This new tour is a great adventure into a wonderfully scenic and remote corner of the Western Palearctic. Our itinerary combines a superb mix of coastal habitat and sub-tropical shallow bays with some simply stunning desert landscapes. The days will be spent birding the various migrant hotspot wadis, wetlands and desert landscapes and a good amount of time will also be spent looking for birds and mammals during the hours of darkness.
Golden Nightjar by Peter Stronach
The recent exciting discovery of Golden Nightjars that appear to be breeding in Western Sahara will be high on our list of target species as well as other difficult species within the Western Palearctic region such as Cricket Longtail, African Dunn’s Lark and Black-crowned Sparrowlark . Of course, there will also be plenty of other desert specialities which we will also search for including Desert Sparrow, Spotted and Crowned Sandgrouse, African Desert Warbler, Pharaoh Eagle Owl, Greater Hoopoe Lark and Cream-coloured Courser, some of which can be found in larger numbers compared to further north on the usual Morocco birding circuits.
Finally, mammals will also play a large part in the focus of the tour as we have good chances of finding Fennec Fox, Lesser Egyptian Jerboa, Atlantic Humpback Dolphin and with luck the beautiful Sand Cat or Rüppell’s Fox. Unlike other tours to this region, we have exclusive access to a house in the desert and therefore there is no need to camp.
Arrive into Dakhla on a late evening flight and transfer to our comfortable with great views across Dakhla Bay. Overnight Dakhla Bay
Today we shall explore the various points around the bay that host gatherings of gulls, waders and terns. We shall be looking in particular for the rare Kelp Gull amongst the groups of Lesser Black-backed Gulls as well as more common species such as Slender-billed Gull and Audouin’s Gull. Caspian Tern and Royal Tern should be fairly easy to find and waders should be plentiful. Given that it is prime migration season, the chances for something unusual are also high. We will also check any suitable habitat for passerines and non-passerines. A look out across the bay for cetaceans could be productive as Bottlenose Dolphins and even Orcas have been seen in previous years, but we shall be looking in particular for the Atlantic Humpback Dolphin which can sometimes be seen from our accommodation! We shall spend the afternoon birding the start of the now famous birding route along the Aousserd Road. Here, we will get a feel for some of the best looking birding areas and where we are sure to find some of the commoner desert species such as Greater Hoopoe Lark, Bar-tailed Desert Lark, Desert Sparrow and Southern Grey Shrike. We will return to our hotel shortly after dusk with some spotlighting en route. Overnight Dakhla Bay
We shall spend the morning checking the areas close to our hotel for waders and migrants and explore some of the various bays and lagoons around Dakhla. After lunch we shall then head down the Aousserd Road travelling further than the previous day, this time reaching Oued Jenna in time for sunset and our first attempt for Golden Nightjar. We shall have some food in the desert before heading slowly back along the Aousserd Road spotlighting for mammals and other wildlife. Overnight near Aousserd
DAYS 4 – 5
During the next couple of days we will focus on trying to find the specialities of this great area focusing our effort for both birds and mammals. This region is often windy and so the more time we have to try for Golden Nightjars, the better! Other target birds will include African Dunn’s Lark, Sudan Golden Sparrow, Cricket Warbler, Black-crowned Sparrowlark and Pharaoh Eagle Owl. During the nights we will spotlight along the road and other areas where we have a good chance of finding Sand Cat, Ruppell’s Fox, Lesser Egyptian Jerboa, Lesser Egyptian Gerbil, Desert Hedgehog and both Horned and Sand Vipers. Overnight near Aousserd
Overnight Dakhla Bay
Today we travel back to Dakhla making a number of stops en route to check for any species that we are missing. The afternoon will be spent resting before an evening exploring the Bir Anzerane which is a good birding area for many desert species such as Temminck’s Lark and Cream-coloured Courser as well as both Sand Cat and Fennec Fox. Alternatively, if we have already been successful with these species, we will spend time birding the coast for migrants around the nearby Taourta gardens for common migrants such as Bluethroat, Tree Pipit, Woodchat Shrike, Little as well as checking the coastal bays for numerous waders, gulls and terns. Overnight Dakhla Bay
We shall leave our final day to focus on any species that we may be missing as sandstorms can sometimes cause problems and may have prevented us from visiting certain sites. We still have plenty of time to travel back
towards the Aousserd Road for any desert specialities or searching for vagrants in some of the unvisited wadis or we can focus on the wetland pools and bays around Dakhla. Overnight Dakhla Bay
We transfer the short distance to Dakhla airport for our return flight back to the UK where the tour concludes.