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Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse in Morocco

Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse (Pterocles lichtensteinii) is a rare and range-restricted breeding species in Morocco. In fact, it’s so localised and discrete that it’s included in the list of species to be submitted to the Moroccan Rare Birds Committee (in order to help gather more data about its distribution).

There are however some sites where the species can be observed. The best known sites is probably along Oued Tissint, in addition to a few other sites in the region of Middle Draa valley.

Here are some sightings of the species in Morocco (this blog-post will be updated with new sightings).

Oued Tissint

A beautiful male bird was photographed at this site along the road Tata-Foum Zguid by Jorrit Vlot, Mark de Vries and their friends (photo below). The exact spot is at Km 56, about 6 Km south-east of the village of Tissint.

Andrew Makin and his birding colleagues observed 9 Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse drinking from the river in the evening of 25 April 2016. The following morning at 08:20, they observed 250+ Spotted (Pterocles senegallus) and 50+ Crowned Sandgrouse (Pterocles coronatus) drinking in the same area (See Andrew’s full comment below).

Etymology note:

Tissint means salt in Tamazight/Berber language. Oued Tissint and the eponymous village are named so because of the salty water of the wadi. Oued Tissint is also sometimes called “Oued el-Maleh”, this is simply the Arabic translation of the original Berber name. The latter name should be avoided when describing this site, because there are many sites known as ‘Oued el-Maleh’ in Morocco as well as in Algeria and Tunisia.

Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse (Pterocles lichtensteinii – Ganga de Lichtenstein), Oued Tissint, Morocco, 8 March 2014 (Mark de Vries)
Male Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse (Pterocles lichtensteinii), Oued Tissint, Morocco, 8 March 2014 (Mark de Vries).

Lake Iriqui

My colleague Mohamed Mediani photographed a pair in the Middle Draa at some 12 Km north-east of Lake Iriqui (Iriki) on 7 May 2013 (photo below). GPS coordinates of the site: 29.8997917, -6.4209783.

A pair of Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse (Pterocles lichtensteinii – Ganga de Lichtenstein), 12 Km NE of Lake Iriqui, Morocco, 7 May 2013 (Mohamed Mediani)
A pair of Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse (Pterocles lichtensteinii), 12 Km NE of Lake Iriqui, Morocco, 7 May 2013 (Mohamed Mediani).

Between Foum Zguid and Iriqui

Brahim Bakass and four GOMAC members observed 8 Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse (two families of five and three birds respectively) between Iriqui and Foum Zguid in the evening of 17 August 2013 (photos below). The birds were observed in front of a table mountain known as ‘Medouar Lkbir’ located some 20 Km south of Foum Zguid. Thanks Brahim for the information and photographs!

4 Lichtenstein's Sandgrouses / Gangas de Lichtenstein (Pterocles lichtensteinii), c. 20 Km south of Foum Zguid, 17 Aug. 2013 (Brahim Bakass).
4 Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouses / Gangas de Lichtenstein (Pterocles lichtensteinii), c. 20 Km south of Foum Zguid, 17 Aug. 2013 (Brahim Bakass).
Male Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse / Ganga de Lichtenstein (Pterocles lichtensteinii), c. 20 Km south of Foum Zguid, 17 Aug. 2013 (Brahim Bakass).
Male Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse / Ganga de Lichtenstein (Pterocles lichtensteinii), c. 20 Km south of Foum Zguid, 17 Aug. 2013 (Brahim Bakass).

2 thoughts on “Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse in Morocco”

  1. On visiting Morocco for 10 days during late April – early May 2016, a birding group consisting of Andrew Makin, Phil Rhodes, Simon Warford and Tony Disley visited Oued Tissint in the area mentioned above. During the evening 25/4/2016 at approximately 20:30, 9 Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse were seen drinking from the river. The following morning at 08:20, 250+ Spotted and 50+ Crowned Sandgrouse were seen drinking in the same area.

    1. Thanks Andrew from commenting and for the information. I am glad you enjoyed the Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse and other species at Oued Tissint.
      I have updated your observation in the main body of the blog-post.
      p.s.
      Sorry for taking so long to reply, first because I was away at the time, but also because of approving all the comments from the old ‘Moroccan Birds blog’, see: https://magornitho.org/about/

      Mohamed

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