While travelling from Meknes to Fes in Morocco our guide asked the bus driver to stop briefly on the side of the road so we could take some photos. This was near the ancient Roman ruins of Volubilis. I’ll show photos of birds seen there in the coming days.
Across the road from our bus a farmer was ploughing his field using two donkeys to pull the plough. Donkeys were a common sight in both Morocco and Ethiopia. As the ground was tilled, several Cattle Egrets followed along, taking the opportunity to feast on worms and beetles and insects disturbed by the implement.
In Meknes we walked past this rectangular reservoir in the heart of the city. When I saw the water I was eager with anticipation at seeing some of the water birds of Morocco. I was disappointed.
On a structure way out in the middle was a solitary Grey heron accompanied by one unidentified duck. Grey Herons are widespread in Africa, Europe and Asia but don’t occur here in Australia, so this one bird was a new species for me. I never saw another one on our trip. Birding can be like that; exciting one day, disappointing the next.
The photos are disappointing too, but it was not surprising because the birds were over one hundred metres away so I was really stretching the capabilities of the zoom lens.
One of the common birds I saw during my visit to Morocco in December 2011 was the Cattle Egret. During the first few days – before we ventured into the drier eastern parts of the country – this species was probably the most common species I saw. Today’s photos were taken in the streets of the capital Rabat. This city has many wide thoroughfares, often with grass verges, an ideal feeding zone for this species.
At first I thought this was the Little Egret, a species I am familiar with here in Australia. I’ve also seen the Cattle Egret in a number of places in Australia, but the Little Egret is generally more common here. It was only when I arrived home, did some research and looked closely at the birds I had photographed. The yellow bill and the grey legs indicate Cattle Egret. I guess I was confused at first seeing that all the birds I saw showed no signs of the breeding plumage orange colouration. On reflection, this was the middle of winter in Morocco so it is not surprising that they were not in breeding plumage.
I also have another excuse: I was birding in a strange country with no field guide to the birds of that country.
Last December we visited our daughter who teaches in Clare in the mid-north of South Australia. One afternoon I wandered down the road to Lake Inchiquin which is next the Melrose Park on the northern edge of town. Over recent years I have often visited this top little spot to do a little birding.
Over recent years this lake has often been almost dry due to the extended drought conditions we’ve experienced over that period. This last year’s good rains has seen the lake return to capacity again. The birds have also returned, so I try to find a half hour or so to check it out every time we visit our daughter.
On this occasion I saw a few Pacific Black Ducks, Chestnut Teal, Grey Teal, plenty of Eurasian Coot, several Masked Lapwings and a solitary Darter. On the opposite shore a single Great Egret patrolled the lake edges, especially near the reeds. Another species was a Yellow-billed Spoonbill but I didn’t manage a photo of the one bird seen flying overhead.
Away from the water the birdlife was just as interesting, with Laughing Kookaburras, Little Corellas, Galahs and dozens of Rainbow Lorikeets. In nearby trees I saw Noisy Miners, Red Wattlebirds and White-plumed Honeyeaters. Standing quite still for about 5 minutes I watched a Mallee Ringneck feeding on the seeds of some weeds growing on the bank of the lake.
To all my regular readers I’m sorry there has been quite a delay since my last post here. I’ve been busy finishing off the academic year and getting snowed under a little with all the end of semester marking. Nearly there.
I ignored the assignments waiting for my attention today because it’s my birthday.
I had a relaxing day, didn’t pressure myself in any way, enjoyed the lovely spring sunshine and gentle breeze. The highlight of the day was chatting via Skype with my grandchildren in Sydney. Precious times. Nearly went out birding, but didn’t in the end.
Instead of showing a photo taken today, I looked through my photo album to share one not seen here before. The shot above was taken a few weeks ago on our way back from Sydney. It shows a very obliging White-faced Heron feeding on one of the grassy areas in the beautiful Wagga Wagga Botanic Gardens.