Thursday, November 30, 2017

Morocco de Lux Safari 2018 - Spain Tour Optional Extension


Morocco de Luxe - 22-31 march 2018
The Atlas and Saharas

Morocco is one of the most beautiful countries in the region and one of few places where you really can get the true 1001 nights feeling. On this trip we focus on the inner of Morocco´s mountains and deserts. A road-trip for the adventurous who likes the idea of traveling a bit off the beaten track to see special birds and habitats. We will however stay in very comfortable Kasbah style hotels and taste genuine, local food. When we get to the real desert, we will be driven in 4x4 vehicles so we can move freely in the habitat and seek the birds we want. Our leader has done more than 40 trips to Morocco and knows all the best sites for all the specialities. In addition we also use local guides at times. Egyptian Nightjar, Cream-coloured Courser, Desert Sparrow, Pharaoh Eagle Owl, Fulvous Babbler, are some of the birds we will target in the Sahara. Sandgrouse, Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters, several species of Wheatears and Larks are also on the menu and of course the birds of the High Atlas like Crimson-winged Finch and Levaillents´s Woodpecker. This time of the year there´s also a lot of migrating birds around and any bush can hold interesting finds.

Day 1 22nd March
Common Bulbul and breakfast
We plan to arrive on the afternoon in Marrakech. It means we stay the first night in Marrakech to load our batteries with a nice evening meal and a good night´s sleep. The hotel has a lovely garden/park area where some birds can be seen. Night in Hotel Farah.

Day 2 23rd March
After breakfast we will begin our journey across the Atlas Mountains south towards Ouarzazate, that is our first destination on the tour. But we will have time for many stops before that, especially up in the mountains where we will keep our eyes open for Levaillant's Woodpecker,  Barbary Partridge, Tristram´s Warbler and Moussier´s Redstart. Raptors to look out for are Barbary Falcon and Golden Eagle, but since it´s migration time, anything can come across. We will do stops on above 1.000 meters, so warm clothes can be good to have ready. We recommend you to bring a warm sweater, and a windstopping jacket & trousers, even if we only spend the first and the last days at this elevation. Pretty soon we will start to see the first ”exotic” Wheatears; Mourning Wheatear, Black Wheatear, White-crowned Wheatear and eventually perhaps the first Desert Wheatears. Our base Hotel Dar Chamaa in Ouarzazate lies surrounded by palm trees with the Atlas mountains in the backdrop. There´s a pool and a nice terrace embed with trees and bushes. The weather varies a lot here between cool or balmy, mainly depending on the wind. Northerly winds will produce cold weather, but normally days are pleasant and nights are cooler this time of the year. (Today´s transfer is 198 km, effective travel time estimated to 2 hours, 52 min)

Male Desert Wheatear
Day 3 24th March
Our journey continues south through palm tree plantations in the Agdz and Draa Valleys, where there could be all sorts of migrating birds around; Raptors, Wheatears, Warblers, Wagtails and Pipits. Maybe we have already seen the first Subalpine Warblers in the hotel garden before breakfast.  Most likely also the first Common Bulbuls and House Buntings. Temperatures down here will be considerably higher than yesterday and it will feel nice to stretch our limbs on a walk along the river to find some new birds. A first stop by a shallow lake is usually productive with Ruddy Shelducks, different Waders, Terns, Herons, maybe Flamingos, etc. We follow the valley and stop in different, small wadis where the green habitat can attract migrants. Laughing Dove, Spectacled Warbler, White-crowned Wheatear  and Blue-cheeked Bee-eater are some of today´s target birds. We will also look for Bonelli´s Eagle, Streaked Scrub-Warbler and Seebohm´s Wheatear. Kasbah Sirocco is a charming and and comfortable hotel, surrounded by palmeries near Zagora. The bar area by the pool is a nice place for a get-together and to go through the list of birds we´ve seen during the day. We´ll then enjoy some good local cuisine in this nice as well as traditional environment. If weather is good we can sit outdoors. (Today´s transfer is 163 km, effective travel time estimated to 2 h, 46 min)

