We had never taken this route to Essaouira before, so we left our hotel early to give ourselves time to explore. The countryside between Marrakech and Chichaoua (roughly halfway) was largely made up of Banana plantations, Grape production and then small cultivated areas interspersed by open desert. Marsh Harrier in the drier parts was surprising and perhaps the bird of the day due to the date must have been a solitary Woodchat Shrike. House Bunting was very common near habitation and Spanish Sparrow were seen in mixed flocks of the more common House Sparrow. The numbers of Northern Wheatear suggested migration was still in evidence. Occasional Swallow and House Martin served to underline how protracted autumn migration can be in Morocco. Long-legged Buzzard, Lanner Falcon, Black Wheatear, Desert Wheatear, Trumpeter Finch, Moussier’s Redstart, Short-toed Lark, Thekla Lark and a single Hoopoe Lark were seen during the second half of our journey to Essaouira. We had time to explore the area around the mouth of the Oued Ksob. Here we added a number of species to our tour/daily list Audouin’s, Yellow-legged, Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Sandwich and Common Tern, Cattle and Little Egret, Grey Heron, Greenshank, Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Dunlin, Knot, Grey Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Osprey, Kestrel and Lesser Kestrel, Peregrine, Bluethroat, Fantailed and Cetti’s Warbler. Of course the time of year meant we were too late for Eleonora’s Falcon!!
We set-off from our hotel aiming for Tamri and intending to spend a couple of hours around the lagoon. Just north of Tamri we were surprised to find 5 Bald Ibis in the dune area as we reached the bottom of our steep descent into Tamri. Naturally enough we spent a good hour taking in these obliging birds! We also tried a little sea watching here, but apart from a good number of Northern Gannet were short on expected numbers of other species. The lagoon at Tamri was a lot quieter than our visit in October, but we still managed Shoveler, Teal, Pintail, Garganey, Mallard, Marbled Teal, Red-knobbed and Coot, Moorhen, Lapwing, Dunlin, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Kentish and Little-ringed Plover, Dunlin, Sanderling, Spoonbill, Barbary Falcon, Sand Martin and Spectacled Warbler. Our lunch stop was in Tamrhakh and was to prepare us for the journey through paradise valley to Imouzzer. The valley is scenically stunning and did produce some extra goodies for the day namely Blue Rock Thrush, Black Wheatear, Bluethroat, Fan-tailed Warbler, Robin, Mistle Thrush and Rock Bunting. Around Immouzzer itself we managed Hawfinch, Firecrest, Crag Martin, Common Swift, Bonelli’s Eagle, Barbary Partridge, Reed Warbler and Crossbill. The evening also provided Tawny and Little Owl.