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Breeding of Golden Nightjar in Western Sahara confirmed

Breeding of Golden Nightjar in the Aousserd region, southern Morocco finally confirmed. An adult protecting two young were found at Oued Chiaf located some 55 km NW of Aousserd.

La reproduction de l’Engoulevent doré dans la region d’Aousserd au sud du Maroc est enfin confirmée. Un adulte protégeant deux jeunes ont été observés à Oued Chiaf situé à environ 55 km au nord-ouest de la ville d’Aousserd dans la soirée du 17 mars 2019.

Golden Nightjar (Caprimulgus eximius) protecting its two young, Aousserd, Western Sahara, southern Morocco, 18 March 2019 (M. L. Samlali).

The breeding was discovered by a German birding group during an organised trip guided by Mohamed Lamine Samlali and other guides. Two members of the group, Ole Krome and Daniel König, found the birds during an evening of 17 March 2019. Next morning, the whole group revisited the site to take the pictures. The Golden Nightjar was not disturbed and remained seated on its juveniles according to the observers.

Two days later, M. L. Samlali with a group of birders returned to the site at mid-day and took some close-up photos. Now, we hope that pressure from birders and disturbance won’t put this small breeding population in peril. Bird responsibly! (Borrowed, as you can tell, from a well-known advertisements).

Until this observation, a number of visiting birders have missed the species earlier this season. This shows that the species in Aousserd region does not occur only at Oued Jenna but also at similar habitat away from that famous site.

Golden Nightjar (Caprimulgus eximius) protecting its two young, Aousserd, Western Sahara, southern Morocco, 18 March 2019.

Timeline of Golden Nightjar sightings at Aousserd

A Golden Nightjar was observed crossing the Dakhla-Aousserd road and hit by the observers’ car and died on 3 May 2015. This was the first confirmed record for the Western Palearctic. Why confirmed? Because we have photos. The actual first record should be Valverde’s sighting in 1955 (see the detailed comments by Mark Beaman in the link).

Breeding of Golden Nightjar at Aousserd was first suspected by the BIOME team (Dan Brown, Richard Moores and Martyn Owen) in March 2016. Four birds were located near the Aousserd road: two birds were heard singing and one male had responded to song playback. This is the first possible breeding of the species in the region and WP.

On 20 April 2016, a Golden Nightjar was found dead as roadkill by a Dutch birding group (Jurrien van Deijk, Ruben Vermeer, Daan Drukker and Jacob Lotz). The bird had a large brood patch which suggests an active breeding (the brood patch is also known as ‘incubation patch‘ which means the bird was actively incubating when found). This is an indirect evidence equals to ‘probable breeding’.

Finding adult birds with their young on site, however, remains the highest and direct evidence of breeding. And here it is, breeding confirmed!

Young Golden Nightjar (Caprimulgus eximius), Aousserd, Western Sahara, southern Morocco, 7 April 2019 (Vaughan Ashby).

Read also: New recordings of Golden Nightjar songs are added to this blog-post.

Thanks to Abdeljebbar Qninba for the initial news, and to Thomas Lang – who was with the group – for the update. Thanks also to M. L. Samlali for the photos.

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