Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

February 27, 2018

Casablanca and Rabat

Filed under: General — Tags: — admin @ 8:42 pm

Probably Last Post From Morocco.

Unless something happens tomorrow. Anything is possible. Today I got my Moroccan phone activated for international roaming and I am going to see how it works in Spain and maybe Mexico. I had to wait for nearly an hour to get served by the burokrats at Maroc Telecom.

Casablanca Beach
Casablanca Beach

I would not recommend going to Casablanca. It is just a city with a beach and that is about it. Nothing much going for it. I spent one night there. That was plenty.

the promenade
The Promenade

I did a Sunday Promenade along the beach. Everyone was doing it. The sun was shining. Kids were skating, lovers walking hand in hand. McDonalds was crowded out. The line-up for the Maccas drive-through was chokkers. Standard suburbia. The same the world over. I had a Burger King over the road. It was not crowded.

Rabat Plage
Rabat Plage

The beach at Rabat on a rainy day. The surf was very small – about a foot and there were two guys out.

Come to ze kasbah
The Kasbah.

I walked up the stairs to the kasbah. It had a nice view over the beach. There were lots of tourists about.

The River
The River

This is the view of the river from the other side. Nice.

Fishing boats
Fishing boats

Today the sun was out. So I walked along the river enjoying the weather.

The Restaurant.
The Restaurant.

A floating restaurant pretending to be a dhow. It did not fool me.

A castle corner
A castle corner

Guns sticking out of the holes. Cannons, I mean.

the souk
The souk.

And back along through the souk to have a cup of tea in the cafe. And back to the hotel for some R&R.

February 24, 2018

Another Day in Azemmour

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 5:04 pm

Azemmour Birding Number Two

Yesterday afternoon I headed up into the fields above the river to the west of the medina towards the beach.

Black-winged Stilt
Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)

A very common bird for me but first time seen in Morocco for me.

Black Redstart
Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)

This is a female. Again, first time for me seen in Morocco.

Common Linnet
Common Linnet (Linaria cannabina)

Seen before in Oualidia but this photo is just a little bit better. Not by much.

European Serin
European Serin (Serinus serinus)

Common Blackbird
Common Blackbird (Turdus merula)

Black-headed Gull  - summer plumage
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)

Summer plumage for the Black-headed Gull.

Azemmour Bird List

Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)
European Serin (Serinus serinus)
Common Linnet (Linaria cannabina)
Common Blackbird (Turdus merula)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)

February 23, 2018

Birds at Azemmour

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 3:38 pm

Azemmour Birding

This morning I went across the bridge to the other side of the river and went into a few vegetable fields and along the river.

Spanish Sparrow
Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis)

I have been looking for this nondescript bird for ages. Finally.

not sure
Zitting Cisticola

This could be a Zitting Cisticola. Waiting for ID. edit: yes it is. Thanks Dave.

Sardinian Warbler
Sardinian Warbler

I just cannot resist these cute little fellows. They are everywhere in Morocco.

Common Blackbird
Common Blackbird

Barn Swallow
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

European Stonechat
European Stonechat

aka Common Stonechat. I have seen them everywhere also.

Great Cormorant - race sinensis
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis)

Great Cormorant, race sinensis. Quite a few of them on the river here.

Black-headed Gulls
Black-headed Gull

Quite a few of them here getting their summer plumage.

Azemmour Bird List

Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis)
Zitting Cisticola
Common Blackbird
Spotless Starling
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
House Bunting
Common Stonechat
Sardinian Warbler
Black-headed Gull
Grey Plover
Great Cormarant(Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis)
Little Egret
Grey Heron
Crested Lark
Common Sandpiper
Common Redshank

February 22, 2018

From Oualidia to Azemmour

Filed under: General — Tags: — admin @ 7:44 pm

Atlantic Coast Morocco.

I spent a few days at Oualidia and found a few nice birds. These are my tourist photos. Oualidia had a very large lagoon stretching for miles along the edge of the sea.

Oualidia Lagoon Panorama.
Panorama of Oualidia coast.

On a boat ride I spotted some ladies on a donkey on the seaward side of the lagoon. It looked pretty funny to me.

2 ladies on a donkey
Two ladies on a donkey .

They use all these sticks as fences and stack them up when they are not using them.

fence sticks stacks
fence sticks stacks

This morning I got the bus to Azemmour. I waited for more than an hour for a shared taxi. Then a bus came along so I abandoned the poor taxi driver. The bus was so slow, it stopped so many times. I was so frunstrated. Eventually I made it to Azemmour and got installed in my riad.

Inside the Medina.
Inside the Medina.

This is from the roof of my riad. Very nice view.

Medina walls facing river
Medina walls facing river

I think a medina is like a fortified town, maybe like a castle.

Medina corner
Medina corner

Very nice end points for the medina walls.

