Monday, 4 August 2008

Boulmaine du Dades - Erg Chebbi April 19th 2008

Up before first light and down on the track again and there are birds everywhere! Short-toed Lark (150), Temminck's Horned Lark (30) and Cream-coloured Courser (25) make up the majority, with smaller numbers of Desert and Red-rumped Wheatear, Thick-billed Lark (4) and single Bar-tailed Lark, Thekla Lark, Long-legged Buzzard and a fantastic Lanner. We head across the plains towards a small isolated orchard, surrounded by Tamerisk, the orchard is heaving with birds

Bar-tailed Lark

Temminck's Horned Lark

Red-rumped Wheatear

Here we see Bonelli's, Melodious and Willow Warblers, Spotted Flycatcher, Woodchat, Yellow Wagtails, Blackbird, Nightingale, Whitethroat, Golden Oriole and Turtle Dove, along with Long-legged Buzzard, Kestrel and Booted Eagle.
Long-legged Buzzard


Melodious Warbler

With the larks under the belt we decide to try once again for Mourning Wheatear-a read of the Soliel bleu log book the previous evening gave details of a site close by wherea pair had been seen just 2 days ago. We headed north along another indistinct track and found the very promising rocky scree this species is said to prefer. Despite our best efforts, spliting up to cover more ground we drew a blank, notching up a couple of Trumpeter Finch, Desert Lark and pairs of Black and Black-eared Wheatear and a brace of Thick-billed Larks. Also here we were initially greeted by a large angry looking dog (I dont think Ive been any where in the world birding ,and NOT come across a big angry dog!) then approached by a stern looking you man who appeared from the middle of nowhere! However he was friendly and curious (like most people we experienced here) and was keen to show us his home in a cave on the side of the scree! Unfortunately we had more miles to eat up and birds to see, so we said our goodbyes and pushed on.
Trumpeter Finch

We timed our travelling to coincide with the hottest part of the day, so sightings on the way to Erfoud were few, and none were new for the trip.
East of Erfoud the road narrowed, then became a track, then, reminicent of the toll booth in Blazing Saddles, disappeared next to a small stone building in the middle of the desert! This was our next stop of interest, and after a couple of Southern Grey Shrikes, we were soon getting excellent veiws of a Desert Warbler in a small area of pampas grasses and bushes.

Desert Warbler

Here we are approached by another local, who claims to be the regions best known birdguide, Ali. However we are not convinced by the push bike and the tall skinny man standing infront of us, and despite his best efforts, we are not drawn in! We head back to the stone hut and go some 20 yrds in the hot, liquid like sand soon realising that we don't know exactly which way to go and there are no signs to show us either! A quiet, unassuming man offers to guide us to the Erg Chebbi which we accept, and by the time we've drove 500yds we have secured his company for the next day also. Ahmed expertly directs across the sands towards the huge dunes in the distance, but an unseen rock rips into the plastic protective shell under the chasis which we have to cut off with a pen knife to disgard it! We see no birds until we reach the row of hotels and outbuildings at the foot of the dunes, where a most welcome and immediate shout of "Desert Sparrow!!" is followed by a decamp of the car. We watch a pair feeding young and are thoroughly ecstatic as we arrive at the rather pleasent Hotel Yasmina just a few yards on. We sort our accommodation and head out just beyond the hotel grounds where the Yasmina Lake has been reduced to little more than a pool and as dusk falls we bird the tamerisk which holds plenty of migrants, and add Sedge and Reed Warbler. The evening is spent in the restaurant eating more Tajine and digging the authentic Berber grooves being played live!
Erg Chebbi
Kasbah Yasmina
Desert Sparrow- get in!

No comments: