Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Morocco in June Part 4 Marrakesh and some local birding.

We left our hotel not long after 6.00am for the trip to Marrakesh but at least an hour was spent picking up from other hotels, then a half hour stop on the motorway for coffee and/or breakfast so it was late morning by the time we got to our destination.
The journey took us on the recently completed motorway, a magnificent highway through some magnificent scenery.
Motorway to Marrakesh
Again, hardly any traffic to be seen until we reached Marrakesh and then I was relieved I wasn't driving . It was fairly manic and besides there was no way I could park near to where we did... right in the middle of the main square of the medina which is surrounded by the souks.
A short guided tour followed after which we were free to wander and peruse the biggest flea market I have ever seen. opportunities to have my picture taken with a monkey or to photograph the snake charmers were purposely avoided but we did buy a couple of ceramic plates and some extremely cheap leather belts. That said I was relieved to be leaving the place at 4.30pm. It had been very hot and humid for the duration of the visit, distinctly uncomfortable but eventually the heavens opened in the predicted thunderstorm thankfully just seconds after we had got on the mini-bus.
So, it isn't always magical in Marrakesh. I can't really claim to have seen that much of the place but I'm in no hurry to return either.
We added White Stork which was nesting on the old town walls as well as probably Collared Pratincol on the way home but otherwise it was bird free day.
We had four days left and we certainly needed a day of rest after much travelling around. I had resigned myself to having seen all I would when I decided that there was every chance I might not return to Morocco. I would have one last crack at what was available locally. I had been told by a friend that if I was to take no more than a taxi trip to the top of the nearby hill I would certainly bag a couple of lifers.
Sitting on top of the distant hill seen here is the old medina, now just a ruin but still a tourist attraction because of the far reaching views. I was advised not to go in the evenings as it attracts drinkers and other undesirables so I got up early and hired a taxi, it being too far to walk especially carrying all my photo equipment.
What I found at the top was unbelievable for somewhere with such potential. Broken glass everywhere and other than a few Crested Larks and some Pallid Swift not much else.
Pallid Swift    Morocco
The locals and their Camels started arriving in expectation of the tourists but this one had had enough. I asked my taxi driver to wait at the bottom of the hill and I walked down.
At last, a photo opportunity of a male Moussier's Redstart.
Moussier's Redstart   Morocco
Still distant and in poor light but nevertheless an opportunity previously unobtained.

Moussier's Redstart   Morocco
Better still a little further on a Black Wheatear.
Black Wheatear   Morocco
Sadly it was sat on a metal pole but that nicely summed up the surrounding area to be honest. How Agadir's authorities have allowed this place of potential beauty to be so misused I don't understand.
So that was it. The sum total of my Moroccan experience.
As it was never intended as a birding holiday it wasn't a disappointment. I quite enjoyed the sunbed days and got in to a good book. I have my reservations at all inclusive holiday hotels. No problems with the hotel in as much as it was all very luxurious, the staff outstanding, here even posing for me in our favourite Moroccan themed restaurant.
Hotel Riu    Moroccan restaurant
I saw very few examples of alcohol induced behaviour but what I disliked the most was the number of people you are constantly surrounded by. Give me a small place to stay in preference anyway to one of these large 4 star places.
Will I go back ?
The honest answer is I don't know. I feel I have seen as much of the scenery as I need but the birding is probably much better during migration periods however there are other places I want to go to as well.
Time will tell if we return. Time and the political climate too I guess.
It may or may not influence your decision to visit having read of my experience
In the meantime I had only 7 days to get ready for my next trip, this time here in the UK.
All of it purely for photography.


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