February 20, 2018

Oualidia Lagoon Boat Ride

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 8:42 pm

Oualidia Lagoon Boat Ride

I went for a boat ride this morning at 9am. Luckily the tide was going out so the mud flats were exposed and there were a lot of birds wading.

Slender-billed Gull
Slender-billed Gull (Chroicocephalus genei)

I have been looking for a Slender-billed Gull for ages and finally I found one. tick.

Great Cormarant - race sinensis
Great Cormarant(Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis)

This is the Great Cormorant race sinensis. There are three races in Morocco.
(see http://cormorants.freehostia.com/cormo_abstract/bull4_docs/Veldkamp.htm for reports).

Moroccan Great Cormorant
Moroccan Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo maroccanus)

And the local Moroccan race maroccanus on the right. Phalacrocorax carbo maroccanus is a resident in coastal north-western Africa from Morocco south to Mauritania. The nominate race carbo is on the left.

Black-headed Gull
Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)

In summer plumage. First time I have seen one with summer plumage. Woot.

Spotless Starling
Spotless Starling (Sturnus unicolor)

There were lots of these Spotless Starlings in town.

Eurasian Oystercatcher
Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)

Black-necked Grebe
Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)

I think this Black-necked Grebe has a bit of breeding plumage happening.

Eurasian Spoonbill
Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)

There were a couple of Eurasian Spoonbills with rings on their legs. Will have to send the photos away to find where they come from.

Sandwich Tern
Sandwich Tern (Sterna sandvicensis)

White Stork
White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)

Some of these White Storks have nested on top of the town mosque.

Oualidia Bird List

Slender-billed Gull (Chroicocephalus genei)
Moroccan Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo maroccanus)
Great Cormarant(Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis)
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)
Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)
White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)
Spotless Starling (Sturnus unicolor)
Sandwich Tern (Sterna sandvicensis)
Common Bulbul
Common Blackbird
Whimbrel
Common Ringed Plover
Little Egret
Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)
Grey Heron
Grey Plover
Eurasian Curlew
Dunlin
Kentish Plover
Terek Sandpiper (Xenus cinereus)
Common Kingfisher
Ruddy Turnstone
Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)
Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)
Common Coot
Sardinian Warbler

The Lagoon at Oualidia

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 3:38 pm

Oualidia Birds

I got to Oulidia yesterday via a shared taxi. It was pretty good value and faster than a bus. Oualidia is on the coast with a big lagoon stretching for miles. In the afternoon I went for a walk down to the lagoon. It did not seem like there was much around but I seemed to get a few birds nevertheless.

Common Whitethroat
Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis)

Not seen this bird before.

Lesser Redpoll  or Common Redpoll
Common Linnet (Linaria cannabina)

Edit: got it totally wrong. It is a Common Linnet. doh! Way too south for a redpoll. (Not sure which this is. Will have to get some help with the ID. I do not know European birds. I have seen Redpolls in New Zealand, where they were introduced. I think they may have been introduced in Morocco too, or are vagrant. )

Meadow Pipit
Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)

Thanks to Gustav, Kuzey and crew on the facebook ID group. Pipits are a nightmare for me. And I guess lots of other birders.

Western Cattle Egret
Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)

This was the first bird I saw as I stepped out for the afternoon. Scrounging around in a garbage bin. He has got the first flushes of breeding plumage as well.

European Serin
European Serin (Serinus serinus)

Lots of twittering Serin on the hills above the lagoon.

Sardinian Warbler
Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala)

These are everywhere in Morocco.

Common Kestrel in flight
Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

Oualidia bird list

Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis)
Common Linnet (Linaria cannabina)
Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)
Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
Common Blackbird (Turdus merula) aka Eurasian Blackbird
Eurasian Collared Dove
European Serin (Serinus serinus)
Sardinian Warbler
Spotless Starling (Sturnus unicolor)
European Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)
Common Kestrel
EURASIAN CURLEW (Numenius arquata)
Spotless Starling

February 18, 2018

Going North in Morocco

Filed under: General,Surfing — Tags: — admin @ 8:51 pm

Immsouane – Essaouira – Safi

Here are some of the tourist photos that I have taken on the way from Immsouane to Safi. There was nothing else to do in Immsouane. It was a small village on the edge of a barren desert-like landscape. There were two beaches and one of them was very protected from the north wind. And excellent for beginners to learn surfing.

Immsouane panorama
The beach at Immsouane.

I was lucky getting from Immsouane. I bumped into some Canadians in the village and we shared a taxi to the highway. We waited five minutes and then a bus came along. My hostel was easy to find but not very nice. I spent most of my time walking around the old city and the fishing harbour.

Trawler going back out.
Trawler going back out.

Grilled sardines were popular with the tourists. I never seen so many white pasty-skinned Europeans.

Grilling sardines
Grilling sardines

All the fishing boats were painted blue. I have no idea how they knew which was which.

