Sunday, 10 February 2013

Morocco - Part three of six

Even suffering from a heavy cold, this was to be my favourite day of the whole trip. We got up before dawn and hired two Landrovers with guides to take us into the Sahara desert. We got there in time to watch the sun rise.
The area we would be exploring is called the Erg Chebbi dune which is the largest dune structure in this area.
There were some tourists experiencing both the desert and a camel ride. If we hadn't been birding, I'd have liked to try that out! 
It was time to set off into the desert, four of us in each Landrover.
When we got into the dunes proper, the going got quite tough. If you suffer from motion sickness, I don't think you'd have enjoyed this very much! The drivers were very skilled.
 The scenery around us was stunning. I don't think the camera really does it justice.
There were some plants flowering out there. I didn't get to find out their names which is a shame.
One of my personal favourite target birds for the trip was Cream-coloured Courser. We saw several from a distance on this day and were lucky enough to have one reasonably close to our car. I was able to snap off a couple of quick shots before it moved away. Believe it or not, this is a wader, but spends its time here in the desert.
We were ready for a lunch stop as we'd been up since before dawn. We were served mint tea by local Berbers and settled down to lunch while the locals did their best to sell us rugs! Apologies for the poor quality of photo.
Soon enough it was back out for more birding in amongst this beautiful scenery.
When I say birding, we were extremely fortunate to come across this gorgeous Fennec Fox. I managed to get a shot of it before it slunk away out of sight into its den. Fennec foxes are nocturnal and mainly feed on insects, small mammals and birds. 
Some more shots of flowering plants. I have a feeling one of the drivers might have called this Desert Onion. 
Another of my most wanted target species to see was Hoopoe Lark. We saw a number of them but they proved elusive for any decent shots. Their display flight is amazing. They fly straight up in the air and then plummet down head first to the ground, righting themselves at the last moment! We were lucky to see this on a couple of occasions.
Just a shot of the dunes and the clear blue sky. Gorgeous colours!
This next bird is one I've seen as a vagrant in Britain. Poor thing! Here, it was in its element. The Desert Wheatear. This is a male.
I'll finish, maybe predictably with a glorious sunset over the dunes. It had been a long, tiring but wonderful day. I'll never forget it!
 More from Morocco soon.


Pix at Under the Oaks said...

Bautiful Jen. Too bad you were dealing with a bad cold. Your pictures didn't suffer any, they are beautiful. It looks HOT there?

Roy Norris said...

Thats an awful lot of sand Jen. Lovely sun rise and set shots. The 'big eared' fox looks really amusing.

Jenny said...

Hi Pix, it was hot during the day, but absolutely freezing at night! Even with the cold, it ws a fabulous area to be in. I wish we'd had longer there.

Hi Roy, I can't tell you how lucky we were to even get a glimpse of that Fennec fox let alone get a pic. I feel very lucky! (-:

ShySongbird said...

Hi Jenny, This was certainly a holiday you will never forget and such stunning scenery! Each day seemed to be packed with goodies. It was a shame you had a cold but you definitely didn't let it deter you. The Cream-coloured Courser took me aback, the words wader and desert just don't go together ;-) I admit I had never heard of it so looked it up and was amazed to see there have been occasional sightings in the UK, the most recent being last year!! I also liked the Hoopoe Lark, a quite delicate looking brd I think.

A very interesting post with some lovely photos!

Jenny said...

Hi Jan, yes it was an amazing trip altogther! That Hoopoe Lark is such a characterful bird. It had a weird way of running which you can tell a bit from one of the photos!

Pix at Under the Oaks said...

Hey Jenny, I like the new look.. :)

Jenny said...

Hi pix, yes I do too. I mucked about a bit and at the moment, like this! It kind of fits the desert postings at the moment anyway! (-:

Mary said...

Very beautiful photos and I love that wader....a very pretty little bird. All of these are so unusual and different. Did you buy a rug?

Jenny said...

Hi Mary, no I didn't buy a rug, but my friend did which I'll show in a later post! (-: