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Morocco: the deserts

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Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The best-known area in Morocco for desert-loving larks and wheatears, almost all of which can be found here. Some species such as Red-rumped Wheatear, Temminck’s Horned Lark and Thick-billed Lark are usually more numerous here than at any other known site and more birders see Crowned Sandgrouse here than anywhere else in Morocco. Houbara Bustard and Pharaoh Eagle Owl are also possible and this is now the most reliable place to see Mourning Wheatear too.

All the sites in this section are treated, in detail and with precise maps and directions, in my book ‘Finding Birds in Morocco: the deserts’

If you have any information which you feel would help to update the book, please email me at and I’ll add your observations to these pages

To view more sites in Morocco’s deserts click here

The Tagdilt Track

The Tagdilt track crosses a vast plain which is perfect for larks, wheatears and many other desert species

In recent years there has been enough rain for water to remain in pools such as this one (site 5 in my book). Three species of sandgrouse have been seen coming to drink here, of which Crowned Sandgrouse is the most regular

This is what I call ‘wheatear wall’ (site 4 in my book). Mourning Wheatear has been present here for each of the last 5 years making this probably the best site in Morocco to catch up with this difficult species

The Auberge Soleil Bleu at Boumalne is one of my favourite places to stay in Morocco and it has probably the best of all the birders’ logs, detailing what others have seen on trips going back about 20 years!


March 2011 (D Gosney et al)

‘Call some place paradise...kiss it goodbye’. As soon as I tell people that ‘wheatear wall’ is a reliable place for Mourning Wheatears, they disappear. We had neither male nor female there in 2011. However, we did find a very obliging male by the roadside just east of km post Tinghir 26 (= Ouarzazate 139).

We were delighted to watch a party of 13 Crowned Sandgrouse at the drinking pool (site 5, page 20). Birds nearby included Hoopoe Lark, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Cream-coloured Courser and two Thick-billed Larks flying but not landing in view.