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Kelp Gulls at Akhfenir, southern Morocco

Robert Swann visited Morocco in late February to see two Western Palearctic rarities: Pied Crow and Kelp Gull. (See below the second photo for updates regarding the latter species).

Pied Crow

He started at Mhamid where he got good views of the “resident” Pied Crow (Corvus albus) on 23 Feb. Here is his comment:

I spotted the Pied Crow flying out over the village from the palms. We walked round the northern outskirts of the village and eventually located the crow on some open ground just beyond the military base. Unfortunately, it was disturbed by a villager, and we lost sight of it. After breakfast, we walked back round the northern outskirts of the village and relocated the Pied Crow feeding in open areas beyond the base where there was a bit of a dump. Got good views and photos (attached).

Pied Crow (Corvus albus), Mhamid, eastern Sahara, Morocco, 23 Feb. 2017 (Robert Swann)
Pied Crow (Corvus albus), Mhamid, eastern Sahara, Morocco, 23 Feb. 2017 (Robert Swann).

Kelp Gull

After the Pied Crow, he headed south-west to Tarfaya region in order to see Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus) which is known to occur at Khenifiss National Park and adjacent areas.

So, on 25 February, he got good views of a pair of Kelp Gulls at a dump located just south of Akhfenir. (Read this old but still relevant blog-post: Status of Kelp Gull in Morocco).

Kelp Gulls (Larus dominicanus), Akhfenir, southern Morocco, 25 Feb. 2017 (Robert Swann)
Kelp Gulls (Larus dominicanus), Akhfennir, southern Morocco, 25 Feb. 2017 (Robert Swann).

Updates on Kelp Gulls at Khnifiss and Akhfennir:

– Two adults south of Akhfennir on 17 March 2017 (Arnoud B. van den Berg). One bird was still present at the landfill on 3 April (Paul French). Photos can be seen at birdforum.

– 17 Feb. 2019: Two adults at Akhfennir. Márton Molnár wrote in observation.org: “We found one bird resting at the seashore, later it flew into the rubbish dump. (See the photo in which two birds are flying.) At the rubbish dump we found another bird with injured leg”.

– 7 Sep. 2019: Paul Dufour observed an adult as well as a hybrid bird at Khnifiss Lagoon. Regarding the hybrid, apparent hybrid gulls have been observed at Khnifiss Lagoon since a decade now. (See updates 2 and 3 on the blog-post cited just above the photo). However, since then, there have been very few photos of these apparent hybrids. On 24 April 2019, a Great Black-backed Gull x Kelp Gull hybrid (Larus marinus x L. dominicanus) was photographed at Oualidia saltpans, far to the north from where both parent species co-occur. The record was accepted by the Moroccan Rare Birds Committee.

– 24 March 2021: Geoffrey Monchaux observed two adults at Khnifiss Lagoon.

– 25 Aug. 2021: our colleagues at GOMAC association photographed 4 Kelp Gulls at Akhfenier: two adults, one 3 calendar-year bird, and a probable juvenile. The birding group was composed by K. Laidi, S. Zegres, R. Aloth and B. Maire.

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