Setting on the North African coast, Morocco is on the super high fly way of birds traveling by way from Africa to Europe and back again. One can see everything from sea-dwelling birds to Desert Sparrows. However, the best times for avian observation are the spring and fall migrations. Starting in March, and continuing through May is the most avifauna time of the year.
Bird watching paradise! Morocco fits the bill. Namely, it has a unique location and diverse landscape. Seashores give way to the Atlas Mountains, creating a land of contrasts inviting feathered friends from all over Europe.
Avian delights are as varied as the landscapes too. March to May is probably the best time for viewing many varieties of birds, both residents and migrants. Weather at this time of year is at its best. The temperatures are generally mild with sunny days almost always on the forecast. Morocco’s early spring is green and lush after the winter snows and seasonal rains. It is a great time for a Morocco holiday.
A good place to start your Morocco vacation and enjoy phenomenal Morocco bird watching would be in the Northwest.
Tangiers, for one, offers a vacation possibility in itself. However, this area is in close proximity to the Straits of Gibraltar giving bird watchers a golden chance to observe the migrations of more than 250 species between Africa and Europe. Some that cross the straits include bee eaters, finches and swallows. Even storks and raptors can be spotted. In the surrounding country sides, bird watchers will have a chance to see many hard to find species such as the Double-spurred Francolins, Long-legged Buzzards and Black-shouldered Kites.
Lac de Sidi Bourhaba is a superb location to watch a couple of Morocco’s special birds, Crested Coots and Marbled Ducks. Other species that are in the area include Purple Swamphen and Western Marsh Harrier. If you are bird watching in Morocco in winter months, many duck species are found. Ospreys use this lake as a stopover on their migration south.
Another Northwesternly area to visit would be near the town of Moullay Boussellham. Merdja Zerga is a large coastal lagoon that attracts thousands of wildfowl, waders and flamingos during the winter months. In spring, ibises, plovers, egrets and spoonbills form a cacophony of frills. Moreover, it is good place to spot Audouin’s gulls as well. Additionally, the list ends with teals, terns and Peregine Falcons. A major attraction to bird watching here is the chance to spot a rare African Marsh Owl.
Head into Middle Atlas and High Atlas to find the tiny Plain Martin, Roufous Bush Robin, Alpine Swifts or Black Wheatear. The little known Crimson-winged Finch is found near Ouakimeden and higher peaks of the Middle Atlas. The Middle Atlas Mountains is also a great place to see the Ruddy Shelduck and Levaillans Woodpeckers. Some birdwatchers travel to the Ait Bougmez Valley to find other, sometimes rarer, species of budgies.
Another good area to head to is the Erg Chebbi sand dunes. Many varieties of larks and other birds are seen. In the spring, mountain runoff and rains create a seasonal lake. Flamingoes, ducks, waders and raptors looking for an easy lunch, await your binoculars. You might even be lucky and see a rare Kittlitz Plover and evasive Thick-billed Lark. African Desert and Tristam’s warblers may be found in the cultivated fields around Merzouga.
Souss-Massa National park is very popular with bird watchers. The best time to visit here would be between September and April. Mouths of the Oued Souss and Oued Massa attract waders such as avocets, oystercatchers, numerous gulls and terns.
One of the biggest attraction found in this park is the endangered northern bald ibis. Their breeding grounds are near the mouth of the Oued Massa. It is off limits but you can glimpse the birds when they are feeding. There are numerous water birds such as cormorants, flamingos, herons, egrets and storks, just to name a few. Many raptors such as the peregrine falcon, Marsh Harrier, Barbary Falcons and Bonelli’s Eagles are attracted to the area.
This is just the tip of the proverbial ice berg when it comes to bird watching locales. Morocco has many birds that migrate south from north. One bonus is that in most areas where birdwatching is good, you will glimpse some rarer Moroccan wildlife. Contact your Moroccan tour operator to set up a special birdwatching Morocco holiday. Your guide will know where the best places are to see the birds. They will make all the arrangements for living and transportation to the bird viewing areas. Enjoy your bird watching Moroccan vacation.
by Carole Morris