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Small Buttonquail and Atlas Flycatcher

1–6 June 2021

Although the tour starts and finishes in Marrakech, the birding will begin in earnest in the Middle Atlas as we look for Atlas Flycatcher in the forests and Northern (Seebohm’s) Wheatear on the stony plateaux. Our search for the elusive Small Buttonquail will take place on the Atlantic coast. Further North African species we should see include Little Swift, African Blue Tit, Common Bulbul and House Bunting, and the newly-split African Reed Warbler.

Day 1 An early-morning flight from London to Marrakech will enable us to undertake the long drive north-east to Ifrane, where we will stay overnight. En route we will keep a lookout for White Stork, Cattle Egret, Pallid Swift, Crested Lark and Spotless Starling.

Day 2 Atlas Flycatcher will be our objective in the local mature cedar, pine and oak forests, which also hold African Blue Tit and Short-toed Treecreeper, while the likely soon-to-be-split black-throated seebohmi race of Northern Wheatear will be our target on the nearby stony plateau, which is additionally home to Thekla's Lark and Rock Sparrow. Extra species we could see during the early part of the day include Booted Eagle, Black Kite, European Roller, Levaillant’s Woodpecker, Moussier’s Redstart and Rock and Cirl Buntings. By mid-morning we will begin the long journey to Essouira, via Rabat and Casablanca. En route, in addition to some of those species already mentioned, we will keep an eye open for Lesser Kestrel and Great Grey and Woodchat Shrikes. We will spend three nights in Essouira.

Days 3–4 Both days will be devoted to our search for the elusive Small Buttonquail along the Atlantic coast. There is no guarantee of encountering this bird but we will be visiting sites where the species has been seen on Birdfinders’ tours in early June in each of the last three tours. During our search we should see European Turtle-dove and Laughing Dove, Common Bulbul, Zitting Cisticola and Sardinian Warbler as well as the newly-split African Reed Warbler. If we find the buttonquail with time to spare we will look for Marbled Teal and Ferruginous Duck, Greater Flamingo, Glossy Ibis, numerous waders including Black-winged Stilt, Kentish Plover and Collared Pratincole, Audouin’s and Yellow-legged Gulls and Gull-billed Tern.

Day 5 Should we still need to, we will spend the early morning continuing our search for the elusive Small Buttonquail then drive directly to Marrakech. Otherwise, we will travel a circuitous route to Marrakech looking for Cory’s Shearwater, Little Swift, European Bee-eater, Eleonora’s Falcon, Red-rumped Swallow and House Bunting on the way. Overnight in Marrakech.

Day 6 We will leave early for the airport for the return flight to London.

General Information Although bad weather is unlikely, it can be quite cool in the early mornings both in the Middle Atlas and on the Atlantic coast. The pace of the tour is moderate with a basic degree of fitness required for walking, though there will be long distances to travel in the minibus. There are no special medical requirements and insects are only a minor problem. Visas are not required. Moroccan currency cannot be taken in or out of the country. The standard of accommodation will be good with private facilities.

Group Size Minimum number for tour to go ahead: 6; maximum group size: 11 with one leader.

Small Buttonquail

Small Buttonquail

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