Tuesday 9 April 2013

MOROCCO: African Rock Martin

Whilst birding near Merzouga the Wise Birding Tour bumped into an unexpected bonus -  African Rock Martin.
A very opportune picnic lunch stop found us birding a large wadi near Begaa where Andrew casually mentioned there were some "Martins" hawking around in the distance.  Whilst having lunch, the birds came a little nearer and Darryl made it clear we should all have a good look at these birds. I immediately saw what he was getting at, as the birds were very strikingly different in upperpart colouration to any Eurasian Crag Martins that I had ever seen ( a species that I was very familiar with). The steely-blue
upperbody/rump contrasted strongly with the more brown toned upperwing. We decided to bin our Moroccan Tea and get closer! To cut a long story short, we made chase and  ensured we got some good photographic  evidence between us and below are just some of the images of up to 10 birds.

The photos clearly show: pale throat, steely blue grey upperbody and rump contrasting with wing coverts as well as dark underwing coverts near carpal contrasting with the paler axillaries and almost ghost image inner underwing coverts. The dark and less contrasting UT covert barring though conflicting with the Collins guide would seem normal for the "presaharica" race of AR Martin found in Morocoo.

More pics Here: http://peteralfreybirdingnotebook.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/moroccan-post-trip-tick.html
Here: http://www.leedingain.com/2013/04/rock-martins-at-bagaa-tafilalt-morocco.html 
and Here:  http://gwentbirding.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/cover-me-porkins-im-going-in.html

frican Rock Martin is currently a description species for the Moroccan Rarities Committee due to much confusion with its historical status, previous id pitfalls  and talk of potential hybrids etc. Therefore, we were understandably cautious; but thanks to some very welcome opinions
from Messrs Mullarney and van den Berg on our return to the UK , it looks like our gut feeling was correct. Result!



  1. Interesting - i have looked, hard, at Crag Martins in varying lighting conditions on several trips to Maroc and have'nt seen anything as Blue-Grey as yr photos, is this species considered just a scarce vagrant or does it breed anywhere?

    Laurie -

  2. Hi Laurie,
    I think basically the status is unclear in Morocco - There have been historical "traditional" sites where people have seen birds, but it is now considered a description species in Morocco.