Laughing Dove
Day 4 25th March
Today we need to start early to make the 300 km we need to travel to reach the sand dunes of the Sahara. We we still have time for plenty of bird stops. We´ll keep our eyes open for birds like Trumpeter Finch, Lanner Falcon, Desert Wheatear, but also different migrants. White Wagtails of the handsome subspecies subpersonata are not numerous but we´ll certainly try our best to see some. The open habitats is a tough challenge when it comes to spotting birds, but the more eyes…We might be rewarded with Spotted- or Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Fulvous Babblers, Cream-colored Courser and other good species. When we arrive there will be a little more choice on which activities you want to participate in, since we are staying two nights at Auberge Kasbah Derkaoua. A small hotel with low buildings, named after the ruins of an old sufic shelter, built by traditional ”bricks” of straw and clay. A selection of tents and gazebos offer shelter from the heat and sunshine. Kasbah Derkaoua is surrounded by desert and a little oasis in it´s own right. It´s also the place that many travelers have used as a base for their desert adventure in Sahara spelled Erg Chebbi! - the famous sand dunes that have become a main image of Moroccan Sahara, but in fact isn´t a common habitat at all. Here the 150 meter high sand dunes rise just near the hotel and covers an area of 50 km. (Today´s transfer is 305 km, travel time estimated to 4 hours)

White-crowned Wheatear
Day 5 26th March
Today we well explore the areas around the Erg Chebbi – so we will enter 4x4 jeeps and drive straight out into the habitat. The area around Merzouga is also interesting with the temporary lake Dayet Srji. If it holds water it attracts Flamingos, a variety of Ducks and Waders and other migrating waterbirds. However it can be dry for several years, so nothing is guaranteed. Nonetheless today we have good chances on seeing local specialties like Fulvous Babbler - not always easy - , African Desert Warbler, Cream-colored Courser, Hoopoe Lark and Spotted Sandgrouse. The gorgeous little Desert Sparrow is naturally in focus here as well, because the vast, remote desert areas with small human settlements, is the true habitat of this species. On the drive we pass tamarisk areas and small berber fincas, we look out for Sandgrouse, Brown-necked Raven, Bar-tailed Lark, Desert- and White-crowned Wheatears. As the desert changes in texture to finer sand and grass tussocks it´s time to look more carefully for one of the most charming species on the trip - Cream-colored Courser. Flocks of Trumpeter Finches, Desert Larks will most likely appear around us. As will the pale sandy brown desert form of Crested Lark that has just recently been separated to an own species named Maghreb Lark. After lunch in one of the nearby villages, we go to look for Pharaoh´s Eagle Owl and/ or the bird magnet Dayet Sjri if it holds water. We will also do our best to find the enigmatic Egyptian Nightjar.  On this destination we employ a local bird guide to find the rare birds. Night at Auberge Kasbah Derkaoua. Here we can let ourselves be embraced by the silence, the sky, the sand and the infinity of the Sahara.

Maghreb Lark
Day 6 27th March
A walk around the hotel garden - with old trees and green bushes, can produce migrating birds resting after their crossing of the desert. A nice pre-breakfast activity. Today we hit the road again and head back west towards the Todra Gorge and Boumalne de Dades. We will travel through a good mix of habitats from Tinejdad to Boumalne de Dades with it´s extensive palmeries, lush wadis and the Todra Gorge just north of town. If we haven´t seen Fulvous Babbler yet, today is the last chance. Lanner Falcon is to look especially for here. After lunch we will look through the stone desert areas around the famous Tagdilt track where we will look for specialties like Thick-billed Lark, Temminck´s Horned Lark and Red-rumped Wheatear. The last two have a good population here.  Hotel La Porte du Dades with it´s berber architecture is close to Tagdilt and have a nice view over the landscape, a traditional restaurant and lounge. (Today´s transfer is 260 km, travel time 3 h, 37 min)

Red-rumped Wheatear male
Day 7 28th March
If we feel need for more stone desert birds we take another drive down the Tagdilt track with inhabitants like Thick-billed Larks and Red-rumped Wheatears, Long-legged Buzzards and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse. If we haven´t got proper views of Mourning Wheatear we will make a short detour to target them. We will try several small dirt tracks but will need a bit of luck with this tricky species. The time should allow us to check the reservoir by Ouarzazate where Crested Coot and Marbled Teal can be seen. Good chances on raptors on migration as well. The hills around Ouarzazate and Tiffoultote are covered with bushes and can attract tired migrants. We also look for Lanner and Barbary Falcons. Night at Hotel Dar Chamaa in Ouarzazate. (Today´s transfer is 117 km, travel time 1 h 50 min)

