Archive for the 'Birds' Category

Some birds of the Sahara in Morocco

Collared Dove

Eurasian Collared Dove at Merzouga in Morocco

Over recent weeks, I have been writing about our experiences while on a tour of Morocco. A few days ago I wrote about our camel ride into the Sahara and our overnight stay in a tent in the desert. On our return to a hotel on the edge of the desert, we had a late breakfast overlooking the desert. After the meal, we boarded our tour bus and moved on to the next destination.

While having breakfast I was able to get some good photos of some of the local birds, as shown in today’s post. The first one above is of the Eurasian Collared Dove, a relatively common bird in this part of the world. It is found throughout much of Europe, Asia and northern Africa, including Morocco. It has been introduced into North America. I actually photographed one in our garden in South Australia a few years ago – click here to see the photos of a sub-species, the Barbary Dove.

The next photo shows a lovely portrait of a Southern Grey Shrike. This species is found in many parts of northern Africa, the Pakistan-Indian region and in Spain. This was the first time I had seen this species so it is a “lifer” for my list.

The third species, as shown below, was a White-crowned Black Wheatear, another “lifer” bird species for me. It was a lovely way to end our visit to the Sahara, and one of the highlights of a wonderful tour of Morocco.

While on the camel ride into the desert I did see several other bird species but I was unable to identify them. It was very difficult to take photos of them from the constantly moving back of the camel I was riding. Near out camp in the desert, I also saw a small flock of House Sparrows.

Southern Grey Shrike at Merzouga in Morocco

Southern Grey Shrike at Merzouga in Morocco

White-crowned Black Wheatear, Merzouga, Morocco

White-crowned Black Wheatear, Merzouga, Morocco

 

Tracks in the desert

Some of our tour group in the Sahara

Some of our tour group in the Sahara

During our brief visit to the Sahara Desert on a tour of Morocco I took a series of photos of the desert, the plants of the desert and some of the tracks seen in the sand. I guess I expected the sand dunes to be pristine, perhaps a little windswept and certainly not covered in all kinds of tracks. Sure – a few footprints like those in the photo of our tour group shown above.

In some parts of the desert through which we travelled on our camel rides into and out of the Sahara I saw many wheel tracks as well. Some of the tracks were obviously those of people walking, larger ones were certainly camel tracks and yet others were motor bike and four wheel drive vehicles.

But what about those shown immediately below? Are they bicycle tracks? I didn’t see anyone riding a bike, but I guess that with the right tyres and plenty of energy it might be possible.

Tracks in the desert

Tracks in the desert

I have no doubt about the tracks shown in the following photo. I am almost certain that this photo shows the track of a small reptile, though it was obviously out and about before I had climbed the sand dune near our camp site. I have no idea what kind of reptile made this track. It may have been a small lizard or a skink or gecko. If my readers can identify this, please let me know in the comments.

Reptile tracks in the Sahara

Reptile tracks in the Sahara

Just as puzzling are the tracks shown in the photo below. Are they from a bird? They appear to be of a hopping bird but I am not totally convinced. The only birds I saw on our brief visit to this part of the desert were some House Sparrows near our camp site, and some blue-grey finch-like birds on the camel ride into the desert. Sadly, the motion of the camel I was riding prevented me getting an identifiable photo.

tracks of a bird (?) in the Sahara

Tracks of a bird (?) in the Sahara

Plants in the desert

Plants in the desert

 

Wildlife in the Greg Duggan Nature Reserve

Western Grey Kangaroo

Western Grey Kangaroo

Kangaroos

The wildlife in the Greg Duggan Nature Reserve in Peterborough, South Australia is quite diverse. Over recent weeks I have been sharing some of the wildflowers I photographed there in September last year. Despite being only 10 acres in size, the fauna is also quite interesting as well. When I visited a small mob of Western Grey Kangaroos was grazing contentedly on the grasses thriving in the park. The female in the photo below looks decidedly like there is a joey in her pouch.

