Ibiza - Undiscovered Gem of the Balearics
Thursday 1st March – Tuesday 13th March 2018
Situated in North-west Africa, Morocco has for centuries drawn travellers in search of adventure and the exotic. The country is full of contrasting images and colourful sights that invade your senses and has a fascinating history and culture, which we will get a little flavour of as we pass ancient ruins and Kasbahs on our way to palm-fringed oases out in the desert. The variety of habitats from stony deserts (hammada), sand dunes, lakes, rivers, estuaries and the immense Atlas Mountains gives it one of the most interesting avifaunas in the Western Palearctic. If you could have designed a country purely for birding, then it would look something like Morocco and it attracts birdwatchers from all over the world in search of some incredible sought-after specialities and NW African endemics. Our journey begins at Marrakech and this beautiful city gives us access to the High Atlas Mountains where African Crimson-winged Finch inhabits the snowline and Levaillant's Woodpecker can be found in the forests lower down the valley. The famous Tagdilt Track is a very special place where Cream-coloured Courser, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Red-rumped Wheatear and stunning Thick-billed Larks can be found. From here we visit the scenic Todra Gorge for Tristram's Warbler before heading off the usual birding circuit and targetting the difficult Dupont's Lark, which at this time of year should be displaying and giving us the best opportunity to observe this much-wanted species. A three-night stay in the desert environs of Merzouga, rather than the usual two nights, gives us excellent chances to find the very special birds that inhabit this remote area. High on our wish-lists are Pharaoh Eagle Owl, Spotted Sandgrouse, African Desert Warbler, Fulvous Babbler, Desert Sparrow, and if we are lucky, the increasingly scarce Houbara Bustard. Our last couple of days will be spent along the coast where Northern Bald Ibis reside, and we'll have plenty of time to explore the two most famous sites of Oued Sous and Oued Massa where Red-necked Nightjar, Moussier's Redstart, Black-crowned Tchagra and a wide variety of other species will ensure our action-packed Moroccan adventure ends on a high!
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We take a flight from London to Marrakech and then transfer to our hotel for a two night stay. Night at Marrakech. .
Day 4 Majorca
After an early breakfast we leave the mountains behind, perhaps pausing again en-route for Levaillant’s Green Woodpecker, as well as African Blue Tit and distinctive local races of Common Crossbill and African Chaffinch. From the flat plains of Marrakech,we will drive through the High Atlas Mountains and drive to Boumalne du Dades via the scenic and rather impressive Tizi-n-Tichka pass (2260 meters), a spectacular and long drive.The road through the mountains is extremely winding and we will take our time, stopping at a few convenient locations. Along the way we’ll try for the stunning endemic Tristram’s Warbler, which has very specific habitat requirements away from its wintering grounds and not always easy to find. As the road climbs into the hills, we may start to see some raptors such as African Long-legged Buzzard and Bonelli's Eagle. Before reaching Boumalne du Dades we’ll stop at a few places to look for the rare Maghreb Wheatear. Once we have dropped down to the valley floor the scenery soon changes and we will drive across the `hammada’ or stony desert. Roadside birds can include Black and White-crowned Black Wheatears and both Desert and Thekla Larks.
Our main reason for coming here is to visit the famous Tagdilt Track. This is without doubt one of the top areas for birding in Morocco and is an excellent area for some very special birds. Excellent chances exist for seeing Cream-coloured Courser, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Red-rumped and Desert Wheatears, Thekla Lark, Greater Hoopoe, Temminck's and Short-toed Larks, Trumpeter Finch, and with luck the highly nomadic Thick-billed Lark. If the heat allows, we will dedicate most of our day to exploring this area, before visiting a rocky canyon searching for Maghreb Wheatear, Desert Lark and our first chance of Pharaoh Eagle Owl where the people live in caves here with flocks of sheep and goats. Other possibilities here include Booted Eagle, Montagu’s Harrier, Pin-tailed, Spotted or Crowned Sandgrouse and Lanner. Nights in Boumalne du Dades.
Day 5 Formentera
Days 6 - 7 Ibiza
We will depart early and visit the spectacular Todra Gorge for the endemic Tristram's Warbler, as well as Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Dove, Crag Martin, House Bunting and possible Bonelli's Eagle! Next we travel eastwards and stop at a scrubby wadi to seek out the elusive Streaked Scrub Warbler, and maybe also rewarded with Thick-billed Lark and more Trumpeter Finches. Night in Midelt.
Day 8 Ibiza - UK
Depending on flight timings, we may have some time for some birding to check out the migration watchpoints for any recently arived migrants before returning to the villa and transferring to the airport for our return international flights to the UK and conclusion of the tour.
Group size: Minimum of 4 and maximum 10.
Included in cost: Accommodation in twin/single rooms en-suite throughout, all meals, bottled water, some drinks, transport, all reserve entrance fees, domestic flight to/from Majorca and services of English-speaking guides.
Not included: International airfare, insurance, most drinks, tips and items of a personal nature.
Accommodation: We will be based at the wonderful .
Tour Code: A relaxed birding tour for all levels of ability and fitness. Leisurely walking, very occasionally over moderately rough terrain, is the only physical requirement on most days. Most birding is done close to our vehicle, though we will need to walk to see some of the lical specialities. The weather at this time of the year is generally warm, dry and pleasant although some showers could occur and would be great to find species migrating.
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