Temminck's Lark
Day 8 29th March
On our way back up through the Atlas mountains we can admire the landscape as we have more chances to look for birds like Seebohm´s Wheatear, Levaillents´s Woodpecker, Barbary Partridge, African Blue Tit, and most likely some raptors. Maybe we fancy a stop at the ruins of Taddert or the highest pass of the Atlas. New for this year is that we go further up into the high Atlas. Our last destination of the trip is Oukaimeden – a ski resort on 2.650 meters elevation.  A site known for good birds like  African Crimson-winged Finch, Rock Sparrow, Atlas Horned Lark and more. There can still be some snow around this time of the year so make sure to bring gloves, a scarf and a hat. The reward will be some really fine birds and amazing scenery. Night in hotel in Oukaimeden. (Today´s transfer is 229 km, travel time 4 h 30 min)

Crimson-winged Finch
Day 9 30th March
We do as much bird watching as we can around Oukaimeden before we have to drive the last 80 km to Marrakech to get our hotel in Marrakech, we will also bird our journey to Marrakech.

Alpine Chough
Day 10. 31st March
Rest morning before our group departs Morocco. Some to Sweden others to Spain.

House Bunting male - a species resident at our hotel in Marrakech

Spain Leg of Tour. Optional Tour Extension

Serrania de Ronda
Day 1. 31st March
Arrive Sevilla and drive to El Rocio hotel set in the National Park - Donana. We will bird lakeside in El Rocio and have dinner in the town square.

Day 2. 1st April
Birding the Donana and visiting various wetland habitats for special birds.

Day 3. 2nd April
Depart for Tarifa, visiting La Janda

Day 4. 3rd April
Birding the Barbate, La Janda and Tarifa area then depart for the Serrania de Ronda.

Day 5. 4th April
Birding the Laguna Fuente de Piedra

Day 6. 5th April
Birding the UNESCO Biosphere Park of Grazalema and surrounding area.

Day 7. 6th April
Birding Sierra de las Nieves another UNESCO Biosphere Park.

Day 8. 7th April
Departure day.

For further information, prices and any queries please contact us 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Ban Driven Grouse Shooting

10th of December marks the end of another grouse shooting season.
Yet again, throughout 2017, there were numerous wildlife crime incidences on and near England’s grouse moors, including the systematic and illegal persecution of our protected Buzzards, Peregrines, Goshawks, Red Kites, Marsh Harriers, Short-eared Owls, Ravens and Hen Harriers.
The Mountain Hare is still slaughtered in large numbers on grouse moors; gas guns are still used near nesting birds; and there was another mass shooting of nesting Lesser Black-Backed Gulls on a Lancashire grouse moor (Abbeystead Estate). Grouse shooting for 'sport' depends on intensive habitat management, such as heather burning, which increases flood risk and greenhouse gas emissions, and the widespread and unregulated use of toxic chemicals to ‘control pests’ on Red Grouse. 
Stink pits, snares and various traps litter grouse moors - gamekeepers set these traps to kill our upland predators, just so there are more Red Grouse to shoot. Many ‘by-catch’ victims have been found in traps on grouse moors, including Mountain Hares, Badgers, Deer, Cats, Water Vole, Red Squirrel, Pine Martins, Dippers Ring Ousel and Red Grouse.
Much of the game shooting industry are still in complete denial about the scale of raptor persecution and other wildlife crimes on grouse moors, and argue that licensing would be an unnecessary and unwelcome ‘threat’. Enough is enough. We think grouse shooting is economically, ecologically and socially unnecessary, and that a driven grouse shooting ban is the only way forward for upland reforms. 
A NEW petition to ban driven grouse shooting has been launched. 
You can sign it here: SIGN PETITION.

You can also join the thunderclap initiative by joining in here:

Friday, November 24, 2017

Winter birding Serrania de Ronda

Winter birding is around the corner; temperatures at night are dropping, the days noticeably shorter and the promise of long overdue rains for the next week. None of this concerns the resident mountain birds or those winter interlopers as they harvest hardy insects and fruiting trees. Another season beckons and another exciting time to be in my mountains and with the autumn slowly, but surely, passing into winter, many of our lingering migrants have ventured further south seeking warmer climes. Now our winter visitors are increasing in number as temperatures in the northern and middle reaches of Spain begin to fall.

Griffon Vulture adult
As in northern parts of Europe, the first bird to bring news of winter’s cold front is the beautifully coloured and elegant looking Lapwing Vanellus vanellus. The Spanish call this wader Avefria and loosely translates to ‘bird of the cold’. Hopefully I won’t be seeing many Lapwings then! In Andalucia we are lucky to avoid the worst of the cold fronts and generally enjoy moderate temperatures during winter. Taking advantage of these warmer temperatures, our resident birds have now been joined by Alpine Accentor, Ring Ouzel, Siskin, Brambling and odd Black Vulture and Long-legged Buzzard. It seems that in the case of Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus, sightings are becoming regular and this species has gone from being a distinct rarity to a scarce autumn and winter visitor. There are even reports of breeding near to the Tarifa area!

