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Breeding of Black-headed Gull at Dayet Dar Bouazza, Morocco

The Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) slowly colonising new sites in Morocco. However, not all these ‘colonies’ are comparable: while some are large enough and stable, others consist only of a few breeding pairs. (But the latter will probably grow if the right conditions are present; for instance, enough immigrants are recruited to the colony during the first years, and less disturbance at the site).

The latest site to be colonized by the species is Dayet Dar Bouazza, located just some 15 Km south-west of Casablanca. This wetland, although small, is of ecological and educational interests as it’s the sole site of this quality in the surrounding of the big city of Casablanca. Besides the size, it’s so shallow in summer, it appears indistinct from the surrounding land in some versions of Google Maps. For these and other reasons, the site is so coveted by real estate promoters, its future status is not clear.

Dayet Dar Bouazza hosts at least three pairs of Black-headed Gulls. Benoit Maire discovered the breeding pairs this spring: on 26 May, there were one breeding pair with one chick (photo 1) and two pairs still incubating the eggs.

For the other sites colonized by the species since 2002, see this blog-post: Breeding range expansion of Black-headed Gull in Morocco.

Etymology note:

The term ‘Dayet’ – also spelt as ‘Daya’ and with other spelling, denotes mainly shallow lakes as in the case of Dayet Aoua or Dayet el Ferd, or sometimes large ponds as well. The term used mainly – or maybe only – in Morocco and Algeria.

Black-headed Gull / Mouette rieuse (Chroicocephalus ridibundus): adult with chick, Dayet Dar Bouazza, 26 May 2018 (Benoit Maire).
Black-headed Gulls / Mouettes rieuses (Chroicocephalus ridibundus): occupied nests, Dayet Dar Bouazza, 19 May 2018 (Benoit Maire / eBird).

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