A new trawler
A new trawler

A few trawlers were getting a fit-out.

The blue fishing boats
The blue fishing boats

Fixing the nets
Fixing the nets

This guy was repairing the nets while other dudes were unloading fish.

A trawler coming home
A trawler coming home

Surrounded by a cloud of Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Surfing some small waves
Surfing some small waves

This morning I caught the bus from Essaouira, glad to escape my horrible hostel. Walked down the road to my luxury hotel with TV and air-conditioning and had a nice hot shower. After that I got a taxi to the beach but the waves were a bit too small. Nevertheless, there were a couple of keen guys out surfing.

Under the cliff
Under the cliff

I walked about a kilometer and got a taxi back to my hotel, had a quarter chicken for dinner and am now sorting out all my photos, watching French TV.

February 16, 2018

Atlantic Morocco Coast Birds

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 6:21 pm

Birds of Immsouane

I mainly walked along the seashore at Imsouane and the rock shelf near the harbour. I was lucky to spot a Northern Bald Ibis on a lamp post just near the market. But it is a terrible photo.

Northern Bald Ibis
Northern Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita)

Northern Bald Ibis, hermit ibis, or waldrapp (Geronticus eremita). “The northern bald ibis was once widespread across the Middle East, northern Africa, southern and central Europe, with a fossil record dating back at least 1.8 million years. It disappeared from Europe over 300 years ago, and is now considered critically endangered. There are believed to be about 500 wild birds remaining in southern Morocco.” (wiki).

Little Egret
LIttle Egret

This one seems to be in breeding plumage.

maybe Heuglin's Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus) – third winter

I have to get an ID of this one. Edit: thanks to Olle for the ID. “Medium grey back and long slender wings look good for Larus fuscus. A third-winter bird.”

Not sure, id please
Mediterranean Gull (Larus melanocephalus)

This one had a ring on it. I have to get a proper ID on it. Edit: Thanks to Tim Swain for the ID. This bird was ringed in France on 01/07/2017.

Ring band on gull
Ring on the gull

This is the ring on the gull above.

Sandwich tern
Sandwich tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)

There were about 15 of them on the rock shelf hanging about in a mob.

Ruddy Turnstone
Ruddy Turnstone

Ruddy Turnstone juvenile having a bath.

Little Stint
Little Stint

Southern Grey Shrike
Southern Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis algeriensis)

Imsouane Birds

Little Egret
Northern Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita)
Mediterranean Gull (Larus melanocephalus)
Common Chaffinch
Great Cormorant
Yellow-legged Gull
Little Stint
Southern Grey Shrike
Sandwich tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)
Ruddy Turnstone
Lesser Black-backed Gull

Surfing Two Bays

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 5:27 pm

Surfing at Imsouane.

Imsouane has two bays that are suitable for sufing. The one to the north gets bigger waves and is suitable for more experienced surfers. The other one to the south is more protected, with gentler waves and is very good for beginners.

Coming in and going out
Coming in and going out

This fishing boat was coming out of the harbour just as a set was coming through.

Going over the wave
Going over the wave

They just made it over.

SUP, dude
SUP, dude

In the northern bay, I think they call it Cathedral, the bigger waves were coming through.

Wipe out
Wipe out

Below the desert
Below the desert

The land around here is very dry.

Coming off the lip
Coming off the lip

Dav 2 at Imsouane was a bit bigger and the tide was out for most of the morning so it was a great day for surfing.

Going left
Going left

Shooting into the sun.

Carving
Carving

Fishermen coming in
Fishermen coming in

Luckily this boat made it in without getting swamped.

Left
Left

Shooting into the sun made the waves glisten nicely.

February 13, 2018

Taghazout to Cap Ghir

Filed under: Birds,Surfing — Tags: — admin @ 4:33 pm

Boiler Point Excursion.

This morning after breakfast I walked up the hill from the Taghazout village to the highway roundabout and caught the 33 bus which goes to Thamri. I got off at the end of Cap Ghir. I did not know there was a surfing spot there. It is called Boiler Point.

Early wave at Boiler Point
Early wave at Boiler Point

The tide was coming in fast so there were not many waves. When I came back later no-one was out because the waves were not even breaking any more. There were a heap of fishing boats out to sea.

Fishing Boats
Fishing Boats

And quite a few rock fishermen trying their luck. I only saw them catch one fish.

rock fishermen
Rock fishermen

unknown, id please
blue rock thrush (Monticola solitarius) – female

I took a photo of this bird but I have no idea what it is or where to start. Edit: Thanks to Gustav Erikson for the ID.

Anchor Point at sunset
Anchor Point at sunset

This is a bonus photo from yesterday afternoon, just above the village of Anchor Point. It was low tide at this stage.

Cap Ghir birds

Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Yellow-legged Gull
House Sparrow
European Stonechat
blue rock thrush (Monticola solitarius)

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