Even although we are near the end of November, I am still managing the odd day’s work and I visit my ‘favourite’ local area behind the white village of Montejaque as often as time allows. Here the hawthorn bushes are now frequented by good numbers of Ring Ouzel. These winter visitors arrive with a wave of migrants during October and although many pass-on to northern Africa, many also stay to winter in this area. The large majority of those choosing to stay are of the race Turdus torquatus torquatus (originating from north Europe), but we also have the sub species Turdus torquatus alpestris (an alpine bird that also breeds in northern Spain), which winter in small numbers. It is remarkable that any T.t.alpestris winter here as the great majority winter mainly in north-west Africa, especially in the Atlas Saharien regions on dry and bare slopes or crests with juniper woodland. Joining these handsome birds this year are unusually high numbers of Siskin and Hawfinch, certainly more than I have previously witnessed. A family of Golden Eagle has frequented the area high on this route behind Montejaque, known as Sierra de Libar, and the calls of the juvenile could often be heard resounding from the steep sided mountains that surround this high valley. More recently, and for a second time, I thought I was witnessing the pair of adults driving away another encroaching adult, but as the birds approached me, I could see the ‘other’ bird was a pale juvenile Imperial Eagle.

Blue Rock Thrush juvenile female
I always find Black Wheatear a lot easier to observe at this time of year and reaffirming my idea on resident pairs is always a task I look forward to during this season. It is amusing to watch the antics of territorial pairs of Black Wheatear confirming their feeding rights by constantly chasing away Black Redstart, Stonechat and Blue Rock Thrush from favoured areas. Equally, a joy to the ears (cold as they might be) is the song and song flight of Blue Rock Thrush. These magnificent thrushes seem to sing at all times of year and, despite the best efforts of Black Wheatears, they can be frequently observed proclaiming their territories during winter.

Hawfinch female
Other birds, which appear more confiding during this period are Rock and Cirl Bunting, although their habit of flocking outside of the breeding season obviously means you can spot them more readily. Huge flocks of mixed finches are now common, feeding on fallow fields and the area near to Acinipo (old Ronda) allow close views of these and also large numbers of Corn Bunting. This same area offers great chances to see Crested and Thekla Lark feeding alongside of each other. Another species which I managed to find in the almost down-land like habitat which surrounds Acinipo is Hen Harrier. The male of the species is spectacularly coloured and against ink coloured skies, with its clear white under parts contrasting with black wing tips, can give an impression of an enormous gull species. It is also a very good time to find large flocks of Rock Sparrow, together with the huge flocks of finches; they also feed on open and fallow ground. These birds can be surprisingly difficult in the breeding season, as they tend to feed amongst Karst type habitats and you need them to pop-up on any prominent rock to see them clearly.

Rock Bunting male

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Black Wheatear

Passions of mine include Wheatears (Oeneanthe, a genus in the family Muscicapidae) and one of particular interest is the elegant, comic and enigmatic Black Wheatear. Here in my mountains I can connect with these friends at any time I want, through the depths of winter through to high summer. Nothing is more relaxing and holds my fascination more than observing males demonstrate strength and attraction to watching females. The males decorate nesting places with stone platforms, individual stones can weigh up to 22gms and the older the male, the heavier these stones can be. It appears these demonstrations of strength cement bonds between pairs and also advertise the superiority of some older males.

Largely resident in my area (Serrania de Ronda), with only some altitudinal dispersal noted, my Black Wheatears pair for life. The pair will defend their territories against interlopers and this more often than not involves younger birds seeking to usurp the resident pair. However, there appears to be a certain amount of tolerance displayed towards neighbouring pairs and an overlapping of territories, perhaps a recognised buffer zone between territories. Monogamy too seems to be social rather than sexual, permissiveness being observed by both male and females.

--> One of these days I hope to find time to detail my studies of this fascinating bird and share my intimate knowledge of their behaviour. Whilst my knowledge is local and confined to my local mountains, perhaps such an article might interest people and be of some value. In the meantime, see below, I have given a brief summary and by no means complete account of Black Wheatear in my area.

