Looking for larks in Morocco, PART I

Many species of larks are one of the big treasures of Morocco. If you want to see the most larks in the Western Palearctic (in quality and even in quantity) you have to go for that north-african country which besides the larks offer much more birdingwise. Beginning of June might be regarded as already quite late to look for birds in a desert called Tagdilt, Morocco. But the Temminck’s Lark (Eremophila bilopha), a bird of dry open country, preferably semi-desert is hatching the offspring at that time of the year. Thus a good chance to take images of adult and young birds of this species. When I arrived on a barren stony desert near the town of Boumalne du Dades I a saw an adult species first. After a while I found a juvenile individual still with white ear-feathers in the same area, too. From inside the SUV I could photograph these usually shy birds from the immediate vicinity, although – after feeding – they always ran away pretty quickly. Again and again I had to move & stop the jeep. I only had a chance, if I could catch the moment when they to come to feed the chick. Here you see more!
Fortunately the spring 2002 had been quite rainy and the desert was still green enough to provide this nice lark with enough insect prey. Looking for larks, I spend a whole afternoon on a plateau at 1,600 m above sea level at the edge of the mountains called Ibel Sarhro when first I saw a Desert Lark (Ammomanes deserti), than I stumbled over a pair of the Cream-colored Courser which explored the area with young chicks, too. From inside the SUV it was possible to photograph all these usually shy birds from the immediate vicinity, although they did not stand still, but always running away pretty quickly. After a while, something strange moved on the rocky, stony ground very fast. This time it was a Greater Hoopoe-Lark (Alaemon alaudipes). This pretty big lark behaved much more cooperative, being quite curious. I had even the chance to photograph one individual for some minutes catching an insect with its long, decurved bill. A perfect afternoon ended with a perfect sunset in the beautiful deserts of Morocco. The next day had more to offer…………… (more on Part II)

A longer version of this blog has been published in german in the journal of the “Brehm-fonds” with the name “Zum Fliegen geborgen” resp. “Flying free”, Vol. 21, New Series, No. 1 2003

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