Bald Ibis is described as one of the world’s rarest birds and for that reason is also one of the most sought after species in Morocco, a must see. There are two locations for it on either side of Agadir. The first is the Souss-Massa national park to the south where they range over a wide area that is best accessed in a 4×4. The second is 60 km to the north around a small town Tamri at the western edge of the Atlas mountains on the N1 coast road. I had decided before coming here that the latter would probably be the easier option.
I have tried my best to find a Suzuki Jimny or similar vehicle for this trip, but have ended up with a rather battered and unvaleted Moroccan Dacia saloon. I prefer to deal with small local hire companies recommended by the hotel since they usually include all insurances in the day rate, are not too fussy about where I take the car, and do not require large returnable excesses up front. Today’s deal was typical at about £28 a day and took most of the morning to conclude, as things do in Morocco. But no matter since my guide book says Bald Ibis are best looked for at Tamri around the middle of the day.
My first experience of driving in Morocco seemed longer than the stated 60 km. Just before Tamri the road turns sharply inland along the Oued Tinkert estuary. On arriving in the town just after 1pm a souk (market) was in progress, so I saw some authentic Moroccan sights. But the question as so often abroad was where to start looking for the Ibis. I headed back to the river mouth on the coast that is said to be a reliable spot for them. Then on setting out off piste on foot a mishap befell me. Crossing some wet sandy soil I completely lost my footing and was unable to correct it, landing flat on my backside in the mud and jarring my right shoulder nastily attempting to break my fall. Returning across the same unavoidable ground and trying to be more careful, exactly the same thing happened again. The Dacia was about to become a little more unvaleted than previously.
This was only my second accident in four years of solo adventuring in wild places, but being already exhausted from my exertions on day one I felt quite shook up. I decided to stay with the car and scan over the estuary from the roadside, finding loitering groups of Audouin’s Gull and Sandwich Tern, and an Osprey. Eventually I was approached by a young Moroccan from a nearby village who said he knew where to find the Ibis. I had been led to expect this and so engaged him as a guide.
As we spoke my new companion pointed out a Bald Ibis flying in off the sea towards the area where he said we should look. We then drove around to the far side of the estuary and into an area of sand and scrub sloping down towards the beach. My guide found more groups of birds flying offshore saying they were Ibis though I couldn’t be sure he was always right. But eventually there was a second nailed-on sighting, also flying in off the sea. Now I could return home without fearing an ear bashing from Ewan for dipping this Moroccan must see, and the Souss-Massa was still to come.