Study Area

With Ronda being the centre point, the study area takes in most of Parques Natural Grazalema and Sierra de las Nieves. Additional principle mountain ranges are also included. The study area chosen, see accompanying map and grid, has been determined by suitable and likely habitat for all three species of summer resident Oenanthe. The area has, to some degree, been increased to account for the more isolated populations of the localised Oenanthe leucura. Otherwise the area covered is limited by the physical possibilities to adequately trek any larger an area in the time available. As the study progresses, boundaries may change, especially if certain areas are virtually void of any Oenanthe species and other areas bordering the study area contain worthwhile numbers of principle study species. Initially the area is to be divided into populations West, Central and Eastern. Some conjecture in determining these divisions arises, but until experience teaches otherwise, then a choice had to be made as a starting point.

Typical Black Wheatear territory/habitat

Objects of The Project/Study
By the capture of adult birds for ringing and also the ringing of pullus, the main objects are to establish site fidelity of adult birds and dispersal or fidelity of young returning adult birds. In the case of Oenanthe leucura the additional objects are for monitoring any post juvenile dispersal and population exchanges between various isolated breeding areas. Of course in addition to the main objects of the study, the equally important objectives will be to establish population densities and provide a basis for monitoring future population dynamics within the area. It should prove very compatible to ring secondary study species belonging to the same family group, as these are likely to be discovered breeding within the same principle study area and habitats. Again, population densities alone should provide critical information for future reference and comparison.


For the purposes of the project’s objectives it is essential to use, in addition to standard rings, colour rings for the principle species of this study. The use of colour rings, coded for different areas within the study area, will give visual aid to monitoring site fidelity and population movements.

It is envisaged, that two colours per area are used, one for adult birds and another for pullus (essential for establishing whether juvenile displacement occurs). In all cases only one colour ring would be fitted to a single bird. In all six colours for rings will be needed, three sub-regional population studies with two colours for each area ( 1 = Adults 2 = Pullus). Each and every discovered breeding bird of all three Oenanthe species will be ringed where possible. The use of baited (mealworm) spring traps will be used for adult birds. Nestlings, where safely accessible, will be ringed at the nest. All captured breeding adult birds will be ringed, aged, overall wing measurement taken and then released. Because of the sensitivity of ringing breeding adult birds at the nesting area, then birds need to be released within the minimum time necessary. The use of colour rings would appear the only sensible way to monitor site fidelity and juvenile displacement/dispersal. Where population densities require (single pairs or small to large colonies), then individual sites will be named within any one grid reference. Each grid will be scaled into quarter sections i.e. A1, A2 northern half and A3, A4 southern half and visited, dependant on suitable habitat, during March through to the end of August. Each suitable quartered grid section will be visited at least once per month.

Initial reservations and conclusions

Without doubt the size of area within the chosen boundaries is and will remain a mammoth undertaking, not to mention physically demanding for a solitary study. With time the area requiring coverage will be less due to the absence, in certain areas, of the principle study species. Access to certain areas within the boundaries may be restricted and sometimes prohibited by landowners, which could in theory devalue the project to a degree. The zoning of the area into three parts may have to be reviewed with experience of any biased findings i.e. small distances involved for displaced first year breeding adults. However, this may be recognised and compensated for by the fragmentation of the main grids into four sections and retrapping previously ringed individuals.

It cannot be in doubt, that a study of this nature will enhance knowledge of local requirements for the three main study species. Also and as an offshoot from this main study, other species will be recorded and impressions given to overall population densities for several species. If past experience is any guide, then a few and maybe pleasant surprises could be expected. In one such experience, Oenanthe oenanthe within an area of moorland (Bodmin Moor UK) was given a population of no more than 50/60 pairs maximum. Upon species-specific study and ringing, this 10 x 10 square kilometre Moor was discovered to contain 450 + pairs! The figure was later supported by UK Nature Conservation Council funded Tetrad Study.

The Study Area is vast and fragmented in places

Collalba Negra                  Black Wheatear                                             Oenanthe leucura

Field Characters:

General. Largest of the breeding Oenanthe in Europe. Unmistakable black plumage with white rump, under tail coverts and tail. Tail broadly tipped black forming typical ‘T’ shape characteristic of Oenanthe occurring in Europe (O.hispanica not so pronounced). In flight appears heavy with typically shallow rapid wing beats, reminiscent of Stonechat S.torquata. Strong flight only observed whilst in pursuit of or chased by other territorial members of Turdidae i.e. Blue Rock Thrush, or when being chased by predator. Favours rocky and mountainous areas. Takes readily to tall scrub or tree as song or lookout post.

