Locally it also occurs in quarries, vineyards and other terrains with an alternation of bare soil or rocks and sparsely vegetated areas.

The breeding male has chestnut upperparts, unmarked deep buff underparts, and a pale grey head marked with black stripes.The female rock bunting is a washed-out version of the male, with paler underparts, a grey-brown back and a less contrasted head. The juvenile is similar to the female, but with a streaked head.

The breeding season starts in March and ends usually in August.This bird breeds in open dry rocky mountainous areas.The nest is placed on the ground and built by the female.The nest is protected by vegetation or at the base of a rock.The clutch, usually three to five eggs, is incubated by the female. The chicks are fed by both parents. They leave the nest after 9–13 days and become independent three weeks later.

The species feeds mostly on a wide variety of small invertebrates during the breeding season, although outside the breeding season its diet consists mainly of seeds of herbs or other plants.

There are four races differing mainly in the plumage shades.The Moroccan Rock Bunting belongs to the African variety Emberiza cia cia.

I took the pictures that you can see above and on top of the post in Skoura, a little town located between Ouarzazate and Kalaat M’Gouna.The bird was quite tame and i could approach enough to take these nice shots.

Next post i will talk about the northafrican subespecies  of Common Chaffinch !!

See you soon my friends !!!

SOUSS MASSA NP, NORTHERN BALD IBIS ON THE RECORD

Souss Massa NP is a national park located 60 km south of Agadir.This coastline area stretches between Oued Massa and Oued Souss rivers.The park was established to preserve the endangered Northern Bald Ibis which breeds on its rocky cliffs.

The park is also an important birding area, with many seabirds, waders and waterfowl.Some of the most remarkable birds are Marble Duck, European Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Ruddy Shelduck, Greater Flamingo, Booted Eagle, Bonelli’s Eagle, Barbary Falcon, Red-necked Nightjar, Tristram’s Wabler, Moussier’s Redstart, Cream-coloured Courser, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Thick-billed Lark, Black-bellied Sandgrouse and Black-headed Tchagra.March and April are the best months to spot birdlife.

Some of the mammals that are found here are Algerian Hedgehog, Wild Boar, Egyptian Mongoose,African Wildcat and Barbary Ground Squirrel.It’s also possible to see some rare ungulates like Dama and Dorcas Gazelle, Addax and Scimitar Horned Oryx although kept in large enclosures.

To get there firstly i traveled to Agadir by bus.This busy city is a touristy destination that didn’t appeal me very much.From there i hired a taxi to bring me to the colony of Northern Bald Ibis that is found in Tamri.

I started my trip early afternoon.It took me about an hour to reach the colony area.Once there,i took a short walk to the dunes where i could see the first individuals flying near the coast, see picture on top of the post.Afterwards another one approached near the dunes, where i could take those sequenced shots.

A local guide wanted to bring me to the colony but i was already pleased with the great views that i got of this magnificent bird.

Next morning i decided to visit Oued Massa area, in the southern part of Souss Massa NP.I got into a bus from Agadir to Inezgane and then another bus that dropped me to the little town of Sidi R’bat.From there, i accessed to the park’s gate, where i hired a guide for 20 euros.We walked on a trail that  follows Massa river.

Black-headed Tchagra was a nice bird that we saw moving on the bushes that were on the right side of the trail.This bird likes to hunt insects and other small invertebrates from branches or on the ground.

Moussier’s Redstart was another excellent bird that we spotted in this bushy area.This colourful bird is easy to recognise by its conspicuous orange belly and throat, black head with white stripes above its eyes and neck and black wings with a white patch.It’s without doubt one of my favourite Moroccan birds.

Crested Lark was a common bird seen on the ground near the trail.

This area was also quite prolific in raptors.Bonelli’s Eagle, Booted Eagle, Osprey, Western Marsh Harrier, Barbary and Peregrine Falcon were seen flying the clear skies above the Massa river.

Along the river we spotted Marble Duck, Eurasian Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Ruddy Shelduck and Eurasian Coot among others.

Near the river mouth we could find Audouin’s Gull, Caspian Tern and Gull-billed Tern in good numbers.Around this area i had great views of a Little Owl perched on a post.The bird allowed me to approach close enough to take these beautiful shots.

Afterwards,we went uphill across the dunes where we could see Barbary Partridges running among the bushes.

It was another great day accompanied by my feathered friends, very satisfied of the birds i saw and the shots i took !!

Next post i will talk about Rock Bunting, a beautiful bird found in Morocco’s towns.

See you soon my friends !!

OUED MASSA BIRD CHECKLIST.MARCH 2016

Little Grebe

Great Cormorant

Squacco Heron

Cattle Egret

Little Egret

Purple Heron

Grey Heron

Glossy Ibis

Northern Bald Ibis

Eurasian Spoonbill

Ruddy Shelduck

Common Teal

Marble Duck

Western Marsh Harrier

Tawny Eagle

Booted Eagle

Bonelli’s Eagle

Osprey

Barbary Falcon

Barbary Partridge

Water Rail

Common Moorhen

Eurasian Coot

Pied Advocet

Black-winged Stilt

Stone Curlew

Little-ringed Plover

Kentish Plover

Grey Plover

Common Redshank

Common Greenshank

Green Sandpiper

Black-headed Gull

Audouin’s Gull

Gulf-billed Tern

Caspian Tern

Eurasian-collared Dove

European Turtle Dove

Laughing Dove

Little Owl

Eurasian Hoopoe

Crested Lark

Barn Swallow

Common Bulbul

Moussier’s Redstart

European Stonechat

Black-eared Wheatear

Zitting Cisticola

Moustached Warbler

Black-crowned Tchagra

Spotless Starling

House Sparrow

House Bunting