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Sudan Golden Sparrows at Bir Anzarane, Western Sahara

A male Sudan Golden Sparrow (Passer luteus) was photographed yesterday at a drinking site near Bir Anzarane, about 140 Km north-east of Dakhla, southern Morocco. The species was recorded during a scientific trip coordinated by the Association Nature Initiative (A.N.I). Abdeljebbar Qninba first saw and identified the species, Abdelaziz Benhoussa, Mohamed Ibn Tattou, Mohamed Laghdaf Khayya, Hicham El Brini, Btissam El Jafalli and Mohamed Mediani also enjoyed observing and photographing the bird (photos below).

This is the northernmost record in Morocco for this Western Palearctic mega-rarity. Until now all previous records were around Aousserd: at Oued Jenna, and at similar habitats (small ‘wadis’) between 10 and 20 Km to the southwest.

Sudan Golden Sparrow (Passer luteus) and Desert Sparrow (Passer simplex), Bir Anzarane, southern Morocco, 30 Jan. 2015 (Abdeljebbar Qninba).

After the news about the discovery was spread, several European birders visited the drinking site in the following days. They not only saw the single Sudan Golden Sparrow, but found that a big flock was present at the same site. The minimum number of Sudan Golden Sparrows in that flock was between 28 and 31. A partial view of the flock is shown in the photo below taken by Mohamed Lamine Samlali during a trip with a Belgian birding group.

Big mixed flock of Sudan Golden Sparrow and Desert Sparrow, Bir Anzarane, Western Sahara, 6 Feb. 2015 (Mohamed Lamine Samlali /A.N.I.)

Previous records of Sudan Golden Sparrow:

– First record that involved 2 males and 5 females/juveniles was on the Dakhla-Aousserd road, about 86 Km before Aousserd town, on 21 April 2009.

– Second record was at 17 Km SW of Aousserd on 12 January 2013.

– Then came 2014 when several Sudan Golden Sparrows were recorded by several birders, both at Oued Jenna and south of Aousserd town between 1 February and 13 April.

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