Day 5 - Tata to Tagoudiche

A note on the birds seen during our trip by Mike Greer-Walker
The trail begins in Marrakesh and the old palace walls provide nesting sites for the WHITE STORK one of the regions larger birds. The nests are massive and a close approach can be made to observe the mandible clattering courtship display. The familiar HOUSE SPARROWS are present together with the HOUSE BUNTING which is also a commensal with man. The ubiquitous COLLARED DOVE and SPOTLESS STARLING can also be seen in the park close to the Hotel Ali.

The road to Zagora and the drive through the Anti Atlas yields some interesting species if full use is made of the photo-stops. The BLUE ROCK THRUSH is common and REDSTARTS (BLACK and MOUSSIER"S) occur with a number of species of WHEATEAR (WHITE CROWNED BLACK,MOURNING and RED RUMPED ) which are difficult to separate. STONECHATS and a GREAT GREY SHRIKE singing from the top of an Acacia tree were also seen. There are a number of LARKS endemic to this region but only the easily approachable CRESTED LARK was positively identified.

The palmeries and oases such as the Draa valley provide some of the best opportunities for birding. There has been little significant rainfall for the past three years and this is apparent. However, where open water remains there are GREY HERONS,LITTLE EGRETS,CATTLE EGRETS (which attend camels) ,RED RUMPED SWALLOWS, ROCK and CRAG MARTINS and WAGTAILS (PIED,GREY and YELLOW). In the date palms the black cheeked COMMON BULBUL is unmistakable .

In the more arid areas and towards Tata the birds are few but look out for QUAIL,BARBARY PARTRIDGE, DESERT FINCHES and LARKS (when camel riding make sure you are on the lead camel). If there were time a visit to one of the water reservoirs might be productive. In the mountains around Tagoudiche are RAVENS and CHOUGHS and the summit of Jebel Lekst is a good venue to look for raptors.

In Essaouira the thriving fishing port offers a complete contrast with SHAGS and CORMORANTS on the breakwaters and LESSER BLACK BACKED and YELLOW LEGGED GULLS taking advantage of the scraps left by the fishermen . There are many species of WADERS and TERNS that migrate this far south and a sea watch at this point could be worthwhile. The rare ELEONORAS FALCON breeds on the offshore islands but a permit is required for a visit and they migrate southwards at this time of year

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Hotel La Renaissance, Tata in the morning

and into the Anti-Atlas mountains









Distant Berber tents

















Short diversion off road to a village with a tea house

We walked through the palmerie, again stricken with drought





Wayside flowers







One patch of cultivation

The new solar-powered well

Village houses

Ironwork

Shoes off for the tea huse

Washing in rose water first

Very good bread

Potted plants

OK to photograph donkeys - but not people

Flower

Back to the main road









Rocks

and suddenly in this arid landscape

we find the amazing Igherm Souk

Useful articles made from old car tires

The main street (incredibly crowded, but we could not photograph in the crowds)

New tables, chairs, and chests

Iron tools

Spices

Copper kettles and pans



Back on the road















Off road again on the way to the "Blue Rocks"

They really are blue, painted as an "event"

. though we didn't think it was an improvement

Gnarled roots

and tree trunks





The Aladdin's cave of Berber and other local rugs

in the carpet shop at Tafraoute



The stone called "Rose of the Desert"

Cacti by the road



We waked the 2 miles up the winding track

to the mountain village of Tagoudiche

Very mountainous

and a dirt road with many hairpins





Briefing on arrival

Our bedroom (shared with another counple). We had blow-up mattresses to keep us off the concrete

The communal room where most of the others slept on the settees round the walls

Very simple squat loos




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