Adult Male    : 2nd winter males black body feathers. Wing coverts black, primaries and secondaries black with very slight rich deep brown fringing to leading edges, becoming darker with age. Upper and lower tail coverts white, central tail feathers 2/3rds black, outer tail feathers white with outer 3rd black, the black forming a typical ‘T’ shape for Oenanthe sp., but even more pronounced than O. oenanthe. 1st winter and summer males are typically brown/black body feathers and rich dark brown wing feathers (lesser coverts and some medium coverts are black), deep brown outer edges tail outer tail feathers and to 2/3rds of central tail feathers.

Adult Female     : 2nd winter females deep brown/black body feathers. Wing coverts typically the darker than colour of body feathers. Primaries and secondaries dark brown, not black. Under and upper tail coverts cream to white, central tail feathers 2/3rds deep brown, outer tail feathers white/cream with outer 3rd deep brown, pattern as male. 1st winter and summer females are typically lighter brown, almost juvenile rust coloured on head and mantle.

Juvenile              : Until post-juvenile moult, body feathering is rust brown, contrasting with  wing coverts and flight feathers, which are brown. Rust coloured fringing to body feathers abrade and slowly reveal basal brown ground colour to plumage.

Habitat. Mountain and hillside slopes, generally rocky outcrops and scree, but typically with an area of over/grazed pasture or bare area. Tolerant of sparse tree or scrub cover. Altitude of territories wide ranging i.e. 400m up to 1800m. Broader range of habitats frequented by juveniles and some adults in winter i.e. dried riverbeds, river valleys.

Distribution. Very common, where habitat is suitable, across the whole range of the study area. Becomes more widespread in autumn and early winter as juveniles disperse from breeding areas. Very few adults appear to vacate breeding territories in early winter, but those that do are normally returned by December to early January.

Population. Minimum 400 pairs with likely maximum 500 pairs. Occupation of small niche habitats contained and surrounded by highly adverse habitats i.e. woodland, suggests healthy populations in residence at all suitable and primary sites.

Map 1. Black Wheatear . Collalba Negra . Oenanthe leucura – Study Area Distribution & Population Density Map

Movements. Although some adults do move from breeding areas in late autumn and early winter see under distribution, the ever presence of adults at most known territories, indicate movement is largely confined to juvenile dispersal, with most adults remaining site faithful during winter to extended breeding territories. Birds are commonly seen at lower altitudes (river valleys etc.) during winter and around human habitation i.e. village fringes, even the centre of Ronda! No observations have been made of flocking or mass movements. Up to 8 individuals seen together and commonly 4 to 5 during postnatal period, these being family parties. Juveniles tend to leave natal site around October, with individuals returning during January to February, only to be displaced by resident adults. Occupation of niche habitats surrounded by inappropriate habitats i.e. Woodland, suggests wide ranging dispersal of juveniles displaced and forced into secondary sites.

Stone Platform constructed by the male at the nest entrance

Social Pattern & Behaviour. Appears site faithful throughout the year, with natal territory extending during autumn and winter (in some cases overlapping with adjacent and occupied territories). Normally the same pair remain together during winter, although occupying the same territory, the male and female range separately during the day, but have been observed roosting together. Both male and female appear tolerant of other Black Wheatears throughout the seasons, but use posture threats to protect their territory during early spring, very rarely have I observed actual threat and pursuit by either sex of encroaching adults occupying adjacent territories. Juveniles are tolerated up until September/October, when the male will pursue and harry until the juvenile departs, remarkably, the occupying pair appear more tolerant of juveniles entering occupied territory during February and March, when the pair are preparing the nest and the male is busy carrying small stones into the crevice containing the nest! The male will pursue and threaten all other Turdidae species when courtship begins in January, in particular, the male will endlessly harry and pursue Blue Rock Thrush which sing in their territory. Apart from Blackbird, other Turdidae are normally wary of defending male Black Wheatears, only rarely have I seen Blue Rock Thrush threaten and chase Black Wheatears and then it has usually been the female who has been pursued. The male, although appearing to remain faithful to his mate throughout the year, will display and court neighbouring females and at times pursue them until their mate appears. At all times of the year there appears to be a recognition and tolerance shown towards other Black Wheatears occupying adjacent territories, with birds often observed perching closely together with no more of a threat than tail flicking (tail flicking/fanning is common among all Oenanthe sp. in Europe).

Note: The above is a summary only and a part of an ongoing and incomplete survey.