Introduced Mammals

While I didn’t see any other mammals on this visit apart from several rabbits there are sure to be also a few other introduced mammals in this reserve and nearby, including:

  • Red Fox (common)
  • Brown Hare (common)
  • House Mouse (common)
  • Black Rat
  • Feral House Cat (widespread)
  • Goat (present in large numbers further north in the Flinders Ranges)
  • Fallow Deer (small feral populations in nearby Jamestown area)

Native Mammals

  • Western Grey Kangaroo (common)
  • Echidna (probably present in this area)
  • Several Bat species (common)
  • Brushtail Possum (possibly present)

Reptiles:

I am no expert in this field but there are many species of reptiles in the wildlife of this area, including:

  • Snakes – the common species would be Brown Snakes, but there must be others
  • Lizards – many species including Blue-tongues, Stumpy-tailed, geckos, skinks and so on
Western Grey Kangaroo - with a joey in the pouch?

Western Grey Kangaroo – with a joey in the pouch?

Insects:

Again, I am no expert in this field but I have casually observed a variety of

  • butterflies (see photo below – I haven’t been able to identify this one)
  • moths
  • grasshoppers
  • many kinds of beetles, bugs and native cockroaches, to name only a few.
Butterfly or moth? (hard to see - it is right in the middle of the photo just above the two flowers)

Butterfly or moth? (Hard to see – it is right in the middle of the photo just above the two flowers)

Birds:

This is one area of wildlife where I do have a great deal of knowledge in this area. In all, there are probably well over 150 different species of birds in the region – say, within a 20km radius. Included in this list are a few waterbirds (present in dams and a wetland area near the caravan park), eagles, hawks, pigeons, many species of honeyeaters, chats, babblers, parrots, thornbills, magpies, ravens, woodswallows, finches and the list goes on.

I have included only two photos today (see below). Of special note is the Apostlebird, an uncommon species in South Australia. The township of Peterborough has several large family groups of this species and is one of only a handful of places in the state where they can be reliably seen. The are very common in the eastern states, however.

Mallee Ringneck parrot

Mallee Ringneck parrot

Apostlebird

Apostlebird

 

 

From the lookout at Peterborough

From the lookout at Peterborough

From the lookout at Peterborough

When visiting family at Peterborough in the mid north of South Australia I try to take some time out to do a little birding, and then write about my sightings on another of my sites, Trevor’s Birding. The area around Peterborough is quite good for birding because most of the species are familiar to me but there is also a sprinkling of dry land species more common further north, birds I don’t often, if ever, see down south in Murray Bridge where I live.

On a visit last September I visited the lookout on Tank Hill at the end of Government Road. While I had done some birding there some years ago it had been while since my last visit. Since then the local council has installed a great lookout overlooking the township.

Leading up to the wheelchair friendly ramp is a well maintained gravel path through the reserve. Over recent days I have posted photos of some of the wildflowers I saw in this, the Greg Duggan Nature Reserve. While the predominant plant in the reserve is native pine (Callitris spp) there is quite a variety of other Australian native plants in the reserve as well. I have posted photos of some of these over recent days, and have more to share in coming days.

The Lookout just north of Peterborough township.

The Lookout just north of Peterborough township.

From the Lookout just north of Peterborough township.

From the Lookout just north of Peterborough township.

From the Lookout just north of Peterborough township.

From the Lookout just north of Peterborough township.

Happy Birthday to Trevor’s Birding

Red-browed Finch

Red-browed Finch

Congratulations and Happy 10th Birthday to Trevor’s Birding

A companion site that I also write for is called Trevor’s Birding. You can access the site here. I started that site just a few days over 10 years ago and it has proved to be one of the more popular birding sites worldwide. The site attracts readers from over 200 countries and comments from many of them.

Over the last ten years I have posted over 1660 articles, almost all of them about Australian birds – with a small offering from a few other countries as well, including Thailand, Nepal, Ethiopia and Morocco – with Spain still to come. In many cases I have included photos of the birds I have seen, and write about.

A good proportion of the photos shown on the site include birds I have seen in our own garden. We live on five acres of partly mallee scrub on the outskirts of Murray Bridge, an hour’s drive south east of  Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. This small rural city straddles the Murray River, Australia’s longest and largest waterway, so we occasionally get the odd water-bird landing on our roof, in the garden – or even in the swimming pool.

Later this year Trevor’s Travels will also be celebrating its 10th birthday, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, to celebrate, I thought that I would share some of my best bird photos with my readers.

Why not leave a comment as well?

Star Finch

Star Finch

Sacred Kingfisher

Sacred Kingfisher

Australian Magpie

Australian Magpie